“Assassination was once a complex, secret, shameful, difficult to arrange, and relatively rare act of state. Now, it’s as normal, easy, and — amazingly enough — almost as open as sending a diplomat to another country.”—Tom Engelhardt
"… the Olympic Torch is not the most noteworthy thing passed from Greece to London."
All Olympics produce debt like a cow produces methane. But this one happens in the context of a double-dip recession. It happens with round-the-clock UK media coverage of the “Euro-panic,” as voters in Greece are threatening to tell Angela Merkel, David Cameron and the European Union to take their austerity agenda and cram it sideways. The fears of crisis and debt surround even the cheeriest propaganda about the looming games. The BBC led every broadcast while I was there with these two separate stories. First, “Crisis in Greece” and then with a different anchor, reporters and even music, “Getting Ready for the Olympics.” Nowhere was any discussion about the fact that the 2004 Athens Olympics, came in at over ten times the proposed budget. Those games aggravated the crisis Greece is currently slogging through, with the country’s homeless now even squatting in dilapidated, unused Olympic structures. There is scant discussion that these London games could come in at ten times their proposed 2005 budget as well, causing another “debt crisis” that will be taken from the hides—not to mention the pensions—of the UK’s workers. At several events involving trade union workers and bureaucrats, the message was repeated to me over and over: when the Olympics are over, the gloves will come off.
In other words, faced with the pressures of austerity and recession, Cameron and company are cooling their jets until the Olympics are over and then they will try to do their level best to disembowel the unions and further cut taxes for the wealthy. Why wait until after the Olympics? Because Cameron needs the unions’ cooperation to make sure that the games come off on time and on schedule. They need to make sure the unions don’t take strike action or join the demonstrations planned for July 28, the first Saturday of the games. This is why they agreed to sizable bonuses for London’s subway workers. Anything to make sure that the Olympics show London, and more critically David Cameron, in the best possible light.
“You have Martin Luther King’s statue in your office, but you are sending these unmanned drones out, and bombs are dropping on innocent people. That’s not a small thing. That’s not a small thing. We know from historic examples that if you engage in a certain kind of foreign policy it eats at your soul on the domestic front.”—Cornel West (via azspot)
"The public is left with the impression (in the advertising sense of the word) of a president who deploys armadas of drones – but with a conscience – a man of ‘deep reserve’ who ‘approves lethal action without hand-wringing,’ yet is determined ‘to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values.’ In case the god-fearing are not convinced that Barack Hussein Obama is a sufficiently Christian soldier, the president’s counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, a 25-year veteran of the CIA, acts as a ‘priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Mr. Obama.’"
From the perspective of Obama’s handlers, the [New York Times] piece reconciles the old, imagined Obama with Dick Cheney’s “dark side,” thus forming a composite leadership template of the president as an “all-American” statesman. Obama is just as capable of carrying out instant executions as Cheney ever was – the decision to take out American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was “an easy one” – but he keeps a “priest” nearby to be sure he’s on the side of the angels. Cheney with a halo – singing Al Green.
In a sense, the Times-assisted makeover of Obama provides a ten-year update on his speech of October 2, 2002: “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.” It took his wishful anti-war supporters more than a decade to figure out this was just another way of saying, “I’ll be the smartest, most prolific, charming war monger in U.S. history. Watch me.”
Today’s Obama, as packaged by the Times, is not opposed to wholesale drone murder from the skies, routine trampling of international law, and evisceration of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Rather, he has “reserved to himself the final moral calculation.” The difference between his “dark side” and Cheney’s, presumably, is that Obama engages in deeper moral introspection before turning out the lights.
We thank reporters Becker and Shane for that clarification.
Once something is repeated enough by government officials, we become numb to its extremism. Even in the immediate wake of 9/11 — when national fear and hysteria were intense — things like the Patriot Act, military commissions, and indefinite detention were viewed as radical departures from American political tradition; now, they just endure and are constantly renewed without notice, because they’ve just become normalized fixtures of American political life.
Here we have the Obama administration asserting what I genuinely believe, without hyperbole, is the most extremist government interpretation of the Bill of Rights I’ve heard in my lifetime — that the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that the State cannot deprive you of your life without “due process of law” is fulfilled by completely secret, oversight-free “internal deliberations by the executive branch” — and it’s now barely something anyone (including me) even notices when The New York Times reports it (as the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer asked yesterday: “These Dems who think executive process is due process: Where were they when Bush needed help with warrantless wiretapping?” — or his indefinite detention scheme?)”
“Louisiana is the starkest, most glaring example of how our prison policies have failed. It showcases how private prisons do not serve the public interest and how the mass incarceration as a form of job creation is an abomination of justice and civility and creates a long-term crisis by trying to create a short-term solution.”—Charles Blow: Plantations, Prisons and Profits (via azspot)
“Karl Marx had it right. At some point, capitalism can destroy itself. You cannot keep on shifting income from labor to capital without having an excess capacity and a lack of aggregate demand. That’s what has happened. We thought that markets worked. They’re not working.”—Economist Nouriel Roubini in a WSJ interview. He earned the nickname “Dr Doom” for predicting the current financial crisis. (via humanformat)
"… if one continually confounds false consciousness for true consciousness and illusion for reality, how can one make progress?"
Imagine entering a room in which the electrical wiring is defective. You turn the switch on. Nothing happens. Someone replaces the bulb but the room remains dark. The circuit breaker is deemed operational. Most people, after a few attempts at flipping the switch, come to the realization that the circuit is broken. They accurately conclude that the light is not going to come on. This is a rational and intelligent response to the reality of the situation; one that weds cause and effect to results.
A few of the people in the room, however, have resolute faith in the defective circuit. They are confident that the light will eventually come on. Among them, the belief persists that if one continues to flip the switch enough times, eventually it will start working. Convinced that the problem is a defective bulb, they replace one light bulb with another every few minutes. As with political elections, one dim bulb follows another into the socket. Case after case of new bulbs is exhausted. And yet, despite the best of intentions of the optimists, the room remains as dark as a sarcophagus.
Suffering from cognitive dissonance, the eternal optimist, like Joe Hill’s fictitious character Mr. Block, ignores the fact that the wiring is broken and the circuit can never be operational without a major overhaul, regardless of how many times the switch is turned on. They contend that changing the bulb is easier and safer than rewiring the circuit. The optimists insist that when the right bulb is found, light will dispel darkness and everything will become clear. This is what they have always done. It has never worked.
Nevertheless, despite decades of contrary results, the positivity and faith of the optimists cannot be blunted. In darkness, they busy themselves trying the switch again and again. Ignoring the enduring darkness, some outsiders admire the optimist’s diligence and determination. Light, they insist, like change one can believe in, is a matter of faith.
Others, seeing the absurdity of these actions, scoff at the optimist’s foolishness. Having forged a Faustian alliance with the building’s landlords, the corporate media lauds the optimist’s determination as a civic duty that is bound to bring enlightenment, if only they will persist indefinitely in their endeavor. Both the realists and the optimists want to shine light into the darkness; however, there is fierce disagreement about their methodology. Like the reformer and the revolutionary, their differences are irreconcilable.
Eventually an exulted priest, Reverend Friedman, is consulted, who advises everyone to ignore the darkness and to obey the proprietors of the building. “There will be light for everyone in the afterlife,” he advises the crowd. “One must have faith in the system and the people it attracts to serve. Do not be deceived by the lack of results in the present. God will see that we are not wanting when we are dead. The free market, the divine oracle of capitalism, will provide a solution to all of our problems.” The good Reverend admonishes the realists for their lack of faith and departs for the Big Top, where barkers are attracting a crowd and organ grinders ply their trade. […]
“For most of the last ten years, you could walk into any major bank in America and find whole departments committed to the practice of writing false, robosigned affidavits. We’re not talking about crime that is hidden in a line item, or has to be deduced by checking and re-checking the numbers of dozens of accounts: we’re talking about groups of flesh-and-blood human beings, sitting there in plain view with huge stacks of folders on their desks, openly committing fraud and perjury. Walk in any direction in lower Manhattan with a badge, you’re going to hit a fraud case whether you want to or not.”—Matt Taibbi | SEC: Taking on Big Firms is ‘Tempting,’ But We Prefer Picking on Little Guys
President Obama recently announced an aid package of more than $130 million to fight the narcotraficantes (narco-traffickers) in Central and Latin America. The infusion of money was announced at the Summit of the Americas in April in Cartagena, Colombia, to head off criticism of the “war on drugs”—and spreading calls to declare it a failure and end it.
The White House wants the world to believe drug prohibition works, and to forget the murderous legacy of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Central and Latin America.
The CIA and the DEA have been directly involved in drug trafficking in the region for decades. They’ve trained, armed and funded death squads and right-wing paramilitary groups that share control of the lucrative drug trade. Corrupt officials at the highest levels of government and sections of the business class also profit enormously from the illicit drug trade.
Latin America has borne the brunt of the U.S.-led war on drugs that has turned several countries into virtual war zones full of massacres and mayhem. Drug cartels operate with near impunity and assassinate judges, journalists, mayors, police and anyone unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No country wants to become the “next Mexico,” where more than 60,000 people have died in gruesome, drug-fueled violence. Over 250,000 have been internally displaced, and kidnapping for ransom is rife. In many parts of Mexico, drug cartels now battle openly with government forces for control of cities and towns.
The effects on the Mexican economy, in particular tourism, have been devastating. In Acapulco last year, 15 decapitated bodies were found on a walkway to a popular beach. Another 12 victims, including two police officers, were killed in the city on the same day. The drug war has turned Mexico into vast killing fields and economic wastelands.
With the 2012 U.S. presidential election coming up, here are some helpful rules for discussion that I have gleaned from liberals online:
1) Don’t criticize Barack Obama over anything that’s happening in America, because it turns out all real domestic power lies in the hands of the House of Representatives, not the president.
2) Don’t criticize Barack Obama’s foreign policy because that will only depress his base and help Mitt Romney, who would probably be just as belligerent (unless you believe the Democratic Party). And my god, have you seen Romney’s domestic policies (editor’s note: obviously, ignore point #1 when speaking of Republicans)?
Hope this helps clear things up. Now get out there and start bashing the GOP while ignoring your own complicity in a system fueled by mass murder and incarceration!
What an emoprog. Serious folks like Kos know that you pick a team and stick with it. Save it for the lame duck session when criticizing transgression doesn’t incontrovertibly mean you want Romney to win, absolutist:
[What] do you think you are accomplishing besides satiating some apparent need for absolute purity? Feel free to unload on Obama the day after he is reelected. But for now, seriously, what do you think you’re accomplishing? If Obama offends you so much that you consider him irredeemable, then become a Green and go somewhere else, because you’re pretty much hopeless and a waste of everyone else’s time here.
Sorry about wasting your time everyone. And the hopeless thing, too. Also, don’t like or reblog this post. Romney might win.
“There are so many things amiss in the United States that one hardly knows where to begin discussing them all. Yet of all the calamitous situations faced by Americans, the cruelest by far is the criminal justice system. America is the world’s prison capital, and just one state, Louisiana, has an incarceration rate 13 times higher than China’s and 5 times higher than Iran’s. Mass incarceration did not come about by happenstance, but was a coordinated and perfected reaction to the successes of the civil rights movement. Jim Crow was made illegal, so a legal means of destroying the black community had to be created.”—
Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler says he will call for a citywide election on a measure that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, following a successful petition drive to place the issue on the ballot.
Beutler said Thursday that the petition organizers sent a message of intolerance from Nebraska’s second-largest city, but he will honor the citizens’ right to vote.
Well, at least we’ll finally know what fairness means to a majority of citizens in Lincoln, Nebraska.
But we all know already, don’t we?
This vote will tell us that a majority of people think that discrimination against gays and lesbians isn’t a problem.
In other words, once we have this vote, “fairness” is going to mean unfairness.
“So to sum up, one candidate is portrayed, accurately, as being extremely rich, with a wife who has rich-person leisure-time pursuits; and the other candidate is portrayed, accurately, as someone whose secretive policies have wrought dead children, broken promises, violated due process rights, and possibly created more terrorists. And our political culture in the United States is so blinkered that the story about the rich candidate whose wife rides horses is regarded, by conservatives and savvy Politico journalists, as the one that is noteworthy for being negative; whereas the story about the Orwellian turn in the White House doesn’t even merit mention.”—
[The] main purpose of the penal system under Jim Crow was not to produce the directly coerced and cheap convict labor itself, though that was certainly a part of the regime of exploitation, but to produce a forced labor regime with nominally free labor. (Lest we think this was merely a Southern project, as Richard Bensel showed in Yankee Leviathan, the North was content with this new regime of controlled labor. Financiers were happy since it brought cotton back online – and thus foreign exchange to pay back debts and stabilize the dollar – and industrialists were now more concerned with the emerging problem of labor control, and increasingly troubled by the precedent set for the North by redistributing land and property to Southern freedmen.)
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson thus mischaracterize the specific problem of social control in this period when they characterize the “practical problem” of Jim Crow in the following way:
… now that blacks were no longer slaves and could not be directly disciplined and punished by their masters, how should they be kept under control? Locking them up — when mob violence and lynchings didn’t do the job — seemed like a natural idea, but this would cost the state a lot of money, especially at a time when resources were scarce and the prison system was both underdeveloped and severely gutted by the Civil War.
The problem was not a ‘general’ one of how to control free blacks, but a specific modality of social control: how to produce a docile agricultural proletariat. Though Acemoglu and Robinson are sensitive to the idea that underlying Jim Crow was a particular “extractive regime,” they miss the way in which Jim Crow was a kind of exercise in primitive accumulation. One of the key features of primitive accumulation is the use of direct coercion until the wage-labor/capital relationship is naturalized – at which point Marx’s famous ‘dull compulsion of the economic’ takes over. The political struggle, at least for a brief time, during Reconstruction was whether emancipation would mean real liberation – Jim Crow settled the question securely in favor of former plantation owners, and the criminal law was the central instrument through which wage-labor was instituted.
The social control problem of the 1970s was decidedly different. It was as much if not more Northern and Southern, it was as much if not more urban than agrarian – indeed the urban race riots of the late 1960s and early 70s were a key precipitating event, alongside racial mutinies on the front lines of Vietnam, the rise of the Black Panthers, and the civil rights struggle. But in the background, the key political-economic shift was not from slave to proletariat, but from proletariat to lumpenproletariat. The flight of middle class blacks from desegregating inner cities, deindustrialization, the loss of jobs in the North, and increasingly concentrated urban unemployment among black males produced a surplus labor population. The role of the criminal justice system in this context was to police an underclass, not make workers out of slaves. And it became increasingly so as other, more benign, modes of social control – like welfare, public housing – sputtered. This new carceral regime invovled the state taking on direct responsibility for control of a population now that it lacked a strong tie to economic life. And it did so by criminalizing one of its few economic activities: drugs. The war on drugs was the pivotal instrument for introducing this new form of social control. It not only massively increased the prison population, but subjected them, and urban black communities more widely, to the continual supervision of public coercive authority.
[Just] as the use of convict labor dwindles [and with the inauguration of Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’] the prison population explodes. Where during Jim Crow convict labor and the criminal law was an appendage of the wider, Southern agricultural political economy, in the new era of mass incarceration it is imprisonment that is the point. Being jailed or being threatened with imprisonment is the instrument for containing the problems left by the failure of society to deal with mass unemployment not mass unwillingness to sell labor. Put another way, under Jim Crow the point of criminalization was to create wage-laborers, under the drug war the point is to create criminals.
A group of scientists is calling for major federal action in order to deal with the threat posed by Monsanto’s GMO crops, now petitioning the EPA to address the issue head on.
The group of 22 academic corn experts are drawing attention to the immense failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, which is developing mutated and resistant insects as a result of its widespread usage. Corn is critical not only as a food staple, but is heavily used in ethanol production, animal feed, and much more. As GM corn becomes the norm, currently taking over 94 percent of the supply, these scientists are seriously concerned about the future of corn production.
Joseph Spencer is one outspoken member of the group, a corn entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, part of the University of Illinois. Spencer states that what is happening is no surprise, instead it is something that needs to be addressed. Warning the EPA over the dangers, the experts sent a letter on March 5th to the agency explaining their worries regarding long-term corn production prospects in light of GMO crops failures. Specifically, the experts are worried about the lack of protection presented by GMO crops against rootworms.
The EPA has already acknowledged that Monsanto’s GMO crops are creating resistant rootworms, which are now ravaging the GMO crops as they mutate to the biopesticide used known as Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). The EPA found that the resistant rootworms, which are evolving to resist the insecticide, are currently found Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska. After the EPA evaluated documented cases of severe crop damage as well as reports from entomologists, the EPA stated“Monsanto’s program for monitoring suspected cases of resistance is ‘inadequate’”.
Essentially, the GMO crops are doing the opposite of their supposed purpose — leading to more damage from rootworms as they become mutated to resist the defense of the crops. And Monsanto has answered by simply further genetically modifying the Bt, which research shows is extremely ineffective.
“When insecticides overlay transgenic technology, the economic and environmental advantages of rootworm-protected corn quickly disappear,” the scientists wrote.
It’s time for the EPA and other agencies to address the serious threats to nature and human health presented by Monsanto’s genetically modified creations.
“[The] Defense Department is currently killing suspects in Yemen without knowing their names, using criteria that have never been made public. The administration is counting all military-age males killed by drone fire as combatants without knowing that for certain, assuming they are up to no good if they are in the area. That has allowed Mr. Brennan to claim an extraordinarily low civilian death rate that smells more of expediency than morality.”—Too Much Power for a President
The New York Times editorial page is the latest to condemn the executive branch overreach of the Obama administration:
It has been clear for years that the Obama administration believes the shadow war on terrorism gives it the power to choose targets for assassination, including Americans, without any oversight. On Tuesday, The New York Times revealed who was actually making the final decision on the biggest killings and drone strikes: President Obama himself. And that is very troubling.
Mr. Obama has demonstrated that he can be thoughtful and farsighted, but, like all occupants of the Oval Office, he is a politician, subject to the pressures of re-election. No one in that position should be able to unilaterally order the killing of American citizens or foreigners located far from a battlefield — depriving Americans of their due-process rights — without the consent of someone outside his political inner circle.
How can the world know whether the targets chosen by this president or his successors are truly dangerous terrorists and not just people with the wrong associations? (It is clear, for instance, that many of those rounded up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks weren’t terrorists.) How can the world know whether this president or a successor truly pursued all methods short of assassination, or instead — to avoid a political charge of weakness — built up a tough-sounding list of kills?
It is too easy to say that this is a natural power of a commander in chief. The United States cannot be in a perpetual war on terror that allows lethal force against anyone, anywhere, for any perceived threat. That power is too great, and too easily abused, as those who lived through the George W. Bush administration will remember.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, a former Democratic state representative, told ThinkProgress in an interview that while the state of Florida sent her county 115 names of voters it considered “sure matches” with a list of non-citizens, her office determined the list’s documentation to be “not credible” and has not sent out letters asking for verification of citizens to any of those voters.
“Has there ever been a point since America’s inception when someone, somewhere, wasn’t plotting our downfall? I have great difficulty perceiving a time when this won’t be true. And so drone strategy comes to self-replicate. We bomb your village. You declare war on us for the bombing. We deem you a terrorist and bomb again. Rinse. Repeat.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, on Obama’s “kill list” and drone attacks. (via theatlantic)
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tells Newsmax that the targeted killing of terrorist targets chosen by the president “is not a particularly good idea.” “I think the use of drones is a good thing. They have added a dimension of capability to the United States that other nations don’t have. They also have the advantage of putting fewer American lives at risk. “But we have a president of the United States who sits in the Oval Office and is targeting individuals in other countries to be killed. During the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson did some targeting. I’ve never believed that having the president of the United States engaged in specific targeting is a particularly good idea. They’re not trained for it. “They need to establish policy and then allow the responsible military officials or CIA officials to actually undertake the decision-making on specific targets.” Rumsfeld adds: “The criticism that was heaped on Guantanamo Bay and the detention of people is clearly [less warranted] compared to targeted killing. “Guantanamo Bay is one of the best prisons on earth, and people are not killed there and not tortured. They are detained and kept off the battlefield because we don’t want them going out and killing more innocent men, women, and children. “Killing people has the disadvantage, which President Obama has to accept, that if you use drone strikes you don’t have the advantage of going in and gathering intelligence information, which is enormously important.”
Obama has adopted policies that are too radical for (war criminal) Donald Rumsfeld. The transition from up to down is complete and hell is sitting at about 31.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Times piece has the badge of an official narrative, featuring an exceptionally long list of key administration players who speak on the record and only a sprinkling of critical voices. Nevertheless, it drills straight into issues that have to this point been kept under wraps—in particular, it provides a walk-through of the “nominations” process used to decide who earns a place on the targeted-killings list:
It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die. This secret “nominations” process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia.
The video conferences are run by the Pentagon, which oversees strikes in those countries, and participants do not hesitate to call out a challenge, pressing for the evidence behind accusations of ties to Al Qaeda.
From this point the decision-making moves to the White House, where it is essentially up to Obama: “[B]y his own insistence and guided by [John] Brennan, Mr. Obama must approve any name,” the authors explain. “He signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan—about a third of the total.”
The article also tackles the underpinnings of the CIA’s claims that there have been no, or at least very few, civilian deaths owing to drone strikes recently: “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties. . . . It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” We learn that this approach has been controversial within the administration, with some advisers noting that it seems close to a conclusive presumption of guilt.
This is a very important disclosure. On one hand, it clarifies the basis for the CIA’s no-collateral-damage claim. On the other, it puts the drone program on very tenuous grounds under the laws of war. The U.S. military in Iraq, for instance, has previously disciplined officers who issued rules of engagement authorizing the targeting of all military-age males. A person cannot be presumed to be a terrorist simply because he is male, of military age, and happens to be in the same village as some terrorists—he must be engaged in conduct that makes him a combatant. Applied to targeting, this presumption raises serious war-crime issues. As the Times reports, the administration is currently limiting its use to the counting of persons unintentionally killed when a legitimate target has been struck, which theoretically leads only to false information about the number of innocent civilians killed. But the distinction isn’t actually quite so clear-cut: in deciding on a strike, an estimate of collateral damage has to be included. And if all able males are deemed legitimate targets, that process is being seriously distorted. [++]
"[Today] the harm that’s caused by raining death from machines in the sky down onto far too many civilians — including someone’s son, brother, or father who wasn’t ‘up to no good’ at all — vastly outweighs any good. Righteous anger over the killing of civilians creates new terrorists faster than the killing of any old ones. As for the morally indefensible position that any male killed in such an attack is 'probably up to no good,' isn’t the Obama administration saying the EXACT same thing that George Zimmerman said about Trayvon Martin?”
Bunch returns to the piece later with this update:
Actually, the similarity with Zimmerman is even greater than I first thought. What he said to the Sanford police dispatcher was that Trayvon Martin “looks like he’s up to no good.” Thank God Zimmerman didn’t have drones, huh?
A self-appointed vigilante, carrying a loaded gun, decides to look for “danger” in his neighborhood. He begins to follow a 17-year-old boy, who is carrying candy and a soft drink. The boy asks why he is being followed; words are exchanged. The man aims his gun at the boy, fires, and kills the boy dead. The man claims he acted in “self-defense.”
A vigilante Super-State, armed to the teeth with thousands of WMDs, claims to perceive a threat from a small country, still battered and tattered from a war lost over a decade ago. However, international inspectors are allowed to scour the country and find no such threat (i.e., WMDs). Even so, to “prevent” any possibility of such a threat, the vigilante Super-State launches an all-out War on the small country—which is quickly pulverized, incinerated and murdered on a mass scale. Shortly thereafter, it is discovered that the small country was un-armed. “But the small country might still have made war!” the mass-murdering Super-State proclaimed. “We reserve the right to pre-emptively attack in the name of our security and interests!”
We’ve caught militarism, among other things. It’s a vile, pernicious disease and quite difficult to cure once infection spreads to the general population. The antidote is political will with a healthy dose of popular protest; however, the former is almost nonexistent and the latter is, for now anyway, available in doses too small to make a significant difference.
On April 27, two pillars of the American political establishment - Thomas E Mann and Norman J Ornstein, two of the most-quoted men in America - dared to break ranks with [beltway] dogma in a Washington Post op-ed, based on a book they’ve just published, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism. Although the online response was unprecedented, generating more interest than for any other book they have written, the two have been entirely shut out of the Sunday talk show circuit and almost completely shut out of the top five national print outlets as well. The establishment they have been keystone members of, for going on four decades, has suddenly forgotten that they ever even existed.
“As President, Mitt will work to expand and enhance access and opportunities for Americans to hunt, shoot, and protect their families…”—Adventures in sentence structure with Mitt Romney’s PR guys. via.
“Calling ‘hero’ everyone killed in war, no matter the circumstances of their death, not only helps sustain the ethos of martial glory that keeps young men and women signing up to kill and die for the state, no matter the justice of the cause, but also saps the word of meaning, dishonouring the men and women of exceptional courage and valour actually worthy of the title.”—Political correctness: Hero inflation (via azspot)
If this is what “European-style Socialism” can accomplish, perhaps it’s time to stop shitting on the idea?
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said.
Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50% of the nation’s midday electricity needs.
“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” Allnoch told Reuters. “Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”
More than a dozen state governments across the country are scrambling to get into the drone business with the expectation that unmanned aviation will create new jobs in the near future.
This summer, they will begin competing for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to run one of six unmanned aviation test sites around the country. Mandated by Congress earlier this year, the test sites are intended to demonstrate that unmanned vehicles can be integrated safely and quickly into U.S. airspace. […]
Stan Van Der Werf, a retired Air Force Colonel who heads Colorado[’s] effort [to nab the drone business], says the economic potential of domestic drones is “enormous” but dependent on the regulations that the FAA is now writing.
“The more freedom of movement the FAA allows, the greater the private business will be,” Van Der Werf said in a phone interview. “If unmanned vehicles have access similar to that enjoyed by manned aircraft, I think the commercial business will be ten times larger than the Department of Defense business.”
"Unmanned aviation will create new jobs in the near future", and the less regulation, "the greater the private business will be", possibly "ten times larger than the Department of Defense business." This is idiot talk.
A prime example of how our “representatives” at both the State and Federal level force the Military-Industrial Complex upon our domestic daily lives. “Job creation” is clearly cover here for more private (defense contractor) profit at the expense of the public treasury.
“This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that’s not sustainable. I have lived the life of someone taking action on the basis of secret O.L.C. memos, and it ain’t a good life. Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. safe.”—Michael Hayden, CIA Director under Bush II, discussing the White House assassination list. (via letterstomycountry)
[…] A better-armed opposition will be too strong to be suppressed by the government, but the outcome is most likely to be prolonged civil war rather than a clear victory by either side. Sanctions have already wrecked the Syrian banking sector and are hurting the country, but they are not leading to economic collapse. Syrians feel it is a collective punishment on them all which causes little harm to the government. There is plenty of food because Syrian agriculture, the largest sector of the economy, is benefiting from two years of heavy rain after three years of severe drought. There is no tourism and hotels are empty, but this was never as important as in Lebanon or Egypt. The biggest blow has been the fall in oil exports as foreign oil companies cease operating here.
Both the government and the armed opposition have become stronger in the past six months and neither side sees much reason to compromise. It feels like the beginning of a long war. [++]
The Pakistani doctor who assisted the CIA in its hunt for Osama bin Laden was given a 33-year jail sentence not for aiding the US intelligence service but for providing medical care to banned terror groups, according to leaked legal documents.
According to a five-page verdict seen by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, the administrator from the country’s tribal areas that tried and convicted Shakil Afridi did not even consider evidence that the doctor had conspired with the CIA on a fake vaccination programme.
The court document accused Afridi of giving the banned group nearly £14,000, providing medical care to various militant commanders and holding meetings with them shortly before attacks on government checkposts.
Dawn said the court argued Afridi’s work with the CIA fell outside its jurisdiction and that the former public health official should be tried again in a full court. He could face the death penalty if found guilty of a treason charge in a regular court.
“We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildnungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind.”—Piotr Czerski (via azspot)
Way up here in the heartland, far from the craft beer parlors, Facebook stock bucket shops, and gender obsessions of the mythical Urban Edge People, the detritus of your country is up for sale. The lawns are strewn with the plastic effluvia of lives lived through humankind’s weirdest moment: Pee Wee Herman action figures, creeping tot tables, failed kitchen appliances that created more labor than they were designed to save, extruded plastic this-and-that, unidentifiable knick-knacks of forgotten sitcoms, Jimmy Carter Halloween masks, trikes brittle and faded from ultraviolet exposure, artworks conceived in a Zoloft fog, pre-owned cat litter boxes, someone’s deceased mother’s lawn fanny, the complete works of Jacqueline Susann, a savings bank in the shape of an outhouse….
The puzzling part is that every lawn sale contains exactly the same array of useless and pathetic objects. Is this how a Ponzi culture meets its end: the terminal swap-meet beyond which no horrifying object meets any mystifying desire for acquisition? If this is where consumer culture crawled off to die, then what possible zeitgeist awaits a people left so hopelessly de-cultured on aspiration’s lowest ladder-rung? [more]