This page is old news, while page 21 is newer, it might not be the newest, but it will at least lead there eventually, I hope. If not, sorry. the quickies archive.December 2007
Homo sapiens sapiens has spread across the globe and increased vastly in numbers over the past 50,000 years or so—from an estimated five million in 9000 B.C. to roughly 6.5 billion today. More people means more opportunity for mutations to creep into the basic human genome and new research confirms that in the past 10,000 years a host of changes to everything from digestion to bones has been taking place.
"We found very many human genes undergoing selection," says anthropologist Gregory Cochran of the University of Utah, a member of the team that analyzed the 3.9 million DNA sequences* showing the most variation. "Most are very recent, so much so that the rate of human evolution over the past few thousand years is far greater than it has been over the past few million years."
"We believe that this can be explained by an increase in the strength of selection as people became agriculturalists—a major ecological change—and a vast increase in the number of favorable mutations as agriculture led to increased population size," he adds.
District Wildlife Coordinator (DMC), Sibangane Mosojane says research shows that growing a special type of chilli pepper, suitable for making Tabasco chilli sauce, as a buffer along the fence of a field has proven to be an effective method in repelling elephants from raiding crops. The hot taste of the chilli pepper fruits irritates the jumbos whereas its smell, raw, crushed or burnt acts as a repellent.
We raise our voices in unison to say to President Bush, to Vice President Cheney, to other members of the Bush Administration (past and present), to a majority of Congress, including Utah's entire congressional delegation, and to much of the mainstream media: "You have failed us miserably and we won't take it anymore."
While we had every reason to expect far more of you, you have been pompous, greedy, cruel, and incompetent as you have led this great nation to a moral, military, and national security abyss. You have breached trust with the American people in the most egregious ways. You have utterly failed in the performance of your jobs. You have undermined our Constitution, permitted the violation of the most fundamental treaty obligations, and betrayed the rule of law.
You have engaged in, or permitted, heinous human rights abuses of the sort never before countenanced in our nation's history as a matter of official policy. You have sent American men and women to kill and be killed on the basis of lies, on the basis of shifting justifications, without competent leadership, and without even a coherent plan for this monumental blunder. . .
-MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON, SALT LAKE CITY, OCT 27
n New Orleans, public housing doesn't mean bleak high-rise towers. The city has thousands of units with Georgian brickwork and lacy ironwork porches that came through Hurricane Katrina barely scathed.
Yet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, last week approved $31 million worth of contracts to demolish 4,500 public housing units of such high quality that some are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The demolitions, scheduled to start as soon as Dec. 15, come as the city faces an unprecedented shortage of rental housing. To add insult to injury, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced last week that it would evict hundreds of residents of emergency trailer parks in New Orleans over the next six months, even though they don't have houses to return to.
Merry Christmas, poor people. . .
Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.
The police state that politicians are building isn't some cartoony reproduction of Nazi Germany; it's an America of the future that looks much like the United States of today, but works as if the whole country has been turned into an airport security checkpoint. It'll be like Mexico, with everybody averting their eyes as the cops stroll by, but with better plumbing. It's a country that has a familiar flag, regular elections and outraged civil liberties columnists, but where it's easier than ever to get yourself arrested for things that our parents wouldn't have considered crimes - or just for annoying the wrong people. Yes, America is becoming a police state. But unless you pay attention, you might not notice until it's too late.
Case in point. I've made hundreds of "violent" drawings and flip-books as a child.
In a recent interview with Charlie Rose to drum up publicity for his book, The Age of Turbulence, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan argued that the reason to make war on Iraq was that an unchecked Saddam Hussein would have threatened the world’s oil supply. Greenspan gave no evidence or argument for his assertion. But in making it, he confirmed the views of many opponents of the war, and even some supporters, that the Iraq War was, or at least should have been, about oil. He also joined a long list of prominent people who have made the case for war for oil ever since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries formed an effective cartel that raised the world price from $3 a barrel to $11 in the fall of 1973.
That’s too bad, because the case for making war for oil is profoundly weak. The pragmatic case against war for oil, on the other hand, rests on a few simple facts. First, no oil-producing country, no matter what it does to its oil supply, can cause us to line up for gasoline. Second, an oil-producing country cannot impose a selective embargo on a target country, because oil is sold in a world market. Third, the only way one country’s government can hurt another country using the “oil weapon” is by cutting output, which hurts all oil consumers, not just the target country; helps all oil producers, friend and foe alike; and harms the country that cuts its output.
Consider how long the foreign-policy establishment has taken as accepted the idea that the U.S. government needs to use military force to keep the world’s oil supply flowing. In March 1975, Harper’s published an article, “Seizing Arab Oil,” authored by “Miles Ignotus.” The author’s name, Harper’s explained, “is the pseudonym of a Washington-based professor and defense consultant with intimate links to high-level U.S. policy makers.” Many insiders speculated that the piece was written by Edward Luttwak, still a prominent military analyst. In it, the author expressed frustration at the high price of oil and argued that no nonviolent means of breaking the cartel’s back would work. Even massive conservation, he argued, was unlikely to solve the problem. Moreover, he claimed, “there is absolutely no reason to expect major new discoveries.” So what options were left? “Ignotus” wrote, “There remains only force. The only feasible countervailing power to OPEC’s control of oil is power itself—military power.” He argued at the time that military force should be exerted on Saudi Arabia.
-"The Myth of the Oil Weapon", by David R. Henderson
My intention here is to stand back a little from this parade of views and counterviews and ask about its implications for the humanist movement. What can we, as humanists in Britain now, learn from the debate around the New Atheism? We should begin by recognising that the “New Atheism” is not really new. Its distinctive themes – religion as the enemy of science, of progress and of an enlightened morality – are in a direct line of descent from the 18th-century enlightenment and 19th-century rationalism. The “new” movement is better seen as a revival, a reassertion of the values of rational thought and vigorous argument. It has struck people as new because it has given new life to old disagreements and debates and done so with great panache and style. But we need to beware of fighting old battles in a world which has moved on.
What kick-started the New Atheism was, of course, the attack on the Twin Towers. That event, and subsequent acts of Islamist-inspired terrorism, reminded the world of the terrible deeds that can be performed in the name of religious fanaticism, especially if it is reinforced by dreams of immediate rewards in paradise. How to combat Islamist fanaticism is obviously a pressing question. At the same time, it would be foolish to let our attitudes to all religions and all religious believers be coloured by a small set of specific outrages.
A second development which no doubt reinforced the New Atheism was the resurgence of creationism, on a small scale in the UK and on a scarily large scale in the US. In the States it’s linked with the religious right and the malign influence of Christian fundamentalists on politics and government. Unsurprisingly, it’s in the US that the New Atheism seems to be taking shape as a cultural movement, not just a publishing success. Dawkins has launched the “Out” campaign, encouraging American atheists to “come out”. The success of these developments is sufficient evidence that they respond to a real need, and they reflect the extent to which American atheists have felt beleaguered. In some parts of the US it takes courage to come out as an atheist. But let’s be honest – in Britain today, for most of us, it’s a doddle.
This points to the danger of over-generalising about religion and about religious believers. By far the commonest criticism directed against the New Atheists is that they do over-generalise, and I think that the criticism is justified. To avoid being guilty of the same mistake myself, I’ll focus only on the two bestsellers, Dawkins and Hitchens, because their books have done most to generate the larger movement. They are quite explicit in their desire to generalise about religion. Dawkins says: “I do everything in my power to warn people against faith itself, not just against so-called ‘extremist’ faith. The teachings of ‘moderate’ religion, though not extremist in themselves, are an open invitation to extremism.”
For the record, I've seen UFO's before too. It doesn't mean I think they were aliens. It means I could not identify them and they were in the air flying around. Of course, aliens are a lot more likely a thing than God to me.
The U.S. military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments. To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.
Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.
-KDKA (USA! USA! USA!)
Once I left the army, my forays into the West Bank were on more equal terms, as I sought to meet the very people whose towns I'd previously patrolled, to hear their stories about life under military rule. From Jenin to Bethlehem to Ramallah and beyond, the extent of the suffering and the depth of the torment was exposed to me time and again. There was no doubt in my mind that our mere presence in their daily routines was twisting the knife every time they encountered a soldier - and breeding extremism and radicalism all the while.
The unspoken truth that every Israeli knows, uncomfortable as it may be to admit, is that occupation breeds terror. Every incursion, every raid, every curfew and collective punishment, drives the moderates into the welcoming arms of the militants, who promise to return their honour and their wounded pride by fighting the oppressors' fire with fire of their own. And that fact alone should be enough to shake Israelis awake and realise that the occupation has to end, as much for our own security as for the sake of the Palestinians that we're subjugating.
WHEN I was circulating a book to various publishers, one turned it down saying, "We're looking for civics, not solutions." I had long suspected that. Which is why we continue to have a Middle East peace process but no peace. And no one around here seems to mind.continue to damage this country until they are gone, but we don't have anything solid in the Democratic party short of Kucinich and Gravel to base our hopes on.
I meet alot of process people in Washington. They're like vehicles without a drive belt. They make a lot of noise; they just can't go anywhere. Getting things done is now a radical act. Then there are the virtual people. They only exist as images of themselves. Talking to one of them is like watching a bad cable show without a zapper. Some scientists believe that at the rate things are going, process people and virtual people will eventually evolve into species reproductively incompatible with the rest of us. There are already reports of process people and real people mating and producing only sterile offspring ~ a sort of mule that understands all the main policy points.
Zombie machine, electronic pacifier, the boob tube is at the heart of American relaxation and good times. Americans sit in bars not to talk but to be fixated by a whole bank of televisions, showing half a dozen sporting events in different time zones. They go to ballparks to gaze at the Jumbotron, then home to study TV highlights of what they’ve missed at the games. As for family entertainment, Americans gorge on a diet of kitschy, feel-good stories interspersed by sadism, a normal American pastime by now, bubbling up from the subconscious, complete with nooses and feces, trickling down from the executive level.
Passively watching, Americans feel no complicity enjoying scenes of staged yet real degradation, in witnessing an endless parade of people being screamed at (Hell’s Kitchen), punched, kicked and kneed into a bloody mess (Ultimate Fighting) or eating cockroaches and maggots (Fear Factor). The Toyota, Froot Loops, Coke and male-enhancement commercials, interlarded between these vile, entertaining scenes, reassure viewers that they’re still safely within the mainstream, that they’re still God-fearing, patriotic, baseball-loving Americans. The cheeky rudeness of the Gong Show are now super quaint by comparison.
In this TV environment, natural disasters and wars are also entertainment, to be enjoyed with a Bud and a tub of Dorritos, with Abu Ghraib an even more thrilling version of Fear Factor. It’s true that people have always rejoiced at each other’s misfortunes, and nothing is more cathartic, fun and funny than someone else’s death–one even feels slightly taller in the presence of a corpse, Elias Cannetti has written–but our death porn is being whipped into a frenzy by an endless orgy of destruction, all with the aim of selling us a few more bags of Cheetos. Asian tsunami, San Diego fires or Katrina disgrace, they’re all cool to watch, dude. Chill, everybody else is into the same shit.
Who are homeless veterans?
The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says the nation's homeless veterans are mostly males (4 % are females). The vast majority are single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45% suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Forty-seven percent of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam Era. More than 67% served our country for at least three years and 33% were stationed in a war zone.
How many homeless veterans are there?
Although accurate numbers are impossible to come by -- no one keeps national records on homeless veterans -- the VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country. According to the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Urban Institute, 1999), veterans account for 23% of all homeless people in America.
The stake-out was almost comical in its absurdity: On April 4, 2007, undercover police counted how many times Eric Montanez, a 22-year-old volunteer with Food Not Bombs, dipped a serving ladle into a pot and handed stew to hungry people.
Once Montanez had dished up 30 bowls, the police moved in, collecting a vial of the stew for evidence as they arrested him for violating an Orlando, Fla., city ordinance: feeding a large group. Two days into his trial yesterday, Montanez was acquitted by a jury of the misdemeanor charge, but was cautioned to obey the law.
As activists celebrate the verdict, the Orlando Police Department has said it will continue to ordinance, making the fight for the free flow of food in the city far from over.
-Megan Tady, Feeding the Hungry is a Crime
Refrigerators loom large. This most ordinary of kitchen appliances becomes the barometer of an individual’s humanity. “Refrigerators are poignant symbols of our city’s destruction and our government’s inertia; many are now painted with political slogans. The refrigerators of New Orleans are also the weapons of choice in the rapid deterioration of civility Uptown. Weapons of our mass destruction—literally.”
When Katrina hit, refrigerators and their contents were swallowed by the rising floodwaters. Weeks later, when the water receded, the toxic stench boggles the imagination. What to do with thousands of reeking, contaminated refrigerators? It was no longer an existential question, but a personal, in-your-face decision.
“Refrigerator clusters have started appearing all over the area, as one guy dumps his fridge on a corner away from his house, and then—like iron shavings drawn to a magnet—suddenly there are five appliances on the corner, then 10, then 15.”
The landscape, littered with the acrid odors of the refrigerators’ private parts, became the smell track to the Katrina story. It ain’t Chanel No. 5.
-Laura S. Washington, Katrina Through Rose-Colored Glasses
You’ve heard the expression, “If I told the truth, no one would believe me”? Dig this: I’ve just watched the best Christopher Guest film ever made, but it wasn’t made by Christopher Guest. In fact, it wasn’t even a “mockumentary”.
Amar Bar-Lev’s new documentary, “My Kid Could Paint That”, is ostensibly about the “career” of 4-year old (not a typo) Marla Olmstead, who hit the MSM spotlight briefly a few years back when her abstract paintings became a surprise hit in the New York art world. I use the qualifier “ostensibly”, because by the time the credits roll, you realize that this film goes much, much deeper than standard issue news-kicker fodder about yet another child prodigy. As one of the film’s subjects, a reporter for a local newspaper, muses to the filmmaker, “…this story is really more about the adults (in Marla’s orbit).”
The back story: Mark and Laura Olmstead, a young couple living in sleepy Binghamton, New York, begin to notice that their daughter, Marla, appears to have a knack for art that transcends the random scribbling of a typical toddler. To be sure, every parent likes to think their kid is a bloody little genius, but the Olmsteads receive validation when a friend suggests they hang some of Marla’s work in his local coffee shop (for a lark) and to their surprise, the paintings start selling like hotcakes. A local newspaper reporter picks up on the story, as does the owner of a local art gallery. Then, faster than you can say “just out of diapers”, young Marla becomes a media darling, resulting in a substantial spike in the value of her paintings (some are sold in the five-figure range). Everything is going quite swimmingly until “60 Minutes” sets their sights on the family, airing a “takedown” story in 2004 that includes hidden camera footage showing Mark Olmstead barking instructions at Marla as she paints. Needless to say, sales drop off dramatically.
[An] enormous stew of trash - which consists of 80 percent plastics and weighs some 3.5 million tons, say oceanographers - floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man's land between San Francisco and Hawaii. Marcus Eriksen, director of research and education at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, said his group has been monitoring the Garbage Patch for 10 years. . . The patch has been growing, along with ocean debris worldwide, tenfold every decade since the 1950s, said Chris Parry, public education program manager with the California Coastal Commission in San Francisco.
Ancient Music Ezra Pound Winter is icummen in, Lhude sing Goddamm. Raineth drop and staineth slop, And how the wind doth ramm! Sing: Goddamm. Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us, An ague hath my ham. Freezeth river, turneth liver, Damn you, sing: Goddamm. Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm, So 'gainst the winter's balm. Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm. Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.
It remains true that much of the production capital invested is obtained via the financial markets, but only a tiny proportion of the funds invested in those markets find their way into productive investment. There was a time when the financial markets existed mainly to service the needs of the real economy. Today the real economy is a sideshow. Why invest in the production of goods and services which offer a modest return over a long period, when you can place bets on minor fluctuations in prices for all manner of financial devices invented for the sole purpose of quickly generating higher than average returns?
For some time now, financial capital and the markets through which it flows have set the terms under which the real economy operates. They are the primary mechanism through which the interests of minority wealth and privilege are promoted. So powerful have they become, that even progressive-minded governments have their hands tied by the threat of non-cooperation from the world of big finance.
As Glautier reminds us, it is through the gradual democratisation of society, over centuries, that the social conscience has been able to impose a degree of moral discipline on the market system. Over the last 30 years, however, a serious democratic deficit has emerged, so that today no mainstream political party is prepared to challenge the hegemony of the financial markets.
For the first time the UK's consumer debt exceeds the total of its gross national product: a new report shows that we owe £1.35 trillion. Inspectors in the United States have discovered that 77,000 road bridges are in the same perilous state as the one which collapsed into the Mississippi. Two years after Hurricane Katrina struck, 120,000 people from New Orleans are still living in trailer homes and temporary lodgings. As runaway climate change approaches, governments refuse to take the necessary action. Booming inequality threatens to create the most divided societies the world has seen since before the first world war. Now a financial crisis caused by unregulated lending could turf hundreds of thousands out of their homes and trigger a cascade of economic troubles.
These problems appear unrelated, but they all have something in common. They arise in large part from a meeting that took place 60 years ago in a Swiss spa resort. It laid the foundations for a philosophy of government that is responsible for many, perhaps most, of our contemporary crises.
When the Mont Pelerin Society first met, in 1947, its political project did not have a name. But it knew where it was going. The society's founder, Friedrich von Hayek, remarked that the battle for ideas would take at least a generation to win, but he knew that his intellectual army would attract powerful backers. Its philosophy, which later came to be known as neoliberalism, accorded with the interests of the ultra-rich, so the ultra-rich would pay for it.
Two years after the onslaught of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, much of the Gulf Coast is still in crisis -- and billions of federal recovery money remains bottled up or has been squandered due to red tape, failures of oversight and misguided priorities. That's the conclusion of a new report from the Institute for Southern Studies..
The study, published in collaboration with Oxfam America and the Jewish Funds for Justice, looks at 80 statistical indicators and draws on interviews with more than 40 Gulf Coast leaders to identify roadblocks to recovery, and ways federal leaders can tackle critical needs in the region like housing, jobs and coastal protection.
The Institute reveals that, out of the $116 billion in Katrina funds allocated, less than 30% has gone towards long-term rebuilding-and less than half of that 30% has been spent, much less reached those most in need.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what happened two years ago here just behind us. There is the levee.
MALIK RAHIM: Well, three blocks -- well, the levees broke, I believe it was because of the fact of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, which is just about two miles away from here, and when it pushed that storm surge through that canal, it came through and it broke the levee here at Industrial Canal. And a barge came through, and that barge traveled about three-and-a-half blocks, just crushing houses.
You know, this is an area that had the highest death toll in the entire city. Somewhere between 300 to 500 people lost their lives right here. A good friend of mine now, he lost his mother and his granddaughter, you know, the morning of the 29th. So you have many people here that have really suffered that pain.
And there wasn't no trauma counselors here. You know, you had people that, after going through this, after witnessing and experiencing the worst disaster to hit America, they have yet to have any type of counseling, and then they have yet to have any type of support in rebuilding their lives.
So you see the area where the people was hardest hit two years ago by a hurricane, now two years later they are still being the hardest hit by another hurricane, but this hurricane is called racism, greed and corruption.
As we think about reaching this other possible world, I want to be very clear that I don't believe the problem is a lack of ideas. I think we’re swimming in ideas: universal healthcare; living wages; cooperatives; participatory democracy; public services that are accountable to the people who use them; food, medicine and shelter as a human right. These aren't new ideas. They’re enshrined in the UN Charter. And I think most of us still believe in them.
I don't think our problem is money, lack of resources to act on these basic ideas. Now, at the risk of being accused of economic populism, I would just point out that in this city, the employees of Goldman Sachs received more than $16 billion in Christmas bonuses last year, and ExxonMobil earned $40 billion in annual profits, a world record. It seems to me that there’s clearly enough money sloshing around to pay for our modest dreams. We can tax the polluters and the casino capitalists to pay for alternative energy development and a global social safety net. We don't lack ideas. Neither are we short on cash.
And unlike Jeffrey Sachs, I actually don't believe that what is lacking is political will at the highest levels, cooperation between world leaders. I don't think that if we could just present our elites with the right graphs and PowerPoint presentations -- no offense -- that we would finally convince them to make poverty history. I don't believe that. I don't believe we could do it, even if that PowerPoint presentation was being delivered Angelina Jolie wearing a (Product) Red TM Gap tank top and carrying a (Product) Red cell phone. Even if she had a (Product) Red iPhone, I still don't think they would listen. That’s because elites don't make justice because we ask them to nicely and appealingly. They do it when the alternative to justice is worse. And that is what happened all those years ago when the income gap began to close. That was the motivation behind the New Deal and the Marshall Plan. Communism spreading around the world, that was the fear. Capitalism needed to embellish itself. It needed to soften its edges. It was in a competition. So ideas aren't the problem, and money is not the problem, and I don't think political will is ever the problem.
The real problem, I want to argue today, is confidence, our confidence, the confidence of people who gather at events like this under the banner of building another world, a kinder more sustainable world. I think we lack the strength of our convictions, the guts to back up our ideas with enough muscle to scare our elites. We are missing movement power. That’s what we’re missing. “The best lacked all convictions,” Yeats wrote, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Think about it. Do you want to tackle climate change as much as Dick Cheney wants Kazakhstan’s oil? Do you? Do you want universal healthcare as much as Paris Hilton wants to be the next new face of Estee Lauder? If not, why not? What is wrong with us? Where is our passionate intensity?
What is at the root of our crisis of confidence? What drains us of our conviction at crucial moments when we are tested? At the root, I think it’s the notion that we have accepted, which is that our ideas have already been tried and found wanting. Part of what keeps us from building the alternatives that we deserve and long for and that the world needs so desperately, like a healthcare system that doesn't sicken us when we see it portrayed on film, like the ability to rebuild New Orleans without treating a massive human tragedy like an opportunity for rapid profit-making for politically connected contractors, the right to have bridges that don't collapse and subways that don't flood when it rains. I think that what lies at the root of that lack of confidence is that we’re told over and over again that progressive ideas have already been tried and failed. We hear it so much that we accepted it. So our alternatives are posed tentatively, almost apologetically. “Is another world possible?” we ask.
This idea of our intellectual and ideological failure is the dominant narrative of our time. It’s embedded in all the catchphrases that we’ve been referring to. “There is no alternative,” said Thatcher. “History has ended,” said Fukuyama. The Washington Consensus: the thinking has already been done, the consensus is there. Now, the premise of all these proclamations was that capitalism, extreme capitalism, was conquering every corner of the globe because all other ideas had proven themselves disastrous. The only thing worse than capitalism, we were told, was the alternative.
The Justice Department said imposing a Net neutrality regulation could hamper development of the Internet and prevent service providers from upgrading or expanding their networks. It could also shift the "entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers," the agency said in its filing.
Net neutrality has not prevented anyone from "upgrading or expanding their networks" since its inception and therefore it's an unwarranted speculation as is the notion that consumers would bear all costs.
The agency said providing different levels of service is common, efficient and could satisfy consumers. As an example, it cited that the U.S. Postal Service charges customers different guarantees and speeds for package delivery, ranging from bulk mail to overnight delivery.A false analogy like the "Ted Stevens Tubes", but from an agency that turned a blind eye to real injustice within.
"Whether or not the same type of differentiated products and services will develop on the Internet should be determined by market forces, not regulatory intervention," the agency said in its filing.Ah, oh hallowed "market forces" must be invoked to mark that neoliberlism's pipe they still toke.
[Net neutrality regulation] could prevent rather than promote Internet investment and innovation and have "significant negative effects for the economy and consumers," the Justice Department said in the filing.Last but not least some inverse reality released shamefully betraying those consumers to the big telco beast.
For those of you who have seen (and heard) Jim Cramer’s diatribe on CNBC on Monday 3 August,8 you may be wondering about discount lending. Here’s the deal. The Fed has a standing offer to lend to banks (so long as they have collateral to pledge for the loan) at a rate that is 1 percentage point above the federal funds rate target of 5¼ percent. So, today a bank can borrow from the Fed at 6¼ percent. Banks, not the Fed, decide when to request a discount loan. The borrowed funds are deposited into the bank’s reserve account and can be loaned out to other banks.
While we do not know for sure, it seems unlikely that discount lending increased much last week. The reason is that banks always have the option of borrowing from other banks at the federal funds rate, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that the highest rate charged for an overnight interbank loan late last week was 6 percent.9 I seriously doubt that a bank would borrow from the Fed at 6¼ percent when they can borrow more cheaply from another bank.
I would guess that Cramer was really arguing for an interest rate cut. It’s hard to see why that’s necessary at the moment. If you can’t buy and sell the securities you own, you probably don’t care if the cost of funds is 5¼ percent or 4 percent, or whatever.
A Party member…is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a sceptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline…called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
-George Orwell (posthumously describes the warbloggers)
ne of the juiciest pleasures of recent neuroscience is its exploration of long-mushy questions of ethics and morality. What brain networks generate moral and ethical sentiment and action? Does morality or ethics rise more from recently developed social conventions (human invention, in other words) or from brain-based cognitive systems that first developed in our evolutionary ancestors? What are the neural correlates of moral sensitivity? Of revenge? Of charity? Of a hostility to moral guidelines?
Reviewed below is a toothsome addition to this line of inquiry, "Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements" (Nature, April 19, 2007), in which an illustrious team led by the University of Iowa's Michael Koenigs and the University of Southern California's Antonio Damasio explored the tendency of certain brain-damaged patients to favor utilitarian moral judgments. Do you think it's okay to kill one person to save two or three others? It seems your answer may rely on the relative health or strength of particular brain areas. As noted by our reviewers -- Jorge Moll and Ricardo de Oliveria-Souza, of the Labs D'Or in Rio de Janeiro, and David Pizarro, of Cornell University -- the study illuminates intriguing dynamics in how we balance principle and emotion to calculate The Right Thing to Do.
-David Dobbs, When Morality is hard to like
"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers."
-Bill Sali (R) Senator of Idaho to their eternal shame or pride?
A Salt Lake City lawyer searching for the truth behind his brother's death has uncovered a wealth of new information that could implicate the FBI in the Oklahoma City bombings. The documents he dug up suggest the FBI knew about the plot to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in advance but did little to prevent it. Jesse Trentadue's brother Kenney Trentadue was found dead in his prison cell in Oklahoma City in August 1995. The FBI calls it a suicide, but Jesse maintains Kenney was beaten to death during an interrogation. Jesse believes the FBI mistook his brother for the missing second suspect in the Oklahoma City bombings - the so-called "John Doe #2." His research also suggests that the bombing was not the work of one or two men, but involved a wider network connected to the far-right white supremacist movement.
"In Search of John Doe No. 2: The Story the Feds Never Told About the Oklahoma City Bombing" by James Ridgeway
I just know that Wes Anderson has a really huge and impressive record collection. Listening to his soundtracks is like being on the receiving end of a music geek's secret handshake. He included two songs by the cult 1960s band, Love, on the soundtrack to Bottle Rocket. He used The Creation's Making Time for Max Fisher's montage at the beginning of Rushmore, but left out the best part of the song, when Eddie Phillips wails with a violin bow on his guitar, as if to say this proof is left as an exercise for the reader. He tried to make a soundtrack for Rushmore out of nothing but the Kinks, but settled for an almost entirely British Invasion soundtrack instead. He included two songs by Nico on the Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack, and both of them had lyrics by Jackson Browne! Many moviegoers wouldn't notice these things, but there's evidence that Anderson puts a lot of thought into his soundtracks, if you know where to look.
On Tuesday, without note in the U.S. media, more than half of the members of Iraq's parliament rejected the continuing occupation of their country. 144 lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal, according to Nassar Al-Rubaie, a spokesman for the Al Sadr movement, the nationalist Shia group that sponsored the petition....
A sovereign and unified Iraq, free of sectarian violence, is what George Bush and Tony Blair claim they want most. The most likely reason that the United States and Britain have rebuffed those Iraqi nationalists who share those goals is that the nationalists oppose permanent basing rights and the privatization of Iraq's oil sector. The administration, along with their allies in Big Oil, has pressed the Iraqi government to adopt an oil law that would give foreign multinationals a much higher rate of return than they enjoy in other major oil producing countries and would lock in their control over what George Bush called Iraq's "patrimony" for decades.
Al-Shammari said this week: "We're afraid the U.S. will make us pass this new oil law through intimidation and threatening. We don't want it to pass, and we know it'll make things worse, but we're afraid to rise up and block it, because we don't want to be bombed and arrested the next day." In the Basrah province, where his Al-Fadhila party dominates the local government, Al-Shammari's fellow nationalists have been attacked repeatedly by separatists for weeks, while British troops in the area remained in their barracks.
Let's go to a time and place so distant that no one knows when or where it was, a time and place whose importance is as infinite as its obscurity. The moment we are seeking is the one during which a single individual, or a small group of individuals, did something so unusual that it helped free their ilk forever from the shackles of the environment and genetics -- grabbing destiny from the tree of nature and making it human.
Global dumbing involves the virtually imperceptible but steady deterioration of the aggregate human mind -- as well as of its institutions -- much as the temperature of the earth is apparently rising at a rate so minuscule that scientists will be still be debating its escalation even as the waters of the Atlantic Ocean lap at the potted plants in the lobby of the Trump Plaza. In fact, global warming and global dumbing are intimately connected. Without the latter, something actually might be done before that portion of Washington below the fall line of the Potomac is totally submerged. And like global warming, global dumbing concerns itself with losses incurred by energy transfers and nature's ceaseless quest for the random equilibrium of chaos. It is, in short, the entropy of the human spirit and of the systems it has created.
In earlier times, it was possible to avoid cultural entropy by stealing energy from somewhere else. This, of course, was the foundation of slave trade, the British Empire and various new world orders of the first half of 20th century. While it still goes on, energy theft has become more difficult as the world has steadily lost its cultural, political, environmental and economic differentiation.
A cursory examination of American business suggests that its major product is wasted energy. Compute all the energy loss created by corporate lawyers, Washington lobbyists, marketing consultants, CEO benefits, advertising agencies, leadership seminars, human resource supervisors, strategic planners and industry conventions and it is amazing that this country has any manufacturing base at all....
If the predictions of climatologists, environmentalists, city planners and the head of the water board are correct, the sprinklers and many other of the comforts that have made southern California habitable may have to be turned off. Experts across the city concur that the conditions are ripe in southern California for the "perfect drought". Los Angeles has recorded just 3.21 in of rain in the year ending June 30, making it the driest year on record since 1877. According to the National Drought Mitigation Centre, southern California faces "extreme drought" this year, with no rain forecast before September. One climatologist referred to the temperatures in Los Angeles as "Death Valley numbers".
[A]lthough most Americans believe that their Surgeon General has the ability to impact the course of public health as "the nation's doctor," the reality is that the nation's doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas. Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological, or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, or simply buried.
"To my knowledge, this is the fastest evolutionary change that has ever been observed," said Sylvain Charlat, of University College London, UK, whose study appears in the journal Science.
Gregory Hurst, a University College researcher who worked with Mr Charlat, added: "We usually think of natural selection as acting slowly, over hundreds of thousands of years.
"But the example in this study happened in the blink of the eye, in terms of evolutionary time, and is a remarkable thing to get to observe."
"I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, 'A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi... You know, so what?'... [Only when we got home] in... meeting other veterans, it seems like the guilt really takes place, takes root, then."
-Specialist Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry. In Baquba for a year beginning February 2004 (more)
There are some things that are so serious that you can only joke about them.-Neils Bohr
They the found money to do this war. I don't ever want to hear again that we don't have the money when our own citizens get sick.-Michael Moore
Getting it right can be a matter of life and death. When an outbreak of cholera suddenly gripped the Broad Street area of London in 1854, microbes were unknown. But John Snow suspected that contaminated water supplies were associated with cholera outbreaks. Snow and his associates quickly collected information about people who had died from cholera, and compared their stories with nearby people who had not been afflicted. He mapped the data, and using the patterns of fatalities Snow was able to convince community authorities to close the tainted well.- Marty Lucas, "Getting Tufte" ( Tufte's new book is Beautiful Evidence - NYmag review)
By contrast, Tufte gives a detailed and chilling case study of the events leading up to the space shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. A “no-launch” recommendation from engineers at Morton Thiokol, the rocket manufacturer, was overruled when the engineers failed to make a convincing case supporting their recommendation. Tufte shows how the same data should have been presented, to focus on the causal relationship between o-ring problems experienced on prior cool weather launches and the reduced resiliency of the o-rings in low temperature conditions. With a causation oriented presentation it would have been obvious that the engineers’ concerns were justified and it is likely that NASA’s worst disaster would have been averted.
Graphical decoration, which prospers in technical publications as well as in commercial and media graphics, comes cheaper than the hard work required to produce intriguing numbers and secure evidence.-Edward R. Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
A flotilla of plastic ducks is heading for Britain’s beaches, according to an American oceanographer.- From Arbroath
For the past 15 years Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been tracking nearly 30,000 plastic bath toys that were released into the Pacific Ocean when a container was washed off a cargo ship.
I'm on an organic beekeeping list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list. The problem with the big commercial guys is that they put pesticides in their hives to fumigate for varroa mites, and they feed antibiotics to the bees. They also haul the hives by truck all over the place to make more money with pollination services, which stresses the colonies.
Gomory and Baumol are elaborating a fundamental point sure to make many economists (and political leaders) sputter and choke. Contrary to dogma, the losses from trade are not confined to the "localized pain" felt by displaced workers who lose jobs and wages. In time, the accumulating loss of a country's productive base can injure the broader national interest--that is, everyone's economic well-being.
"Our objective," Baumol told a policy conference last summer, "is to show how outsourcing can indeed reduce the share of benefits of trade, not only for those who lose their jobs and suffer a direct reduction in wages but can wind up making the average American worse off than he or she would have been."
The conventional win-win assurances, they explain, are facile generalizations that ignore the complexity of the trading system--the myriad differences in country-to-country relationships and the vast realm of government actions and policy interventions designed to shape the outcomes. "Many of our 'dismal science' colleagues speak unguardedly as though they believe free trade cannot fail, no matter what," Baumol said.
Some nations, in other words, do indeed become "losers." Gomory fears the United States is now one of them--starting to go downhill. When he and Baumol wrote their book, they figured US trade relations with China and India produced "mutual gain" for both ends. The United States got cheaper goods, China and India got jobs and a start at industrialization. But the rapid improvements in those two nations during the past decade, Gomory thinks, are putting the United States in the bind where their gain becomes our loss.
-"The Establishment Rethinks Globalization", by William Greider in The Nation