Wednesday, 29 November 2017

President Drumpf, you are welcome in the UK!

Because we want to pelt you with rotten eggs and mouldy tomatoes. But mainly rotten eggs, because they stink... just like you! Please come. Toodeloo! (No pun intended)

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Dump The Guardian!

The Guardian has spent the last two years relentlessly attacking Jeremy Corbyn. Only recently has it changed its tune, perhaps worried that it has alienated too many readers. Corbyn's success has been despite the Guardian and the rest of the corporate media. The Guardian will now want readers to forget its propaganda war on Corbyn. We've compiled this list so they don't. Dump the Guardian!

Via Tony Greenstein.

Monday, 9 October 2017

A Massive Exposé From Buzzfeed on How Breitbart and Milo Yiannopoulos Pushed White Nationalism Into the Mainstream

From LGF's intro to this important work of internet investigative journalism:

Today, Buzzfeed’s Joseph Bernstein has a mammoth exposé on this vile agenda, and the dominant role played by Milo Yiannopoulos, who was made a right wing star by Steve Bannon specifically to legitimize the white supremacist underworld to which he was already deeply connected.

Excerpt:

The Breitbart employee closest to the alt-right was Milo Yiannopoulos, the site’s former tech editor known best for his outrageous public provocations, such as last year’s Dangerous Faggot speaking tour and September’s canceled Free Speech Week in Berkeley. For more than a year, Yiannopoulos led the site in a coy dance around the movement’s nastier edges, writing stories that minimized the role of neo-Nazis and white nationalists while giving its politer voices “a fair hearing.” In March, Breitbart editor Alex Marlow insisted “we’re not a hate site.” Breitbart’s media relations staff repeatedly threatened to sue outlets that described Yiannopoulos as racist. And after the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Breitbart published an article explaining that when Bannon said the site welcomed the alt-right, he was merely referring to “computer gamers and blue-collar voters who hated the GOP brand.”

These new emails and documents, however, clearly show that Breitbart does more than tolerate the most hate-filled, racist voices of the alt-right. It thrives on them, fueling and being fueled by some of the most toxic beliefs on the political spectrum — and clearing the way for them to enter the American mainstream.

It’s a relationship illustrated most starkly by a previously unreleased April 2016 video in which Yiannopoulos sings “America the Beautiful” in a Dallas karaoke bar as admirers, including the white nationalist Richard Spencer, raise their arms in Nazi salutes.

These documents chart the Breitbart alt-right universe. They reveal how the website — and, in particular, Yiannopoulos — links the Mercer family, the billionaires who fund Breitbart, to underpaid trolls who fill it with provocative content, and to extremists striving to create a white ethnostate.

They capture what Bannon calls his “killing machine” in action, as it dredges up the resentments of people around the world, sifts through these grievances for ideas and content, and propels them from the unsavory parts of the internet up to TrumpWorld, collecting advertisers’ checks all along the way.

Read the long, evidence packed exposé, here at the source.

Friday, 1 September 2017

How ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’

Chris Hedges, so much to the point, as almost always. One of the very few voices truly worth hearing in this whole cacophony of the altright/antifa/altleft blame game:

Behind the rhetoric of the “alt-right” about white nativism and protecting American traditions, history and Christian values is the lust for violence. Behind the rhetoric of antifa, the Black Bloc and the so-called “alt-left” about capitalism, racism, state repression and corporate power is the same lust for violence.

The two opposing groups, largely made up of people who have been cast aside by the cruelty of corporate capitalism, have embraced holy war. Their lives, battered by economic misery and social marginalization, have suddenly been filled with meaning. They hold themselves up as the vanguard of the oppressed. They arrogate to themselves the right to use force to silence those they define as the enemy. They sanctify anger. They are infected with the dark, adrenaline-driven urge for confrontation that arises among the disenfranchised when a democracy ceases to function. They are separated, as Sigmund Freud wrote of those who engage in fratricide, by the “narcissism of minor differences.” They mirror each other, not only ideologically but also physically—armed and dressed in black, the color of fascism and the color of death.

It was inevitable that we would reach this point. The corporate state has seized and corrupted all democratic institutions, including the two main political parties, to serve the interests of corporate power and maximize global corporate profits. There is no justice in the courts. There is no possibility for reform in the legislative bodies. The executive branch is a dysfunctional mess headed by a narcissistic kleptocrat, con artist and pathological liar. Money has replaced the vote. The consent of the governed is a joke. Our most basic constitutional rights, including the rights to privacy and due process, have been taken from us by judicial fiat. The economically marginalized, now a majority of the country, have been rendered invisible by a corporate media dominated by highly paid courtiers spewing out meaningless political and celebrity gossip and trivia as if it were news. The corporate state, unimpeded, is pillaging and looting the carcass of the country and government, along with the natural world, for the personal gain of the 1 percent. It daily locks away in cages the poor, especially poor people of color, discarding the vulnerable as human refuse.

A government that is paralyzed and unable and unwilling to address the rudimentary needs of its citizens, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia and as history has shown with the Weimar Republic and czarist Russia, eventually empowers violent extremists. Economic and social marginalization is the lifeblood of extremist groups. Without it they wither and die. Extremism, as the social critic Christopher Lasch wrote, is “a refuge from the terrors of inner life.”

Germany’s Nazi stormtroopers had their counterparts in that nation’s communist Alliance of Red Front Fighters. The far-right anti-communist death squad Alliance of Argentina had its counterpart in the guerrilla group the People’s Revolutionary Army during the “Dirty War.” The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebels during the war I covered in El Salvador had their counterparts in the right-wing death squads, whose eventual demise seriously impeded the FMLN’s ability to recruit. The Serbian nationalists, or Chetniks, in Yugoslavia had their counterparts in the Croatian nationalists, or Ustaše. The killing by one side justifies the killing by the other. And the killing is always sanctified in the name of each side’s martyrs.

The violence by antifa—short for anti-fascist or anti-fascist action—in Charlottesville, Va., saw a surge in interest and support for the movement, especially after the murder of Heather Heyer. The Black Bloc was applauded by some of the counterprotesters in Boston during an alt-right rally there Aug. 19. In Charlottesville, antifa activists filled the vacuum left by a passive police force, holding off neo-Nazi thugs who threatened Cornel West and clergy who were protesting against the white nationalist event. This was a propaganda coup for antifa, which seeks to portray its use of violence as legitimate self-defense. Protecting West and the clergy members from physical assault was admirable. But this single act no more legitimizes antifa violence than the turkeys, Christmas gifts and Fourth of July fireworks that John Gotti gave to his neighbors legitimized the violence of the Gambino crime family. Antifa, like the alt-right, is the product of a diseased society.

The white racists and neo-Nazis may be unsavory, but they too are victims. They too lost jobs and often live in poverty in deindustrialized wastelands. They too often are plagued by debt, foreclosures, bank repossessions and inability to repay student loans. They too often suffer from evictions, opioid addictions, domestic violence and despair. They too sometimes face bankruptcy because of medical bills. They too have seen social services gutted, public education degraded and privatized and the infrastructure around them decay. They too often suffer from police abuse and mass incarceration. They too are often in despair and suffer from hopelessness. And they too have the right to free speech, however repugnant their views.

Read it all, at source (and perhaps weep?)...

Friday, 9 June 2017

Only in Mordor?

Maybe...

South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who hopes to succeed fellow Republican Mark Sanford as his state's governor, drew a comparison between government help for poor people and "feeding stray animals" – who, he noted, "breed."
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals," Bauer said during a town hall meeting, as the Greenville News reported over the weekend. "You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."
As the Greenville News notes, more than half of the students in South Carolina participate in a program that allows them to get their lunch for free, or at a reduced cost.

Read the rest here, if you're that way inclined...

Rebirth of the Labour Party?

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

50 years of Occupation

Yesterday, JVP’s website went dark for 24 hours in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the occupation. We put the following text up instead:

Almost 70 years since over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in the Nakba of 1948, the catastrophe of Palestinian displacement and oppression continues. Half a century after Israeli forces illegally occupied Palestinian land, the Palestinian people are still fighting for justice.

The war that was being fought 50 years ago today was one that remade the region. 300,000 people were displaced, over a million found themselves living under a brutal occupation, and the settlement enterprise was born, which in the fifty years since has brought approximately 600,000 Jewish settlers into the West Bank and East Jerusalem through land theft, expropriation and violence. Over the past 12 years, since settlers there were pulled out, Gaza has been under siege, subject to embargoes and repeated bombings, creating an “open-air prison” with some of the most unlivable conditions on the planet.

When JVP began in the early 2000s, many of us knew about the occupation, but nothing about the Nakba, or catastrophe, that was part and parcel of the founding of the state of Israel, and is ongoing until today. As we learned, 1967 was not the beginning of Palestinian oppression and dispossession: The seeds of the occupation were laid in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes-- and in fact the history of displacement, segregation, and violence goes back even further. We are deeply thankful to organizations such as Zochrot, Badil, and the Boycott National Committee that have pushed us, educated us, and provided us with resources for educating others, as part of our commitment to ongoing political education and transformation.

As we reflect this week on the meaning of this anniversary, we also need to remind ourselves of the real reason the occupation has reached the rotten old age of fifty. It is not because the solution is impossible to imagine or to achieve. It’s because the Israeli government is simply not interested in it.

And neither is the primary economic, military, and diplomatic guarantor of that government: the United States. Peace talks have always been a cover for further settlement expansion and entrenchment of the occupation, and have avoided almost entirely the underlying issues that predate the occupation-- among them the rights of refugees to return.

We can’t end the occupation without understanding its basis in the history and logic of supremacy and domination. And there can’t be real “peace talks” while one side is actively oppressing, exploiting and disenfranchising the other.

Matzpen was an Israeli anti-Zionist organization that was founded less than 20 years after the establishment of the state. Just months after the War of 1967, they published an ad in Ha’aretz that was remarkable prophetic, saying (in Hebrew):

“Our right to defend ourselves against annihilation does not grant us the right to oppress others. Conquest brings in its wake foreign rule. Foreign rule brings in its wake resistance. Resistance brings in its wake oppression. Oppression brings in its wake terrorism and counterterrorism. The victims of terrorism are usually innocent people. Holding onto the territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims. Let us leave the occupied territories now.” 1

Even in 1967, some Israelis were prescient and brave enough to publicly recognize what would result from the occupation.

We are proud to continue in the lineage of that resistance, recognizing that this work is long and hard-- and that it is necessary, and worth it.

During this solemn week of commemoration and reflection, please join me in re-committing to the struggle for justice and for the long-term future of all the people in Israel/Palestine.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, via email

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Troops on the streets, crazy in the news sheets.

One death-drive turns another. One journalist calls for the "internment of thousands". Another calls for a "final solution".

When the Westminster attacker, Khalid Masood, struck, there was the usual authoritarian frenzy, such as calls for the end of instant messaging privacy, and The Sun demanding armed cops on every street corner -- a lurid Petainist fantasy. But there was also a sub-current of exciting, macho rhetoric.

Andrew Neil, in a speech he was allowed to deliver to camera by the BBC, derided this "poundland terrorist". Do you, he wondered, have any idea who you're dealing with? We are the British. We conquered half the planet. We have committed untold acts of violence. You are nothing next to us. Bring it on. Send your best, send your worst. Come ahead, square go. This phallic bombast was so thrilling that Tommy Robinson, sharing the speech, said it gave him goosebumps. A visceral reminder that all rhetoric is erotica.

The stirring evocation of armour-plated British omnipotence was, however, only as persuasive as the attack was unsuccessful. Masood's methods were crude and chaotic. His headlong death-lunge at the nominal centre of British power was always doomed to fail. The indications are that he had converted to Islam to get out of a violent life -- he dreamed of blood, as he put it. But he was seemingly never a doctrinaire jihadi.

Salman Abedi, the 22 year old suicide attacker in Manchester, was a different type of attacker. This we know just from what he did. He used an explosive device, not knives. He picked a soft target, and a large target. Some 21,000 people, not protected by armed police, or even a baggage check, were potentially within the radius of his explosion. And maybe there was also an element of religious sadism, in targeting young people who had been having a good time. It seems obvious what he sought to provoke; exactly the kind of reaction that similar attacks have provoked in France, in the hope that an increasingly embattled minority of young Muslim men will flock to the theocratic far right. They want British politicians, spies and cops to become the recruiting sergeants for Daesh, and also collaterally the recruiting sergeants for Europe's next wave of fascism. Another turn in a depressingly familiar death-spiral.

And so, the Prime Minister gave a speech. The reclusive, gaffe-prone, gurn-smirking Theresa May, finally found her mark. It was, by all accounts, stateswomanlike, dignified, resolute, capturing the mood of the nation -- which is to say, it was exactly the same as any speech any Prime Minister would have given at such a moment. It said nothing, but said it with conviction. The point of such speeches is that, in their authoritative disbursement of information that was already available, in their solemn declarations of the obvious, in their insistence on certain adjectives which do the heavy lifting of explanation -- cowardice, evil, and so on -- they seem to make a superficial sense. Such attacks do not make sense. They are where sense breaks down. But the obligatory Prime Ministerial speech insists on making sense. In saying that we are strong, they were weak; we are brave, they are cowards; we will win, they will lose, it re-asserts a whole order of sense-making that has come into question.

What was far more important, registering the actual tenor of her policy response, was what came after. Theresa May is an ally of hardliners in the state, particularly in MI5. It was a former spook whom she recruited to draft her snoopers' charter some years ago. Her repertoire of responses to terror all fall on the side of intensified authoritarianism. Last time, she used the occasion to once more browbeat messaging services like Whatsapp -- on the preciously thin grounds that Masood may have sent a vital message linked to his attack before dying -- into abolishing user privacy.

This time, in the middle of an election, she has raised the "threat level" to "critical" and sent armed forces out into the streets. Without attempting to second-guess government claims that there is another terror attack imminent, or inquire into the integrity of those "threat levels" (if it hasn't dropped below "severe" in such a long time, perhaps the war isn't working), this is obviously not going to stop an attack.

It is, like airport security, a superstitious ritual. The point of this sort of terrorist tactic is that it is flexible, unpredictable, designed to upset calculations, and work around obstacles. As long as Daesh and like organisations have the ability to recruit, to summon loyalty, there will always be soft targets. Why? Because the idea of an ironclad, completely securitised nation, with no vulnerabilities, is a sinister totalitarian fantasy. Even if it were possible, it would depend on a repression ten times more ferocious than that which it was called down to stop.

So this is posturing, which happens to serve the interests of Theresa May and of police hardliners who want to show off a bit of British muscle and steel. And the more barbaric and violent the discourse becomes, the more it can be canalised into this statist machismo. The more-or-less civilised, collectivist, solidaristic reaction of Mancunians, the blood donations and free taxi rides, the homeless man rushing in to help the victims, the refusal to 'be divided', the chasing away of EDL provocateurs, is a cultural counterweight to that dangerous and ineffectual strutting.

But at some point, we need that multicultural conviviality to be conjoined with something which is presently absent, and that is a serious and critical reappraisal of every assumption of every 'counterterrorist' policy that has produced this terrifying impasse. That would mean the Prevent strategy, the various foreign policy interventions, the alliance with Saudi Arabia, everything. It would all have to be on the table, without intimidation. Because that intimidation is coming. The Birmingham MP, Khalid Mahmood, is already using the attack to demand that people stop criticising the hugely discriminatory and counterproductive Prevent strategy. Bear in mind that even such figures as Liam Byrne and Syeeda Warsi have criticised Prevent for the chilling effect it has on Muslim communities and on the enjoyment of civil liberties. The vitriol against Corbyn for his supposed Provo sympathies is part of this offensive, pour encourager les autres.

Nonetheless, the discussion has to happen. Because the cost of not having these conversations will probably be measured in a body count.

Source.

Friday, 26 May 2017

The failed ‘war on terror’ caused the attack in Manchester

The government has known since 2003 that the failed ‘war on terror’ would cause an attack like the one in Manchester

It should be firmly said that, if Saddam and Gaddafi had not been overthrown, it is unlikely that Salman Abedi would have been in a position to slaughter people in Manchester 

Patrick Cockburn - Indy

Jeremy Corbyn is correct in saying that there is a strong connection between the terrorist threat in Britain and the wars Britain has fought abroad, notably in Iraq and Libya. The fact that these wars motivate and strengthen terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda and Isis has long been obvious to British intelligence officers, though strenuously denied by governments.

The real views of British intelligence agencies on the likely impact of Britain taking part in wars in the Middle East are revealed in a Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) assessment dated 10 February 2003, just before the start of the invasion of Iraq led by American and British forces. It is marked “top secret”, but was declassified for use by the Chilcot Inquiry and, though it was referred to by several publications, attracted little attention at the time.

The first words of the assessment by JIC say: “the threat from al-Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq. They will target Coalition forces and other Western interests in the Middle East. Attacks against Western interests elsewhere are also likely, especially in the US and UK, for maximum impact. The worldwide threat from other Islamist groups and individuals will increase significantly.”

An earlier JIC assessment dated 10 October 2002 and also declassified by Chilcot says: “Al Qaida and associated groups will continue to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests and that threat will be heightened by military action against Iraq.”

Corbyn is saying almost exactly the same today as JIC predicted in 2003. He cites with approval experts pointing to “the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home". He adds that their assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children, but that an informed understanding is essential in order to fight rather than fuel terrorism.

The JIC conviction about the benefits to al Qaeda of the Iraq war was swiftly born out after the invasion as it expanded from being a small group of militants, perhaps less than a thousand-strong based mainly in the mountains of southern Afghanistan and north west Pakistan, into a global movement. Al Qaida in Iraq, taking advantage of the destruction of the Iraqi state, developed into one of the most powerful and influential terrorist movements in history, and later transmuted in Iraq and Syria into Isis.

Corbyn says that “we must be brave enough to admit ‘the war on terror’ is simply not working”, adding that "we need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism." Again, this is demonstrably true as vast resources have been poured into waging the ‘war on terror’ since 9/11, but Isis, al-Qaeda and similar Salafi jihadi movements are far stronger now than they were then. They have powerful military forces fighting in at least seven wars – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, North-East Nigeria – as well as in insurgencies, large and small, such as in Sinai and North-West Pakistan. Individuals and cells carry out terrorist attacks everywhere from Orlando to Baghdad and Berlin to Mogadishu.

Seldom has a war been so comprehensively and visibly lost as ‘the war on terror’ and it is doing a favour to Isis and al-Qaeda not to recognise this and try for something better. Yet critics of Corbyn have unconsciously doing such a favour to al-Qaeda by demanding he stay silent. In a crass but unintentionally revealing interview, the Conservative Security Minister Ben Wallace claimed that Corbyn's timing was "appalling". He said that “we have to be unequivocal, that no amount of excuses, no amount of twisted reasoning about a foreign policy here, a foreign policy there, can be an excuse. The reality is, these people hate our values.”

More.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Free Speech Under Attack - How the Government’s Prevent Programme was used to Cancel Meeting on Israel in Portsmouth

Palestine Solidarity Meeting with Tom Suarez is Cancelled Twice by Portsmouth Council Because it is ‘Controversial’


Tom Suarez has, on the basis of research in the Government’s archive written a book documenting the terrorist beginnings of the Israeli state. I have yet to read and review the book but by all accounts it is an impeccably documented book. (Review by Tony Greenstein of Tom Suarez' book - 'State of Terror')

Tom Suarez has, on the basis of research in the Government’s archive written a book documenting the terrorist beginnings of the Israeli state. I have yet to read and review the book but by all accounts it is an impeccably documented book.

What is also clear is that the research in this book, which is based on over 400 documents from the government’s own archives is unacceptable to the Zionist lobby in this country. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, an overtly Zionist body, which calls itself the representative body of Jews in this country has done its best to stop its author Tom Suarez speaking to meetings about his findings.

The Board of Deputies incidentally is elected by nobody. It is based on synagogue membership. It doesn’t represent Britain’s secular Jews, about half of all British Jews, the most cultured and educated section of British Jews but narrow minded businessmen and middle class Zionist bigots. Many of the synagogues elect their representatives on an all male electorate. Others are simply rotten boroughs where there is no election.

On the basis of the squeals of Britain’s Israel lobby, which doesn’t want the truth about Israel to be known, a campaign has been mounted to stop Tom Suarez speaking. One wonders what they have to fear?

What is worse is that this is being done under the cover of the government’s Prevent programme. Prevent was introduced on a mandatory basis under the government’s Counter Terrorism & Security Act 2015. Purportedly designed to prevent terrorism it operated on the theory that people become terrorists because they are ‘radicalised’. This absurd theory misses out small things like the fact that people became terrorists because the government in alliance with the United States went and bombed the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan killing over 1 million people. Some people wrongly believed that the attack on these countries was because they were Muslim.

The Prevent strategy assumes that people become ‘radicalised’ on the basis of ‘extremist’ political views. What are ‘extremist’ views? Anything which doesn’t subscribe to ‘British values’. Presumably Marxism, subversion, going on strike even, can in certain circumstances be held to be anti-British. Under this all encompassing rubric, the government has forced universities to vet speakers for public meetings because their young audiences may be susceptible to being unduly influenced by ideas which are not normative and conservative. Anti-imperialist ideas, Palestine solidarity and anything else outside the mainstream can be considered ‘extremist’ and thus akin to terrorism. This is the climate we are dealing with. That is also why we need to fight back.

Suarez’s book attacks Israel as a terrorist state. It is therefore outside the political mainstream. It therefore gives a license to pathetic pipsqueaks like Portsmouth’s Prevent Officer Charlie Pericleous to go around trying to close political meetings they don’t like. Of course this doesn’t excuse in any way the cowardly owners of venues – whether it is the Quaker’s Meeting House in Cambridge which cancelled a talk by Suarez or the Friendship Centre in Portsmouth. A similar meeting at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton which I spoke at with Jackie Walker was the subject of similar attempts to stop the meeting by the Board of Deputies. Fortunately in our case the Friends had a stiffer backbone than their counterparts in Cambridge. In Nottingham another meeting by Jackie and myself also had to be moved at the last minute.

We are facing a concerted attack by the Conservative government and the Israel/Zionist lobby in this country on Free Speech. It needs a robust campaign in response because this is a defence of the very essence of freedom and basic democratic liberties.

Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign has kept its head down and done virtually nothing in response to this attack on the rights of Palestine supporters and anti-Zionists. At the moment PSC is incapable of punching its way out of a paper bag, still less mounting a political fightback against government and state attacks. It even half-welcomed the government’s new International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism until I threw a fit.

Ben Jamal’s advice to Portsmouth PSC is extremely inadequate. What is needed are not apologies after the event by Council bureaucrats but a determined campaign to ensure that no Council anywhere or any University tries to ban speakers that the Establishment in this country doesn’t like. Universities are under a legal obligation to defend free speech. Councils have to be made to if necessary.

Moar words!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A Waiting Room of One’s Own

Silicon Valley gives you health care without all the sick people


FORWARD, THE STARTUP TOUTED by Bloomberg as “The Doctor’s Office of the Future,” doesn’t call itself a medical clinic. Instead, it bills itself as a “health membership,” like a gym. When I entered its office in San Francisco’s Financial District, the logic behind this turn of phrase began to reveal itself. Its medical robes for patients are designed by Lululemon, a brand that embodies the notion of wellness as a capitalist enterprise, in which the self, like an operating system, is primed for upgrades. More talismans of the self-improvement industrial complex are displayed somewhat conspicuously on the reception desk. On one side are bottles of the sleep supplement melatonin and assorted vitamins; on the other are rows of Aesop products and vials of anti-ageing serums by a company called SkinCeuticals (brand motto: “Skincare backed by science”) that can cost over $100 for a fluid ounce. A glass cabinet gleams with self-tracking gadgets like Wi-Fi-connected “body cardio” scales, blood pressure cuffs, and Fitbits. The promise of self-optimization lurks in the company’s slogan, “Design Your Health,” which is emblazoned in capital letters on the waiting room walls and on posters hanging in the shopfront window, accompanied by photos of lithe specimens in activewear.

The premise of Forward, founded by ex-Google employee Adrian Aoun and early Uber employee Ilya Abyzov, is that software can encourage a greater emphasis on preventative health care and solve the intractable structural problems and perverse incentives beleaguering an ailing system. Among its investors is real estate scion Joshua Kushner (brother of Jared), the co-founder of a health insurance startup that rewards customers who meet their step goals with Amazon credit, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.

Forward’s aims are ambitious. It is betting that its use of body scanners, machine learning algorithms, and sensors can help lower the cost of primary health care by drastically shortening consultation times and improving the accuracy of diagnoses. Members enjoy unlimited visits, attention from a primary care physician, nurse, and “health coach,” and 24-7 access to the startup’s services through an app. In consultation rooms, your vital statistics are displayed on a flatscreen TV while conversations with your physicians are recorded—no need for them to take notes. In case you’re wondering, Forward does not accept health insurance—its $149 monthly fee (slightly cheaper than a membership at Equinox) is paid directly to the company. Patients will, however, need health insurance for specialist services (surgery, dermatology, psychiatry) that are not provided by Forward.

When I visit, there’s no waiting room queue or patients in sight, bar one woman who wanders in out of curiosity. One co-founder described this vision to Forbes as “a doctor’s office that feels more like an Apple Store . . . an Apple Store that learns so it gets better with more data.” It’s an idea that runs counter to the conventional experience of a physician’s waiting room, which is a kind of unpleasantness. This is hardly surprising, given that waiting rooms are sites of illness and unconfirmed diagnosis, not to mention desperation; most of us are reluctant to visit the doctor unless we really need to.

At Forward, however, wellness appears to be a guiding ideology, in which individual responsibility for one’s health is spun as a form of empowerment. This is borne out in its aesthetics, which could be mistaken for a coworking space. The room is minimalist. It combines utilitarianism with the aspirational longing of a Pinterest board. There is a smattering of replica mid-century modern chairs, unadorned walls, polished timber floorboards, and plants in glass bowls. A report in Quartz gushes that Forward’s bathrooms have vestibules that allow you to deposit your urine samples without the threat of prying eyes. It’s one of many flourishes that makes Forward seem oddly squeamish about the business it’s in. That it is resolutely committed to erasing any association with sickness illustrates its profound misunderstanding of the obstacles impeding access to health care. It seems all the more inexcusable in the context of the GOP’s onslaught on health access that these Silicon Valley technocrats do not realize that it is the prohibitive cost of accessing services, rather than a clinic’s ambience, that actually matters.

But whether we like it or not, we’re likely to see more sleek schemes like Forward’s over the coming years. Forward’s accumulation of physiological data is a mere extension of the wholesale aggregation of data that has already taken place on smartphones and wearable devices. On the one hand, Forward’s access to such data may well mean that health plans can be tailored more accurately, or that patients can plan for better health in the long-term. Used judiciously, such data could fill the gaps in health care research. On the other, there’s something unnerving about subjecting oneself to a constant regime of granular diagnostic surveillance, even if the choice to opt in to the medical panopticon is a conscious one. Forward is cashing in on the story we tell ourselves in a neoliberal world: that we alone are the determinants of our self-interest.

The practice of logging our physiological signs and symptoms isn’t novel; its origins are as old as the Roman Stoics. The philosopher Seneca the Younger is said to have kept meticulous logs of his dietary habits and dreams. Self-tracking technologies, once the preserve of the Quantified Self movement, are easily found on the shelves of Walmart. Yet the proliferation of self-tracking is symptomatic of a more insidious sickness: the fixation with the body as an entrepreneurial project. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking an active role in improving your health—cutting back on booze and processed foods will give an overworked liver a hard-earned break. But I wonder how much of self-tracking is concerned with wellbeing. Performing health has become the ultimate humblebrag: being on top of your stats is as important as improving them. More troubling, though, is that good health is often seen as a matter of moral responsibility, which falls squarely on the individual. That Forward’s messaging deliberately resembles a high-tech gym aligns with this vision, where the pursuit of good health is often an expression of one’s tax bracket. Being equipped with the ability to constantly monitor and analyze our health metrics is framed as a productive enterprise. To “Design Your Health,” as Forward’s exhortation demands, is to exert control over your bodily destiny—that is, if you can afford it. For others, health is a literal matter of life and death.

Forward’s business model is a tech-driven, somewhat more affordable version of the concierge medicine movement that began in the nineties when Howard Maron, a former doctor for a professional sports team, launched a medical care program that caters to “fifty select families” who pay a retainer of more than $25,000 a year. The problem with concierge medicine is not so much its aims of personalized, preventative care and lower physician-to-patient ratios, but how it achieves them. It’s difficult to see the practice as promoting anything other than a starkly unequal two-tiered system, which only heightens existing imbalances in access to affordable health care.

Source.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Honey, I don't Care

Remember rock chick, femme fatale, sex kitten and female agent provocateur Wendy James?

!

Wendy's alive and kicking, BTW! Keep goin' girl...

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Poison Paradise: Secrets of the chemical industry



Alice, Kenton, Bucky, and Rachna are the hidden victims of the chemical industry. They all grew up either in India or the US, in towns built around plastic and pesticide factories. For a long time, their resounding commercial success has masked the darker reality behind their practices. For several decades, their factories have secretly dumped their toxic products into rivers, groundwater systems and soil. This pollution has affected thousands, causing disabilities, cancers and death. No one is safe: both the inhabitants of these regions and the employees of the companies have been affected. But the chemical giants will do anything to keep these tragedies a secret.Through the analysis of samples and confidential documents, the two directors gauge the true extent of the contamination, and ultimately shed some light over years of lies and impunity. All that remains are the testimonies of the victims across the world, those whose lives have been poisoned.

Moar words @ Russia Today.

Monday, 10 April 2017

The wackiest pseudo-feminist, linguistically fascist nutjob site strikes again

Over at 'wehuntedthemammoth.com' the struggle to find le mot juste (and the denunciation of anyone who dares disagree with half a syllable as a 'troll') continues.

Writes old hand "Brony, nutty Centaur" in the comment section:


Oops. I changed a “they” to a “you” accidentally in the last part of my comment. It should read.
While it’s a rule new commentators might might not be aware of, they would find it useful to practice because they will become better at describing what they fear, are angered, by, surprised by, or disgusted by.
Huh? What does that even mean? And all on a post about the all-consuming topic of some alt-right Flat Earthers (a 100 % non-issue "David, Head Mammotheer" manages to spend about 5,000 words on. Go figure!) The bizarre gist of it being that the 'intra-alt right civil tiff' will somehow bring Trumpeldore down. Or somefink like that...

  Wehuntedthemammoth.com: masturbating the world, one word at a time!

That's my prerogative!

Get busy
Everybody's talkin' all this stuff about me (Now now)
Why don't they just let me live (Oh oh oh)
I don't need permission
Make my own decisions (Oh)
That's my prerogative
They say I'm crazy
I really don't care
That's my prerogative
They say I'm nasty
But I don't give a damn
Gettin' girls is how I live
Some ask me questions
Why am I so real
But they don't understand me
I really don't know the deal
About a brother
Trying hard to make it right
Not long ago
Before I win this fight
Sing!


SEXIST Pie! ("Language, Timothy!")

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Infinity

Maybe you don't really need Salon.com?

Maybe you don’t really need a Wi-Fi-connected sex toy

... is the clickbait title of Salon's latest proof of massive 'Liberal' idiocy. Dispatches reports, you decide:

The internet of things is gaining a lot of attention these days as this growing network of internet- and Wi-Fi-enabled products are increasingly showing up in homes and bedrooms. This technology lets you do things like print messages on toast, remotely control a pet door with a mobile phone and read today’s weather forecast from a bathroom mirror.
But cybersecurity experts are warning the spread of internet of things devices in consumer products is moving too rapidly as companies scramble to gain a lead in the nascent market for connected home products, leading to an increasing number of software vulnerabilities that pose considerable threats to consumer privacy.
This week, U.K. cybersecurity services provider Pen Test Partners shed light on a particularly prurient internet of things vulnerability in the Svakom Siime Eye, a $250 sex toy equipped with an internet-connected camera that lets users stream a dildo’s eye view of masturbation via the internet to another person’s smartphone.
Wanna have sex? Ask your wife (nicely!), not your 'hot' Wifi didgeridoo. Simples, really...

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Poem about Us

It's our house and we can do what we want to
It's our room and we can do what we want to
Only God can judge us
It's our song and we can sing if we want to
Dancing with Marie
Going down to Paris
Don't be afraid if someone loves ya
We can't stop
We won't stop
I never meant to start a war
I guess I should have let you win
I never meant to call you a whore
I guess you should have let me in

***

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Cure: One Hundred Years....




It doesn't matter if we all die
Ambition in the back of a black car
In a high building there is so much to do
Going home time
A story on the radio
Something small falls out of your mouth
And we laugh
A prayer for something better
A prayer
For something better
Please love me
Meet my mother
But the fear takes hold
Creeping up the stairs in the dark
Waiting for the death blow
Waiting for the death blow
Waiting for the death blow
Stroking your hair as the patriots are shot
Fighting for freedom on the television
Sharing the world with slaughtered pigs
Have we got everything?
She struggles to get away
The pain
And the creeping feeling
A little black haired girl
Waiting for Saturday
The death of her father pushing her
Pushing her… Full lyrics on Google Play Music

Sunday, 26 March 2017

I don’t know how many souls I have.

I don’t know how many souls I have. I’ve changed at every moment. I always feel like a stranger. I’ve never seen or found myself. From being so much, I have only soul. A man who has soul has no calm. A man who sees is just what he sees. A man who feels is not who he is.
Attentive to what I am and see, I become them and stop being I. Each of my dreams and each desire Belongs to whoever had it, not me. I am my own landscape, I watch myself journey - Various, mobile, and alone. Here where I am I can’t feel myself.
That’s why I read, as a stranger, My being as if it were pages. Not knowing what will come And forgetting what has passed, I note in the margin of my reading What I thought I felt. Rereading, I wonder: “Was that me?” God knows, because he wrote it.

Fernando Pessoa.

Why the Jailer and the Jailed are the Same...

A Somali in America

The story of Ali, a young Somali refugee in the US, who's now re-assessing his new life under the Trump presidency.


"A Somali in America" documents the experience of Ali Warsame, a Somali refugee who gained residency in the United States in 2016, but is re-assessing his new life now that Donald Trump is president.
While in a detention camp in Ukraine, Ali was told he'd be moving to the US through the United Nations refugee resettlement programme. Ali remembers getting the official notification on Eid Day in 2013: "In my life, I never thought that I will be in the USA," he says, because many others before him had been rejected.
He moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2013 and began a new life with his housemates, Prince and Sadik, who had had their own difficult and dangerous journeys getting there.
Ali describes his hopes and dreams of being reunited with his family, while revealing glimpses of his time in Ukraine where he was forced to spend three years before reaching the US. Having travelled illegally through Africa and eastern Europe, Ali was finally able to travel legally to "the land of opportunity".
Read on!

The Last Fig Leaf Hiding the Nakedness of Israeli Democracy Has Been Stripped Away

The very idea of a Jewish state is a violation of the rights of its non-Jewish citizens

One of the few things that Zionists use to uphold the pretence that Israel is a democracy is the fact that the Arabs/Palestinians can vote in elections for the Knesset. Now even this is no longer true.

And it is true. At the May 2015 elections the Joint Arab List which included the Communist Party (Khadash) and Balad the secular Arab Nationalist Party gained 13 seats making it the 3rd largest party in Israel’s Knesset.
There is just one problem. In Israel’s nearly 70 years of existence no Arab party has ever been part of the Israeli government. The only Arabs to become Ministers are seen as collaborators in their own communities. It is an unwritten rule in Israeli politics that no government must rely on the votes of the Arab parties. It was this that most incensed the Zionists when Yitzhak Rabin relied on Israeli Arab votes, who were not of course coalition partners, to defeat the right-wing parties led by Netanyahu. This more than anything else was the cause of his assassination.
Now however even the fig leaf is being stripped away. Hot on the heels of the Expulsion Bill passed last year which allows 90 MKs to expel another MK, something already being used to try and expel Basel Ghattas, a Balad MK, who apparently committed the heinous offence of passing mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners serving 30+ years in Israeli prisons. No Jewish MK, however racist ever stands a chance of being disciplined. All 3 Balad MKs last year were suspended by the Zionist Jewish majority for visiting the relatives of Palestinians who had been killed after attacking Israelis. A particular target has been Haneen Zoabi, a secular woman Palestinian Israeli MK who went on the Mava Marmari ship which tried to break the blockade of Gaza. She has been subject to a tirade of hate and vitriol. [See Haneen Zoabi: 'Israel is the only country not shocked by or afraid of Trump']

Now read the wole thing at Tony Greenstein's! It's amandatory reading!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

George Galloway and Peter Ford on London and Syria and 'what it all means'...

People stabbed, people shot, people mowed down, people dead – all on the streets of London. It was the day police said they had planned for and hoped would never come. But where did it all come from – out of thin air or a swamp of bitterness and hatred endlessly sown with new blood by governments across the world? To try to find the answers, Peter Ford, a former British ambassador to Syria and now a vocal critic of UK policy in Syria, joins us for a very special edition of Sputnik.

On Cockroach Sex....

Female cockroaches don't need a mate to lay eggs, but they do like company. New research finds that virgin female cockroaches housed together are quicker to produce offspring than virgin females living alone.

[snip]

To test the effect of social milieu, the researchers put female cockroaches in different situations. In the control group, a male and a female were housed together and were allowed to mate. In other cases, females were kept with one, two, three or four other females. Other female roaches were kept with castrated males. The researchers also tested the effects of adding pheromones, chemicals that insects use for communication, to all-female cockroach groups.
Then, the researchers counted the number of eggs laid in each condition and how long it took the females to lay eggs. They found that virgin roaches kept alone laid eggs via parthenogenesis after 13.4 days, on average, plus or minus about four days. Virgin roaches kept in groups jumped to parthenogenesis significantly faster. For example, female roaches kept in a trio started laying eggs after an average of 10 days, plus or minus a couple of days.

Cockroach solidarity

Even more striking, virgin cockroaches kept in all-female groups laid their second clutch of eggs much sooner than virgin cockroaches kept alone (an average of 18 days versus between 25 and 30 days for the isolated roaches).

[snip]

This may be a very primitive example of female cooperation, the researchers added. Male roaches housed together tend to fight until they cut each other's antennae off, but females huddle together, and apparently even harmonize, their reproductive schedules. This tracks with overall roach ecology, as males tend to leave roach colonies to avoid inbreeding, while female kin stick together, the researchers wrote.

Live SCI=NCE

Hath Hell Frozen Over? Alex Jones apologises for Pizzagate coverage!

Conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones was pressured to air an apology for his role in spreading the false “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which led to a Jones listener firing a gun inside a Washington, D.C. pizzeria. Jones aired a pre-taped video in which he acknowledged that he made commentary about the pizzeria owner that “in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him.”
Watch Jones’ statement here (transcript here):

Moar Good Words from MediaMatters!

Deaths Of Despair: The White American Working Class Is Dying Young

Middle-aged white Americans without college degrees are dying at higher and higher rates, with drugs, alcohol, and suicide driving a dramatic increase in mortality.
The increase is happening even as mortality decreases for similar age groups across the developed world — and for black and Latino Americans, and whites with college degrees.
The data, outlined in a new paper by economists Anne Case and Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton, shows death patterns for American whites sharply diverging from peers in Western Europe — particularly in what they dub "deaths of despair," involving drugs and suicide.

BuzzFeed summarises the mentioned paper

Friday, 24 March 2017

Totally amazing art at Art Central Hong Kong

Watch this incredible video, if you care about art!

Fuller story here.

Crude harvest: Selling Mexico's oil

Another excellent Al Jazeera doc about the effects of international Neoliberalism on We the People, here the people of Mexico.

Against the backdrop of Mexico's ever-widening gap between rich and poor, growing violence, and stalled economy, President Enrique Pena Nieto has passed a series of economic reforms.
Under these reforms, Mexico's oil, which was expropriated from foreign interests 75 years ago, is now for sale to private, international companies.
The reforms are the most divisive the country has seen in a century. Thousands are protesting against them, saying the new regulations could bring the nation to a tipping point as organised crime and violence would spiral out of control.
When it comes to big business and drilling for oil, Mexico's farmers are the most vulnerable.
Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which opened Mexico up to trade with the US and Canada, led to the collapse of agriculture, and paved the way to the privatization of oil.
The operations of Mexico's state-owned oil company, Pemex, have never been entirely transparent, and communities have been crippled by oil disasters. For instance, in October 2013, the state of Tabasco experienced its worst oil disaster when a drill site exploded and burned for 55 days, contaminating the surrounding land and water. Villagers closest to the site say they are suffering from health problems and have lost their livestock. They say Pemex has never accepted responsibility for the accident, nor has it offered any compensation.
People who appear in this film, including lawyers working with communities affected by the oil industry, estimate things are likely to get worse when foreign companies start drilling. Mexican human rights lawyer Efrain Rodriguez Leon says, "if Pemex committed all of these injustices, we can't imagine what abuses our indigenous brothers will suffer at the hands of these private companies."
With multinationals poised to come, Mexican farmers stand to lose their livelihoods and land, because the new reforms allow companies to drill and occupy areas wherever there is oil.
In Crude harvest: selling Mexico's oil, we meet the victims of oil drilling and free trade, and examine what could happen when foreign investors move in.

Al Jazeera.

Two Crowdstrikes and you're out!



Think Tank: Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data
An influential British think tank and Ukraine’s military are disputing a report that the U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has used to buttress its claims of Russian hacking in the presidential election.
The CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists.
But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.
Voice of America has more.

Snotballs, aka 'Israeli Defence Forces', assault 8 year old Palestinian

Palestinian activists on Sunday filmed Israeli forces dragging an 8-year-old Palestinian boy through the al-Harika neighborhood of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank for more than hour.
The video, received and edited by Israeli rights group B’Tselem, shows 8-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah crying and barefoot, being pulled by his arm by an Israeli soldier.
The boy was surrounded by at least between 8-18 Israeli soldiers while being taken around the neighborhood, as Israeli forces tried to get the boy to identify other children who soldiers suspected of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba earlier that day.
Sufian was taken down a gravel road through the neighborhood with no shoes on, and seemingly no care taken for the boy’s feet on the rocky path. The video then shows soldiers taking the boy up onto a roof top. On the way down from the roof, Sufian is shown in tears as Palestinian neighbors and family members awaited the soldiers, attempting to convince them to release Sufian.
A woman eventually got ahold of the 8-year-old’s arm, pulling him away while Palestinians surrounded the boy trying to protect him from continued detention. Israeli forces followed the boy and the adults who took him back for several minutes before retreating, giving up on the chance of getting the 8-year-old to give them information about other children.

More at Mondoweiss.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Remarkable acts of empathy and solidarity among poor Peruvian flood victims!

Thousands of people have been left homeless after the deadliest rains in decades have caused floods and destruction in Peru's coast.
At least 70 people have been killed, roads and bridges destroyed and crops lost.
The government says more than half of the country is in a state of emergency.
Weather forecasts indicate there will be rain for another month as the worst downpours in decades continue to leave the country at a standstill.
Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez reports from Huachipa.
Martina Sanchez - Jeera

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Hamas aims to improve international image with new program

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Islamic militant group Hamas has drafted a new political program it hopes will improve ties with neighboring Egypt and the West, and present a more moderate image that will help it get off Western terrorism lists.
The internationally isolated group, which has ruled the Gaza Strip for the past decade, characterizes itself in the manifesto as a Palestinian resistance movement against Israeli occupation, dropping references to holy war against Jews. It also raises the possibility of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The document plays down ties to Hamas’ parent movement, the regional Muslim Brotherhood, which is being targeted by Egypt’s government as a terror organization.
However, Hamas appears to have stopped short of a significant ideological shift amid concerns about alienating its hard-line base at a time when ultra-fundamentalist Islamist groups, such as the Salafists, are making inroads, particularly in Gaza.

The Seattle Times

Monday, 20 March 2017

I think I'm paranoid!

I love me some Garbage! Phwoar, luv!!!

Salon gone Mad: Russia Psychosis continues!

The immediate takeaway from all this is that the White House is badly compromised politically, and administration officials know it. Spicer, appearing before reporters as the House Intelligence Committee hearing was still taking place, struggled to downplay the more damning aspects of Comey’s testimony. Pressed on which Trump associates the FBI’s investigation could be targeting, Spicer tried to argue that Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn had barely played any role in helping Trump get elected. The record indicates otherwise: Manafort served as Trump campaign chairman until he left amid growing controversy surrounding his financial links to Russia, and Flynn was a key campaign adviser who served briefly as Trump’s national security adviser — until he resigned after lying about his contacts with Russia.

Pffft. I think 'Simon Maloy' (who?) needs to be water-boarded. Or shot at dawn... whichever is cheapest...

Read the whole crapshoot, if you've got the stomach for it!

Inside the US Federal Reserve

An inside look at the US Federal Reserve, the most powerful - and least understood - financial institution on earth.
Since 1971, the US dollar and the global financial system have been based solely on faith - faith in the guardian of that currency and of that system: The American Central Bank, the Federal Reserve.
Nearly 100 years after its creation, the power of the US Federal Reserve has never been greater.
Markets and governments around the world hold their breath in anticipation of the Fed chairman's every word.
Yet the average person knows very little about the most powerful - and least understood - financial institution on earth.
"There is this perception that people have that the Fed is this kind of black box. Nobody quite understands it," says Charles Plosser, president of the Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
This film takes viewers inside the Fed and reveals the impact of Fed policies - past, present, and future - on our lives.
Join current and former Fed officials as they debate the critics, and each other, about the decisions that helped lead the global financial system to the brink of collapse in 2008.
"The Fed is supposed to be the guardian of financial stability, preventing chaos in markets. Usually it can do that, but in the summer of 2008, it could not do it and we did get chaos," says Alan Blinder, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve (19994-1996).
What caused the crisis in the first place? What brought the wealthiest nation in history to its knees? And are we headed there again?

Al Jazeera - with video

The ends of a representative republic

Purification does little good for political history. For a long while, we in the West have awarded the sash proclaiming World’s First Democracy to ancient Athens. But as imperial power loosens its insistent white fist—in fits and starts—our understanding also opens. Maybe it’s time we acknowledge that democracy didn’t spring, fully formed, from the head of an oracle in the Athenian Cave of Schist. While we’re at it, we Americans might try to see our republic for what it actually is: a mongrel work in progress.
Ages before Cleisthenes seized power in Athens in 508 BCE, instituting popular reforms that picked representatives by lot rather than birthright, proto-republics existed for the Sumerians in Mesopotamia and in the ganas and sanghas of India. These city-centric societies established early systems of self-government. In Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, historiographer Martin Bernal bestows the title of earliest probable republic on Arwad under the Phoenicians, during the second millennium BCE, in what is now Syria.
Asked if his ideas were anti-European, Bernal replied: “My enemy is not Europe, it’s purity—the idea that purity ever exists, or that if it does exist, that it is somehow more culturally creative than mixture.” Our American political system is a hybrid of its antecedents, and what greatness America offers isn’t a function of nationalist Puritan origins. The very hodgepodge nature of our American government is what makes it so damn resistant. Glorifying the homogeny of our forefathers and the originality of their words and ideas is the worst kind of revisionist history, and it doesn’t make ideological purity any more real.

Full text: Jay Baron Nicorvo - The Baffler

The Killings of Tony Blair: George Galloway

Trailer!

H/T Grauniad

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Gotye - Hearts A Mess


H/T Elly

#turkishairlineshelpsomalia

Don't just (re)tweet it, donate generously, if you can!

The Mordor Way: Create Terror, then Police it...

Activists and first responders say the building that was targeted was a part of the mosque complex — and that the charred rubble shown in the photo was where 300 people were praying when the bombs began to hit.
More than 42 people were killed and dozens more injured, according to monitoring groups and local activists. First responders with the Syrian Civil Defence — known as the “White Helmets” — rushed to treat the wounded and dig corpses out of the rubble.
An administration official told the Washington Post that two armed, Reaper drones fired “roughly [the] entirety of their Hellfire payload and followed up w/ 500 lb bomb.”

[snip]

The Pentagon has a history of initially denying involvement in some of its worst atrocities. For instance, when the U.S. bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in 2015, the Pentagon initially claimed it was not targeting the hospital. A Pentagon spokesman said that the destruction of the hospital, which was bombed for more than 30 minutes, killing 42 people, was “collateral damage.” The Pentagon’s story continued to change over coming days, until it eventually admitted responsibility.

Alex Emmons investigates.

Eventually Mordor's towers will fall, of course...

Song for Brexit? London Calling...

London calling to the zombies of death Quit holding out and draw another breath London calling and I don't want to shout But when we were talking I saw you nodding out London calling, see we ain't got no high Except for that one with the yellowy eye
The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in Engines stop running, the wheat is growin' thin A nuclear era, but I have no fear 'Cause London is drowning, and I, I live by the river
The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in Engines stop running, the wheat is growin' thin A nuclear era, but I have no fear London is drowning, and I, I live by the river
Now get this
London calling, yes, I was there, too An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true! London calling at the top of the dial And after all this, won't you give me a smile?
I never felt so much a' like a'like a'like

Doomsday Films: Footage of Nuclear-Weapons Tests Declassified

After decades spent slowly disintegrating in high-security vaults, thousands of historic films of U.S. nuclear weapons tests have been salvaged, including some that have been newly declassified. The incredible footage shows enormous mushroom clouds ballooning over the horizon in what could be a doomsday flick.
Moar shrooms!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

In Memoriam: George Michael - Jesus to a Child

Dedicated to my wife and love of my life, Julie. She's alive and kicking (me, sometimes!)




Kindness
In your eyes, I guess
You heard me cry
You smiled at me
Like Jesus to a child
I'm blessed
I know
Heaven sent
And Heaven stole
You smiled at me
Like Jesus to a child
And what have I learned
From all this pain
I thought I'd never feel the same
About anyone
Or anything again
But now I know
When you find your love
When you know that it exists
Then the lover that you miss
Will come to you on those cold, cold nights
When you've been loved
When you know it holds such bliss
Then the lover that you kissed
Will comfort you when there's no hope in sight
Sadness
In my eyes
No one guessed
Or no one tried
You smiled at me
Like Jesus to a child
Loveless and cold
With your last breath
You saved my soul
You smiled at me
Like Jesus to a child

Why you too should become an organ donor

Mexico: Over 250 skulls found in Veracruz mass graves



The top prosecutor in Mexican state of Veracruz has confirmed that more than 250 skulls have been dug up in what appears to be a drug cartel mass burial ground on the outskirts of the city of Veracruz.
Jorge Winckler, the state prosecutor, said on Tuesday that the clandestine burial pits appear to contain the victims of drug cartels killed years ago.
"For many years, the drug cartels disappeared people and the authorities were complacent," Winckler said, in apparent reference to the administration of fugitive former Governor Javier Duarte and his predecessors.
Significanly the human remains were not found by 'authorities' but by activists:
The skulls and other bones were found in a wooded area known as Colinas de Santa Fe, where activists have been exploring since at least mid-2016, sinking rods into the ground and withdrawing them to detect the telltale odor of decomposition.
When they find what they believe are burial pits, they alert authorities, who carry out the final excavations.
Winckler said excavations have covered only a third of the lot where the skulls were found, and more people may be buried there.
[snip]
The victims' advocacy groups have criticised authorities for doing little to try to find or identify the state's missing people, many of whom were kidnapped and never heard from again.
Al Jazeera's John Holman, reporting from Mexico City, said that one mother of a missing person told him that her family received "very little help" from state authorities in finding her son.
Moar Words (Jeera).

Take THAT, Blondie!

Despite dire predictions to the contrary, hyper nationalist and anti-Islam nutcase, Very Bad Hairdo Geert Wulders got trounced in the Dutch polls:

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, has seen off a challenge from the anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders to claim a resounding victory in parliamentary elections widely seen as a test for resurgent nationalism before key European polls.
With nearly 95% of votes counted and no further significant changes expected, Rutte’s centre-right, liberal VVD was assured of 33 MPs, by far the largest party in the 150-seat Dutch parliament, national news agency ANP said.
Wilders’ Freedom party (PVV) looked certain to finish second, but a long way behind on 20 seats, just ahead of the Christian Democrat CDA and liberal-progressive D66 which both ended up in third position on 19 seats.
“Our message to the Netherlands – that we will hold our course, and keep this country safe, stable and prosperous – got through,” Rutte told a cheering crowd of supporters at the VVD’s election night party.
After Britain’s shock Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory in the US, he added, the eyes of the world had been on the vote: “This was an evening when … the Netherlands said ‘Stop’ to the wrong sort of populism.”

The Night Hope Didn't Die...

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Daddy Dave from STREET OUTLAWS: No Shit!

Only in America...

It's a guilty pleasure: I love that silly show! In the battle between the nitros and the turbos, the turbos are winning...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Young Dinosaurs: Neil Young - Rockin' In The Free World - Accor Hotel Arena Paris 2016

Best concert I've ever witnessed was Neil Young in a basketball hall in Milan, Italy. Runner up: U2 'Actung Baby tour', Bologna, Italy.

One!

Official: Erdogan's gone fully bonkers!

'We know the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre'

Say what??

Turkish president holds the Netherlands responsible for massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims as row over rallies deepens

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has held the Netherlands responsible for the worst genocide in Europe since the second world war as the row over Turkish ministers addressing pro-Erdoğan rallies in the country deepened.
In a speech televised live on Tuesday, Erdoğan said: “We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there.

Revisionism 101.

Grauniad.

Life in prison for $14, then you die...

But in 2003, Shannon was arrested for walking into a home in Kenner, Louisiana, and stealing $14 from an elderly couple. He insisted police had the wrong man — the couple had not seen his face — but his clothes closely resembled the description of the culprit, and the cops discovered $14 when they found him soon after the robbery. Despite his relatively minor crime, at trial the state cast Shannon as “the worst kind of defendant. He’s a predator.” In a 11-1 split, the jury found him guilty. He was given 30 years in prison.
But Jefferson Parish prosecutors weren’t satisfied. On September 10, 2004, according to court records, “the state introduced fingerprint cards, certified copies of convictions, and arrest registers” from Shannon’s previous run-ins with the law. They dated back to the 1990s. One was for unauthorized entry. Another was for “theft over $500.” A third, in 1997, was possession of a firearm by a felon. On December 4, 2004, under Louisiana’s habitual offender law, Shannon was resentenced to life without parole.
Ilene was incredulous — “Life for $14? Come on, seriously?” — but she couldn’t help but be mad at her brother. “I kind of like cut off communication with him,” she admitted. For years, Shannon kept writing to her anyway, certain that she would respond eventually. That moment came suddenly, when Ilene opened a letter in April 2014. Shannon was gravely ill. He had long complained about a pain in his side, but prison doctors dismissed the symptoms. By the time he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, the tumors had spread to his brain. “Please don’t think I’m playing games with y’all,” Shannon wrote in his letter to his sister. “I’m sick and I don’t want to die alone.”

[snip]

On Sunday, March 5, at age 42, Shannon died at Angola. Ilene was by his side, along with her older sister. Ilene’s 20-year-old daughter made the drive too, but was barred from seeing him despite being on his visiting list. (“They’re like, he didn’t put her on this list.”) Prison officials wanted to bury Shannon quickly, on Tuesday, but he had repeatedly begged them not to leave his body at Angola. Bringing his body home was an expense the siblings could hardly afford, a reality for many families. It is one major reason half of the men who die at Angola are buried there. Still, Ilene was determined to try. The day after her brother’s death, the family put up a crowdfunding webpage seeking money to cover the transportation and funeral expenses. “Shannon was well loved by all, and he was never thrown away,” Ilene wrote. “He was our brother — not just another inmate — and we want to remember him as such.”

Liliana Segura.

On a side note, one cannot but wonder what pain relief is being provided when you're doing hard porridge and dying, like Shannon?

Russian Oligarchette endangers lives in more than one way...

'SPEED QUEEN' JAILED - Russian millionaire’s ‘road devil’ daughter infamous for reckless speeding clips locked up for flouting traffic laws

Cops jailed self-proclaimed road 'hooligan' Mara Bagdasaryan for 10 days after she clocked up 400 speeding & parking tickets

That'll learn her!! 10 days!

The Sun (with juicy vid)

Common People: Kurt Vile and Pulp

H/T Elly

Monday, 13 March 2017

Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting On You)

Internet Temperance Needed!

So far, in my ongoing series of columns making the case for implausible ideas, I’ve fixed race relations and solved the problem of a workless working class. So now it’s time to turn to the real threat to the human future: the one in your pocket or on your desk, the one you might be reading this column on right now.
Search your feelings, you know it to be true: You are enslaved to the internet. Definitely if you’re young, increasingly if you’re old, your day-to-day, minute-to-minute existence is dominated by a compulsion to check email and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.
Compulsions are rarely harmless. The internet is not the opioid crisis; it is not likely to kill you (unless you’re hit by a distracted driver) or leave you ravaged and destitute. But it requires you to focus intensely, furiously, and constantly on the ephemera that fills a tiny little screen, and experience the traditional graces of existence — your spouse and friends and children, the natural world, good food and great art — in a state of perpetual distraction.
Used within reasonable limits, of course, these devices also offer us new graces. But we are not using them within reasonable limits. They are the masters; we are not. They are built to addict us, as the social psychologist Adam Alter’s new book “Irresistible” points out — and to madden us, distract us, arouse us and deceive us. We primp and perform for them as for a lover; we surrender our privacy to their demands; we wait on tenterhooks for every “like.” The smartphone is in the saddle, and it rides mankind.
Which is why we need a social and political movement — digital temperance, if you will — to take back some control.

Read all: Ross Douthat - NYT

H/T Doug Salzmann

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

H/T Elly

Kirk Bloodsworth: An innocent man

From the Innocence Project:
Kirk Bloodsworth, a former Marine who had become a waterman on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, was the first person to be sentenced to death and then subsequently exonerated. He was 22-years-old at the time of his wrongful conviction and served eight years in prison before he was released.
Bloodsworth: An innocent man is a remarkable RT documentary, narrated by Kirk Bloodworth himself. Bloodsworth turned out to be a gifted speaker and passionate activist.

Kirk Bloodsworth in Wikipedia.

Kirk Bloodsworth

Albert Einstein quote...


 Albert Einstein
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion in his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circles of our compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Danny Boyle on US Immigration Fears

Just caught this on 'Live at the Apollo' (paraphrased):

'Americans may be rightfully fearful about refugees coming into their country because some of them may want to commit a mass killing... just to fit in!'

Team Spirit!

I don't care if Dems poll at 10 % and if Hillary's disapproval rate is 90 %. I'm proud to be a Democrat and damn proud to support her.
Tweeted by Peter Daou.

Such dedication...

South Korea: We the People!

South Korea's Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office on Friday over a graft scandal involving the country's conglomerates at a time of rising tensions with North Korea and China.

The ruling sparked protests from hundreds of Park's supporters, two of whom were killed in clashes with police outside the court, and a festive rally by those who had demanded her ouster who celebrated justice being served.

"We did it. We the citizens, the sovereign of this country, opened a new chapter in history," Lee Tae-ho, the leader of a movement to oust Park that has held mostly peaceful rallies in downtown involving millions, told a large gathering in Seoul.

Park becomes South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office, capping months of paralysis and turmoil over the corruption scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in detention and on trial.

A snap presidential election will be held within 60 days.

Park did not appear in court, and a spokesman said she would not be making any comment. She also would not leave the presidential Blue House residence on Friday.

"Park is not leaving the Blue House today," Blue House spokesman Kim Dong Jo told Reuters.

Park was stripped of her powers after parliament voted to impeach her but has remained in the president's official compound.

The court's acting chief judge, Lee Jung-mi, said Park had violated the constitution and law "throughout her term," and despite the objections of parliament and the media, she had concealed the truth and cracked down on critics.

Park has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

Reuters

Friday, 10 March 2017

Wait, wut? The Surprise President Trump invites Mahmoud Abbas to White House

Uncle Bibi pissed off, no end?

US President Donald Trump has invited Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for a visit to the White House, in the first phone call between the two leaders since Trump's inauguration on January 20.
Trump invited Abbas "to visit the White House soon to discuss ways to resume the [Palestinian-Israeli] political process", Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, quoted Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina as saying on Friday.
The White House said in a statement that Trump invited Abbas to a meeting at the White House "in the near future".
Abbas told Trump that peace was a "strategic choice" for the Palestinian people which should lead to the "establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel," Wafa reported.

Anyone turn me into a pumpkin if this leads anywhere but I'm going to give the 'G-d Emperor' half a credit for this...

Al Jazeera

'Send Lebanon back to the Middle Ages' says Naftali Bennett

Meanwhile in Mordor's little helper in the Middle East:

With Lebanon No Longer Hiding Hezbollah's Role, Next War Must Hit Civilians Where It Hurts, Israeli Minister Says

Naftali Bennett and Lebanese president agree: There's no line between Hezbollah and Lebanese state. Lebanese must realize another war with Israel means Lebanon will be sent back to Middle Ages, Bennett tells Haaretz.

Haaretz (paywalled)

Via Twitter