Showing posts from December 12, 2015

Camille Paglia Takes on Taylor Swift, Hollywood's #GirlSquad Culture

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[Camille Paglia can always be counted on to stir the pot when it comes to contemporary discussions of feminism and sexuality. *RON*]
by Camille Paglia, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 December 2015
Can group selfies advance women’s goals? In an essay for The Hollywood Reporter, the famed feminist urges social media packs to skip the "tittering, tongues-out mugging of Taylor Swift" — whose "twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth" — and study the "productive dynamic of male bonding."

This story first appeared in the 2015 Women in Entertainment issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Girl squads were a hashtag summer craze that may have staying power. Blogs and magazines featured intricate star charts of the constellations of celebrity gal pals clustering around Taylor Swift, Cameron Diaz, Lena Dunham or Tina Fey.

Plunging Commodities Interfere With The New World Order

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["...we like to think oil’s some kind of stand-alone freak incident. It is not." Meijer's prediction is that Africa will go to hell in an even faster hand bucket as the US loses its incentive to help control African dissent and China can no longer afford it. Remember, too, that Canada has the highest proportion of head offices for mining companies in the world. Will Trudeau suddenly become an avid African peace keeper? P.S. The gorilla is in the original article - I have no idea why. *RON*]

by Raúl Ilargi Meijer, The Automatic Earth, 8 December 2015

Anglo American, a British company, and one of the world’s biggest miners, and a ‘producer’ (actually just a miner, how did those two terms ever get mixed up?!) of platinum (world no. 1), diamonds, copper, nickel, iron ore and coal, said today it would scrap dividends AND fire 85,000 of it 135,000 global workforce (that’s 63%!).

Anglo is just the first in a long litany line we’ll see goi…

Autonomous Weaponized Robots: Not Just Science Fiction

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["Robotics expert Noel Sharkey describes a confluence of developing technologies that could endanger our lives and our rights." It's creepy when Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator turns out to be closer to reality than to fiction. Sharkey argues that "...we need a bill of human technological rights to ensure our individual freedoms. Otherwise, I am predicting a gradual erosion of human rights such as freedom of movement, privacy and even life." *RON*]
By Noel Sharkey, Wall Street Journal , 10 December 2015

Robots have been keeping police officers safe for years by disposing of bombs and assisting in hostage situations, but a rapid increase in technology could trigger a robot revolution over the next decade.

Robots are already being weaponized: In 2014, a South African company started selling drones that could shoot 80 pepper balls per second, and police in North Dakota have been cleared to use a type of drone that is ar…

Islamic State oil trade 'worth more than $500m'

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[As noted in the Naked Capitalism piece on Turkey vs Russia, Assad needs oil to run a war. It is also becoming clear that Turkey is a buyer of ISIS oil, though whether for its own use or to sell it to others is still not yet known. *RON*]

BBC World News, 11 December 2015
The so-called Islamic State (IS) has made more than $500m (£330m) trading oil, a US treasury official has said.

Its "primary customer" has been the government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, despite its ongoing battle to overthrow the regime, Adam Szubin told the BBC.

IS had also looted up to $1bn from banks in territory it held, he said.

How Economics and Race Drive America’s Great Divide

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[Another good one from Naked Capitalism. Temin argues that the US now has a developing world style of dual economy, based on race. See also the Financial Times article on how one fifth of Americans live at or near the poverty line. *RON*]
Posted by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 11 December 2015

Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

In the America of haves and have-nots, fewer folks are “movin’ on up” like George Jefferson of the classic sitcom. In a new paper for the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Peter Temin, MIT economist and economic historian, breaks down how it happened and where we’re headed with a powerful model first used by West Indian economist W. Arthur Lewis, the only person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in economics.

Dual economies are common in less developed countries, but Temin argues that America has now diverged into a top thirty percent, where children receive excellent educati…

How Far Can The Syria Conflict Spiral Out Of Control?

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[A smart piece, worth the read, on the high level meaning of the recent jousting between Russia and Turkey. *RON*]
Posted on December 11, 2015 by Yves Smith

Yves here. I have a minor quibble with this article. The interviewee is correct to say that Putin has charged Turkey with buying oil from ISIS. However, some independent reports indicate that Turkey is trafficking in ISIS oil, as opposed to buying it for internal use. That might allow for narrowly accurate but substantively misleading denial, not that anyone is all that fastidious about accuracy in war.

By James Stafford, Editor in Chief of OilPrice. Originally published at OilPrice
Business is business, so why not buy oil from ISIS. The Russians claim the Turks are doing it, and in all likelihood even Assad is buying it. No one can fight a war without oil, according to Robert Bensh, partner and managing director of Pelicourt LLC oil and gas company. But while the politically unhinged are coming…

US Life Expectancy Flat for Third Year

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[The Imperial Collapse Watch. The fact that life expectancy in the US is no longer rising, in a time of economic growth, is yet another sign of underlying societal decay. *RON*]
by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 11 December 2015

Yves here. This is a short but deceptively important post. The fact that life expectancy in the US is no longer rising, in a time of economic growth, is yet another sign of underlying societal decay.

There are underlying factors that should in theory lead to longer life expectancies, such as fewer smokers in the population. Similarly, cancer rates are falling. And we have supposedly better access overall to health care thanks to Obamacare.

But offsetting that are the rise of diabetes, and most important, rising income disparity and weakening social bonds. As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, income disparity has high health costs, even for the rich. From one of our very first posts, in 2007, quoting Michael Prowse in the Financia…

President Obama Finalizing Plan to Expand Background Checks—Without Congress

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[That such a small thing should be such news shows that this issue in the US is a combination of corporatocratic greed and of Americans having dug themselves so far into an ideological hole that they can't even see out of it any more. See also: Connecticut to Ban Gun Sales to Those on Federal Terrorism Lists. *RON*]

—By Inae Oh, Mother Jones, 10 December 2015

White House advisers are set to unveil a plan to expand background checks on gun sales without congressional approval, the Associated Press reported Thursday afternoon. The plan will include steps to close the "gun show loophole," which permits the sale of guns while background checks are still pending.

President Barack Obama reportedly requested that his aides draft the plans in the wake of the shooting at a community college in Oregon back in October. Throughout his presidency, Obama has expressed frustration with Congress for its failure to enact tougher gun safety legislatio…