Showing posts from December 31, 2015

Star Wars and the Death of American Cinema

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[If you look on IMDB, the gap between the media reviews and the public reviews is apparently the largest ever recorded there. Giving pretty good evidence for just how bought-and-sold the mainstream media is today. Check out a few of the public reviews. *RON*]

by John Wight, Counterpunch, 30 December 2015

‘Star Wars’ is a simple story, simply told, of good versus evil, light versus darkness, and freedom versus tyranny. In other words it is the story of America’s struggle to preserve democracy and civilization in a world beset by evil and ‘evildoers’.

Movies and political propaganda have long walked hand in hand. Indeed if ever a medium was suited to propaganda it is the medium of cinema. And if ever an industry could be credited with creating an alternate reality so pervasive it has managed to convince generations of Americans and others around the world that up is down, black is white, and left is right, that industry is Hollywood.

George Lucas, the…

UK draws line under ‘banker bashing’ after scrapping assessment

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[Banksters at play: "...reflects a more positive tone towards the City of London following the Conservative party’s election victory." *RON*]

Emma Dunkley, Financial Times, 30 December 2015

A review of Britain’s banking culture has been ditched by the UK’s financial watchdog only months after its launch, in the latest sign that the years of “banker bashing” are coming to an end.

The Financial Conduct Authority has abandoned its assessment of culture at retail and wholesale banks operating in the UK, saying each company is unique and cannot be easily compared, according to people familiar with the situation.

The move to scrap the review comes after Martin Wheatley, the watchdog’s chief executive, was defenestrated by the Treasury in the summer and reflects a more positive tone towards the City of London following the Conservative party’s election victory.

Banking culture has come under fire since the financial crisis over foreign exchange a…

Return to Zaatari: A lost generation of Syrians in the making

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[And in this way we continue to manufacture the next generation of jihadists and bomb fodder. In a refugee camp housing the growing exodus from Syria, teenagers are being put out to work or married off as parents struggle to make ends meet. *RON*]

Mark MacKinnon, Globe and Mail, 30 December 2015
The first time I met Halim Mahameed, he told me of how he’d been tortured for two straight days by Syrian security forces. Almost robotically, the then-14-year-old recounted how he’d been tied up by Bashar al-Assad’s men the previous year and whipped with electric cables because he’d been seen helping to carry the wounded away from an anti-regime demonstration in the early days of Syria’s conflict.

Things should have gotten better for Halim after we met in the fall of 2013. He was then in a Unicef-run school in Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari refugee camp. And while some were already warning of a traumatized “Zaatari generation” growing up angry among the four …

Federal judge: Drinking tea, shopping at a gardening store is probable cause for a SWAT raid on your home

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[The farce that is the US War On Drugs. "The Hartes are also a white, financially sound couple who both happened to have worked for the CIA. Most people on the receiving end of these raids aren’t white, aren’t middle-class, didn’t once work for a federal intelligence agency and don’t have $25,000 to fund a fight in court. If even those advantages can’t help the Hartes win some accountability, you can imagine the long odds faced by the typical victim of a botched raid." *RON*]

By Radley Balko, Washington Post, 28 December 2015
In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. When Robert Harte answered, SWAT agents flooded the home. He was told to lie on the floor. When Addie Harte came out to see what was going on, she saw her husband on his stomach as SWAT cop stood over him with a gun. Th…

In the Year of Trump, the Joke Was On Us

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[Hard to believe that this is the other main contender for the presidency. *RON*]
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 29 December 2015

It started out as a joke: Donald Trump running for president! What better way to spoof the thinness of the Republican field than to shove a bombastic reality star with orange hair, a sixth-grade vocabulary and no behavioral filter onto the debate stage with the likes of Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and Lindsey Graham? The only thing more perfect would have been to add a head of lettuce and Koko the signing gorilla to round out the candidate slate.

Trump seemed like a perfect foil in particular for Jeb Bush, a hesitating, gelatinous aristocrat who lacked the cocksure brainlessness the previous Bush used to sell himself as a "regular guy." In an era when Republican voters were more distrustful than ever of the Same Old Politics, stiff, birthright-bearing Jeb was exactly the wrong candidate for the party…

Hillary Clinton’s Baffling Foreign-Policy Problem

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[The New Yorker asks: if Hillary is the only Democratic candidate with real foreign policy experience, why do her positions in the debates simply sound vacuously hawkish? "So where we are today is not where we were." Because there is no there, there: that's why. *RON*]
By Jeffrey Frank, New Yorker, 30 December 2015

Some suspect that the Democratic National Committee, which has sponsored three Presidential debates in 2015, is out to render Hillary Clinton’s two remaining opponents—the former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and the socialist New England senator Bernie Sanders—hors de combat. O’Malley and Sanders seem to think so. After all, the past two debates were scheduled on Saturday nights—including the Saturday before Christmas—and it was no surprise that they drew about a third as many viewers as the Republicans, who have had five debates. Clinton’s sparring partners have had fewer chances to embarrass her by bringing up her …

Those Demanding Free Speech Limits to Fight ISIS Pose a Greater Threat to U.S. Than ISIS

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[The right-wing invariably jumps to totalitarian solutions. Terrorists using the Internet? Burn the constitution. Only Newt has a right to free speech. "Above all, this has been the core lesson of the War on Terror: The greatest threats to Western countries have come from those seeking to limit rights in the name of fighting terrorism, not the terrorists themselves. There is no more compelling example than those who now explicitly advocate Newt Gingrich’s 2006 idea of formally restricting the First Amendment." *RON*]
Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, 29 December 2015

In 2006 — years before ISIS replaced al Qaeda as the New and Unprecedentedly Evil Villain — Newt Gingrich gave a speech in New Hampshire in which, as he put it afterward, he “called for a serious debate about the First Amendment and how terrorists are abusing our rights — using them as they once used passenger jets — to threaten and kill Americans.” In that speech, Gingrich a…

Conservatives vow to block electoral reform without referendum

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[Conservatives vow to block meaningful democracy by any means possible, while pretending they want to 'leave it to the people.' By the way, these Senate blockaders are the ones who recently claimed the Senate isn't a partisan institution that toes to the Party line. *RON*]

John Ibbitson, The Globe and Mail, 30 December 2015

The Conservative Party is vowing to use any means necessary, including a Senate blockade, to keep the Liberal government from forcing through electoral-reform legislation without first holding a referendum.

“The entire Conservative caucus, both in the House and the Senate, will be opposing any radical changes to the electoral system without a referendum” Don Plett, the Conservative Whip in the Senate, said in an interview Wednesday.

“We would look at all avenues” to stop such a bill, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose said. “My hope is that the Liberals will come to their senses.”

The Conservatives are up in arm…