Showing posts from January 2, 2016

Open to Inspection: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Age of Surveillance

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[As usual, terrific writing by Lewis Lapham. *RON*]
Lewis Lapham, Lapham's Quarter, Vol 9, No 1, Winter 2016.
Even if the spy, Allen Dulles, should arrive in heaven through somebody’s absentmindedness, he would begin to blow up the clouds, mine the stars, and slaughter the angels. —Ilya EhrenburgI cannot think that espionage can be recommended as a technique for building an impressive civilization. It’s a lout’s game. —Rebecca West By now it goes without saying or objection in most quarters of a once freedom-loving and democratic society that our lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness are closely monitored by a paranoid surveillance apparatus possessed of the fond hopes and great expectations embedded in the fifteenth-century Spanish Inquisition. Our local fire departments don’t grant permits for burnings at the stake, but our federal intelligence agencies (seventeen at last count, staffed by more than 100,000 inquisitors petty and gran…

Bernie Sanders calls Washington Post’s column cancellation ‘unfortunate’

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[The mainstream media = the corporatocracy = the 1%. *RON*]
By David Weigel, Washington Post, 31 December 2015
The Washington Post's longtime progressive columnist Harold Meyersonpublished his final weekly piece for the paper yesterday. Among the mourners: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

"It's extremely unfortunate," said Sanders in a statement to the Post, which he later adapted into a tweet. "There are very few progressive voices out there in the corporate media. Harold is one of the best. Harold's insights into the decline of the middle class and wealth and income inequality will be sorely missed by readers of The Washington Post."

Privilege, Pathology and Power

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[See also: Wealth and the Inflated Self: Class, Entitlement and Narcissism, as well as Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior. *RON*]

Paul Krugman, New York Times, 1 January 2016

Wealth can be bad for your soul. That’s not just a hoary piece of folk wisdom; it’s a conclusion from serious social science, confirmed by statistical analysis and experiment. The affluent are, on average, less likely to exhibit empathy, less likely to respect norms and even laws, more likely to cheat, than those occupying lower rungs on the economic ladder.

And it’s obvious, even if we don’t have statistical confirmation, that extreme wealth can do extreme spiritual damage. Take someone whose personality might have been merely disagreeable under normal circumstances, and give him the kind of wealth that lets him surround himself with sycophants and usually get whatever he wants. It’s not hard to see how he could become almost pathologically self-regardi…

Obama pledges to act unilaterally on US gun control

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[Obama indicates he will bypass Congress to implement stricter gun laws, and will talk options with attorney general. Republican reaction is what you'd expect. See also: Armed Texans Celebrate State’s New Open-Carry Status, as well as White Militiamen Are Trying to Provoke a War with the Federal Government Again. *RON*]

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies, 2 January 2016

United States President Barack Obama has indicated he may bypass Congress in his bid to increase gun control in the final year of his presidency.

In his weekly radio address on Friday, Obama said he will meet Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to discuss what options he can take, saying his New Year's resolution was to move forward on tackling the US epidemic of gun violence.

"Last month, we remembered the third anniversary of Newtown," Obama said, referring to the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Retroactive Conservative Rewrite Of Legislation Undermines Rule Of Law: Lawyers

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[Buried in his last omnibus Bill, Harper tries, even now that he's out of office, to rewrite an old law to get the RCMP and any other government official off the hook for illegally destroying long gun registry records. *RON*]
By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 1 January 2016

OTTAWA — A retroactive Conservative law buried in last spring's omnibus budget bill fundamentally undermines the rule of law and government access-to-information systems across Canada, according to court submissions in a paused constitutional challenge.

Twelve of Canada's 13 provincial and territorial information commissioners, as well as the Criminal Lawyers' Association, are seeking intervener status in the case, which challenges the former government's unprecedented rewrite of an old law to get the RCMP and any other government official off the hook for illegally destroying long gun registry records.

The case, brought by federal inform…

Exxon's Climate Cover-Up Gets Bigger: Documents Suggest All Major Oil Giants Have Lied Since 1970s

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[No surprise here, but it's worth having this documented. Click here to see Banerjee's original story at Inside Climate News, Exxon's Oil Industry Peers Knew About Climate Dangers in the 1970s, Too. *RON*]
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! /TruthOut, 31 December 2015

2015, the hottest on record, was also the year ExxonMobil was caught in a more than three-decade lie. Internal documents revealed Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause global warming in the 1970s, but hid that information from the public. Now it turns out that Exxon isn't alone. A new exposé from InsideClimate News reveals nearly every major US and multinational oil and gas company was likely aware of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change at the same time as Exxon. We are joined by Neela Banerjee, the InsideClimate News reporter who broke this story.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: On this last day of the year, 2015 …

Canadian Legend Chapter IV: Goodbye Canada, Hello Harperland

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["The Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre ('Harperland') is near the Golan Heights, on land confiscated from 30,000 Bedouin in 1948. Lake Hula was vital, not only to the Bedouin, but to Nature, as a wetland. But as part of the plan to 'make the desert bloom', the lake was drained, creating a dust bowl, and the new kibbutz soon abandoned." WHile you're at it, see also: US sued over donations for illegal Israeli settlements*RON*]

By Eric Walberg, Eurasia Review, 2 January 2016 The defeated ogre, licking his wounds, finds little comfort from his hawkish “best friend”, despite his love for Israeli birds for whom he helped raise more than ten million Canadian dollars to build a bird sanctuary in the Promised Land. This was in preference to Canadian birds, who along with almost all other Canadians, had their funding slashed.

He did this with the help of the Jewish National Fund (JNF…

Guess which Republican features in an Islamist terrorist group recruitment video

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[See also: Trump: Clinton a ‘liar’ for ISIS recruiting claim. *RON*]

By Olivia Goldhill, Quartz, 2 January 2016
Soundbites from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have been included in a recruitment film released by Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda based in Somalia.
Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the US, which was met with cheers at his South Carolina rally in December, is sandwiched between old clips of now-deceased al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who warns that the US is not a safe place for Muslims.

The 51-minute propaganda film was released by al-Shabaab’s media arm al-Kataib on Jan. 1, according to reports from SITE intelligence group. The original video has since been removed from YouTube, but the segment featuring Trump and al-Awlaki has been shown in news reports.