December 2014 Archives

The NYPD versus Mayor Bill de Blasio

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Relations between Mayor de Blasio and the police reached a new low over the weekend at the funeral for a slain officer - but it's not the first time the NYPD has taken on political leaders.

The New Robber Barons

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and the use of language framing as a weapon to pull off their thievery.

We've just watched the Senate and the House -- aided and abetted by President Obama -- pay off financial interests with provisions in the new spending bill that expand the amount of campaign cash wealthy donors can give, and let banks off the hook for gambling with customer (and taxpayer) money.

What happened in Washington over the past several days sounds strikingly familiar to the First Gilded Age more than a century ago, when senators and representatives were owned by Wall Street and big business. Then, as now, those who footed the bill for political campaigns were richly rewarded with favorable laws.

Bill's guest this week, historian Steve Fraser, says what was different about the First Gilded Age was that people rose in rebellion against the powers that be. Today we do not see "that enormous resistance," but he concludes, "people are increasingly fed up... their voices are not being heard. And I think that can only go on for so long without there being more and more outbreaks of what used to be called class struggle, class warfare."

Steve Fraser is a writer, editor and scholar of American history. Among his books are Every Man a Speculator, Wall Street: America's Dream Palace and Labor Will Rule. His latest, The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power, will be published early next year.

The Interview

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great...er ...terrible movie...both

What is more powerful or effective than letting the world know that Kim has a butt hole?

Not much.

It's downloadable here as a torrent:

Sermonette #222

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The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. - Mark Twain



HLC Ready to Turn Back On

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...This TIme at Double the Energy

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CERN's Large Hadron Collider will be turned back on in March and a few weeks later will start smashing sub-atomic particles together again at nearly double its previous power, helping scientists hunt for clues about the universe.

The world's biggest particle collider, located near Geneva, has been undergoing a two-year refit and work is now "in full swing" to start circulating proton beams again in March, with the first collisions due by May, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) said on Friday. "With this new energy level, the (collider) will open new horizons for physics and for future discoveries," CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to seeing what nature has in store for us."

CERN's collider is buried in a 27-km (17-mile) tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border at the foot of the Jura mountains.

The entire machine is already almost cooled to 1.9 degrees above absolute zero in preparation for the next three-year run.

The first run, carried out at lower power, led in 2012 to confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson particle, which explains how fundamental matter took on the mass to form stars and planets. That discovery was a landmark in physics but there are still plenty of other mysteries to be unraveled, including the nature of "dark matter" and "dark energy."

Men : Hyuk

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Hold my beer and watch this! Study supports 'male idiotic theory'

Maggie Fox

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One hitched a shopping cart to the back of a train and was dragged to his death. Another opened his own letter bomb. British researchers say it's no coincidence that both were men.

They're putting forward the "male idiot theory" --the hypothesis that men are far more likely to do dangerously stupid things than women are. It's the "hold my beer and watch this" school of behavior.

To prove their theory, Dennis Lendrem of Newcastle University and colleagues analyzed winners of the "Darwin Awards" -- tongue-in-cheek "awards" given to people who kill themselves doing something stupid --and found men won almost 90 percent of the awards from 1995 to 2014.

"This finding is entirely consistent with male idiot theory (MIT) and supports the hypothesis that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things," Lendrem's team say in their report published in the deliberately facetious issue of the British Medical Journal.

"Winners of the Darwin Award must eliminate themselves from the gene pool in such an idiotic manner that their action ensures one less idiot will survive. This paper reports a marked sex difference in Darwin Award winners: males are significantly more likely to receive the award than females."

The researchers took a look at what might account for the male dominance of life-ending moronic stunts. Alcohol may play a role, they said.

Anecdotal data support the hypothesis that alcohol makes men feel 'bulletproof' after a few drinks, and it would be naïve to rule this out," they wrote.

"For example, the three men who played a variation on Russian roulette alternately taking shots of alcohol and then stamping on an unexploded Cambodian land mine. (Spoiler alert: the mine eventually exploded, demolishing the bar and killing all three men.)"

Lendrem's team said they were setting out to test their theory "in a Christmas party setting".

The Truth from a Former Cop

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Former St. Louis cop alleges racism on the force

Chris Hayes speaks with a former St. Louis police officer about the now-infamous testimony from Witness #40 and the "lack of integrity" he sees in the system.

Torture Report ala Maddow

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The most comprehensive take on the topic so far

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

the rest of the show with more segments on Torture report

This post originally ran on Juan Cole's Web page.

Outgoing House Intelligence Committee head Mike Rogers (R-MI) was on Candy Crowley's "State of the Union" on Sunday, speaking against releasing any details concerning

CIA use of torture in the period after the September 11 attacks

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The Senate report is due out this week and is already the object of a Karl Rove style disinformation campaign by former President George W. Bush and others.  The report apparently alleges that there were black torture cells inside the Central Intelligence Agency of which Bush and other high officials were kept ignorant.  They are attacking this report on this relatively minor issue (whether or not the relevant CIA units told their superiors everything) as a way of taking the focus off the torture assembly line run by the United States of America for a while.  They may also be running interference for Dick Cheney, who may well have ordered the torture and in a just system would be in jail for that and numerous other crimes.

Rogers has never shown the slightest interest in upholding the US constitution or in upholding the rights of those falsely arrested or otherwise wronged by the Federal government.  He is now turning his television notoriety as a politician into a career in talk radio, competing with Rush Limbaugh.


When Crowley asked him about the report, he replied that "foreign governments" had warned the US that its release would cause violence.


Please note that when Hosni Mubarak, then president of Egypt, warned Rogers in 2002 that invading Iraq would "create a thousand Bin Ladens," Rogers did not evince the slightest interest in avoiding a massive violent reaction to that policy.  So apparently he feels that there are times when it is worth it to risk violent reactions overseas, i.e. when concerns the illegal invasion and occupation of another country (from which perhaps people in Rogers' circle or campaign contributors benefited?).


Since Rogers's Iraq War has already stirred up most people in the Middle East against the US, so that the main guerrilla movement that grew up to oppose Rogers' policies, ISIL, is routinely beheading Americans, that cow is rather out of the barn.


Rogers goes on to compare the Senate report on CIA torture to the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006, suggesting it holds similar potential for provoking violence.  (Rogers is going to give Limbaugh a run for his money!)  I think we may just dismiss this comparison as silly.  The torture report will embarrass the US intelligence services, not insult Muslims' sacred figures.


Rogers then takes another tack.  "What good," he asks, "will come of this report?"  He says there was a Department of Justice investigation (is that like the grand juries in New York and Ferguson?  Who exactly was indicted?) 


He then says that the torture program was ceased while Bush was still president, and that Congress has taken action to stop torture.  Then he says President Obama issued an executive order halting it. 


But why did Obama have to stop something that wasn't going on?


Again, this line of argument is what magicians call misdirection.  That the torture at some point stopped does not relieve the government of accountability for it before the people.  Laws were broken, despite what lying liars like John Yoo were happy to tell the Bush administration.


The 8th Amendment to the US constitution (yes, it is as important as if not way more important than the 2nd) specifies that no cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted on prisoners held by the Federal government. Repeatedly waterboarding someone, making them think they are drowning, is both cruel and unusual.  Waterboarding is torture according to the Convention against Torture, i.e. in international law.  A form of it was practiced by the Roman Inquisition and during WW II by Imperial Japan (which the US rather minded at the time).  The mealy-mouth fascists who opine that combatants out of uniform may be tortured in US law are just making stuff up.  Those who deny that waterboarding is torture are just engaging in a form of lying.  Nor does waterboarding appear to be the only torture technique resorted to.  As for defenders of torture, they should be careful.  One conclusion of the Nuremberg trials is that you can be tried for advocating war crimes.


Rogers in the end asks what good will come of our knowing the truth.  All the actions he says were taken, however, were taken by a narrow circle of high officials.  We don't even know whether all the people's representatives on the Hill have been allowed into the charmed circle of torture cognoscenti.  The people rule in a democracy, and the people have been neither informed nor involved.  Moreover, in a democracy, officials are held accountable for crimes committed while in office.


Finally, while it is nice of Obama to issue an executive order, his executive order can be overruled by the next president, and the next chair of the intelligence committee might believe in torture (who knows, maybe this one does).  Only by having the graphic details of what was done become public can we hope to have a more permanent legislative and judicial reform.


I am not antipathetic to the intelligence officials who faced the problem of destroying al-Qaeda after the September 11 attacks.  In fact, I flew off to Washington through much of the zeroes to give talks to US government personnel of a whole range of agencies on how to fight al-Qaeda, and feel solidarity with those who did their best to understand and combat the monsters.


But I categorically deny that any crucial information was derived from torture.  And I point out that a crucial bit of disinformation was arrived at that way- Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi under repeated waterboarding told the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein was training al-Qaeda in the use of chemical weapons at Salman Pak.  That completely false and indeed ridiculous allegation, taken seriously by Condi Rice, Dick Cheney and W., was an impetus or at least a pretext for a disastrous war.  This disastrous intelligence failure derived from the very torture that Mike Rogers doesn't want us mere plebes to know about.


We need to know about it.  Who knows, maybe future voters will even vote for people who stand for the Constitution and a rule of law rather than for a national security Nomenklatura (the old Soviet-style closed elite of apparatchiks) invested in using the techniques of our dictatorial enemies instead of those of a democracy.

Maniac Cleveland Police Chase Video

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63 police cars and 137 shots later, each unarmed person chased solely for speeding dead from over 20 upper torso and head shots

No problem, some will claim...just how it is.

Keepin It Real, Keeping It Raw

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

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