Weapons of Mass Exploitation


From DR. RAVI BATRA
Professor of Economics at SMU
Truthout

About eight years ago, there was frenzied and furious talk about WMDs, or weapons of mass destruction. Both the frenzy and the fury came from President George W. Bush and his administration, prior to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and soon thereafter. The president’s poll ratings had soared in the aftermath of the quick American victory in Afghanistan, which was the base from which al-Qaeda had launched 9/11. In order to keep his poll numbers up, the president and his officials were in a hurry to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. There was a frenzy of claims that Saddam possessed WMDs including chemical arms and nuclear weapons. But when none were found, the officials were furious that Saddam, so to speak, had deceived them. They were also furious at their critics who wondered aloud if the entire WMD claim was actually a fabrication.

The Iraq invasion turned out to be a colossal mistake in terms of lost lives and heavy expenditures that sharply raised the federal budget deficit. However, few realize that the Bush administration made a far bigger mistake in using what may be called Weapons of Mass Exploitation or WMEs, which have all but decimated the US economy and continue to do so.

A WME is a short-term financial palliative that makes the rich richer but postpones economic troubles, while seeming to cure the problems of unemployment

Listen Up, President Obama! FDR’s story of how they beat the Great Depression with Common Sense


FDR’s Speech at Forbes Field, Oct. 1, 1936
Thanks to Sierra Voices

ROOSEVELT: Mr. Chairman, Governor Earle, my friends of Pennsylvania:

A baseball park is a good place to talk about box scores. Tonight I am going to talk to you about the box score of the Government of the United States. I am going to tell you the story of our fight to beat down the depression and win recovery. From where I stand it looks as though the game is pretty well “in the bag.”

I am convinced that when Government finance or any other kind of finance is honest, and when all the cards are on the table, 4 there is no higher mathematics about it. It is just plain, scoreboard arithmetic.

When the present management of your team took charge in 1933, the national scoreboard looked pretty bad. In fact, it looked so much like a shut-out for the team that you voted a change of management in order to give the country a chance to win the game. And today we are winning it.

When the new management came to Washington, we began to make our plans—plans to meet the immediate crisis and plans that would carry the people of the country back to decent prosperity.

America Held Hostage: Day 216


From MARK SUMNER
DailyKos

America starts this day still facing the continuing threat of fiscal destruction by Republicans who think of rigid adherence to ideology first, second, and always.

Why day 216? Because it’s been 216 days since the Bush tax cuts were extended. You remember the tax cut extensions, don’t you? That was the last artificial line in the sand created for no reason other than to give the GOP a cause to extract concessions from the president and to shift tax burden from the rich to the poor. In other words, it’s now been 216 days since this same group of hostage takers were last appeased. It’s been 216 days since we gave them exactly what they wanted and made this next round of the drama a dead certainty. It’s been 216 days since we signed on as partners in the very thing that’s creating the debt.

While we wait another another year and a half for the tax extension issue to roll around again and hope that next time Democrats can muster the courage to not scream “how high?” when the Republicans shout “jump!” we can at least not make things worse. We can make a start toward actually addressing the debt problem caused primarily by the costs of the war and the cuts in taxes by not rewarding the GOP for their debt ceiling strategy. We can insist that this president get what George W. Bush got seven times and what Ronald Reagan got 16 times: a clean bill raising the debt limit.

If we don’t, if the Republicans gain even the slightest thing by pulling this stunt, then that clock might

Dave Pollard: If the collapse of industrial civilization cannot be prevented, what should we do now?


From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

[...] In a way, much of what I’ve written on this blog is an attempt to answer that question [what should we do now?], without being too presumptuous, and appreciating that there is no one right answer to it. My answer: Liberate myself, from civilization’s bonds and destruction, before it collapses on top of me.

Here’s what I’m doing to that end:

1. Understanding what is really going on now

The newspapers and the other media, including most of the independent and progressive media, are of little help in this regard. Here’s what I have written before about more useful reading:

Our world (like all ecological and social systems) is inherently, staggeringly and wonderfully complex, but everything we are taught about the world and how it works (in schools, and in the mainstream media) is reduced to simplistic, mechanistic terms. We continue to believe that “the environment” (something that is portrayed as somehow apart from us) is just facing “problems” that need “solutions” (political, economic, scientific, technological, or spiritual). In complicated systems (like your car), “problems” can be fixed. But in complex systems

Was Fukushima Radioactive Beef Exported?


From BLOOMBERG

Japan’s government said it can’t rule out the possibility beef contaminated with radioactive material has been exported, as consumers and lawmakers accused authorities of negligence on food safety.

The government yesterday imposed a ban on beef shipments from areas near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant after finding 637 cattle were fed hay containing radioactive cesium. Supermarkets including Japan’s biggest, Aeon Co., said the beef was sold in Tokyo and other cities.

“We cannot completely rule out the possibility” contaminated beef was also sold abroad, Yuichi Imasaki, the deputy director of the farm ministry’s meat and egg division said by phone today. “The chances are very low” because most countries have tightened rules on Japanese beef imports or banned them, he said…

The U.S. has not allowed beef imports from Japan since April, 21, 2010, because of the possibility they may harbor foot-and-mouth disease, Matt Herrick, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, said today in an e-mail…

Products including spinach, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tea, milk, plums and fish have been found to be contaminated with cesium and iodine as far as 360 kilometers (225 miles) from Dai- Ichi… Full story here
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Debt Ceiling Holy War: Why Do Conservatives Have Unshakable Faith in Ideas That Are Totally, Demonstrably False?


From CHAUNCEY DeVEGA
Alternet

The Republican Party is holding the U.S. economy hostage. While the American people overwhelmingly support a solution to the debt ceiling impasse that includes a mix of tax hikes on the rich and cuts to the federal budget, the Tea Party GOP is deaf to their concerns. Moreover, even though President Barack Obama is willing to make painful concessions on entitlement spending—a move that hands the Republican Party a practical win—the Tea Party GOP remains intractable in its refusal to support even the most minimum of tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.

The American people, the world’s financial markets and the pundit classes remain perplexed by the Republican Party’s dangerous brinkmanship. Why would they risk financial armageddon? What is the practical gain to be had from such irresponsible behavior? Is this a ploy to undermine the Democrats before the 2012 election?

Observers remain befuddled because they have failed to connect the dots between the Republican Party’s intransigent stubbornness and a populist brand of conservatism where the world of facts has been made secondary to the intoxication of faith…

Full story here
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Portable House, Simple Life


 

From PEAK MOMENT TELEVISION

Embarrassed by her middle class affluence after a visit to Guatemala, Dee Williams grabbed her hammer, built a tiny house on wheels, downsized to less than 400 possessions, and parked her house in a friend’s yard. Her living arrangement then blossomed into a multi-generational family / community. Dee shows us her warm and comfy 7×12 foot house, how she meets city codes, and some unusual ways this life has affected her.
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Obama Campaign Raises Record Sums from the Wealthy


From PATRICK MARTIN
Information Clearing House

Proving that President Obama is the first choice of Wall Street and the American super-rich, his reelection campaign announced Wednesday that it had broken all previous records for fundraising, raking in $86 million during the second quarter of this year.

The $86 million total dwarfed the previous record for presidential reelection fundraising, the $50 million raised by George W. Bush in the third quarter of 2003. It was far above the $60 million target set by Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina.

Obama for America, the official name of the reelection effort, raised $47 million, while the Democratic National Committee collected $38 million, largely from fundraising events featuring the president, where big donors are allowed to give up to $30,800 apiece. Individual donations to Obama for America are limited under federal election laws to a maximum of $5,000.

By comparison, the leading Republican fundraiser, former Massachusetts governor and investment banker Mitt Romney, raised $18.25 million in the April-June quarter. The total raised by all the Republican presidential hopefuls who have filed reports with the Federal Election Commission came to only $36 million, less than half Obama’s haul… Complete story here
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You win a class war by fighting a class war


From CHRIS BOWERS
DailyKos

As you read this, rich and powerful people in Washington, DC are trying to determine not whether they should cut programs designed to help low and middle-income Americans, but by how much they should cut those programs. The rich and powerful people in DC are making these cuts in order to pay for tax breaks they recently gave to rich people and large corporations. Additionally, the cuts are being made at the behest of the lobby organizations and media operations owned by rich people and large corporations.

If that isn’t a class war, I don’t know what is. For the past 40 years, the outcomes of the political battles in this war have almost always approximated the forthcoming debt ceiling deal. Stuff for low and middle-income people gets cut. Stuff for big corporations and the wealthy gets protected.

In this depressing environment, it feels good to see ads in the Wisconsin recall elections that are fighting the class war in the other direction, on behalf of low and middle-income Americans and against the wealthy…

Several organizations have been running ads like these against Republicans in Wisconsin, such as the ad of Wisconsin protesters by Democracy for America and the PCCC that got big play back in the spring.

SOS From Fukushima: Please help us save our children… We are afraid of a horrible future if something is not done quickly to protect the lives of our children. We beg you to please speak of our situation to the whole world.



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5 Protests That Shook the World (With Laughter)


From YES! MAGAZINE

Great moments in “laughtivism” from Yes Men Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, the guys who duped the BBC, embarrassed Dow Chemical, and mocked Halliburton.

Some say that laughter helped bring down the Soviet Union, by making “­Brezhnev” rhyme with “ridiculous.” At the Yes Lab, we help activists cook up funny antics and escapades to change public opinion—with laughter. We’ve used humor as a weapon to avenge corporate wrongdoing for more than a decade, ever since we started dressing up as phony PR men, comic strip heroes, and government officials.

That’s because we know humor is powerful: people have used jokes and hoaxes for centuries to humble the bad guys and inspire the good ones. Here are some of our favorite moments in “laughtivism.”

1. Abbie Hoffman incites a money grab.

In 1967, Abbie Hoffman and members of the Yippies, a radical activist group, threw 300 one-dollar bills from the New York Stock Exchange balcony onto the trading floor. According to Hoffman, as brokers grabbed for petty cash, trading ground to a halt. The famous stunt mocked the unregulated greed that still pervades Wall Street.

2. Let’s kill dissent—just kidding.

In 1702,

A Nation of Psychotics, Zombies, Parasitic Shrinks, and Drug Scams


From ALJAZEERA

[Our culture has become zombified by legal and illegal drugs, whether they be prescripted, alcohol, television, the internet, or marijuana, we are sleepwalking through our lives while the rich pillage our democracy and rifle through the pockets of the elderly... -DS]

Antipsychotics are the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States

Has America become a nation of psychotics? You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux.

Once upon a time, antipsychotics were reserved for a relatively small number of patients with hard-core psychiatric diagnoses

Why oil is killing the American farm


From LINDSAY CURREN
Transition Voice

After an assortment of documentaries in recent years on America’s industrial food system — Food, Inc., Fresh, The Future of Food, King Corn, Super Size Me, Vanishing of the Bees — you might wonder what another can possibly add to the conversation.

Most observant, open-minded and thinking persons get it by now that our corn fed, fossil fuel heavy, confinement livestock operations produce, in the most efficient way possible, cruddy foods that make us fat and destroy the very land we depend on for more food.

The grapes of wrath

The conflict, or so we’re told, is that in spite of a few organic farmers here and there making a go of it, industrial farming is the only way to feed America. Choosing otherwise — a niche fetish for the elite we’re also told — doesn’t profit and costs too much for consumers.

It seems those spouting that line are still refusing to listen to renegade farmer Joel Salatin, whose passion for sustainable farming is matched only by his commercial success, and by his advocacy against governmental regulations that hamstring efforts to get into the market.

Salatin’s fervent view of deregulation would seem a natural fit for old-school conservatives (the authentically small government types).

Todd Walton: Another Year



Mike Leigh

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“The backers accept that they don’t know what they are going to get.” Mike Leigh

According to the on-screen credits that introduce Mike Leigh’s latest movie Another Year (available on DVD), the backers included agencies of the British government, including the national lottery. So…not only do the Brits have excellent and free healthcare, but their government provides money for cutting edge artists (be still my heart) to make major motion pictures about people so real that Marcia and I have been talking about Another Year for days on end, as if the characters in the movie actually came here and spent several days with us, getting drunk and driving us batty with all their imperfections and beauties and sorrows and strengths and frailties attendant to being human, as opposed to being cartoon characters.

The Sunday following our viewing of Another Year, I leafed through the Pink section (movies, music, theater, dance) and Insight section (books) of the San Francisco Chronicle and felt painfully embarrassed, as I often do, by our so-called culture. Books so badly written (my teeth ache thinking about them) fill the bestseller lists and garner slobbering reviews of such transparent falsity there can be no question this nonsense was planted by the publishers, those New York-based mouths of multinational corporations that would never knowingly publish

Cheese Board Collective: 40 Years in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto


From SARAH HENRY
Civil Eats

Exploring alternative ways to work in the food industry is a hot topic. Recently in San Francisco a sold out Kitchen Table Talks, a monthly panel showcasing local food folk, featured a discussion about successful edible enterprises that haven’t started the conventional route.

Two of the four panelists hailed from Berkeley. Three Stone Hearth‘s Jessica Prentice, whom I’ve previously profiled on Berkeleyside, talked about her cooperative kitchen model. Cathy Goldsmith represented The Cheese Board Collective. (San Francisco business reps in the mix: Caleb Zigas, who runs the kitchen incubator program La Cocina and Anthony Myint, the restauranteur behind Mission Chinese Food and Commonwealth, both eateries give big chunks of change to charity.)

Beyond the obvious culinary connection each business is unique. What they have in common? A desire to build community—of workers, artisans, and customers—around their real food ventures.

Case in point The Cheese Board Collective, which has served as an anchor institution in what’s known as Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto for more than 40 years…

Complete article here
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Will Parrish: People Who Belong To The Land



Violet Parrish Wilder & Vivian Parrish Wilder; The Artesa Site

From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville
Anderson Valley Advertiser

According to Violet Parrish Chappell, 82, traditionalist and historian of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, her people’s name – their real name, not the arbitrary handle imposed by the white man’s society in the 1870s – has always been Wina∙má∙bake ya: “People Who Belong To The Land.” To be exact, the land to which the Wina∙má∙bake ya belong spans the coast and hills at the mouth of what is today known as the Gualala River, located just outside the town of Gualala, reaching as far south as the area below the mouth of the Russian River, also extending roughly eight miles inland.

The name reflects the integral relationship of the Kashia to their landbase. It is a relationship that manifests in ritual and religious practices, as well as materially in traditional land stewardship practices developed over the course of exceptionally long land tenure. Unlike the people of European origin who have supplanted them in the area, the Kashia long ago attained an intellectual apprehension that they are part of the natural order, rather than apart from or superior to it.

According to the traditional Kashia worldview, whatever happens to the land also invariably happens to the people.

This perspective is worth bearing in mind, because one of the greatest instances of harm ever wrought on the Kashia’s ancestral land is on the verge

Bill McKibben: The Time Has Come




From BILL McKIBBEN

Let’s do this.

Beginning in mid-August, and stretching for two weeks into the Labor Day weekend, you’re invited to Washington D.C. to participate in sustained direct action against the expansion of the Canadian tarsands. Yes, it’s likely to be hot and humid. And yes, it’s possible that you’ll be arrested. But it’s also possible you’ll make a big difference.

Here’s the deal. A group of big oil companies has proposed one of the worst plans the continent has ever seen: a huge pipeline taking oil from the tarsands of Alberta all the way to Texas. Along the route there’s been powerful opposition from indigenous leaders, and from farmers and ranchers.

But this is a project with global impact. The tarsands of Canada are the second biggest pool of carbon on the planet, after Saudi Arabia’s oil wells. If you could burn all the oil in them, you’d increase the planet’s co2 concentration by 200 parts per million.  If we keep developing them, as the world’s leading climatologist James Hansen said recently, it’s “essentially game over” for the planet’s climate. Which is why a group of indigenous leaders, scientists, and environmentalist on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border this month asked citizens to come to Washington for what may turn into the biggest civil disobedience action in the history of the climate debate.

Day after day we’ll assemble outside the White House in peaceful ranks.

Gene Logsdon: Why Do Humans Congregate In Big Cities?


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

One of life’s mysteries for me is why country people have inevitably migrated to the cities in every civilization that I have studied. In the United States, where there has been little of the kind of violent upheavals that send third world countries into instability, the reasons for migration to cities seem especially specious to me. Some say we move because rural life is boring or stifling with puritanical overly-conservative life styles. Actually agrarian society has often been shockingly wide open as I tried to point out in Mother of All Arts. What happened to me just yesterday seems appropriate. I was parked along the edge of a country road jawing with a couple who were harvesting wheat. A very long-haired individual, naked to the waist, came flying by on a motorcycle, tresses trailing in the wind. Trying to be funny, I opined: “Well it must have been a man because it wasn’t wearing a bra.” One of the farmers replied, rolling her eyes: “That’s a dangerous conclusion to reach around here.”

Others move to town because they want to escape what they consider the hard work of farming. That is no longer all that true either and I wonder if it ever was. Millions of factory and construction workers perform harder physical work than most farmers do today or ever did. A friend likes to tell how thrilled he was to get off the farm 70 years ago because he had to work there every day milking cows, no weekends off.

The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan


From LAWRENCE WRIGHT
Rolling Stone (April 1985)

His friends remembered when Richard became famous. It was the year the hippies came to San Francisco. Richard had published one novel, A Confederate General from Big Sur, but it had sold miserably 743 copies and his publisher, Grove Press, had dropped its option on Trout Fishing in America. Donald Allen was the West Coast representative of Grove and the editor of the Evergreen Review, which had introduced the Beat Generation. Allen had a small nonprofit press called the Four Seasons Foundation, and he decided to publish the book himself. Allen sold 29,000 copies of the book before Delacorte bought it. Eventually, 2 million copies were sold.

It was the kind of book that captured the spirit and sound of a generation. Soon there was a commune and an underground newspaper and even a school named after Trout Fishing in America. His short stories and poems appeared regularly in Rolling Stone, often beneath a photograph of him in his broad-brimmed hat. His face became a hippie icon. “For three or four years, he was like George Harrison walking down Haight Street,” remembered Don Carpenter, a novelist and scriptwriter and a longtime friend of Richard’s. His image infuriated what Richard called the East Coast literary mafia.

The old Beats looked at Richard with envy and surprise. The Beats were out of fashion, and Bunthorne was all the rage and he was rich, too, thunderously rich

Japan Health Official does not believe Fukushima Radioactive Beef “will cause problems”


From CNN

A Japanese health official downplayed the dangers Tuesday after cesium contaminated meat from six Fukushima cows was delivered to Japanese markets and probably ingested.

Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of consumer affairs and food-safety, said he hoped to head off any overreactions.

“If we were to eat the meat everyday, then it would probably be dangerous,” Hosono said at a news conference Tuesday. “But if it is consumed only in small portions, I don’t think it would have any long-lasting effects on the human body.”

The meat, delivered late last month, has made its way to consumers and most likely has been ingested, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Monday evening. This was preceded by another recent discovery of radiation in the meat of 11 cows delivered to Tokyo from the same farm.

The discovery was made when Tokyo’s office of health and welfare investigated six deliveries made at the end of June from a Fukushima farm. So far, radiation has been confirmed from three out of the six cows. In one case, radiation reached 3400 Becquerels, which is about seven times the limit set by the government…

Complete story here
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Thanks President Reagan… your economics suck!



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See also: REPUBLICANS ran up the debt and now THEY don’t want to pay the bill
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The 10 Essential Rules Of Liberty


From BRANDON SMITH
Information Clearing House

There is nothing worse in this world than an enslaved man who naively believes himself free, except, perhaps, trying to explain to that same man his predicament. You can lay truth after truth before his feet. You can qualify your every position with cold hard irrefutable data. You can plead and scream and raise veritable hell, but before he will ever listen, he must first become aware of his own dire circumstances. As long as he views himself as “safe and secure”, as long as he imagines his chains to be wings, he will see no reason to question the validity of the world around him, and he will certainly never invest himself into changing his own deluded destiny.

Unfortunately, there are many such men crawling and scraping about here in what was once a land graced with a self sufficient and independently minded public majority. The great lie that has been perpetuated in this country over the past several decades is that we can defer our responsibilities of vigilance and place our well being and our futures into the hands of others for the sake of “collective efficiency”, or leisure. We have been conditioned to live in a state of constant indifference, a society which prizes compromise over principle and steadfast resolve.

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