Around the web

The Carnage of Capitalism…

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From PressTV

Capitalism is expanding like a tumor in the body of American society, spreading further into vital areas of human need like health and education.

Milton Friedman said in 1980: “The free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people.” The father of the modern neoliberal movement couldn’t have been more wrong. Inequality has been growing for 35 years, worsening since the 2008 recession, as a few well-positioned Americans have made millions while the rest of us have gained almost nothing. Now, our college students and medicine-dependent seniors have become the source of new riches for the profitseeking free-marketers.

Higher Education: Administrators get most of the money

How “Giftivism” Helped Turn a Tough Oakland Street Into a Close-Knit Community…

From KarmaTube

The Fruitvale district of East Oakland, California, is the turf of three major gangs. Yet the residents of Casa de Paz never lock their doors. Anchored by Pancho Ramos Stierle and Adelaja Simon, Casa de Paz is part of a group of homes that form an intentional community of peace and nonviolence in an area rife with structural and physical violence.

In order to serve their community, they live with the people—laugh with them, cry with them, and eat with them. They embody “giftivism,” practicing radical acts of generosity that change the world, one heart, one home, one block at a time.
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How Would Socialism Work? And How Could It Help Stop Climate Change?…

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From Socialist Alternative

Humanity is at one of the most important crossroads in its 200,000 year history. Having spread across the globe about 30,000 years ago, we advanced through various stages of hunting and gathering to develop agriculture and animal husbandry 20,000 years later. This began a shift from human muscle power to animal muscle power as our primary source of energy. But it is only in the last 300 years that another massive shift has taken place: from animal power to fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – which dovetails precisely with the rise of industrial capitalism.

This period has seen an explosion of technological progress, economic output, and world population. Yet the carbon-emitting basis of this impressive run, combined with the rapacious individualism of competitive (and later monopoly) capitalism, now clearly threaten all advances made with an impending and ever-more palpable environmental catastrophe. For many, this ominous threat calls into question whether ‘industrialization’ was ever such a good thing in the first place.

We Don’t Need No Education…

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From Outside Magazine

At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set ‘em free.

In early September, in a clapboard house situated on 43 acres just outside a small town in northern Vermont, two boys awaken. They are brothers; the older is 12, the younger 9, and they rise to a day that has barely emerged from the clutches of dark. It is not yet autumn, but already the air has begun to change, the soft nights of late summer lengthening and chilling into the season to come. Outside the boys’ bedroom window, the leaves on the maples are just starting to turn.

School is back in session and has been for two weeks or more, but the boys are unhurried. They dress slowly, quietly. Faded and frayed thrift-store camo pants. Flannel shirts. Rubber barn boots. Around their waists, leather belts with knife sheaths. In each sheath, a fixed-blade knife.

By 6:30, with the first rays of sun burning through the ground-level fog, the boys are outside. At some point in the next hour, a yellow school bus will rumble past the end of the driveway that connects the farm to the town road. The bus will be full of children the boys’ age, their foreheads pressed against the glass, gazing at the unfurling landscape, the fields and hills and forests of the small working-class community they call home…

There’s a name for the kind of education Fin and Rye are getting. It’s called unschooling, though Penny and I have never been fond of the term. But “self-directed, adult-facilitated life learning in the context of their own unique interests” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so unschooling it is.

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It is already obvious that unschooling is radically different from institutionalized classroom learning, but how does it differ from more common homeschooling? Perhaps the best way to explain it is that all unschooling is homeschooling, but not all homeschooling is unschooling. While most homeschooled children follow a structured curriculum, unschoolers like Fin and Rye have almost total autonomy over their days. At ages that would likely see them in seventh and fourth grades, I generously estimate that my boys spend no more than two hours per month sitting and studying the subjects, such as science and math, that are universal to mainstream education. Not two hours per day or even per week. Two hours per month. Comparatively speaking, by now Fin would have spent approximately 5,600 hours in the classroom. Rye, nearly three years younger, would have clocked about half that time.

If this sounds radical, it’s only because you’re not taking a long enough view, for the notion that children should spend the majority of their waking hours confined to a classroom enjoys scant historical precedent…

Complete story here
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Life With Legal Weed…

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From The Atlantic

A conversation with middle-aged moms, homeless men, and college kids about post-prohibition in Boulder, Colorado

The most eclectic gathering spot in Boulder, Colorado, is the Pearl Street Mall, a pedestrian thoroughfare at the heart of downtown. Alongside its relatively pricey stores and restaurants, there is an outdoor concert venue, a children’s play area, and the seat of county government. Activists stand on Pearl Street seeking signatures; street performers treat its sidewalks as a stage; drunk collegians spill from bars to sit drunk on its planters; homeless people sleep nearby. Amid it all I spotted Texas Fred, a 68-year-old on a late-night stroll. A thin man with aviator eyeglasses and shoulder-length gray hair, he wore a floral-print shirt and held a guitar case like it was his most valued possession. It was almost 11 p.m. when I approached asking if I could talk with him about cannabis. Fred wasn’t surprised. “Everything about me screams, ‘He smokes marijuana!’” he said.

For more than a decade, Colorado residents have been able to buy or grow a limited amount of marijuana for medicinal purposes. More recently, the state’s voters sanctioned an entire marijuana industry, complete with licensed pot farms, retail stores, and a wave of tourist patrons. Fred was visiting from Chicago. Once a year, his wife lets him go off on the road to scrape by as a bohemian musician. He’d left home three weeks earlier with $100, stopped in St. Louis where he played on the street for tips, and finally made it to Boulder, coasting into town on fumes. By the time I met him, he’d earned enough for several visits to marijuana dispensaries. Before we parted, he helped me understand why legalization matters more than a casual visitor might realize…

Complete story here
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Working Anything but 9 to 5…

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From NYT

Scheduling Technology Leaves Low-Income Parents With Hours of Chaos

[...] Like increasing numbers of low-income mothers and fathers, Ms. Navarro is at the center of a new collision that pits sophisticated workplace technology against some fundamental requirements of parenting, with particularly harsh consequences for poor single mothers. Along with virtually every major retail and restaurant chain, Starbucks relies on software that choreographs workers in precise, intricate ballets, using sales patterns and other data to determine which of its 130,000 baristas are needed in its thousands of locations and exactly when. Big-box retailers or mall clothing chains are now capable of bringing in more hands in anticipation of a delivery truck pulling in or the weather changing, and sending workers home when real-time analyses show sales are slowing. Managers are often compensated based on the efficiency of their staffing.

Scheduling is now a powerful tool to bolster profits, allowing businesses to cut labor costs with a few keystrokes. “It’s like magic,” said Charles DeWitt, vice president for business development at Kronos, which supplies the software for Starbucks and many other chains.

Yet those advances are injecting turbulence into parents’ routines and personal relationships, undermining efforts to expand preschool access, driving some mothers out of the work force and redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families, say parents, child care providers and policy experts….

Complete article here
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Russell Brand: Ferguson Protests: Where Do We Stand?


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The ACLU Released A Terrifying Report On All The Military Weapons US Cops Have…

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From Business Advisor

The town of Ferguson, Missouri saw massive riots this weekend in response to the police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old, and cops showed up with a heavily armed SWAT team.

Members of this police force in a town of 21,000 carried 5.56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine. They wore body armor, stood in front of a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck (known as a BearCat), and would have been mistaken for soldiers if they weren’t wearing “Police” patches, as Business Insider’s Paul Szoldra wrote.

This is just one of America’s highly militarized police forces, as detailed in a sobering report from the American Civil Liberties Union that came out in June. That report reveals how the U.S. military transfers a shocking amount of military-grade equipment to local cops who often misuse these tools.

Anatomy of Songs…

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ISIS Consolidates…

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From Patrick Cockburn
London Review of Books

As the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June. The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland. In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis has established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, routing the official al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and executing its local commander as he tried to flee. In northern Syria some five thousand Isis fighters are using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army in Mosul to besiege half a million Kurds in their enclave at Kobani on the Turkish border. In central Syria, near Palmyra, Isis fought the Syrian army as it overran the al-Shaer gasfield, one of the largest in the country, in a surprise assault that left an estimated three hundred soldiers and civilians dead. Repeated government counter-attacks finally retook the gasfield but Isis still controls most of Syria’s oil and gas production. The Caliphate may be poor and isolated but its oil wells and control of crucial roads provide a steady income in addition to the plunder of war.

How To Boycott Amazon and Shop in an Actual Bookstore… and Why You Damn Well Should…

bFrom Esquire

The movement to boycott Amazon has been picking up speed for several weeks now. In the wake of strong-arm tactics in its negotiations with Hachette publishing, Amazon has managed to offend the actual writers whose books Hachette publishes, including Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, and JK Rowling. That wouldn’t matter so much if one of them wasn’t Stephen Colbert. He has promoted stickers that viewers can download from his website, which read, I DIDN’T BUY IT ON AMAZON. Amazon has responded by telling customers that anybody inconvenienced by the battle with Hachette should buy books elsewhere.

Until publishers decide to start a competitor website selling books, which eventually they are going to have to do, anyone wanting to follow Colbert’s or Amazon’s advice ought to venture into actual physical bookstores. Unfortunately, by now, purchasing print books in a brick-and-mortar building is something of a lost art, like taking snuff or drinking brandy after dinner. Which is not to say that it’s not worth doing. Quite the opposite. Buying books in a bookstore is one of life’s great, quiet pleasures. It leads to the purchase of better books. It leads to a deeper relationship to reading. It is a joy in and of itself.

Therefore, for those who need reminding, and for those who perhaps are too young ever to have been in a bookstore, a short guide to buying books in them:

Bottled Water Comes From the Most Drought-Ridden Places in the Country…

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From Mother Jones

Popular brands like Aquafina and Dasani source from catastrophically dry parts of the West.

Bottled-water drinkers, we have a problem: there’s a good chance that your water comes from California, a state experiencing the third driest year on record.

The details of where and how bottling companies get their water are often quite murky, but generally speaking, bottled water falls into two categories. The first is “spring water,” or groundwater that’s collected, according to the EPA, “at the point where water flows naturally to the earth’s surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground source.” About 55 percent of bottled water in the US is spring water, including Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead.

The other 45 percent comes from the municipal water supply, meaning that companies, including Aquafina and Dasani, simply treat tap water—the same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home—and bottle it up. (Weird, right?)

But regardless of whether companies bottle from springs or the tap, lots of them are using water in exactly the areas that need it most right now.

CIA Intervention in Ukraine Has Been Taking Place for Decades…

u From FDL

The most powerful form of lie is the omission…” — George Orwell

Of all the aspects of the current crisis over the NATO/Russia standoff in Ukraine, the determined intervention into Ukrainian political affairs by the United States has been the least reported, at least until recently. While new reports have appeared concerning CIA Director John Brennan’s mid-April trip to Kiev, and CIA/FBI sending “dozens” of advisers to the Ukrainian security services, very few reports mention that U.S. intervention in Ukraine affairs goes back to the end of World War II. It has hardly let up since then.

The fact of such intervention is not hard to find. Indeed, it’s hard to know where to start in documenting all this, there is so much out there if one is willing to look for it. But the mainstream U.S. press, and their blogger shadows, are ignoring this for the most part. Some exceptions at the larger alternative websites include Jeffrey St. Clair’s Counterpunch and Robert Perry’s Consortium News.

Even these latter outlets have almost nothing to say about the approximately 70 year history of U.S. intervention in Ukraine. The liberals and progressives avoid the subject because otherwise one would have to address the full reality of the intensive U.S. Cold War against the Soviet Union, and the covert and overt crimes and operations conducted by the U.S. against the USSR. Because the liberals share an anti-communist consensus, not far removed from Ronald Reagan’s view of the USSR as an “Evil Empire,” they have little to no interest in addressing the full history of the period.

Requiem for a Fish Sandwich…

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From Garden & Gun

For many Southerners, nothing goes quite as well with summer as a fresh grouper sandwich. But these days finding the real thing can be hit or miss

I love fishing stories, which some people equate with lies.  I do not believe this is always true. I think weird things happen when you step boldly off firmer earth, and commence to float. This is my new favorite.

Jimbo Meador, outdoorsman, writer, and other things, was fishing the Yucatán about forty years ago. Not far away, a tiny man, a Mayan he believes, was fishing with a hand line from a tiny boat. Suddenly, the tiny man and his tiny boat went shooting across the water. The tiny boat did not have a motor.

He had hooked a Goliath grouper, and it was taking him for a ride.

“Like The Old Man and the Sea,” said Meador’s friend Skip Jones, who grew up, like Meador, not far from Mobile Bay.

The tiny man hung on, and on, and on.

Watch the spread of mass incarceration throughout the US…

US_prison_population_1978-2012

 

From Vox

Twitter and Reddit user @MetricMaps has developed a GIF that shows the steady rise of America’s state and federal prison population from 1978 to 2012. The map shows that the South — and Nevada — were leaders in increasing incarceration, but that most of the rest of the country has followed.

Incarceration rates are mostly due to government policies, not to crime rates — that’s true at the national level, and it’s true for differences between states as well. And because most of the US prison population is housed in state prisons, state laws, in particular, are the biggest factor in the rise of mass incarceration — and differences between similar states can be explained by differences in their laws.

This land is MINE…


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Russell Brand takes on Hannity’s Bullshit Israel-Palestine Debate…


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A Guide for the Perplexed: Mapping the Meaning of Life and the Four Levels of Being…

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From Brain Pickings

How to harness the uniquely human power of “consciousness recoiling upon itself.”

“Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction,” Rebecca Solnit wrote in her sublime meditation on how the art of getting lost helps us find ourselves“and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.” But the maps we use to navigate that terra incognita — maps bequeathed to us by the dominant beliefs and standards of our culture — can often lead us further from ourselves rather than closer, leaving us discombobulated rather than oriented toward the true north of our true inner compass. A decade after his influential meditation on“Buddhist economics,” British economic theorist and philosopher E.F. Schumacher set out to explore how we can improve those maps and use them to better navigate the meaning of life in his magnificent 1977 essay collection A Guide for the Perplexed (public library).

Schumacher begins with an apt anecdotal metaphor for how these misleading maps are handed to us:

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