Around the web

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:

Israel has broken my heart: I’m a rabbi in mourning for a Judaism being murdered by Israel…

Palestinian boy comforts his father, whom medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling in Shejaia, at a hospital in Gaza CityA Palestinian boy comforts his father, who medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling in Shejaia, at a hospital in Gaza City, July 30, 2014.(Credit: Reuters/Suhaib Salem)

From Michael Lerner
Salon

I’ve always been proud of Israel, but the brutal Gaza assault requires Jews worldwide to be honest, not nationalist

My heart is broken as I witness the suffering of the Palestinian people and the seeming indifference of Israelis. All my life I’ve been a champion of Israel, proud of its many accomplishments in science and technology that have benefited the world, insistent on the continuing need for the Jewish people to have a state that offers protections from anti-Semitism that has reared its head continuously throughout Christian and Islamic societies, willing to send my only child to serve in the Israeli Army (the paratroopers unit-tzanchanim), and enjoying the pleasures of long swaths of time in which I could study in Jerusalem and celebrate Shabbat in a city that weekly closed down the hustle and bustle of the capitalist marketplace for a full 25 hours. And though as editor of Tikkun I printed articles challenging the official story of how Israel came to be, showing its role in forcibly ejecting tens of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 and allowing Jewish terrorist groups under the leadership of (future Israeli Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir) to create justified fears that led hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians to flee for their lives, I always told myself that the dominant humanity of the Jewish people and the compassionate strain within Torah would reassert itself once Israel felt secure.

Deconstructing Harris…

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From Dancing With Palestinians Blog
[Responding to Sam Harris repost here]

I grew up in Israel and served as an IDF officer. It took me years to realize that we had been brought up on lies, myths and propaganda and that Palestinians are no different from native Americans, blacks in S. Africa and other indigenous populations who were abused and dispossessed by European colonialism. Demolishing the Zionist myths and propaganda is the first step towards de-constructing the exclusionary colonial state and achieving historic justice and lasting peace.

Atheism is cool, atheism is trendy, atheism is the new religion which will cure all of mankind’s ailments and rid it once and for all from the scourge of humanity called war. So we are told. This chic new age movement, popularized in recent years by young IT workers across the internet, has produced a few celebrity spokespersons such as Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens and more lately celebrity neuroscientist Sam Harris, who under pressure from readers for the inherent contradiction between atheism and support for the theocratic ethnocracy Israel, penned a hideous apologist essay titled Why I Don’t Criticize Israel. This was all happening while Israel was raining down one ton bombs on defenseless Palestinian refugees in Gaza, razing entire neighborhoods and achieving an 80% score in the killing of over one thousand uninvolved elderly men, women, children and babies.

Sam Harris could have answered the title of his essay with one sentence:

because I know on which side the bread is buttered and I want to keep my writing and public speeches career which is possible only if you are adopted by the mainstream establishment in America.

All Hell Seems to be Breaking Loose…

kFrom James Howard Kunstler

That tractable beast, World Opinion, was apparently looking the other way when US video war-gamers blew up wedding parties and donkeys by remote control in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan, not to mention the now long ago shock-and-awe bombardment of poor innocent Iraq. It’s not paying much attention these days to the remorseless advance of ISIS (or ISL or the Islamic State) as it cuts a psychopathic swath through the Middle East marked by wholesale executions of civil servants, beheadings of “infidels,” and the occasional crucifixion of suspected enemies and traitors. UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon is so busy issuing condemnations of Israel that he has forgotten to ask Hamas the elementary question: What part of… quit firing rockets… don’t you understand?

Demonic forces are on the loose again now one hundred years after Europe blew itself apart for no good reason. (Why? Because some young Serbian nobody killed the heir to the Austrian throne on a back street in Sarajevo?) Maybe we are making a mistake to think that any sort of rationality applies now. Here in the depraved and disintegrating USA, we pretend that Afghanistan threatens our national interest from 7,000 miles away while denying that Russia has any business with its crumbling next-door neighbor (and former province), Ukraine — the crumbling of which was bought and paid for by the US Department of State and CIA.

Open Source ‘Solar Pocket Factory’ Can 3D Print A Solar Panel Every 15 Seconds…

From SolarPocketFactory

Shawn Frayne and Alex Hornstein, two young inventors based in the Philippines, are taking their passion for clean free energy and developing a way to make it accessible and cheap for everyone. These guys are working tirelessly to provide a product that could be used by practically anyone to make homemade solar panels.

The factory is small enough to fit on a desktop and efficient enough to produce 300k to one million panels per year, up to one every 15 seconds. By cutting out much of the labor intensive process, which represents 50% of the total cost, this machine can dramatically reduce the price of solar. Their pocket solar panel producer can change the way the world views electricity.

How Did Bob Dylan Get So… Dylan?

dBob Dylan, 1964

How Did Bob Dylan Get So Weird?

Call his work art, call it crap, but in the end it’s the creation of an artist who defies us to ask for something more.

In August, a Bob Dylan album may well arrive in stores concrete and virtual. It may be called Shadows in the Night. It may have a song called “Full Moon & Empty Arms” on it; a stream of the tune was released without comment on his website a couple of months ago. Why Dylan chose to record a cover of an old Sinatra track isn’t clear; it may, or may not, be a clue that the purported album will consist of covers. Dylan has just finished shows in Japan, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia; will head next to Australia and New Zealand; and may or may not be preparing for a swing through the U.S. in the fall.

We think of Dylan in a pantheon of great rock stars, at or near the top of a select list that includes the Stones, Springsteen, maybe U2, but not too many other active artists. But he behaves much differently. He’s released more albums than Bruce Springsteen in the past 25 years and played more shows than Springsteen, the Stones, and U2 combined. Yet he hardly ever does interviews and does virtually nothing to publicize his albums or tours. For someone who seems to be in such plain sight, he remains hidden, present but opaque, an open book written in cipher. Normal questions don’t seem to do him justice. You want to ask: What is Bob Dylan? Why is Bob Dylan? After listening to him since I was a kid and seeing him live for—gulp—nearly 40 years, I think I’m beginning to figure it out.

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