Around the web

Far right’s secret SCOTUS strategy: What Boehner’s lawsuit is REALLY about…

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From Salon

When a fringe party can no longer win legislative elections, boosting the impact of judges is its best last resort… 

If you hadn’t thought the House GOP had gone completely around the bend before, their decision last week to sue the president for failing to enforce a law they had all voted against and to which they remain adamantly opposed must have convinced you. They are actually suing the president because he delayed the health care mandate for small businesses — one of the most highly valued constituencies in the Republican Party. That’s right, they are going to court to screw over one of their most prized voting blocs simply in order to challenge the limits of executive power. That’s either a hard core commitment to principle or their desire to hurt the president is so overwhelming that they are willing to sacrifice their own voters in the process. (And one can’t help but wonder just how dictatorial the president is actually being if the only example of his tyrannical policies they feel confident in citing is one they support.)

So why are they doing this? The most common assumption is that John Boehneris trying to head off impeachment. Evidently the crazies are getting very restless and the leadership thinks it would be a good idea to throw them some red meat just to keep them from jumping the fence. Having been more obstructionist than any minority party in history (keeping in mind that they only hold a majority in one house of Congress) they are now taking offense that the executive branch is moving ahead with its agenda the best it can. It’s a very neat trick:

Buddhist Economics: How to Stop Prioritizing Goods Over People and Consumption Over Creative Activity…

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From Brainpickings

“Work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure.”

Much has been said about the difference between money and wealth and how we, as individuals, can make more of the latter, but the divergence between the two is arguably even more important the larger scale of nations and the global economy. What does it really mean to create wealth for people — for humanity — as opposed to money for governments and corporations?

That’s precisely what the influential German-born British economist, statistician, Rhodes Scholar, and economic theorist E. F. Schumacher explores in his seminal 1973 book Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (public library) — a magnificent collection of essays at the intersection of economics, ethics, and environmental awareness, which earned Schumacher the prestigious Prix Européen de l’Essai Charles Veillon award and was deemed byThe Times Literary Supplement one of the 100 most important books published since WWII. Sharing an ideological kinship with such influential minds as Tolstoy and Gandhi, Schumacher’s is a masterwork of intelligent counterculture, applying history’s deepest, most timeless wisdom to the most pressing issues of modern life in an effort to educate, elevate and enlighten.

The Art of Self-Renewal: A Timeless 1964 Field Guide to Keeping Your Soul Vibrantly Alive…

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From Brainpickings

“The self-renewing man … looks forward to an endless and unpredictable dialogue between his potentialities and the claims of life — not only the claims he encounters but the claims he invents.”

In 1964, the prolific social science writer John W. Gardner published Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society (public library) — a forgotten book of extraordinary prescience and warm wisdom, which rings even timelier today. It’s a must-read as much for entrepreneurs and leaders seeking to infuse their organizations with ongoing vitality as it is for all of us as individuals, on our private trajectories of self-transcendence and personal growth.

Gardner explores what it takes for us — as individuals, as a society, even as a civilization — to cultivate the capacity for self-renewal so vital to countering “the dry rot produced by apathy, by rigidity and by moral emptiness,” which often comes with attaining a certain level of complacent comfort or success. Referencing his previous book, Excellence — an equally prescient exploration of the educational system, its promise and its limitations, and the role of high standards in cultivating character — Gardner writes:

Nationalize Amazon and Google: Publicly Funded Technology Built Big Tech…

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From Salon

They’re huge, they’re ruthless, and they touch every aspect of our daily lives. Corporations like Amazon and Google keep expanding their reach and their power. Despite a history of abuses, so far the Justice Department has declined to take antitrust actions against them. But there’s another solution.

Is it time to manage and regulate these companies as public utilities?

Growing is forever…


Thanks to Rosalind Peterson
~~

Kneeling in Fenway Park to the Gods of War…

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From Chris Hedges

On Saturday I went to one of the massive temples across the country where we celebrate our state religion. The temple I visited was Boston’s Fenway Park. I was inspired to go by reading Andrew Bacevich’s thoughtful book “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country,” which opens with a scene at Fenway from July 4, 2011. The Fourth of July worship service that I attended last week—a game between the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles—was a day late because of a rescheduling caused by Tropical Storm Arthur. When the crowd sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” a gargantuan American flag descended to cover “the Green Monster,” the 37-foot, 2-inch-high wall in left field. Patriotic music blasted from loudspeakers. Col. Lester A. Weilacher, commander of the 66th Air Base Group at Massachusetts’ Hanscom Air Force Base, wearing a light blue short-sleeved Air Force shirt and dark blue pants, threw the ceremonial first pitch. A line of Air Force personnel stood along the left field wall. The fighter jets—our angels of death—that usually roar over the stadium on the Fourth were absent. But the face of Fernard Frechette, a 93-year-old World War II veteran who was attending, appeared on the 38-by-100-foot Jumbotron above the center-field seats as part of Fenway’s “Hats Off to Heroes” program, which honors military veterans or active-duty members at every game. The crowd stood and applauded. Army National Guard Sgt. Ben Arnold had been honored at the previous game, on Wednesday. Arnold said his favorite Red Sox player was Mike Napoli. Arnold, who fought in Afghanistan, makes about $27,000 a year. Napoli makes $16 million. The owners of the Red Sox clear about $60 million annually. God bless America.

Another Giant Nail in the Coffin of Psychiatry…

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From Jon Rappoport

As my readers know, I’ve assembled a wide-ranging case against psychiatry.

It isn’t a science. It isn’t even close. It’s a hoax.

The bible of the profession, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM), lists some 300 separate and distinct mental disorders.

However, none of the 300 has a defining physical test for diagnosis. No blood test, no urine test, no hair test, no brain scan, no genetic assay.

Without You I’m Nothing…

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From Believer

Real and metaphorical wounds from the wrong side of idolatry: Rock stars’ ex-lovers move beyond their historical footnotes…

On April 7, 1963, soon after the Beatles released Please Please Me, Cynthia Lennon lay in a public maternity ward at Sefton General Hospital, in Liverpool, England. It had been a lonely pregnancy: John hadn’t been around much, and, having been told that her existence might jeopardize the band’s success, Cynthia had mostly stayed home “knitting bootees” for the future Julian Lennon. Men weren’t as involved in childbirth in those days. As she approached her second day of labor, the Beatles performed in Portsmouth and the woman in the next bed screamed for her mother.

Julian was born the next morning. When John showed up, days later—“Cyn, he’s bloody marvelous!”—he had them moved to a private room, but it featured a window overlooking a corridor full of onlookers. “The room felt like a goldfish bowl and it was obvious John couldn’t stay long,” Cynthia writes in her second memoir, John. “He hugged me and signed dozens of autographs on his way out.”

We Are All Ninja Turtles Now…

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From William Kunstler

With lakes, swimming holes, rivers, and pools beckoning, I went to a sporting goods chain store at the mall — where else? — seeking a new bathing suit (pardon the quaint locution). The store was curiously named Dick’s. All they had were clown trunks. By this I mean a garment designed to hang somewhere around mid-calf, instantly transforming a normally-proportioned adult male into a stock slapstick character: the oafish man-child.

This being a commodious warehouse-style store, there was rack upon rack of different brands of bathing suits, all cut in the same clown style. I chanced by one of the sparsely-deployed employees and inquired if they had any swimming togs in a shorter cut.

“What you see is alls we got,” he said.

Imaginary People…

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Fukushima Fireworks: Top U.S. Official: “The reality is, no technology exists anywhere to solve problem” of Fukushima’s melted fuel — Molten mass “will scorch into the earth” if not cooled — Geysers of radioactive steam shooting up for miles around…

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NHK Nuclear Watch: US View on Fukushima Daiichi
, July 2, 2014 (at 2:00 in):

  • NHK: Experts say that one of the most difficult challenges of decommissioning the plant is removing fuel debris… And Magwood says that there is no magic wand to wipeout this problem.
  • William Magwood, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission: I think people have to be realistic how difficult this is, how long it’s going to take. During my visit to Japan this week, people have asked me from time to time, “Are there technologies in the US that can help solve this problem?” The reality is there is no technology that exists anywhere to solve this problem.
  • Watch the NHK broadcast here

Modern Marvels, History Channel (at 11:30 in):

  • Narrator: With the [water] pumps off, the core is being uncovered and its temperature is over 2,000 degrees and rising. When the core reaches 5,000 degrees it will melt, becoming a molten mass — metallic lava that will burn through the 8 inch steel containment vessel. Once out of the plant it will scorch into the earth itself. What happens next could become an unrivaled technological disaster.
  • Wilborn Hampton, New York Times reporter: They reach the water table, it will immediately turn to steam, boiling steam. There will be geysers of radioactivity steam shooting up in parking lots and driveways and streets and houses for miles around.
  • Narrator: The nightmare scenario is known as the ‘China Syndrome’. Land surrounding the plant will become uninhabitable. A study some years earlier has suggested upwards of 40,000 people could die if the ‘China Syndrome’ becomes reality.
  • Watch the History Channel broadcast here
    ~~

In a Handful of Dust…

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From John Michael Greer

All things considered, it’s a good time to think about how much we can know about the future in advance. A hundred years ago last Saturday, as all my European readers know and a few of my American readers might have heard, a young Bosnian man named Gavrilo Prinzip lunged out of a crowd in Sarajevo and emptied a pistol into the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, who were touring that corner of the ramshackle Austro-Hungarian empire they were expected to inherit in due time. Over the summer months that followed, as a direct result of those gunshots, most of the nations of Europe went to war with one another, and the shockwaves set in motion by that war brought a global order centuries old crashing down.

In one sense, none of this was a surprise. Perceptive observers of the European scene had been aware for decades of the likelihood of a head-on crash between the rising power of Germany and the aging and increasingly fragile British Empire. The decade and a half before war actually broke out had seen an increasingly frantic scramble for military alliances that united longtime rivals Britain and France in a political marriage of convenience with the Russian Empire, in the hope of containing Germany’s growing economic and military might. Every major power poured much of its wealth into armaments, sparking an arms race so rapid that the most powerful warship on the planet in 1906, Britain’s mighty HMS Dreadnought, was hopelessly obsolete when war broke out eight years later.

How Opposite Energy Policies Turned The Fukushima Disaster Into A Loss For Japan And A Win For Germany…

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From Amory Lovins
Forbes

Japan thinks of itself as famously poor in energy, but this national identity rests on a semantic confusion. Japan is indeed poor in fossilfuels—but among all major industrial countries, it’s the richest in renewable energy like sun, wind, and geothermal. For example, Japan has nine times Germany’s renewable energy resources. Yet Japan makes about nine times less of its electricity from renewables (excluding hydropower) than Germany does.

That’s not because Japan has inferior engineers or weaker industries, but only because Japan’s government allows its powerful allies—regional utility monopolies—to protect their profits by blocking competitors. Since there’s no mandatory wholesale power market, only about 1% of power is traded, and utilities own almost all the wires and power plants and hence can decide whom they will allow to compete against their own assets, the vibrant independent power sector has only a 2.3% market share; under real competition it would take most of the rest. These conditions have caused an extraordinary divergence between Japan’s and Germany’s electricity outcomes.

How Poor Young Black Men Run From The Police…

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From Vice

Alice Goffman is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose book, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City (out this month on University of Chicago Press), has been getting far more attention than academic works usually get. The book is a result of her living in a poor black neighborhood in Philadelphia she refers to as “6th Street” for years as an undergraduate and a grad student. (She changed the names of people and places in her book.) She eventually fell in with a group of young men who were almost constantly under the threat of being arrested and jailed, often for petty probation violations or unpaid court fees. She became a “fly on the wall” and took notes as her subjects (who were also her friends) attempted to make a living, support one another, and maintain relationships with their loved ones, all while attempting to evade the authorities. Goffman’s work shows how the threat of imprisonment hangs over the lives of so many in communities like 6th Street and warps families and friendships in the process. It’s an uncommonly close look at how lives are lived under police surveillance and should be read by anyone with an interest in poverty, policing, or mass incarceration. This excerpt is from the second chapter, which is titled “Techniques for Evading the Authorities.”

A young man concerned that the police will take him into custody comes to see danger and risk in the mundane doings of everyday life. To survive outside prison, he learns to hesitate when others walk casually forward, to see what others fail to notice, to fear what others trust or take for granted.

People On The Move…

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From Club Orlov

As nation-states topple into the defunct bin at an ever-increasing rate (the nation-state will be extinct in just a couple of decades if the current trend continues) the world is awash in refugees, displaced persons, asylum-seekers and immigrants, illegal and otherwise. They number somewhere around 50 million, and around half of them are children.

Much of this year’s surge in their numbers represents the continuing work-out of the developing geopolitical fiascos in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia. But earlier this year, a new gusher opened up: Russia is currently playing host to over 100,000 people from Ukraine, who are fleeing artillery bombardment and death squads organized by America’s puppet regime in Kiev. But that’s nothing compared to the 7 million or so Mexicans and 3 million or so Central Americans who have flooded into the US. The Central Americans are mainly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Now, look at this list of countries (sorted alphabetically for your convenience):

Here’s Onionshare, the File Sharing App the Next Snowden Will Use…

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From Gizmodo

A small software app called Onionshare offers the most secure file sharing available. So why hasn’t anyone heard of it? Well, mostly because it was released with just a tweet from its creator, and you have to go to Github to download it. But don’t let its underground status fool you—this is a very important app.

Technologist Micah Lee debuted his peer-to-peer file sharing service with little fanfare, but what it does is big: Onionshare lets users share files securely and anonymously, without middlemen. Lee created it after reading about the trouble journalist Glenn Greenwald had accepting the NSA files from Edward Snowden. Now Lee works at The Interceptwith Greenwald, where the staff is already putting Onionshare to good use.

How You Use It

James Houle: Head Chef Kerry (Heir to the Heinz Family Fortune) Stirs His Middle Eastern Stew…

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Redwood Valley

Our square-jawed replacement for the collapsing face of Hillary Clinton made a disastrous series of drop-by visits across the Middle East this past week. (You may remember that the once-peacenik Kerry married into the Heinz Katsup fortune and bought himself a seat in the Senate in 1984).

In Cairo, where General Sissi overthrew an elected government last year and placed the elected President Morsi in jail without trial, Kerry released an additional $572 million for military aid and approved shipment of ten Apache helicopters that had previously been withheld after Sissi’s coup. He expressed his commitment to the universal rights of Egyptians and “strongly sensed Sissi’s commitment to human rights” as well. The General currently holds 20,000 political prisoners in jail and has sentenced 2,000 political opponents to death. Just 24 hours after the Kerry drop-in, President Sissi, wiping off the Holy Water that John Kerry had so generously sprinkled upon his head, approved the 7 to 10 year sentences for three Al Jazeera journalists found guilty of “spreading false news”. Washington denounced the sentences but let the Apaches, good for crowd suppressing, to continue on their way to Cairo.

Iraq: It’s Still All About The Oil…

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From Michael Schwartz
TomDispatch

It’s the Oil, Stupid! 
Insurgency and War on a Sea of Oil

Events in Iraq are headline news everywhere, and once again, there is no mention of the issue that underlies much of the violence: control of Iraqi oil. Instead, the media is flooded with debate about, horror over, and extensive analysis of a not-exactly-brand-new terrorist threat, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There are, in addition, elaborate discussions about the possibility of a civil war that threatens both a new round of ethnic cleansing and the collapse of the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Underway are, in fact, “a series of urban revolts against the government,” as Middle Eastern expert Juan Cole has called them. They are currently restricted to Sunni areas of the country and have a distinctly sectarian character, which is why groups like ISIS can thrive and even take a leadership role in various locales. These revolts have, however, neither been created nor are they controlled by ISIS and its several thousand fighters. They also involve former Baathists and Saddam Hussein loyalists, tribal militias, and many others. And at least in incipient form they may not, in the end, be restricted to Sunni areas. As the New York Times reported last week, the oil industry is “worried that the unrest could spread” to the southern Shia-dominated city of Basra, where “Iraq’s main oil fields and export facilities are clustered.”

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