A Thought for the Day
I find myself drawn to those who search for truth, but those who claim to have found its essence frighten me: such certainty chokes inquiry and throttles reason like a garrotte breaks the windpipe and strangles life.
Quote of the Day
"One may demand of me that I should seek truth, but not that I should find it. …(Just so,) (o)nly a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things." Denis Diderot, Encyclopedie editor and French philosopher: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Denis_Diderot.
This Day in History
Five hundred twenty-two years ago, the Alhambra Decree legitimated the expulsion of Jews from Spain; five hundred sixteen years back, on his third voyage of discovery, Christopher Columbus encountered the island of Trinidad; four hundred twenty-six years prior to the present pass, the Spanish Armada was gathering off the coast of England; three hundred eleven years ago, Daniel Defoe, locked into a pillory for a satirical pamphlet’s seditious libel, had flowers pelt him for his ‘crime;’ two hundred eighty-eight years back, genius mathematician Nicolaus Bernoulli died at age thirty-one; two hundred thirty years ago, French philosopher and essayist Denis Diderot died; two hundred twenty-four years ago, the United States issued its first patent to Samuel Hopkins for a potash production method; one hundred two years ago, he who became the Nobel Prize winning economist and theorist of eternal student debt, Milton Friedman, was born; a hundred one years back, the Balkan States signed an armistice to end the Second Balkan Wars; ninety-five years back, Germany adopted the Weimar Constitution; ninety-three years back, the nascent Black leader and activist Whitney Young came into the world; eighty-four years ago, the radio drama, The Shadow, first aired; eighty-three years ago, the experimental television outlet that became WCBS first broadcast programming; eighty-two years before the here and now, the National Socialists won a plurality of 38% of the vote in German elections; seventy-three years ago, Hermann Goering ordered that a ‘Final Solution’ plan of action be prepared as expeditiously as possible; sixty-two years ago, she who would become the successful author Faye Kellerman was born; forty-nine years back, incipient genius storyteller J. K. Rowling first graced the planet with her presence; twenty-three years back, the Soviet Union and the U.S. sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the first such instrument that permitted verification of purged nuke stockpiles; eight years ago, Raul Castro assumed command of Cuba from his brother, Fidel; two years ago, prolific American author Gore Vidal died. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_31
TOP OF THE FOLD
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/25/mh17-sacrificed-airliner/ A detailed, careful, empirical, and rational characterization, from a brilliant analyst at Counterpunch, Andre Vltchek, that disproves every assertion about MH-17 that the New York Times, et al., have promulgated, indicating that the entire grotesque charade is very close to collapsing under the weight of a ‘house-of-lies,’ meaning that citizens everywhere should be very wary indeed, since the wounded beast is at its most dangerous.
NWU NATIONAL & AT-LARGE ANNOUNCEMENTS
Palestinian Journalist and Teenage Daughter are Latest Victims of Israeli Attacks
Following the killing of a Palestinian journalist and his daughter, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today issued a renewed call for the safety and freedom of journalists in Gaza. The IFJ announced in a press release: "According to IFJ affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), Baha Edeen Gharib, 55, who worked as Israeli affairs editor for Palestinian TV, and his 16-year-old daughter Ola, were killed by an Israeli rocket attack this morning in Rafah, in the southern Gaza strip region, while they were travelling home."
JOB & GRANT PROSPECTS, UPCOMING EVENTS & CONTESTS
- Indianapolis, IN – Job Description: The North American Retail Hardware Association is looking for a motivated business reporter to join a successful team of writers in its publishing division.
- Dallas, TX – Full time content writing job at Dallas law firm (North Dallas / Galleria area)
- Dallas, TX – An insurance provider is seeking a Lead Writer on a long-term freelance basis.
- Reporter for a weekly newspaper (Chester, VT)
ORGANIZATIONAL LINKS & NETWORKING
- http://childreninprison.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/ A juvenile justice blog, incredibly well written, heartrendingly articulate, in this case a review of the film Lost for Life, and interview with the filmmaker which contextualizes matters that a union of writers has no choice but to consider if it wants either to grow or have any sort of ‘progressive’ impact: "(w)hen we examine the why of even the most terrible crimes… there is almost always a reason other than pure evil. Horrific domestic abuse, mental illness, poverty, and in the case of adolescent boys, the near toxic chemistry of the teenage brain — all factors that can make the taking of another life seem a logical outcome."
- http://972mag.com/special/gaza/ A portal to the extensive coverage of events in Israel and Gaza from +972, a socially real and progressive publication with on-the-ground access and resources for powerful reportage, including a video from Al Jazeera(Arabic) of an attack on an Israeli Defense Force base.
- http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/ An absolutely huge lesson for writers and their hopes to build a scrappy organization, from Poynter, that evidences the absolute necessity of rich historical and analytical context in order for readers to fork over money to find out what’s what in the lines of an article or book or any attempt to mediate the realities of the current struggle in the world: "’If you give people something that’s highly readable and tell them something that they didn’t know, that’s still a reason to subscribe to the daily newspaper.’ Unsettled is a rare story, (the author)Greenlee said, with multiple threads that inform life in Maine today. The prologue begins in 1604, the narrative begins in 1964, Sunday’s final chapter ends in 2014.’"
- http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/07/25/15152/ A Center for Public Integrity announcement and briefing about its receiving a nearly $3 million grant to improve coverage of State politics and documents and so forth, which can to all manner of writers be critically useful.
- http://fair.org/ The portal to Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, which both offers extensive blogs and logistical and strategic support in seeking to bring about just and democratic media.
WRITERS’ ISSUES & EVENTS
- http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/opinion Hilarious pathos, brilliant and incisive and not completely loss in cynical abandon, from the Times Sunday Review, about the nature and monstrous Sisyphean drudgery of scribbling: "Three hundred thousand books are published in the United States every year. A few hundred, at most, could be called financial or creative successes. The majority of books by successful writers are failures. The majority of writers are failures. And then there are the would-be writers, those who have failed to be writers in the first place, a category which, if you believe what people tell you at parties, constitutes the bulk of the species."
- http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/25/google-wants-to-improve-its Just a fascinating briefing from TechCrunch about Google’s seeking out a crowdsourced boost to its one-language-to-another algorithms in Google Translate.
- http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/260327/how-murdoch A Poynter presentation about "monstering," which many less-than-completely successful authors might find a welcome relief, despite its nastiness, a process apparently popular when writers for any reason target the life and work of Rupert Murdoch, as the victim in this case did.
- http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/journalism-education/259926 A lovely semi-colon defense and ‘how-to’ from Poynter; enough said.
- http://www.journalism.org/2014/03/26/the-growth-in-digital-reporting/ A portal to a Pew Journalism Project report on the growth of digital journalism, released in March that indicates plus-or-minus 5,000 professional reporters’ working in the digital realm.
- http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/ A Poynter report about the three-to-four percent decline in news staff at U.S. papers last year, in a period of ongoing layoffs and cutbacks, and what the implications of this are, for reportage, for democracy and the ‘fourth estate,’ for the media business, and more.
- http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/260376/what-writers-can-un-learn-from-fifty-shades-of-grey/ A Poynter erotica lesson that uses Fifty Shades of Grey as a primer on what not to do to create something truly hot and, possibly, arousing.
- http://pando.com/2014/07/29/plagiarism-in Another lesson, this time from Pando, on how attribution and punctuation can permit all manner of reuse and repurposing, but even the utilization of the dregs of the web without such formalities constitutes disreputable, intellectual dishonesty.
- www.bookbaby.com/free-guide/ape-guide-thanks A portal to the freely available e-copy of the ‘Author-Publisher-Entrepreneur’ tome, APE: How to Publish a Book, which has a massive amount of advice and information that–if only as guidance, modeling, and food for thought, is quite likely to be extremely helpful.
- http://www.techrepublic.com/videos/five-apple-business A TechRepublic video about hypothetically powerful business applications from Apple that will supercharge one’s productivity.
GENERAL MEDIA & ‘INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY’ ISSUES
- http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/25/apple-booklamp/?ncid=tcdaily A TechCrunch investigative report about Apple’s acquisition of BookLamp, whose Book Genome project has made it a star among those in need of e-book analytics, which Apple may have used as a rationale of making sure that these capacities were only available for its own plans in regard to this ‘nook.’
- http://thehill.com/policy/technology/213714-c-span-limiting-access-to-its-online-channels In yet another case of the plundering of the commons, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, established as a sign of public service in 1979, moving toward the role of another profit center or loss-leader, as The Hill reports, to various protests–from Free Press, the Sunlight Foundation, et al.
- https://wikileaks.org/aus-suppression-order/?gag For writers who find that ‘gag-orders’ make them want to, well, gag, a doozy from Australia, in which the country’s Supreme Court forbade anyone anywhere from talking about a huge corruption case involving Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Australia, the cover on all of which Wikileaks has just blown.
- http://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/hen14602 The text of Senator Patrick Leahy’s near-final draft of the USA Freedom Act, which purports to ‘rein in’ NSA and other ‘intelligence’ agencies from ‘bulk collection’ or other forms of wholesale monitoring.
- http://justsecurity.org/13276/cybersecurity-primer-center-american-security/ A "Cybersecurity Primer" that provides a written executive summary and an almost two-hour video that documents a recent confabulation by heavy-hitters on this subject in and out of government, which talks about not wanting to have to launch nukes, or not, because decision-makers have inadequate data and, more extensively, about how government has to ‘nudge’ the market to do what DARPA wants.
- http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/07/24/15148/ A Center For Public Integrity report and analysis about Chattanooga’s electric utility’s appeal to the FCC for a quashing of Tennessee’s prohibition of its extending high-speed Internet to citizens who lack it, despite the statutory and policy directive to accomplish just such acts, which Comcast and ATT and such find horrifying: "The state laws restricting municipal broadband have been backed, and sometimes written, by telecommunications companies led by AT&T Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast. The companies are among some of the biggest contributors to state lawmakers’ campaigns and spend millions of dollars more on lobbying statehouses. AT&T has given nearly $140,000 to Tennessee lawmakers’ campaigns in the 2014 election cycle, the most for any state, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Comcast gave $76,800 during the same cycle, also surpassing totals given in any other state."
- http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Research/ A Brookings Institution White Paper, How Humans Respond to Robots, that ought to be a citizen’s initial primer on the subject: "One current example of this is the ongoing campaign by Human Rights Watch for an international treaty to ban military robots with autonomous lethal firing power—to ensure that a human being remain ‘in the loop’ in any lethal decision. No such robots currently exist, nor does any military have plans to deploy them, nor is it clear when robotic performance is inferior, or how it is different from human performance in lethal force situations. Yet the cultural aversion to robots with the power to pull the trigger on their own is such that the campaign has gained significant traction."
- http://www.techrepublic.com/ A webcast video from Tech Republic that maintains that any truly potent presentation requires a component of storytelling to reach the audience at the deepest levels.
- blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/2014/07/art-is-long-life A Library of Congress Digital Preservation blog, "Art Is Long, Life Is Short," which provides practical and conceptual advice in digital preservation approaches and issues that face creators of works that have either a digital or magnetic provenance.
- http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-get-th A TechRepublic ‘how-to’ list for getting the most out of a "Coding Camp," which has become a key ‘skilling-up’ process for all sorts of thinkers and doers, freelancers included.
- http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/07/28/prot-j28.html A compilation and montage from World Socialist Website of reports from around the world about citizen protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza, which makes clear that a real upsurge may be about to happen about these matters: "’I live in the United States now and it really upsets me that my tax dollars are going to fund this war. Our government supports these crimes. They are cutting Social Security, and they have no money for social programs but then they have money for these wars. I agree with you that we should unite workers from the United States, Israel and the Middle East against this war.’”
- http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/28/relevance-of-hannah A review essay from Counterpunch that contextualizes what is transpiring now in Gaza, ‘precision slaughter’ and more, in terms of the work of Hannah Arrendt, who termed what Germany had done to Jews in the 1930’s and ’40’s as the triumph of the ‘banality of evil.’
- http://www.fair.org/blog/2014/07/28/cbs-hos A Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting Blog about the complicity of CBS–and to some extent corporate media generally–in the mindset that justifies mass carnage in Gaza.
- http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/10325661/ A breaking news report from New Zealand Stuff about the surge in killing of civilians in Ukraine as the Kiev forces step up their attacks, many in the immediate vicinity of the MH-17 crash site.
- http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/world/europe/ukraine.html? A Times breaking news analysis that spends lots of its length accusing Russia of unprovable acts and speaking of MH-17 generally but zero lines exploring why Ukrainian troops would destroy the agreement that the Dutch forces had brokered with the rebels to gain access to the crash site.
- http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/10316570/MH17- A briefing from New Zealand Stuff about the forensic and black-box findings that shrapnel pierced MH-17 in several places and cause "explosive decompression" and the resulting destruction.
An Information Clearinghouse recap from an ‘investigative historian’ of the unhinging that is now coming down the pike in Ukraine, which he predicts–and his accuracy in past predictions has been close to 100%–will be a stratospheric catastrophe for the fantasies of U.S. imperialists, all the while in a present pass generally that at any moment could yield the end of human life on Earth in a nuclear conflagration: "The people that Obama then placed into control there are now expecting direct U.S. assistance, to complete that ethnic-cleansing campaign, which is being carried out in the ethnic-Russian portions of Ukraine, so as to eliminate the Ukrainians who would be opposing the placement into Ukraine of nuclear missiles within a mere ten-minute flight-time to annihilating Moscow."
- http://www.globalresearch.ca/washington-is A dose of reality from Global Research and Paul Craig Roberts about the hideous, murderous, hypocrisy of disinformation that continues to emanate forth from corporate media in the U.S. and most of Europe about Ukraine, a dose of the real that citizens ignore at their mortal peril: "When the outbreak of violence against the former Russian provinces began, the Russian Duma voted Putin the power to intervene militarily. Instead of using this power, Putin requested that the Duma rescind the power, which the Duma did. Putin preferred to deal with the problem diplomatically in a reasonable and unprovocative manner. Putin has received neither respect nor appreciation for encouraging a non-violent resolution of the unfortunate Ukrainian situation created by Washington’s coup against a democratically elected government that was only months away from a chance to elect a different government."
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/world/africa/fighting-for Another Times breaking news assessment that reacts with almost stupefaction to what analysts not propelled by the ‘fuel’ of imperial delusion have been warning for years: "Three years ago, the United States and its NATO allies used air power to propel the Libyan rebels to a sweeping victory over Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, bombing government troops so that rebels could advance on cities, and even the colonel himself, when he tried to flee. But after the revolt, as Libya’s government struggled and violence spread, the Obama administration and its allies failed in their efforts to help Libyans achieve either democracy or security. Now, with diplomats escaping and neighborhoods becoming battlefields, Libyans have been left to wonder whether there is anyone left to broker the endless fights."
Honduras Refugee Crisis
http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25178-to-address A TruthOut demonstration of what actual journalismin such cases of mayhem and depredation actually looks like, examining Honduras exactly in terms of what precursors have ineluctably elicited the consequence that children flee for their lives and head to ‘el Norte:’ "Honduras currently has the highest murder rate in the world. The current refugee crisis at the US border is a foreseeable and understandable consequence of this violence. Unfortunately, after playing a widely criticized role in legitimating Honduras’s post-coup government, the US government is now using this crisis to further entrench its alignment with one of the most corrupt and violent police and military forces in the hemisphere."
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/28/escaping-a-failed-state/ A Counterpunch report that shows how Guatemala’s failure as a polity, except for the corporate sector, is the underpinning for flight and ‘border crisis.’
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27 A case of ‘what else could go wrong?’ in the form of a Times article about the apparent explosion of Taliban activity in Afghanistan, with some success and traction, as the U.S. forces hypothetically prepare to abandon their stations.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CzS6eHqtnQ A two-hour long documentary that contextualizes the plundering of the Argentinian economy, in Spanish with English subtitles, so as to make impossible any legitimate claim, in any legitimate court of justice, that Argentinians owe the thugs who are trying to rob them a single cent.
GENERAL PRESENT AND PAST ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/07/28/lost-j28.html A World Socialist Website review essay of Lost for Life that places the central issues that the affecting and potent documentary raises in a wider context of systemic social injustice that screams for a systematic response: "What the filmmakers apparently don’t dare to say–or don’t understand enough to say–is that the perpetrators of these often horrible crimes are the products, above all, of a toxic social atmosphere and circumstances, and it is that atmosphere and those circumstances that ought to be indicted, first and foremost. Endless war and equally endless official defense of militarist bullying and killing, criminality at the highest levels of the government and the financial world, vast social inequality which is championed by the media and the establishment, the trampling on democratic rights by police forces at every level … these are some of the conditions that would have to be taken into account in any serious evaluation of these ‘senseless’ homicides."
Communities Organized for Reform Now
http://chieforganizer.org/2014/07/27/is-history A Chief Organizer’s Blog from the Association of Communities Organized for Reform Now that ponders the worth and role of historical understanding in the daily crush and grind of seeking to gain some traction, or at least avoid decimation, by those who seek some expansion of social justice and the space to achieve democracy: "(F)or me and others who believe that organizing is part of a continuous historical tradition of struggle for social change, justice, and empowerment, it’s fundamental not only for how history shapes the very meaning and practice of the work, but also just because it’s important to carry the flame forward."
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07 An investigation by a "lapsed blogger" and current freelancer on Naked Capitalism that cannot help but dispirit the reader to a degree, inasmuch as what the author finds is the the ‘scams’ and ‘predators’ who made out like, well bandits, or banksters in the sub-prime meltdown have now begun their moves into the space occupied by those about to experience the student-debt meltdown, as well as military families that are all too often in debt way over their eyeballs: "As higher-education debt swells to a record $1.2 trillion, (Linda)Raskin(of the U.S. Treasury), 53, is alert to parallels to the mortgage crisis. Back then, ‘we would see signs on telephones polls with 1-800 numbers urging homeowners to call to stop foreclosures. People generally got into more trouble when they used those services,’ she said in an interview. Driving past the same telephone poles recently, she saw signs ‘urging people to call a 1-800 number for helping paying student loans.’"
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/27/opinion/sunday/high-time-marijuana-legalization.html A case of a definite bandwagon’s forming, with the Times own editorial series demanding an end to forty years of protofascist idiocy in keeping Marijuana illegal, after thirty-odd years of its proscription prior to that.
Private Military Contractors
http://www.forbiddenknowledgetv.com/videos/military-industrial-complex/superpower-for-hire-rise-of-the-private-military.html A Forbidden Knowledge TV documentary brief that provides an overview of the huge increase in Private Military Contractors–so that plus-or-minus half of Afghanistan’s Anglo-American forces come from such firms–"PMC’s are as American as Thanksgiving, …on a competitive contract," according to the founder of Blackwater, part of a $200 billion-plus a year industry.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/world/africa/ransoming-citizens-europe-becomes-al-qaedas-patron.html?emc=edit_na_20140729&nlid=66212615 A lengthy and highly-detailed investigative piece from the Times, in stark contrast to its production in at least a few other ‘beats,’ that shows how the ransom business is one of Al Qaeda’s specialties, with a minimum of a $125 million gross take since 2008, with the payors almost exclusively European nations that didn’t want to end up with corpses, whatever the principles of ‘not negotiating with terrorists’ might dictate.
http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf14312/pdf/nsf14312.pdf The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics’ and National Science Foundation’s massive report, Federal Funds for Research and Development, which reports on fiscal years 2011-13, of use to writers and citizens and others.
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/last-surviving-enola-gay-crewman-dies-in-stone-mou/ngqZR/ As the sixty-ninth anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approach, an obituary from the Atlanta Journal Constitution for the last surviving crew member of the planes that delivered death to plus or minus a quarter million Japanese, almost all civilians–the vast majority elderly, women, or kids–in the world’s first nuclear war, the primary purpose of which was a classic ‘shot across the bow’ against the U.S. ‘allies’ in the Soviet Union.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/28/how-israel-spins-war-crimes/ Patrick Cockburn’s gift to readers in Counterpunch that profiles the top-secret set of guidelines that Israeli government spokespeople and their in-the-know supporters follow in ‘spinning’ such events as the carnage in Gaza: "’Americans agree that Israel ‘has a right to defensible borders’. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel’s military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel’s right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89 per cent to under 60 per cent when you talk about it in terms of 1967.’"
Nuclear Energy Safety
- http://safeenergy.org/2014/07/29/nuclear-reactors-and-childhood-leukemia/ A GreenWorld examination of European studies that suggest, with one recent exception, and perhaps demonstrate dispositively, that childhood leukemia near nuclear reactors is significantly higher than elsewhere, unlike in the U.S., where such data somehow doesn’t exist: "Here in the U.S., the controversy has been far less conspicuous, despite a few similar studies around selected reactors, perhaps because the nuclear industry has been more successful at quashing such studies as soon as they appear."
- http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id A recent monograph that reports on the Lessons Learned from Fukushima for nuclear safety, from folks who like nukes and assume the technology is coterminous with humanity, but which has loads of ideas and graphics and data about the issues and contradictions and so forth.
http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/07/28/ A Center for Public Integrity examination of the public-relations hegemony over Congressional practice as a way of understanding the immobility and arguable dysfunctionality, except in the service of plutocracy, of the U.S. legislative process.