A Thought for the Day
From the sweetest song to the most clumsy, poisonous prose, the words that we utter and write show nothing other than everything that memory tells us about certain matters, a combination of paradoxical nonsense and delightful fancy all at once, with every possible shade of meaning in between these poles of the sublime and the ridiculous.
Quote of the Day
“I continued writing the bad plays which fortunately nobody would produce, just as no one did me the unkindness of publishing my early novels.” Patrick White, Nobel Literary Laureate: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/patrick_white.html.
This Day in History
Today is International Translators Day; eight hundred seven years before the moment now unfolding, the infant male who matured to become the famous Persian poet Rumi came into the world; four hundred seventy-three years back, Spanish plunderer Hernando de Soto led a group of his compatriots into Western Arkansas against tremendous indigenous resistance; the first performance of The Magic Flute opened in Vienna two hundred twenty-three years back, Mozart’s last opera to debut, and Maximilien Robespierre and his cohorts took control of the French revolutionary process; a hundred fifty-four years ago, England’s first tram operation opened in Birkenhead on the Mersey River; Thomas Edison’s first electric power plant opened a hundred thirty-two years ago under the leadership of Thomas Edison and began producing electricity in Appleton, Wisconsin; ninety years back, the infant who grew up to become prominent author Truman Capote was born; eighty-six years before the present pass, the baby boy who underwent the Holocaust and became Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel came into the world; seventy-nine years prior to this point, the official dedication of Hoover Dam took place on the Colorado River; the League of Nations unanimously, seventy six years ago, condemned and outlawed “intentional bombings of civilian populations;” seventy-five years back, the National Broadcast Corporation broadcast the first televised football game; twenty-four years before the here-and-now, Nobel Prize literary laureate Patrick White died; two years ago, the ecologist and thinker Barry Commoner died.
SEARCH OF THE DAY
failure success “cultural product” OR “literary output” OR “narrative output” objective subjective popularity unpopularity = 8760 Citations.
TOP OF THE FOLD
http://www.theguardian.com/ A report from the Guardian about a much-cited and much-criticized report about the amount of political donations from ‘sustainable’ corporate enterprises to ‘climate-denying’ members of Congress, the citers a group that implies hypocrisy, the critics mainly the companies themselves, nitpicking to evade culpability: ” For some companies, these contributions may be working directly against their core business. Two major contributors, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway – which gave $1,189,612 to climate deniers in Congress – and Norfolk Southern Railway – which gave $1,032,610 – could both profit from stricter climate regulation. Rail, after all, produces the least emissions per freight mile of any form of surface transportation, and policies that push lower emissions would also, likely, improve their business. Both companies declined requests to be interviewed for this story.”
NWU NATIONAL & AT-LARGE ANNOUNCEMENTS
Solidarity Forever’s second radio show is available to download at LINK.
JOB & GRANT PROSPECTS, UPCOMING EVENTS & CONTESTS
NEW VISIONS AWARD
http://www.leeandlow.com A chance to participate without paying for cash and prizes for a children’s publisher that specializes in fantasy and science fiction.
OUR STORY PROJECT
http://ourstoryproject.herokuapp.com/pages/contest The Stories of Resilience opportunity, offering three winners cash prizes for stories about coping with domestic violence.
NEW INQUIRY’S PITCH-PAGE
http://thenewinquiry.com/submit-to-tni/ A chance to publish something in the November issue, about Californiaboth physically and psychically.
ORGANIZATIONAL LINKS & NETWORKING
HOUSTON DEATH PENALTIES
http://www.govexec.com A chilling report from GovExec that ten U.S. Counties account for over one quarter of all executions in the United States, to say the least anomalous and provoking all sorts of unasked and unanswered questions: “Texas’s Harris County, which includes Houston, is far and away the leader in executions during that period. That district has handed out 122 death sentences that were carried to completion, more than double the next highest. Harris County alone is responsible for more executions than any state besides Texas.”
STEVEN SALAITA FOIA
http://coreyrobin.com/Updates from Corey Robin about the ongoing crimes and misdemeanors against Professor Steven Salaita, here with a focus on mysteriously disappeared documents that implicate University of Illinois leadership in conspiracy: “It is hard to believe that Chancellor Wise would have thrown out the two-pager on Professor Salaita given to her by a donor at a meeting that was important enough for her to email details about to top Illinois fundraising officials at midnight, unless there’s a reason she didn’t want it to be made public,’ she told The Electronic Intifada. ‘The two-pager might indicate a more organized effort to go after Salaita, and it will be one of the many documents we’ll seek in litigation,” LaHood added. Under the Illinois State Records Act, documents received by Wise and the university are the property of the state. As a public official, Wise is legally required to preserve such records, which may not be disposed of except under conditions set out in the law.”
http://www.slate.com/articles A story about a chess tournament that portrayed the most crushing dominance by a player ever, with pleny of additional interesting bits and pieces about the game, its personalities, and the administration of such affairs: “FIDE is, by all accounts, comically corrupt, in the vein of other fishy global sporting bodies like FIFA and the IOC. Its Russian president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who has hunkered in office for nearly two decades now, was once abducted by a group of space aliens dressed in yellow costumes who transported him to a faraway star. Though I am relying here on Ilyumzhinov’s personal attestations, I have no reason to doubt him, as this is something about which he has spoken quite extensively. He is of the firm belief that chess was invented by extraterrestrials, and further ‘insists that there is ‘some kind of code’ in chess, evidence for which he finds in the fact that there are 64 squares on the chessboard and 64 codons in human DNA.’”
CRAZY WORLD RUMINATIONS
http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/i Another powerful moral, spiritual, cultural contemplation from The Lefsetz Letter, about the predatory, out-of-control acquisitiveness that rules everything, including the author’s beloved music: “I’m never gonna have an app, I’m never gonna make it big in tech. Because I don’t want to. I want to use the tools, but I don’t want to throw my life away in pursuit of riches. I’m not a 1’s and 0’s guy, I want to color outside the lines, I’m looking for something messier, like love. You remember love? Not the porn-infused one you experience on the internet, but the one between two real people? Who have imperfections, who don’t always get along, whose experience is enriched as time goes by. We’re on a train to nowhere. We’ve sacrificed culture in the name of influence. Money is all that matters.”
http://journalistsresource.org/ A pathway to Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, which provides research-based data about ‘beats,’ issues, and such, which advances the contention that a tool for writers that does the compilations would be helpful, especially in developing “good public policy reporting.”
PSYCHIC MUSICAL DECONSTRUCTION
http://thetalkhouse.com An astounding interview with the lead singer of Perfect Pussy, from The Talkhouse, via MediaREDEF: “Unfortunately, I’ve met more of those boys since then. They’re the pretentious boys who, when they meet a girl who likes metal, only find it fair to insist she recite the Slayer discography in reverse chronological order. If she likes comic books, she has to know every character’s origin stories as well as subsequent changes and how they correspond to different decades and illustrators. The same boys who, a year later, when I was 15 years old, still on dial-up and not yet part of the world, scoffed when they found out I had never heard of a website called Pitchfork. They were 18 and I was just young and stupid, I clearly wasn’t a real music fan. The ridicule and questioning were constant.”
CRAIGSLIST AS TEMPLATE
pando.com/2014/09/19 A lovely paean to Craigslist from Pando Daily that presents the site as a seedbed for authors, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and actors on the world’s stage: “Yet there’s something explosive that often happens when a new company replicates a specific kind of transaction that occurs on Craigslist, but does so with an elegant layer of software and design on top of it. And according to Bessemer Venture Partners’ Jeremy Levine, our guest at last night’s PandoMonthly in New York, that makes Craigslist a well of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs searching for the next billion dollar idea.”
RECIPES FOR SUCCESS
http://www.fastcompany.com/3036011/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/the-first-100-days-of-clickhole-how-creativity-and-george- A look at ClickHole by Fast Company that provides a brief about the website’s explosive popularity, including skewering one popular science nerd–ten million followers–and getting him to like the treatment, after which an interview with two founders shows up: “It was a masterstroke of viral manipulation, but, if you’ve been paying attention to the site at all, it also wasn’t very surprising. Since launching in June, ClickHole has been on a tear, earning praise from just about every corner of the Internet. In just about 100 days, the site has surgically ethered everyone from horny Redditors to evangelical Christians to Beyoncé stans. It also posted the entirety of Moby Dick.”
http://katekrontiris.com/Simple brilliance from a blogger and citizen that hit the road with a set of questions for people about government, which uncovered predictably astonishing ignorance, an incapacitation that ought to be frightening but most folks would probably find a little humorous, like the inability to respond intelligibly to a query about one’s “last interaction with government:” “Do the police count? Do parking tickets count? Does my health insurance count? In essence, people are asking if they have correctly identified what government is. These are people who took public transportation earlier that day to get to work, or whose kids are completing third grade. While the answers to other questions surface a variety of complicated trends about Americans’ relationship with civic duty – as one might expect from a country as colorful and many-minded as the United States – the responses to this one question are unitary. I find this astounding.”
http://www.saramwatson.com More simple blogging brilliance with a launch of Living With Data, a series that introduces items like “Stalked by Socks” and more, such as backing from Al Jazeera and an interest in engagement, with fluent Chinese: “I’m really excited to work with Al Jazeera on this project, given their dedication to being ‘with the people — we tell real stories.’ But I need your help! This series starts with you. Share your personal stories, your questions and your encounters with data.”
http://www.technologyreview.com A briefing from MIT Technology Review about Peter Thiel’s most recent work, Zero to One, followed by an interview about his thinking: “But he’s convinced that technological progress has been stagnant for decades. According to Thiel, developments in computers and the Internet haven’t significantly improved our quality of life. In a new book, he warns entrepreneurs that conventional business wisdom is preventing them and society as a whole from making major advances in areas, such as energy or health, where technology could make the world a better place—though he doesn’t offer detailed answers about how we might unlock such breakthroughs.”
WRITERS’ ISSUES & EVENTS & TOOLS
http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/ The Secrecy Blog, a regular trove of information, data, and analysis from the Federation of American Scientists that on any given day will provide multiple puzzle pieces that will help a variety of scrappy writers.
SOCIAL MEDIA RESEARCH
http://journalistsresource.org/ An installment from JournalistsResource of recent studies and other useful items in relation to digital media, social media, and more.
http://www.niemanlab.org A look at what has to become a trend among journalism producers, combining forces, like renters who move in together when the cost of paying the landlord gets too high, in this case an examination of a recent combo in St. Louis that is making a signficant impact in community radio: “(The team leader’s) work shows off a kind of reporting and production muscle that might not have been possible for St. Louis Public Radio when these investigations started just a few months ago. Last December the NPR-affiliate merged with the St. Louis Beacon, a local nonprofit outlet founded by former St. Louis Post-Dispatch editors. Combining the two organizations’ newsrooms, plus adding a number of new hires, has more than doubled the size of their joint newsroom, which kept the St. Louis Public Radio name. ‘To maintain the kind of commitment it takes to stay with that story would’ve been really difficult previously,’ said St. Louis Public Radio editor Margaret Wolf Freivogel, the founding editor of the Beacon. In May the station even joined in a lawsuit with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Missouri chapter of the ACLU seeking information on executions that they alleged the state was withholding.”
PROVOCATIVE COPYRIGHT ANALYSIS
http://torrentfreak.com/letter-copyright-monopoly-140921/ A bourgeois but provocative case against copyright, which never really grapples with the notion that ‘property’ itself might be under any sort of indictment, focusing instead on civil liberties: “The story of ‘the letter’ deals with just how big and vital civil liberties have been sacrificed in the transition from analog to digital at the tenacious insistence of the copyright industry for the sake of their bottom line. The analog letter was the message sent the way our parents sent them: written onto a physical piece of paper, put into an envelope, postaged with an old-fashioned stamp and put into a mailbox for physical delivery to the intended recipient.”
COMMUNITY JOURNALISM IMPLICATIONS
http://www.pbs.org/ Just a fabulous installment from Public Broadcasting System’s MediaShift, about issues and opportunities in relation to community engagement that arise as ‘hands-on-journalism’ comes to the fore: “Hands-on journalism also creates new opportunities for artists, technologists and journalists to collaborate. For example, to help visualize an investigation about Wisconsin dairy land and farm waste, Wisconsin Watch shared their reporting data with artist Carrie Roy who created sculptures representing the stories. The Center for Investigative Reporting has worked with young people in the Off/Page project to create poetry from their reporting. And in 2013, RadioLab created an easy-to-build soil-sensor kit and distributed it to listeners to build, so they could monitor the emergence of cicadas in the Northeast.”
CORPORATE JOURNALISM TSUNAMI
http://www.mondaynote.com/ A Monday Note contextualization that analyzes and warns about the coming tsunami of ‘corporate journalism,’ a phenomenon that others her on DL and out in the world have also reported: “In short, while the journalistic staffing is shrinking dramatically in every mature market (US, Europe), the public relation crowd is rising in a spectacular fashion. It grows in two dimensions: the spinning aspect, with more highly capable people, most often former seasoned writers willing to become spin-surgeons. These are both disappointed by the evolution of their noble trade and attracted by higher compensation. The second dimension is the growing inclination for PR firms, communication agencies and corporations themselves to build fully-staffed newsrooms with editor-in-chief, writers, photo and video editors. That’s the first issue. The second trend is the evolution of corporate communication. Slowly but steadily, it departs from the traditional advertising codes that ruled the profession for decades. It shifts toward a more subtle and mature approach based on storytelling. Like it or not, that’s exactly what branded content is about: telling great stories about a company in a more intelligent way versus simply extolling a product’s merits.”
http://www.theguardian.com/media A plea from the Guardian to respond earnestly to the deadly recent barrage of attacks on reporters, the only non-violent crime that yields quite so many death sentences: “I met the photojournalist John Cantlie in 2012, at a Frontline Club discussion of journalists’ safety. The raw power of the images he showed me was impressive but I was also struck by the passion with which he spoke about the need for reporters to take safety seriously. It seems ironic now and desperately sad that we were discussing how the industry could come together to better protect freelancers like him. A few weeks later, John was kidnapped in Syria for the first time along with a Dutch colleague. He was later shot in the arm as they escaped.”
http://www.niemanlab.org/ Oh boy! A back-to-school session from Nieman Journalism Lab with a fellow who has decades of experience as a real-live publisher and advises many start-ups and virtual outlets to get in touch with what that entails if they want to achieve a viable position in the ‘marketplace of ideas:’ “As you’ll see, Rose is highly critical of the bevy of small magazine founders working today. His is a very distinct perspective, one shaped by his nearly two decades in a struggling business. But the clarity of his advice — and his general optimism — are both refreshing and useful. This is less a lesson in innovation than a pragmatic exhortation to return to basics.”
SCRAPPY WRITERS’ OPPORTUNITY
http://www.poynter.org An announcement from Poynter about a Center for Public Integrity initiative already noted here on DL, but important enough to give another shout-out about, involving hiring a reporter in every State to cover the legislature and use data to shape stories with real potential impact: ‘The last project resulted in more than 1,100 stories and led to reform measures passed in seven states, according to the the Center for Public Integrity. It was a 2013 finalist for Harvard’s Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Prize. Participants will work part-time starting in fall and through early 2016 and will be expected to answer 200-300 questions using data during the first two months of the project. Pay is $7,000.”
pando.com/2014/09 A profile by Pando Daily of new ‘enterprise software’ that permits an organization to contextualize and deploy data in powerful new ways, something that might conceivably serve scrappy writers and their organizations: “Amid its battles with disgruntled employees and overzealous tech bloggers in search of scandal, LucidWorks has been heads-down for the better part of a year designing its next generation enterprise search platform. Today the company debuted Fusion, a machine learning and signal processing engine built on top of the open source Apache Solr search platform that promises to allow corporations to ‘translate massive pools of data into actionable insights faster than ever.’”
LITERARY MAG’S BEST-PRACTICES
http://www.niemanlab.org/2014/09/the-new-inquiry-not-another-new-york-literary-magazine/ An examination by Nieman Journalism Lab of the five year old online literary phenom—started as a Tumblr when long-form narrative was plausible there—New Inquiry(http://thenewinquiry.com/), a template and an opportunity for scrappy writers to ponder: “’At the time, Tumblr was was considered social media, and we were doing longform writing on it. It was a photo platform. Because we were early on it, we got a lot of followers,’ (NI’s publisher) told me. ‘It became really interesting to me to figure out how authority was conferred and how something became culturally significant.’ The cultural significance of The New Inquiry has grown since then — today they have around 25,000 followers on Twitter and the same number of likes on Facebook. ‘What we seemed to be doing felt original and felt vital,’ says Rosenfelt. As she recruited new writers via social media — many of whom were figures on the periphery of academia in the pre-Occupy Wall Street days — confidence in the magazine’s editorial mission grew.”
GENERAL MEDIA & ‘INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY’ ISSUES
PRINT MEDIA OUTLOOK
http://www.theguardian.com A dispiriting if very real analysis from The Guardian about the continued daunting prospect that all publishers, especially in print, face in the coming period: “Moody’s senior credit officer Carl Salas wrote in the report: ‘Companies will make some gains against this decline from ongoing investments in digital platforms, but not enough to prevent most publishing companies’ performance from eroding.’ But magazines may do better than newspapers because, says the report, ‘readers still demand glossy weekly and monthly magazine publications that target their interests.'”
SCOTUS RAP GUIDE
http://www.slate.com/articles A close look from Slate about a key bullying-and-threat in social media case, in which some of the legal points turn on the cultural status of rap: “The case, which I wrote about in the spring, is a big test of the standard used to scrutinize threats to determine whether they are protected by the First Amendment. But it’s also become something of a referendum on the question of whether rap lyrics are an art form. The case involves Anthony Elonis of Pennsylvania, who began putting darker and darker posts on Facebook after his wife took their kids and left him. His posts were often in the form of rap-style lyrics about shooting up kindergarten classes, dismembering his former wife, or killing the female FBI investigator who came to his door.”
http://readwrite.com A richly interlinked summary and overview from ReadWrite, conveyed by MediaREDEF, about the fastest speeds and best locations around the world to obtain superior access to the web, the results of which suggest that almost everywhere in the U.S. is not even close to competitive.
INFORMATION POLITICAL RESERVE
http://motherboard.vice.com/ For those inclined to believe conspiracy facts, whatever the trope now that decries ‘conspiracy theorists,’ a wonderful report from Vice MotherBoard about a new service that will publish one’s secret scoops if one comes to a bad end or finds oneself in prison for one’s whistleblowing derring-do: “With all the conspiracy theories surrounding some high-profile deaths in recent years, how can you, theoretical whistleblower with highly sensitive documents, be assured that your information gets leaked if you’re murdered in some government conspiracy? A new dark web service says it’s got your back. ‘Dead Man Zero’ [deep web link] claims to offer potential whistleblowers a bit more peace of mind by providing a system that will automatically publish and distribute their secrets should they die, get jailed, or get injured.”
MIT BITCOIN LITIGATION
http://www.wired.com A Wired briefing about a case that pits MIT undergraduates against the U.S. Government, which is seeking both its source code and any users of it, all of which deals with ‘mining’ BitCoins: “The Electronic Frontier Foundation is representing 19-year-old MIT student Jeremy Rubin and three classmates in a remarkable case that stands out for the measure of aggression the state is using to obtain the code and identify anyone who might have tested the mining tool.”
TECHNOLOGY’S FUTURE DEBATE
http://www.nytimes.com A report about what is arguably a critically important crossing of intellectual swords, in which a Libertarian Peter Thiel and an anarcho-syndicalist-Marxist-anthropologist David Graeber debate what’s up and ‘what is to be done:’ “Mr. Thiel is a libertarian who has supported candidates like Ron Paul and causes like the Seasteading Institute, which wants to create experimental floating cities in the middle of the ocean, beyond the reach of existing governments. Mr. Graeber is a professor at the London School of Economics and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World who believes that both the nation-state and capitalism need to be replaced entirely.”
http://www.bloomberg.com An oh-my update from Bloomberg about the present pass in the litigation between a former Vice President and Qatari’s Al Jazeera Network, where questions of contract-breach and access to $65 million of escrow money are some of the issues in dispute: “An audit of AT&T’s agreement found the former owners violated a promise to provide the most favorable contract terms to distributors, according to today’s Al Jazeera’s filing. ATT, the largest U.S. phone company which also provides cable TV to subscribers in states including Texas and California, sued Al Jazeera over those violations and refused to carry the network’s U.S. channel. While Al Jazeera and AT&T ultimately settled the suit — with AT&T agreeing to air Al Jazeera America — the Qatari company noted in the filing it incurred a year’s worth of litigation expenses and ‘loss of access to AT&T subscribers.’ Gore and Hyatt also tried a ‘shakedown’ of the broadcaster prior to any court action by threatening to sue if the former Current TV owners weren’t given access to the $65 million, Al Jazeera said.”
COMMUNITIES VERSUS ISP’S
http://www.truth-out.org A TruthOut report about the hideous and self-serving idiocy of Internet Oligopolists’ arguments against community owned broadband: “Bradley County is a digital desert on the edge of an internet oasis. Internet service with modern connection speeds is not available in much of the area, and some parts of Bradley County have no internet service at all. Less than half a mile down the road from Coltrin’s nursery, however, is the end of a fiber optic cable that supplies internet connections with speeds up to 200 times the national average.”
http://benton.org/ A summary of a WaPo media report from Brian Fung, made available through Benton.org, in which the web-father Tim Berners Lee unequivocally condemns the idea of ‘Fast Lanes’ as a concept.
WAR-ON-DRUGS’ INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES
http://motherboard.vice.com Another ‘first-strike’ by Vice’s MotherBoard, a ‘better-living-through chemistry’ joke that simultaneously invalidates much of the intellectual foundation of the so-called ‘War-on-Drugs’ and shows the underpinnings of ‘intellectual property’ in fine relief: “Counterfeit drugs are proliferating for a few different reasons. One is that regulators actually started looking, so they’re finding more and more producers, Bate said. But a scarier reason is that the drug cartels previously making cocaine and heroin have switched to legal drugs. ‘It’s getting worse [in part because of] the war on drugs, meaning narcotics,’ Bate said. ‘If you’re the Cali Cartel, it makes sense to get into pharmaceuticals,’ because the penalties for producing legal drugs are much lighter than those for narcotics. Plus, Bate adds, you have a new, larger market of people who will buy your product.
Making the drugs themselves isn’t very hard. To get the chemical recipe for Viagra, one of the most widely counterfeited medications, anyone can see the patent that Pfizer initially filed in a document called a monograph, held at the US patent office. The steps for synthesizing the drug are even on Wikipedia.”
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/can-graffiti-be-copyrighted/380323/ For something ‘entirely different’ in regard to copyright, a report-and-analysis from Atlantic about a recent bevy of lawsuits that seek injunctions and damages for the use of mural and graffiti art by corporate designers and brand-fanatics: “Anasagasti is not the only graffiti artist to seek protection for his work: In August, a spate of other artists with street murals filed suits against various corporations for copyright infringement. One targets Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli for creating clothing, bags, and shoes that allegedly misappropriate a San Francisco street mural as its background print. Three street artists sued film director Terry Gilliam and several film companies to block his new movie, The Zero Theorem, from release in U.S. theaters this month because its set design allegedly copies their Buenos Aires mural. Another artist filed suits against apparel company Coach, Sony Music, and the singer Sara Bareilles for allegedly copying her New York City street mural. All the artists claim their artwork was created legally and registered for copyright.”
BRAZIL PRESIDENTIAL POLLS
http://www.reuters.com A report from Reuters about the first round of Brazil’s hotly contested Presidential race, in which both candidates are women and ‘far to the left,’ by U.S. standards but in which the sitting top official is much more oriented toward working class perspectives and policies, and hence is as popular as scorpion sandwiches among the bourgeoisie: “After four years of sluggish growth and heavy-handed state intervention in the economy under the left-leaning Rousseff, investors are hoping the election will bring in a new president who will push for pro-market reforms that economists say are needed to lift Brazil out of its current rut. Silva, a former senator and environment minister, surged in the polls after being thrust into the race last month following the death of her party’s original candidate in a plane crash. She had been Vice President on the ticket before the crash. Recent polls have showed her support eroding, but she still looks like the best-placed challenger to unseat Rousseff.”
BOLIVIA DRUG POLICY
http://fpif.org/ A tepid glance from Foreign Policy in Focus about the criminally corrupt and ineffectual—and that’s on a good day—U.S. ‘war-on-drugs’ fraudulence, in this case an examination of Bolivia’s leadership in instituting rational programs that the U.S. has roundly punished: “Once again, Washington claims Bolivia has not met its obligations under international narcotics agreements. For the seventh year in a row, the U.S. president has notified Congress that the Andean country “failed demonstrably” in its counter-narcotics efforts over the last 12 months. Blacklisting Bolivia means the withholding of U.S. aid from one of South America’s poorest countries. The story has hardly made the news in the United States, and that is worrisome. While many countries in the hemisphere call for drug policy reform and are willing to entertain new strategies in that vein, it remains business-as-usual in the United States.”
U.S. UKRAINE IMPERIALISM
http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com Another nuanced and down to earth deconstruction of the U.S. self-induced quagmire in Ukraine, from Garden of the Saker’s resident genius in matters Slavic and geopolitical: “OUN and Ukraine are basically synonyms from this parochial perspective. Who makes policy? Zbigniev Brzinski is a Pole from Galicia. Nuland/Nudelman has a father from Odessa. The real danger I see comes when America loses. As nothing at all has been invested walking away would not have to be hard. But pride may not allow that. Being humiliated by Rooskies may be even harder to stomach than defeat by cave-dwelling 7th century ragheads. And the expats are going to scream. For most purposes American democracy has stopped responding to anything but cash. When the millions of East European expats scream they may be heard. I will not expect a response smarter than Plan A or Plan B.”
POLISH-UKRAINIAN COMBAT COLLABORATION
http://www.wsws.org A ‘Hello, Mom; I’m-off-to-drop-the-bomb’ prelude here, in which World Socialist Website incisively presents and analyzes the underpinnings and risks of a new joint-Ukrainian/Polish combat unit, which could easily serve as an excuse for engendering a NATO ‘declaration of war:’ “The formation of the unit was announced in the wake of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s bellicose speech before a joint session of the US Congress and the ratification of the Association Agreement by the European and Ukrainian parliaments. After the deal was officially inked by the three countries’ defense ministers, Komorowski said that the tripartite unit was ‘part of a wider plan to support Ukraine, among others, in the area of modernization.’ A spokesman for the Polish Defense Ministry also told reporters that while the unit would initially function as a peacekeeping force, it could serve as the nucleus for the development of a NATO battle group at some point in the future.”
UKRAINE CEASEFIRE ANALYSIS
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info An analysis that shows the real motivations on the ground and further afield, and how the U.S. agenda either has to shift, or war will be the result: ” After the Boeing disaster, the Russians have made peace in Ukraine their priority. Paradoxically, this called for more Russian involvement. From the beginning, State Department claims notwithstanding, Putin did not want the war in the Ukraine, and still less he wanted a war with Ukraine. He would prefer the Ukraine remain neutral and friendly. This dish was not on the menu as the US intended to fight Russia by Ukrainian hands, or at least, to strengthen its hold over Europe by using Russian scarecrow. Still Putin procrastinated hoping things will sort out. He miscalculated: he did not count on Poroshenko’s military ardour, on the new Kiev ruler’s readiness to inflict huge civilian casualties and to sacrifice his own army. This was unexpected development – after peaceful transition of Crimea, Putin could expect Kiev will honour Donbass desires. Putin could not leave Donbass in flames and forget about it. One million refugees from Ukraine already crossed into Russia; continuation of Kiev’s war in Donbass could dislodge up to five million refugees, too much for Russia to swallow ”
CRS IRAQ RESEARCH
http://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R43725.pdf Another civic-relief-service from Federation of American Scientists, publicly funded and published research from Congressional Research Service that is not readily available to citizens except through the largesse of FAS, in this instance output that looks at Visas for Iraqi and Afghan vets from those countries and then proffers additional links.
BLINDING LASER WEAPONRY
http://thebulletin.org/ Goodness gracious: more hideous excrescense of imperial arrogance, empowered to main and kill, in the form of a report about continuing development of illegal laser weaponry by the U.S.: “The subject gets little publicity nowadays, but until the mid-1990s, the US Air Force openly funded research on how to destroy human eyeballs at a distance with lasers. At the time, the justification was that such a technology—causing permanent blindness—was no worse than burning people with napalm, irradiating them, or blasting them to bits with bombs. …Researchers may have been careful to say that they were trying to protect US soldiers, but their logic could be interpreted as a fig leaf to get around the ban, which went into force in 1998. In interviews in 2000, Air Force-funded researchers admitted that it would be easy to turn their work to protect American soldiers around and use it to blind the enemy. It seems that at least part of the military rationale behind the technology is that a dead soldier is just dead, but a blinded one needs the help of others, thus tying up several enemy soldiers at once—similar to the thinking behind the use of landmines to blow off legs and arms.”
STEVEN SALAITA ANALYSIS
http://www.wsws.org/ : “The political victimization of Steven Salaita, whose appointment as a tenured professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was revoked because he tweeted outraged protests against the slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, is a chilling attack on core democratic rights, including freedom of speech and academic freedom.”
http://www.theatlantic.com From the pages of Atlantic, an assessment of the ‘ideal’–from the perspective of established stakeholders–combination of tournament, speculation, and monetized nothing, none of which threatens any impact of real production and people, an intersection between fantasy games and gambling: “In 2011, Peter Jennings, now 26, had just graduated college and was making a living playing online poker. ‘After Black Friday,’ Jennings said, ‘I went straight into finance as a stockbroker, working at Charles Schwab. But I quickly realized that daily fantasy was beginning to boom and the market was inefficient. I went with fantasy because I realized this was going to be a better opportunity. Instead of competing against the whole market, you are just competing against a few other people, and it’s all based on your sports knowledge and research.’ Jennings’s choice has paid off. He has won FanDuel’s $150,000 football championship prize, and just raked in $1 million at DraftKings fantasy baseball championship in the Bahamas.”
DARREN WILSON TESTIMONY
http://www.wsws.org/ An update from World Socialist Website about police officer Darren Wilson’s appearance before a Grand Jury that can file criminal charges: “Midday on August 9, Wilson fired ten rounds from his pistol, hitting Brown with at least six bullets. Multiple witnesses have described Wilson opening fire as Brown attempted to flee — pausing when Brown stopped, turned around, and raised his hands in surrender — and then finishing the young man off with multiple rounds.”
POLICE KILLING CITIZENS
http://www.wsws.org/ A compilation of crowdsourced investigations of police murder of civilians, provided here by World Socialist Website, an assessment that the fifteen-hundred-corpses-a-year rate that currently prevails is worsening: “In August, US police killed 104 people nationwide, according to a compendium of local press reports compiled by volunteers on Wikipedia. Dozens more have been killed in the first half of September alone as the wave of police violence continued. These killings are part of a general pattern of abuse carried out by an increasingly militarized police force. These notes are the first in a series on the World Socialist Web Site documenting police violence in America.”
GENERAL PRESENT AND PAST ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS
U.S. MASS SHOOTINGS
http://www.govexec.com A multimedia presentation from GovExec about how, as crime seems to be dropping, mass homicides are expanding quite a lot.
NATIONAL CHILDREN’S STUDY
http://www.nap.edu/ An installment from National Academies Press that ought to be mandatory reading for all citizens with pulses, an annual National Children’s Study that reveals some of the social implosion that affects young people and the planet’s future at one.
http://www.motherjones.com A by-the-numbers informational piece from Mother Jones, about the collapse of citizen expectations in the context of exploding college costs, student indebtedness, etc., unfortunately without the analysis that these are systematic expressions of policy the purpose of which is to enrich the already surfeited billionaire cohort while driving everyone else into penury.
http://truth-out.org/ A powerful analysis from TruthOut about the obvious points about inequality–that is is worsening; that it is systemic; that it is systematic; that it eviscerates democracy; that it leads to war and imperial mass murder–that are ‘opaque’ only to plutocrats who find ignoring the obvious convenient: “There should be no doubt what that means. The purpose of the Fed’s raising interest rates is to slow the economy to keep people from getting jobs. By keeping the unemployment rate up, the FOMC will be reducing workers’ bargaining power and keeping them from getting pay increases. This disproportionately hurts those at the bottom of the income distribution, but puts downward pressure on the wages of most workers.”
FRAUD OF CHARITY
http://truth-out.org Explication of the distorted, dishonest, and duplicitous self-dealing inherent in ‘reform-through-charity’ schemes, deconsructed here by TruthOut: “The super-wealthy of the world can undoubtedly feel good about their big-heartedness. Some might even see the private accumulation of massive wealth as morally justified, even in the face of profound inequality – that is, justified so long as they can somehow claim that their great individual wealth will inevitably ‘trickle down’ to the have-nots. Of course, very few economists today would have the temerity to defend trickle-down economics. This is why the latter idea has to be reconfigured in more positive terms. Instead of trickle-down economics, we now have the rich speaking openly about ‘corporate social responsibility’ and broadcasting their beneficence through charitable foundations.”
CIA ‘AI’ INTERROGATIONS
http://motherboard.vice.com/ Crack candy here from Vice MotherBoard of CIA experimentation with Artificial Intelligence as a mediator of interrogation, in 1983, which has much that is fascinating and at least a bit that is important to note, in addition to providing possible premises for all manner of ‘retro’ fiction: “The CIA has notoriously been, well, “innovative” in developing new interrogation techniques (if you consider waterboarding an innovation, at least). Newly declassified documents reveal that willingness to experiment is nothing new: 30 years ago, the spy agency pitted one of its own agents against an artificial intelligence interrogator. The documents in question, written in 1983 and titled “Interrogation of an Alleged CIA Agent,” describe a series of experimental tests conducted in the early 1980s in which the CIA repeatedly interrogated its own agent, referred to in the report as Joe Hardesty, using a primitive AI called Analiza.”
http://nr.news-republic.com/ A look at a John Oliver Last Week Tonight installment that manages to make people laugh while eviscerating the conscious policy of mass murder—primarily of civilians—that 65% of U.S. citizens continue to support.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
http://www.nap.edu/ A fiftieth anniversary compilation of essays from National Academies Press about the NAP/NSF program that has placed engineers and others in real world ‘laboratories’ to come up with solutions to community problems, thereby ‘making a difference’ in a tangible way.
SPANISH LANGUAGE IMPACTS
http://journalistsresource.org Another useful contextualization from Journalists Resource, about the growing presence of Spanish speakers in the United States and what academic researchers are saying about that phenomenon, how they are conceptualizing it, and so forth: “While U.S.-born Hispanic and Asian children make up most of the growth, they’re part of a broader shift in the United States toward being a majority-minority nation. But how do such changes influence public opinion and attitudes? Do they create a perceived threat among white Americans, hardening attitudes toward immigration and minorities? Or does greater interaction between groups have the potential to increase tolerance? Social scientists have been working to more precisely study such questions, testing how the Spanish language itself may take on political overtones and even experimenting with randomized control trials in everyday situations.”
http://consortiumnews.com/ No surprise here, a Consortium News historical update about one of U.S. history’s more innovative crimes and cover-ups, the Iran-contra guns-for-drugs scandal, officially documented by all manner of government agents and blithely ignored by corporate media’s plutocracy at the same time, except by such reporters as Gary Webb, who ended up with a “pair of pellets in the brain pan” for his service to humanity: “Entitled ‘Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story,’ the six-page report describes the CIA’s damage control after Webb’s ‘Dark Alliance’ series was published in the San Jose Mercury-News in August 1996. Webb had resurrected disclosures from the 1980s about the CIA-backed Contras collaborating with cocaine traffickers as the Reagan administration worked to conceal the crimes. Although the CIA’s inspector general later corroborated the truth about the Contra-cocaine connection and the Reagan administration’s cover-up, the mainstream media’s counterattack in defense of the CIA in late summer and fall of 1996 proved so effective that the subsequent CIA confession made little dent in the conventional wisdom regarding either the Contra-cocaine scandal or Gary Webb.”
WWII SYRIA HANDBOOK
http://www.slate.com/ A Slate archival retrieval in its blog, The Vault, that looks at historical documentation, here in the form of a pamphlet that gives advice to U.S. soldiers and operatives in the Levant–or Syria–during World War Two: “For all its age, the booklet’s prescription for mission success sounds thoroughly modern: ‘A big part of your job is to make friends for your cause—because this is a war of ideas, just as much as of tanks, planes and guns.'”
ISIS-AL QAEDA FRANKENSTEINS
http://www.counterpunch.org/ The U.S. as an implicit co-creator of Islamic State in Iraq & Syria, richly documented and incisively analyzed to show unfolding history by Counterpunch: “The CIA first aligned itself with extremist Islam during the Cold War era. Back then, America saw the world in rather simple terms: on one side, the Soviet Union and Third World nationalism, which America regarded as a Soviet tool; on the other side, Western nations and militant political Islam, which America considered an ally in the struggle against the Soviet Union.”