Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
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Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 63,335
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 63,335
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Argentine Protesters vs Monsanto: "The Monster Is Right on Top of Us"
Monday, 09 December 2013 13:41
By Fabiana Frayssinet, Inter Press Service | Report
The people of this working-class suburb of Córdoba in Argentina’s central farming belt stoically put up with the spraying of the weed-killer glyphosate on the fields surrounding their neighbourhood. But the last straw was when U.S. biotech giant Monsanto showed up to build a seed plant.
The creator of glyphosate, whose trademark is Roundup, and one of the world’s leading producers of genetically modified seeds, Monsanto is building one of its biggest plants to process transgenic corn seed in Malvinas Argentinas, this poor community of 15,000 people 17 km east of the capital of the province of Córdoba.
The plant was to begin operating in March 2014. But construction work was brought to a halt in October by protests and legal action by local residents, who have been blocking the entrance to the site since Sept. 18.
On the morning of Saturday Nov. 30, troops arrived at the plant, as seen in this video posted on Facebook, and escorted several trucks out of the construction site. The trucks had forced their way past the roadblock on Thursday Nov. 28, when members of the construction union stormed into the camp set up by local residents, with the aim of breaking the blockade. More than 20 people were injured in the clash. ...................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20526-argentine-protesters-vs-monsanto-the-monster-is-right-on-top-of-us
Posted by marmar | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 04:33 PM (3 replies)
Henry A. Giroux | The Spectacle of Illiteracy and the Crisis of Democracy
Monday, 09 December 2013 09:48
By Henry A Giroux, Moyers & Company | Op-Ed
C. Wright Mills argued 50 years ago that one important measure of the demise of vibrant democracy and the corresponding impoverishment of political life can be found in the increasing inability of a society to translate private troubles to broader public issues. This is an issue that both characterizes and threatens any viable notion of democracy in the United States in the current historical moment. In an alleged post-racist democracy, the image of the public sphere with its appeal to dialogue and shared responsibility has given way to the spectacle of unbridled intolerance, ignorance, seething private fears, unchecked anger and the decoupling of reason from freedom. Increasingly, as witnessed in the utter disrespect and not-so-latent racism expressed by Joe Wilson, the Republican congressman from South Carolina, who shouted “you lie!” during President Obama’s address on health care, the obligation to listen, respect the views of others and engage in a literate exchange is increasingly reduced to the highly spectacular embrace of an infantile emotionalism. This is an emotionalism that is made for television. It is perfectly suited for emptying the language of public life of all substantive content, reduced in the end to a playground for hawking commodities, promoting celebrity culture and enacting the spectacle of right-wing fantasies fueled by the fear that the public sphere as an exclusive club for white male Christians is in danger of collapsing. For some critics, those who carry guns to rallies or claim Obama is a Muslim and not a bona fide citizen of the United States are simply representative of an extremist fringe, that gets far more publicity from the mainstream media than they deserve. Of course this is understandable, given that the media’s desire for balance and objective news is not just disingenuous but relinquishes any sense of ethical responsibility by failing to make a distinction between an informed argument and an unsubstantiated opinion. Witness the racist hysteria unleashed by so many Americans and the media over the building of an Islamic cultural center near ground zero.
The collapse of journalistic standards finds its counterpart in the rise of civic illiteracy. An African-American president certainly makes the Rush Limbaughs of the world even more irrational than they already are, just as the lunatic fringe seems to be able to define itself only through a mode of thought whose first principle is to disclaim logic itself. But I think this dismissal is too easy. What this decline in civility, the emergence of mob behavior and the utter blurring in the media between a truth and a lie suggest is that we have become one of the most illiterate nations on the planet. I don’t mean illiterate in the sense of not being able to read, though we have far too many people who are functionally illiterate in a so-called advanced democracy, a point that writers such as Chris Hedges, Susan Jacoby and the late Richard Hofstadter made clear in their informative books on the rise of anti-intellectualism in American life. I am talking about a different species of ignorance and anti-intellectualism. Illiterate in this instance refers to the inability on the part of much of the American public to grasp private troubles and the meaning of the self in relation to larger public problems and social relations. It is a form of illiteracy that points less to the lack of technical skills and the absence of certain competencies than to a deficit in the realms of politics — one that subverts both critical thinking and the notion of literacy as both critical interpretation and the possibility of intervention in the world. This type of illiteracy is not only incapable of dealing with complex and contested questions, it is also an excuse for glorifying the principle of self-interest as a paradigm for understanding politics. This is a form of illiteracy marked by the inability to see outside of the realm of the privatized self, an illiteracy in which the act of translation withers, reduced to a relic of another age. The United States is a country that is increasingly defined by a civic deficit, a chronic and deadly form of civic illiteracy that points to the failure of both its educational system and the growing ability of anti-democratic forces to use the educational force of the culture to promote the new illiteracy. As this widespread illiteracy has come to dominate American culture, we have moved from a culture of questioning to a culture of shouting and in doing so have restaged politics and power in both unproductive and anti-democratic ways.
Think of the forces at work in the larger culture that work overtime to situate us within a privatized world of fantasy, spectacle and resentment that is entirely removed from larger social problems and public concerns. For instance, corporate culture, with its unrelenting commercials, carpet-bombs our audio and visual fields with the message that the only viable way to define ourselves is to shop and consume in an orgy of private pursuits. Popular culture traps us in the privatized universe of celebrity culture, urging us to define ourselves through the often empty and trivialized and highly individualized interests of celebrities. Pharmaceutical companies urge us to deal with our problems, largely produced by economic and political forces out of our control, by taking a drug, one that will both chill us out and increase their profit margins. (This has now become an educational measure applied increasingly and indiscriminately to children in our schools.) Pop psychologists urge us to simply think positively, give each other hugs and pull ourselves up by the bootstraps while also insisting that those who confront reality and its mix of complex social issues are, as Chris Hedges points out, defeatists, a negative force that inhibits “our inner essence and power.” There is also the culture of militarization, which permeates all aspects of our lives — from our classrooms and the screen culture of reality television to the barrage of violent video games and the blood letting in sports such as popular wrestling — endlessly at work in developing modes of masculinity that celebrate toughness, violence, cruelty, moral indifference and misogyny. ...............(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20511-henry-giroux-the-spectacle-of-illiteracy-and-the-crisis-of-democracy
Posted by marmar | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 04:26 PM (2 replies)
This might be the most publicity Radio Shack has had in years.
An Arkansas man who told police he just really had to pee found himself in cuffs after allegedly soaking a Radio Shack carpet and electronics in his urine.
Police arrested 65-year-old John Posey last Wednesday after the man allegedly unzipped. When an officer arrived, Posey appeared to have "bloodshot eyes, was unsteady on his feet, and smelled of intoxicants" according to a police report.
Posey first told police he was only shopping and denied urinating, despite the overwhelming smell, according to The Smoking Gun.
The man eventually confessed to urinating, telling the officer simply: "I had to pee bad." ......................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/john-posey-pee-radio-shack_n_4411956.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news
Posted by marmar | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 10:14 AM (5 replies)
WASHINGTON -- The Michigan Republican Party is seeking to increase its visibility in Democratic- and minority-heavy Detroit, and last week, it brought Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to the city to open the party's African-American Engagement Office. But if anything, the launch event put into stark relief just how much work the GOP has to do, when a largely white audience turned out to hear the senator speak.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has said that attracting more minorities to the GOP is crucial for the party's future. He visited Michigan last month, hired radio personality Wayne Bradley to head the African-American Engagement effort in the state and launched the Michigan Black Advisory Council.
In the 2012 election, President Barack Obama earned the support of 90 percent of the black voters who turned out at the polls.
Paul initially spoke at the new African-American Engagement Office on Livernois Avenue in Detroit for about four minutes on Friday. According to the progressive site Electablog, "The seats in the tiny space were filled with well-dressed supporters, most of whom were African-American." .......................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/rand-paul-african-american_n_4409356.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037
Posted by marmar | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 10:07 AM (4 replies)
Chomsky: It Is All Working Quite Well for the Rich, Powerful
Sunday, 08 December 2013 09:28
By CJ Polychroniou and Anastasia Giamali, Truthout | Interview
C.J. Polychroniou and Anastasia Giamali: Neoliberal ideology claims that the government is a problem, society does not exist and individuals are responsible for their own fate. Yet, big business and the rich rely, as ever, on state intervention to maintain their hold over the economy and to enjoy a bigger slice of the economic pie. Is neoliberalism a myth, merely an ideological construct?
Noam Chomsky: The term neoliberal is a bit misleading. The doctrines are neither new, nor liberal. As you say, big business and the rich rely extensively on what economist Dean Baker calls "the conservative nanny state" that they nourish. That is dramatically true of financial institutions. A recent IMF study attributes the profits of the big banks almost entirely to the implicit government insurance policy ("too big to fail"), not just the widely publicized bailouts, but access to cheap credit, favorable ratings because of the state guarantee and much else. The same is true of the productive economy. The IT revolution, now its driving force, relied very heavily on state-based R&D, procurement and other devices. That pattern goes back to early English industrialization.
However, neither "neoliberalism," nor its earlier versions as "liberalism," have been myths, certainly not for their victims. Economic historian Paul Bairoch is only one of many who have shown that "the Third World's compulsory economic liberalism in the 19th century is a major element in explaining the delay in its industrialization," in fact, its "de-industrialization," a story that continues to the present under various guises.
In brief, the doctrines are, to a substantial extent, a "myth" for the rich and powerful, who craft many ways to protect themselves from market forces, but not for the poor and weak, who are subjected to their ravages.
What explains the supremacy of market-centric rule and predatory finance in an era that has experienced the most destructive crisis of capitalism since the Great Depression?
The basic explanation is the usual one: It is all working quite well for the rich and powerful. In the US, for example, tens of millions are unemployed, unknown millions have dropped out of the workforce in despair, and incomes as well as conditions of life have largely stagnated or declined. But the big banks, which were responsible for the latest crisis, are bigger and richer than ever, corporate profits are breaking records, wealth beyond the dreams of avarice is accumulating among those who count, labor is severely weakened by union busting and "growing worker insecurity," to borrow the term Alan Greenspan used in explaining the grand success of the economy he managed, when he was still "St. Alan," perhaps the greatest economist since Adam Smith, before the collapse of the structure he had administered, along with its intellectual foundations. So what is there to complain about? ....................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20467-noam-chomsky-interview
Posted by marmar | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 09:44 AM (4 replies)
Shooting the Messenger
Posted on Dec 8, 2013
By Chris Hedges
There is a deeply misguided attempt to sacrifice Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond on the altar of the security and surveillance state to justify the leaks made by Edward Snowden. It is argued that Snowden, in exposing the National Security Agency’s global spying operation, judiciously and carefully leaked his information through the media, whereas WikiLeaks, Assange, Manning and Hammond provided troves of raw material to the public with no editing and little redaction and assessment. Thus, Snowden is somehow legitimate while WikiLeaks, Assange, Manning and Hammond are not.
“I have never understood it,” said Michael Ratner, who is the U.S. lawyer for WikiLeaks and Assange and who I spoke with Saturday in New York City. “Why is Snowden looked at by some as the white hat while Manning, Hammond, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as black hats? One explanation is that much of the mainstream media has tried to pin a dumping charge on the latter group, as if somehow giving the public and journalists open access to the raw documents is irresponsible and not journalism. It sounds to me like the so-called Fourth Estate protecting its jobs and ‘legitimacy.’ There is a need for both. All of us should see the raw documents. We also need journalists to write about them. Raw documents open to the world give journalists in other countries the chance to examine them in their own context and write from their perspectives. We are still seeing many stories based on the WikiLeaks documents. We should not have it any other way. Perhaps another factor may be that Snowden’s revelations concern the surveillance of us. The WikiLeaks/Assange/Manning disclosures tell us more about our war crimes against others. And many Americans do not seem to care about that.”
The charge that the WikiLeaks dump was somehow more damaging to the security and surveillance state because it was unedited, however, is false. Snowden’s revelations to the journalist Glenn Greenwald, which are ongoing, have been far more devastating to the security apparatus than the material provided by Manning. Among the four larger data sets released by Manning—collectively 735,614 documents—only 223 documents were charged against the Army private first class under “reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation,” as stated in the Espionage Act. Specifically there were 116 diplomatic cables, 102 Army field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, and five Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, as the journalist Alexa O’Brien has reported.
As O’Brien points out, many of the individual documents that resulted in charges have not been identified and those that have been are turning out to be very, very benign. For example, the government prosecuted the soldier, then known as Bradley Manning, for three detainee assessment briefs from Guantanamo Bay that were nothing more than profiles of the “Tipton 3,” British citizens who were held for years without trial or charges before finally being released. The information Manning made public was not top secret. There was much in the WikiLeaks release that was already public or unclassified. All the leaked material had been widely circulated to at least half a million military and government officials as well as private contractors. It had no serious impact on U.S. operations at home or abroad. Even then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in a letter to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, admitted that a Department of Defense review of the leaked Manning documents had “not revealed any sensitive intelligence source and methods.” But what the leaks did do was expose the deep cynicism of U.S. policy, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the plethora of government lies about what was happening under U.S. occupation. The WikiLeaks material documented several important war crimes that the government had covered up. Manning wrote, correctly, in a letter last October to The Guardian newspaper: ” ... The public cannot decide what actions and policies are or are not justified if they don’t even know the most rudimentary details about them and their effects.” .....................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/shooting_the_messenger_20131208
Posted by marmar | Mon Dec 9, 2013, 06:03 AM (7 replies)
Grammy award-winning music recording artist; Oxfam International Ambassador
How Nelson Mandela Changed My World
Posted: 12/06/2013 6:00 pm
As I grew up on my continent, our own history was never told. Being a young girl raised in Benin, West Africa, I was even taught my ancestors were the Gauls!
At age nine, I discovered by accident the existence of slavery. I was looking at the cover of a Jimi Hendrix album and I asked my brother how you could be African and American at the same time. At fifteen, I had never heard about apartheid, unaware of much of the evils of this world when one day, as I was watching the Nigerian news on an old TV screen, I heard the voice of Winnie Mandela haranguing a crowd. My whole world collapsed as I learnt about the reality of the South African regime and the fate of Winnie's jailed husband, Madiba.
This injustice was so blatant that my first reaction was hatred. My blood was boiling. I took a pen and wrote my first political song, "Azan Nan Kpe." It was preaching vengeance and violence, wishing death upon all Afrikaners. Then I went out in our little courtyard and sung it in front of my family. Everyone was silent, tense. Then my dad, a tall and gentle man, took me apart and told me it was not right; music could not preach violence, not in our house. Music had a higher purpose: to inspire beauty, to empower people to be better. I had to take back my copy and rewrite the song. I went inside my bedroom, followed his advice and sung a world where there would be no more injustice, no more oppressed and no more oppressors.
In a way, what my father told me on that day was exactly what Mandela said when he got out of jail. He asked the South African people to rewrite their songs, to resist their first impulse. He said: Please do not to be defined by the prejudices of your enemies. You don't want to live burnt by fear and hatred like they do. The real freedom is to escape from the cycle of violence and war and all the games of power that will destroy you. ..........................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/angelique-kidjo/nelson-mandela_b_4401084.html
Posted by marmar | Sun Dec 8, 2013, 06:31 PM (1 replies)
from Civil Eats:
In Unexpected Move, Big Island Mayor Approves Bill Restricting GMO Crops
By Maureen Nandini Mitra on December 6, 2013
In a move that took many anti-GMO activists by surprise yesterday, Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi signed a bill banning biotech companies and farmers from growing any new genetically altered crop on Big Island.
In a letter explaining his decision, Mayor Billy Kenoi acknowledged that the bill had been “divisive and hurtful” at times and said it was “time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors.”
Bill 113 effectively halts the expansion of GMO crops on Hawai‘i’s largest island (after which the state is named) by prohibiting open-air cultivation of new varieties of transgenic plants. This means biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow, Du-Pont-Pioneer, BASF, Syngenta — who have established themselves on other Hawaiian islands like Kauai, Maui, Molakai, and O‘ahu — won’t be able to grow GMO crops on the Big Island.
The new law, however, exempts papaya growers who cultivate transgenic varieties of the tree that are resistant to the ringspot virus, and Big Island Dairy, which grows GMO corn to feed its livestock. (Big Island, incidentally, was one of the first Hawai‘ian islands to pass any kind of GMO regulatory bill — back in 2008 it had banned GMO coffee and taro.) ............(more)
The complete piece is at: http://civileats.com/2013/12/06/in-unexpected-move-big-island-mayor-approves-bill-restricting-gmo-crops/#sthash.xrxFNDag.dpuf
Posted by marmar | Sun Dec 8, 2013, 09:48 AM (3 replies)
from In These Times:
‘From Bean to Cup,’ Starbucks Labor Action Heats Up
By Michelle Chen
The Starbucks cup, with its iconic green mermaid logo and smart cardboard sleeve, seems to embody the essence of the urbane yuppie lifestyle. But the carefully constructed cool of the coffee mega-brand belies some serious anger percolating beneath the surface of Starbucks' supply chain.
That cup means something different to Ray Allen, a machine operator at a paper goods plant run by Pactiv, a major Starbucks supplier. Allen got his first full-time job at the Stockton, Calif. factory; now, more than a decade later, the steady employment has allowed him to own a home and raise a family. But it hasn't come without cost.
"I have given (Pactiv) my blood, sweat, and tears throughout the years," said Allen in a recent testimonial. "I have missed many events in my children’s lives for this job with no regrets. All I ask for in return is a fair contract to preserve our well-deserved and hard-earned middle-class way of life."
Since the Stockton factory's parent company, Dopaco, was taken over by Lake Forest, Ill.-based Pactiv in 2011, Allen's union, Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers Local 83, has been fighting for such a fair contract. The union says that management is pushing for unreasonable cutbacks on benefits and trying to allow temporary agency workers, hired outside the union, into the plant—a major departure from the old contract terms. They also claim the company wants to take away paid mealtimes, which they fear would significantly cut wages for a standard workweek. ......................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/15948/starbucks_action/
Posted by marmar | Sun Dec 8, 2013, 09:45 AM (1 replies)
Posted on Dec 8, 2013
By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt
The Federal Reserve is the only central bank with a dual mandate. It is charged not only with maintaining low, stable inflation but with promoting maximum sustainable employment. Yet unemployment remains stubbornly high, despite four years of radical tinkering with interest rates and quantitative easing (creating money on the Fed’s books). After pushing interest rates as low as they can go, the Fed has admitted that it has run out of tools.
At an IMF conference on November 8, 2013, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers suggested that since near-zero interest rates were not adequately promoting people to borrow and spend, it might now be necessary to set interest at below zero. This idea was lauded and expanded upon by other ivory-tower inside-the-box thinkers, including Paul Krugman.
Negative interest would mean that banks would charge the depositor for holding his deposits rather than paying interest on them. Runs on the banks would no doubt follow, but the pundits have a solution for that: move to a cashless society, in which all money would be electronic. “This would make it impossible to hoard cash outside the bank,” wrote Danny Vinik in Business Insider, “allowing the Fed to cut interest rates to below zero, spurring people to spend more.” He concluded:
. . . Summers’ speech is a reminder to all liberals that he is a brilliant economist who grasps the long-term issues of monetary policy and would likely have made an exemplary Fed chair.
Maybe; but to ordinary mortals living in the less rarefied atmosphere of the real world, the proposal to impose negative interest rates looks either inane or like the next giant step toward the totalitarian New World Order. Business Week quotes Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office: “We’ve had four years of extraordinarily loose monetary policy without satisfactory results, and the only thing they come up with is we need more?” .................(more)
The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/amend_the_fed_we_need_a_central_bank_that_serves_main_street_20131208
Posted by marmar | Sun Dec 8, 2013, 09:39 AM (3 replies)