Archive | June 18, 2013

The Drone Ranger: Obama’s Dirty Wars

Greg Palast writes at Vice Magazine:

About the time Barack Obama ordered the drone strike that killed Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old American kid Facebooked his second-rate choice of hip-hop favorites. I say “second-rate,” because Abdul was my son’s age almost exactly, so I know the kind of crap they listen to.

Soldiers with the 25th Mechanised Brigade near the front lines in Zinjibar, Yemen. (Photo courtesy of Richard Rowley and Big Noise Films).

Soldiers with the 25th Mechanised Brigade near the front lines in Zinjibar, Yemen. (Photo courtesy of Richard Rowley and Big Noise Films).

Every Tuesday, President Obama personally checks off the names of people he wants killed.  George Bush, a bit more squeamish than Obama, never did that; but Mr. Obama felt those decisions were the president’s responsibility: he want[s] to keep his own finger on the trigger,” according to one report.  A tidy, scheduled man, the President only picks his victims once a week, now called “Terror Tuesday.”

On October 14, 2011, in Shabwah province, Yemen, Abdul, went out with his cousins and friends for a good old US-style barbecue, when Obama’s drone fired a rocket, blowing the teenager to pieces.  Or I should say “piece.”  All that was left of Abdul was a piece of skull with long curly hair that allowed his relatives to identify this hunk of his head by his US-type haircut.

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IRS ‘Training’ Agents With AR-15 Assault Rifles Congress Wanted To Ban

The NSA warrantless wiretapping program, PRISM, continues to outrage millions of Americans — but let’s not forget some other recent scandals emerging from our “public servants” in Washington, including serious allegations from the chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee that IRS agents are now arming themselves with AR-15 “semi-automatic weapons.” Rep. Duncan claims to have seen this with his own eyes last month.

What is going on in this country? It is one thing to provide your nation’s tax agency with the legal tools necessary to collect debts owed, and another thing altogether to enforce those powers with the precise kinds of assault weapons some members of Congress had wanted to ban earlier this year.

It also recently came out that the IRS spent more than $50 million on conferences between 2010 and 2012. The frugality of these conferences has been called into question. See my take on this above.… Read the rest

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Kenneth Smith: Cultural Critic of the Modern Era

Kenneth SmithIn 1988 artist and philosophy professor Kenneth Smith began writing a philosophy column called Dramas of the Mind in The Comics Journal. Smith’s column ran there intermittently for the next twenty years. Smith wrote about philosophical issues as they relate to modern civilization, covering ethics, violence, sex, education, science, art, etc. Smith wrote powerful analysis of contemporary manias and delusions in a blazing, take-no-prisoners style. His insights into the modern age are penetrating and worthy of the great cultural critics and essayists of the past, in the traditions of Chomsky, Mencken, Bloom, Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Edward Said, Vidal, Žižek, etc. Certainly his is a voice that deserves greater exposure.

This information page gives an overview of Kenneth Smith, links to many resources, and posts scans of his classic run of TCJ columns. The scans contain his most essential writing, but there is a Tumblr blog and a Gaim library that provide quotes from longer pieces.… Read the rest

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Religion, Atheism and Dogmatic Thinking

The Inquisition Tribunal as illustrated by Francisco de Goya.

Via orwellwasright:

Someone recently asked: “Should the oppressive content of monotheistic religions be respected and left alone or challenged and questioned?” It’s a loaded question which, needless to say, provoked a lively debate on the nature of religion as a force for oppression and negativity in the world today. As one person expressed it: “Christianity is a restrictive, damaging, violent, oppressive, totalitarian, hypocritical, patriarchal cult that has caused 2000 years of pain, suffering and misery to countless millions.”

It’s not hard to see why so many people think this way – religious wars and persecution have, over the centuries, killed untold millions; the tenets of Holy scriptures used as a justification for a litany of crimes against humanity, from the Crusades in the Near East and the conquest of the New World and subsequent genocide of the indiginous population, to the horrific Inquisition and the frequent slaughter of heathens “in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.… Read the rest

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Transcending the Medical Frontiers: Exploring the Future of Psychedelic Drug Research

Machine_elf_impDave Brown writes:

Working with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for the past four years as their guest editor has been an extremely exciting and tremendously fruitful endeavor for me. It’s a great joy to see how MDMA can help people suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), how LSD can help advanced-stage cancer patients come to peace with the dying process, and how ibogaine can help opiate addicts overcome their addiction. There appears to be enormous potential for the development of psychedelic drugs into effective treatments for a whole range of difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders.

However, as thrilled as I am by all the new clinical studies exploring the medical potential of psychedelic drugs, I still long for the day when our best minds and resources can be applied to the study of these extraordinary substances with an eye that looks beyond their medical applications, toward their ability to enhance human potential and explore new realities.

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Would Time Travelers Affect The Stock Market?

time travelersCanadian business professor Richard Hudson, PhD, reveals the bizarre reasons why it is impossible for time travelers to go into the past and make millions picking stocks:

Since H.G. Wells (1895/1991), the advantages of time travel for investors have been clear. This paper presents a solution to the problem of bilking behaviour of time travellers.

For a time traveller, all investments are risk-free since she will have perfect knowledge of prices throughout time. Reinganum (1986) claims time travellers will run around time, buying “underpriced” securities and selling (or shorting) “overpriced.” Because of the strange temporal nature of time travel, the adjustment in prices due to the trading activity of time travellers would be instantaneous, as seen by the time-bound. Time travellers from all time would be present en masse attempting to realize their arbitrage profits: the very first time traveller would meet multitudes from her future (and even multiple copies of herself) trying to engage in the same transactions she is trying to complete.

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Traces Of Prozac In Water Make Fish “Antisocial, Aggressive And Even Homicidal”

prozac

Good thing there aren’t traces of Prozac in the water we drin– oh, wait. ABC News reports:

Fish swimming in water with a trace of the anti-depressant Prozac became edgy, aggressive and some even killed their mates.

The fish were subjected to traces of the drug by a research group at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that examined how environmental exposure to the medication altered the behavior of fathead minnows. Lead researcher Rebecca Klapper says that this experimental setup could actually be a reflection of the fishes’ reality.

The human body does not absorb medications 100 percent, so a trace amount is excreted in urine. Water treatment centers are unable to completely filter out all of those contaminant and can trickle down and affect the wildlife.

Klapper sees the minnows as a way to gauge the long-term effects of Prozac in humans. “It’s not just an environmental question but a human question as well,” she tells ABC News.

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U.S. Plans To Survive An EMP Attack

EMP mechanismHave the House Republicans been watching too much Revolution on TV, or is there really a threat of an EMP that we should be worried about? From the Washington Examiner:

Amid growing fears of a massive electromagnetic pulse hit from either a solar flare or a terrorist nuclear bomb, House Republicans on Tuesday will unveil a plan to save the nation’s electric grid from an attack that could mean lights out for 300 million Americans.

Dubbed the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, the legislation would push the federal government to install grid-saving devices such as surge protectors to protect against an attack.

“It is critical that we protect our major transformers from cascading destruction. The Shield Act encourages industry to develop standards necessary to protect our electric infrastructure against both natural and man-made EMP events,” said Rep. Trent Franks, the Arizona Republican who is offering up the bipartisan bill.

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Largest Protests In Decades Fill Major Cities Of Brazil

Initially a response to a hike in public transportation prices, the unrest is centered around the country’s wealth inequality and spending of public money on lavish stadiums in preparation for the 2014 World Cup. Russia Today reports:

Mass protests continued throughout Brazil on Monday, with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators converging in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, the capital of Brasilia and other cities.

Protests initially began last week following a government announcement of an increase in public transportation costs, which brought out students and young workers and led to more than 250 arrests.

In a sign that public dissatisfaction was still simmering, soccer fans booed president Dilma Rousseff on Monday during the opening of a two-week tournament at a stadium in the capital Brasilia. The heckling only intensified when the president of the global soccer body, FIFA, reprimanded the crowed for failing to show the president “respect.”

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