Archive | June 22, 2013

To Galt’s Gulch They Go

MammonThomas Frank writes in the latest Baffler:

There was a time when Atlas would frown and the world of nations would tremble. He was as mighty as Zeus and as petulant as a teenager. His wrath was irresistible, and he was easily provoked. Badmouth him and he might just drop his burden and walk away. Elect someone he didn’t approve of and he’d put a lightning bolt up your ass.

Chile learned the hard way about minding the feelings of the business-class god. In 1970 that country selected as president one Salvador Allende, a socialist of the old school who quickly set about nationalizing banks, telecom concerns, and so on. American companies naturally feared these developments and laid plans to push the country down a different path. They would withdraw investments, executives mused; they would halt purchases of Chilean goods; and they would persuade others to do the same. President Richard Nixon, who was clearly thinking along the same lines, told his CIA director to “make the economy scream.”

And scream it did.

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Humans Are Destroying Themselves: Noam Chomsky


Picture: John Soares ( (CC)

Jana El Hassan writes at the Daily Star:

“Human beings are destroying themselves,” said luminary Noam Chomsky, warning that unrest in Syria could turn into a Sunni-Shiite conflict that would spread to the whole region and eventually lead to a global war.

“I aspire for a world in which my grandchildren can live in peace and I do not see that happening anytime soon. I think that if someone is watching us from Mars right now, he would be thinking that human beings are destroying themselves just like Syria is destroying itself,” Chomsky, a world-renowned linguist and anti-war activist, told The Daily Star.

Although he admitted that the demands of the Syrian people for a better life at the beginning of their uprising in March 2011 were “justified,” Chomsky said that the war-torn country is now heading towards “suicide.”

“The protests were entirely justified, the people could not have predicted that there will be this brutal response, and once the brutal response took place it was almost inevitable to help turning it into a militarized uprising, he said.

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FBI Unravels KKK-Linked Plot To Create Deadly Radiation Beam Weapon


The most insane non-starter terrorist death ray plot in a while, reported by upstate New York’s Times Union:

A plot to design a radiation weapon was unraveled by an FBI task force that charged two men with conspiring to sell the weapon to Jewish groups or a southern branch of the Ku Klux Klan. The vehicle-mounted radiation gear was intended to be remotely controlled and capable of aiming a high-energy lethal beam of radioactivity to silently kill human targets.

Glendon Scott Crawford, who was suspended from his job as an engineer at General Electric this week, had devised a plan to build and sell the weapon to a terrorist organization. An FBI affidavit indicates that as many as eight unidentified people may have been assisting Crawford, including a fellow GE employee described as “Person C.”

The FBI’s investigation began in April 2012 when Crawford went to a synagogue and “asked to speak with a person who might be willing to help him with a type of technology that could be used by Israel to defeat its enemies, specifically, by killing Israel’s enemies while they slept.”

The unidentified synagogue contacted police, who relayed the information to the FBI.

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Skynet rising: Google acquires 512-Qubit Quantum Computer; NSA Surveillance to be Turned Over to AI Machines


Most people don’t know about the existence of quantum computers. Almost no one understands how they work, but theories include bizarre-sounding explanations like, “they reach into alternate universes to derive the correct answers to highly complex computational problems.”

Quantum computers are not made of simple transistors and logic gates like the CPU on your PC. They don’t even function in ways that seem rational to a typical computing engineer. Almost magically, quantum computers take logarithmic problems and transform them into “flat” computations whose answers seem to appear from an alternate dimension.

For example, a mathematical problem that might have 2 to the power of n possible solutions — where n is a large number like 1024 — might take a traditional computer longer than the age of the universe to solve. A quantum computer, on the other hand, might solve the same problem in mere minutes because it quite literally operates across multiple dimensions simultaneously.

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Bloodthirsty ‘Factual’ TV Shows Demonize Wildlife

729px-Just_one_lionAdam Welz writes at the Guardian:

If you’re North American or get US-produced satellite TV, you’ve probably learned a lot about wildlife from outlets like the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and History. You might trust these channels because you’ve seen educational, factually accurate shows on them, unlike the ‘trashy’ material that dominates free-to-air network TV.

But not everything on on these ‘factual’ channels might be as ethical or even as accurate as you might think, and the implications for conservation could be profound.

I recently spent a few entertaining hours watching episodes of Discovery’s Yukon Men, a hit ‘reality’ series about the residents of the small town of Tanana in central Alaska. Launched in August last year, it’s consistently gained over two million US viewers in its Friday night slot, been syndicated overseas, and helped the channel win some of its biggest audiences ever.

The first episode brings us to midwinter Tanana, which a theatrical, husky male voiceover tells us is “one of America’s most remote outposts” where “every day is a struggle to survive”.

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Witness to Michael Hastings Car Crash Shares His Story

The Young Turks has an interview with the sole witness to journalist Michael Hastings’ fatal car crash. Hastings had told associates that he was working on a huge story before he died and in a mass email said that the feds were questioning his friends. Should we start a pool on how long it’ll be before Mr. Rubalcava suffers a motor-vehicular “accident” of his own?

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Letters Reveal Bush Family Descended From Infamous Slave Trader

slave traderWondering where the “W” in George W. Bush comes from? Funny story…via Slate:

New historical evidence shows that a direct ancestor of George W. and George H.W. Bush was part of an appalling group: Thomas Walker was a notorious slave trader active in the late 18th century along the coast of West Africa.

Walker, George H.W. Bush’s great-great-great grandfather, was the captain of, master of, or investor in at least 11 slaving voyages to West Africa between 1784 and 1792. The historical evidence suggests that he died at sea in 1797 when his own crew mutinied and threw him overboard.

Letters from 1787, addressed to Bristol slave dealer James Rogers, show Walker complaining about the high cost of slaves. The June 23 letter states: “Slaves is at the price of 150 [illegible] and the coast seemes [sic] to be lin’d with vessels of all kind.”

The July 2 letter says: “I have purchased seventeen fine negroes and am this day proceeding down the coast to try what I do can there.

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