Author Archive | Breshvic

America’s Student Debt Crisis

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Student debt activists and education advocates Kyle McCarthy and Natalia Abrams are tired of the ‘silence and complacency’ that our elected (and duly bribed) officials exhibit in the face of overwhelming evidence of usury and millions of voices of the disaffected. At least two out of three of students take out loans for college and at least 1 out of 5 of those will default.

Via Huffington Post:

Since 1978, college tuition has skyrocketed by over 900%, while simultaneously, grants and scholarships continue to be slashed. The result? Students are forced to mortgage their futures with student debt, from which there is no escape. In 2010, student debt actually eclipsed credit card debt as the second largest consumer debt in the country (second only to mortgage debt, surpassing $1 trillionin total). The Atlantic recently reported that, since 1999, student debt has increased by 511%.

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Flavors of Uncertainty: The Difference between Denial and Debate

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It seems only fair for journalism to examine every side of an issue, but what if a controversy isn’t a legitimate debate, but specifically created for the purposes of confusion and bias? Industry, politicians and religions manufacture misinformation, which is caught in the echo chamber of our lazy, uncritical mainstream media, and filtered to a harried general populace, who are often more concerned with ethical considerations than scientific nuances anyway. Corporate advertisers engage in ‘organized doubt’ campaigns, essentially changing what science and skepticism are all about.

via Environmental Health Perspectives:

In one of the keynote talks at the Science Writing in the Age of Denial Conference, UW–Madison genetics and molecular biology professor Sean Carroll outlined what he calls “a general manual of denialism”—six tactics used time and again in denial campaigns since at least the nineteenth century. First, cast doubt on the science. Second, question the personal motives and integrity of the scientists.

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Time Wars

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Science fiction is tackling the issue of economic inequality using the metaphor of rationed time and mortality. Radical blogger and professor of ‘cultural analysis’ Mark Fisher doesn’t see this as too far from the truth.

His writing examines autonomy, workerism, post-Marxism, post-Fordism, punk, post-punk, neoliberalism, new atheism and anarchism. As fear of losing one’s job, debt closing in, mortality, apocalypse, the devastating end of capitalism or Malthusian collapse tick away in our background, all of us feel that constant tremor, further emphasized by the endless updates to our devices, making us addicted to our own anxiety. Society stalls and experimental innovation is crushed under the systemic pressure of time constraints. As he writes:  “Given all of this, it is clear that most political struggles at the moment amount to a war over time.

Via Gonzo Circus:

For most workers, there is no such thing as the long term.

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14 Wacky “Facts” Kids Will Learn in Louisiana’s Voucher Schools

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Thanks to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindall’s extensive voucher program (which many other Republicans want to establish on state and national levels), state funds will go towards indoctrinating youth with religious programming in privatized education centers. Taxpayers will dish out an anti-science message in texts and teaching materials, all under the guise of helping the poor and middle-income students. And they’ll be learning some pretty ridiculous nonsense, served up as facts (and not faith).

Won’t somebody please think of the children!?

via Deanna Pan at Mother Jones:

  1. Dinosaurs and humans probably hung out: “Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years.”—Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007
  2. Dragons were totally real: “[Is] it possible that a fire-breathing animal really existed?
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Demonoid Domain Names Now Up For Sale

If any of you intrepid Demonoid users out there have been wondering what has become of your most trusted torrent site (even their affable ‘site down’ page went missing) after the DDoS attack and alleged raid last week, it turns out that things may be worse than we expected.

via David Murphy at PCMag:

The Demonoid domain names are now officially for sale via Sedo, the final nail in the coffin for the popular site that was taken down via a combined assault from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and Interpol.

Inquiries and investigations spanned both Ukraine and Mexico, arriving in the wake of a distributed denial of service attack that kept Demonoid offline for a week or so prior to authorities going after Demonoid’s hosting and leadership.

“The operation to close Demonoid was a great example of international cooperation to tackle a service that was facilitating the illegal distribution of music on a vast scale.

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Victory for Speech: Facebook To Allow Marijuana Reform Ads

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Both the EFF and the ACLU are celebrating a digital victory, after the “politically-neutral” Facebook reversed its rejection of ads by advocacy groups working on marijuana policy reform.

via EFF:

The ads in question showed marijuana leaves, sometimes with photos of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and urged viewers to join campaigns to make marijuana reform an election issue. Several versions of similar Facebook ads were submitted by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Just Say Now, but both groups were initially rejected. After EFF and the ACLU of Northern California reached out to Facebook about the issue, Facebook did the right thing and restored the ads.

Facebook has publicly established guidelines that state that a Facebook advertisement “may not promote tobacco or tobacco-related products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, tobacco pipes, hookahs, hookah lounges, rolling papers, vaporized tobacco delivery devices and electronic cigarettes.” But the language from the banned ads said simply things like: “Registered to vote?

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Banks Falsify Credit Card Lawsuits in Ninety Percent of Cases?

Philip Taylor (CC)

We hear every week about the massive LIBOR interest rate fixing, or the shady practices by which banks drain money from local municipalities, or the false promises given to homeowners across the country by the finance industry, or as much as 90% of foreclosed homes remaining off the market but still shuttered in and out of dispassionate algorithms, or that San Francisco’s assessor discovered ‘errors’ in 84% of home mortgage foreclosures (read: scams). It’s not a big leap of the imagination then to consider that almost all credit card lawsuits brought by banks are fraudulent. Lenders are still continuing the dubious fraud that caused such a scandal last year with robo-signing.

via Russia Today:

US credit card companies have been churning out lawsuits and improperly collecting debt from consumers 90 percent of the time, at least according to a New York judge who deals with these cases.

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The Science and Politics of Mind-Altering Drugs

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British psychiatrist David Nutt specializes in neuropsychopharmacology, the research of drugs that affect the brain. In his recent interview with The Guardian’s Science Weekly Podcast, he discusses the science and politics of mind-altering substances. The neuroscience blog MindHacks refers to it as “essential listening” and ”possibly one of the most sensible discussions of drugs and drug harms you are likely to hear in a long time.”

Prof. Nutt is quite well-known in the UK – largely due to being fired by the Government from their drugs advisory panel for pointing out in a scientific paper that the health risks of taking ecstasy are about equivalent to going horse riding.

Rather than doing the usual dishonest apology required of government advisors where they ask forgiveness for ‘unintentionally misleading the public’ away from a convenient collective illusion, he decided to take the government to task about their disingenuous drug policy.

He is now a straight-talking, evidence-based, pain-in-the-arse to the government who doggedly stick to the ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric that not even they believe any more.

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Top 10 Differences Between White and Non-White Terrorists

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I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole sums up for his blog, Informed Comment, and found via AlterNet:

  1. White terrorists are called “gunmen.” What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, “terrorists.”
  2. White terrorists are “troubled loners.” Other terrorists are always suspected of being part of a global plot, even when they are obviously troubled loners.
  3. Doing a study on the danger of white terrorists at the Department of Homeland Security will get you sidelined by angry white Congressmen. Doing studies on other kinds of terrorists is a guaranteed promotion.
  4. The family of a white terrorist is interviewed, weeping as they wonder where he went wrong. The families of other terrorists are almost never interviewed.
  5. White terrorists are part of a “fringe.” Other terrorists are apparently mainstream.

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