TPPA – the End of Democratic Sovereignty in New Zealand

TPP image via Office of the United States Trade Representative.

TPP image via Office of the United States Trade Representative.

After much speculation and insubstantial promises, we now find ourselves inching closer to the final stages of the TPP agreement. The empty rhetoric and political bombast is coming fast and thick, with some key show-downs taking place amidst a general feeling that we’re quickly running out of time to force a withdraw. While there are further protests scheduled and some time left, unless there is mass large-scale revolt, it is hard to feel in any way optimistic that this deal won’t go ahead.

The wild claims of the National government regarding the apparently substantial positive effects that this trade agreement will have, have been made to look suitably flimsy and dishonest by reports that show the damning and definitive evidence to the contrary; when all the facts are assessed, the data points to the true overarching problem – that we are on the verge of a global neoliberal confidence scam that effectively undermines our democratic sovereignty.… Read the rest

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First Great in Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton

ferdmortonFerdinand Joseph LaMothe, better known as Jelly Roll Morton is one of the greats of the roots of jazz, and is too often overlooked.  His virtuosic playing is larger than life, innovative, highly characteristic and a delight for the ears. With his salty beginnings playing in whorehouses as a teenager, he was known throughout the South and West Coast before finding success in the thriving Chicago scene. He will have been born 125 years ago this fall.

RedHotJazz.com has compiled a great many of his finest works to listen to and download for free!  Now, how ’bout dat!

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Pravda.ru: Kim Jong-Un declares preparations for war with US and South Korea

"Kim Jong-un sketch" by En-cas-de-soleil - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Kim Jong-un sketch” by En-cas-de-soleilOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

According to Pravda.ru, Kim Jong-Un has claimed that he is preparing for war with the US and the “puppet South Korean regime.”

Pravda.Ru:

He made the statement during the Air Force drills, which as he said, were part of the preparation.

The drills were carried out on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean war of 1950-1953, Pravda.Ru reports.

Kim said the contest was intended to “bring about a radical turn in the drills to round off preparations for a war full of the will to settle with arms accounts with the U.S. imperialists, the chieftain of aggression, and the South Korean puppet group keen to escalate the confrontation with the fellow countrymen and that of social systems, seized with sycophancy toward the U.S.”

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How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life

“This doesn’t happen in the United States — okay. This might happen in Afghanistan or somewhere. This just does not happen in the United States.”

— Cincinnati Prosecutor Joe Deters

The last several months have seen a debate, at times heated, between the #BlackLivesMatter movement and those who respond with #AllLivesMatter.

All Action Silent Protest

I think a lot of people — perhaps not all — who are using both tags are missing a larger point and opening themselves up to ultimately devaluing a lot of lives.

People use #BlackLivesMatter to denote that given our criminal “justice” system, African Americans are frequently targeted, endangered and at times killed largely because they are black. And that’s totally true and needed saying a long time ago.

People saying #AllLivesMatter presume to appeal to universal values, perhaps also noting that poor whites and others have particular vulnerabilities to police abuse as well. And the last part is certainly true.… Read the rest

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Jon Stewart & Obama Meetings Ethics Debate

Screen-Shot-2015-07-30-at-9.05.22-AM-620x412

President Obama’s administration used Jon Stewart as a “useful prod.” Stewart was often summoned to the White House before big announcements. A debate about the ethics of the TV host rages on.

Jackie Salo via International Business Times:

President Barack Obama summoned television host Jon Stewart to the White House on several occasions before he made major announcements, according to a Politico article that revealed the secret connection between “The Daily Show” host and the president. News of the private meetings surfaced Tuesday as Stewart prepares to end his tenure as host on Aug. 6.

Some have questioned Stewart’s ethics because he did not disclose his connection to Obama. “The summoning of Stewart to the White House validates the belief that the comedian is more influential on the public discourse than any journalist,” said a Minnesota Public Radio article Tuesday. “But do the rules of journalism apply to a comedian who doesn’t consider himself a journalist even as the people watching consider him one?”

While still at the White House, former Obama advisor David Axelrod kept in touch with the host by phone and email.

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Sex With Neanderthals Forever Changed Homo Sapiens

There’s now little doubt that modern day humans, homo sapiens, are partly Neanderthal. From skin disorders to the immune system, sex with archaic species changed Homo sapiens reports Nature:

Our ancestors were not a picky bunch. Overwhelming genetic evidence shows that Homo sapiens had sex with Neander­thals, Denisovans and other archaic relatives. Now researchers are using large genomics studies to unravel the decidedly mixed contributions that these ancient romps made to human biology — from the ability of H. sapiens to cope with environments outside Africa, to the tendency of modern humans to get asthma, skin diseases and maybe even depression.

Neanderthal Mother (detail of diorama)

The proportion of the human genome that comes from archaic relatives is small. The genomes of most Europeans and Asians are 2–4% Neanderthal1, with Denisovan DNA making up about 5% of the genomes of Mela­nesians2 and Aboriginal Australians3. DNA slivers from other distant relatives probably pepper a variety of human genomes4.

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I hid Illuminati symbols in broadcast news graphics because I was bored

Todd Huffman (CC BY 2.0)

Todd Huffman (CC BY 2.0)

This story was told anonymously to Hopes&Fears author Gabriella Garcia, who’s transcribed it below:

When I was working for a major broadcasting conglomerate, I passed the time sneaking cult symbols into its affiliates’ news graphics. I don’t really know why I did it. Maybe because I’m just easily amused.

I became interested in graphics when I was young. In high school, I used some savings to buy a new computer with really high quality graphics capability for its day and started making 2D cartoons, mostly involving things killing each other, because I was a teenage boy that was funny—things dying, things running into walls—all poorly animated.

I applied to a bunch of schools for Comp Sci and Electrical Engineering, but went to a state school. It was the cheapest and offered a good scholarship. At the time the school was in the process of dismantling their traditional arts studies department while simultaneously stepping up their computer graphics department, so I ended up in the imaging and digital arts field.

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Cinemasters: Lars von Trier

Lars von Trier is one of my favorite directors working today. When I first started getting into film, a friend recommended Breaking the Waves (he also recommended Come and See, but that has its own backstory). I must have been a sophomore in high school and I distinctly remember renting the flick from my local library and watching it alone in the middle of a summer afternoon. What a jarring, devastating, and yet beautiful film. I sat, sobbing in my dark bedroom for a good twenty minutes. Then I immediately started the film over and watched it again.

I was hooked. Von Trier has a sensibility that’s at once repelling and captivating. I now make it a point to see all of his new releases in the theater. I actually took a guy on our first date to see Antichrist. How’s that for a good time? (In case you’re curious, we’re still friends and we joke about that experience to this day.)

I’m also a sucker for a good mash-up.… Read the rest

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Alice Goes Gonzo

alice

This year we celebrate the sesquicentennial of Alice in Wonderland — a landmark of kid lit and a cornerstone of psychedelic fiction. This probably won’t be my last post about Alice.

As a fantasy for the wee, Alice inspires illustrations, and it’s assumed that Walt Disney owns that territory. Little did I know that Ralph Steadman’s pen had penetrated Wonderland, bringing his pointed probings to the gonzo goings-on in this important tale about growing up and growing small…

Here, Steadman is cast as Alice’s godfather, the wizard with the wisdom to will the wild out of his charge, pointing her past the mundane to the mirthful, the macabre, the miraculous. See a collection of Steadman’s 1973 images at Brainpickings. Also be sure to check out this exhaustive Steadman documentary, For No Good Reason

Stay Awake!

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel where I archive all of the videos I curate at Insomnia.… Read the rest

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Koch Brothers Brave Spotlight to Try to Alter Their Image

What would Robert Greenwald say? The New York Times profiles the brothers Koch as they try to recolor themselves in a less devilish hue:

Once known for grim letters to fellow wealthy Americans warning of socialist apocalypse, Charles G. Koch now promotes research on the link between freedom and everyday happiness. Turn on “The Big Bang Theory” or “Morning Joe,” and you are likely to see soft-focus television spots introducing some of the many employees of Koch Industries.

Charles and David Koch - The Koch Brothers

Credit: DonkeyHotey (CC)

Instead of trading insults with Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate leader, Mr. Koch and his brother, David H. Koch, are trading compliments with President Obama, who this month praised the Kochs’ support for criminal justice reform at a meeting of the N.A.A.C.P.

After two elections in which Democrats and liberals sought to cast them as the secretive, benighted face of the Republican Party, the Kochs are seeking to remake public perceptions of their family, their business and their politics, unsettling a corporate culture deeply allergic to the spotlight.

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