Tag Archives | Activism

An Hereditary Meritocracy

Images Money (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Images Money (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via The Economist:

The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. That’s a problem.

“MY BIG fear,” says Paul Ryan, an influential Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is that America is losing sight of the notion that “the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.” “Opportunity,” according to Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, “is slipping away.” Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, thinks that “each element” of the sequence that leads to success “is eroding in our country.” “Of course you have to work hard, of course you have to take responsibility,” says Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state, “but we are making it so difficult for people who do those things to feel that they are going to achieve the American dream.” When discussing the chances of ordinary Americans rising to the top, politicians who agree about little else sound remarkably similar.

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Psychopath vs. Empath: the War Between Truth and Deception

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Gary ‘Z’ McGee writes at Waking Times:

“The supreme mystery of despotism, its prop and stay, is to keep men in a state of deception, and cloak the fear by which they must be held in check, so that they will fight for their servitude as if for salvation.” –Baruch Spinoza

Are you fighting for your servitude as if for your salvation? Then you have been well-deceived. You have been sheeple-compromised. Your thoughts are not your own. Your actions are not your own. You are in all ways a conditioned puppet who is under the delusion that it is free, and the psychopaths of the world are your uncompromising puppet masters. The questions you need to be asking yourself are these: “Am I willing to do what it takes to become free? Am I ready for the uncomfortableness of undeceiving myself? Would I rather be slapped by the truth or kissed with a lie?

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Pesticides just got a whole lot smaller. Is that a good thing?

Liz Core writes at Grist:

Nanoparticles are basically the X-Men of the molecular world, in that they are unpredictable, elusive, and come in a dizzying array of forms.

So it should come as no surprise that scientists are now researching a new type of nanotechnology that could revolutionize modern farming: nanopesticides. (Cue: Ooo, ahh) Recentstudies have suggested that the nano-scale pesticide droplets could offer a range of benefits including raising crop durability and persistence, while decreasing the amount of pesticide needed to cover the same amount of ground. But they’re also looking at the hefty potential for trouble: No one knows if the nanopesticide particles will seep into water systems, and, if they do, if they will harm non-pests like bees, fish, and even humans.

As we’ve written before, nanotechnology involves engineering particles that are tinier than the tiniest tiny. (More technically, we’re talking anything measured in billionths of a meter.) Scientists find this useful, since most substances behave much differently at that scale.

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The Davos oligarchs are right to fear the world they’ve made

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Seumas Milne writes at The Guardian:

The billionaires and corporate oligarchs meeting in Davos this week are getting worried about inequality. It might be hard to stomach that the overlords of a system that has delivered the widest global economic gulf in human history should be handwringing about the consequences of their own actions.

But even the architects of the crisis-ridden international economic order are starting to see the dangers. It’s not just the maverick hedge-funder George Soros, who likes to describe himself as a class traitor. Paul Polman, Unilever chief executive, frets about the “capitalist threat to capitalism”. Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, fears capitalism might indeed carry Marx’s “seeds of its own destruction” and warns that something needs to be done.

The scale of the crisis has been laid out for them by the charity Oxfam. Just 80 individuals now have the same net wealth as 3.5 billion people – half the entire global population.

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China: “Violent Government Thugs” Beaten To Death By Angry Crowds After They Killed A Man Documenting Their Brutality

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Via Revolution News:

At least 4 Chengguan, the most hated police-inspectors in China, were beaten to death by angry people in Cangnan County of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province (located in the industrial southeast), after they killed a man with a hammer. The police-inspectors hit the man with a hammer until he started to vomit blood, because he was trying to take pictures of their violence towards a woman, a street vendor. The man was rushed to hospital, but died on the way.Thousands of angry people took to the streets, surrounded the police-inspectors in their van, attacked them with stones, bats, and beat them to death. People were shouting that the police-inspectors be killed on the spot for what they did: “Kill them! Kill them!”

These police-inspectors are notoriously violent, are rarely investigated or punished for their crimes, and are terrorizing people making a living. The Chengguan, which are a special combination between regular police and state inspectors, are called “violent government thugs” in China, thousands of them are on the state payroll in at least 656 cities.

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Imagining an America Without Sports

Sam Riches writes at The Pacific Standard:

What if we eliminated the institution of sport—from the high school level to the pros? Ten academics from around the country weigh in.

The National Football League, despite a reported dip in fan support this year, remains the most popular and profitable sports league in America. Though it generates in the range of $10 billion annually, it’s heavily subsidized by its fans, American taxpayers, who provide 70 percent of the capital costs in stadium construction. NFL headquarters, meanwhile, enjoys tax-free status as a non-profit organization and the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, earned more than $40 million last year.

The athletes that make the league a viable business—the majority of them having worked their way up to the professional level after years of labor exploitation in the NCAA—have an average career length of just over three years, according to the NFL Players Association.

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Obama Wants Companies to Stop Stealing Your Data. Good Luck.

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Jenna McLaughlin writes at Mother Jones:

President Barack Obama’s sixth State of the Union address, which he will deliver on Tuesday, will focus on cybersecurity, according to a speech he gave last Monday at the Federal Trade Commission. Protecting our government and corporations from foreign threats will not be Obama’s only focus—he’s also pushing for a bill that would protect internet consumers. But online privacy advocates are far from optimistic. They say Obama’s new consumer privacy bill will need to be very strong and specific to fill all the existing holes in consumer privacy law. Even then, they warn, the bill is likely doomed, because tech-industry lobbyists will spend millions to block it.

Right now, there are now very few restrictions on what data companies are allowed to scoop up from our digital apps and how they are allowed to use it. Companies routinely gather information and use it in ways consumers’ didn’t know about, much less sanction.

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USDA Approves New Monsanto Seeds While Kidneys Fail in Sri Lanka

Donna Cleveland (CC BY 2.0)

Donna Cleveland (CC BY 2.0)

Via St. Louis Biz Journal:

St. Louis Biz JournalMonsanto Co. has won approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for new soybean and cotton seeds resistant to specific herbicides, including dicamba and glyphosate, which is marketed by the company under the Roundup brand.

The decision Thursday clears another hurdle for Monsanto’s genetically modified products, with the Environmental Protection Agency expected to make a decision on the seeds in the coming months.

Monsanto applied for deregulation of the plants with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in 2013. In its decision Thursday, APHIS said Monsanto’s new technologies “are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk and, therefore, should not be regulated” under the agency’s rules on dissemination of plant pests.

The seeds are part of what Monsanto has branded as its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend system, which combines tolerance to both dicamba and glyphosate herbicides and is aimed in part at tackling glyphosate-resistant weeds.

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The Woman Who Tried To Murder Dr. King

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William Bastone, Andrew Goldberg, and Joseph Jesselli write at The Smoking Gun:

On the eighth floor of a nursing home in Queens, New York, a 98-year-old woman sits slumped in a wheelchair in the hallway outside her room. She is sleeping, oblivious to the roar coming from the television of her next-door neighbor, who is watching “The Price is Right” at an ear-piercing volume.

Though the corridor is uncomfortably toasty on this July morning, the woman has a knitted shawl over her shoulders. She is wearing green sweatpants, a green t-shirt, and black shoes with Velcro closures. The remaining wisps of her hair are gray and tangled. In her clenched left hand is a wad of tissues that she will use to absent-mindedly dab at her face and rheumy eyes.

As she naps in the hallway, it is hard to imagine that frail Izola Curry was once a would-be assassin, a woman who nearly changed the course of U.S.

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Security is Not a Crime—Unless You’re an Anarchist

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Jannes Pockele (CC BY 2.0)

Nadia Kayyali and Kattza Rodriguez write at Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Riseup, a tech collective that provides security-minded communications to activists worldwide, sounded the alarm last month when a judge in Spain stated that the use of their email service is a practice, he believes, associated with terrorism.

Javier Gómez Bermúdez is a judge of Audiencia Nacional, a special high court in Spain that deals with serious crimes such as terrorism and genocide. According to press reports, he ordered arrest warrants that were carried out on December 16th against alleged members of an anarchist group. The arrests were part of Operation Pandora, a coordinated campaign against “anarchist activity” that has been called an attempt  “to criminalize anarchist social movements.” The police seized books, cell phones, and computers, and arrested 11 activists. Few details are known about the situation, since the judge has declared the case secret.

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