Tag Archives | Opinion

Trump is Global Journalism’s American Junk Food

Photo: Notions Capital (Flickr Creative Commons)

Photo: Notions Capital (Flickr Creative Commons)

He’s everywhere.

Spray-tanned face and white teeth exploding through the front pages of newspapers and magazines. Implausible hair mesmerizing on Twitter and Facebook. Comments on female journalists and illegal Mexican immigrants echoing across the ether. It is likely that Donald Trump will be nothing more than an ephemeral political phenomenon, but he is still a phenomenon.

Politically divisive at home, Trump unifies internationally. My utterly subjective sense is that he is the American many global citizens have been waiting for since the end of the George W. Bush presidency: an American the world can look at and ridicule, a symbol of US arrogance and anti-intellectualism. Paul Thomas of the New Zealand Herald put this view best when he wrote that, “Trump personifies everything the rest of the world despises about America: casual racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandizement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American in excelsis.”

Bashing the US is a favorite pastime of portions of the international press because we Americans have made it so damn easy.… Read the rest

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Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism

DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)

DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Street writes at CounterPunch:

Racism as Just an Economic Problem

The nominally socialist Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie “sheep dog” Sanders, from 95% white Vermont, has, it turns out, some race problems – at least five by my count. The first one, very much on his display in his speech to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s old organization the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) last July 25th, is his economistic tendency to downplay the significance of race and the importance of specifically anti-racist struggle.

Reflecting the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement that has arisen in response to racist police killings, Sanders addressed the SCLC to demonstrate his commitment to racial justice. He came armed with a surplus of terrible statistics on US racial disparities and institutional racism. Sanders seemed eager to wrap himself in the legacy of Dr. King. “Bernie” (as his liberal; and progressive fans like to call him) trumpeted his own youthful work in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

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Curiosity Roving Through the Claims of NASA

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” — Stanley Kubrick

Q: Do you trust the President of the United States?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the CIA?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the FBI?
A: No.

Q:What about the Congress?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the Federal Reserve?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the IRS?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the NSA?
A: No.

Q: How about the TSA?
A: No.

Q: Do you trust the Supreme Court?
A: No.

Q: Ok, then. If you don’t trust any of these other government institutions, why then would you believe anything that comes from the mouth of NASA?

Above is an excerpt from a conversation I had the other day with a close friend about the stunning images of the recent fly-by of Pluto, taken from NASA’s satellite “New Horizons.” The persistent “No” I received from her was the patented response I expected, considering the general distrust people have in our politicians, world leaders, and governmental institutions these days.… Read the rest

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LGBT v. Fascism

Taken from the National Observer

Taken from the National Observer

While working on a piece, published at Rabble, about the big evil trade deal (TPP), written by corporations to protect profits at the expense of human rights, I saw first hand the reduction of the once fiercely political LGBT community in its appeal to corporate power. In this case, the deal was set to restrict access to HIV drugs, which affects LGBT people disproportionately.

Here, the movement has divorced itself from the rights of HIV positive (poz) people, which continue to be under threat seemingly for political reasons. If you look at the recent ambitions of the western gay rights movement, they have been based primarily on marriage equality. Gay marriage is a business friendly goal. To the point where the faces used to market it are exclusively white and upper class. Granting wealthy, white, gay men the right to marry each other was a very minor concession on the part of the state.… Read the rest

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How Spirituality Can Help With Addiction Recovery

Addiction and spirituality: two states that are counterparts yet also irrefutably interlinked. There are myriad opinions as to what fuels addiction and why, but many believe that the urge to alter perspective, to escape from normality, and to feel a connection with something grander is the main catalyst.

The addicting power of alcohol and drugs is, according to psychologist William James, “unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour.” If this statement is even partly true then it suggests spiritual people are less inclined to try drinking and drugs as their desire for mystical realization is already fulfilled.

Spirituality

The urge to find spiritual fulfillment can go in some way to explain addiction. Image by g-useppe.

 

Research has shown that people who regularly attend religious services and consider themselves ‘spiritual’ are up to eight times less likely to use illicit drugs.… Read the rest

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The Flat Earth vs. Globe Earth Debate!

Beth Scupham (CC BY 2.0)

Beth Scupham (CC BY 2.0)

Let us imagine for a minute that you were born onto this Earth having never been indoctrinated into a belief system, had no knowledge of celestial mechanics and no knowledge of astronomy or cosmology. Let us say then that I presented you with two scenarios to explain the the world in which you inhabited and they are as follows:

1) The material plane on which you exist is called Earth. The Earth is called a planet it is round and is just one of many planets that are being hurled around a thermonuclear furnace called the Sun. The sun exists at the center of our solar system, is itself spinning through space and is roughly 93 million miles away from us. The Earth has a heavenly object that revolves around it and it is called the Moon. We exist in a galaxy, a spinning mass of stars, that is just one of trillions of galaxies in the entire universe.… Read the rest

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When the President Goes to Prison

Jack (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Jack (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Andrew Cohen writes at the Brennan Center for Justice:

When President Barack Obama goes to Oklahoma Thursday and enters the medium-security federal prison FCI-El Reno he will be entering the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Prisons, part of the Justice Department, a bureaucratic fiefdom that is nearly as sprawling as the Department of Defense and in many ways as secret and unaccountable to the public and lawmakers as the CIA or the NSA. This even though 168,139 men and women (not counting 40,000 or so prisoners held in federal custody in private prisons) are incarcerated daily in a system staffed by approximately 40,000 federal employees.

When he walks through the doors of the prison, on his way to his inevitable photo opportunity with corrections officers and nonviolent drug offenders, the President will be entering the domain of officials in Washington who for decades have sanctioned the widespread use of solitary confinement, the systemic abuse and neglect of mentally ill prisoners, and deplorable shortages of properly trained corrections staff and medical professionals, to name just three of the systemic problems identified in recent reviews of the Bureau of Prisons.

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Anarcho-“Capitalism” is Impossible

Flag used by the Swedish AnarkoKapitalistisk Front.

Flag used by the Swedish AnarkoKapitalistisk Front.

Anna Morgenstern writes at the Center for a Stateless Society:

Many anarchists of various stripes have made the claim that anarcho-capitalists aren’t really anarchists because anarchism entails anti-capitalism. I happen to think this is actually backwards. If they genuinely wish to eliminate the state, they are anarchists, but they aren’t really capitalists, no matter how much they want to claim they are.

People calling themselves “anarcho-capitalists” usually want to define “capitalism” as the same thing as a free market, and “socialism” as state intervention against such. But what then is a free market? If you mean simply all voluntary transactions that occur without state interference, then it’s a circular and redundant definition.  In that case, all anarchists are “anarcho-capitalists”, even the most die-hard anarcho-syndicalist.

Defining capitalism as a system of private property is equally problematic, because where would you draw the line between private and public?

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Is There a Human Right to Kill?

tai chang hsien (CC BY-NC 2.0)

tai chang hsien (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon write at CounterPunch:

On a cool spring day in May 2012, the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in McCormick Place, Chicago. The 28 heads of state comprising the military alliance had come to the Windy City to discuss the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, among other strategic matters. Nearly a decade before, in August 2003, NATO had assumed control of the International Security Assistance Force, a coalition of more than 30 countries that had sent soldiers to occupy the most troubled regions in Afghanistan. Not long before the Chicago summit, President Barack Obama had publicly declared that the United States would begin pulling out its troops from Afghanistan and that a complete withdrawal would be achieved by 2014. NATO was therefore set to decide on the details of a potential exit strategy.

A few days before the summit, placards appeared in bus stops around downtown Chicago urging NATO not to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

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Further Notes From Greece: Compromise and Capitulation

With the deadline fast approaching for an embattled and financially desperate Greece, Alexis Tsipras and his left-right coalition rallied and tabled a bail-out and reform proposal to the European creditors Thursday evening. Saturday morning saw the government of Greece, by a large majority, accept and back the proposal for negotiations in the coming days. In comes the desperate proposal, in come the compromises and capitulations.

Photo: Philly boy92 (CC)

Photo: Philly boy92 (CC)

Five months of stalemate and bluff have led to this weekend and, after everything that’s happened, it’s not surprising that Tsipras has finally been beaten into submission, made malleable enough to seek the reinstatement of austerity to his damaged and struggling country in the hope of debt restructuring and further bailout. It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing. Politics is the grinding wheel of disappointment.

Even when one is the wielder of great power and influence, political negotiation can be difficult and laced with traps, but when vulnerable, in a position of weakness and without any recognisable leverage, it becomes virtually impossible without compromising your position or appealing to humanitarian compassion.… Read the rest

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