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Thursday, July 28, 2011

America's 'Taliban', Conservatives - Norway Shooting - Somalia Famine - Fox "News" War on Nutrition - more

- In Pictures: Somalis flee to Ethiopia
    Somali refugees forced to flee drought are continuing their lives in camps across the border in Ethiopia.
- An un-American response to the Oslo attack
    Over the last decade, virtually every Terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. -- whether successful or failed -- has provoked greater security and surveillance measures.  Within a matter of mere weeks, the 9/11 attacks infamously spawned a vast new surveillance statute (the Patriot Act), a secretly implemented warrantless eavesdropping program in violation of the law, an explosion of domestic surveillance contracts, a vastly fortified secrecy regime, and endless wars in multiple countries.  As it turned out, that massive over-reaction was not a crisis-driven anomaly but rather the template for future actions. The reaction to the heinous Oslo attack by Norway's political class has been exactly the opposite: a steadfast refusal to succumb to hysteria and a security-├╝ber-alles mentality.
- FOX's War on Nutrition (No, Seriously) video
    Fox has a long history of attacking any plan to fight childhood obesity or encourage healthier eating -- but Fox & Friends may have reached a new low today when they attacked McDonald's for voluntarily making Happy Meals healthier.
- The biggest threat to Western values [Opinion]
    Multiculturalism does not pose a significant danger to Western values - but neoliberalism does [neoliberalism essentially means capitalism --- and the transfer of economic power from the public sector to the private sector - in essence it's what Republicans, Libertarians, and conservatives in general, desire].
- President Obama Doesn't Understand the Origins of the Deficit- Obama Spreads Republican Talking Points
    Obama essentially spreads Republican talking points...
- Is Domestically Produced Ethanol Worth the Cost?
    Plus, there's the energy cost of old-fashioned distilling, often supplied by burning fossil fuels like natural gas, where the broth is boiled to separate ethanol from the soup of water and yeast in which it has been fermented. After all that trouble, a gallon of ethanol fuel will only drive a car two thirds as far as a gallon of gasoline—it is a less energy-dense fuel—although it does help gasoline to burn without producing suffocating carbon monoxide, the original reason it was blended into the fuel supply.
    And then there are the environmental impacts, both direct and indirect. For example, fertilizer runoff from Midwestern corn fields promote algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico that, in turn, create vast oxygen-deprived "dead zones". And, growing more corn in the U.S. means the nation produces less soy, which drives up the price of that bean, thereby causing farmers in Brazil to clear more Amazon rainforest to plant more of the staple. That means massive greenhouse gas emissions, notes agricultural expert Timothy Searchinger of Princeton University. "We can't get to a result with corn ethanol where we can generate greenhouse gas benefits."


America's Own Taliban
A fast growing right-wing politico-religious presence plans to implement an end-times, Christian theocracy in the US.
By Paul Rosenburg
Published July 28,2011 on Al Jazeera

PHOTO: 2012 presidential hopeful, Texas Governor Rick Perry (left), will be hosting a prayer meeting called 'The Response' on August 6 with many sponsors from the New Apostolic Reformation [GALLO/GETTY]

Prior to 9/11, the Taliban government in Afghanistan did not register very much on American radar screens, with one notable exception: when it blew up two colossal images of the Buddha in Bamiyan province in early 2001. But destruction of treasured artifacts isn't just limited to the Taliban.

There's a right-wing politico-religious presence centred in the US, but with a global reach, engaging in similar practises, destroying religious and cultural artifacts as a key aspect of its ideology of "strategic level spiritual warfare" (SLSW).

Until recently a fringe evangelical movement, warned against as deviant, "spiritual warfare" is rapidly positioning itself within America's mainstream political right. It's well past time for political journalists to start covering what this movement is up to.

As an example, leaders have bragged online about the destruction of Native American religious artifacts, which their twisted ideology somehow sees as a liberating act, promoting "reconciliation" between estranged groups of people. Critics, however, see it as reflecting an eliminationist mindset, while traditional conservative evangelicals have denounced the ideology as un-biblical. Some even claim it is actually a form of pagan practice dressed up in Christian clothes, according such artifacts a spiritual power that the Bible itself denies.

The ultimate goal is to replace secular democracy, both in America and around the world, with a Christian theocracy, an ideology known as "dominionism". The supposed purpose is to "purify" the world for Christ's return - again, strikingly similar to what the Taliban believe, but also significantly at odds with more common, long-standing Christian beliefs about the "end times", as well as the nature and purpose of prayer, and the roles of human and divine power.

This description might seem utterly fantastical, but copious evidence for it is hidden in plain sight, scattered across the internet, in books, on YouTube, and tracked by a small community of researchers at sites such as  Talk2Action.org and RightWingWatch.org, as well as by evangelical critics. The question is: When will America's mainstream media catch up?

The missed story in the 2008 campaign

Known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a term coined by its intellectual godfather, C Peter Wagner, this movement surfaced in the 2008 campaign, with video of one of its most prominent practitioners, Kenyan witch-hunter Thomas Muthee, anointing Sarah Palin - but the mainstream media largely missed the real story on a number of counts.
They generally failed to realise that Muthee was part of a Western-based movement, indeed, he starred in the first "Transformations" video, a pseudo-documentary series advancing SLSW, advertised as having been seen by 200 million people in 70 languages.

Media also overlooked clear evidence that Palin herself was part of an Alaskan group involved in SLSW, dating back to when she was just 24 years old. More basically, media failed to grasp the radical nature of NAR, and its departure from earlier evangelical practice. This is so new that many academic experts haven't caught up with it.
Additionally, many in the media relied on Charisma magazine for guidance - a publication deeply aligned with the NAR. Add this to the media's general skittishness when accused of bias by Palin and her supporters, and the result was a perfect storm of story suppression, much of it seemingly quite reasonable.

A rare exception, which did not occur until very late in the campaign, was Laurie Goodstein's October 24 story in the New York Times, "YouTube Videos Draw Attention to Palin's Faith", which did discuss spiritual warfare and Palin's involvement, but barely brushed against the underlying agenda of dominionism and its more troubling implications.

The story this time

See website for VideoInside USA - Christianity in US politics
This election cycle, the media will have another chance to get the story right. The NAR has made great strides since 2008, and already, NAR figures are deeply involved in organising for Texas Governor Rick Perry's August 6 prayer meeting, "The Response".

On July 12, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did a segment highlighting some of their more bizarre claims in a series of video clips. These included Wagner saying that the Japanese stock market collapsed because the emperor had sex with a demon (the sun goddess), another leading NAR figure, John Benefiel, calling the Statue of Liberty "a demonic idol", and a third figure, Mike Bickle, calling Oprah Winfrey "a forerunner to the Harlot movement", or, as Maddow put it, a "harbinger of the antichrist".

But these aren't just a collection of random bizarre claims. As researcher Rachel Tabachnick - who's been studying NAR since 2008 - wrote the day after: "These video clips should receive much more national exposure, but they need to be viewed in context of the movement they represent."

Not your father's religious right

Encompassing a variety of organisations and networks of activist groups, the NAR is not just concerned about particular issues, such as abortion or gay rights, or even about so-called "values", which is the impression that even Goodstein's 2008 story left with readers.

Rather, the NAR is committed to replacing democracy with a religious dictatorship, which it sees as a necessary prelude for Christ's return to earth.

Consequently, the NAR is also openly dedicated to destroying religious and cultural groups who do not share their beliefs - even including others on the Christian Right. They openly denounce Mormonism and Roman Catholicism as demonic, but in the end all Protestant denominations are seen as impediments to creating one unified religious establishment which should in turn control all of society, entirely replacing America's secular democracy, and bringing about their own version of "one-world government". 

This is explicitly articulated in terms of what's known as the "Seven Mountains Mandate", which seeks to establish Christian dominance over seven culture-shaping spheres of activity: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion. On one of Muthee's several visits to Sarah Palin's church in Wasilla, he spoke for about ten minutes about the Seven Mountains Mandate.

The NAR's non-church, non-denominational apostolic/prophetic organisation is key to its recent rapid growth and its relative invisibility to outsiders, but it also departs significantly from traditional scriptural teachings long held dear by evangelicals, as do many of its teachings.

Indeed, in August 2000, the Assemblies of God, America's largest Pentecostal denomination, adopted a statement warning against a number of tendencies, under the heading "Deviant Teachings Disapproved", including, but not limited to, some prominent elements involved in the NAR. However, Tabachnick informed me that "unfortunately many in the Assemblies of God have changed their tune on this and embraced the NAR".

Yet many have not changed, and the warnings still serve to highlight how this latest development is not the same religious right wing as in your father's day.

One tendency warned against was dominionism itself, which the document called "unscriptural triumphalism". It also warned against "the problematic teaching that present-day offices of apostles and prophets should govern church ministry at all levels", and against "excessive fixation on Satan and demonic spirits". These are all major aspects of NAR theology, as is the concept of "generational curses", which the document also warns against.

In short, the NAR may be gaining substantial ground on the religious right, but in doing so, it is profoundly undermining a raft of biblical teachings that the vast majority of evangelicals have staunchly clung to until quite recently. This is, indeed, not your father's religious right. It is arguably destroying your father's religious right.

Strategic level spiritual warfare: A myth? A heresy? Or worse?

Because of the goal of gaining dominion over all of society, spiritual warfare to drive out demons who supposedly stand in the way of this goal plays a central role in NAR thinking. There are, three levels to spiritual warfare, as Talk2action.org explains in their glossary of NAR terms:

Ground level spiritual warfare is casting out demons from individuals. Occult level spiritual warfare is a confrontation with demons operating through witchcraft and esoteric philosophies (examples are Freemasonry and Tibetan Buddhism). Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare is the highest level, dealing with confrontation of territorial principalities that control entire communities, ethnic groups, religions, and nations.

While there are many evangelical critics of spiritual warfare and the NAR, and a great deal of material online, Bishop Michael Reid - who has three degrees from Oral Roberts University, including an honorary Doctorate of Divinity - literally wrote the book on the subject.
Although he's since had his own gay sex scandal - much like Wagner's long-time close associate, Ted Haggard - his 2002 book, Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare: A Modern Mythology? remains a devastating Bible-based critique, in which he writes, regarding SLSW:

"There is no foundation in the Old Testament for this practice, nor any indication that the devil has any intrinsic power or authority. Satan's only weapon is deception and his only sphere of influence that which God permits for His own eternal purposes.

"In the New Testament, the picture is similar; there is no evidence to suggest that Christians are called to engage in an on-going conflict with spiritual forces in the cosmic realm. The Scripture is quite clear in its teaching that Christ defeated Satan completely at Calvary and that Christians have been freed from his power."

Reid sees this unscriptural ideology usurping God's role and elevating mere mortals to a higher place - precisely the sort of thing that NAR's leading advocates accuse secularists of doing:

"The whole focus of SLSW is on the devil and his demonic host ... Man has become the fulcrum of redemption, holding the balance of power between God and the devil in the battle for the souls of men, and the gospel itself rendered impotent without the preliminary work of pulling down demonic strongholds ... These are serious matters which call into question the very basis of the Christian faith."
"The Harlot Babylon is preparing the nations to receive the antichrist. The Harlot Babylon will be a religion of affirmation, toleration, no absolutes, a counterfeit justice movement ... I believe that one of the main pastors as a forerunner to the Harlot movement is Oprah."
Mike Bickle, NAR
In short, SLSW is implicitly about the egos of "spiritual warriors", rather than Christian humility.

Reid also repeatedly suggests that SLSW is actually pagan in origins, and thus a form of syncretism, the very sort of mixture between Christianity and older pagan religions that biblical literalists of all stripes abhor. For example:

"Hesselgrave draws the analogy between warfare prayer and the prayer typical of Indo-European paganism with its dualistic understanding of the eternal co-existence of good and evil. The latter is viewed as a means 'to control the gods', but, in contrast, prayer in biblical thought is 'submission' to God'.

The idea that spiritual warfare as practised by the NAR is itself a pagan practice, perhaps even a form of demonic battle or that it elevates man over God are perceived examples of what psychologists call "projection", an ego defence mechanism.

But long before there were any psychologists, the Bible weighed in, Matthew 7:5: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." We turn now to another such example.

Oprah and the Antichrist - A case of projection? 

On July 12, Rachel Maddow began the segment mentioned earlier with a video of NAR bigwig, Mike Bickle, in which he said:

"The Harlot Babylon is preparing the nations to receive the antichrist. The Harlot Babylon will be a religion of affirmation, toleration, no absolutes, a counterfeit justice movement. They will feed the poor, have humanitarian projects, inspire acts of compassion for all the wrong reasons. They won't know it ... I believe that one of the main pastors as a forerunner to the Harlot movement is Oprah."

Although Maddow naturally focused on the claim that Oprah was somehow a harbinger of the antichrist, it's arguably even more interesting that Bickle so accurately - if inadvertently - describes one of the NAR's own favourite practices, what it calls "reconciliation" between groups that are estranged from one another, be they ethnic, racial or nationalist. These often, but not always, involve the destruction of religious/cultural artifacts and are supposed to lift so-called "generational curses". 

One such example revolved around Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, formerly a US senator.

"Brownback has taken part in NAR 'Reconciliation' events since 2003, and subsequently introduced Senate resolutions apologising to Native Americans," Tabachnick wrote at Talk2Action.org last year. "These Reconciliation ceremonies are not about pluralism, but about proselytising - for both charismatic evangelical belief and right wing politics."
Eventually one such resolution was incorporated into legislation. On the other side, a number of Native American NAR leaders were involved in the ritual destruction of objects said to depict false gods. Given the centuries-long history of the many ways that Native American culture has been destroyed by white America, it is nothing short of absurd to claim that "reconciliation" can be brought about by further acts of cultural destruction. Yet, that is precisely what the NAR practices.

This is, at best, to use Bickle's own word, a "counterfeit" movement.

Another indication of how counterfeit such "reconciliation" is lies in just who represents each side. In this example, it was eventually the US government on one side, and a religious network of self-hating Native Americans on the other. If that seems a bit lopsided, it is more typical than not.

A similar pattern can be found in reconciliation rituals with "Jews" who are so-called "messianic Jews" - meaning they are actually practising born-again Christians. That's a bit like a "reconciliation" between Italian and Brazilian soccer fans, with the Brazilian fans being from the Italian embassy in Brasilia. 

In another case, religion wasn't even really a factor, as a small, private reconciliation ritual in Texas was performed to bring black people back to the Republican Party. In her book, Bridging the Racial and Political Divide: How Godly Politics Can Transform a Nation, Alice Peterson describes how Susan Weddington, then chair of the Texas Republican Party, organised the ritual.

When the time came, Peterson wrote, she expected Weddington to ask forgiveness for whatever White Republicans had done - she seems to have no idea what that might have been. Instead, Weddington asked forgiveness for the Black Republicans who left the party.
Nowhere in Peterson's account is there any hint that Blacks became Democrats when Democrats renounced their racist past during the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, and Republicans eagerly wooed tens of millions of White Democrats who fled their party as a result. In short, such make-believe "reconciliation" has nothing to do with spiritual truth, and everything to do with historical lies.

Work to be done

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, that's only because it is.

If the media had taken a serious critical look at Palin's religious beliefs and practices in 2008, all the above and more could have been examined and discussed in detail over the past three years. As it is, there is a lot of catching up to do.

There is no question that American political journalists are up to the task - if they put their minds to it. The only question is, will they do it? Will they dare to seriously consider the evidence of a Taliban-like movement in right-wing Christian America, seeking to impose its own form of "godly" government in place of the secular democracy established more than 200 years ago?

Journalists could begin to answer that question by taking a long hard look at the NAR figures endorsing Rick Perry's prayer event on August 6. Let's hope they do.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fox "News" Lies about Climate Change - Get Used to New Weather Extremes - Republican Agenda; Help the Wealthy, Screw the poor and Middle Class - Somalia Famine - Obama Disappointing World by being too Conservative - We Must Stop Eating Meat to Save Planet

- Republicans Cry Wolf on Debt Ceiling In Order To Impose Radical Pro-Rich Agenda video
    The Republican Plan is Socialism for the Rich- Individualism for Everyone Else: President Obama and Republican House speaker John Boehner are allegedly close to a $3 trillion deficit-reduction package as part of a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling before an Aug 2.
    "Obama is a 'Wall Street Democrat', which we used to call Republicans".
- Get Used to New Weather Extremes
    We're seeing records fall in all directions this year—wettest, driest, warmest, coldest, snowiest, stormiest, fieriest—across the globe. In the US alone, in the month of July alone, 1,079 total heat records have been broken or tied.
- 1500+ Cattle Die From Extreme Heat In South Dakota
    Twenty-plus people have died from the extreme heat that's been gripping half of the United States for the past several days. But humans aren't the only ones dropping dead: The Mitchell, South Dakota Daily Republic reports that at least 1,500 cattle have died due to heat exhaustion in the current heatwave. And those are just those which have been reported to the office of the State Veterinarian.
- UN declares famine in parts of Somalia
    United Nations says 3.7 million people "now in crisis" and more than 10 million affected by worst drought in decades.
- Why don't Arabs love Obama anymore?
    President Barack Obama isn't living up to his promises in the Middle East, and it's driving Arab attitudes toward the United States to their lowest point in years, analysts say.
    In an IBOPE Zogby International poll released last week, respondents in four out of six countries surveyed had a lower opinion of the United States than at the end of the Bush administration in 2008....

    Arabs believed Obama two years ago when he said he'd change Washington and the world, Zogby told a roundtable at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. Now, a stunning majority — as high as 99 percent of those surveyed in Lebanon and 94 percent in Jordan — said Obama hasn't met expectations.
- Bill O'Reilly: Women Too Drunk to Use the Pill
    Last night, radio host Leslie Marshall joined Bill O'Reilly's show for a discussion a variety of issues. After a segment on binge drinking, the conversation turned to whether health insurance plans should fully cover various contraceptives, including birth control pills. O'Reilly said women who get pregnant are usually too drunk to use birth control.
- More Weight on Less Meat
    Today the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released “Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health,” a comprehensive report that suggests what’s become a common refrain here and elsewhere: we all need to eat fewer animal products – not just meat, but dairy as well.
- Republican Governors Swing Right, Leaving Voters Behind
    If the states are laboratories of democracy, then the Republican Party’s research pipeline has run dry. Moderate Republican governors, a thriving species before last year’s elections, are all but extinct.

A Climate of Deception: How Fox News Distorts the Climate Debate



Sean

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Obama, Doing the Republican's Work for Them - Rupert Murdoch/Fox "News" Scandal - No Such Thing as Liberal Media - more

- Military-Industrial Journalism A short summery of the Murdoch phone hacking scandal and more
    Murdoch isn’t just a sleaze peddler. He’s one of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet — and he has a political agenda that matters more to him, I imagine, than a random billion in cash here or there. The silent virulence of his influence on public events, more than the sensational headlines and lurid scandal-mongering he inflicts on us, is my real concern.
    Big as Murdoch is in the U.S., with his 24-7 rightwing propaganda network called Fox News, in Great Britain he’s bigger than the royal family.
- Who Suffers Under the Bipartisan Deficit Reduction Scheme
    President Obama endorsed the Senate's Gang of Six deficit reduction plan Tuesday, saying that the proposal “is broadly consistent with the approach that I’ve urged” and “makes sure that nobody is disproportionately hurt from us making progress on the debt and deficits.”
    However, an examination of the plan’s specifics reveals that corporations and wealthy Americans won’t feel much pain at all—in many cases, just the opposite.
- Colorado River Faces Flood and Drought--Becoming Less Reliable?
    The Colorado River is vital to all of the seven states touching the basin -- Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming [and Mexico]. Apart from providing water for municipal use, the river irrigates 4 million acres of land and sustains 15 Native American tribes, seven National Wildlife Refuges and 11 National Parks, according to the basin study. Hydropower stations along the Colorado River supply more than 4,200 megawatts of generating capacity.
    But in recent years, the Colorado River has become less reliable. Since 1999, abnormally low precipitation totals and hot and dry conditions have brought reservoir water levels close to record lows. The multiyear drought, the most severe since documentation began more than 100 years ago, has put the water supply in the thirsty Southwest in jeopardy.
- Why Not Corporate Patriotism for a Change? by Ralph Nader
    For more than 125 years the courts have been awarding corporations most of the constitutional rights possessed by human beings. Corporations — as artificial entities — now almost have rights equal to "We the people," even though the words "corporation" and "company" are not mentioned in the Constitution.
    Under the current 5-4 conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, "corporate personhood" is spreading. The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case allows unlimited independent corporate expenditures for or against any political candidates.

    Since large corporations keep unleashing their corporate attorneys to push the domain of corporations as "persons," it is way overdue to judge them by the same yardsticks as we judge real persons.
- Why Cenk Uygur Left MSNBC- Part 1 video
    Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) explains why he turned down a new, significantly larger MSNBC contract after hosting a prime-time show on the network that was beating CNN in the key demo ratings. (Part 2 here). [It seems he was facing pressure from his bosses to "tone down" criticism of the Obama administration and politicians in general].
- Is a Murdoch Henchman Responsible For Climate-Gate? video
    The so-called "Climate-Gate" controversy -- in which e-mails about Global Warming were stolen from researchers at Britain's University of East Anglia in November, 2009 -- now turns out to bear the stamp of Neil Wallis, one of the key figures in Murdoch's hacking of the phones, voicemails, and other electronic communications of thousands of people. Keith unearths the truth with Joe Romm, editor of ClimateProgress.org. Keith also connects the dots in his latest blog.
- Think Again: Rupert, We Hardly Knew Ye
    The Murdoch empire is based on lies, criminal behavior, a lack of respect for elementary human decency, and a single-minded pursuit of its own self-interest. Which, by the way, has next to nothing to do with honest journalism, much less “fairness” or “balance.” (For an as-short-as-possible summary of all the nefarious activities that have been recently discovered in the current scandal, go here.)
- News of the World phone hacking – interactive timeline
    What was happening and what News International, the police, politicians and others were saying


Debt crisis: time running out, warns Barack ObamaBarack Obama is gutting the core principles of the Democratic party
The president's attacks on America's social safety net are destroying the soul of the Democratic party's platform
By Glenn Greenwald
Publish July 21 2011 at the guardian.co.uk

In 2005, American liberals achieved one of their most significant political victories of the last decade. It occurred with the resounding rejection of George W Bush's campaign to privatise social security.

Bush's scheme would have gutted the crux of that entitlement programme by converting it from what it has been since the 1940s – a universal guarantor of minimally decent living conditions for America's elderly – into a Wall Street casino and bonanza.

Progressive activists and bloggers relentlessly attacked both the plan and underlying premises (the myth that social security faces a "crisis"), spawning nationwide opposition. Only a few months after he unveiled his scheme to great fanfare, Bush was forced to sheepishly withdraw it, a defeat he described as his biggest failure.

That victory established an important political fact. While there are very few unifying principles for the Democratic party, one (arguably the primary one) is a steadfast defence of basic entitlement programs for the poor and elderly – social security, Medicare and Medicaid – from the wealthy, corporatised factions that have long targeted them for cuts.
But in 2009, clear signs emerged that President Obama was eager to achieve what his right-predecessor could not: cut social security. Before he was even inaugurated, Obama echoed the right's manipulative rhetorical tactic: that (along with Medicare) the programme was in crisis and producing "red ink as far as the eye can see." President-elect Obama thus vowed that these crown jewels of his party since the New Deal would be, as Politico reported, a "central part" of his efforts to reduce the deficit.

The next month, his top economic adviser, the Wall Street-friendly Larry Summers, also vowed specific benefit cuts to Time magazine. He then stacked his "deficit commission" with long-time advocates of social security cuts.

Many progressives, ebullient over the election of a Democratic president, chose to ignore these preliminary signs, unwilling to believe that their own party's leader was as devoted as he claimed to attacking the social safety net. But some were more realistic. The popular liberal blogger and economist Duncan "Atrios" Black, who was one of the leaders of the campaign against Bush's privatisation scheme, vowed in response to these early reports:
The left ... will create an epic 360-degree shitstorm if Obama and the Dems decide that cutting social security benefits is a good idea.
Fast forward to 2011: it is now beyond dispute that President Obama not only favours, but is the leading force in Washington pushing for, serious benefit cuts to both social security and Medicare.

This week, even as GOP leaders offered schemes to raise the debt ceiling with no cuts, the White House expressed support for the Senate's so-called "gang of six" plan that includes substantial cuts in those programmes.

The same Democratic president who supported the transfer of $700bn to bail out Wall Street banks, who earlier this year signed an extension of Bush's massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and who has escalated America's bankruptcy-inducing posture of Endless War, is now trying to reduce the debt by cutting benefits for America's most vulnerable – at the exact time that economic insecurity and income inequality are at all-time highs.

Where is the "epic shitstorm" from the left which Black predicted? With a few exceptions – the liberal blog FiredogLake has assembled 50,000 Obama supporters vowing to withhold re-election support if he follows through, and a few other groups have begun organising as well – it's nowhere to be found.

Therein lies one of the most enduring attributes of Obama's legacy: in many crucial areas, he has done more to subvert and weaken the left's political agenda than a GOP president could have dreamed of achieving. So potent, so overarching, are tribal loyalties in American politics that partisans will support, or at least tolerate, any and all policies their party's leader endorses – even if those policies are ones they long claimed to loathe.
This dynamic has repeatedly emerged in numerous contexts. Obama has continued Bush/Cheney terrorism policies – once viciously denounced by Democrats – of indefinite detention, renditions, secret prisons by proxy, and sweeping secrecy doctrines.

He has gone further than his predecessor by waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, seizing the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process far from any battlefield, massively escalating drone attacks in multiple nations, and asserting the authority to unilaterally prosecute a war (in Libya) even in defiance of a Congressional vote against authorising the war.

And now he is devoting all of his presidential power to cutting the entitlement programmes that have been the defining hallmark of the Democratic party since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The silence from progressive partisans is defeaning – and depressing, though sadly predictable.

The nature of American politics is that once a policy is removed from the partisan wars – once it is adopted by the leadership of both parties – it is removed from mainstream debate and fortified as bipartisan consensus. That is why false claims in the run-up to the Iraq war, endorsed by both parties, received so little mainstream journalistic scrutiny. And it's why the former Bush lawyer and right-wing ideologue Jack Goldsmith – back in May 2009 – celebrated in The New Republic the fact that Obama was doing more to strengthen Bush/Cheney terrorism policies than his former bosses could have ever achieved: by embracing the very terrorism approach he once denounced, Obama was converting it from rightwing radicalism into into the official dogma of both parties, and forcing his supporters to defend what were, until 2009, the symbols of rightwing evil.

Identically, Obama is now on the verge of injecting what until recently was the politically toxic and unattainable dream of Wall Street and the American right – attacks on the nation's social safety net – into the heart and soul of the Democratic party's platform. Those progressives who are guided more by party loyalty than actual belief will seamlessly transform from virulent opponents of such cuts into their primary defenders.

And thus will Obama succeed – yet again – in gutting not only core Democratic policies, but also the identity and power of the American Left.


Sean

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fox 'News' Owner Testifies in Phone Hacking Scandal & has Pie Thrown in Face - Obama Continues Bush Policies - Republicans Push Islamophobia - Conservative Media Lies, even about Lightbulbs! - Climate Change - People Won't Believe Truth

- News of the World phone-hacking whistleblower found dead
    Sean Hoare, the former News of the World [owned by Fox "News" Rupert Murdoch] showbusiness reporter who was the first named journalist to allege that Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead
- Fox "News" Tries to Obscure the Fox Hacking Scandal with Stephen Colbert comedy video
    Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp and Fox "News" and several Right-wing newspapers around the world. Recently it was discovered they had hacked into people's phones, bribed police, and committed many other crimes. The first reporter to uncover this was just found dead.
    Recently a Rupert Murdoch/Fox "News" associate appeared on Fox "News" stating that the Rupert Murdoch/News Corp phone hacking scandal wasn't big news, because after all other companies have been hacked. This incident alone should make viewers of Fox "News" permanently turn off the channel for the blatant dishonesty of the comment, but sadly many won't fathom it. Fox dishonestly compared the phone hacking scandal to incidents of major companies being hacked into. The difference was that Fox "news" parent company, who did the hacking, was the hacker! Something they conveniently avoid in Fox "News' coverage of the story.

    Stephen Colbert comments.
- Republican Rudy Giuliani: Rupert Murdoch 'a very honorable, honest man'
    Rudy Giuliani says that he can't imagine Rupert Murdoch had anything to do with the phone hacking scandal, including allegations that News Corp. properties breached the phones of 9/11 families:
- Brooks Arrested In Phone Hacking Probe
    She was editor of the News Of The World (NOTW) when missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone was hacked and messages were deleted. The teenager was later found murdered.
    Mrs Brooks is the tenth person to be arrested in connection with the NOTW scandal since detectives reopened their investigation earlier this year.
- Rupert Murdoch gets Burma-Shave pie in the face
    Testimony by Rupert and James Murdoch before a Parliament committee was interrupted Tuesday morning when a man in a checked shirt attempted to shove a plate full of shaving cream into Murdoch’s face.
- Violent Storms Make 2011 'One for the Record Books,' Insurance Price Hikes Under Way
    This year is one for the catastrophe record books, insurance officials said yesterday, describing 2011 as the "year of the tornado."
    The number of thunderstorms and their damaging sidekicks -- hail and twisters -- has been rising rapidly for 30 years in the United States. But the first half of 2011 is threatening to push this year into first place for financial losses, which reached $23.6 billion from thunderstorms. That's a new record for any year between January and June.
- Greenpeace "Polluting Democracy" Released
    Today Greenpeace released a report, “Polluting Democracy,” featuring 15 members of the Dirty Money Team - Members of Congress who often work for polluters with money instead of their voters.
- Connecting Extreme Weather Dots Across the Map
    The question before us now is not whether the natural disasters making headlines across the United States are somehow connected, but why we are so reluctant to connect them.
- The risks of the Keystone XL pipeline
    The Yellowstone River, dubbed "America's last best river" by National Geographic, is, or was, a pristine 700-mile waterway through Montana and Wyoming that's considered among the best trout streams in the country. So it's little wonder that Montanans and environmentalists were horrified on July 1 when up to 1,000 barrels of oil spilled into the river downstream from Yellowstone National Park, fouling miles of riverbank. The culprit was an Exxon Mobil pipeline buried under the river that was apparently compromised by erosion from this year's unusually heavy water flow.
- Ralph Nader: Obama Is a "Political Coward" For Not Picking Elizabeth Warren to Head Consumer Bureau
    After months of fierce opposition from Wall Street, corporate lobbyists and Republican lawmakers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officially launches this week in Washington, D.C. A product of last year’s overhaul of financial regulation, the Bureau was established to protect consumers from deceptive practices. Republicans have sought to weaken its reach with a number of restrictive measures, including granting other regulatory bodies veto power over the bureau’s decisions. This week, Republicans scored another victory with President Obama’s announcement of his choice to head the bureau. Obama has tapped former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray instead of Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who first proposed the bureau and has overseen its establishment for the past year.
- Republican Presidential Frontrunner Mitt Romney's Muslim Phobia
    I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
    Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead. Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they're too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats.
- More Evidence of Romney's Bigotry Surfaces
    This is about way more than Romney being hypocritical and politically incorrect. It's about how he'd conduct his foreign policy, in which there are few things more important than having a fair and balanced (heh!) understanding of the Islamic world.I've believed for some time that Romney is the most dangerous of the current Republican candidates, and so hopefully this will be his "Macaca Moment".
- Conservative Media Misled Light Bulb Consumers At Least 40 Times In 7 Months
    In at least 40 instances since the beginning of 2011, conservative media outlets wrongly told consumers that the light bulb efficiency standards scheduled to take effect in 2012 will require them to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
- Trawls and Trash Represent One-Two Punch for Threatened Turtles [Slide Show]
    Studies have identified plastic pollution and fishing practices as major threats to sea turtles for several years.
- How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism by Glenn Greenwald
    Scahill's discovery of this secret prison in Mogadishu -- this black site -- calls into serious doubt the Obama administration's claims to have ended such practices and establishes a serious human rights violation on its own. As Harper's Scott Horton put it, the Nation article underscores how the CIA is "maintaining a series of 'special relationships' under which cooperating governments maintain[] proxy prisons for the CIA," and "raises important questions" about "whether the CIA is using a proxy regime there to skirt Obama's executive order" banning black sites and torture. 
    Despite the significance of this revelation -- or, more accurately, because of it -- the U.S. establishment media has almost entirely ignored this story. Scahill thus far has given a grand total of two television interviews: on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera. No major television news network -- including MSNBC -- has even mentioned his story. Generally speaking, Republicans don't care that the worst abuses of the Bush era are continuing, and Democrats (who widely celebrated Dana Priest's 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning story about Bush's CIA black cites) don't want to hear that it's true. [UPDATE: MSNBC finally interviewed Scahill about this story recently- see below]
- The Obama Doctrine: Drones, Targeted Killings and Secret Prisons
    The Bush Doctrine was that the world was our battlefield—we were at liberty to carry out drone attacks and unlawful interrogations throughout the world. But many Americans may be surprised to discover that far from fading away with the former president, these policies have in fact expanded and intensified under President Obama.

    As The Nation's Jeremy Scahill explained on MSNBC's Morning Joe today, Obama has succeeded in normalizing and legitimizing these policies that were considered illegal in the extreme only a few years ago. Recounting his recent investigation of increasing CIA involvement in counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, Scahill says we have to decide, "are we a country that operates under the rule of law or do we believe we're emperors who can wage war on the world?"

Setting the Record Straight Almost Impossible
By Branwen Morgan
Published July 11 2011 on ABC.net

The effect of misinformation on memory and reasoning cannot be completely eliminated, even after it has been corrected numerous times, say Australian psychologists.

Assistant Professor Ullrich Ecker and colleagues from The University of Western Australia outline their findings in a recent article published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review .
Ecker says this effect, known as 'continued influence effect of misinformation', occurs even if the retraction itself is understood, believed, and remembered.

In their latest set of experiments, which builds on previous research, the researchers manipulated the strength of both the provided misinformation and the later retraction.
Repetition was used to more strongly encode the misinformation. Cognitive loading, when attention is divided between two tasks, was used to weaken or dilute the messages.

More than 160 undergraduate students were recruited and randomly placed in test groups of approximately 20. They were given a news report based on a warehouse fire.

Initially, the fire was reported to have been caused by volatile materials negligently stored in a closet, but subsequent reports stated that the closet was empty.

"Some were also given another task to distract them a bit and then we give them a questionnaire, which checks basic memory for what they read," says Ecker.

"Most importantly, they are then tested with inference questions that target part of the event they read about and can be answered by using the misinformation."

As expected, the team found stronger retractions were effective in reducing the effects associated with strong misinformation encoding; but they failed to eliminate it even when the misinformation was weakly encoded.

"Despite best efforts to correct misinformation it can't be completely eliminated," says Ecker.

Unerasable damage

According to Ecker, there are two types of misinformation; that which is intended to mislead (for example lies and propaganda); and that which has no underlying motive. The latter includes unfolding news events or crime investigations when information comes in a piecemeal fashion and may require future correction.

Both are subject to the continued influence effect.

The researchers explain that this effect has implications for a number of real-world scenarios, such as the avoidance of MMR vaccine due to fears over autism, or when jurors are called upon to discount the last witness testimony or disregard evidence.

"If you make them [jurors] suspicious of why that information was presented in the first place, such as by saying it was a deliberate attempt to mislead you, then they can more readily dismiss it," says Ecker.

"Also, if you explain to people that corrected misinformation will continue to influence their thinking to a larger extent than most of us are aware of, that can also help to reduce the effects of the misinformation."

Unchanging beliefs

Ecker says they have also studied a number of other factors such as strongly-held beliefs (worldview) and emotion on the continued influence effect.

While emotion was found to have no significant effect, someone with a strong opinion is unlikely to change it.

"If you believe in something strongly and it's really important to you as a person [your worldview] you will cling to that no matter what," Ecker remarks.

He says one example of this is climate change.

"People who believe strongly in the free market, those opposed to any kind of regulations … will be much more likely to continue to believe humans are not causing climate change even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are causing climate change."

Sean

Thursday, July 14, 2011

No Such Thing as "Conscientious Carnivore" - Obama Betrays Left - How Republicans Warp Laws to Favor Big Business & Hurt People - Fox "News" Ignores Phone Hacking Scandal - Fox Doesn't Pay Taxes - Universal healthcare - US Growing in Unpopularity - more

- A Looming Betrayal
    On Thursday, headlines on both the Washington Post and the New York Times announced that President Obama had put both Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, as part of some "grand bargain" with House Speaker Boehner and the [Republican Party] to cut the deficit and avoid blowing the August 2 debt limit deadline.

    My reaction to this news, along with most everyone else aligned with the left side of politics, was predictable. I was aghast, dumbfounded, sickened, and enraged. The Republican Party has been working hammer and tong to eliminate these vital programs since the day they were first conceived. Sometimes their efforts were out in the big wide open, such as George W. Bush's doomed privatization proposal. If it wasn't their hood ornament, it was at least always on the dashboard, right out front, a core element of their philosophy, and always somewhere in their platform. In all those years, however, the GOP had only managed to nibble at the edges of these programs, having never summoned either sufficient muscle or sufficient will to kill them off entirely.

    And now here is a Democratic president, after all those years of struggle to defend and protect the social contract created by these policies, offering them up for destruction because he can't seem to stop himself from agreeing with Republicans. Here
- ALEC Bills Expose Corporate Drive to Advance Business Over Public Interest
     Today’s release of more than 800 “model” bills and resolutions drafted and promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) opens a window to the workings of a powerful and secretive corporate front group that has enlisted thousands of state lawmakers to pass legislation on its behalf, often in conflict with the public good, Common Cause said today.
    “This is a real eye-opener,” said Bob Edgar, president of the non-partisan government watchdog group. “Dozens of corporations are paying millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation that is becoming law in state houses from coast to coast, with no regard for the public interest. This is proof positive of the depth and scope of corporate influence on our democratic processes...
- ALEC Exposed
    The articles that follow are the first products of that examination. They provide an inside view of the priorities of ALEC’s corporate board and billionaire benefactors (including Tea Party funders Charles and David Koch). “Dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation that is being made into law in statehouses coast to coast, with no regard for the public interest,” says Bob Edgar of Common Cause. “This is proof positive of the depth and scope of the corporate reach into our democratic processes.” The full archive of ALEC documents is available at a new website, alecexposed.org
- Universal Health Care: Can We Afford Anything Less?
    Why only a single-payer system can solve America’s health-care mess.
- UN Report: 'Deadliest Six Months' for Civilians in Afghanistan
    The first six months of 2011 were the deadliest for civilians in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001, a UN report has found.
- US more unpopular in the Arab world than under Bush
    I've written numerous times over the last year about rapidly worsening perceptions of the U.S. in the Muslim world, including a Pew poll from April finding that Egyptians view the U.S. more unfavorably now than they did during the Bush presidency.  A new poll released today of six Arab nations -- Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco -- contains even worse news on this front...What's striking is that none of these is among the growing list of countries we're occupying and bombing. 

    While Americans are continuously inculcated with the message that Iran is the greatest threat to that region, the people who actually live there view the U.S. in that light.  And as the above-referenced links to other polls demonstrate, that is a routine finding in surveys of Arab and Muslim opinion in that part of the world.
- CNN Confirms: Fox News Watch Admitted Avoiding Parent Company's Hacking Scandal
    As Media Matters first noted, Fox News' media criticism program, Fox News Watch, avoided any mention of the scandal over the British tabloid News of the World and its publisher News Corp., which also owns Fox News. And in a video posted on FoxNews.com, panelists appeared to admit during a commercial break that they were intentionally avoiding the topic.
- How CNN, MSNBC, And Fox Are Covering News Corp. (owner of Fox News) Hacking Scandal
    CNN And MSNBC Report On News Corp. Scandal More Than Twice As Often As Fox News. According to a Media Matters analysis*, in the nine days since the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal reignited, CNN reported on the developing story in 109 segments, MSNBC covered the story in 71 segments, and Fox News  covered the story in 30 segments.
- Phone hacking: Murdoch paid lobbyists who oppose US anti-bribery law
    Rupert Murdoch donated $1m to a pro-business lobby in the US months before the group launched a high-profile campaign to alter the anti-bribery law – the same law that could potentially be brought to bear against News Corporation over the phone-hacking scandal.
- Phone-hacking scandal: live coverage
    Only last month David Cameron, Ed Miliband and others were paying homage to the tycoon at his London summer party. If you had told Cameron and Miliband over the champagne that only a few weeks later that they would be uniting in the Commons to pass a motion opposing Murdoch's bid for BSkyB they would have thought you were barmy. Yet that's exactly what's going to happen today. As the New York Times has argued, Britain is going through its own version of the Arab spring. Truly, a spell has been broken.
- Guess Who Didn't Pay Federal Income Tax And Got Billions In Refunds? News Corp!
    Fox News is famous for complaining about taxes. They consistently decry what they see as President Obama's desire to "soak the rich"; they see "class warfare" against the rich almost everywhere; they consistently whine that middle- and low-income families pay no federal income tax; and they relentlessly attacked GE for not paying any federal income tax this past year, going so far as to suggest that this was somehow because GE's CEO is part of Obama's Economic Advisory Panel. But here's a story I wouldn't expect Fox to be highlighting any time soon. As it turns out, News Corp., Fox News' parent company, not only hasn't paid federal income tax in years, it reportedly received billions in tax refunds, mainly from the U.S. government.

How 'Conscientious Carnivores' Ignore Meat's True Origins
Supporting small farms without addressing the pain of the slaughter perpetuates desensitization—just as factory farms do
By James McWilliams

Published Jul 12 2011, at the Atlantic

4143519867_f5074de9af_b_wide.jpg If there's one phrase I'd like to put to pasture it's the increasingly popular designation of "conscientious carnivore." As with so many other expressions in the food movement's growing lexicon of culinary virtue, this one euphemistically masks a harsh reality with a soothing, but ultimately damaging, rationalization.

The rationalization is that because factory farming is so horrifically brutal to animals, the conscientious carnivore can vote with his or her fork by purchasing meat from farmers who raise their animals in a more "humane" manner—free-range pork, grass-fed beef, cage-free eggs, and all that. The reality, however, is that the so-called conscientious consumers who support these alternative systems are doing very little to challenge the essence of factory farming. In fact, they may be strengthening its very foundation.

I don't mean to discount the benefits that a farm animal experiences when allowed to move about with relative freedom, eat a natural diet, socialize, and care for offspring. And indeed, there's no denying that if our conceptualization of alternative systems stops right here—that is, with a relative comparison to the hellhole of a factory farm—then carnivores who opt for meat produced through alternative methods are certainly acting in a more conscientious manner.

But that's not saying much. Broaden your perspective on the concept of "conscientious carnivorism" and it becomes clear than it's little more than a catchy justification that helps consumers avoid investigating the deeper implications of nurturing an animal to kill it for food we don't need. It's so much easier, after all, just to focus exclusively on the relative happiness farm animals experience while alive rather than to contemplate the entirety of the animal's life cycle. Narrowing our moral vision this way, something every "conscientious consumer" inevitably does, obscures several aspects of "conscientious" meat eating that deserve due consideration. Three stand out.

First, how do conscientious consumers reconcile their rationale for avoiding factory farming with their willingness to tolerate the slaughter of a sentient animal? Logically speaking, it makes no sense. Supporters of alternative meat base their advocacy on the belief that an animal should never be subjected to the pain and suffering endemic to a factory farm. This kernel of compassion is critical. It confirms the fact that conscientious carnivores know full well that an animal has intrinsic value as a living, breathing, and feeling organism. That's precisely why they want it freed from the factory farm in the first place. Nonetheless, despite the evident presence of this compassion, the conscientious carnivore supports killing that animal for a reason as arbitrary as, for example, some fancy restaurant in Manhattan deciding it's time for the animal to die because pork bellies are all the rage. How can this sentiment (concern for animal welfare) and this act (killing the animal) coexist? To this question, there is no compassionate answer.

Second, there's economics. What if we all did "the right thing" and became "conscientious carnivores"? That is, what if enough consumers placed enough demand on humanely raised meat so that producers had to multiply and expand their "humane" operations to meet growing demand? Currently, about 1 percent of all the meat we eat comes from alternative systems. What if the situation was reversed, and only 1 percent of meat was factory farmed?

Presumably, this is exactly what advocates of small-scale animal farming want. But it's hard to imagine how the proliferation of free-range alternative farms, all of which would be competing with each other on some level to meet demand, could possibly avoid cutting corners to achieve efficiencies of production. This ineluctable quest for efficiency would be fine if we were talking about gadgets. But we're not. We're talking about humans owning and exploiting sentient beings—beings with a foremost interest in staying alive—in order to make a profit.

In this respect, alternative systems might look innocuous at 1 percent, but at 10, 20, 30 percent basic business history dictates that expansion in scale and scope will lead the industry to assume aspects of the factory farming system it originally intended to replace. When you have people owning, raising, and killing animals to meet growing demand, does anyone really believe that animals are going to be given primary consideration? Do we truly think that a farmer whose livelihood depends on owning and killing animals is, in the face of economic competition, going to sacrifice market share to a competitor for the sake of his animals (who are going to be turned into meat anyway)? Within the confines of free-market capitalism, selling animals for food will always entail unnecessary suffering. It goes without saying that there would be nothing conscientious about this inevitable downward cycle of economic efficiency, animal exploitation, and market capitalization.

Finally, if conscientious producers and consumers put their money where their mouth is and get closer to where our food comes from, they'll confront the act of killing an animal. And as they do so, as more and more consumers get closer to the slaughter, they'll have no choice but to call into question the justice of commodifying emotionally aware animals. Last year an online article for Food and Wine interviewed chefs who, in an (admirable) effort to shorten the supply chain and connect with the food they served, slaughtered their own animals. Here is what one of them had to say:
I first harvested an animal—an adult goat and two kids—eight years ago . . . It's a whole mix of emotions—fear, hate, joy, awe—all the big ones. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, holding this baby goat in my arms and petting him until he died, trying to make him comfortable. Did I cry? Yes. Do I cry every time I harvest animals? Yes. I cry every time I talk about it.
It's poignant testimony, and I respect the chef for his openness. The fact that this chef has since gone on to kill many animals and start two successful restaurants that serve every part of those animals to "conscientious carnivores" is unfortunate. But the gut-level emotionalism of his first slaughter should not be downplayed, for it highlights not only the overall quest to get closer to the means of meat production, but it pinpoints the precise reason why we ultimately will not be able to create a reformed food system while continuing to kill animals for pleasure and profit. In essence, it reminds us that killing animals for food we don't need is bloodsport.

The emotional pain the chef experienced was real. The fact that he's gone on to rationalize the experience as a hard knock of economic life—something no doubt assuaged by his usage of euphemisms such as "harvest"—does not make him a conscientious carnivore. It makes him a desensitized one. This guy went to the brink of true change, experienced the rawness of his reaction, and instead of taking a leap, backed away.

As more and more "conscientious carnivores" do what their designation dictates and, as did our chef, move closer to confronting the ethics of slaughter, they'll be similarly jarred into recognizing the gravity of killing a live animal. They'll witness firsthand the fact that the animal does not want to die. And in so doing, they will either have to acknowledge the easy way out of the carnivore's dilemma (choosing not to kill animals for food) or they will have to, a la the chef, desensitize themselves to the slaughter, thereby undermining the conscientious part of "conscientious carnivore."

All these problems with conscientious carnivorism—the killing of an animal despite acknowledging its moral worth, the economics of efficient production, and the desensitization required to deal with the slaughter—end up collectively supporting the very foundation of factory farming. As long as we're willing to commodify a living creature that has intrinsic worth, directly link its lifespan to consumer demand, and numb ourselves to the painful essence of the slaughter, we're doing nothing more than reaffirming the core values of factory farming. It might feel good to call ourselves "conscientious carnivores," but at some point we'll have to recognize that the only conscientious carnivore is, alas, an herbivore.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cows Have Best Friends - Climate Change Making Air Pollution Worse - Bradley Manning/Wikileaks=Hero - Fox News Owner Phone Hacking Scandal - Republican Presidential Candidate Lunatic - more

- How cows have best friends and get stressed when they are separated
    The research showed cows were very social animals which often formed close bonds with friends in their herd.
- CHART: Rate Of U.S. Troops Killed In Iraq Is At ’03 And ’04 Levels
    Last month marked the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq since 2008. Some analysts have said that the primary reason attacks on U.S. troops have increased significantly in recent months is because top U.S. officials have been saying publicly that the U.S. military will stay past the Dec. 31, 2011 total withdrawal deadline.
- The motives of Bradley Manning
    There's no doubt that it's illegal for a member of the military to leak classified or secret documents -- just as there was no doubt about the illegality of Daniel Ellsberg's leaks, or a whole slew of other acts of civil disobedience we consider noble.  The fact that an act is legal does not mean it is just, and conversely, that an act is illegal does not mean it is unjust.  Many people enjoy hearing themselves condemn the acts of tyrants and imperial forces in the world. If the allegations against him are true, Bradley Manning knowingly risked his liberty to take action against those acts, in the hope of exposing those responsible and triggering worldwide reforms.  It's hard to dispute that these leaks achieved exactly that, but even if they hadn't, his conduct is profoundly commendable, and the world needs far more, not fewer, Bradley Mannings.
- Four reasons why Bradley Manning deserves a medal
    1. At great personal cost, Bradley Manning has given our foreign policy elite the public supervision it so badly needs.
    2: Knowledge is powerful.  The WikiLeaks disclosures have helped spark democratic revolutions and reforms across the Middle East, accomplishing what Operation Iraqi Freedom never could.

    3: Bradley Manning has exposed the pathological over-classification of America’s public documents.

    4. At immense personal cost, Bradley Manning has upheld a great American tradition of transparency in statecraft and for that he should be an American hero, not an American felon.

    Consider our invasion of Iraq, a war based on distortions, government secrecy, and the complaisant failure of our major media to ask the important questions.  But what if someone like Bradley Manning had provided the press with the necessary government documents, which would have made so much self-evident in the months before the war began?  Might this not have prevented disaster?  We’ll never know, of course, but could additional public scrutiny have been salutary under the circumstances?
- Fox New's Rupert Murdoch Shutting Down News Of The World; But That Won't Solve His Problems
    Rupert Murdoch's son James announced this morning that following the allegations that Murdoch's News of the World tabloid hacked the voicemails of a slain teen girl, potentially impeding a police investigation and giving the girl's family false hope that she was still alive, this Sunday will be the tabloid's last issue.
- Fox New's Rupert Murdoch's tabloid News of the World hacked the phones of the relatives of 7/7 terrorist bombing in UK
    Bereaved relatives of the July 7 bombings had their phones hacked by journalists at the News of the World, police believe.
- VIDEO: Fox New's Rupert Murdoch's tabloid News of the World hacked the phones of the relatives of 7/7 terrorist bombing in UK
    Keith and Michael Wolff, author of "The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch," dig deeper into how Murdoch's "News of the World' hacked into the account of a murdered schoolgirl's voicemail. Invading peoples' privacy is second-nature to Team Murdoch, but will blowback from this appalling incident do lasting damage to the S.S. News Corp?
- Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry’s Shameless Ways
    To think of George W. Bush as too moderate is delusional.But that’s the learned assessment of Texas Governor Rick Perry. In testing the waters of a possible presidential bid, Perry is distancing himself from the supposed “compassionate conservatism” of Dubya when Bush helmed the state. That Perry thinks of his predecessor as being too middle of the road speaks volumes about the current occupant of the governor’s mansion in Austin.
- Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution
    Temperatures in the United States have already risen more than two degrees Fahrenheit (2°F) over the past century, largely because of climate change, and are expected to keep rising throughout the next few decades and likely much longer.Here’s the connection: warmer temperatures increase ground-level ozone. That’s why we hear warnings of “bad air days” due to ozone pollution most often during the summer and on cloud-free days.
- Oh Say Can You Seethe..
    Another Independence Day, and times are tough for everyone.No, not everyone.Sit back, get uncomfortable, and choose any one of these facts to make you mad.

Sean

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July - Former Fox News Chief Says Fox Isn't Factual - Ralph Nader - Gaza Aid Ship - Michele Bacman is Dumb AND Crazy - Fukushima - ANOTHER Oil Spill - Nuke Worries - US Killing Whales - Film: Hot Coffee - The Soundstrike

- Ralph Nader Is Tired of Running for President
    The most important moral and intellectual voices within a disintegrating society are slowly discredited when their nonviolent protests and calls for justice cannot alter intransigent and corrupt systems of power. The repeated acts of peaceful civil disobedience, efforts at electoral and political reform and the fight to protect the rule of law are dismissed as useless by an embittered, dispossessed and betrayed public. The demagogues and hatemongers, the purveyors of violence, easily seduce enraged and bewildered masses in the final stages of collapse with false promises of vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. And in the spiral downward the good among us are reviled as naive and ineffectual fools.
- The Militarized Surrealism of Barack Obama
    ...whether by inclination, political calculation, or some mix of the two, our president has become a rhetorical idolator.
    These days [Obama] can barely open his mouth without also bowing down before the U.S. military in ways that once would have struck Americans as embarrassing, if not incomprehensible.  In addition, he regularly prostrates himself before this country’s special mission to the world and never ceases to emphasize that the United States is indeed an exception among nations.  Finally, in a way once alien to American presidents, he invokes God’s blessing upon the military and the country as regularly as you brush your teeth.

    Think of these as the triumvirate without which no Obama foreign-policy moment would be complete: greatest military, greatest nation, our God.  And in this he follows directly, if awkwardly, in Bush's footsteps.
- Exxon Claims Spill Damage Limited, Gov. Doubtful
    Teams of federal and Exxon Mobile workers are moving along the banks of Montana's legendary Yellowstone River in an effort to contain damage and gauge the impact from tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil that gushed from a ruptured pipe beneath the riverbed.
- French Nuclear Power Plant Explosion Heightens Safety Fears
    An explosion sparked a fire at a French nuclear power station on Saturday, just two days after the authorities found 32 safety concerns at the plant.
- Is New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory Really Safe?
    Caused by a fallen power line, the blaze — which spans more than 108 miles — has destroyed about 61,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest and forced the evacuation of the town of Los Alamos (population 11,000).  Worse, the fire is creeping dangerously close to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), one of the country's biggest nuclear research facilities. At risk are 20-30,000 drums of Cold War-era plutonium-contaminated waste Technical Area 54 in the Area G section that are sitting above ground in fabric tents.
- Former News Corp. President: Fox News' Opinion Shows Aren't Meant To Be "Factual"
    Former News Corp. President Peter Chernin admits in a new TV special on Rupert Murdoch that some Fox News shows are not meant to be "factual."
- Fox Nation: Re-Writing Headlines To Fit The Agenda
    A trend that has been noticed far too often here at Media Matters is this: if Fox News wants to spin a certain aspect of a story to fit their conservative agenda, they'll do it any way they know how. Their blog, Fox Nation, seems to exist solely to do just that.
-Actual News Headlines Vs. Fox News Headlines
         Fox News lies and manipulates people

- Sean Hannity Failed- an Example of how Fox "News' Routinely Lies and Misleads its Viewers
    On his Fox News show last night, Sean Hannity lashed out at former Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, launching into a series of discredited smears and anti-gay slurs.
    Hannity was responding to an interview Jennings gave to Media Matters, in which Jennings had discussed the impact of his anti-bullying work and said that those (including Fox) who had engaged in a campaign of "defamation" against him had "completely failed."
- “Hot Coffee” Documentary Exposes Corporate Attacks on Consumer Rights, Features Expert Insights from Public Citizen
    [Republicans and the mainstream media have long tried to villainize the legal system, citing this incident as an example of "frivolous lawsuits". They have done this in order to protect the rich corporations from being held responsible for producing dangerous products or doing things that harm people].
    Stella Liebeck, 79-years-old, was sitting in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car having purchased a cup of McDonald’s coffee. After the car stopped, she tried to hold the cup securely between her knees while removing the lid. However, the cup tipped over, pouring scalding hot coffee onto her lap. She received third-degree burns over 16 percent of her body, necessitating hospitalization for eight days, whirlpool treatment for debridement of her wounds, skin grafting, scarring, and disability for more than two years.

    Despite these extensive injuries, she offered to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000. However, McDonald’s refused to settle for this small amount and, in fact, never offered more than $800.

    The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages — reduced to $160,000 because the jury found her 20 percent at fault — and $2.7 million in punitive damages for McDonald’s callous conduct. (To put this in perspective, McDonald’s revenue from coffee sales alone was in excess of $1.3 million a day.) The trial judge reduced the punitive damages to $480,000, but did state that McDonald’s had engaged in “willful, wanton, and reckless” behavior. Mrs. Liebeck and McDonald’s eventually settled for a confidential amount. The jury heard the following evidence in the case:
- Floodwater Seeps into Nebraska Nuke Plant Building
    An 8-foot-tall, water-filled temporary berm protecting the plant collapsed early Sunday. Vendor workers were at the plant Monday to determine whether the 2,000 foot berm can be repaired.
- Wind turbine turns out surplus
    It's been a little over a year since the University of Delaware's joint-venture wind turbine started spinning in Lewes.
    And save for the first three months of operation in June, July and August 2010, power generated exceeded use at the Lewes Campus, said Jeremy Firestone, director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration and a professor at the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.
- US police smash camera for recording killing
    A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but Narces Benoit's decision to videotape a shooting by Miami police landed him in jail after officers smashed his cell-phone camera.
- Outcry in America as Pregnant Women Who Lose Babies Face Murder Charges
    Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalization of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion
- Bernie Sanders Takes to Senate Floor, Demands 'Shared Sacrifice'
    In my view, the President of the United States of America needs to stand with the American people and say to the Republican leadership that enough is enough. No, we will not balance the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor, who have already sacrificed enough in terms of lost jobs, lost wages, lost homes, and lost pensions. Yes, we will demand that millionaires and billionaires and the largest corporations in America contribute to deficit reduction as a matter of shared sacrifice. Yes, we will reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending at the Pentagon. And, no we will not be blackmailed once again by the Republican leadership in Washington, who are threatening to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States government for the first time in our nation’s history unless they get everything they want.
- Washington Okays Attack on Unarmed U.S. Ship
    The Obama administration appears to have given a green light to an Israeli attack on an unarmed flotilla carrying peace and human rights activists — including a vessel with 50 Americans on board — bound for the besieged Gaza Strip.
- US, Israel Escalate Threats Against Flotilla, Including US Citizens
    A co-founder of the right-wing blog RedState (and former Bush speechwriter) created a mini-controversy over the weekend when he issued a sociopathic endorsement of Israel's possible shooting of his fellow unarmed citizens on a flotilla currently sailing to Gaza; that flotilla is trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gazans and protest the ongoing Israeli blockade...
- Justice In America: A Tale Of Two Crimes
    Consider Paul Allen, 55, a former mortgage CEO who defrauded lenders of over $3 billion. This week, prosecutors celebrated the fact they got him a 40-month prison sentence. Consider Roy Brown, 54, a hungry homeless man who robbed a Louisiana bank of $100 - the teller gave him more but he handed the rest back. He felt bad the next day and surrendered to police. He got 15 years. Justice in America has a ways to go.
- Michele Bachmann Uncorks Another Crazy Version Of American History: The Founding Fathers Worked Tirelessly To End Slavery video
    One of the leading Republican presidential candidates, Michele Bachmann, has offered yet another interpretation of American history.
    Following up on Chris Wallace's much-criticized line of questioning from FOX News Sunday this weekend (he called her a flake, and later apologized), ABC's George Stephanopoulos took the opportunity on Good Morning America this morning to give Bachmann a chance to correct some of her false statements.

    Namely, her assertion that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to ban slavery.
    Stephanopoulos pointed out that Constitution and Declaration of Independence were written about 80-100 years before slavery was banned, Bachmann defended herself. Slavery was a bad thing, she reiterated, and founding father John Quincy Adams was against it.
    Stephanopolos pointed out that John Quincy Adams was not a founding father. Then he gave up.
- Where Are You?
    Empathy -- the ability to immerse ourselves inside the world of another -- depends on us to consciously take the abstract, and make it real.You're confined. And the doors to the building? Locked. Fear fills you. You're beyond frustrated -- you're on the verge of madness.

    You can see and sense and hear tens of thousands of others just like you. They're close, some crammed right against you. Some are dying; others are deformed. The stress of this place has sparked violence -- and in rare cases, even cannibalism. Thousands have already been suffocated in massive plastic bags; thousands more were sucked through iron pipes, then electrocuted.

    And now for the frightening part.

    Look down at your body. You see two dime-sized bruises on your right side, and blood streaks on your legs. Your eyes burn from ammonia. Parts of your body responsible for touch and taste have been, ah, removed. And why are your toes blackened?! Despite all of this, the potential for joy still lives in you, and maybe in some small way, you sense that. And that awareness makes this precise moment all the more jarring.
- Republican Peter King: Chemical Security Hijacker
    Today, Greenpeace is releasing the name of a man wanted for hijacking chemical security legislation: New York Republican Representative Peter King. King is part of group responsible for the delay in safeguarding our communities from disasters that could occur at the nation’s chemical plants.
- Our Arizona music boycott has made a difference
    Sound Strike responds to charges that its protest against anti-immigration bill only hurts local venues and fans
- Japan's huge post-tsunami clean up continues
    [What to do with all the garbage?!] Officials say process set to take up to three years following twin natural disasters.
- Fukushima children test positive for internal radiation exposure
    Trace amounts of radioactive substances have been found in urine samples taken from children from Fukushima city, raising concerns that residents have been exposed internally to radiation from the stricken nuclear power plant 37 miles (60km) away.
- Populations Around US Nuke Plants Soar
    As America's nuclear power plants have aged, the once-rural areas around them have become far more crowded and much more difficult to evacuate. Yet government and industry have paid little heed, even as plants are running at higher power and posing more danger in the event of an accident, an Associated Press investigation has found.
- U.S. Replaces Japan in Role of Villain on Whales
    The United States has taken over the pro-whaling stance traditionally championed by Japan...
- Why Is This Happening to Us and Can Jesus and Rick Perry Please Stop It?
    Nation, we are in crisis. Let us count the ways. Well, there are many. Lo, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has decided to come to our aid with a national call to prayer - and possible presidential run - to ask "God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision" - even though, it's true, that praying for the fires to stop didn't work so good. Many seriously creepy people are asking too. Mercy.

Get Over Ourselves on July 4
by Matthew Rothschild


Sean