This feed URL is no longer valid. Visit this page to find the new URL, if you have access: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=157259387630213">https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=157259387630213</a>
Where’s Cliven Bundy’s posse when you need them?
Gary Younge writes at the Guardian:
In 1966, Martin Luther King started to campaign against segregation in Chicago only to find his efforts thwarted by violent mobs and a scheming mayor. Marginalised by the city’s establishment, he could feel that non-violence both as a strategy and as a principle was eroding among his supporters. “I need some help in getting this method across,” he said. “A lot of people have lost faith in the establishment … They’ve lost faith in the democratic process. They’ve lost faith in non-violence … [T]hose who make this peaceful revolution impossible will make a violent revolution inevitable, and we’ve got to get this over, I need help. I need some victories, I need concessions.”
He never got them. The next year there were more than 150 riots across the country, from Minneapolis to Tampa.
As the situation escalates in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, where police recently shot an unarmed black man as he walked down the street, many are clearly losing faith. As the first day of curfew drew to a close, hundreds of police in riot gear swept through the streets, using tear gas, smoke canisters and rubber bullets against an increasingly agitated crowd. Earlier this morning the governor, Jay Nixon, deployed the national guard.
Protesters insist the police action was unprovoked. Police say it followed shootings, firebombs, looting and, crucially, an attempted attack on the area they are using as a command centre. Ronald Johnson, the Missouri highway patrol captain drafted by the governor to take over security in the town and calm the situation down, blamed “premeditated criminal acts”. Late last week, Johnson was the darling of the crowds as he expressed sympathy with their cause and frustration with the tactics of the local police department. Now the situation seems polarised once again.
Johnson said the attacks were clearly provocations against the police. “We had to act to protect lives and property,” he says. In a statement explaining his deployment of the national guard, the governor, Jay Nixon, blamed “deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent acts”.
“Tonight,” he said. “A day of hope, prayers and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organised and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk.”
Such statements ignore the nature, scale and source of the problem. When an 18-year-old is shot in daylight for walking down the middle of the street holding his arms up; and when his shooter is whisked out of town by the state, then the residents of Ferguson were clearly already “at risk” from those who would commit “premeditated criminal acts”. What could be more “deliberate” and “coordinated” than releasing a video that claims to be of Michael Brown stealing cigarillos the same day the police finally release the name of the policeman who shot him, when the alleged theft had nothing to do with the shooting. (Even if it had, since when has the charge for shoplifting been summary execution?)
According to a preliminary autopsy, Brown was shot six times including twice in the head. Dr Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who performed the autopsy at the request of the family, said: “In my capacity as the forensic examiner for the New York State Police, I would say, ‘You’re not supposed to shoot so many times.’ Right now there is too little information to forensically reconstruct the shooting.”
For some then the police have come too late to the notion that they are there to “protect” lives. “The law,” wrote James Baldwin, “is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer.” Those who call for law and order now must understand that there is no order because men with badges have been acting lawlessly.
Read more here.
The post Ferguson: The Violence of the State Created the Violence of the Street appeared first on disinformation.
In our recent poll about the most hated companies, Monsanto was the overwhelming choice of disinfonauts with a landslide 40% of well over 1,000 votes. However, The Verge is profiling Comcast (5th in our poll with just 5% of votes) as America’s most hated company, asking “What happens when the most unpopular company in the US merges with the runner-up?”
Comcast’s corporate headquarters, Comcast Center, is the tallest building in Philadelphia. It’s covered in mirrors, which makes it the perfect metaphor for the company, one former employee says; no matter where you go, the glare is in your eyes.
It seems a lot of people share that sentiment.
Comcast earned Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” title twice, first in 2010 and again this year, 2014. It ranks at the very bottom of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, underperforming even the rest of the cable industry, where “high prices, poor reliability, and declining customer service” are endemic.
In mid-July, AOL executive Ryan Block placed a call to Comcast customer service in an effort to cancel his service. What ensued was an 18-minute, Kafkaesque struggle with an overly persistent employee, which Block partially recorded and posted online. The recording went viral, and has now been listened to more than 5 million times. The interaction was covered by every major news network, immortalized in a New Yorker cartoon, and included in a David Letterman top 10 list (“Lesser-known Labors of Hercules”). “It hit the cultural zeitgeist something fierce,” Block says. “I guess it touched some kind of nerve. It was a keyed-up, aggressive version of a call I think most people have had.”
Thousands of Comcast customers across the country have experienced similar customer service nightmares when dealing with the company. Usually these involve multiple rounds of phone calls, missed technician appointments, and unexpected fees. In fact, forums like comcastmustdie.com and the Comcast section of Reddit have been created to give customers a dedicated space to vent.
Despite being reviled, Comcast is enormously successful. It’s the largest cable company in the US, the product of a deliberate, then aggressive, growth strategy that involved buying up short-lived companies from cable’s early days. Most recently, Comcast bought NBCUniversal as part of an effort to own more of the programming it serves, making it the largest media company in the world. It is also the 57th most profitable public company, ahead of Intel, Anheuser-Busch, and Goldman Sachs.
For its next act, Comcast wants to acquire Time Warner Cable: America’s second-largest cable provider with a similarly poor reputation of tormenting its customers…
[continues at The Verge]
Last week, I asked the Disinfo crowd to vote on which poll they’d like to see. I plan on running each of these at some point, but wanted to see which one was the most popular. “Favorite paradox” won by ONE vote. This has been by far the closest poll we’ve done. With that said, we will be running “your favorite paradox” poll. We’re in the process of putting together a “Boring Awards” campaign for our film, BOREDOM, so I may have to hijack the poll for that when the nominations are in. (I’ll be drafting another post on that later). No worries, though, eventually you will see all of these on our site.
Here’s a list of the paradoxes you can vote for. Of course, I can’t list them all – there are so many. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments.Favorite Paradox
“If a crocodile steals a child and promises its return if the father can correctly guess exactly what the crocodile will do, how should the crocodile respond in the case that the father correctly guesses that the child will not be returned?”
“I know that I know nothing.”
“If you remove a single grain of sand from a heap, you still have a heap. Keep removing single grains, and the heap will disappear. Can a single grain of sand make the difference between heap and non-heap?”
This sentence is false.
“Suppose one interprets the adjectives “autological” and “heterological” as follows:
Is the word “heterological”, meaning “not applicable to itself”, a heterological word?”
“If a being can perform any action, then it should be able to create a task which this being is unable to perform; hence, this being cannot perform all actions. Yet, on the other hand, if this being cannot create a task that it is unable to perform, then there exists something it cannot do.”
“It seems like you can replace any component of a ship, and it is still the same ship. So you can replace them all, one at a time, and it is still the same ship. However, you can then take all the original pieces, and assemble them into a ship. That, too, is the same ship you began with.”
“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”Poll of Polls
Which poll topic would you like to see? (Send in submissions through the contact us page)
Total Voters: 265
How to visit Ancient Sites – Mindfulness & Meditation
This is the first in a series of short articles highlighting the approach I use when visiting ancient sites. I regularly organize and co-host tours to many powerful ancient sites around the world. During my tours I have observed the different ways people interact with sacred space. On one hand we have mainstream tours with guides reciting dates and names over a microphone while the tour members wear headsets. At the other end of the spectrum we have people visiting ancient and sacred sites to meditate. After witnessing these different ways of interacting, I felt compelled to share the techniques I use. I hope my insights will help others to maximize their time on location.Ancient ritual
Anyone that has visited a museum or studied books on ancient cultures will no doubt have run into two labels “ancient ritual” and “ceremonial purposes”, these labels among others are used to explain in very broad terms what archeologists believe our ancestors were up to.
The purpose of many ancient rituals and ceremonies, in my opinion, is to act as a mechanism to move beyond our normal waking level of consciousness into the intuitive space, a place of deep inner knowing. Today our challenge is to move beyond the rational logical mind we use for most of our every day tasks. People who meditate understand there is something beyond this rational perspective. Many of us have learned to only identify with the rational state of mind and so it has become our default lens for viewing the world. However, it is not the only lens at our disposal to view the world through, by learning to meditate we can start to awaken our intuition and innate inner knowing. In truth it is not my place to convince anyone this is possible, I simply say, why not give it a try? Perhaps, as I have, you will unlock a whole new internal landscape, one that brings you some inner peace and serenity. This is the strength of meditation and the reason the practice has lasted for 1000’s of years, no matter the time period these ancient techniques can help the human body and mind to relax, the practice is as relevant today as it ever has been!
For our purpose of visiting ancient sites, modern day ritual can act as a facilitator for changes in the balance of activity in the hemispheres of the brain, changes that can lead to deep meditative states of mind. Here is a quote from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center about the latest scientific findings on meditation.
“In the last ten years, significant research has shown mindfulness to address health issues such as lower blood pressure and boost the immune system; increase attention and focus, including aid those suffering from ADHD; help with difficult mental states such as anxiety and depression, fostering well-being and less emotional reactivity; and thicken the brain in areas in charge of decision making, emotional flexibility, and empathy.”
Above quote taken from http://marc.ucla.edu/default.cfm
Science can measure changes inside of us but it can’t tell us what we should be feeling or experiencing. To understand this we need to be in the present moment and aware of what’s happening to us, if we combine the technique of meditation with a visit to a powerful ancient site, it’s possible to achieve deep insights.
My advice is to follow the tenants of ceremony or ritual to allow yourself time to transition from your normal state of mind into the intuitive space, for some this may happen very quickly, for others this may take longer, the important point to remember is, it’s a process. Experiment with different techniques to find the right one for you.How and why to meditate at ancient sites.
Why: In the Buddhist tradition Vipassanā meditation means “insight into the true nature of reality”. The practice of mindfulness and meditation helps to root our awareness in the present moment, we separate ourselves from our current stresses and problems, relationship issues and other thoughts that play on our minds. By being present we can get a sense of freedom and peace, which is very liberating. This feeling can also lead to a sense of gratitude and serenity.
How: Taking control of our breathing from the autonomous nervous system is a good way to bring our busy mind under control. If needed, we can recite a mantra to stop the flow of everyday thoughts. A simple mantra would be, I am breathing in, I know I am breathing in, I am breathing out, I know I am breathing out. Take long deep breaths while repeating this mantra. With practice you can extend the length of your breath by breathing more deeply into the bottom of your lungs.
When: The best time to visit an ancient site is in the early morning or evening. Sunrise and sunset are the most powerful times of day because they are the times the electromagnetic field of the sun sweeps across the surface of the planet.
Where: Try to find an ancient site that still has its “sense of place”. Look out for reconstruction. Is the site close to its original condition? Is the site in use by local people? A good sign in Ireland and around the world can be ribbons tied into trees. These often mark powerful locations for meditation.
More information: For further articles in this series, ancient site tour news, conferences and podcasts, please visit http://infinite-connections.co.uk/. Our next tour to Egypt is in January 2015 with Dr. Robert Schoch.About the author: Gary Evans
Gary Evans has been investigating earth mysteries for more than twenty years. From studying sound acoustics inside the Great Pyramid to exploring Moray, an ancient site high up in the Andes mountains of Peru, his work has taken him to some of the world’s most fascinating and mysterious places.
Gary also works to promote conferences in the US and Europe such as CPAK, Awake and Aware, Megalithomania, Paradigm Symposium, and the Eternal Knowledge Festival.
Gary recorded an interview with Red Ice Creations, this can provide an overview of his interests, he also discusses a number of experiences from his tours to ancient sites http://www.redicecreations.com/radio3fourteen/2012/R314-120711.php
Full tour details are here http://infinite-connections.co.uk/tours/january-2015-egypt-tour/
The post How to visit Ancient Sites – Mindfulness & Meditation appeared first on disinformation.
The long awaited return of Snu Voogelbreinder’s underground magnum opus is finally at an end. After an initial release of only 500 copies, Snu has now made the book available in .pdf format. With literally thousands of species discussed and meticulously referenced, it is regarded by many to be one of the most comprehensive and up to date references for psychoactive plants and animals in existence.
Garden of Eden, by Snu Voogelbreinder explores the vast world of psychoactive plants, animals and other organisms, and their uses in shamanism, spiritual exploration and healing. Encompassing scientific research, personal experience, ancient knowledge and esoteric philosophies, a multidisciplinary approach is taken, giving a wide view of the effects of natural substances on the mind, with an emphasis towards beneficial outcomes. Preliminary information is given regarding neurochemistry, drug-free consciousness alteration, and methods of use, from cultivation or wild-sourcing through to harvesting, processing, consumption and navigation of the effects.
Thousands of species from over 1700 genera are discussed, with over 440 genera covered in greater detail, including botanical and zoological descriptions. Also included are a detailed index of natural chemicals of particular interest, and a huge bibliography containing thousands of reference entries.
*Thank you Keeper Trout for bringing this to our attention!
The post Garden of Eden – Best Reference Guide to Psychoactives? appeared first on disinformation.
There is no other place in the world that can ease my anxiety or release my troubled mind than the cinema. There’s something special about watching a film on a large screen with like minded movie-goers surrounding you. And while I doubt this newfangled idea will catch-on, it’s still irritating to think about. Though, and I have to admit, that I’m often more annoyed by the loud popcorn crunchers and rustling wrappers than I am by someone looking at their phone.
Theaters in major Chinese cities have starting experimenting with “bullet screens” on which audiences can send text messages commenting on the film, which are then projected directly onto the screen.
If you’re sensitive to people using their cellphones during a movie, then going to the movie theater in China would be far from relaxing experience. Rows of underlit faces and chiming ringtones punctuate the show, despite requests asking patrons to turn their phones before the movie begins.
This experience is set to become institutionalized during some movies for younger viewers who can’t spend five minutes away from their tablet or phone, according to a report in the China Youth Daily.
The inspiration behind the idea appears to be that it mimicks that of watching a movie on mobile media, which is how most Chinese people watch films, with people sending messages about what they like or dislike about the movie.
Michael Bell describes how his unarmed son was killed by a police officer, who was immediately excused from accountability. The excuse of excessive force may be familiar, the officer claimed the victim went for his gun. Bell later went on to campaign for outside reviews for unarmed police shootings in Wisconsin. This approach adopted across the board combined with ending the war on drugs, demilitarizing, and personal cameras on all officers would be ideal.
After police in Kenosha, Wis., shot my 21-year-old son to death outside his house ten years ago — and then immediately cleared themselves of all wrongdoing — an African-American man approached me and said: “If they can shoot a white boy like a dog, imagine what we’ve been going through.”
I could imagine it all too easily, just as the rest of the country has been seeing it all too clearly in the terrible images coming from Ferguson, Mo., in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. On Friday, after a week of angry protests, the police in Ferguson finally identified the officer implicated in Brown’s shooting, although the circumstances still remain unclear.
I have known the name of the policeman who killed my son, Michael, for ten years. And he is still working on the force in Kenosha.Yes, there is good reason to think that many of these unjustifiable homicides by police across the country are racially motivated. But there is a lot more than that going on here. Our country is simply not paying enough attention to the terrible lack of accountability of police departments and the way it affects all of us—regardless of race or ethnicity. Because if a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy — that was my son, Michael — can be shot in the head under a street light with his hands cuffed behind his back, in front of five eyewitnesses (including his mother and sister), and his father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew in three wars for his country — that’s me — and I still couldn’t get anything done about it, then Joe the plumber and Javier the roofer aren’t going to be able to do anything about it either. CONTINUE READING
The post What This Man Did After Police Killed His Son Ten Years Ago appeared first on disinformation.
One has to consider that the source of this op-ed by Liz Peek is Republican Party mouthpiece Fox News, but still it’s a question worth asking given the Times’ near-maniacal support of the marijuana legalization movement:
The legalize-pot bandwagon has a new conductor. With the single-mindedness of Hillary Clinton seeking the Oval Office, the New York Times is pushing for legalization of marijuana. The paper has published no fewer than eight editorials or op-eds approving speedy decriminalization of pot in just the past few weeks. What’s it all about?
Let us dismiss conjecture that the Times is gunning for a Public Service Pulitzer, which they have not won for a decade. Instead, two thoughts occur.
First, the Times may view decriminalizing marijuana as the next great progressive wave, following on the heels of same-sex marriage and, in earlier years, abortion rights. A smaller wave, to be sure, but one that liberals (and libertarians) can ride with enthusiasm.
A second reason may be more compelling — the Times needs to build its online circulation to survive. What better way than to embrace a cause especially popular with Millenials, the prime readers of news online, and not a group especially excited about the Grey Lady?
The paper has published no fewer than eight editorials or op-eds approving speedy decriminalization of pot in just the past few weeks.
The Times’ enthusiasm for legal pot knows no bounds and entertains few doubts. (Except in their own organization, which reportedly drug-tests job applicants, and rejects those testing positive for pot.) Which is remarkable, since most people well versed in the subject acknowledge serious risks associated with habitual ingestion of marijuana.
In fact, a coalition of groups opposed to legalization – including The American Society of Addiction Medicine, The National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the National Families in Action — ran a full-page ad in the Times countering the paper’s position. That might give them pause, but no…
For the Times, pot legalization is also worthy since enforcement of our laws is “racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.”
The paper maintains, leaning on a report prepared by the ACLU, that blacks and whites use pot at the same rate, but that “blacks are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession”. But, the Times admits that only about one percent of the people behind bars in our country are there for charges relating to possessing or selling marijuana.
As other have noted, if today’s sentencing guidelines need to be changed, let’s do so. Altering how we enforce the laws is a different debate than whether the law should be eliminated.
Why is the New York Times putting themselves in the midst of this debate? Because, like many other newspapers, the Times is in trouble…
[continues at Fox News]
Intriguing Chat Show from DownUnder. The pace is languid, but the discussion is fascinating and relevant.
And the house-band are kind of weird (in a good way).
Hosts Richard Wolstencroft and David Thrussell
The post The Star Chamber: Episode 2: The Great Immigration Debate. appeared first on disinformation.
Warning! Spoiler Alert! Do not click on the video if you do not want to know who wins!!!
In this leaked clip from the 66th Annual Emmy Awards, those goons from JoyCamp, Benny and Kevin, present the award for Best Psychopath of the Year. It’s a tight race… who will come out on top?
As someone who’s used online delivery services (Fresh Direct), I hope they don’t meet the same demise.
via The New York Times (please follow the link to read the entire article):
Last year, I was excited to hear about a new start-up in San Francisco that delivered cheap bottles of wine within an hour. It was called Rewinery, and it was fantastic. I ordered a $5 malbec one day and a $10 chardonnay the next, delivered by bike courier for a modest fee. Already, San Francisco was crawling with bikes, inching up the hills, shuttling sushi and groceries and new clothes, all summoned with the tap of a finger. But Rewinery was the first of the delivery start-ups that made me feel the way I felt back in 2000, when I could order a video and a pint of ice cream to my doorstep from Kozmo.com. Rewinery felt too good to be true.
It was. One day, seeking refreshment, I opened the app to find that Rewinery had gone out of business.
In the tech crash of the early 2000s, on-demand delivery services like Kozmo and Webvan weren’t just among the most colossal failures. They also became a sort of grim joke, symbolizing the excess that portended the bust. Afterward, conventional wisdom hardened: Web-enabled delivery was not a good business because it simply cost too much to build warehouses, manage an inventory and pay drivers. There was too little opportunity to recoup expenditures in delivery fees; people will pay only so much for toilet paper to be delivered before they decide to fetch it themselves.
But something is in the air of late, making hindsight blurry. Despite the early demise of Rewinery and the shrunken ambitions of others, such as eBay Now, similar start-ups with names like Caviar, SpoonRocket and DoorDash have raised half a billion dollars in investment in the last year, according to CB Insights, which tracks venture capital. Even Louis Borders, the founder of Webvan (as well as the Borders bookstore chain, another Internet casualty), is at work on a grocery delivery start-up. Uber is using the $1.4 billion it just raised to expand beyond delivering people to delivering things. Meanwhile, venture capitalists joke that every other entrepreneur they meet pitches an “Uber for X,” bringing goods and services on demand: laundry (Washio), ice cream (Ice Cream Life), marijuana (Eaze) and so on. Investors are stuck wondering whether this is 2000 all over again, or whether this new breed of delivery start-ups can succeed where the last crop so famously failed.
John A. Deighton, a Harvard Business School professor who wrote a case study on Webvan, likes to compare the delivery business to shining shoes. “You make as much profit on one shoe as you do on a thousand shoes,” he said. “There’s just no scale.” In years past, it was difficult for Deighton to even teach his students about Webvan, because its fatal flaws were so obvious. They didn’t understand how the euphoria of the dot-com boom could have obscured its shortcomings. But in the last year, he has been asked to teach it three times. “Something has changed,” he said.
The post Delivery Services Today vs. The Delivery Services of 2000 appeared first on disinformation.
Despite all the advice about lie detection going around, study after study has found that it is very difficult to spot when someone is lying.
Previous tests involving watching videos of suspects typically find that both experts and non-experts come in at around 50/50: in other words you might as well flip a coin.
Now, though, a new study published in Human Communication Research, has found that a process of active questioning yielded almost perfect results, with 97.8% of liars successfully detected (Levine et al., 2014).
The process of lie detection has nothing to do with supposed ‘tells’ like avoiding eye-contact or sweating, and everything to do with the way the suspect is questioned.
In the series of studies, participants played a trivia game in which they were secretly offered a chance to cheat.
In one experiment 12% cheated and in another 44.9% chose to cheat.
Participants were then interviewed using a variety of active questioning techniques.
One group were interrogated using the Reid Technique, which is employed by many law enforcement professionals in North America.
It involves tactics like presuming the suspect is guilty, shifting the blame away from the suspect and asking loaded questions like “Did you plan this or did it just happen?”
This technique was 100% effective with all 33 guilty participants owning up to their ‘crime’.
A second group were interviewed by US federal agents with substantial experience of interrogation.
They were able to detect 97.8% of people that cheated — in reality all but two of 89 people.
Bear two things in mind, though:
Continue reading to learn more about active questioning.
The post The Real Secret to Detecting Lies is Not Within Body Language appeared first on disinformation.
The Moscow Times is reporting that Bulgarian pranksters are repainting Soviet-era monuments so that the Soviet military heroes depicted are recast as American Superheroes (h/t to trans-atlantyk posting at reddit’s /r/worldnews):
Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported.
The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.
The monument was sprayed with red paint on the eve of the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s celebration of its 123rd anniversary, the Sofia-based Novinite news agency reported.
The vandalism was the latest in a series of similar recent incidents in Bulgaria — each drawing angry criticism from Moscow…
[continues at Moscow Times]
The post Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Vandalizing Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes appeared first on disinformation.
H/T Laughing Squid
Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting explores depictions of texting and online interactions in film.
“Is there a better way of showing a text message in a film? How about the internet? Even though we’re well into the digital age, film is still ineffective at depicting the world we live in. Maybe the solution lies not in content, but in form.”
William J. Astore outlines America’s history of bombing and how we can expect more of it.
via TomDispatch (please follow the link to read the entire piece):
When you do something again and again, placing great faith in it, investing enormous amounts of money in it, only to see indifferent or even negative results, you wouldn’t be entirely surprised if a neutral observer questioned your sanity or asked you if you were part of some cult. Yet few Americans question the sanity or cult-like behavior of American presidents as they continue to seek solutions to complex issues by bombing Iraq (as well as numerous other countries across the globe).
Poor Iraq. From Operation Desert Shield/Storm under George H.W. Bush to enforcing no-fly zones under Bill Clinton to Operation Iraqi Freedom under George W. Bush to the latest “humanitarian” bombing under Barack Obama, the one constant is American bombs bursting in Iraqi desert air. Yet despite this bombing — or rather in part because of it — Iraq is a devastated and destabilized country, slowly falling apart at seams that have been unraveling under almost a quarter-century of steady, at times relentless, pounding. “Shock and awe,” anyone?
Well, I confess to being shocked: that U.S. airpower assets, including strategic bombers like B-52s and B-1s, built during the Cold War to deter and, if necessary, attack that second planetary superpower, the Soviet Union, have routinely been used to attack countries that are essentially helpless to defend themselves from bombing.
In 1985, when I entered active duty as an Air Force lieutenant, if you had asked me which country the U.S. would “have” to bomb in four sustained aerial campaigns spanning three decades, among the last countries I would have suggested was Iraq. Heck, back then we were still helping Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, sharing intelligence that aided his military in pinpointing (and using his chemical weapons against) Iranian troop concentrations. The Reagan administration had sent future Bush secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld there to shake Saddam’s hand for a photo op. We even overlooked Iraq’s “accidental” bombing in 1987 of a American naval vessel, the USS Stark, that resulted in the death of 37 American sailors, all in the name of containing Iran (and Shia revolutionary fervor).
It’s said that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but Saddam didn’t remain a friend for long. Emboldened by U.S. support in his war with Iran, he took Kuwait, only to initiate the first round of devastating U.S. air raids against his military during Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991. As these and subsequent bombing campaigns damaged and debilitated Iraq, contributing to Saddam’s overthrow in 2003, the Shia majority in that country found common cause with Iran, strengthening one branch of militant Islam. At the same time, the general destabilization of Iraq from a generation of air war and invasion has led to a Sunni revolt, the strengthening of an al-Qaeda-style movement, and the establishment of a “caliphate” across significant parts of Iraq (and Syria).
Now, given that less-than-stellar record, does anyone want to hazard a guess about the next American response to peoples and leaders our government doesn’t like in Iraq or the rest of the Middle East? My money is on more bombing, which surely requires explanation.
By Matthew Bailes, Swinburne University of Technology
More people are using the internet to find what they want and bypass big business.
jessica zhou/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND
There’s nothing corporations like more than a good monopoly. Plug in the consumer and turn on the profits! In Australia there’s seemingly no end to the spiralling cost of living as our utilities, banks and other service providers find new ways to hit us with fees that deliver them record profits.
Although in principle we have competition, in practice it is often difficult to understand the true cost of changing banks, electricity suppliers or internet service providers (ISPs) so we end up getting gouged.
But recently citizens have been fighting back, and it might signal a new dawn for consumers. The answer is not in shopping around between this duopoly or that, but in using the internet to advertise, supply and connect with other citizens that cut out the middlemen and eliminate the establishment.Room on the web
One example of this is AirBnB, a magnificent service that enables people to rent out rooms in their houses/apartments to tourists and people travelling on business at a fraction of the cost of local hotels.
Before the internet, such a service was impossible, as the cost of advertising was too extreme and, perhaps more importantly, testimonials couldn’t be used to give potential consumers any reliable insights into what the service was really like.
Needless to say, hoteliers are up in arms against AirBnB and so are our local governments who find it difficult or impossible to charge taxes on such services. Exchanging cash between clients and the owners is difficult for governments to trace, so it is perhaps not surprising that products like AirBnB are unpopular with governments.
On our recent sabbatical we both found our US house, and rented our own on sabbaticalhomes.com, a website that coordinates house-swapping among academics. Similar services exist to rent out your place while on holidays to earn some extra cash. Rather than buy a car we used Zipcars, rent-by-the-hour vehicles distributed around our neighbourhood.
In a similar model to AirBnB, Uber is a service that replaces taxis. In many cities in the world, taxis are smelly, driven badly and restricted in numbers to those lucky few who can obtain a licence.
Uber and companies such as Lyft facilitate ride sharing that competes directly with taxis, have vastly superior smartphone apps to eliminate the need for expensive infrastructure, and are often much more pleasant (and cheaper) than cabs.What’s next?
But apart from taxis and hotels, what else can the internet provide to reduce the stranglehold of monopolistic companies?
Well there is the internet itself! In my home my ISP offers ridiculously non-linear pricing for downloads. For A$59.95 I get 100 GB, whereas A$69.95 delivers 250 GB.
Since I never use up my quota and have plenty of bandwidth, I’ve let my neighbours use my excess as the modem is only a few metres from their place. It actually makes a lot of sense to share the bandwidth rather than each have a A$59.95 subscription.
Indeed, with a few judiciously places CAT-5 cables and routers I could in principle farm out my service to four or five neighbours and we’d all be much better off, especially the pensioners who rarely use more than a few GB per month.
While travelling, I’m usually within range of many Wi-Fi modems, all being jealously protected by their owners with passwords. How about if someone developed an app to allow limited but secure bandwidth to anyone who made their own home service available to others? This would not only eliminate outrageous 3G download costs but greatly increase the overall bandwidth of mobile internet for everyone.
How about cars? I have two of them, and rarely use one. Maybe I should rent it out to the rest of the street much like the way Zipcar operates in the States?
Electricity. In its infinite wisdom our governments have reduced the buyback rate of solar to 8c/kWh whereas many of us are paying in excess of 30c/kWh from our electricity providers. So my solar supplies energy to the wires on the street, five metres away my neighbour sucks it back in and the electricity companies cream over 20c/kWh for provision of the unsightly poles and wires.Neighbourhood networks
Perhaps I should throw an extension cord over the fence to my neighbours and market my excess solar power to them and split the difference? After all its kind of fun having a power station on your roof and entering the energy provision sector!
By teaming up with my neighbours, perhaps we could develop our own neighbourhood grid? If batteries keep getting cheaper and backup generators could be added perhaps the whole neighbourhood can rid itself of the big electricity providers?
And then there’s the banks and our superannuation funds, many of us have home loans, pay establishment fees, and pay 2% to 3% more from the bank that cash in our superannuation funds earns in interest. Why don’t our super schemes loan us 100% of our own superannuation balances so we can eliminate the banks? If someone is going to make a profit out of the young me I’d like it to be the retired me!
While we’re on the subject of bank bashing, how about an app that enables purchases of amounts less than $10 in Australia without an exorbitant fee?
All that’s required for many of these paradigm-shifting citizen-based cost savers are organisations to facilitate the internet app development, access to a secure cloud for information storage and transactions, and some legal work. The people can do the rest.
Matthew Bailes does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
Who said solar energy wasn’t going to cause casualties? AP’s The Big Story reports on burning birds flying over solar panel arrays with flames and smoke trailing behind them:
Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.
Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.
The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.
The deaths are “alarming. It’s hard to say whether that’s the location or the technology,” said Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. “There needs to be some caution.”
The bird kills mark the latest instance in which the quest for clean energy sometimes has inadvertent environmental harm. Solar farms have been criticized for their impacts on desert tortoises, and wind farms have killed birds, including numerous raptors…
[continues at AP's The Big Story]
The post Solar Panel Arrays Setting Birds On Fire While In Flight appeared first on disinformation.
What will they come up with next?
The news: This has gone too far. In its latest attempt to prevent the legalization of medical marijuana, a Florida group has launched a new campaign that suggests pot — not alcohol or roofies — will be used for date rape.
Sorry, ‘No On 2,’ marijuana is simply not a date rape drug.
Here’s how actual date rape drugs work: Predators slip drugs like ketamines (Special K) or rohypnol (roofies), which typically have no color, smell or taste, into drinks or food when their target isn’t paying attention. The drugs not only make you physically weak but slow down your brain, making you feel confused and sometimes knocking you unconscious, thereby unable to refuse sex.
Marijuana doesn’t work that way. Worse still, misleading ads like these distract people from the fact that a (perfectly legal) drug is the single most commonly used substance to help commit sexual assault — alcohol. While there is some evidence to suggest that people experience impaired judgment while high, weed’s effect on reasoning and reaction time is far less pronounced than alcohol’s. Never mind the women survivors who have actually experienced sexual assault after being drugged with real date rape substances.
The ‘No On 2′ group, which opposes Florida’s Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative 2, also happens to be the same organization that previously posted a video called The Devil is in the Details which claimed that Amendment 2 would grant easy access to pot for anyone, regardless of their medical state. Yet the amendment specifically states that it “does not authorize ‘the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.’”
The post Anti-Marijuana Ad Positions Marijuana as a Date Rape Drug appeared first on disinformation.
A hoax? Maybe. Ridiculous? Definitely.
via Oddity Central:
The Japanese giant hornet is known as one of the world’s largest and most aggressive insects. It is two inches long with a quarter-inch stinger, can fly at speeds up to 25 mph, and is feared for its powerful, poisonous stings that claim at least 40 lives in Japan every summer. So when a Japanese man made an outlandish claim that he had actually tamed a hornet, no one really believed him.
But Twitter user Mikuru625’s has been trying to convince everyone that he actually has a pet giant hornet by posting photos of it. He said that he had captured the hornet with a butterfly net and held it with tweezers while he removed its sting and poison sacs. He then put a string around its thorax, so that the insect follows him wherever he goes. “He does bite occasionally but it doesn’t hurt,” the owner says.
To prove his claims, Mikuru625 tweeted a series of pictures with the wasp crawling over his fingers and his cell phone. It really does appear harmless, and you can even see the leash that he tied around it. Unless he managed to create a model that looks exactly like a Japanese hornet, this could just be the real thing. Of course, it could also be dead…
The post Japanese Man Tames Giant Hornet, Keeps It on a Leash appeared first on disinformation.