An Afghan girl looks on as members of the Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team repair the irrigation system at the Chowkay Demonstration Farm in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province on Jan. 2. Members of the ADT also prepared the farm’s greenhouse for vegetable planting during their mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Peter Shinn) (Released).
April 18, 2011 archive
Apr 18 2011
Apr 18 2011
The other day, on April 15, veteran journalist, war correspondent and truthdig.com columnist Chris Hedges was interviewed on RT News about the state of American society, repeating his oft stated warnings about the long corporate assault on and takeover of politics, the seeming death of reason and critical thinking in public discourse, and the development of a feudalistic “totalitarian democracy” in which the vast majority of the population is reduced through a media manufactured state of ignorance, inability to think clearly, and entertainment dazed complacence to a state of serfdom as a renewable ‘resource’ for a capitalism defined by American and multinational big business, and critiquing from this perspective the US budget developments of the past few days.
The budget is closing American schools and libraries across the country while firing teachers and taking away collective bargaining rights, Hedges notes, while banks and the largest corporations are not paying any taxes, including Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, and GE. Protesters gathered on Saturday April 17 at New York City’s Union Square for the Sound of Resistance protests, part of the US Uncut tax weekend protests challenging the banks, most notably Bank of America, for avoiding paying taxes.
usuncut.org’s about page states that:
US Uncut is a grassroots movement taking direct action against corporate tax cheats and unnecessary and unfair public service cuts across the U.S. Washington’s proposed budget for the coming year sends a clear message: The wrath of budget cuts will fall upon the shoulders of hard-working Americans. That’s unacceptable.
Obama seeks to trim $1.1 trillion from the budget in the next ten years by cutting or eliminating over 200 federal programs, many dedicated to social services and education. For instance, it cuts in half funding to subsidize heating for low-income Americans; limits an expansion of the Pell grant program for students; and decreases Environmental Protection Agency funding by over 12%.
Meanwhile, Republicans are using their new House majority to slash spending even more brutally. The GOP has made it clear that they are bent on raiding funds for Social Security, Medicare, education; determined to kill health care reform; and gut needed investments in infrastructure, climate change and job creation, at a time when America needs it most.
These cuts will come on top of very painful austerity measures made at the state-level across our nation–worth hundreds of billions–since the recession began.
In short, budget cuts demonstrate that Washington has abandoned ordinary Americans.
What is making the situation worse is the ignorance of politicians and others leaping around he fringes. Hedges also reminds that the US is the only industrialized nation in the world that argues over the existence of evolution. Magical thinking, combined with a military superpower, is frightening, he says. “We invest emotional energy on the ridiculous and the sublime… the liberal class has been decimated… what used to be unconstitutional is now legal“, he says, pointing to illegal searches under the Patriot Act and corporate bailouts under the health care legislation. The rights and needs of citizens are being ignored in favor of corporations.
While all across the blogosphere and in mainstream media I watch people argue about which faction of the ‘corporatist party’ to elect in 2012, I’m reminded strongly here of something Chris Floyd wrote nearly four years ago, in September 2007:
Apr 18 2011
It is time, now, to leave Fundamentalism and schism behind us. Time to take the best, the highest, of the worlds consciousness, religion, and spirituality….and leave the worst of the Dogma, power plays, and divisions behind us. Taking the Universal truths from each of the worlds traditions of higher consciousness, thought and practice and begin to start weaving them together into a single tapestry of all the remarkably similar truths that serve Humankind.
Apr 18 2011
U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show
By Craig Whitlock
The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.
The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”
Apr 18 2011
“All aboard?” The conductor cries out. The people, men, women, and children file in. The train fills quickly. Finally, after what are only mere minutes, the engine turns. Steam, or today, diesel fumes, billow out the pipes. We are off on a road of no return. It is another election season. In truth, these never really begin nay end. The cycle is as the chug-chug of any locomotive; it is continuous, monotonous, a wearisome drone. The series starts as it always does, with hope, dreams of change, and the catechetic realization that the Messiah has come. Soon we see this redeemer is but a man or woman, a meager mortal. He, be he the President of the United States, the Libyan “Leader,” the “boy next door,” the “good girl,” you or me is not the savor we imagined.
Apr 18 2011
grampy does not live downstairs anymore. He does not have his workshop to fix things. He does not have the fun of the summer swimming pool, the deck the dogs jumped into the pool from. The 4 wheelers, the snowmobiles, the plastic PooBear that automaticaly blew bubbles, or the snowfort igloo maker nor any of those suburban trappings I used to make your life magical and fun. I have none of this stuff no more.
Yet at two your eyes light up and you scream my name with such excitement. It is gone now. Maybe, perhaps we have a year or so left and then what. Getting new jobs at 55 years of age. Starting over and that prospect of moving to remote cheaper rural America when ten bucks a gallon gas is imminent?
This baby boomers kids can’t make it like I did. He won’t have the opportunity I did. The normalcy I did. The compassion, the common sense.
What do I think tonight. How is my mood.
“Have a good one”
Have a good what?
What did you say to me?
“Are you fucking serious or fucking delusional or are you on designer psych meds.
“Have a good one?”
Check out the nuclear rain.
Yeah, that was nasty, even for me.
Apr 18 2011
This is sort of a companion piece to Friday’s Popular Culture piece about eight track tapes. There was quite a response to that piece, and several commentators suggested that we talk about vinyl records tonight. I have a great respect for my readers, so I am happy to oblige.
On the surface, records seem to be quite simple things indeed. In practice, few things are further from the truth. While the concept behind records is fairly simple, the technology is extremely complex to attain high fidelity, defined as sound reproduced with high enough quality as to give the impression that actual performers are playing at the time. In other words, artifacts of recording and playback should be so small as barely to be noticed.
Apr 18 2011
Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence
After the outcry when the Caltrain system between San Francisco and San Jose (and once in a while beyond) faced a scare that it would drop from 86 trains per day down to a peak-commute-only 48 trains per day …
… Caltrain was able to scrape together a 76 train per day schedule.
Clem at the Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog ran the schedule through his commute service index, which weights 70% the average trip time, 30% the best trip time, 20% the average wait between trains, and 15% the maximum service gap.
So giving the original 86 train schedule a benchmark score of 100, how far did the 76 train schedule drop?
It rose to 104. On Clem’s metric, the 76 train per day schedule is an improvement.
? What gives?
Apr 18 2011
Reprint from US UNCUT Daily Kos Site:
On Friday, the San Francisco branch of US Uncut temporarily took over the San Francisco branch of Bank of America.
This is what happened:
Now we want you to do the same thing, with or without musical accompaniment – and we’re going to tell you how.
As the video says, the government claims we’re broke, and is slashing necessities for working and retired Americans. Meanwhile, corporate tax cheats like Bank of America and GE rake in billions in profit – and pay back zero in taxes.
Something’s wrong here – and tomorrow, on Tax Day 2011, Americans are going to stand as one and point it out.
Tomorrow, let’s show the powers that be that Americans are seriously opposed to cutting schools, firefighters, police, healthcare, job creation…and seriously in favor of corporations actually paying their taxes.
The US Uncut Team
P.S. You can learn more here about how the San Francisco action was planned and carried out.
Originally posted to US Uncut on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 11:12 AM PDT.
Apr 18 2011
If your view of politics is filtered by a lens marked “Progressive” or “Liberal”, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve been gnashing your teeth and pulling your hair in frustration over the “give away the store, then negotiate” approach professional Democrats have used when facing the challenges from the Tea Party last year, and all that’s come after.
Over and over and over people like me have written stories wondering why Democrats, starting with this President, don’t get out in a very public way and slam Republican policies, over and over and over-especially when most Americans hate the things Republicans seem to love to support.
Turning over Government to the highest bidder?
Not so popular.
Going back to a heathcare system run by, for, and of the insurance industry?
Again, not so much.
Jacking up taxes and healthcare costs for you and me in order to provide another trillion in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires?
So unpopular pollsters hardly believe it.
But there is another way, and today’s story is in two parts: we’re going to talk about how hard it is to get Democrats, as a group, to get loud and get aggressive-and then we’re going to talk about Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is out there showing any reluctant Democrat just exactly how you can “grow the brand”.