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Purveyor

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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 19,350

Journal Archives

A Renewed Discourse on Inequality

Corporate personhood and the civil and criminal protections it affords, accompanied by the ability to craft legislation and pour unlimited funds into the political process, exacerbate inequality and destroy principles.

Sunday, 09 February 2014 00:00

Suddenly, it is in vogue to discuss economic inequality. The idea of inequality and how it is interpreted today is relatively new in human history and has its roots in the Enlightenment period. By the same token, the discourse surrounding it is old enough to have evolved greatly since this period to the form it enters in the public consciousness via the mainstream broadcast media today. As usual, now that the quicksand is up to our chins, we have decided it's time to start looking for help.

In many ways, having a rational conversation about economic inequality is like trying to have a rational discussion about climate change. Both have reached a consensus within their respective scientific communities that these issues are influenced by human behavior. Problematically, both are also highly charged and emotional matters being debated in high definition by a shallow pool of uniformed talent that panders to the lowest common intellectual denominator among us.

Many of the themes examined by Enlightenment philosophers, scientists and scholars remain highly relevant and are worth revisiting. These figures attempted to define the role of man in civil society, which was revolutionary thinking as Western civilization emerged from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. From the mid-17th to the mid-19th centuries, philosophers such as Descartes, Locke and Rousseau, scientists from Newton to Darwin and writers such as Dostoevsky, Dickens and Melville created enduring masterpieces that challenge our concepts of liberty, democracy and the rights of man to this day.

Vive La Corporation!

Understanding the foundations of economic inequality is instructive when examining it through a modern lens. However, there is a disruptive shift that has occurred that cannot be overlooked. The idea that corporations enjoy the very liberties we associate with humans is a dangerous departure from the theories suggested by the intellectual luminaries highlighted above.

Inequality is multifaceted and takes on several meanings depending upon the context in which it is raised. Inequalities associated to gender and race, for example, are significant issues that move the discussion in meaningful directions but often raise the emotional temperature. As economic inequality serves as both the underlying cause and product of these factors, it therefore provides a more complete template for analysis. Without the polemic that surrounded the nature of liberty and the human person's place in society, we would have little concept of equality and therefore no ability to debate tributaries such as sexual orientation, gender and race.

MORE...

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21708-a-renewed-discourse-on-inequality

Netanyahu Convenes Ministers To Discuss Growing Israel Economic Boycott Threats

Knesset ministers to consider whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through diplomatic channels.

By Barak Ravid | Feb. 9, 2014 | 7:09 PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting Sunday evening to discuss how to cope with the growing threat of the economic boycott on Israel in light of continued occupation and settlement construction in the West Bank.

Senior Israeli officials said prior to the meeting that the plan was to try to decide on a strategy and determine whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through quieter, diplomatic channels.

The discussion had been scheduled to take place last week, but canceled at the last minute due to the political row between Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Sunday's meeting will take place amid a different confronation – this time between Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The previous discussion was supposed to include a broad forum of ministers. The Science Ministry asked to separate the discussion on the economic boycott threat from a discussion on the academic boycott threat, since there is already a strategy for the latter, while the former has yet to be dealt with.

The discussion, scheduled to begin at 5:30 P.M., will only include Lieberman, Bennett and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is expected to present a plan his ministry has been working on.

MORE...

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.573273

Civilian Casualties In Afghanistan Rise, More Children Dying In Violence: Report

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The number of children killed and wounded in Afghanistan's war jumped by 34 percent last year as the Taliban stepped up attacks across the country and continued to lay thousands of roadside bombs, the United Nations said Saturday.

Overall civilian casualties were up by 14 percent, reversing 2012's downward trend and making 2013 one of the deadliest years of the 12-year war for civilians.

The rising civilian toll underscores mounting levels of violence in Afghanistan. Taliban insurgents have ramped up attacks to try to gain ground and shake the Afghan government's confidence as international combat troops prepare to complete their withdrawal at the end of the year.

The U.N. Assistance Mission for Afghanistan said in its annual report that 2,959 civilians were killed in the war last year — including 561 children — and that an overall total of 5,656 were wounded.

By comparison, there were 2,768 civilian deaths and 4,821 civilians wounded in 2012, and 3,133 deaths and 4,706 wounded in 2011.

UNAMA's report also noted an "alarming" new trend for 2013 — the increasing numbers of civilians being harmed in fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces.

more...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/08/afghanistan-civilian-casualties_n_4751016.html

Great Lakes Ice Cover Spreading Rapidly; See Which Lake Set A New Record



Ice continued to build this past week on the Great Lakes due to the cold air and temperatures staying below freezing, and Lake Superior's new record shows it.

The lake is 92 percent frozen, toppling a 20-year-old record of 91 percent set on Feb. 5, 1994. That statistic helped total Great Lakes ice cover soar, and we can expect to see more form in coming days.

The air temperatures this past week averaged around five degrees below normal for the Great Lakes area. This amount of deviation from normal means it was a fairly cold week.

As of February 5, 2014, the entire Great Lakes system is now reportedly covered 77 percent with ice, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Last week at this time the ice cover was 66 percent. The 77 percent ice cover now still lags behind 1994, when the entire Great Lakes system had an average ice cover of 84 percent on February 5. This data is according to Jia Wang, physical oceanographer at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Center in Ann Arbor, MI.

Let's look at each individual lake.

MORE...

http://www.mlive.com/weather/index.ssf/2014/02/great_lakes_added_11_percent_i.html

Sochi Sign: 'We Do Not Serve FBI And CIA Agents'...



KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Here's an odd sign that Associated Press photographer Jae C. Hong ran across Friday in the mountains outside Sochi, where Olympic skiing and snowboarding competitions are being held.

No word on the restaurant's policy toward the NSA.

http://wintergames.ap.org/article/sochi-scene-no-fbi-or-cia

US-Russia Rift Widens At Sochi

The Olympic Games, created to bring countries together around sports, appear to be having the opposite effect on U.S.-Russia relations.

Rising animosity between the former Cold War powers was on full display Friday when Russia chose a former figure skater who tweeted out a racially charged picture of President Obama for the symbolic lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

That came just a day after the world found out that a personal phone call between State Department official Victoria Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Kiev, where she can be heard saying “F—k the EU,” had been intercepted and leaked on You Tube.
The Obama administration immediately pointed the finger at Moscow, which did little to signal a denial over an incident that embarrassed Washington.

To be sure, there are hard feelings in Russia toward the U.S. and the Obama administration, too.

MORE...

http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/europe/197853-us-russia-rift-widens-at-sochi

Michigan RNC Candidate Wants Gays Purged From The GOP, Blames Satan For Homosexuality

A candidate running for one of Michigan’s seats on the Republican National Committee wants gays “purged” from the GOP and claims homosexuality is a “perversion” created by Satan.

According to the Huffington Post, Mary Helen Sears, vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party’s 1st District, wrote a post last year on the Schoolcraft County GOP website claiming that homosexuals prey on children, arguing that “Satan uses homosexuality to attack the living space of the Holy Spirit.” She also said that Republicans “as a party should be purging this perversion and send them to a party with a much bigger tent.”

Sears is currently running for a seat on the Republican National Committee recently vacated by Terri Lynn Land who resigned her seat, saying she wanted to focus on her U.S. Senate campaign.

In her post on the Schoolcraft County GOP website, Sears wrote that Communist college professors were guilty of indoctrinating young people and claimed that Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory “gave rise to Hitler’s Third Reich, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s Russia.”

“If the GOP continues down this trend and stand for perversions and the daily social fad,” Sears wrote “The GOP will be truly dead and Satan will have had his day,” .

MORE...

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/08/michigan-rnc-candidate-wants-gays-purged-from-the-gop-blames-satan-for-homosexuality/

WATCH: While Sochi Celebrates, Moscow Police Arrest Protesters Waving Rainbow Flags

In the video embedded below, a group of LGBT rights protesters were arrested for marching in Moscow’s Red Square. As the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremonies unfolded in Sochi, the protesters were taken into custody in Moscow for waving the rainbow LGBT flag while singing the Russian national anthem.

Reportedly, the protesters were a mix of Russians and members of RFSL, Sweden’s Riksförbundet för homosexuellas, bisexuellas och transpersoners rättigheter (The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) who traveled to Moscow to protest the country’s draconian anti-LGBT laws.

In the video, the singing protesters struggled to stay linked to each other and to hold on to their rainbow flags as a phalanx of uniformed Russian police tried to pull them apart and bundle them into waiting squad cars.


Watch video of the arrests, embedded below:

MORE...

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/07/watch-while-sochi-celebrates-moscow-police-arrest-protesters-waving-rainbow-flags/

Bill O'Reilly Is to Journalism What the WWE Is to Fighting



Every so often, President Obama grants a one-on-one television interview to a broadcast journalist, and I sit at home cursing the interviewer for going easy on him. Remember the laughable questions Steve Kroft asked on 60 Minutes last winter? Well this year, Bill O'Reilly was the one lobbing softballs. The Fox News host scored a one-on-one interview that aired during the Super Bowl pre-game show. I fervently hoped he would use the opportunity to press for useful information. Few broadcasters are as intent on signaling to others that they're tough.

Instead he conducted a faux-tough interview made up of questions that were virtually guaranteed to elicit nothing of value. "I want to get some things on the record," he began, implying that he would ask something that hasn't previously been answered on the record. "So let's begin with healthcare," he continued. "October 1st it rolls out. Immediately, there are problems with the computers. When did you know that there were going to be problems with those computers?"

First of all, Obama answered that months ago in a nationally broadcast press conference. That he would tell the same banal story was virtually guaranteed. Second, who cares when he knew? The catastrophic launch can never be re-done. At this point, the fix is more important. Obama is never running again for reelection. But there are lots of consequential decisions that he'll make as president, on healthcare and any number of other vital issues. So why focus on when Obama knew that Healthcare.gov had problems? (Because conservatives "know" he lied.)

The next question was a bit better.

"Why didn't you fire Sebelius, the secretary in charge of this? Because I mean she had to know, after all those years and all that money, that it wasn't going to work." O'Reilly said. "I'm sure that the intent is noble, but I'm a taxpayer. And I'm paying Kathleen Sebelius' salary and she screwed up. And you're not holding her accountable." More to the point, Obama doesn't seem to have held anyone accountable. I'd have preferred something like, "Did you hold people in leadership positions accountable for this failure? Tell me: Who specifically was held accountable and how?" And how about, "What have you done to make sure that the next time the government has to undertake an IT project it won't be a disaster?"

MORE...

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/02/bill-oreilly-is-to-journalism-what-the-wwe-is-to-fighting/283530/

National Republican Congressional Campaign Using Fake Democrat Websites To Lure Voters

Posted by
CNN Special Investigations Unit Reporter Drew Griffin

(CNN) – A warning this election season: If you are searching the Web for information on Democratic congressional candidates, read the fine print.

At least 15 websites that appear to be official campaign sites for Democratic candidates, are actually the handiwork of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In an effort to improve their online efforts this election season, the NRCC’s digital team came up with what the group believes is a great idea: get out the Republican message through fake Democrat sites.

“The idea is people who are looking for information on the candidate, one of the places we all go now is online and so this is a way for folks to find out more about the candidates and information they may not find on the candidate’s own site,” said Daniel Scarpinato, the NRCC's press secretary.

The NRCC bought up hundreds of URLs on potential weak Democratic candidates and created sites that mimic the real ones.

MORE...

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/06/national-republican-congressional-campaign-using-fake-democrat-websites-to-lure-voters/comment-page-57/
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