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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 64,697

Journal Archives

Challenging Casino Capitalism and Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Disposability


Henry A. Giroux | Challenging Casino Capitalism and Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Disposability

Monday, 24 June 2013 12:56
By Henry A Giroux, Monthly Review Press | Book Excerpt


There is by now an overwhelming catalogue of evidence revealing the depth and breadth of the corporate- and state-sponsored assaults being waged against democracy in the United States. Indeed, it appears that the nation has entered a new and more ruthless historical era, marked by a growing disinvestment in the social state, public institutions, and civic morality. The attack on the social state is of particular importance because it represents an attempt to shift social protections to the responsibility of individuals while at the same time privatizing investments in the public good and undermining the bonds of communal solidarity. The renowned sociologist Zygmunt Bauman makes this clear in his definition and defense of the social state:

A state is "social" when it promotes the principle of the communally endorsed, collective insurance against individual misfortune and its consequences. . . . And it is the same principle which lifts members of society to the status of citizens—that is, makes them stakeholders in addition to being stockholders, beneficiaries but also actors responsible for the benefits' creation and availability, individuals with acute interest in the common good understood as the shared institutions that can be trusted to assure solidity and reliability of the state-issued "collective insurance policy." The application of that principle may, and often does, protect men and women from the plague of poverty—most importantly, however, it stands a chance of becoming a profuse source of solidarity able to recycle "society" into a common, communal good, thanks to the defense it provides against the horror of misery, that is, of the terror of being excluded, of falling or being pushed over the board of a fast-accelerating vehicle of progress, of being condemned to "social redundancy" and otherwise designed to "human waste."1

Matters of politics, power, ideology, governance, economics, and policy now translate unapologetically into a systemic disinvestment in those public spheres that traditionally provided the minimal conditions for social justice, dissent, and democratic expression. The reign of the commodity, with its growing economy of individualism, privatization, and deregulation, offers a market solution for all of society's problems. Yet, given that the apostles of neoliberalism work tirelessly to destroy with naked power the numerous essential institutions of social justice and social protections that exemplify the social state, it is clear that solving society's problems is not their goal. Neoliberalism aims to enhance the wealth and power of those already rich. No longer responsive to the social contract and the preservation of labor, neoliberalism "shifts into a mode of elimination that targets most of us—along with our environment—as waste products awaiting managed disposal."2 Unfortunately, neoliberalism, or what might better be called "casino capitalism," has become the new normal.

Unabashed in its claim to financial power, self-regulation, and a survival of the fittest value system, neoliberalism not only undercuts the formative culture necessary for producing critical citizens and the public spheres that nourish them, it also facilitates the conditions for producing a bloated defense budget, the prison-industrial complex, environmental degradation, and the emergence of "finance as a criminalized, rogue industry."3 It is clear that an emergent authoritarianism haunts a defanged democracy now shaped and structured largely by corporations.4 Money dominates politics; the gap between the rich and poor is ballooning; urban spaces are becoming armed camps; militarism is creeping into every facet of public life; and civil liberties are in shreds.5 Neoliberalism's ideology of competition now dominates policies that define public spheres such as schools, allowing them to be stripped of a civic and democratic project and handed over to the logic of the market.6 Regrettably, it is not democracy, but authoritarianism, that remains on the rise in the United States as we move further into the twenty-first century. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/17176-henry-a-giroux-americas-education-deficit



Highway Robbery for High-Speed Internet


from The American Prospect:


Highway Robbery for High-Speed Internet

Paul Waldman
June 24, 2013

Our broadband is getting faster, but we're paying through the nose for it.



If you're one of those Northeastern elitists who reads The New York Times, you turned to the last page of the front section Friday and saw an op-ed from a Verizon executive making the case that "the United States has gained a global leadership position in the marketplace for broadband," and don't let anyone tell you different. "Hey," you might have said. "Didn't I read an almost identical op-ed in the Times just five days ago?" Indeed you did, though that one came not from a telecom executive but from a researcher at a telecom-funded think-tank. And if you live in Philadelphia, your paper recently featured this piece from a top executive at Comcast, explaining how, yes, American broadband is the bee's knees.

That smells an awful lot like a concerted campaign to convince Americans not to demand better from their broadband providers. Perhaps they're trying to influence the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who has been named by President Obama but not yet confirmed (they probably don't have to worry; the nominee, Tom Wheeler, is a former lobbyist for telecom companies). Or perhaps they just want to make sure the public isn't overly affected by the public-interest groups that for years have been complaining that compared to other advanced countries, the broadband Americans have is spotty, slow, and absurdly overpriced.

The telecoms are right about one thing: In the last few years, broadband speeds have improved. Instead of being ranked in the 20s or 30s when it comes to the average speed of their internet, America by at least one measure has cracked the top ten. We still trail Japan and Hong Kong and Switzerland and Latvia and South Korea and … well, you get the idea. But it has gotten better.

But we're paying for what we get—oh boy, are we ever paying.

There is blazing fast internet available in America—if you live in the right place. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, around half of Americans have access to service with download speeds over 100 megabytes per second. That's a big increase over just a few years ago; in 2010, only one in 10 Americans could access those speeds. But access is all but meaningless if the service is so outrageously expensive that only a few people can afford it. Last year, Comcast debuted its "Xfinity Platinum" service, delivering 300 megabytes per second—for an unbelievable $300 a month. Verizon's Fios Quantum gives the same speed for a mere $200 a month. If you're in Hong Kong, you can get 1 gigabit service—over three times as fast—for less than $50. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://prospect.org/article/highway-robbery-high-speed-internet



Robert Scheer: The Good Germans in Government


from truthdig:


The Good Germans in Government

Posted on Jun 25, 2013
By Robert Scheer


What a disgrace. The U.S. government, cheered on by much of the media, launches an international manhunt to capture a young American whose crime is that he dared challenge the excess of state power. Read the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and tell me that Edward Snowden is not a hero in the mold of those who founded this republic. Check out the Nuremberg war crime trials and ponder our current contempt for the importance of individual conscience as a civic obligation.

Yes, Snowden has admitted that he violated the terms of his employment at Booz Allen Hamilton, which has the power to grant security clearances as well as profiting mightily from spying on the American taxpayers who pay to be spied on without ever being told that is where their tax dollars are going. Snowden violated the law in the same way that Daniel Ellsberg did when, as a RAND Corporation employee, he leaked the damning Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War that the taxpayers had paid for but were not allowed to read.

In both instances, violating a government order was mandated by the principle that the United States trumpeted before the world in the Nuremberg war crime trials of German officers and officials. As Principle IV of what came to be known as the Nuremberg Code states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

That is a heavy obligation, and the question we should be asking is not why do folks like Ellsberg, Snowden and Bradley Manning do the right thing, but rather why aren’t we bringing charges against the many others with access to such damning data of government malfeasance who remain silent? ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_good_germans_in_government_20130625/



Jodie Laubenberg, Texas GOP Lawmaker, Suggests Rape Kits Can Give Abortions


Amid a heated debate over a restrictive anti-abortion bill being pushed by Texas GOP lawmakers, one Republican argued that a proposed exemption for rape victims was unnecessary because assaulted women could simply turn to rape kits for abortions.

"In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out," said state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R), sponsor of the controversial SB 5, according to The Associated Press. "The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development."

As HuffPost blogger Soraya Chemaly notes, that's not the function of rape kits, typically administered to collect evidence of sexual assault. Not even close, PolitiFact Texas reports, giving Laubenberg's remark a "pants on fire" rating.

Laubenberg's claim came in response to a proposed amendment by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D), which would have added exceptions for victims of rape and incest to the proposed 20-week abortion ban. Laubenberg's bill, passed by state House Republicans on Monday, also would shutter 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics with new regulations that would require such the facilities to adhere to the standards of surgical centers. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/jodie-laubenberg-texas-rape_n_3493220.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



Michael Hastings and conspiracy theories: Richard Clarke throws fuel on the fire


The peculiar circumstances of journalist Michael Hastings' death in Los Angeles last week have unleashed a wave of conspiracy theories.

Now there's another theory to contribute to the paranoia: According to a prominent security analyst, technology exists that could've allowed someone to hack his car. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is "consistent with a car cyber attack."

Clarke said, "There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers" -- including the United States -- know how to remotely seize control of a car.

"What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, to launch an air bag," Clarke told The Huffington Post. "You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard." ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/michael-hastings-car-hacked_n_3492339.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



Orwell Revisited: Privacy in the Age of Surveillance


from the Progressive:


Orwell Revisited: Privacy in the Age of Surveillance
By John W. Whitehead, June 24, 2013


“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”—George Orwell, 1984


There’s a reason George Orwell’s 1984 is a predominant theme in my new book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. It’s the same reason Orwell’s dystopian thriller about a futuristic surveillance society has skyrocketed to the top of book charts in the wake of recent revelations by former CIA employee and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that the nefarious spy agency is collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers, with the complete blessing of the Obama administration.

“To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone— to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings! ” ― George Orwell


Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people—even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control at all costs. As Orwell explains:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

The fact that the U.S. government now has at its disposal a technological arsenal so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void, and these technologies are being used by the government to invade the privacy of the American people should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention over the past decade. ..............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.progressive.org/orwell-revisited



Studies find methane in Pennsylvania drinking water


PITTSBURGH (AP) — New research in Pennsylvania demonstrates that it's hard to nail down how often natural gas drilling is contaminating drinking water: One study found high levels of methane in some water wells within a half-mile of gas wells, while another found some serious methane pollution occurring naturally, far away from drilling.

The findings represent a middle ground between critics of the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing who claim it causes widespread contamination, and an industry that suggests they are rare or nonexistent.

The contamination from drilling is "not an epidemic. It's a minority of cases," said Rob Jackson, a Duke University researcher and co-author of the study released Monday. But he added the team found that serious contamination from bubbly methane is "much more" prevalent in some water wells within 1 kilometer of gas drilling sites.

Methane is an odorless gas that is not known to be toxic, but in high concentrations it can be explosive and deadly. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-science/20130624/US--Gas.Drilling-Water/



Challenging Casino Capitalism and Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Disposability


Henry A. Giroux | Challenging Casino Capitalism and Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Disposability

Monday, 24 June 2013 12:56
By Henry A Giroux, Monthly Review Press | Book Excerpt


There is by now an overwhelming catalogue of evidence revealing the depth and breadth of the corporate- and state-sponsored assaults being waged against democracy in the United States. Indeed, it appears that the nation has entered a new and more ruthless historical era, marked by a growing disinvestment in the social state, public institutions, and civic morality. The attack on the social state is of particular importance because it represents an attempt to shift social protections to the responsibility of individuals while at the same time privatizing investments in the public good and undermining the bonds of communal solidarity. The renowned sociologist Zygmunt Bauman makes this clear in his definition and defense of the social state:

A state is "social" when it promotes the principle of the communally endorsed, collective insurance against individual misfortune and its consequences. . . . And it is the same principle which lifts members of society to the status of citizens—that is, makes them stakeholders in addition to being stockholders, beneficiaries but also actors responsible for the benefits' creation and availability, individuals with acute interest in the common good understood as the shared institutions that can be trusted to assure solidity and reliability of the state-issued "collective insurance policy." The application of that principle may, and often does, protect men and women from the plague of poverty—most importantly, however, it stands a chance of becoming a profuse source of solidarity able to recycle "society" into a common, communal good, thanks to the defense it provides against the horror of misery, that is, of the terror of being excluded, of falling or being pushed over the board of a fast-accelerating vehicle of progress, of being condemned to "social redundancy" and otherwise designed to "human waste."1

Matters of politics, power, ideology, governance, economics, and policy now translate unapologetically into a systemic disinvestment in those public spheres that traditionally provided the minimal conditions for social justice, dissent, and democratic expression. The reign of the commodity, with its growing economy of individualism, privatization, and deregulation, offers a market solution for all of society's problems. Yet, given that the apostles of neoliberalism work tirelessly to destroy with naked power the numerous essential institutions of social justice and social protections that exemplify the social state, it is clear that solving society's problems is not their goal. Neoliberalism aims to enhance the wealth and power of those already rich. No longer responsive to the social contract and the preservation of labor, neoliberalism "shifts into a mode of elimination that targets most of us—along with our environment—as waste products awaiting managed disposal."2 Unfortunately, neoliberalism, or what might better be called "casino capitalism," has become the new normal.

Unabashed in its claim to financial power, self-regulation, and a survival of the fittest value system, neoliberalism not only undercuts the formative culture necessary for producing critical citizens and the public spheres that nourish them, it also facilitates the conditions for producing a bloated defense budget, the prison-industrial complex, environmental degradation, and the emergence of "finance as a criminalized, rogue industry."3 It is clear that an emergent authoritarianism haunts a defanged democracy now shaped and structured largely by corporations.4 Money dominates politics; the gap between the rich and poor is ballooning; urban spaces are becoming armed camps; militarism is creeping into every facet of public life; and civil liberties are in shreds.5 Neoliberalism's ideology of competition now dominates policies that define public spheres such as schools, allowing them to be stripped of a civic and democratic project and handed over to the logic of the market.6 Regrettably, it is not democracy, but authoritarianism, that remains on the rise in the United States as we move further into the twenty-first century. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/17176-henry-a-giroux-americas-education-deficit



The Fascist Five strike again


(Guardian UK) Every June a few US supreme court cases get a reputation for being blockbusters, and this year has been no different. We're still awaiting decisions on cases concerning gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act. But the blockbusters can obscure smaller cases with profound effects. On Monday, the court quietly delivered a destructive, toxic decision on workplace harassment that is as significant as anything else this year.

Vance v Ball State University, which concerned the interpretation of a section of the Civil Rights Act, shouldn't have even reached America's highest court – but it did, and the court's right wing grabbed ahold and used it to further gut workplace protections.

The petitioner was Maetta Vance, the only African-American woman working in the catering department of Ball State University in Indiana. Her supervisor, a white woman, appears to have made her work life a living hell. The supervisor assigned her to perform menial tasks, such as slicing vegetables, even though Vance had worked at the caterer for years and frequently prepared formal dinners for the university. According to Vance, she faced not only frequent racial harassment, including references to the Ku Klux Klan, but sometimes physical threats as well. On one occasion, at least, the supervisor allegedly slapped her.

Vance sued the university for permitting a hostile work environment, but there was a catch: although the harasser controlled Vance's day-to-day responsibilities at the catering department, she didn't have the power to demote or fire her. ...........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/24/supreme-court-harassment-case-vance-ball-state



Breaking on Bloomberg homepage: Berlusconi convicted in sex with minor trial


http://www.bloomberg.com/


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