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Over Easy: Humans Aren’t the Only Jerks in the Animal World

By: yellowsnapdragon Monday May 2, 2011 4:35 am

The last few days have proved once again that humans are real jerks. Not to be left out, here is a compilation of animals being jerks. If I had to choose, I’d rather hang out with the animals, thankyouverymuch.

Off topic welcome and lurkers must introduce us to their pets. With pictures. How are your critters doing today?

 

Monday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Monday July 21, 2014 8:23 pm

 

A formal portrait of a young Bly, serious faced

Gonzo journalist Elizabeth Jane “Nellie Bly” Cochran rarely remained neutral on her subjects, for better or worse.

Tonight the Watercooler is in solidarity with National Nurses United and their recent rally for access to water in Detroit.

Thousands of registered nurses, community, labor, environmental and community activists marched in Detroit today in a resounding protests against the shutoff of water to tens of thousands of city residents — an action the marchers called a wanton violation of human rights that creates a public health emergency. RNs lead the march demanding that the Detroit Water and Sewage Dept. turn back on the water to its residents.

[...] Their message: Turn on the water. Restore the water for those who were cutoff. Tax Wall Street to raise the money needed to revitalize cities and communities like Detroit harmed by the Wall Street created economic crash of 2008. And they voiced emphatic opposition to the corporate policies of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and his undemocratically appointed emergency city manager who have declared a bankruptcy in Detroit and moved to privatize public resources, such as the water supply.

Jean Ross, RN, co-president of National Nurses United, the lead sponsor of the action, delivered a declaration calling the city of Detroit to be a public health emergency zone, supporting the call of numerous city activists of the health crisis prompted by the shutoff. ‘We need clean water for proper sanitation to combat the growth and spread of multiple infectious diseases and pandemics. We need clean water for a safe and healthy environment. We demand the guarantee that all Detroit residents have immediate and full access to clean water,’ said Ross.

It appears that the activists are being taken more seriously by police with the usual show of force in response: DailyKos reports on the use of an LRAD — a sound weapon used by militarized police — to disperse a crowd of protesters.

And Gonzo journalist Laurie Penny recently wrote about another great pioneer of openly biased journalism, Nellie Bly — who among other accomplishments infiltrated an insane asylum to report on the torturous conditions inside. From The New Inquiry:

In 1893, the celebrated reporter Nellie Bly went to visit Emma Goldman in prison. The young anarchist provocateur was held in the first Manhattan jail to be called the Tombs; it was built on the wreck of an old swamp and stank of rot and feces. The two women had both grown up in poverty and obscurity, and found fame, if not fortune, by writing about the conditions suffered by women and the working poor. But while Bly was lauded for circling the globe in only a fetching checkered traveling cloak, Goldman was locked up for incitement to riot.

Bly was one of the only journalists to show Goldman any sympathy and the first to understand her importance as a cultural figure. In Bly’s piece, Goldman is permitted to speak her truth at length, along with some girly chat about clothes of the frivolous sort that Goldman would never have stooped to in her own writings. These are the details that never make it into the manifestos but nevertheless make the politics a hundred times more human.

[...] ‘Gonzo’ journalism is now read as a macho practice: turn up somewhere ripped and stoned and undercover and immerse yourself in a culture or practice, then write viscerally, from the brain and the gut. In fact, women were doing it first. Bly was just 21 when she got herself committed to Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum to report on the dispiriting conditions suffered by the inmates there: the beatings, the starvation, the cold. Her feature in the World drew public attention to the plight of the mentally unwell in the U.S. and led to some limited reforms.

Penny outlines Bly’s entire rise and fail, and why her famous round the world trip was perhaps the least of her achievements.

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Planning for a Day of Peace

By: David Swanson Sunday June 5, 2011 7:00 pm

 

A few years back, prior to the International Day of Peace on September 21st, a school board member here in Virginia said that he would back a resolution marking that day as long as everyone understood that in doing so he was not opposing any wars.

Wars for peace, like sex for virginity, appear contradictory to some. But what about militarism for peace? What about war preparations and peace? A so-called “defense” department that arms the world; can that be compatible with peace?

We need our governments to begin planning for a day of peace. Instead of investing everything in planning for war, preparing for war, and proliferating enough weapons to fuel plenty of wars, governments could invest in alternatives to war, nonviolent means of conflict resolution, moves toward justice that reduce conflict, international standards of law that make negotiations and diplomacy effective.

One of the tools that we can use to move our cultures and our governments toward planning for a day of peace is to ourselves plan for a day celebrating peace — peace understood precisely as the elimination of war.  September 21st, the International Day of Peace, is one such day. WorldBeyondWar.org is organizing events here. And here is a list of events in the U.S. arranged on a map by Campaign Nonviolence.

Groups and individuals interested in planning events this September can work with Campaign Nonviolence and Global Movement for the Culture of Peace and Peace One Day and A Year Without War. Advocates of peace and environmental sanity who grasp the connections between the two may want to participate in a People’s Climate March in New York City, September 20-21, and bring this flyer: PDF.

Some resources that can be used to create events of various types are here:

At some events already planned for September 21, 2014, people will begin marking 100 years since the Christmas Truces of World War I. You can find great information on World War I at 100 on NoGlory.org

You may want to screen Joyeux Noel: a film about the 1914 Christmas truce. Or use this script for reenactment of a Christmas Truce: PDF. Here’s more Christmas Truce information and videos. And if you’re in the Northeast U.S. or the U.K. you might be able to attend or even set up a production of The Great War Theatre Project: Messengers of a Bitter Truth: Info in PDF.

Peace deserves more than empty platitudes compatible with the preservation of war as our largest public project. Sometimes bringing truth back from propaganda is so jarring as to be humorous. “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work,” said Woody Allen. “I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.” We should not want peace only in our hearts or in the press releases of the Pentagon; we should want peace through the ending of war and the abolition of the institutions that continue to plan and create more wars even while they pretend to a sight degree of outrage that each new war has been successfully created.

The Future Is Not Ours (and Neither Is the Past)

By: Tom Engelhardt Friday July 15, 2011 12:11 pm

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Requiem for the American Century
Turning 70, Paragraph by Paragraph
By Tom Engelhardt

First Paragraphs on Turning 70 in the American Century That Was

Kennedy and McNamara in a Cuban Missile Crisis meeting

A reflection on 70 years of history and life.

* Seventy-three years ago, on February 17, 1941, as a second devastating global war approached, Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life magazines, called on his countrymen to “create the first great American Century.”  Luce died in 1967 at age 69.  Life, the pictorial magazine no home would have been without in my 1950s childhood, ceased to exist as a weekly in 1972 and as a monthly in 2000; Time, which launched his career as a media mogul, is still wobbling on, a shadow of its former self.  No one today could claim that this is Time’s century, or the American Century, or perhaps anyone else’s.  Even the greatest empires now seem to have shortened lifespans.  The Soviet Century, after all, barely lasted seven decades.  Of course, only the rarest among us live to be 100, which means that at 70, like Time, I’m undoubtedly beginning to wobble, too.

* The other day I sat down with an old friend, a law professor who started telling me about his students.  What he said aged me instantly.  They’re so young, he pointed out, that their parents didn’t even come of age during the Vietnam War.  For them, he added, that war is what World War I was to us.  He might as well have mentioned the Mongol conquests or the War of the Roses.  We’re talking about the white-haired guys riding in the open cars in Veteran’s Day parades when I was a boy.  And now, it seems, I’m them.

* In March 1976, accompanied by two friends, my wife and I got married at City Hall in San Francisco, and then adjourned to a Chinese restaurant for a dim sum lunch.  If, while I was settling our bill of perhaps $30, you had told me that, almost half a century in the future, marriage would be an annual $40 billion dollar business, that official couplings would be preceded by elaborate bachelor and bachelorette parties, and that there would be such a thing as destination weddings, I would have assumed you were clueless about the future.  On that score at least, the nature of the world to come was self-evident and elaborate weddings of any sort weren’t going to be part of it.

* From the time I was 20 until I was 65, I was always 40 years old.  Now, I feel my age.  Still, my life at 70 is a luxury.  Across the planet, from Afghanistan to Central America, and in the poverty zones of this country, young people regularly stare death in the face at an age when, so many decades ago, I was wondering whether my life would ever begin.  That’s a crime against humanity.  So consider me lucky (and privileged) to be seven decades in and only now thinking about my death.

* Recently, I had the urge to tell my son something about my mother, who died before he was born.  From my closet, I retrieved an attaché case of my father’s in which I keep various family mementos.  Rummaging around in one of its pockets, I stumbled upon two letters my mother wrote him while he was at war.  (We’re talking about World War II, that ancient conflict of the history books.)  Almost four decades after her death, all I had to do was see my mother’s handwriting on the envelope — “Major C. L. Engelhardt, 1st Air Commando Force, A.P.O. 433, Postmaster, New York 17, N.Y.” — to experience such an upwelling of emotion I could barely contain my tears.  So many years later, her handwriting and my father’s remain etched into my consciousness.  I don’t doubt I could recognize them amid any other set of scribblings on Earth.  What fingerprints were to law enforcement then, handwriting was to family memories.  And that started me wondering: years from now, in an electronic world in which no one is likely to think about picking up a pen to write anyone else, what will those “fingerprints” be?

Blatant Racism Toward Israeli Bedouins – The Iron Dirt Dome

By: EdwardTeller Friday July 22, 2011 2:05 pm

Sunday, as fighting escalated in the open prison grounds of Gazagrad, a desperate rocket, fired from the internment camp’s interior killed an Israeli Bedouin citizen.  The Association for Human Rights in Israel reports:

In Israel, two civilians have been killed. One was a Bedouin, the 32-year-old Oudi Lafi al-Waj, who lived in an unrecognized village in the Negev (Naqab) desert, near Dimona. Several Bedouin children have also been injured by rocket fire since Israel began ‘Operation Protective Edge.‘ Bedouin villages do not have air raid sirens, nor are they covered by Iron Dome. They also lack bomb shelters. In the wake of al-Waj’s death, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a non-governmental organization, ‘submitted an urgent request’ this morning to the Israeli High Court for an answer on the petition the organization filed last week requesting that the state provide bomb shelters for the Bedouin. But in a Sunday hearing at Israel’s High Court, the ‘state expressed its position that there is no need to provide additional protective facilities to these communities, and advised the Bedouin residents to protect themselves by lying on the ground,’ ACRI reports. The organization added that ‘officials claimed that protecting the Bedouin villages was a low priority.’ [emphasis added]

Part of the reason these non-Jewish, second-class citizens of the apartheid state are being advised to “lie on the ground” is that if they were to build adequate bomb shelters in their villages, they would most likely be demolished by Israeli police or military forces:

In the State’s formal pleadings to the court, it claimed that the responsibility to provide protective facilities rests primarily on homeowners, but did not refer to the fact that most of the houses in these communities are simple shacks that are particularly vulnerable to damage and provide no protection. They also did not refer to the fact that the current legal situation forbids any construction in these communities and that any construction would be subject to a demolition order. [emphasis added]

Writer Max Blumenthal has been among the most assiduous in gathering evidence of longtime Israeli racism and institutional apartheid policies toward its Bedouin citizens.  A small sample, from February, 2011:

Yesterday morning, the Bedouin village of Al Arakib withstood the 18th pogrom against it by the Jewish National Fund and Israeli riot police. I mentioned in my last post that I would begin promoting actions to hold the Jewish National Fund accountable for violently ethnic cleansing Al Arakib in order to build the GOD TV Forest of Hate. Now here is something everyone who reads this blog (minus the professional hasbara trolls) can and should do: Join the Jewish Voice for Peace call in campaign to demand that the JNF cease demolishing villages like Al Arakib. Tell your local JNF office to stop the pogroms against the indigenous population of the Negev. To be sure, this is a minor action that will probably yield only dismissive responses from JNF representatives, but it is important to apply pressure and get them on the record.

In recent Firedoglake diaries about the ongoing assault on Gaza, several commenters have defended Israeli conduct.  Please show up here, my deluded, Zionist friends, and explain how not providing protection to citizens in harm’s way because of their ethnic background does not constitute blatant and enduring apartheid?

In recent years, village residents and human rights organizations have turned repeatedly to the Ministry of Defence and the Home Front Command to provide protective facilities for these villages. Most of the letters were ignored. One of the responses provided to Physicians for Human Rights – Israel in 2009 explained that while advocacy activities were planned for village residents, there was no intention to provide any protective facilities to any Bedouin communities apart from Rahat [a Bedouin <strike>gated community</strike> forced relocation camp. [emphasis added]

At least Marie Antionette wanted France’s second class citizens to be able to “eat cake.”  The Israeli High Court wants their Bedouin citizens to “eat dirt.”

It will be interesting to see how Israeli policies toward its other second class (i.e. – non-Jewish) citizens are influenced by the pressure of events in the wake of the current criminally disproportionate response to Palestinian rocket barrages.

496 Palestinians, 20 Israelis Die in Gaza Conflict; Why the Shujaiyah Massacre?

By: fairleft Saturday May 21, 2011 7:58 am
A donkey

In one article, a Washington Post writer seems more concerned with livestock than human lives.

Yesterday was the most deadly day in the Gaza conflict, and 496 Palestinians (80% of them civilians) and 20 Israelis (2 of them civilians) have now died. What made the numbers skyrocket was mainly Israel’s massive and indiscriminate shelling of the Gaza’s Shujaiyah neighborhood. The photos are grueling (some of the most heartrending and stark are here), as are written descriptions of the chaos and death:

An ambulance sat on shot-out tyres, shrapnel punched through its sides. A charred car lay flattened as if by a giant hand. Smoke rose from one end of the street in a dark billowing curtain.

Fallen trees, tangled electricity cables and drifts of rubble covered the road, smashed, chopped and torn apart by Israeli shells and bombs that slammed into this Gaza City district at a rate of one every five seconds on Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday.

A body was carried out of a ruined house, then a second and a third – seven in total from buildings within a hundred metres of each other during a brief agreed lull in the fighting to evacuate the dead and wounded. A little further along, bodies lay in the street where they had fallen, mostly scorched figures – one still in a yellow dressing gown – others missing limbs.

Inside the shelled neighborhoods, scores of people lay dead, others were wounded with scenes of entire buildings destroyed. Houses were still ablaze from the IDF onslaught, with corpses burnt almost beyond recognition, with the dead numbering both young and old, including small children. …

The injured from Shejaia were rushed to Gaza City’s central Shifa Hospital. Chaos reigned inside the hospital as wounded children were brought to the overflowing emergency room, forcing the medical staff to treat the wounded in a hallway.

Why did Israel let loose this hell on a residential neighborhood? One plausible theory (translated from the Arabic by the Angry Arab) is that its military was reacting angrily to the deaths of a surprising number of Israeli soldiers late Saturday and early Sunday:

Let us talk coldly and without agitation: by the admission of Israeli sources themselves–and they lie to the extreme to the extent that lying can be effective–the Golani Brigade lost more than 18 soldiers between yesterday and today, and most of them in the battle of Shuja`iyyah. The sources did not reveal the number of injured but they are in the tens, and may exceed a hundred. The horrible massacre against the people of Shuja`iyyah was a manifestation of Israel frenzy after the attack. …

The Gaza government called the Shujaiyah attack a “heinous massacre” and the Arab League described it as a war crime, but as for our West, “condemnation from international leaders was muted. Amid floundering efforts to start meaningful ceasefire talks, there was little sign of real pressure on Israel to lessen or halt the killing of civilians.”

Meanwhile, in propaganda watch:

The Washington Post is very outraged about the coverage of Gaza; the wrong victims are getting too much attention

‘The death of almost this entire herd went largely unreported in Israel and abroad, even though those who cared for the animals said they were traumatized by the sight of so much blood and carnage.’

Yeah, don’t you just love Angry Arab? And hate the Washington Post?

Angry Arab also links to an analysis that rings true on how most Arabs must be feeling right now, by Saudi Arabian writer Khaled Almaeena:

John Oliver Takes on the U.S. Prison System with Puppets

By: Zach Tomanelli Monday July 21, 2014 12:00 pm

If you haven’t been watching HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver you’re really missing out. Oliver takes advantage of the weekly format to devote long segments to topics that don’t often get a hearing from other late night comedians, let alone the corporate news media — often with hilarious results.

Last night’s episode provided a perfect example as Oliver spent 17 minutes eviscerating the national disgrace that is the U.S. prison system. He touched on everything from our unfathomable incarceration rate to the ineptitude of Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels to the horrific effects of prison privatization. Come for the cogent analysis of mandatory minimum sentencing laws; stay for the puppet sing-along breaking down overcrowding and racial profiling.

When you’ve finished watching, add your name to FDL’s petition to the Bureau of Prisons telling them not to renew Corrections Corporation of America’s contract for its for-profit immigrant prison in Youngstown, Ohio.

Hillary Clinton On The Daily Show Promotes Standard Elite Narrative

By: BrandonJ Sunday July 20, 2014 11:40 pm

 

Hillary Clinton had a lengthy conversation with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last Wednesday. Clinton promoted her latest book, Hard Choices, which she wrote to “pull the curtain back so people could get an idea on what we were doing in the world.”

Stewart brought up Clinton’s never-ending tale of whether she will run for president in two years. On July 18th, Gallup found 84 percent of Democrats favored her as a presidential candidate. However, Clinton avoided the discussion with a joke on making her announcement on another show. In fact, when Stewart told Clinton an announcement could end the media circus on if she will run, Clinton responded by saying it would pose a problem for those writing and talking about it.

“I think a lot of people would lose their jobs if it all stopped,” she joked.

Throughout the interview, Clinton made some notable comments on the state of domestic and international politics.

One issue she focused on was the decline of economic opportunities young people today face compared with previous generations. She stated more should be done to help disillusioned youths as her generation received benefits from a more committed government.

“I think that people do not feel [government will help them] and I feel that we have to change our political and economic system,” she said.

Stewart referred to this as structural problems, which Clinton agreed with as she nodded. She blamed it on two problems: an ineffective Congress and an executive branch struggling to adjust to contemporary times.

“What I saw going to 112 countries is how important it is we function in the United States because people look up to us. Our system has been the beacon [for other countries] for so many years,” Clinton said.

Clinton spoke on the “ancient history” of the U.S. “liberating” Europe from the Nazis during World War II. The values of  this effort was something the current generation of youths would not understand, which affected their view on what the U.S. represents. The “great story” the U.S. had was not being told well. She agreed there were negatives in the history of the United States, but felt proud of the country’s rich history.

Salon journalist Daniel D’Addario highlighted an interesting comment Clinton made during her interview with Stewart:

The most revealing remark Clinton made in the interview, which she quickly qualified, was that ‘we did a much better job telling the world who we were during the Cold War.’ It was both startling for its candid nostalgia — do we really want to go back there? — and apt.

Clinton elaborated on this comment on the impact American culture had worldwide, which assisted in the message of the United States. She contrasted this to present-day issues where she offered the situation in Ukraine as an example and told Stewart Russian media was “much more effective” in its narrative. She did note it was a narrative that was misleading, yet effective nonetheless.

Her reference of the Cold War as a simpler time where U.S. hegemony was respected seems over-simplistic. It was difficult to believe her since her comments on the situation in Gaza were typical talking points from any other politician in Washington: it’s Hamas’s fault, Israel is justified, there are deaths in Gaza, etc. She spoke for around 10 minutes on Israel-Palestine, but it was nothing different from comments from mainstream news outlets.

Russian writer and a dissenter of the former Soviet Union, Roy Medvedev, perhaps highlights what the current American political system represents in his book, On Socialist Democracy:

If in capitalist countries the bourgeoisie generates and supports not one but as a rule two or more political parties, this is by no means simply to pull wool over the eyes of the ‘workers and peasants.’ The existence of two major parties in the United States reflects the fact that there are different political trends and opinions within the ruling circles of the country. Moreover, conflict between those two parties helps to promote the most capable politicians and administrators, highly proficient in their defense of the interests of capitalist society.

Clinton’s appearance on The Daily Show obviously showed her interests in running in the 2016 presidential elections and her comments accomplished the job of showing her as a legitimate source on domestic and foreign policy. Whoever runs as the candidates for the Democrats and the Republicans will not make massive changes to the political system.

What Clinton represents can best be found in journalist Jeremy Scahill’s book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. In fact, what he wrote last year is still relevant and will definitely be relevant two years from now.

Scahill writes, on President Barack Obama’s “foreign policy team,” that it was filled with “hawkish Democrats” such as Joseph Biden, Susan Rice, Richard Holbrooke, and Hillary Clinton. In addition, President Obama added former Bush officials to bolster his foreign policy vision.

“All of these figures had a track record of support for military interventions, neoliberal economic policies and worldview consistent with the foreign policy arc that stretched from George H.W. Bush’s time in office to the present,” he wrote.

The reaction from the right-wing at the time was one of praise and Max Boot, a “neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer,” felt surprised by the decision.

“I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily come from a President McCain.” Boot added that Hillary Clinton would be a “powerful” voice for “for ‘neoliberalism’ which is not so different in many respects from ‘neoconservativism.’”

Her appearance on The Daily Show was interesting, but it indicated she would not present anything unique to the public debate. Until 2016 happens, the media game of whether or not she will run continues as current issues are not critically analyzed.