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Blade Runner: An Examination

By: cmaukonen Friday July 25, 2014 11:06 am

 

Since there has been confirmation that Ridley Scott is in the first stages of making a sequel, Blade Runner 2, I thought I would do an analysis of the original dystopic science fiction Film Noir. Underrated at the time of its release, it has gained in appreciation since, with various box sets and cuts available now. It’s based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep by Philip K. Dick and set in Los Angeles circa 2019. Science fiction writers, even those of the darkest dystopian futures, tend to be overly optimistic quite often, which is the case here, having by that time assuming technologies that are yet to appear.

This, however, can be forgiven as they tread a thin line having to make the future seem advanced enough and yet still enable the reader or viewer to relate in the current time. Blade Runner is no exception, assuming that by this time we are colonizing space. But only for those who qualify physically, and one assumes mentally and financially as well.

The plot — which I will not repeat here in its entirety, but still spoiler alert — revolves around Decker, a Blade Runner, a member of the police unit to track down and execute replicants, bio-engineered slaves developed and produced by the Tyrell Corporation, which are illegal on Earth. Decker is persuaded by Bryant — head of the unit — to come out of retirement to hunt down and eliminate 4 replicants that have come back to Earth from the “Off World Colonies.”

What you are immediately hit with is this view of an urban environment that is only slightly better than completely run down. With floating blimp-like objects that contentiously blare out audio and beam video to entice you to move off Earth to the colonies. Indeed, only those “lesser humans” remain on Earth. Some by choice, but most by necessity due to not being able to qualify. It takes place in an Asian area of the city, with Asian eateries nearly everywhere. You are left to wonder if this is the norm for the whole city or planet, that one of the qualities one needs to posses to move “Off World” is to be White.

The movie gives many messages, direct and a number indirect. That the “Beautiful People” have given up on Earth and have left for the colonies. That those who are still on Earth are left to make it as best they can. That Dr. Tyrell himself is both a victim and benefactor of this, having built an industrial empire through his genus in genetic engineering by supplying replicant slaves to the colonies. That the technology needed to maintain the status quo of the little people on the streets, makes it down to the streets. That those on the street and still on Earth mostly get along, since with the immigration of the “Beautiful People” to the colonies, there is no longer any reason not to get along. Indeed the “street language” is described as “a mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you. ” That the police are there primarily to make sure nothing and no one upsets this relationship. That the biggest corporation, both physically and financially, is the Tyrell Corporation, reaching high enough to actually get sun at the top, when in the street it’s always foggy and rainy and polluted. It’s a city left to slowly fall apart.

The view one gets of the city is not unlike that of the old Hudson your rich uncle left you when he moved to Manhattan. With rust and problems you yourself cannot fix, but still runs enough to get you to the store and back. With fading paint and the bumper tied on with bailing wire. A broken radio antenna and a radio that makes buzzing sounds when played. Parked out in front of an old farm house that leans a bit more each year and hasn’t seen paint itself for many years.

Scott does leave a number of questions unanswered. Like why use an obviously primitive method of identifying replicants? Why not use genetic identification? Unless the genetics between humans and replicants are so similar, that it has proven unreliable. Was the reason given by Tyrell for implanting memories into replicants the real reason, or is it something else? Does Tyrell have some other use for replicants where memories would be necessary? Why would he give Rachael an extended live span, when all others were limited to 4 years. Why did he even try to extend this is other replicants? And lastly, why just a female with these additional qualities?

Blade Runner gives a peek at a capitalist society that has left is former home, to be slowly abandoned and fall into ruin. Where capitalists have finally found the perfect slaves and perfect peasants.

A great movie, but not a pretty picture.

 

This is the Israeli Military Calling: Civilizing War Has Failed

By: David Swanson Monday June 6, 2011 5:50 pm

 

Probably the biggest news story of 1928 was the war-making nations of the world coming together on August 27th and legally outlawing war.  It’s a story that’s not told in our history books, but it’s not secret CIA history.  There was no CIA.  There was virtually no weapons industry as we know it.  There weren’t two political parties in the United States uniting in support of war after war.  In fact, the four biggest political parties in the United States all backed abolishing war.

Cue whining, polysyllabic screech: “But it didn’t wooooooooork!”

I wouldn’t be bothering with it if it had. In its defense, the Kellogg-Briand Pact (look it up or read my book) was used to prosecute the makers of war on the losing sides following World War II (an historic first), and — for whatever combination of reasons (nukes? enlightenment? luck?) — the armed nations of the world have not waged war on each other since, preferring to slaughter the world’s poor instead. Significant compliance following the very first prosecution is a record that almost no other law can claim.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact has two chief values, as I see it. First, it’s the law of the land in 85 nations including the United States, and it bans all war-making. For those who claim that the U.S. Constitution sanctions or requires wars regardless of treaty obligations, the Peace Pact is no more relevant than the U.N. Charter or the Geneva Conventions or the Anti-Torture Convention or any other treaty. But for those who read the laws as they are written, beginning to comply with the Kellogg-Briand Pact makes far more sense than legalizing drone murders or torture or bribery or corporate personhood or imprisonment without trial or any of the other lovely practices we’ve been “legalizing” on the flimsiest of legal arguments. I’m not against new national or international laws against war; ban it 1,000 times, by all means, if there’s the slightest chance that one of them will stick. But there is, for what it’s worth, already a law on the books if we care to acknowledge it.

Second, the movement that created the Pact of Paris grew out of a widespread mainstream international understanding that war must be abolished, as slavery and blood feuds and duelling and other institutions were being abolished. While advocates of outlawing war believed other steps would be required: a change in the culture, demilitarization, the establishment of international authorities and nonviolent forms of conflict resolution, prosecutions and targeted sanctions against war-makers; while most believed this would be the work of generations; while the forces leading toward World War II were understood and protested against for decades; the explicit and successful intention was to make a start of it by outlawing and formally renouncing and rendering illegitimate all war, not aggressive war or unsanctioned war or inappropriate war, but war.

VIDEO: How Americans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love GITMO

By: Dennis Trainor Jr Thursday July 24, 2014 8:52 pm

Originally posted at PopularResistance.org

An interview with Jason Leopold.

There are many crimes committed in the pursuit of, or as an accessory to, the crimes of US Foreign Policy. I’m not exactly sure where to rank the operation of Guantanamo Bay on that list, but consider these numbers, compiled by the Center for Constitutional Rights:

  • 779 men and boys have been imprisoned at Guantánamo since January 2002.
  • 100% of them are Muslim.
  • Of the 149 who remain there, 78 have been cleared for release for years but are still imprisoned.
  • President Obama’s Task Force has designated 38 men for indefinite detention without charge or trial.

The longer the illegal prison remains open, the more accepting of its existence American citizens seem to be, at least according to Gallup poll conducted in the days after the release of Sgt. Bergdahl in exchange for 5 prisoners who were not on that list cleared for release. That poll revealed that 66% of Americans said the U.S. should not “close this prison and move some of the prisoners to U.S. prisons.” That is up from the 53% of Americans who said the same thing in July of 2007. Today, again, according to that latest Gallup poll, just 29% of Americans want the facility closed and the prisoners either released or transported to the U.S.

About the guest:

Jason Leopold is an investigative reporter covering Guantanamo, counterterrorism, national security, human rights, open government, and civil liberties. He’s been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which includes successfully suing the FBI to force changes to Bureau FOIA practices.

atv Guantanomo

West Bank Marches on Night of Power

By: Siun

By now you may have heard that there was a Palestinian march and at least two people were shot last night on the West Bank. You may not know why this matters so much.

Let’s take a closer look at what happened and why last night was special.

Last night was the Laylatul Qadr, the “Night of Power” or “Night of Light” for Muslims. This night, toward the end of Ramadan, marks the night when the Quran was first revealed to Mohammed.

Just as the arrival of a child is celebrated, on its birth and then every year, as a bringer of joy and fullfilment for the family, Laylatul Qadr is celebrated as a bringer of light and guidance for mankind. Unlike the birthday which is celebrated with a feast for the senses, Laylatul Qadr includes a feast for the spirit, a feast of worship and prayers.

For this night of prayer, there was a call in the West Bank for an attempt to go to the Al Aqsa Mosque to pray:

In response, according to the Jerusalem Post:

Citing anonymous threats of Arab rioting expected near Damascus Gate, National Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday that hundreds of officers will be on hand near the east Jerusalem entrance Friday to ensure no incidents take place…

To that end, Rosenfeld said no Arabs under 50-years-old will be permitted to enter Damascus Gate, and undercover teams and various other elite units will blanket the area to respond immediately to any violence.

Interview from Ramallah

The audio link above is an interview by the San Francisco based Arab Talk Radio with Diane Buttu from in the midst of the demonstration. It is extraordinary reporting and Diane not only explains what’s happening but does a brilliant job of providing the context for why it’s so important. It’s really essential listening.

There has been a perception that the Palestinian people are divided and Israel has depended on the West Bank remaining relatively quiet while it pours all it’s destructive might into the war on Gaza.

Last night instead, the West Bank came out in large numbers and the message of unity and support for Gaza was very clear. By most accounts, the demonstrations were the largest since the 1980s and even greater numbers are expected after Friday prayers and in the coming days. Today, Friday, is Al-Quds Day, a day set aside to remember the people of Palestine and call for an end to their oppression and that of all oppressed peoples, so it has special significance as well. (Al-Quds events are held worldwide and you can look here to find ones in your area if you would like to participate. People of all or no faiths are welcome.)

Containing these marches will prove difficult – as 972 noted:

The West Bank march quickly spread to East Jerusalem, where police were said to be clashing with protesters in the Old City, Silwan, and other neighborhoods. Protests were also reported in Nablus and Bethlehem.

As the night ended, reports of casualties included:

Two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces late Thursday as over 10,000 marched from a Ramallah-area refugee camp toward Jerusalem in protest against Israel’s Gaza offensive, a Ma’an reporter at the scene said.

The slain Palestinians were identified as 19-year-old Mohammad al-Araj and 27-year-old Majd Sufyan, a Ma’an reporter at the scene said.

At least 108 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli fire during the march, at least 60 of them with live bullets.

Earlier, Palestinians marched from al-Amari refugee camp toward Qalandia checkpoint, a militarized crossing point between Ramallah and Jerusalem through Israel’s separation wall.

Soldiers shot live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd, in addition to tear gas.

The toll in Gaza meanwhile was reported to have reached 807 dead, after one of the bloodiest days so far. As I post this early Friday morning Central time, this report appears:

Five Years with No Raise for Minimum Wage Workers

By: WI Budget Project Thursday July 24, 2014 2:00 pm

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

NYC Raise the Wage Protest sign: "Fight for a Liveable Wage!"

It’s been too long since Wisconsin raised the minimum wage.

The minimum wage has about 11% of its purchasing power due to inflation since 2009, making it harder for low-paid workers to make ends meet. (In comparison, CEO compensation rose 46% between 2009 and 2013.)

Some states have increased their own minimum wages, rather than waiting for Congress to do it. Nineteen states have set their own minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, including our neighboring states of Illinois ($8.35) and Michigan ($7.40), where a Republican-controlled legislature approved a recent wage increase to $9.25 by 2018. In Minnesota, the minimum wage is scheduled to rise to $9.50 by 2016. In contrast, state lawmakers in Wisconsin have taken no action to increase the minimum wage.

It’s too bad that Wisconsin lawmakers have refused to raise the minimum wage, because such a move would have broad-based benefits for workers. If we increased the minimum wage to $10.10, one-fifth of all Wisconsin workers, or 587,000 people, would receive a raise. One out of six children in Wisconsin – a total of 234,000 children – would have a parent who would benefit. Some argue that teenage workers would be the biggest beneficiaries of an increase in the minimum wage, but 79% of the Wisconsin workers who would benefit from an increase to $10.10 are 20 years or older.

To highlight the difficulties of living on the minimum wage, a new challenge called “Live the Wage” urges people to walk in the shoes of a minimum wage worker by living on a budget of $77 for one week. That’s the amount that a full-time minimum wage worker brings home, after taxes and housing costs. By participating in Live the Wage, you can experience yourself how tough it is to put food on the table, get to work, and provide for your children while earning the minimum wage. You can share your experiences on social media using the hashtag #LivetheWage.

Five years is too long to wait to give a leg up to people working at the lowest wages. If we can’t count on Congress to raise the wage, then Wisconsin should follow the example of neighboring states and give a raise to hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin workers.

by Tamarine Cornelius

Over Easy: A Mental Health Break for Friday

By: msmolly
Calendar page date circled.

It’s Friday!

My train of thought derailed. There were no survivors.

This is the story of my week, when all of the news seemed to run the gamut from bad to awful to horrendous. Blown up Malaysia airplanes, bombed Gaza hospitals, botched Arizona executions, and then yesterday a 166-page secret government rulebook for labeling you a terrorist (proof not necessary).

The ‘March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,’ a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire ‘categories’ of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists.

I was feeling overloaded, and decided maybe you all are too. Here are a few interesting conversation starters, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and join in.

Thanks to Bill Moyers for pointing us to this nifty thing:

A self-taught 16-year-old coder from Seattle, Washington, has created a web browser plug-in that won’t let you forget the pervasive and corrupting influence of money in politics.

Called ‘Greenhouse,’ the plug-in picks out the names of any members of Congress on a given web page. Users can then mouse-over those members of Congress to see their top donors, and what percentage of their funding came from small-dollar donations.

Get it HERE.

Chattanooga, TN is about to stick it to Comcast and AT&T. Cue the howling!

Like a publicly traded corporation, the utility [EPB] issued bonds to raise resources to invest in the new broadband project. Similarly, just as many private corporations ended up receiving federal stimulus dollars, so did EPB, which put those monies into its new network.

The result is a system that now provides the nation’s fastest broadband speeds at prices often cheaper than the private competition. As the Chattanooga Times Free Press noted a few years back, ‘EPB offers faster Internet speeds for the money, and shows equal pep in both uploading and downloading content, with Comcast and AT&T trailing on quickness.’

This one is sorta funny. Another government website that doesn’t work.
Error: You Have No Payments from Pharma

Doctors checking a soon-to-be-unveiled federal website that will publicly list drug company payments are encountering error messages if they have not accepted industry money.

The error message: “There are no results that match the specified search criteria.”

OK, that’s all I’ve got. Come share kitteh stories and weather reports and family news. Maybe Starbuck will come by with more wonderful pictures and nonquixote will give us a crop (or Scott Walker) report. Ruth should be back with more from her travels. There might be a Christie sighting. Maybe some lurkers will delurk and put in their two cents. Let’s make it a cheery Friday despite the gloomy headlines! They’ll still be there tomorrow.

UPDATE: Aaaaand we DO have a Christie sighting!
Rob Astorino: Chris Christie should consider stepping down as RGA chairman if he can’t support me

Christie said the RGA doesn’t ‘pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes…’

Is it too early in the morning for popcorn?

Thursday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Thursday July 24, 2014 8:23 pm

 

Two activists in Anon mask with sign: Listen Close, I've Got Six Words for Obama. Long Live Palestine, Long Live Gaza!

July 23: These two Anonymous activists were among hundreds that came to stand with Gaza in Austin.

Tonight’s Watercooler is in solidarity with the thousands who took the streets in Chicago last weekend for a massive march to support the people of Gaza — and with the many thousands more participating in similar protests worldwide, including the West Bank.

A much more modest protest took place in Austin yesterday, sponsored by several local organizations that support an end to the conflict. About as many, or slightly fewer people came out as the last rally I wrote about in this watercooler. I quipped to my friend Gayle that in the Texas heat each person should count for 2. My friend, who is in Middle Eastern studies, retorted that during Ramadan every Muslim protester (unable to drink water in that sun!) should count for 4.

Bits and pieces: 

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Ukraine, Negroponte & Missiles — Oh My!

By: Jane Stillwater

Poor Ukraine just can’t seem to catch a break. Its ancient history reads like a whole patchwork quilt of disaster stories and its modern history gets even worse. First there was that insanely terrible Ukraine famine of 1932-33, artificially manufactured by Joseph Stalin in order to forestall a revolt. And in just those two short years, 25,000 Ukrainians a day died of starvation — until more than 10 million people were dead.

A postcard of a Ukrainian train station

Ukraine has suffered from strife from its days in the Russian empire.

Then Hitler’s Nazis killed 150,000 Jewish Ukrainians at Babi Yar and used eastern Ukraine as a bloody staging area for the siege of Stalingrad. 3.5 million Soviet soldiers died in Nazi prison camps during World War II and many of those soldiers were local boys. Ultimately, more than five million Ukrainians died fighting Nazi Germany and most of Ukraine’s 1.5 million Jews were wiped out. Poor Ukraine!

Then Chernobyl blew up. Then there was a series of corruption scandals, assassinations, price de-regulations, worker strikes, coal mine explosions and a 3.5 billion deficit to deal with during the 1990s, and the new Ukraine republic was destabilized to the point where its major exports became online porn, mail-order brides and Mafioso types running protection rackets in Sacramento.

Then there was that famous CIA-backed “Orange Revolution” in 2004, yet another total disaster — followed this year by Kiev’s famous beer hall putsch.

Geez Louise, why can’t our CIA ever come up with a plan that Americans can be proud of?

The 2014 neo-Nazi putsch in Kiev, the various resultant slaughters of Resistance fighters in eastern Ukraine and the recent shooting down of Malaysia’s MH17 all seem to have one thing in common: Like any other CIA-backed “nation-building” operation throughout the known world, they are all sort of shadowy, shady and hard to define. However, I am certainly going to try to define them.

To try to understand the pattern of what just happened in Ukraine, you first gotta to go all the way back to Central America during Ronald Reagan’s reign and climb into the mind of John Negroponte — a one-trick-pony kind of guy whose major contribution to America’s international diplomatic policy was the judicious use of snipers and other Trojan-horse-style agitators to initiate various casus-belli false-flag operations.

And since that time when all Hell was unleashed on Central America thanks to John Negroponte (and we still have all those kids at our borders to prove it too), wherever there has been any kind of protests against CIA policy throughout the world, our John’s dead-eye sniper dudes would show up on the sly, take out a few key people on both sides and then just sit back and watch the fun as both sides began to tear each other apart. Negroponte’s signature handiwork soon became available in Iraq, for instance, happily starting wars between Sunnis and Shias.

And even before Iraq received the benefit of Negroponte’s ingenious full monty, there was also the bloody aftermath of 9-11 — wherein some crazy Saudi dudes blew up the Twin Towers and Negroponte’s homeys then blamed it on Afghanistan. And we taxpayers are still paying for that one.

And wasn’t Negrgoponte’s can’t-fail modus operandi also employed in Syria too? And Scotland? And Gaza? But I digress.

It’s almost 100% certain that Negroponte’s brain-children were also at play during the Ukraine protests in Maidan Square last winter too, when both police and protestors were shot at by snipers. And the result? Kiev’s very own beer-hall putsch and seizure of the government by pro-CIA thugs. Poor Ukraine.

The breadbasket of eastern Europe and a jewel in anybody’s crown is now once again wracked by war and killing and death. And the Odessa Steps run red with blood. Again.

“So get to your point, Jane.”

What am I really trying to say here? That perhaps Negroponte and his ballistic-favoring minions have now taken his sniper-attack method of starting conflicts to a whole new level — and are now using long-range missiles instead of long-range rifles to get the dance started? And thus shooting down the Malaysia airline and blaming it on Russia or Ukrainian Resistance fighters is an idea that he and/or his CIA buddies would definitely come up with? Just saying.