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The Healing and Transformative Power of the Arts to Build Bridges of Peace

By: patrick devlin Friday December 26, 2014 5:50 pm

As children were being incinerated by Awesome American Ordinance during the sultry days of last summer – while Americans fired up their Kindles on their beach vacations and Palestinians became kindling as Gaza burned, a group of Hollywood artists penned a letter of support for the imperial actions of our favorite recipient of military aid, Israel, noting that their “commitment to peace and justice” compelled them to promise to fully support the savage ethnic cleansing frenzy that IDF forces were daily raining on UN compounds, hospitals and schools.

The signatories of the children bombing support letter made clear their moral obligation to “stand firm against ideologies of hatred and genocide which are reflected in Hamas’ charter.” Absent from the statement of the concerned artists was any mention or recognition of the ideologies of hatred and genocide displayed over the course of Israel’s brutal and illegal 47 year occupation of Palestine.

190 letter-signing artists, movie moguls and movie makers, movie producers and movie stars (including Seth Rogen), all of whom are denizens of America’s dangerously libertine “left coast”, pledged to “join together in support of the democratic values we all cherish and in the hope that the healing and transformative power of the arts can be used to build bridges of peace”.

“The healing and transformative power of the arts to build bridges of peace.”

The Grand Illusion? The Dictator? Paths of Glory? Catch 22? The Deer Hunter?…M*A*S*H?

In mid-December the Daily Beast reported that among the stolen Sony corporation internal emails released by hackers were communications that revealed that “at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong-Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film—including a final scene that sees the dictator’s head explode—their blessing.”

The emails between Sony CEO Michael Lynton, Sony corporate officials and a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who Sony had hired to consult on Rogen’s film named Bruce Bennett revealed some pre-release discomfort at Sony regarding the gruesome ending of the film where the Kim Jong-Un character’s head melts and explodes as a consequence of an American directed act of political assassination- filmed in slow motion and accompanied by Katy Perry’s song “Firework”. But the cache of mails also included an assessment by Bennett that reveals he believes “that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone.”

According to reports, Lynton responded to Bennett’s geo-strategic movie review on the same day stating that he, “spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially), and he agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything.”

The hacked mails further revealed that the movie’s writer, director and lead actor Seth Rogen was also aggressive in his push for including the grisly murder scene to end the film, eventually agreeing with Sony, however, to back down a bit;

“We will make it less gory. There are currently four burn marks on his face. We will take out three of them, leaving only one. We reduce the flaming hair by 50 percent…The head explosion can’t be more obscured than it is because we honestly feel that if it’s any more obscured you won’t be able to tell it’s exploding and the joke won’t work. Do you think this will help? Is it enough?”

The US State Department confirmed after the revelations of the internal Sony emails that Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Russell, had conferred with Sony executives about the film, and the email threads themselves revealed that Sony hired consultants also worked with the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human-rights issues, Robert King, in the development of The Interview.

“The healing and transformative power of the arts to build bridges of peace.”

The Hurt Locker? Zero Dark Thirty?

The Oscar winning film makers who wrote and directed the American military glorifying film called The Hurt Locker came under criticism prior to the release of their follow-up jingoist film about the killing of Osama bin Laden called Zero Dark Thirty (originally given the working title of For God and Country) for receiving exclusive and perhaps disallowed access to CIA information and insiders as they filmed. The activist conservative group Judicial Watch charged before the release of Zero Dark Thirty that the CIA improperly supported the film’s writers and director Katherine Bigelow and Mark Boal.

Although the group’s allegations, that sensitive and restricted government information was passed to the film makers by the CIA in an effort to burnish the president’s image as a tough and decisive commander in chief in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, were viewed widely by critics as no more than a political attack by the conservative organization, the film’s depiction that US torture was indispensable in revealing information that helped US military operatives assassinate bin Laden helped propagate the popular notion in America that torture is not fundamentally immoral and is rather an awesome tool to get terrorist evil-doers and also served to foster the agenda of self-exculpating CIA torturers.

In a profile of Boal from 2013, the Nation reported that internal CIA emails demonstrate that the agency understood the public relations value of Zero Dark Thirty’s depiction of the assassination of bin Laden and the US military’s reliance on the war crime of torture as it protects the homeland;

“A CIA flack promised colleagues that Boal had “agreed to share scripts and details about the movie with us so we’re absolutely comfortable with what he will be showing.” Another e-mail said that “for the intelligence case, they are basically using the WH-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.” The talking points called the raid “a ‘Gutsy Decision’ by the POTUS,” adding that “WH involvement was critical.” The CIA explained its rationale for cooperating with the filmmakers: “Our goal is an accurate portrayal of the men and women of the CIA, their vital mission, and the commitment to public service that defines them.”

A poll conducted recently by the Washington Post found that 59 percent of all Americans support the US military’s use of torture.

“The healing and transformative power of the arts to build bridges of peace.”

The State Department vetted The Interview hit theater screens on Christmas day (after some hedging by Sony after the group that claims to have hacked into Sony’s companywide computer system made threats of harming movie goers and bombing movie theaters) attracting sell out audiences across America.

Many who bought tickets to the film on its opening day (some decked out in red, white and blue outfits), told reporters that they felt it was a patriotic obligation to see The Interview.

A movie goer in Nashville, TN told the local press, “I’m here to support artistic freedom. I’m a drummer, and art is what we do here in Nashville.” Another ticket buyer opined, “They (the North Koreans) think they can change how we live our lives, but we can’t let that happen, I have grandchildren now, and we have to set an example for them to hold on to the things that are so special to us.” Another Tennessean confided, “I’m here to stick it to the man. For real.”

A cinema fan from Lubbock, TX advised, “The movie was certainly a little graphic and the humor was a little crude but I think that’s one of the great things about America, is the freedom of speech. It’s really important that we not allow other nations and dictators like that try to dictate what we put out. I’m really happy that it finally did get put out.” Another audience member in Texas, calling on other citizens to see The Interview, reflected, “Sometimes freedom isn’t really pretty or perfect but it’s a wonderful thing and one of the things that makes this nation great.”

Movie patrons in Austin, TX participated in a sing-along of country music artist Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA (Proud To Be An American)” before the screening of The Interview and in Atlanta, GA audience members stood to sing an impromptu version of “God Bless America” before the film credits rolled.

“Our goal is an accurate portrayal of the men and women of the CIA, their vital mission, and the commitment to public service that defines them.”

It can’t happen Here?

cross posted at the demise

 

Boxing Day

By: ek hornbeck Friday December 26, 2014 3:50 pm

Boxing Day.

On the day after Christmas…

  • In feudal times the lord of the manor would give boxes of practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land.
  • Many years ago on the day after Christmas servants would carry boxes to their employers when they arrived for their day’s work. Their employers would then put coins in the boxes as special end-of-year gifts.
  • In churches, it was traditional to open the church’s donation box on Christmas Day and distribute it to the poorer or lower class citizens on the next day.

Take your pick.

In the world of retail Boxing Day is the day everyone brings back all the crap they got for gifts that they didn’t want or is the wrong size or the wrong color or that they shoplifted and now want full retail for instead of the 10% that the local fence will give them.

Now fortunately for me I never had to work the counter during this period of long lines and testy, hung over sales people and managers dealing with irate customers who think that making their sob story more pitiful than the last one will get them any treatment more special than what everyone gets.

  1. Is it all there?
  2. Is it undamaged?
  3. Did you buy it here?

Bingo, have some store credit. Go nuts. Have a nice day.

What makes it especially crappy for the clerks is that you don’t normally get a lot of practice with the return procedures because your manager will handle it since it’s easier than training you. Now you have 20 in a row and the first 7 or 8 are slow until you get the hang of things.

As a customer I have to warn you, this is not a swap meet. If they didn’t have a blue size 6 on Christmas Eve, they don’t have it now either EVEN IF THE CUSTOMER RIGHT AHEAD OF YOU IN LINE JUST RETURNED A SIZE 6 IN BLUE!

It has to go back to the warehouse for processing and re-packaging. Really.

So if you braved the surly stares today you have my admiration for your tenacity. If you waited for the rush to pass my respect for your brilliance.

But don’t wait too long. It all has to be out of the store before February inventory so it doesn’t have to be counted.

Cross Posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma

Houston Cop Who Executed Unarmed Jordan Baker Cleared of All Charges

By: wendydavis Friday December 26, 2014 8:38 am

Seriously, we have to stop meeting so very often over this issue.  This all must stop: murders of unarmed black and other citizens, failure to indict or charge…all of it.)

This shit’s fucked up.  From Slate.com:

‘A Houston grand jury decided on Tuesday not to indict a police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in January. Officer Juventino Castro, a 10-year veteran of the force, was working as an off-duty security guard at a Houston strip mall that had recently experienced a string of robberies when he shot and killed 26-year-old Jordan Baker after a brief confrontation in the mall parking lot.

Castro was in uniform when he confronted Baker, thinking he was a potential burglar.’

I haven’t seen any mention of which sort of uniform he was wearing.  Added: he was apparently wearing his police uniform.

Health Insurance workers. We’ve Got Your Back!

By: Kay Tillow Friday December 26, 2014 8:24 am

It’s just a matter of time until Humana, Aetna, Anthem, CIGNA, UnitedHealthcare—all the private health insurers—will no longer exist as health insurance companies.

Sit-in at Humana headquarters demanding an end to denial of care for profit. Louisville, KY. 2009

People will organize in vast numbers to demand universal care changing what is politically possible.  Our nation will move forward, like the rest of the industrialized world, to a publicly funded system that no longer allows companies to profit from denying care.  We will find our way to a better system that assures care to all by ending profiteering in health care.

It will be a beautiful day when we all get the care we need.  Our wealthy nation is more than capable of providing it to everyone.

What about the Health Insurance workers who will need jobs?

We’ve thought about that!  There is a solution.  The answer is already written into the legislation.

HR 676, the national single payer legislation, specifies that insurance company workers will be provided for by first choice in retraining and job placement in the new system and by receiving two years of their regular salary so that they will be able to transition to better jobs.  And all the while, they, like all of us, will have all medically necessary care as a right!

Check it out.  It’s Section 303 (e) of HR 676.  Go to www.congress.gov.  In the space that says “examples” write “HR 676” and click the search button.  Then click on highlighted “H.R.676” and then click on “text.”  Scroll to Section 303 (e).

Quoted from HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All

(e) First Priority in Retraining and Job Placement; 2 Years of Salary Parity Benefits- The Program shall provide that clerical, administrative, and billing personnel in insurance companies, doctors offices, hospitals, nursing facilities, and other facilities whose jobs are eliminated due to reduced administration–

(1) should have first priority in retraining and job placement in the new system; and

(2) shall be eligible to receive two years of Medicare For All employment transition benefits with each year’s benefit equal to salary earned during the last 12 months of employment, but shall not exceed $100,000 per year.

So join with us!  Let’s win national single payer health care for all while protecting the future of those who work in the health insurance industry.

 

Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care

www.kyhealthcare.org

nursenpo@aol.com

New Navy Lasers a joke so is Israel’s Iron Dome. On Us we paid for the damm things

By: ThingsComeUndone Thursday December 25, 2014 3:18 pm

 

 

December 19, 2014

During the tests, LaWS - a collaborative effort between ONR, Naval Sea Systems CommandNaval Research LaboratoryNaval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division and industry partners - hit targets mounted aboard a speeding oncoming small boat, shot a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) out of the sky, and destroyed other moving targets at sea.

“At less than a dollar per shot, there’s no question about the value LaWS provides,” said Klunder.

http://science.dodlive.mil/2014/12/19/the-navy-laser-is-on-board/

Its nice to see the Navy is concerned about costs maybe they will scrap a few of their over priced aircraft carriers next?/s From the article we know they can sink a boat no word what kind or how fast the boat was going but we do know the ScanEagle Drone has a top speed of 92 miles per hour and the Navy Laser shot one down that sure sounds impressive!

ScanEagle carries a stabilized electro-optical and/or infrared camera on a lightweight inertial stabilized turret system, and an integrated communications system having a range of over 62 miles (100 km); it has a flight endurance of over 20 hours. ScanEagle has a 10.2-foot (3.1 m) wingspan[2] a length of 4.5 feet (1.4 m) and a mass of 44 pounds (20 kg)[3] and can operate up to 80 knots (92 mph; 150 km/h), with an average cruising speed of 48 knots (55 mph; 89 km/h).[3]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Insitu_ScanEagle

Until you realize that Iran has anti ship missiles like the Sunburn that go Mach 2.1

According to one report, when the Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani visited Moscow in October 2001 he requested a test firing of the Sunburn, which the Russians were only too happy to arrange. So impressed was Ali Shamkhani that he placed an order for an undisclosed number of the missiles.The Sunburn can deliver a 200-kiloton nuclear payload, or: a 750-pound conventional warhead, within a range of 100 miles, more than twice the range of the Exocet. The Sunburn combines a Mach 2.1 speed (two times the speed of sound) with a flight pattern that hugs the deck and includes “violent end maneuvers” to elude enemy defenses. The missile was specifically designed to defeat the US Aegis radar defense system. Should a US Navy Phalanx point defense somehow manage to detect an incoming Sunburn missile, the system has only seconds to calculate a fire solution not enough time to take out the intruding missile. The US Phalanx defense employs a six-barreled gun that fires 3,000 depleted-uranium rounds a minute, but the gun must have precise coordinates to destroy an intruder “just in time.”. A single one of these missiles can sink a large warship, yet costs considerably less than a fighter jet. Although the Navy has been phasing out the older Phalanx defense system, its replacement, known as the Rolling Action Missile (RAM) has never been tested against the weapon it seems destined to one day face in combat. Implications For US Forces in the Gulf 

http://my.firedoglake.com/thingscomeundone/2012/03/14/we-cant-win-a-war-with-iran-not-if-they-have-half-a-brain/

 

Need more proof

May 19, 2014

 

the Army and Navy programs. The shipboard LaWS generates just 33 kilowatts of laser energy and still manages to shoot down slow-moving drones in tests; the Navy wants to build a follow-up model generating roughly 60 to 100 kw, potentially mounted on the small Littoral Combat Ship or the mid-sized Arleigh Burke destroyer. The Army, meanwhile, is looking at laser defense platoons with either three 100-kw lasers mounted on large trucks or five 50-kw lasers mounted on smaller Stryker armored vehicles.

These power levels can take out cruise missiles, drones, and manned aircraft at ranges of a few miles. Longer ranges would require hundreds of kilowatts, however, and killing a ballistic missile in boost phase would take about a thousand kilowatts — one megawatt or more. An ICBM warhead, designed to survive the heat of reentry, is practically laser-proof.

http://breakingdefense.com/2014/05/laser-weapons-lower-expectations-higher-threats/

 

My bold notice the Navy would have to double the power of their lasers to take out cruise missiles ,drones, and manned aircraft in other words the Navy’s laser system being tested in the Persian Gulf is a child’s toy. It would take one megawatt or more to take out a ballistic missile in boost phase China it just so happens has a ballistic anti ship missile. Never mind swarm tactics if enough cheaper, older, slower, missiles can all be fired at the same time at any target any missile defense system can be overwhelmed trying to shoot down to many targets at once. Ask the Navy how many Super Sonic Sunburn missiles at a time can their laser heck their laser and all the anti missile defense systems they have on their best ship can stop at the same time.  Not asking these questions would be unpatriotic, screaming Hurah! because we have a laser that can shoot down  a drone plane slower than a Toyota Camary is like having the cheerleaders go out on the field after you lose a game. never mind the laser is not combat tested as it stands now we would lose depending on that toy. Its an interesting toy call me when it can shoot down 3 sunburn’s all launched at the same time at one ship, call me when its something we can use because its something  we need.

 

 

As far as Iron Dome goes Please Israel stop wasting America’s Money you have been getting aid money for decades, you give all your people healthcare with our money even though all Americans don’t have healthcare. You could have used the money we gave you to desalinate water turn deserts into farmland and had enough green land for Jew and Palestinian instead you waste our money on this crap.

the actual success rate for the Dome falls much closer to a miserable 5 percent.

The proof of those collisions is out there, says Postol, and it will reveal itself in the future in form of increased insurance claims for property damage. If the Israeli government were eager to show the Dome’s effectiveness, they could just release verifiable insurance claim numbers and put the issue to bed, says Postol. But “The Israelis have been unable to provide any evidence of any reduction in ground damage that would surely have to accompany the amazing success rates that they have been claiming.”

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2014/07/this-scientist-explains-why-israels-iron-dome-overrated/89132/

In other words, the Iron Dome missiles must approach rockets head-on, or the probability of intercepting them drops to virtually zero. This is due to the nature of the interceptors’ warhead, which is not in the nose of the missile but a third of the length down.

When very close to its target, the interceptor will detonate, sending a shower of steel rods out to the side of the missile to destroy the rocket. The only way these rods can successfully hit a rocket warhead is when the interceptor comes up to meet the rocket and passes just by it. Attempting to hit the rocket side-on will have virtually no chance of success.

Jeremy Binnie of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly has alleged that “Iron Dome is intercepting a significantly lower proportion of rockets than 2012″, during Israel’s last large-scale military offensive on Gaza. Biddle said this is probably because “the system has been improved and can ignore more rockets that aren’t a threat”.

“We don’t know how the [Israeli army] is defining what is a ‘successful’ intercept. Is it counting every time a rocket is hit, or every time its payload is destroyed? There is a big difference,” Binnie told Al Jazeera.

Four Israeli civilians – Israeli citizens, and a Thai worker – have been killed so far in the Gaza war. However, fewer civilians were killed during the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive in Gaza, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, before the missile defence system was operationally deployed.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/08/israel-iron-dome-gaza-rockets-201481712494436388.html

So you have an MIT professor agreeing with an analyst for Jane’s that Iron Dome does not work I suppose you can argue with Jane’s they only have been the expert writers about all the world’s weapons for decades. MIT well just what do they know about technology./S

But in the Real World if more people die after your rocket system to protect them is deployed than before it was deployed I’d call that a failure you actually did worse than Random Chance! Just what Bibi really did with all that money that could have been used to protect Israel is an intersting question. Bribe the American Congress to give him the money Quid a Priori  the Pro Quo of a functioning weapons system that wink wink did worse than random chance its first time out and functioned at a 5% success rate during the latest Palestinian rocket attacks.

In my world 5% is the margin of error

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police statistics, Psychopaths and is Jeb Bush half the man half the Civil Rights crusader his father was?/s

By: ThingsComeUndone Thursday December 25, 2014 2:08 pm

Police departments around the country consider frequent charges of resisting arrest a potential red flag, as some officers might add the charge to justify use of force. WNYC analyzed NYPD records and found 51,503 cases with resisting arrest charges since 2009. Just five percent of officers who made arrests during that period account for 40% of resisting arrest cases — and 15% account for almost 3/4 of such cases.
http://www.wnyc.org/story/can-the-nypd-spot-the-abusive-cop/

 

Of the five percent of officers that accounted for 40% of resisting arrest cases  and we ask separately the  15% that account for almost 3/4 of such cases.

 

Next we divide the police into regular police, the 5% that make 40% of resisting arrest cases and then the 15 % of that number that account for 3/4 of all those cases then we ask some questions.

First question how often does resisting arrest turn into a police complaint for these 3 groups? How often does it turn into a lawsuit for these 3 groups? How often do the police lose these lawsuits when it involves a member of these three groups?

But time and again, suspects haven’t been safe around Sadowy. Records show he’s been accused of excessive force in multiple lawsuits during the six years he’s been making arrests. Yet he continues to make them. And it’s not just him.

WNYC easily found a dozen other cops who appear to use force more often than most and who have been the subject of numerous lawsuits.

 

How much do these lawsuits cost state and local governments? How much does insurance for these lawsuits cost state and local governments? Any police officer accused any kind violence

There is no way that 15% of 5% of the police force is the only police coverage for high crime areas so the police can’t claim they have cops stressed out and breaking down and shooting people.

What they have are cops who no matter where they are stationed the suburbs, the ghettoes etc they abuse people especially if they think  they can get away with it. We need to identify what the cops have in common.  If you have more than 2 complaints for violence let alone lawsuits then you should get scanned 

December 15, 2014

New research shows that psychopathy appears to be linked to specific structural abnormalities in the brain.

also confirmed that psychopathy is a distinct sub-group of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), said Nigel Blackwood, M.D., from the College’s Institute of Psychiatry and lead author of the study.

He noted that most violent crimes are committed by a small group of male offenders with ASPD, but only about a third of these men are true psychopaths (ASPD+P). Psychopaths are characterized by a lack of empathy and remorse, and use aggression in a planned way to secure what they want, whether it is status or money.

We should brainscan problem police officers starting with the NY Police Union’s leaders and the media supporting them CNN, Fox News I’m looking at you:). We should see in the real world if violent police officers are indeed psychopaths and then we have to have a debate about what to do with all those Police Officers, Police Union Leaders, CNN/Fox News talking heads  and Rudy Giuliani. I suspect Cuba jails them
   Psychopathy affects approximately 1 percent of the United States general population and 20 percent to 30 percent of the male and female U.S. prison population. – See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2013/04/24/psychopaths-are-not-neurally-equipped-have-concern-others#sthash.WF9DS9uV.dpuf

 5% of the police population might be psychopaths and 15% of that 5% of the cop population I would expect also have ASPD Anti Social Personality Disorder.

The first President Bush at least had the courage to go against his own party despite the public perception of him being a wimp ( Doonesbury Cartoon Bush was a Waffle ). and tried the cops in the Rodney King case on Federal Charges.

Something Obama so far has refused to do because he is to busy telling us we are a Nation of Laws and that we should not protest when cops shoot people and never even go to trial, how can you be a nation of laws without trials? I wonder if Jeb Bush would support Darren Wilson, Timothy Loehmann etc being tried by the Feds does Jeb have half the Stones of his Dad, Obama so far does not.

When the Red Coats shot an African American during the Boston Massacure the Red Coats went on trial were found guilty and several were branded despite the crowd throwing rocks at them before they shot into the crowd we actually revolted because the cops got off to light a sentence, we revolted because we felt oppressed.

But sadly today Darren Wilson can’t even go to trial  because the Supreme Court says racism is over, Obama says we are a nation of laws, but Cuba which has much less people in jail per capita than we do, where the Life Expectancy for Afro Cubans is only 1 year less than Whites and more Afro Cubans graduate high school than White Cubans is an oppressive regime.  Perhaps more African Americans would get jobs if the Government made sure that everyone got equal funding for education notice Obama and Campbell Brown don’t send their kids to Charter Schools or even public schools they send their kids to Private Schools even though public schools do a better job once income is factored in than Private Schools do teaching math. Reading is much more effected by parents reading to their kids and having books in the home than it is by school.

 

Marley was dead.

By: ek hornbeck Wednesday December 24, 2014 6:48 pm

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot — say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance — literally to astonish his son’s weak mind.

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names: it was all the same to him.

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?” No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”

But what did Scrooge care? It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call “nuts” to Scrooge.

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already — it had not been light all day: and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge’s nephew out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge’s office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

“Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe,” said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. “Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?”

“Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years,” Scrooge replied. “He died seven years ago, this very night.”

“We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner,” said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.

It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word “liberality,” Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge. “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?” “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.” “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge. “Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.” “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides — excuse me — I don’t know that.” “But you might know it,” observed the gentleman. “It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

Marley’s Ghost
The First of the Three Spirits
The Second of the Three Spirits
The Last of the Spirits
Why is there never any Rum? Oh, that’s why.
The End of It

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma

Civilian Review Boards

By: jaango Wednesday December 24, 2014 6:22 am

 

Civilian Review Boards

For all these many years, I have been a staunch supporter for Civilian Review Boards, and despite all the large of number of deaths, for all these years and at the hands of the multiplicity of   police officers that should have never been police officers due to their incomprehensible behavior for a lacking in self-restraint, makes for an easy decision on my part.

And municipal government leaders continue to adamantly oppose these presumptive Civilian Review Boards, and as best as I can determine, this political opposition is in support of police unions since these unions oppose Civilian Review Boards most adamantly. 

And in Phoenix, Arizona, the police union took a vote of “no confidence” as to their Chief, and subsequently, the Chief, either resigned or was fired for his insubordination.  Consequently, the issue was one for the Chief’s “insubordination” for the reason of the City Manager’s directive that he–the Chief was not to hold a “press conference” on the professional competence of the police department.  In short, no “bad press” can be permitted, otherwise, the voters will see the Mayor and City Council members as tools of the police union.  And this is the same police union that was at the political forefront in advocating for Arizona’s SB 1070.  And this “self-restraint” among police officers is not restricted to Arizona, but does apply nationally.

To wit, Michelle Conlin, writing for Reuters, interviewed 25 African Americans—active duty and retired  police officers in New York City and concluded with the following:

Thought One:  Police officers have an inherently tough and violent job.  Split-second decisions about the use of force come with the territory.  Ditto for a decision about who to stop and who to keep an eye on. This makes individual mistakes inevitable, but as a group, police officers deserve our support and respect regardless.

Thought Two: That support shouldn’t be blind.

Conlin reports “that in her group of 25 black officers—24 said they had received rough treatment from other cops.  The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping.  The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving.  Five had had guns pulled on them.”  

In closing and short of requiring all eligible adults to vote,  and in “fixing” our Democracy, these Civilian Review Boards would be a sizable starting point, writ large.

Jaango