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Should Israel Teach the Holocaust Less?

By: David Swanson Thursday June 9, 2011 5:35 pm

Humans almost invariably imagine humans to be far more imaginative and original than they are. But most of our ideas come from (often imperfect and improvised) imitation. And even more powerful than our tendency to imitate is our inability to refrain from imitating, to shake an idea out of our heads once it’s there, to “not think of an elephant.”

An Israeli High School

Does an emphasis on teaching the holocaust lead to Israel’s violence?

Anthropologists have found cultures whose members cannot conceive of killing. “Why won’t you shoot an arrow at those slave raiders?” “Because it would kill them.”

In Western culture, children hear of killing in fairy tales, cartoons, Harry Potter books, video games, the TV news, the newspaper, the games played in the park. It’s everywhere. Usually it’s frowned upon, although often a distinction is made between bad killing by bad guys and good killing by good guys, or inexplicable random killing and killing justified and sanctified by bitter revenge.

But even when a behavior is frowned upon, the listener or viewer has now heard of that behavior. There have been studies of children’s responses to stories and television dramas in which fictional children misbehave for three-quarters of the episode and then learn an important moral lesson at the end. Guess what? Kids don’t retroactively view the whole story as a package and wipe the bad behavior out of their minds. Instead they display a tendency to try out the behavior demonstrated to them in so many of the isolated moments that they lived while watching or listening to the story.

Humans also almost invariably imagine humans to be far kinder and far more selfless than they are. Most of us very much want others to be kind to us, and we try our best to be kind to others. So, when we see behaviors and institutions that cause horrendous suffering, we like to imagine there is a rational cause, a greater good, or that the explanation is incompetence or stupidity — anything other than the most obvious explanation: vicious, evil sadism.

We are often encouraged to picture vicious cruelty and irrational evil in certain foreign groups of humans. But usually this perspective is intended to help us avoid seeing cruelty in those who are supposedly like ourselves.

These thoughts arise as I’m confronted by the polling showing that 95% of Israelis deem the slaughter of Gazans to be just, and the realization that for many in Israel “just” is a rather disgusting euphemism for “satisfyingly sadistic.” People are sitting on hills watching the missiles hit the homes, some of them telling cameras they want everyone killed, and then explaining that their thoughts are “a little bit fascist.”

This week we’ll be remembering Harry Truman’s bombing of Japan with nuclear weapons, and we’ll be told that he must have believed those acts of mass murder would help end the war, even though the evidence shows he knew otherwise. Truman had earlier advocated aiding the Russians or the Germans, whoever was losing, so that as many people as possible would die, he said. Top U.S. military officials wanted Japan cleansed of all human life. The most likely explanation for the nukes, namely that Truman viewed killing lots of Japanese as an advantage to be weighed along with impressing the Russians and so forth, is too ugly, so we turn away. We even have to turn away from his own statement on the occasion, which justified the bombing in terms of revenge, not in terms of ending the war.

Also this week we’ll mark 50 years since the Gulf of Tonkin fraud. We like to imagine such incidents, even when they result in the deaths of 4 million foreigners, as misunderstandings. But during the course of the savagery that followed, how was progress gauged? That’s right: by body counts.

Examples of evil policies, in one’s own or other parts of the world, flood in the moment you begin to look for them. The evidence is clear that locking kids up in juvenile prisons makes them more likely, not less likely, to grow into criminals. But we just go on locking them up for other motives we don’t care to examine too closely. We’ve learned what it’s impolite to mention. Support for wars in Afghanistan or Iraq is discussed on television in terms of “strategic interests” and other such blather, but the counter-demonstrators across the street from a peace rally sometimes have different desires, including the death of foreigners — and of the peace activists with them.

Courageous peace activists in Israel have been facing hostile counter-demonstrations from those in their society who have moved in a different direction.

 

Governor Walker’s Guidance Gives Hints of What’s to come in Wisconsin’s Next Budget

By: WI Budget Project Thursday July 31, 2014 9:45 am
Gov Scott Walker

Walker’s budget guidelines show more austerity on the way in Wisconsin.

Governor Walker has given state agencies guidance on how to develop their proposals for Wisconsin’s next budget, giving some glimpses into what the state’s 2015-17 budget might bring.

Wisconsin has a two-year budget. The budget process starts in the summer of even numbered years – like now — when the Governor instructs agencies in how to develop budget requests. Agencies submit their requests to the executive branch by September 15, and the Governor takes the requests into consideration when developing his own budget proposal to submit to the Legislature. The Governor is expected to release his budget proposal in the early part of 2015. For more about the Wisconsin state budget cycle, check the Wisconsin Budget Project’s Budget Toolkit.

For the upcoming budget, Governor Walker recently instructed agencies to assume there will be zero growth in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) appropriations in each fiscal year. In other words, he wants agencies to submit budget requests that are not any higher their budgets were two years ago, even though inflation and other factors have pushed costs up.

The Governor does carve out some exceptions to his zero-growth policy, including ones for:

  • State support for K-12 schools. An increase for schools could help ease some of the very deep cuts that Wisconsin has made in education funding. The state budget provided 15% less resources per student in 2014 than in 2008. Only six states made deeper cuts to education over this period.
  • Entitlement and related assistance programs in the Department of Health Services, including Medicaid. Medicaid, like other entitlements, has routinely been exempted from spending freezes because there is typically growth in caseloads and increases in the cost per participant. Another factor in boosting Medicaid spending in the next budget is the much higher than expected enrollment of childless adults in recent months, which will create a large shortfall in the BadgerCare budget (unless state policymakers reconsider their decision to reject federal funding that would pay the full cost of newly eligible adults). Of course, just because there isn’t a hard spending freeze doesn’t mean that DHS and the Governor won’t propose policy changes to reduce costs.
  • State-level efforts to make sure children are safe in their own homes, or placed in safe foster or adoptive homes. This effort includes the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, which is run by the state, and has been in the news recently for caseload backlogs and high turnover of employees.
  • Employment services for people with disabilities. In the last budget, Wisconsin did not provide the state funding for these services at the level necessary to receive the full federal matching amount. Later in 2013, the legislature backtracked and provided additional state funding, thereby maximizing the federal match for these services. The inclusion of these services on the list of programs exempted from the zero-growth policy may mean that  this time around, the Governor favors providing the full amount of state match for the federal dollars in the budget; and
  • Basic cost-to-continue needs for the state’s institutions at the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health Services.

The Governor’s budget instructions also note that “the state has a goal of increasing the ongoing receipt of federal funds where the use of federal funding is consistent with state program goals.” This is an interesting choice of words, given that the Walker administration has made several high-profile decisions to turn down federal money, including funding for improving BadgerCare and for building a high-speed rail line.

by Tamarine Cornelius

One Call To SBA’s Terry Sutherland Could Lead To A Pulitzer Prize

By: Lloyd Chapman
Portrait of Terry Sutherland

Journalists: Call Terry Sutherland for a chance to win valuable prizes.

You think stories about the Small Business Administration (SBA) are beneath you and trivial. Would a story about over a trillion dollars in federal contracting fraud that involves every federal agency and the Pentagon’s largest prime contractors interest you? I suggest you take five minutes and make one phone call and see what happens.

Call Terry Sutherland at the Small Business Administration Press Office and ask him if the SBA is including any Fortune 500 firms or their subsidiaries in the SBA’s latest small business contracting statistics. See what happens.

See if you can just call Terry Sutherland up and get him to answer questions on why the SBA has included billions of dollars in federal contracts to Fortune 500 firms in their small business contracting data every year since 2000.

See if you can just give him a call and talk with him without having to make an appointment with him and several people all at once on a conference call. (They love those conference calls) Tell him you just want to talk to him one on one. See what happens.

If I’m just a conspiracy nut like the SBA has been telling journalist for over a decade there shouldn’t be any problem getting Terry Sutherland to answer extemporaneous questions on why Fortune 500 firms have been receiving billions of dollars in federal small business contracts for 15 years.

Listen to him tell you it’s the result of miscoding, anomalies, computer glitches and simple human error. Then ask him why these random errors always divert federal business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses and never the other way around.

Random, unintentional errors would have a random pattern of distribution like flipping a coin. Heads or tails or in the case of federal contracting, big or small. Ask him to explain why for every billion dollars in federal contracts to a large business that was miscoded as a small business contract there isn’t a billion dollars in contracts to small businesses that have been miscoded as large business contracts.

Ask him why according to the latest data from the Federal Procurement Data System, 175 Fortune 500 firms received small businesses contracts in FY 2013.

When he tells you it’s the result of big companies purchasing small ones, remind him under federal law that as soon as a big business buys a small one that firms is legally no longer a small business.

Ask Terry Sutherland if he will release all his phone records and emails. See what happens. Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA Office of Inspector General has named the diversion of federal small business contracts to large businesses as the number one problem at the SBA every year since 2005 and yet the SBA has never even proposed any policies to stop it.

Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA is now taking public comment on a new SBA policy that will create a “safe harbor from fraud penalties” for large businesses that have misrepresented themselves as small businesses and illegally landed federal small business contracts.

When he gives you some baloney about protecting firms that have “acted in good faith” ask him if the SBA Office of Inspector General has ever issued a report that found too many firms that “acted in good faith” were being prosecuted for contracting fraud.

The SBA has vehemently denied there is any fraud in federal small business contracting since 2002. Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA is taking public comment on a policy to create a “safe harbor” for fraud when they have consistently denied any evidence of fraud in federal small business contracting.

When you see the reaction to some of these questions you might begin to wonder what is really going on here. You might even ask yourself why one of the Pentagon’s most senior spokesmen suddenly showed up at the teeny tiny Small Business Administration. Ask him how he went from handling issues like the possibility of a nuclear missile strike on the U.S. by China to miscoding and anomalies at the SBA.

When Terry wants to talk to you off the record, say no. When he starts trash talking me tell him you are not interested in talking about Lloyd Chapman. Tell him you just want to stick to the facts and leave me out of it. Do me a favor, when he starts trash talking me, ask him how he feels as a veteran about the Government Accountability Office essentially accusing the SBA of encouraging fraud in the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program in GAO Reports 10-108 and DOD OIG Report DODIG-2012-059. Imagine the color draining from his face as he nervously begins looking at his watch.

Gaza Conflict: 72-Hour Ceasefire Fails; 1451 Palestinians, 59 Israelis Dead

By: fairleft Monday May 30, 2011 8:24 am

According to Al Jazeera, “Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Sami Abu Zuhri, tells AJE that Hamas and all factions in Gaza agree to the United Nations ceasefire for 72 hours starting from 05GMT [midnight ET], as long as the other side abides to it.” Earlier: “UN and US say humanitarian truce in Gaza has been agreed by all sides as Israeli and Palestinian delegations on way to Cairo.” You can read more here.

As for the casualties:

At least 1,441 Palestinians have been killed, three-quarters of them civilians, since hostilities began on July 8, according to Gaza health officials — surpassing the at least 1,410 Palestinians killed in 2009, according to Palestinian rights groups.

Israel says 56 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai agricultural worker have died — also far more than the 13 Israeli deaths in the previous campaign.

As I’ve done in earlier posts, I’ve added the ten Palestinians that Israel killed in West Bank Gaza-solidarity protests. Gaza’s emergency services reports more than 8,100 wounded in Gaza during the conflict/assault/massacre.

By the way, about those “terror tunnels,” hyped by the U.S. mainstream media in coordination with Israel’s propaganda services:

Media Hype and Gaza’s ‘Terror’ Tunnels
By Peter Hart
July 29, 2014

Coincidentally or not, there’s been a noticeable increase in media attention to the tunnels in Gaza, many of which lead to Israel and are used by Hamas militants for attacks. The Israeli government has said that destroying the tunnels is one of the rationales for the war.

… the only thing missing from these nightmarish scenarios of terrorists emerging from the ground to kill innocents is any evidence that anything like this has ever happened. The Times story quotes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the ‘sole purpose’ of the tunnels ‘is the destruction of our civilians and the killing of our children.’ But have there been any such attacks?

Journalist and media critic Greg Mitchell has posed this question on his blog (Pressing Issues, 7/29/14), where he reports that CNN’s Jake Tapper responded to his queries on Twitter by noting that all of the the tunnel deaths he was aware of have been Israeli military.

Palestinian deaths, military and civilian (Intercept) Glenn Greenwald (Intercept, 7/29/14) notes that Israel –- often credited in US media with taking great care to avoid civilian casualties -– has actually killed three noncombatant for every ‘militant.’ Meanwhile, only 5 percent of the much smaller number of deaths caused by Palestinian fighters have been civilians, even though Hamas’s disregard for innocent life is taken for granted by US journalists.

Over Easy: Watching You, Watching Me!

By: msmolly

Flickr - law keven - Watching you...watching me....

Watching you…watching me…

I’ve posted here at Over Easy about companies that track our travels on the Web to display ads customized to our interests. They often use cookies, so if you price out an upscale cruise or golf club on one site, ads for cruises or golf clubs follow you around the Web. There are other tracking tools, too, and it is a running battle to stay ahead of them. They’re getting even more intrusive and personal, and it is unsettling to comprehend their reach.

More and more online marketers attempt to track us offline too, by collecting data about our daily lives and habits. According to a fascinating Wall Street Journal investigation, one of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet is the business of spying on consumers. NOTE: To avoid the paywall to the WSJ article, Google “The Web’s New Gold Mine” and click on the link to the article, which should be the top hit. (Also see the note at the end of this post.) LATE DAY UPDATE: The article no longer can be accessed via Google as I described. It is now thoroughly locked down. Sorry!

Here’s but one way this works — there are many others as the technology gets more sophisticated.

  • A retailer collects the email addresses of its customers. It’s why stores keep asking for our email, and sometimes offer a small freebie to entice us to provide it. They especially like to get email addresses of their big spending customers.
  • A digital marketing firm locates customers online when they use their email address to log into a website that has a relationship with the marketing firm. This website allows the firm to put a tracker — a long string of letters and numbers — on the the customer’s computer.
  • When the customer goes online to the retailer’s website, they see a customized version of the site that shows offerings especially tailored for their (high-spending) interests.

Tracking people using their real names is known as “onboarding,” and it’s not used only for retail activity. (“Onboarding” is more commonly a term for integrating a newly hired employee into a work environment. In this context it is data onboarding.) According to LiveRamp, a major provider of data onboarding recently purchased by our old friend Acxiom (remember them??),

Our customers send us large ‘offline’ datasets of user records for us to deliver anonymized versions of these records to an ‘online’ destination, such as an ad network or data management platform. By ‘online,’ we mean that the data record is anonymized and associated with a browser or device, enabling the customer to run ad campaigns that retarget their audience, or to measure offline conversions in response to an online campaign.

In 2012, ProPublica documented how Microsoft and Yahoo sell politicians access to us. Back then, Google and Facebook told ProPublica they don’t offer these political matching services. But since then, Facebook and Twitter started offering onboarding services that allow advertisers (presumably including politicians) to find their customers online.

Another firm in the “onboarding” space is Lotame. According to the WSJ investigation, this is how it works:

Hidden inside Ashley Hayes-Beaty’s computer, a tiny file helps gather personal details about her, all to be put up for sale for a tenth of a penny.

The file consists of a single code— 4c812db292272995e5416a323e79bd37—that secretly identifies her as a 26-year-old female in Nashville, Tenn.

The code knows that her favorite movies include ‘The Princess Bride,’ ’50 First Dates’ and ’10 Things I Hate About You.’ It knows she enjoys the ‘Sex and the City’ series. It knows she browses entertainment news and likes to take quizzes. [snip] Lotame uses sophisticated software called a ‘beacon’ to capture what people are typing on a website—their comments on movies, say, or their interest in parenting and pregnancy. Lotame packages that data into profiles about individuals, without determining a person’s name, and sells the profiles to companies seeking customers.

The WSJ’s investigation revealed that:

Thursday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Thursday July 31, 2014 8:27 pm

 

A USB drive designed to look like a sushi roll

USB powered sushi — and everything else using the USB standard — is vulnerable to hidden malware.

In tonight’s video, a small-scale cocoa bean farmer and his workers get to taste the end result of their work — chocolate — for the first time in their lives!

Farmer N’Da Alphonse grows cocao and has never seen the finished product. ‘To be honest I do not know what they make of my beans,’ says farmer N’Da Alphonse. ‘I’ve heard they’re used as flavoring in cooking, but I’ve never seen it. I do not even know if it’s true.’

Thanks to MyFDL’s KateCA for suggesting this video.

Be careful what you put in your computer. According to an article in Wired’s Threat Level, the security of USB devices is fundamentally broken.

Computer users pass around USB sticks like silicon business cards. Although we know they often carry malware infections, we depend on antivirus scans and the occasional reformatting to keep our thumbdrives from becoming the carrier for the next digital epidemic. But the security problems with USB devices run deeper than you think: Their risk isn’t just in what they carry, it’s built into the core of how they work.

That’s the takeaway from findings security researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell plan to present next week, demonstrating a collection of proof-of-concept malicious software that highlights how the security of USB devices has long been fundamentally broken. The malware they created, called BadUSB, can be installed on a USB device to completely take over a PC, invisibly alter files installed from the memory stick, or even redirect the user’s internet traffic. Because BadUSB resides not in the flash memory storage of USB devices, but in the firmware that controls their basic functions, the attack code can remain hidden long after the contents of the device’s memory would appear to the average user to be deleted. And the two researchers say there’s no easy fix: The kind of compromise they’re demonstrating is nearly impossible to counter without banning the sharing of USB devices or filling your port with superglue.

‘These problems can’t be patched,’ says Nohl, who will join Lell in presenting the research at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. ‘We’re exploiting the very way that USB is designed.’

[...] They spent months reverse engineering the firmware that runs the basic communication functions of USB devices—the controller chips that allow the devices to communicate with a PC and let users move files on and off of them. Their central finding is that USB firmware, which exists in varying forms in all USB devices, can be reprogrammed to hide attack code. ‘You can give it to your IT security people, they scan it, delete some files, and give it back to you telling you it’s “clean,”‘ says Nohl. But unless the IT guy has the reverse engineering skills to find and analyze that firmware, ‘the cleaning process doesn’t even touch the files we’re talking about.’

Bonus: Samuel Beckett Motivational Cat Posters via Dangerous Minds

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Blood Moons for Amerisrael

By: Elliott Monday May 21, 2012 5:18 pm

I followed along last night as billmon tweeted “The Strange Case of Amerisrael,” I wanted to share it for those not on Twitter.

The Strange Case of Amerisrael

Click through to read it at Storify.

 

And I’ll top it off with this BLOOD MOONS treat I came upon via DSWright.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embraces Pastor John Hagee

This happened July 21, 2014 at the Christians United for Israel Conference. I was going to say something about what a serpent Benjamin Netanyahu is pandering to the christianists, but the christianists could care less about Israel really, they are just hoping for Armageddon so they can rapture on up to Jesus – and to hell with the Jews. Looking at the summit’s speaker list, obviously this is a venal symbiotic relationship.

Published on Jul 31, 2014
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embraces Pastor John Hagee, blood moon conspiracy theorist and End Times activist. Video clipped from Christians United for Israel conference and Christian TV. Uploaded by @LHFANG

As the blogsters say, “I can’t even… ”

Haunting the Conscience of the World

By: Isaiah 88 Thursday July 31, 2014 1:47 pm

Humanity

Mohammed Omer . . .

In Gaza the nights are longer than any night in the world. Night in the world is supposed to be for sleep, but here the night is for horror.

The Guardian . . .

United Nations officials described the killing of sleeping children as a disgrace to the world and accused Israel of a serious violation of international law after a school in Gaza being used to shelter Palestinian families was shelled on Wednesday. At least 15 people, mostly children and women, died when the school in Jabaliya refugee camp was hit by five shells during a night of relentless bombardment across Gaza. More than 100 people were injured. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said the attack was ‘outrageous and unjustifiable’ and demanded “accountability and justice”. The UN said its officials had repeatedly given details of the school and its refugee population to Israel.

1,422 Palestinians have been killed.

8,265 have been injured.

And Gaza’s long night is far from over.

We’re told that Israel has no choice but to defend itself. NBC keeps telling us that. ABC keeps telling us that. CNN and CBS keep telling us that, Fox keeps bellowing that dogma day in and day out, but their attempts to justify the IDF’s rampage in Gaza, their relentless efforts to blame Hamas for the carnage are not succeeding. Because of the reports of independent journalists, because of the courage of the people of Gaza and their use of social media, the world is seeing how Israel “defends itself”.

This is how . . .

Rashid Khalidi, The New Yorker . . .

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted.

The siege, the blockade, a life sentence imposed by Israel, a life sentence for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside that jail.

Bibi always peddles the same propaganda about Gaza . . .

Benjamin Netanyahu

HAMAS!

HAMAS!

HAMAS!

He must think the world is blind. Well it’s not blind, hundreds of millions of people have seen who’s doing all the killing. The Prime Psychopath of Israel can point his finger at Hamas until it falls off, but the world has seen his guilt in the charred ruins of Gaza’s refugee shelters, in the twisted wreckage of schools and places of worship, in the bodies of children buried in the rubble of the world’s largest prison.

Netanyahu is a war criminal. I’m not telling you that, reality is telling you that, your own eyes are telling you that, the innocent blood staining the Star of David is telling you that, the images of horror haunting the conscience of the world are telling you that.

War crimes. Three weeks of Israeli war crimes, with more on the way. A nation of killers, that is what Israel has become.

This is a turning point, Israel has crossed all the red lines and the world will hold them accountable for it. This long night for the people of Gaza will end, the light of justice will finally shine on them, and there will be no more darkness. In the names of the slain, in the names of everyone who speaks out for those who have been silenced, in the names of the outcasts of Gaza, burning constantly at stake, the Chimes of Freedom are going to ring.

At long last, they are going to ring . . .