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Painting by Numbers

By: David Cox Monday July 28, 2014 2:56 pm

George Orwell had it all wrong you know, rather than a monolithic Big Brother enforcing conformity, there are thousands of Big Brothers. Choirs of angels singing a siren’s song as devil sings along in three-part harmony, in this, the misinformation age. Hosanna, halleluiah! Great news, a great victory for Oceania!

The Huffington Post dedicated its entire front page: “The unemployment rate dipped in June from 6.3 percent in May to its lowest level since the financial crisis struck at full force in the fall of 2008 with the bankruptcy of the Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers.”

Bloomberg News called it: “Payroll Surge Fuels Self-Sustaining U.S. Expansion”

224,000 new jobs in May and now, 288,000 in June, with unemployment falling to 6.1 percent! It’s all good, isn’t it? It’s all good, proof positive, the participation rate now stands at 62.8 percent and that’s great, isn’t it? Last June, the participation rate stood at 63.5 percent.

Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness. –George Orwell

America’s labor force bulges to 155,694,000 with the addition of 288,000 new jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of unemployed workers fell this month by 325,000, leaving 9,474,000 still unemployed. That’s the keyhole view, the media view, the headline view.  For while the federal government can tell you how many endangered newts might live in a particular stream bed. Their concern for living, breathing and formerly tax paying citizens, isn’t quite as precise. They began as unemployed and when their unemployment benefits expired, they became “marginally attached to the labor force.” From there it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the “discouraged worker” category.

Like a pinball machine, once these unemployed miss that last flipper, they go down a hole and just disappear. They’re Americans who aren’t employed and are no longer counted as unemployed; they just disappear from the labor force, from the headlines and from their government’s concern. 3.8 million Americans are down that hole with 293,000 more circling that dark vortex this month.

Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me:
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree.
 –George Orwell

Every new job is a good job, right? If we forget that 19th century cotton planters in the south had achieved full employment. There is what is known as “part-time for economic reasons” it is also known as involuntary part-time and this month the number of Americans working part-time for economic reasons rose by 275,000 to 7,544,000. The numbers who could only find part-time work rose by 111,000 to 2.6 million. It is somehow difficult to explain this self-sustaining economic expansion, when the other 4.5 million Americans are working part-time due to slack work or business conditions.

The number of hours worked by Americans each week is unchanged from a year ago at 34.5 hours. The economy added a 138,000 new construction jobs since last June and that’s down from 142,000 in April. The improvements are incremental, trumpeting 288,000 new jobs is wonderful, if we can forget that for every one of those new jobs this month, 540 unemployed Americans found none.

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink George Orwell

The average retail worker in the US, have seen their paychecks rise by a whopping, nine dollars a week, since last June. Professionals and business services have seen their incomes rise by less than $25.00 per week. Average hourly income has increased this month by six cents per hour, against an annual inflation rate of 2.1 percent.

 

Chip Ward: Leave It to Beaver(s)

By: Tom Engelhardt Monday July 18, 2011 11:05 am

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

A happy beaver

Save the beavers, save the earth.

If you want to be unnerved, just pay a visit to the U.S. Drought Monitor and check out its map of the American West with almost all of California stained the deep, distressing shades of red that indicate either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.  In other words, it could hardly be worse.  California is now in its third year of drought, with no end in sight; state agricultural losses are estimated at $2.2 billion for 2014 alone; most of its reservoirs are less than half full; the Colorado River basin, which supplies water to “about 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in seven states,” including California, is compromised; and California’s first six months of 2014 have been the “hottest ever… nearly five degrees warmer than the twentieth century average.” The drought’s arms extend north through Oregon (“severe”) into Washington, where it’s already been the fire season from hell — and it’s just beginning.  They also reach east through Nevada as far as Utah and straight across the Southwest in various shades of yellow, orange, and deep red.

TomDispatch’s western contingent, environmentalists Chip Ward and William deBuys, have had the stresses of climate change, rising heat, drought, wildfires, desertification, and someday the possible abandonment of parts of the Southwest on their minds (and so on the minds of TD readers) for years now.  These days, the chickens are coming home to roost — but not, it seems, the beavers.  Ward, a Utah environmentalist and the former assistant director of the Salt Lake City Public Library System, has long focused not just on how our American world is being ravaged, but on how to protect and restore it.  In today’s post, he offers a reminder that sometimes such restoration can come in small packages and that even the most modest of natural geo-engineering can disturb vested interests. Tom

The Original Geo-Engineers
Or How to Save the Iconic West from the Cow
By Chip Ward

The great novelist Wallace Stegner sorted the conflicting impulses in his beloved American West into two camps. There were the “boomers” who saw the frontier as an opportunity to get rich quick and move on: the conquistadors, the gold miners, the buffalo hunters, the land scalpers, and the dam-building good ol’ boys. They are still with us, trying to drill and frack their way to Easy Street across our public lands. Then there were those Stegner called the “nesters” or “stickers” who came to stay and struggled to understand the land and its needs. Their quest was to become native.

That division between boomers and nesters is, of course, too simple.  All of us have the urge to consume and move on, as well as the urge to nest, so our choices are rarely clear or final. Today, that old struggle in the American West is intensifying as heat-parched, beetle-gnawed forests ignite in annual epic firestorms, reservoirs dry up, and Rocky Mountain snow is ever more stained with blowing desert dust.

The modern version of nesters are the conservationists who try to partner with the ecosystems where they live. Wounded landscapes, for example, can often be restored by unleashing nature’s own self-healing powers. The new nesters understand that you cannot steer and control an ecosystem but you might be able to dance with one.  Sage Sorensen dances with beavers.

Dances with Beavers

The dance floor is my Utah backyard, which, like most backyards out here, is a watershed.  At its top is the Aquarius Plateau, the horizon I see from my deck, a gracefully rolling forest of pines and aspens that stretches for 50 miles to the south, 20 miles wide at its midpoint, and reaches 11,300 feet at its highest ridge.

VIDEO: Hug a Terrorist; Commentary From Jon Snow You’ll Never See In America

By: john in sacramento

These are two, I presume, Palestinian girls who symbolize the actual victims of this massacre

And Jon Snow, from Channel 4 in Britain, with an editorial on what he’s witnessed:

People can say what they will about that Israeli government manufactured terrorist organization. And people can say what they want about the rockets fired from Gaza, but what the rockets actually are in the vast, vast, vast majority of cases are glorified backyard enthusiast type rockets. And not that they won’t harm anyone, it’s about proportion. And not that they don’t have a few larger ones, like the M-302′s. It’s still about proportion, and the true victims.

Stop the massacre!

PS And please, don’t anyone make a blanket determination and conflate the two separate entities; the Israeli Government and all of the people of the Jewish faith in this situation. Because there are many Jews who deplore the actions of the government of Israel.

UN Against War Crimes, US Not So Much

By: williamboardman

Carte Blanche for War Crimes Passes Senate Unanimously

U.S. alone in vote against investigation of crimes against humanity  

The Senate side of the Capitol seen from the exterior

“There is blood on every United States senator’s hands.”

Is there any doubt that Israelis and Palestinians have been committing war crimes and crimes against each other’s humanity for decades?

Objectively, that seems to be a plain fact, with particular relevance to Israel, whose existence was made possible by, among other things, acts of terror. Nowadays Israel objects, with no apparent sense of irony, when Palestinians seeking their own state also resort to acts of terror. Terrorism is a tactic of the relatively weak (as is non-violence) that sometimes seems to produce the desired result, as did Irgun’s bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 that left 91 dead.

Weighing the merits of war criminals on any side is a fool’s game. But those playing this game include almost everyone involved with the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, as each pretends to ride a moral high horse that no longer exists, if it ever did.

Logically enough, under present conditions of mostly indiscriminate killing, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva met in special session to consider this war crimes question on July 23. The council reviewed and later adopted a resolution captioned: “Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” The council issued a four-page assessment of regional conditions and approved one decision:

… to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after…. [emphasis added]

The 47-member council voted 29-1 in favor of the resolution, with 17 members (11 of them European) abstaining. The lone vote against the commission of inquiry was the United States. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are members of the council.

The U.S. opposition to the Human Rights Council investigating violations of international law comes just months after another UN human rights agency issued a report highly critical of more than two dozen human rights violations perpetrated by the U.S. Some of these violations continue unabated, such as prisoner treatment at Guantanamo, widespread surveillance of citizens everywhere, drone assassinations, and racial injustice by police and prisons. For the United States, these abuses are all well known and they express basic policy choices. The U.S. Senate provided a recent example.

100 U.S. senators approve Israeli war crimes, in advance

Senate Resolution 498 was introduced by Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on July 10 with 79 co-sponsors and the caption: “Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding United States support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Shi’ia Army Retakes Tikrit, Kills 300 Sunni ISIS Raiders. Ignored by Corporate MSM

By: TuffsNotEnuff Monday July 28, 2014 6:16 am
ISIS flag

The corporate media look the other way as ISIS kills.

There’s two news stories here. The war in Iraq continues unabated, which will surprise no one. Islamic State of Syria and al-Sham controls northwest Iraq while a regular army organized by Major General Qassim Suleimani focuses on actions at Samarra and Tikrit.  A fresh, modern Battle of Tikrit has been underway for the last five weeks. Tikrit is a test point for ISIS military conquest. Meanwhile back here in The West — and despite continuing phone and shortwave radio access to the combat areas — western corporate media press a story line that the Sunni raiders of ISIS are uniformly triumphant against Shi’ia (or “Shia” or “Shiite”) defenders. Actual combat results are missing from news reports.

[Update: radio in Baghdad had a report Monday that verified ISIS killings have topped 6,000 for the last 3 months.]

Reporting foreign wars has been optional at best for MSM. That has been the situation for 25 years:

– Start with the two big civil wars in the Congo that killed 5-million civilians with not one murmur from the corporate outlets.

– In Central African Republic an ISIS-lookalike operation called Seleka went on an anti-Christian rampage through 2011-2013 that included murdering 30,000 to 50,000 civilians and conquering C.A.R.’s capital city, Bangui, for their leader and not-quite-Caliph Michel Djotodia.

– In Mali, yet another ISIS-lookalike Salafist coalition — al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) plus Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujwa) plus the smaller Ansar Dine — set up shop in the Southern Sahara, an area called the Azawad Desert. They took Timbuktu, the regional capital, in a raid reminiscent of recent events at Mosul in Iraq. Literally nothing of these events appeared in western media until the week after a mix of French Foreign Legion paratroopers, their Special Forces, and Marines retook Timbuktu killing an estimated 130 of the Salafist raiders.

– When the Nigerian Salafist militia called Boko Haram kidnapped 234 Christian school girls in April, 2014, and then several hundred more in other actions, that got a measure of coverage.  Military responses to Boko Haram have received no coverage at all.

Saudi support for ISIS and its clones follows their Salafi / Wahhabist beliefs. This from Patrick Cockburn:

Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: ‘The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia.’ More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.’

Wiping out these Shia and/or Christians is good sport. On a par with Saudi Jew-hating.

Wahhabists vs. Qods Force

But then the plan for Boko Haram and Seleka and ISIS runs into a professional military operation.

Battle of Tikrit
For the Battle of Tikrit, General Suleimani has replicated tactics that proved effective during the Battle of Qusayr in Syria in 2012. His Shi’ia forces started their action by setting up a 10-kilometer perimeter around Tikrit. This effort helped protect the sprawling Saddam palace and the military hospital and other areas where the ISIS raiders had failed to seize control. All the roads and cross-country transit routes were blocked. This Tikrit perimeter force deploys an estimated 5,000 troops in 24/7 assignments with a substantial logistics infrastructure. Temperatures above 110F every day makes the logistics sustainability problem critical. Then the big drive started counterattacking its way to the western areas of Tikrit, beginning last Wednesday, so the perimeter force had to set up to block ISIS retreat.

Obama & Congress Sitting In a Tree, Spending Our Money to Kill Babies

By: Jane Stillwater
Pile of doll heads and parts arranged disturbingly

“Huge black bags of gold, all clearly labeled Dead Baby Fund.”

[Note:  Yes, I know that I should be grateful that John McCain wasn't elected in 2008 because he would have had America in the middle of WW III by now and there probably would have been bunkers and anti-aircraft missile launchers (and also lots of American dead babies) outside my bedroom window instead of just robins, but still...we are already up to our necks in wars, proxy wars and dead babies as it is -- and I'm sick of it.]

President Obama and Congress may hate each other’s guts regarding a whole lot of domestic issues — but with regard to foreign policy, Obama and Congress just can’t kiss each other’s butts fast enough when it comes to agreeing to kill as many babies as humanly possible in as many foreign countries as they possibly can. And ASAP.

Obama and Congress spend American taxpayers’ money on killing babies in foreign lands like there is no tomorrow; as if all our hard-earned money could just magically and automatically replenish itself overnight like some magical ATM that never stops working, an inexhaustible resource that has no limits or end.

“Seven trillion dollars gone forever? No problem. It’ll grow back. The important thing here is to keep producing all those dead babies.” Can’t stop now. There are still a few left alive.

In Haiti, dead babies.  “They all would have died in fifty or sixty years anyway.”

In Ukraine, dead babies.  “But those babies were rebels, clearly red-diaper babies!”

Afghanistan’s dead babies keep piling up like cordwood.  “We thought they were Taliban!  Diapers, not head-cloths?  Nah.”

Dead babies in Iraq, murdered by ISIS, weaponized and trained by Obama and Congress.  “Just collateral damage that got in the way of the oil.  Again.  Pesky babies.”

Dead babies in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and, hopefully, Iran next.  “Those babies possessed WMDs!”

Dead babies in Libya, Egypt, Africa and Palestine.  “Ah, the smell of dead babies in the morning.”  Dead babies in Honduras.  “They won’t be camping at our borders any more — because they will be dead.”

And don’t forget poor bleeding Syria, where Congress and Obama happily released the Kraken, er, ISIS on all kinds of babies that used to be living.  “Those babies were dictators!  They had to go!”

And now Obama and Congress have solemnly shaken hands and agreed that Palestine and Gaza both need more dead babies too. ”The only difference between the ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ attack on the USS Liberty and the ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ attack on Gaza is that there were no babies on board the USS Liberty. What a waste.”

And even as we speak, Obama and Congress still tirelessly continue to work together, constantly dragging gigantic bags of gold coins over to the Pentagon; hundreds of thousands of black bags that contain over half of all the money that we Americans will ever earn in our lifetimes — huge black bags of gold, all clearly labeled “Dead Baby Fund.”

I want no part of any of this.

Do you?

VIDEO: An Open Letter To Bill Maher on Gaza & Hamas

By: Dennis Trainor Jr Monday July 28, 2014 6:02 pm

Originally posted at PopularResistance.org

Bill Maher should be praised for how efficiently he elucidated exactly what the Israel propaganda machine, with full support and cooperation of the United States government, would have us believe when he took to twitter and remarked: “Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u – u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.”

In the same spirit of violating the rules of proportionality Israel violates in waging an asymmetrical war on Palestinians, I’ll counter Bill Maher’s tweet with an open letter.

Dearest Bill:

Like most men who find themselves in the admittedly unenviable position of having a woman trying to kill you I’ll wager that the amount of time you have spent searching your soul for her homicidal motive was not nearly as long as the time you spent cuddling her after you date raped her.

Now, I know what you are thinking Bill – rape is a serious accusation. After all, Hamas was dressed like Jodie Foster in The Accused and she let you pick up the tab at dinner and she was grinding you on the dance floor in between throwing back a half dozen martinis. You have witness who will testify to this in a court of law no less and so clearly, I mean, whose kidding who, right Billy boy: she wanted it. She all but asked for it.

Who could blame you, drunk as you were, for mistaking all the punching and kicking and biting Hamas was doing to you during foreplay as hitting the jackpot in finding such a kinky Saturday night sex partner. I mean, if you didn’t know better, filled as you were with the confidence that this girl Hamas was lucky to even be with you, you might think she were trying to defend herself.

Could that be possible?

Nah, you’ll tone down some of the rougher stuff and have a great story top tell around the Real Time water cooler, right? You may have had some doubts when the sound she made when you penetrated her, or um, occupied her as it were, sounded much more like the moans of a desperately resigned type than the mutual pleasure giving type, but you easily suppressed those thoughts when she passed out, you finished you business and left, top down on the convertible, cruising through the Hollywood Hills completely satisfied with yourself.

So I can imagine your shock Bill, when this crazy Hamas bitch, after she was released from the hospital, started telling people you raped her. I wonder if you can you imagine her shock Bill, when every authority she reported you to told her that- hmm, shoot girl- if the great Bill Maher takes you dancing and buys you drinks and picks up the tab at that trendy and exclusive new Asian fusion place where you can’t even get on the list if you are not a Tosh.O or Kobe Bryant or President Obama (I mean it is that exclusive) than you better be prepared to put out, because, well you owe him?

With no help from the legal authorities, Hamas tried to shame your good name in the press. And you can’t have that, right Bill? I mean, without a good name, what currency can men tread in? And so the world not only stood by, they supported you, as you rained down hellfire missiles provided to you as the only export of a fading global Imperial empire down on that Hamas bitch and everyone member of her family and zip code.

But like the ending to a bad zombie flick, here comes Hamas again, somehow stumbling towards you, shaking off the dust from the rubble and the blood splatter from her now deceased family members from her eyes and her sights are set right on you Bill. She looks crazy. And she wants to kill you. But you are stronger than her Bill, and so you hold her wrists until- in what is surely a compassionate gesture intended to shake Hamas to her senses until she sees and accepts her place in the world, you have to slap her. Not that you want to slap her, we know that Bill.

Over Easy: Some Context for MH17

By: yellowsnapdragon Monday May 2, 2011 1:22 pm
NATO History map

The Ukraine crisis is intimately linked to the history of NATO.

The downing of MH17 is much more important than the any other aviation tragedy in recent history. We all feel compassion for the people on the plane and their surviving friends and relatives. That’s a normal human response. But if we look at the context surrounding the crash, it becomes clear that MH17 is a hugely important geopolitical event with potentially catastrophic ramifications. The 298 civilian deaths over the breakaway republics of Ukraine must be seen as a casualty of the proxy war between Russia and the West fought over the expansion of NATO into former Soviet territory.

As a condition of USSR agreeing to the reunification of its communist satellite East Germany with West Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was assured that NATO would not expand to the east of its position held at that time. That promise was broken by Clinton, and NATO has steadily moved toward Moscow and into many of the states lining the borders of the former USSR.

In spite of the diplomatic breach, Russia’s response to NATO encroachment was initially weak. Russia had more pressing economic and social problems during the 1990′s than fighting NATO expansion, and Boris Yeltsin was compliant in what seemed like a US plan to incorporate Russia into the fold of the “international community” as a junior partner.

Putin has been less accommodating. By 2008, US backed and funded forces destabilized Georgia, and Russia was forced into a brief land war to retain what territory it could while NATO overtook an area near and dear to the Russian identity. It was a step too far for Russia to continue to ignore. Then came Ukraine.

Kiev is funded, trained, and by all rational perceptions wholly politically supported by the US. It will invite NATO into the the land some believe is the cradle of Russian civilization. Novorussians, the Ethnic Russians populating the newly established republics of the East, are either fleeing in droves to become refugees inside Russia or they remain in their homes to be bombed relentlessly by Ukrainian jets. These are civilians, women and children, just like the ones on the Malaysian plane, yet Kiev calls them terrorists.

The Novorussians are supported and funded by Russia, as surely you have heard from western media. This is no surprise (although Russia officially denies it). Russia has a legitimate interest in the outcome of war between Kiev and the breakaway regions. At this point, Russia wants secure borders with a nation that does not host NATO’s nuclear arsenal pointed at Moscow.

So, from the Russian perspective, the war on its border is one deliberately created by the US/NATO for the explicit purpose of moving military within striking distance of Moscow, ready to destroy the country NATO was created to fight. Rather than acknowledge its own role in the conflict, the US has consistently blamed Moscow for interfering in Ukraine as if Moscow had no interest there beyond imperial control. Each and every violent event has been pinned on Russia, while many have been done with American approval if not outright complicity. Additionally, the US has inflicted sanctions on Moscow for pursuing its legitimate interests in Ukraine.

So, when you read in the NYT that Russia is responsible for shooting down the airliner, remember Judy Miller. When CNN reports evidence of pro-Russian rebels firing Buk missiles, think of mobile weapons labs in Iraq. When Ambassador Pyatt tweets satellite images of missiles firing from Russia, remember Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN on WMD, yellowcake in Niger, and the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq that resulted. Then ask yourself why the US is escalating a dangerous situation in Ukraine and what a war with Russia might ultimately mean.

Off topic is welcome and lurkers and newbies are too. Sorry about the lack of links for reference — I need a few hours added to the day to be functional. See you in the comments.