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Video: Bill Maher on the Police, Militarization, No-Knock ect.

By: jbade

I live in a rural area. The police are more likely to give you a warning than a ticket if you have violated the law in some small way. The last time I had interaction with an officer it was at my son’s school’s dad comes to eat the tasty cafeteria food event. They were there to sit and eat with the kids who did not have a father or the father was unable to attend the function, good stuff. Lot of great cops out there. But this militarization, no-knock track that is forwarded by so many police departments despite the steady decline of most crimes gives me pause.

Lapel camera on every police officer and in each car to protect the good cops and the citizenry against the bad. Maher makes some very good points.


Saturday Art and Archaeology: Copán

By: Ruth Calvo Thursday March 1, 2012 4:30 pm

Jaguar Court inside Copán Temples


Ballcourt decorative end platform with macaw heads in Archaeological Museum at Copán ruins

A major architectural and artistic wonder of the Mayan realm is found at Copán, in Honduras.  While it had a rule of vast areas the Mayan center at Copán came to an end around 1000 A.D. for causes that are the subject of speculation but no certitude.   It was built and lasted for generations detailed on the Heiroglyphic Staircase and stayed a ruling ceremonial center beginning somewhere in the area of 600 B.C. until its sudden decline.

 Little is known of the rulers of Copán before the founding of a new dynasty with its origins at Tikal in the early 5th century AD, although the city’s origins can be traced back to the Preclassic period.[14] After this, Copán became one of the more powerful Maya city states and was a regional power in the southern Maya region,[2] although it suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of its former vassal state Quirigua in 738, when the long-ruling king Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil was captured and beheaded by Quirigua’s ruler K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat (Cauac Sky).[15] Although this was a major setback, Copán’s rulers began to build monumental structures again within a few decades.[6]

The area of Copán continued to be occupied after the last major ceremonial structures and royal monuments were erected, but the population declined in the 8th and 9th centuries from perhaps over 20,000 in the city to less than 5,000. This decrease in population took over four centuries to actually show signs of collapse showing the stability of this site even after the fall of the ruling dynasties and royal families.[16] The ceremonial center was long abandoned and the surrounding valley home to only a few farming hamlets at the time of the arrival of the Spanishin the 16th century.


The Main Group represents the core of the ancient city and covers an area of 600 by 300 meters (1,970 ft × 980 ft). The main features are the Acropolis, which is a raised royal complex on the south side, and a group of smaller structures and linked plazas to the north, including the Hieroglyphic Stairway and the ballcourt. The Monument Plaza contains the greatest concentration of sculpted monuments at the site.[68]

The Acropolis was the royal complex at the heart of Copán. It consists of two plazas which have been named the West Court and the East Court. They are both enclosed by elevated structures.[66] Archaeologists have excavated extensive tunnels under the Acropolis, revealing how the royal complex at the heart of Copán developed over the centuries and uncovering several hieroglyphic texts that date back to the Early Classic and verify details of the early dynastic rulers of the city who were recorded on Altar Q hundreds of years later. The deepest of these tunnels have revealed that the first monumental structures underlying the Acropolis date archaeologically to the early 5th century AD, when K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ established the royal dynasty.[69] These early buildings were built of stone and adobe and were themselves built upon earlier earth and cobble structures dating to the predynastic period.[70] The two styles of building overlap somewhat, with some of the earthen structures being expanded during the first hundred years or so of the dynastic history of the city.[71] The early dynastic masonry buildings of the Acropolis included several with the Early Classic apron-molding style of Tikal and one built in the talud-tablero style associated with Teotihuacan, although at the time the talud-tablero form was in use at both Tikal and Kaminaljuyu as well as in Central Mexico.[71]

The dimension and depth of the art work at Copán are developed to an extent found few other places in the Mayan regions, and have a skill that is seldom found on such vast scale.


Stela 4 was erected by Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil in the early 8th century AD.[18]


Plaza containing Stelae of kings of Copán


The Palestinian Right and the American Left

By: David Swanson Tuesday June 7, 2011 7:36 am
Only Self-Defense? ~  Gaza/Israel: Peace Needs other Weapons

Only Self-Defense? ~ Gaza/Israel: Peace Needs other Weapons

Chris Hedges says that Palestinians have the right to self-defense in the form of rockets, without including any consideration of whether the rockets make the Palestinians more or less defended.  There is, after all, a reasonable argument that the rockets are counter-productive and endangering, rather than protecting, Palestine.

Legally, if we ignore the Kellogg-Briand Pact and stick to the U.N. Charter, much less its frequent abuse by the powerful nations of the world, there is no doubt that Hedges is correct.  If demolishing Iraqi or Afghan or Libyan or Pakistani or Yemeni homes is “defense” of the United States, then surely the people of Gaza, under actual attack, have the legal right to shoot rockets at Israel.  That’s just basic Western consensus with the hypocrisy removed.

“[M]any Palestinians, especially young men trapped in overcrowded hovels where they have no work and little dignity,” writes Hedges, “will risk immediate death to defy the slow, humiliating death of occupation. I cannot blame them.”

Here are the false choices framed: either we blame the victims of Israel’s vicious and massive assault on a trapped population, blame them for reacting as virtually anyone else in the so-called developed world would, or we advocate for the right to fight defensive wars — regardless of whether it helps or hurts the situation.  Those are not the only options.

I’m not sure I can prove that the rockets hurt the situation, but to render the question inadmissible seems fatally flawed.  The justification that the U.S. Congress and White House use for arming Israel and seeking to shelter Israel from legal consequences is always and exclusively the rockets.  The justification that Israeli spokespeople use on television is likewise almost entirely the rockets.  In a world without the rockets, would other excuses prove successful? It’s hard to say for sure.  But the rockets provide the public packaging for Israeli war-making, accomplish virtually nothing in military terms, and almost certainly do more to frighten and enrage the people of Israel than to bring Israelis around to sympathizing with the plight of their government’s victims.

I’ve just spoken by phone with a smart writer in Gaza named Sarah Ali for an upcoming edition of Talk Nation Radio.  She explained to me quite eloquently how Israeli attacks on Gaza were generating support for Hamas and violence against Israel.  She described the emotional need to fight back.  So, I asked her if rocket attacks on Israel weren’t likewise counterproductive. No, she said, she imagined that Israelis saw the rockets and began to understand the point of view of Palestinians.  In the absence of any evidence of that phenomenon, I can only say that I’ll believe it when I see it.  In every case I’m aware of in which one nation has militarily attacked another, it has done far more to enrage than to stimulate sympathy in the people coming under attack.

Of course, I have no right to tell the people of Gaza what to do or not do from the comfort of my home in the heart of the imperial monster that is funding their apocalypse.  Of course I cannot know the situation as they know it.  But it’s not clear to me that every Gazan has as deep a familiarity with Israelis or every Israeli with Gazans as one might imagine from their geographic vicinity.  The division between these two societies is extreme.  How else could Israelis imagine children as their enemies?  And how else could those children’s parents imagine that firing rockets would win over hearts and minds?

Cartoon Friday Watercooler: MehWhoop!

By: Kit OConnell Friday July 25, 2014 8:11 pm


A siamese cat studies a dangling string bean

No, kitty! Don’t eat MehWhoop!

It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Tonight’s selection is MehWhoop: The Saga of the Lost String Bean from Marty Cooper, a.k.a. Hombre McSteez.

Accidentally strewn to the supermarket floor, MehWhoop is left to navigate the world alone in search of his bean bin buddies. His exhausting search leads him to a familiar yet unexpected place.


Original Score:
William Ryan Fritch

End Credits:
Robbie Benson (Super Soul Brothers)

“Moonglow” by Podington Bear
from The Sound of Picture Production Library

We visited with McSteez just a over a month ago for his Augdemented Reality but the saga of poor lost little MehWhoop was too adorable to pass up sharing.

Bonus Friday Comic: The Man Is Taking a Nap On the Couch” from the adorable Breaking Cat News.

Seen any good cartoons lately? Or tell me about what you’re watching on TV these days.

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Someone Else’s Government

By: David Cox Friday July 25, 2014 9:11 am

Not since the Hoover administration, have the suffering of so many Americans been so ignored by their government. If you’re over 50 and looking for a job, you know this. You won’t see it on your local TV news and you won’t read about it in your local paper. Some people think that it’s something new, but its not. During the nineteen twenties and thirties, there were many owners of newspapers, but they were all owned by people with enough money to own a newspaper. Ask a billionaire how much he thinks about unemployment and they’ll say, “Not much.” Ask them what they think of higher taxes and watch them become animated.

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song? –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Herbert Hoover wasn’t really a bad fellow, a devout Quaker who couldn’t see the events in flight. They had shot an arrow and failed to understand the carelessly placed missile had caused serious injury. If they act so casually irresponsible, how will they behave in a crisis? They march with muddy boots across the white carpet of our lives asking, “Why’s everyone looking at me?” They point to the Dow Jones average and say, “See, it’s all better now.”

But it’s not better, new home sales have been revised at the top of the home buying season. New home sales are down 100,000 units, from a year ago. Existing home sales are at the same level as January of 2011. Maybe the big city editors of Hoover’s day really believed it was “Red” agitators and not hunger motivating the food rioters. Hadn’t Herbert Hoover arranged for $2 billion in loans to big business? Now, you can’t expect these things to work overnight, oh but there you go again with “My children are hungry and I can’t pay my rent” line. Be patient, Mr. Hoover’s working on it.

Food riots across the country were reported in the newspapers as whipped up by “Red” agitators. Telling a lie inside of the truth, many demonstrations were organized by the Communist Party of America. The more important factor was that thousands of Americans were turning up. Nothing sours you on Capitalism as much as being thrown to the wolves. When the arrow lands on you, archery isn’t fun anymore.

On March 7, 1932 five thousand marchers left Detroit, headed for Henry Ford’s River Rouge plant. Their demands were fanciful, winter fuel for the poor and the rehiring of laid off workers, the end of company spies and the right to form labor unions. Ford couldn’t hire anyone, he couldn’t sell the cars he’d made and why is fuel for the freezing Ford’s responsibility? To Henry Ford the world had gone mad; he whistled a happy tune, giving his son Edsel a million dollars in gold for his birthday. Henry Ford was the richest man in the world and when the marchers reached his gate, Ford did what any responsible businessman would do. The Dearborn Police and Ford’s private police force opened fire, killing five and wounding sixty.

Three days later, public funerals were held and the crowds swelled to twenty thousand. A Grand Jury report later found no police wrong doing, but the killings had changed the perception of millions. They began to understand that government really didn’t care if they were unemployed, hungry or freezing. They also understood that if they complained, they would be jailed, beaten or worse. They didn’t see the government as theirs; they saw it as someone else’s.

3.8 million Long term unemployed Americans, two million of them over 50 years old ask, whose government? A government which can come up with a $100 million for the Ukraine in less than an hour, remains dead locked by partisan politics on assistance to unemployed Americans. They also serve who do nothing, because doing nothing is still doing something. Either, it is ignoring the people in a representative democracy or there is no representative democracy. The President carefully differentiates, asking for mortgage assistance only for responsible consumers, without prosecuting irresponsible banks. The President who once campaigned for green energy is proud of our rising oil production.

The official unemployment rate stands at 6.1% but only because they say so. The U-3 unemployment rate is 6.1% the U-6 figure, which formerly was the official number is 12.4%. But if we pretend it’s so and repeat it often enough, it becomes the truth. It allows government to cut food assistance, because they claim the crisis is over. Rather than assistance, the long-term unemployed receive purposeful neglect and scorn. I suppose I could vote for the Republicans and Mr. Hoover’s giveaways to big business or I could vote for the Democrats and Mr. Hoover’s giveaways to big business.

We don’t ask you to believe in our ability to bring change, rather, we ask you to believe in yours. –Barack Obama

Do you understand? If you’re waiting for Barack Obama to do anything for the growing numbers of poor, working poor and long-term unemployed, you gotta long wait ahead of you.

President Hoover predicted today that the worst effect of the crash upon unemployment will have been passed during the next sixty days. –Washington Dispatch (March 8, 1930)

So I will ask again; whose government?

Of course, Socialism is violently denounced by the capitalist press and by all the brood of subsidized contributors to magazine literature, but this only confirms the view that the advance of Socialism is very properly recognized by the capitalist class as the one cloud upon the horizon which portends an end to the system in which they have waxed fat, insolent and despotic through the exploitation of their countless wage-working slaves. –Eugene Debs 1900


Cross posted from

Speaker Boehner Observed By International Whistle Blowers

By: Daniel Marks Friday July 25, 2014 11:50 am

A letter demanding an official tabulation of State legislature applications for a convention to propose amendments as prescribed in Article V of the Constitution just arrived at the Office of the Speaker of the House for John Boehner. As international observation may be required to determine if elections are being managed correctly, we reached out to internationally known whistle blowers, Karen HudesBirgitta JónsdóttirCarl Robert Gibson, and Hörður Torfason to observe how Congress handles their duty to call a convention once two-thirds of the states apply. After 238 years of application by State legislatures it is “arguable”, as the Congressional Research Service described, that States reached the threshold to trigger a convention call which Congress should have no authority to refuse.

In recent years, we discovered the flaw in the process was not the inaction or incorrect action of States but Congress’ ability to ignore those applications by avoiding the count.  Both houses of Congress neglected to assign the duty to track these applications to any entity in the government.  If Congress never knows the number has been reached, they are not obligated to call the convention.  It is like a race where the runners can never see the finish line. We learned from conversations with Thomas Neale of the Congressional Research Service that in the 1970s there were 22 bills submitted to create new statutes for the Article V processes, including assigning the duty to the Clerk of House, but they all failed.

On April 15th, 2013 our group, mailed an official request for a tally of these applications on record to the Clerk of House, Karen Haas after being instructed by House Parliamentarian, Tom Wickham how to submit this request for the first time in US history.  More than a year has passed since Congress received the request, although the Speaker of the House John Boehner had submitted the request to the Judiciary Committee for consideration, as you might guess, I am unaware of any plans to discuss this in the agenda in the committee anytime soon.

However Bill Walker of brought it to my attention that when the Speaker made the request for the report, it should have been directed to the Clerk of House, where we originally sent the letter, and not to a committee according to House Rule 2 (j) which specifies that,

In addition to any other reports required by the Speaker…the clerk shall report to the Committee on House Administration…

In case this was misdirected, in all fairness this would be the first time this process has ever tried to function, we needed to notify the Speaker of the House, Parliamentarian, and Clerk of House.  There is a conflict of interest when Congress considers calling a convention or merely counting these applications. It requires oversight that our domestic media has so far failed to devote any time to.

The shrinking ability of Congress to ignore these applications was exacerbated by the State of Michigan as they declared they are the 34th state and final state needed to trigger the convention and the request to the Speaker by Rep. Duncan Hunter for a tabulation of the applications Michigan acknowledged.

So what is my hurry if the pressure is building?  First, it should not take so long. If all else fails Congress can verify by inquiry with the state of origin. That would take about a few days, certainly not a year.

Secondly, this matter was never meant to be deliberated by members of Congress.  ”Congress shall have ‘no vote, debate or committee’ regarding state applications” once the proper number of states has been presented. Along with our original request we presented 42 scanned copies of the applications of 42 states (34 states would trigger a convention) which we believe are legal and still standing today.

Third, our country is begging to change this system, a long train of abuses and usurpations is reducing the People to absolute despotism. We need to revive OUR Constitution.

Lastly there are attempts to insure that states will puppet the delegates. Last month Florida became the 4th state to outlaw an election of delegates to a convention to propose amendments, and took away the right to deliberate as a delegate. “If a delegate does not follow those instructions, their vote would be voided and their appointment to the convention would be forfeited. They also could be charged with a third-degree felony.” The media failed to point out this process would cancel an election.

Wisconsin legislators are also looking at model legislation from ALEC that, “2. Prohibits Delegates from Attending a Convention for Proposing Amendments if Congress Mandates Proportional Representation.”

As a matter of fact, Congress has already mandated an election of delegates. Some legislators in Wisconsin hate the idea that the People may actually elect delegates:

(2) the term ‘election’ means—
(E) the election of delegates to a constitutional convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States or of any State; and

Unfortunately We the People cannot be magnanimous or patient about Congress’ pace to fulfill their duty under Article V.  We do not have the luxury of time when powers that be rig this process before it is called. The right to alter, or to abolish is a real thing. It belongs to We the People.  States will have final say in the ratification process.  Nothing will be amended to the Constitution without the consent of 38 or 75% of the states.  That is an action that would reflect the republican model of government in every respect because it represents an authentic act of the whole people.

The main problem with state applications specifying exact language is the objection that a convention called to consider a predetermined amendment would, in effect, become part of the ratifying process. …an attempt by the various State legislatures to force Congress to call a convention which can only act mechanically to approve or disapprove a specific amendment. The attempt is to make the convention merely an initial step in the ratifying process instead of a deliberative meeting to seek out solutions to a problem. The word ‘propose’ cannot be stretched to mean ‘ratify’. The Congress cannot properly accept and become part of any prepackaged effort to short cut the amendment process. –Senator Robert F Kennedy

Here is the text of our letter this week:

Pull Up a Chair: Blade Runner: An Examination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blade Runner gives a peek at a capitalist society that has left its former home to be slowly abandoned and fall into ruin; where capitalists have finally found the ideal slaves and ideal peasants.

A great movie, but not a pretty picture.

Looking forward to Blade Runner 2?

This is the Israeli Military Calling: Civilizing War Has Failed

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


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

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

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

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

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