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Police Training for the Mentally Ill – From the Sixties to the Present

By: Big Al Thursday August 21, 2014 11:53 am

Thanks to the all mighty law and order God, our law and order enforcement programs in this country continually seek to find better ways to “Serve and Protect”.  A good example of that is how United States of Freedom and Liberty police departments have improved their methods for dealing with the mentally ill.

Here’s a police training video from the early sixties on how to deal with mentally ill people.

Here’s a police training video from 2014 on how to deal with mentally ill people.

You see, mentally ill people are more dangerous now than they were in the sixties.  Fake knives are sharper too.  The police have no choice but to kill or be killed.  Back in the sixties it was different.  Wasn’t it?


Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Sinclair Lewis

By: dakine01 Monday September 19, 2011 10:02 am

Sinclair Lewis quote

Sinclair Lewis was a journalist and Nobel Prize winning author. From his wiki intro:

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters.” His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars.[1] He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. H.L. Mencken wrote of him, “[If] there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade … it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds.”[2]

Although it was published five years after his Nobel Prize, Lewis’s best known book may well be It Can’t Happen Here. This from the wiki for It Can’t Happen Here:

…is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis. Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a populist United States Senator who is elected to the Presidency after promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and traditional values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS. The novel’s plot centers around journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it. Reviewers at the time, and literary critics ever since, have emphasized the connection with Louisiana politician Huey Long, who was preparing to run for President in 1936 when the novel appeared.

Now I am not a critic by any stretch but having read It Can’t Happen Here not long after reading T.Harry Williams‘ bio of Long, I never have felt the parallels between Long and “Windrip” made any sense. Long came at the problems of the country from the left and Windrip from the right and that point (to me) immediately negates the comparison.

While It Can’t Happen Here is the best known Lewis piece from after his Nobel Prize, he has at least four pre-Nobel novels that can be considered classics. I know I studied both Babbit and Elmer Gantry in high school. Arrowsmith and Main Street are also considered classics and often studied.

Elmer Gantry especially still seems to resonate. We have all seen the stories of Jimmy Swaggert and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker as well as others of the televangalists. While Elmer Gantry was first published in 1927, it could well have been written in the last few years. From the Goodreads synopsis:

Universally recognized as a landmark in American literature, Elmer Gantry scandalized readers when it was first published, causing Sinclair Lewis to be “invited” to a jail cell in New Hampshire and to his own lynching in Virginia. His portrait of a golden-tongued evangelist who rises to power within his church–a saver of souls who lives a life of duplicity, sensuality, and ruthless self-indulgence–is also the record of a period, a reign of grotesque vulgarity, which but for Lewis would have left no trace of itself. Elmer Gantry has been called the greatest ,most vital, and most penetrating study of hypocrisy that has been written since the works of Voltaire.

Burt Lancaster won an Academy Award as Best Actor for his portrayal of Elmer Gantry in a 1960 movie and is probably the best known of films from Lewis books but IMDB shows 37 total writing credits, many of them from Lewis’ many short stories.

Demand Swells for Straight Answers on Plane in Ukraine

By: David Swanson Friday June 17, 2011 11:25 am

A long list of prominent individuals has signed, a number of organizations will be promoting next week, and you can be one of the first to sign right now, a petition titled “Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath.”

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER; 9M-MRD@CDG;09.07.2011/605gm

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6ER

The petition is directed to “All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council.” And it will be delivered to each of them.

The petition reads:

“Set up an impartial international fact finding inquiry and a public report on the events in Ukraine to reveal the truth of what occurred.

“Why is this important?

“It’s important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this.”

That’s not hyperbole. It’s the language of U.S. and Russian politicians and media.

Of course, there are undisputed facts that could change people’s understanding. Many Americans are unaware of NATO’s expansion or of what actions Russia views as aggressive and threatening. But when a particular incident appears to be set up as a proximate cause for war it is well worth our time to insist on an exposure of the facts.  Doing so is not to concede that any outcome of the inquiry would justify a war.  Rather it is to prevent the imposition of an unproven explanation that makes war more likely.

What if the Gulf of Tonkin had been investigated 50 years ago this month? What if the independent inquiry that Spain wanted into the USS Maine had been allowed? What if Congress hadn’t swallowed the one about the babies taken from incubators or that hilarious bit about the vast stockpiles of WMDs? Or, on the other hand, what if everyone had listened to John Kerry unskeptically on Syria last year?

When a Malaysian airplane went down in Ukraine, Kerry immediately blamed Vladimir Putin, but has yet to produce any evidence to back up the accusation. Meanwhile, we learn that the U.S. government is looking into the possibility that what happened was actually an attempt to assassinate Putin. Those two versions, the one initially announced with no apparent basis and the one reportedly now being investigated in secret, could hardly be more different.  That the second one is under consideration makes it appear very likely that any serious proof of the former claim has not been found.

Here’s a longer version of the petition:

Saturday Art and Archaeology: Mayan Dedicatory Vessels

By: Ruth Calvo Monday March 12, 2012 11:30 am


Reconstructed pottery in lab where work goes on.

Array of excavated pottery at Blue Creek lab.

Among the excavated items that form a large body of the pottery being studied from digging at Blue Creek, Belize, are the lip-to-lip vessels that occur in many of the temples now explored.   These have revealed customs that played a part in the Maya society which ongoing archaeological science is ferreting out with its examination of the occurrence and content of the jars.

Intricate analysis of the vessels has been under way at the digs where I worked this July, and the content has showed much about what the Maya celebrated and reverenced.   A published scientific article on the studies analyzes the contents, the nature of the offerings, and what concepts are embodied in the formation of the vessels which contain elements of sea at the bottom, earth in the middle, and sky in the upper portion.  It is scholarly in tone, and its content gives exciting views into the celebratory offering itself.  The excerpt was difficult to transfer here, and at the end it is disjointed because of the impossibility of extracting whole sentences from the report, which itself you may want to read through.

 Preclassic and Classic Maya peoples commonly placed dedicatory caches within the construction fill, commonly in the front of the building along the medial axis.  Maya archaeologists have long understood that such caches aided in dating construction events due to their primary context. Further, Maya archaeologists also have long understood that these caches represent the material residue of important dedication ceremonies [57]. An early examination of such caches was William Coe’s analysis of caches from the site of Piedras Negras [19]. Given the recent expansion of our understanding of Maya writing and religion, specifically in terms of how religious and cosmological concepts are embedded in architecture and site planning [1,44], attention has been turned to grappling with the meaning of these caches. Importantly, such caching events must be placed into the ritual context. The cache is not the event of interest, rather it is the ritual. The cache is simply our only existing material remains of the ritual.


Maya archaeologists have long understood that such caches aided in dating construction events due to their primary context. Further, Maya archaeologists also have long understood that these caches represent the material residue of important dedication ceremonies [57]. An early examination of such caches was William Coe’s analysis of caches from the site of Piedras Negras [19]. Given the recent expansion of our understanding of Maya writing and religion, specifically in terms of how religious and cosmological concepts are embedded in architecture and site planning [1,44], attention has been turned to grappling with the meaning of these caches. Importantly, such caching events must be placed into the ritual context. The cache is not the event of interest, rather it is the ritual. The cache is simply our only existing material remains of the ritual.


Until now, Maya archaeologists have been very restricted in their ability to interpret the meaning of such caches.  While their function in building dedication seems clear, their symbolic purposes are more obscure…embedding of sacredness in public architecture.  ..actions that gave “physical expression to the pipeline between humans and their gods” [46] or reflections of the cosmos and the act of embedding sacredness to public space [17,24,54].

Each dig brings up more witness to the customs and culture of the ancient Maya that they inculcated into their structures and the way they were conducted.

Intensive study shows us more constantly about the culture that produced the fascinating structures of Maya sites, and gives meaning to the life we are learning more about through these efforts.  The work is difficult, and requires deep analysis and enriches our lives with knowledge and the means of acquiring it.

Worked flake with common rock, daily task is sorting and categorizing


The American Dream, the Chinese Version and Everybody Else

By: Jeff J Brown Friday August 22, 2014 6:06 am

Cross-linked with 44 Days

Reporting from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

This graphic lays it out clearly: the American Dream as a world model of success is unsustainable – and lethal to humanity’s prospects for survival. (image by

I am so thankful that in coming back to the United States for the second time in four years, I am able to reimmerse myself in the lifestyle which I was born and raised. It’s just the perspective I needed, compared to currently living in China’s capital, Beijing, with its 21 million souls. The entire state of Oklahoma, including its biggest town, Oklahoma City, only has a desert island 3.8 million inhabitants. Lots and lots of land for a just few people out here west of the Mississippi. My upbringing was twofold. One was growing up in suburban America and the other spending considerable time on our family farm. What has got my head spinning while back is my suburban childhood and adolescence, in all its iconic American Dream glory.

If people like the Chinese gorged on natural resources at the same rate as Americans, the planet’s 7,300,000,000 humans would need an additional 4.1 Earths, in order to satisfy their daily demands for water, food, housing, land, energy and other resources. Interestingly, the Chinese were almost at equilibrium in 2012, 1.1 Earths. But the world’s most populous country is trying its damnedest to catch up with America’s consumer driven gluttony. Current Chinese growth rates will assuredly deplete our planet’s very limited resources just that much faster, starting with air, water, spiraling atmospheric and atmospheric temperatures.

To its credit, Baba Beijing’s vision of their widely touted Chinese Dream espouses, in part, a return to the Confucian, Daoist tenets of simplicity, harmony and respect for the natural world. However, after a total of 11 years living in the belly of the New Century Beast, I’m not so sure how many of Baba’s citizens are listening. The Chinese’s recent pubic outcries and mobilization against air, water and land pollution are a hopeful sign that they at least see a ray of light. But like the frailty and hypocrisy of all humanity, there is still way too much of,

Don’t watch what I do, just listen to what I spout out of my mouth.

Cartoon Friday Watercooler: Cat Soup

By: Kit OConnell Friday August 22, 2014 7:55 pm


It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

A tiny kitten in a much larger blue plastic mixing bowl

“Don’t get any bright ideas, buster!”

Cat Soup is a short animated film from Japan directed by Tatsuo Satō, a director better known for his work on the series Martian Successor Nadesico. It’s inspired by the work of Japanese comics artist Nekojiru, whose name is made up of the Japanese words for ‘cat’ and ‘soup.’ Nekojiru drew most of her main characters — and often herself, too — as cats. Reportedly, this anime is more inspired by her work than based on any one particular comic.

This is the official synopsis of this film offered by its American distributors:

When little kitten Nyaako’s soul is stolen by Death, she and her brother Nyaata embark on a bizarre journey to get it back. In the surreal dreamscape of the Other Side, they encounter many fantastic characters and remarkable, often disturbing adventures.

You won’t find subtitled dialogue in Cat Soup because, much like our recent selection Aeon FluxCat Soup unfolds mostly without words. As the pair of cats wander from one bizarre experience to the next, the viewer is left largely on their own.

What does it all mean? Maybe nothing. Writing for animefringe, Patrick King shares some thoughts from the DVD commentary:

Scene after scene, image after image, you might find yourself pondering the meaning of what you just saw. When an old man – apparently representing God – hacks apart a woman in a circus tent and then magically reassembles her in midair, it’s not hard to guess that every little detail was added to convey some message, or some point. Why is God a circus performer, anyway?

The neat thing is, most of the images of the story were not purposely designed with a point in mind. In the commentary, I was expecting to hear explanations concerning some of the more unusual scenes. Mr. Sato did often say, ‘This is a scene that a lot of people ask me about.’ Yet, instead of explaining it, he’d admit that he really didn’t have anything in mind when putting certain images in. With Cat Soup, we’re not expected to find some obscure hidden meaning. Search all you want — the writers didn’t put it there. Rather, it’s our job to come up with our own meaning, our own message, if we want to make some sense of this.

[...] Each twisted character can represent something different to each person that watches this short film. When asked why the filmmakers kept Cat Soup at only about a half-hour, Mr. Sato’s answer is easy to agree with. If it were any longer, the person watching it might go insane.

THEM Anime Reviews commented on the dreamlike qualities of the film:

What it is truly about is communicating a dreamlike state … and that, it does quite well.

As I said, a fairly simple plot – and that’s good, since there is next to no dialogue, and the few sentences that are said are communicated through word bubbles, contributing to the dreamlike feel. Where the true value of this anime comes in is in its animation. The surroundings and creatures that the two kittens meet on their journey are beautifully portrayed. The dialogue that does exist is barely needed: everything that you need to know is communicated by the graphics.

[...] All in all, Cat Soup seems to have been more designed as an experiment in animation more than a form of mass entertainment. Its combination of surreal settings and vivid graphics make for an interesting experience. In the end, it owes more of its lineage to dreams than to anime.

Though short, this is an interesting little surreal ride for anybody looking for vivid graphics or wanting to have their mind played with for half an hour. — Jed Stevens

Grab a glass of wine (or your inebriant of choice) and end your week with a weird feline journey to the Other Side.

Seen any good cartoons lately? What are you watching on TV these days?

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A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World: 22 Aug 2014

By: KateCA Friday August 22, 2014 2:43 pm


*NE to rock. Willie Nelson and Neil Young will be performing at “Harvest the Hope Concert,” a benefit for Bold Nebraska and the Cowboy and Indian Alliance in their continued opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline. Date: September 27th, a tad over 27 years since Nelson and Young performed together at Farm Aid-3 in 1987. Hosts: Landowners Art and Helen Tanderup who live near Neligh, NE and have stood up to TransCanada by refusing to grant easement for the pipeline. Update: Aw, shucks, tickets already sold out!

*Fracking USA. The FracTracker Alliance provides a cool interactive map (among many others), showing fracking activity state-by-state.

*Safer oil railcars, for real? The US Department of Transportation wants to phase out the old, dangerous DOT-111 railcars, but “the oil industry and leasing firms,” who own almost all the cars, reportedly are slow-going the process  (costs too much, doncha know). In sharp contrast, environmentalists and others are demanding existing cars be banned straightaway in order to protect the public.

*Gulf of Mexico oil and gas exploration should be getting underway right quick like, with the feds selling “more than 400,000 acres in the Gulf . . . off the Texas coast for oil and gas exploration and development.” While adding $110 million to US coffers (yep, a paltry $110 million), and letting BP get back into the game, this sale also accelerates use of fracking which is needed to penetrate the ancient Lower Tertiary that is packed with dense rock.

*Los Angeles, CA City Councilmember Paul Koretz, noting the huge amounts of water fracking requires, the transformation of that water by fracking into “toxic sludge” which can contaminate the water supply, has called on Gov. Jerry Brown to declare an immediate moratorium on fracking. Particularly urgent during the state’s continuing historic drought.

*Over in Richmond, CAChevron looms large and is supplying a largesse of $1.6 million to put its candidates on the City Council and in the Mayor’s office. That’s $15 and some small change for each of the city’s 106,516+ residents. But there is a catch: candidates taking the money have to publicly acknowledge that fact–and not everybody in Richmond digs being a “company town.”

*NC’s Mining and Energy Commission is beginning public hearings on fracking. In June, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a bill legalizing fracking after a bitter two-year fight, but opposition continues—“State officials have fielded hundreds of safety concerns, ranging from water supply contamination to waste management.” Touted as a big boon for the state budget and jobs, turns out “the expected economic impact . . . is relatively small.” Ah, NC, “A Better Place To Be”?

*NY’s Albany County, home of the Port of Albany, has just engaged the services of Mintz Levin, environmental law firm of Boston, to help “battle against a Fortune 500 company that’s bringing in millions of gallons of crude oil every day.” That would be Global Partners, which wants to expand its facilities so it can accommodate Canadian oilsands crude oil but doesn’t want to share information that the county considers pertinent. Albany County also wants to more effectively communicate with the US Department of Transportation about safer oil railcars since Global Partners wants to continue to use the older, dangerous ones. And, as if on cue, approximately “100 gallons of crude oil spilled from a pipeline” at the Global Partners’s facility at the Port Wednesday–but didn’t make it to the Hudson River.

*NY anti-fracking rally held on Governor’s Day at the State Fair in Geddes. A spokesperson said “Ban fracking now and let’s build an energy system that protects the things we love,” including agriculture which requires clean water. Gov Andrew Cuomo (D), in attendance at the fair, is deferring his decision on fracking until NY’s Departments of Environmental Conservation and of Health provide input.

*Uh-oh in OH: Putting up religiously-themed billboards against fracking in OH could get you sued. That’s what Michael Boals of Coshocton, OH did and that’s how Buckeye Brine of Austin, TX responded. “DEATH may come”, “POISONED WATERS” and other warnings on two Route 36 billboards led to the suit. But Boals, who paid more than $1,000 for the billboards, is standing his (apparently, non-fracked) ground.

*Brightest spot in fracking news of the week comes from Clatskanie OR, on the Columbia River, where “the operators of an oil train terminal . . . promised to only accept crude delivered in tank cars that met the latest industry safety standards.” Claim is “oil companies shipping through its terminal near Clatskanie have almost always complied.” The Oregonian newspaper was able to verify that seems to be the case.

*PA’s Department of Health reacted to criticism that citizens’ letters of complaint about health impacts of fracking were simply being ignored. Not to worry, for the Department has now held many meetings (imagine that!) about the sitch, promises to send a letter acknowledging receipt of each complaint, will improve their website and work more closely with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

*Lac-Mégantic, Quebec report. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board this week released its report on the 6 Jun 2013 conflagration in Lac-Mégantic.   Jennifer Quaid (University of Ottawa law faculty) reacted, “the report shines a harsh light on the current approach to regulation and risk management”,  specifically the failure to enforce regulations. Major, underlying question: “To what ends will we go to protect human life from risky activity?” The Star’s coverage included two excellent videos, while CBC Canada focused on the “weak safety culture” theme, and the Ottawa Citizen opined the “Federal government tiptoes on response to Lac-Mégantic rail-disaster report.”

Gaza Conflict Killing: Now 2,078 Palestinians (about 1,788 Civilians), 67 Israelis (3 Civilians)

By: fairleft Saturday June 4, 2011 5:23 pm

Yeah, still happening, still heart-rending. Reuters reports:

Israel launched its offensive in Gaza on July 8 … Gaza health officials say 2,066 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed.

Israeli attacks have devastated many areas in the densely-populated enclave, home to 1.8 million people, with 425,000 of people displaced, according to the United Nations.

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have been killed in the conflict, as well as three civilians in the Jewish state.

(By the way, why does Reuters call a 25% non-Jewish country a “Jewish state”?) To the Reuters figure of 2066 Palestinians I added the 12 civilians that Israel killed during West Bank pro-Gaza protests. As I reported earlier, the UN states that 86% of identifiable victims on the Palestinian side have been civilians. If that trend has continued (the latest OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs) report inexplicably doesn’t say how many of the dead are identifiable as civilian or non-civilian
!) in Gaza, that means Israel has killed 1,788 civilians there and in the West Bank.

Here are three recent UN reports (PDF) on the specifics of what Israel is doing (with the support of our US tax dollars, of course):

At approximately 21:30 on 19 August 2014, Israeli planes attacked a three-storey house belonging to Rabah Shihda al-Dalu, in Sheikh Radwan,northwest of Gaza City. According to Israeli media, the target was Mohammed al-Deif, the Head of the Hamas military wing, and the ordnance used consisted of five one-ton bombs. The house was completely destroyed, four neighbouring houses were extensively damaged, as were the building and vehicles of a local transportation company. It is unclear if Al-Deif was killed, but his wife, son, daughter, and another woman and her two sons were killed. Fifteen others were injured. The body of Al-Deif’s daughter was recovered today.

At approximately 04:50 on 20 August, an Israeli plane launched a missile at a house in Deir al-Balah belonging to Mustafa Mohammed al-Louh. The house and a neighboring house belonging to the owner’s son were destroyed, and seven members of the family were killed; three men; the pregnant wife of one; and their children. Another family member, a 17-year-old girl died of her wounds today.

At approximately 02:30 today, 21 August, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at the house of Nasser Kellab, west of the town or Rafah. The targets were three senior Hamas commanders who were killed, as were another five persons, including children; bodies are still being recovered. Two people were also killed in a neighbouring house.

For the bigger picture on what is being done to Gaza civilians besides killing them, read Fred Branfman’s cut-to-the-chase summary of what’s taking place. I like his fronting of the parallels between the U.S. in Vietnam and Israel in Gaza: