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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 24,979

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Courageous Code Pink, as usual... and also...

as usual, a couple of persistent Code Pink haters are here to beat the thread to absolute death. For hours and hours. With the most penny-ante, ludicrous objections (omg! words! pointed! at children! in! my! imagination! halp!). You'd think it was official talking points. (Of course, most people here are all for this action, because it's against RNC. The rabid reactions are really going to come if Code Pink pulls the same stunt in Charlotte, against the drone war.)

Code Pink are always out there on the front lines, putting themselves on the line for the right causes, not judging what's right and wrong according to fearful go-to-sleep centrist hypocrisy, always making good trouble. Hooray!

Shit, I guessed the answer correctly.

My first thought was, how is this defined? Why can't the interstate - in fact, the entire system of roads on any given continent, insofar as each road connects to every other - be thought of as a single structure? Same can be true of railways, irrigation and dam systems, and cities as wholes, connected by sewage and utility networks...

... and naturally we should all know that the pyramids and the Great Wall are supposedly the easiest man-made structures to see from space (excluding lights).

... Anyway, scrolling down but before I got there, I guessed what the answer had to be, or you wouldn't have asked the question.


The difference is I don't mystify "shadow government."

It's the visible and extra-constitutional multi-part state of the banks, the biggest corporations and the national security complex. Its precise workings of course are opaque to us, but it's not like its existence can be hidden by any power other than ideologically induced blindness and wishful thinking. So you can call it a shadow government, if you like. It's better than any of the more obviously mystical attack phrases you've deployed ("global conspiracy," "shadowy cabal," demonic etc. etc.). I know, it's easier if you think that obvious observations about the nature of power in a capitalist and imperialist state are something crazy and right wing.

Of course extradition orders are going to come through the constitutional authorities. The useful exercise is in asking where the pressures come from that guarantee the US will make an enemy of the state out of Assange -- a journalist who exposed US war criminality and in a moral universe should therefore be invited to testify in war crimes trials against the perpetrators. The reaction to Assange would happen in any administration, because the fetish for secrecy, even when used to cover up crime by any code of law, is paramount. More often than not, it's not a secret controller but a herd mentality at work. The ruling herd follows the structural imperatives of empire -- that's right, the thing that everyone in the world sees as an empire, including the neocons, and which is invisible only to an idealistic segment of the US establishment center-left. I'd love to see Obama stand up to it. He's about 1.3% more likely to do so than Bush, so I voted for him.

Who said anything about a shadowy cabal?

That's your confused conception of things. You're the one mystifying it with talk of "dark powers" and "global conspiracies," which I have not mentioned. Pure projection on your part.

Corporate rule, especially by the two centers in Wall Street and the military-industrial-intelligence complex, is out in the open. You can't see their books, of course, and they have the right now to pay off politicians' campaigns in secret for services rendered (as if they were not already doing so prior to Citizens United). But the fact that they hold sway is hardly a secret, as the revolving door doesn't even exist any more - it's one big hangar where the top personnel move freely between private contractor and ostensible government job. Goldman and Co. provide the Treasury appointments, Lockheed and Co. live at the Pentagon. The thing has built an enormous shield of secrecy and lack of unaccountability around itself, with more than 2.5 million document classifications a year plus 27 million derivative classifications, but even though you're not supposed to look inside, you'd still have to close your eyes not to notice. To see it, you only need to be able to remove the blinders of the press-release version of America.

Since the Tea Party is actually bulwark of this status quo - they would like to see further deregulation and sanction hidden government by corporations spending money in secret, with no disclosure obligations - it seems to me it's a much better fit for you than for me. Since it's such a wonderful government and all, and they like you are among its supporters (albeit highly confused about terminology, so that they think their rabid support of the real Big Corporate Government is somehow a rebellion against their imaginary conception of the evil, socialist "Big Government."

I also see no contradiction in saying the government was long ago captured by corporations and a corrupt ruling class, and demanding that it be otherwise, that it stop serving a useless and destructive global military empire and start serving the people with adequate funding for health care and education.

That's once again you trying to set up false dichotomies in which the only choices apparently consist in wide-eyed authoritarian endorsements of either, your limited conception of the government (which you call "Obama" but isn't just a presidency, as it has permanent drives and elements) or else the "Tea Party" (a Republican electoral campaign that already went defunct after accomplishing its mission in 2010). Perhaps you have a simplistic, black and white world view in which anyone disagreeing with you must be them, so you're trying to categorize me as them, but I certainly think you share more of their fundamental understanding of the world than I do. They certainly share a dichotomous view of the world.

50,000-100,000 people marched in NYC on Mayday

From a huge OWS rally at Union Square. With thousands of people from the unions, the black community, immigrants rights groups, students, economic justice groups, antiwar and anti-imperialist groups, hippies and all the rest. At least twice as many saw us marching down Broadway, with the march at one point extending from behind Houston to past the Woolworth Building. Several thousand people ended up at an open private-public space downtown, on the Hudson. An enormous police action was staged to force them out within a couple of hours.

Not one media truck. Not a single one. Almost no reports. On the shameful NPR, the report was that "hundreds" of protesters "clashed with police."

In small part, this media blackout on the continuing protests and organizing activities exists so as not to antagonize the smug systemic conformity of persons such as yourself.

No move can be made to set up a protest anywhere in this city without police action to evict the protesters.

Meanwhile, the numbers of people organizing all over the country for the long haul is greater than ever.

It's not going to manifest itself on your schedule, and for good reason, for you are no friend to it. It's not going to manifest itself on anyone's schedule. As was the case last year, the system itself by providing its own routine economic and other atrocities is going to constantly organize and regroup its own opposition.

Studies showing "benefits of circumcision" highly flawed

When bad science kills, or how to spread AIDS
Published May 22, 2012 | By Brian D. Earp


Must read in full. Proceeding from a longer study by Boyle and Hill (2011).

Key excerpts:

A handful of circumcision advocates have recently begun haranguing the global health community to adopt widespread foreskin-removal as a way to fight AIDS. Their recommendations follow the publication of three [1] randomized controlled clinical trials (RCCTs) conducted in Africa between 2005 and 2007.


While the “gold standard” for medical trials is the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the African trials suffered [a number of serious problems] including problematic randomisation and selection bias, inadequate blinding, lack of placebo-control (male circumcision could not be concealed), inadequate equipoise, experimenter bias, attrition (673 drop-outs in female-to-male trials), not investigating male circumcision as a vector for HIV transmission, not investigating non-sexual HIV transmission, as well as lead-time bias, supportive bias (circumcised men received additional counselling sessions), participant expectation bias, and time-out discrepancy (restraint from sexual activity only by circumcised men).


What does the frequently cited “60% relative reduction” in HIV infections actually mean? Across all three female-to-male trials, of the 5,411 men subjected to male circumcision, 64 (1.18%) became HIV-positive. Among the 5,497 controls, 137 (2.49%) became HIV-positive, so the absolute decrease in HIV infection was only 1.31%.


Some major issues with trying to roll-out circumcision in particular include the fact that the RCCT participants—who were not representative of the general population to begin with—had (1) continuous counseling and yearlong medical care, as well as (2) frequent monitoring for infection, and (3) surgeries performed in highly sanitary conditions by trained, Western doctors. All of which would be unlikely to replicate at a larger scale in the parts of the world suffering from the worst of the AIDS epidemic. And of course, circumcisions carried out in un-sanitary conditions (that is, the precise conditions that are likelier to hold in those very places) carry a huge risk of transmitting HIV at the interface of open wounds and dirty surgical instruments. So this is a serious point.

He notes that even accepting these highly flawed studies, condom use has been found to be about 95 times more effective in stopping the spread of AIDS. The propaganda about circumcision is actively dangerous due to "risk compensation," or the effect of alleged protective measures causing people not to bother with real ones. One of the cited reports supports the misconception engendered by the propaganda about the magic powers of circumcision among some Ugandan men. Once circumcised, they believe they no longer need to use condoms.

The full article from Boyle and Hill (2011): "Sub-Saharan randomised clinical trials into male circumcision and HIV transmission," is available in PDF at http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/23477339/1441224426/name/JLM_boyle_hill.pdf. This file has safeguards against copy-paste, or I would quote their abstract.

See also my deconstruction in detail of the insupportable Auvert et al. (2005) study that started the new wave of propaganda for foreskin removal.

Here are Earp's credentials, from:

Brian Earp is a Research Associate in the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and a Consultant working with the Institute for Science and Ethics at Oxford's Martin School. Brian recently completed his MSc. in experimental psychology as a Henry Fellow of New College, Oxford; and received his undergraduate degree from Yale, where he studied cognitive science and philosophy and was elected President of the Yale Philosophy Society. Serving as Editor-in-Chief of both the international Yale Philosophy Review and the Yale Review of Undergraduate Research in Psychology, Brian also conducted extensive experimental research in a number of areas, generally touching on unconscious or automatic mental processes, and has published refereed work on this topic. Brian's paper on the psychology of free will, co-authored with Professor John Bargh, was published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and is the #2 trending philosophy paper on Academia.edu as tracked by nationalacademies.org. The #1 trending paper, "Can science tell us what's objectively true?" is Brian's as well, originally published in the graduate journal of New College, Oxford. Brian's senior thesis at Yale was awarded the Robert G. Crowder Prize from the Department of Psychology, and was recently covered in over 50 newspaper articles, from the Telegraph and Daily Mail in England to the Sydney Morning Herald and the Times of India. Brian has given interviews on his work with BBC Radio as well as Highland Radio in Ireland. A recipient of the Ledyard Cogswell award, the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating senior in Yale's Calhoun College, Brian is also a professional actor and singer, with nearly 50 leading roles to his credit, and was called "one of the most audaciously talented young actors seen on any Seattle stage in many years" by talkinbroadway.com. With Professor Julian Savulescu, Brian is authoring a book on the neuroenhancement of love and marriage, to be completed this year.

Because Congress members were immune from insider trading law.

Until recently:


The idea I suppose was that they can't do Congress business without hearing a lot of inside information, so they shouldn't be punished for that if it appears to bleed through into their financial dealings.

Anyway, it's banned now but would have been legal in 2008.

Of course it was still unethical and worthy of condemnation.

"The Tea Party" is an old, old part of the Republican Party...

So there's no surprise in their ability to elect "60-plus" people to Congress.

The Tea Party was embraced by the Republicans, because it was little more than a rebranding of the conservative wing in the wake of a disastrous 2008 election performance. It was financed by the usual Republican backers to the tune of more than a hundred million dollars, and lead by Republican politicians. It followed the model of Gingrich's "Contract With America" to stir up hysteria about a "socialist" president and deficits and use it to capture the House.

The question is, why did it even work? What lameness in the initial year of Obama allowed this disastrous shift in initiative back to the Republicans? How did the millions on the street for Obama turn into crickets, while thousands of Tea Partiers were treated as though they were millions?

And what's wrong with (most of) the Democrats? Why aren't they interested in organizing and supporting their own base, the way the Republicans did? Why do they push away calls for equality and social justice?

When the Democrats embrace and pander to OWS, and when OWS gets a hundred million dollars from rich sponsors overnight to throw around, then we can make your comparison.

Sure he would.

It's still the same country in which the top military brass and CIA arranged to have the president murdered because they were poisoned by their own propaganda and paranoia, and he had deluded himself into thinking he was the president. (No one makes quite the same error any more.) Also the same country in which the patriotic media and investigating bodies fell in line with the subsequent cover-up. Also the same government that then went ahead with a genocidal invasion of Indochina, killing two to three million Asians. In which counter-intelligence programs were used to undermine movements for change, and often to murder their leaders. In which the people were successfully whipped up into electing Nixon, and Reagan, and the Bushes. He'd seen the anti-communist hysteria, and even participated in it, so he'd recognize today's new hysterias about terrorism and Muslims and drugs and crime.

This "tyranny of the 51 percent" is already what we have.

The 51 get a House member, senator or president to (ostensibly) represent them, and the 49 get nothing.

In the winner-take-all, non-representative system, you end up with some nasty crap - see Bush years, but also pretty much every government. Because the winner-take-all system necessarily shapes the political landscape into one of two large parties competing for a mythical "center," as defined by the dominant business interests and the corporate media, with no alternative party having any chance of winning or of any role other than being a "spoiler."
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