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marmar

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The New York Times Calls Torture "Torture" When the Perp Is an Official Enemy


The New York Times Calls Torture "Torture" When the Perp Is an Official Enemy

Thursday, 30 January 2014 00:00
By Justin Doolittle, Truthout | Op-Ed


After years of agonizing over nomenclature, it seems the good folks at The New York Times are finally done equivocating and will now refer to torture as "torture." With the release of photographic evidence showing heinous torture in Syria, purportedly committed by the Assad regime in its network of secret prisons, the Times' journalists and editors called a spade a spade: In two recent news articles on the story, published on January 22 and 23, euphemisms such as "enhanced interrogation techniques" and "harsh methods" are nowhere to be found, and "torture" is peppered throughout.

By sheer coincidence, of course, The Times has found its voice on torture only when it's discovered to have been committed by an official enemy. As of July 2013, the last time the issue of US torture was covered in the news section, the paper was still holding on to the exquisitely Orwellian "enhanced interrogation techniques," i.e., the official propaganda line of the US Government since 9/11. In a July 20, 2013, news article by reporters Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane on the politics surrounding a 6,000-page, $40 million secret Senate committee report on torture, excerpts of which a few senators wanted to release against the wishes of the CIA, "interrogation" appears 10 times (including, it goes without saying, in the title). "Torture" appears twice, both times in an equivocating, indirect context.

When referring directly to the CIA's program in news articles, the Times will invariably employ the "enhanced interrogation" terminology; said program is never straightforwardly referred to as "torture." When the word "torture" is used, it's usually in a cautious, toothless way, e.g., "critics of the program say it's torture and constitutes a betrayal of American values."

We can state with certainty that the Times would never refer to torture in Syria, or any other enemy state for that matter, as "enhanced interrogation techniques." The notion is risible. And, given that torture is such a grave affront to our humanity, the Times is right to not sugarcoat the Syrian brutality. But minimal standards of honesty and journalistic integrity demand that torture be called by its rightful name regardless of what government or group happens to have carried it out. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21482-new-york-times-calls-torture-torture-when-the-perp-is-an-official-enemy



Professor Richard Wolff's Economic Update: Myths of Economic Recovery (audio link)


Listen: http://truth-out.org/news/item/21566-economic-update-myths-of-economic-recovery


A North Carolina company was sold to its 320 workers; India enables cheap substitutes for overpriced drugs; updates on US union membership in 2013; the myth of returning manufacturing to the US. Interview with Max Wolff dissecting the US economic "recovery." Response to questions on states' subsidizing movies, JP Morgan-Chase's CEO Dimon's $20 million pay for 2013 and Americans' attitudes on inequality.


Bill Moyers/Michael Winship: Advice to Plutocrat Perkins: Time to Shut Up!


from HuffPost:


Advice to Plutocrat Perkins: Time to Shut Up!
Posted: 01/31/2014 8:07 am


There's a rule of thumb in cyberspace etiquette known as Godwin's Law, named after Mike Godwin, the Internet lawyer and activist who first came up with it. A variation of that law boils down to this: He who first compares the other side to Nazis loses, and the conversation is at an end. Unless you're billionaire Tom Perkins, who seems dedicated to digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself.

By now you're probably heard about Perkins' infamous letter to The Wall Street Journal (whose editorial page is the rich man's Pravda of class warfare) in which he wrote:

"I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its 'one percent,' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich...' This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"


It's astonishing how ignorant (not to mention crude and cruel) the very rich can be. Surely, one of his well-paid retainers could have reminded Mr. Perkins that Kristallnacht was the opening salvo in Hitler's extermination of the Jews, the "night of broken glass" in 1938 Germany and Austria when nearly a hundred Jews were murdered, 30,000 were sent to concentration camps, and synagogues and Jewish-owned business were looted and destroyed, many of them burned to the ground. If Perkins thought his puny point survived the outrageous exaggeration, he was sadly mistaken.



Nonetheless, after a stunned world responded, venture capitalist Perkins went on Bloomberg TV to apologize for using the word "Kristallnacht" but not for the sentiment of his letter. "I don't regret the message at all," he said. "Any time the majority starts to demonize the minority, no matter what it is, it's wrong and dangerous and no good comes from it." ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-moyers/advice-to-plutocrat-perki_b_4698267.html



Enough Is Enough: Fraud-Ridden Banks Are Not L.A.’s Only Option


Enough Is Enough: Fraud-Ridden Banks Are Not L.A.’s Only Option

Posted on Jan 30, 2014
By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt


“Epic in scale, unprecedented in world history.” That is how William K. Black, professor of law and economics and former bank fraud investigator, describes the frauds in which JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has now been implicated. They involve more than a dozen felonies, including bid-rigging on municipal bond debt; colluding to rig interest rates on hundreds of trillions of dollars in mortgages, derivatives and other contracts; exposing investors to excessive risk; failing to disclose known risks, including those in the Bernie Madoff scandal; and engaging in multiple forms of mortgage fraud.

So why, asks Chicago Alderwoman Leslie Hairston, are we still doing business with them? She plans to introduce a city council ordinance deleting JPM from the city’s list of designated municipal depositories. As quoted in the January 14th Chicago Sun-Times:

The bank has violated the city code by making admissions of dishonesty and deceit in the way they dealt with their investors in the mortgage securities and Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandals. . . . We use this code against city contractors and all the small companies, why wouldn’t we use this against one of the largest banks in the world?


A similar move has been recommended for the City of Los Angeles by L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo. But in a January 19th editorial titled “There’s No Profit in L A. Bashing JPMorgan Chase,” the L.A. Times editorial board warned against pulling the city’s money out of JPM and other mega-banks – even though the city attorney is suing them for allegedly causing an epidemic of foreclosures in minority neighborhoods.

“L.A. relies on these banks,” says The Times, “for long-term financing to build bridges and restore lakes, and for short-term financing to pay the bills.” The editorial noted that a similar proposal brought in the fall of 2011 by then-Councilman Richard Alarcon, backed by Occupy L.A., was abandoned because it would have resulted in termination fees and higher interest payments by the city. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/enough_is_enough_fraud-ridden_banks_are_not_las_only_option_20140130



They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said 'No, No, No'

When they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.......




Study Claims Existence of ‘Caffeine Use Disorder’


A study out of American University is unleashing upon the unsuspecting public yet another type of disorder to acquire—and this one seems pretty easy to get.

Yes, it’s “caffeine use disorder,” characterized by notable difficulties afflicted persons encounter when they try to curb their consumption of the drug, as well as by withdrawal symptoms.

American University psychology professor Laura Juliano, who co-authored “Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda” with three other researchers, delivered the bad news for overindulgent caffeinators (via CBS DC):

“There is misconception among professionals and lay people alike that caffeine is not difficult to give up. However, in population-based studies, more than 50 percent of regular caffeine consumers report that they have had difficulty quitting or reducing caffeine use,” Juliano said in a press release. ”Through our research, we have observed that people who have been unable to quit or cut back on caffeine on their own would be interested in receiving formal treatment—similar to the outside assistance people can turn to if they want to quit smoking or tobacco use.”


.....(snip).....

So, what’s the point, besides having another name for something potentially wrong with you? The authors submit that restriction recommendations should be included in marketing caffeinated products. And if enough people buy their argument, we could be in for a whole new cottage industry: rehab for coffee junkies. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/study_claims_existence_of_caffeine_use_disorder_20140130



Costs of Privatization Hidden in Plain Sight


Costs of Privatization Hidden in Plain Sight

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 09:57
By Ellen Dannin, Truthout | News Analysis


Privatization is often sold as providing higher quality services and infrastructure at lower cost. In fact, important costs are regularly overlooked. In other words, services and infrastructure have been privatized, even though keeping them public is the better choice.

Chicago Privatization and its Costs

Chicago's experiences with privatization make a textbook case for not deciding to privatize without carefully identifying costs. By failing to do so, Chicago has found itself locked into bad deals that will last for three to four generations.

Consider Chicago's Parking Meter deal. It was approved after the aldermen were given two days only to digest the 686-page document. They voted overwhelmingly for the deal because they believed they had no alternative means to pay for basic city needs.

According to the Huffington Post, a 2009 study by Chicago's Active Transportation Alliance found:

. . . that every potential project on a street with meters, including bus rapid transit, bicycle lanes, sidewalk expansion, streetscaping, pedestrian bulb-outs, loading zones, rush hour parking control, mid-block crossing and temporary open spaces are dictated, controlled and limited by parking meters," the report reads. "These restrictions severely limit innovative planning for bicyclists, pedestrian and transit users."


In other words, anything that promoted less driving and, more important, less parking at parking meters owned by the private contractor, would cost the city money. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21466-costs-of-privatization-hidden-in-plain-sight



Costs of Privatization Hidden in Plain Sight


Costs of Privatization Hidden in Plain Sight

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 09:57
By Ellen Dannin, Truthout | News Analysis


Privatization is often sold as providing higher quality services and infrastructure at lower cost. In fact, important costs are regularly overlooked. In other words, services and infrastructure have been privatized, even though keeping them public is the better choice.

Chicago Privatization and its Costs

Chicago's experiences with privatization make a textbook case for not deciding to privatize without carefully identifying costs. By failing to do so, Chicago has found itself locked into bad deals that will last for three to four generations.

Consider Chicago's Parking Meter deal. It was approved after the aldermen were given two days only to digest the 686-page document. They voted overwhelmingly for the deal because they believed they had no alternative means to pay for basic city needs.

According to the Huffington Post, a 2009 study by Chicago's Active Transportation Alliance found:

. . . that every potential project on a street with meters, including bus rapid transit, bicycle lanes, sidewalk expansion, streetscaping, pedestrian bulb-outs, loading zones, rush hour parking control, mid-block crossing and temporary open spaces are dictated, controlled and limited by parking meters," the report reads. "These restrictions severely limit innovative planning for bicyclists, pedestrian and transit users."


In other words, anything that promoted less driving and, more important, less parking at parking meters owned by the private contractor, would cost the city money. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21466-costs-of-privatization-hidden-in-plain-sight



The Stealth Privatization of Pennsylvania's Bridges


The Stealth Privatization of Pennsylvania's Bridges

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 09:02
By Ellen Dannin, Truthout | News


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has decided to sign a 40-year contract to privatize the state's crumbling bridges, but there has been little to no media coverage of the deal and what it will mean for two generations of Pennsylvanians.


At midnight of January 20, 2014, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announced that the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett finally decided to take action on the state's crumbling bridges. The action it is taking is to sign a 40-year contract to privatize Pennsylvania bridges.

The word privatization does not appear in any of the announcements. Instead, PennDOT refers to the project as a public-private partnership. However, whether called a PPP, P3, public-private partnership, contracting out or privatization, the result is the same. Infrastructure privatization - that is privatization of roads, bridges, parking garages, parking meters, airports and the like - involves signing a contract, generally for a term of 30 to 99 years.

In the case of Pennsylvania's bridges, the private contractor takes on responsibility for designing, constructing, financing and operating bridges for up to 40 years. [PennDOT, McCalls] Experience with infrastructure privatization shows what we can expect as the bridge privatization proceeds.

Pennsylvania will hire a privatization industry insider as a consultant to advise the state. International firms such as Mayer Brown, Morgan Stanley and Macquarie frequently are hired to act as the consultant and, in other cases, will sit on the other side of the table as the private contractor. Consultants often are paid a "success fee" if a privatization agreement is reached. The success fee will motivate the adviser to recommend privatizing. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21513-the-stealth-privatization-of-pennsylvanias-bridges



Missing the Marx, More or Less: On Intellectual Failure and Environmental Catastrophe

Missing the Marx, More or Less
On Intellectual Failure and Environmental Catastrophe

By Paul Street


Getting radical anti-capitalist ideas wrong and ignoring those ideas completely are timeworn traditions for U.S. intellectuals. The habits go back a long way and have continued through the current millennium. The consequences can be deadly, as is seen with two short books printed by leading U.S. publishing firms a few years ago - liberal historian James Livingston’s Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul (Basic Books, 2011) and environmental journalist David Owen’s The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse (Penguin, 2011).

GETTING MARX WRONG IN SUPPORT OF MORE

Marx’s “Protestant Work Ethic”

Here, from page one hundred and sixty-five the early Barack Obama enthusiast Livingston’s book is a graphic example of a U.S. intellectual getting a leading past anti-capitalist thinker (Karl Marx) badly wrong: “In fact, I would claim that we can’t live comfortably with the pleasures of consumer culture (not to mention the life of the mind) precisely because the Protestant work ethic still haunts us – because we believe along with Marx, who got the idea from Hegel, who got it from Luther, that human nature just is the metabolic exchange with nature that we call work.” By “work,” Livingston here means manual and physical labor, skilled and unskilled, engaged primarily in material production, extraction, transportation and the like.

It’s hard to imagine anyone missing the mark on Marx more completely. Marx spent the lion’s share of his most productive years engaged in intensely intellectual activity (“the life of the mind,” to say the least) in his study and at the British Museum library. He was grateful to escape the clutches of wage labor (production-oriented or otherwise) thanks in part to the support of his bourgeois comrade and fellow communist Frederick Engels. In his late twenties, Marx wrote of the glories of a “communist future” when all would be free to follow creative and intellectual pursuits beyond the requirements by class society’s division of labor:

“For, as soon as the division of labor comes into being, each man has a particular exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic and must remain so if he does not wish to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.” ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.zcommunications.org/missing-the-marx-more-or-less-by-paul-street.html



Winter storm craziness in Atlanta


By Mike Morris
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Gridlock on the interstates this morning continues to frustrate drivers still trying to get home on a commute that started Tuesday.

Interstate 285 is closed in multiple spots and traffic is still bumper-to-bumper and barely moving on several other interstates, including on I-75 north of downtown and on I-20 west of downtown. Transporataion officials said the biggest problem is tractor-trailers unable to get tractionon the ice that are blocking multiple lanes of the interstates.

Students remain stranded at schools, as commuters lucky enough to make their way to makeshift shelters begin waking up in churches, fire houses and stores that remained open all night to provide a warm place to stay as temperatures plummeted into the teens.

As Atlanta’s traffic nightmare stretched into Day 2, state transportation officials advised drivers who made it home to stay there, and others who were at makeshift shelters to remain in place indefinitely as they continue to treat ice-coated roads. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/gridlock-continues-as-unspeakably-horrible-commute/nc53m/




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