Sunday, May 17, 2015

(He Must Die!  Good Kills?)  Are You Tired Yet of Callous Rich People Destroying Your World?  (They Re-Poisoned a Precious Liquid Lifeline Where Activists Have Spent Decades Dealing with PCBs Previously Dumped in by General Electric, Which Designed the Reactors at Fukushima)  Cornel West Really F*cked Now? (Or Just Indulging In Too Much Truth Telling?)  Tangled Webs or Just Craziness Defining the New Political Norm

But why do they wear flight suits when killing from stateside consoles?

Good kills? As if.

But they so are it seems.*

You wonder how they sleep at night . . . in their cushy beds . . . with their busty mistresses . . . and French champagne and Iranian caviar . . . don't you?

Don't you wish you were getting their profits?

And not just their debts/devastation?

Lack of Oversight of Charter Schools Designed as a Plus; More Than $3.3 Billion Spent
By Jonas Persson, PR Watch

The GOP's Food Stamp Hypocrisy
By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program

FBI Spied on Activists Because Protecting Corporate Interests Is Roughly Equivalent to "Ensuring National Security" - Techdirt

Organized Labor Should Spend the Rest of 2015 Training Workers How to Fight
By David Goodner, In These Times

Did We Almost Lose New York?

By Harvey Wasserman, EcoWatch
16 May 15

or the third time in a decade, a major fire/explosion has ripped apart a transformer at the Indian Point reactor complex.

News reports have taken great care to emphasize that the accident happened in the “non nuclear” segment of the plant.

Ironically, the disaster spewed more than 15,000 gallons of oil into the Hudson River, infecting it with a toxic sheen that carried downstream for miles. Entergy, the nuke’s owner, denies there were PCBs in this transformer.

It also denies numerous studies showing serious radioactive health impacts on people throughout the region.

You can choose whether you want to believe the company in either case.

But PCBs were definitely spread by the last IP transformer fire. They re-poisoned a precious liquid lifeline where activists have spent decades dealing with PCBs previously dumped in by General Electric, which designed the reactors at Fukushima.

Meanwhile, as always, the nuclear industry hit the automatic play button to assure us all that there was “no danger” to the public and “no harmful release” of radiation.

But what do we really know about what happened and could have happened this time around?

At an integrated system like a reactor complex, are there really any significant components whose impacts are totally removed from the ability to touch off a nuclear disaster?

A “non nuclear” earthquake, 120 kilometers away, caused Fukushima One to melt, and then explode. “Non nuclear” backup power sources failed after being flooded by a “non nuclear” tsunami, leading to still more melt-downs and explosions. “Non nuclear” air crashes, either accidental or as at 9/11, or bombs or terror attacks could rapidly convert Indian Point and any other commercial reactor into an unimaginable nuclear disaster.

At Indian Point, “non nuclear” gas pipelines flow dangerously close to highly vulnerable reactors. In an utterly insane proposal that almost defies description, corporate powers want to run another gas pipeline more than 40 inches in diameter within a scant few yards of the reactor epicenters.

An explosion that could obliterate much of the site would of course be “non nuclear” in origin. But the consequences could be sufficiently radioactive to condemn millions of humans to horrifying health consequences and render the entire region a permanent wasteland. Indian Point, in Buchanan, New York, is about 45 miles north of Manhattan.

The real dangers of this most recent fiasco are impossible to assess. But Indian Point sits all-to-near the “non nuclear” Ramapo seismic fault line which is more than capable of reducing much of it to rubble. Twice now — in Ohio and Virginia — earthquakes have done significant damage to American reactors. With 20 million people close downwind and trillions of dollars worth of dense-packed property, a Fukushima-scale hit at Indian Point would easily qualify as an Apocalyptic event.

But its owners would not be financially liable beyond the sliver of cash they’ve contributed to the $12-odd billion federal fund meant to cover such events. Likely damage to health and property would soar into the trillions, but this is none of Entergy’s concern. Small wonder the company has no real incentive to spend on safety, especially when a captured regulatory agency lets it do pretty much whatever it wants.

Aside from the magnitude of its kill zone, Indian Point is unique in its level of opposition. Andrew Cuomo, governor of the nation’s fourth-most populous state (behind California, Texas and Florida), has been demanding its closure for years. New York and numerous downwind cities, towns and counties have gone to court on issues ranging from water quality to evacuation to earthquake dangers and more.

Even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concedes that Indian Point — among other reactors — has been out of compliance on simple fire protection standards for years. To “cure” the problem, the NRC — which depends financially on the industry it’s meant to regulate — has simply issued waivers allowing Indian Point to operate without meeting established fire safety standards.

Unique (so far) among American reactors, Indian Point Unit Two doesn’t even have a license to operate.

But Unit Three’s is about to expire, with no hint the NRC might actually shut either.

So if America’s atomic reactors are now allowed to operate without actual licenses, and with known safety violations, what’s the point of any regulation at all?

Meanwhile the paltry power generated by these antiquated clunkers can be gotten far more reliably, cheaply, cleanly and safely from renewable sources and increased efficiency.

But since that doesn’t fit Entergy’s peculiar bottom line, and since its parent industry still has sufficient political pull to keep going, we all remain at risk.

— Inside City Hall (@InsideCityHall) May 13, 2015

So in an industry where technical information is closely held, we can’t fully evaluate the threat imposed by this latest malfeasance. The only thing certain is that it will happen again.

This newest fire at Indian Point should remind us that we are all hostage to an industry that operates in open defiance of the laws of the public, the economy and basic physics.

Sooner or later all three will demand their due. We can passively hope our planet and our species will survive the consequences.

Or we can redouble our efforts to make sure all these reactors are shut before such a reckoning dumps us into the abyss.

On May 13 and 14, President Obama host(ed) a billionaire conglomerate known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which consist(ed) of the Middle Eastern monarchies. The cozy US-GCC relationship exemplifies the twisted nature of US foreign policy.

See Wisdom of the West for trustworthy information about the coming water shortages.

Did it really occur to you that a perfectly intelligent gentleman (a true scholar!) like Cornel West had rounded the bend on sanity, or that something else entirely was going on among the viscerally-downgrading-opposition (and exceedingly well-connected) in-crowd?

When I don't know all the political connections/arguments yet on various issues, I usually read a lot until they begin to make sense.

This is finally making sense.

From our friend at The Rancid Honeytrap (h/t to BLCKDGRD for the link!):

Cornel West’s Impermissible Opinions

Oh f*ck’s sake, Melissa Harris Perry started the Feud with Cornel West

April 24, 2015

I have been trying to avoid the particulars of the smear campaign professional Democrats are running against Cornel West, because, as I said before, the Michael Dyson piece that kicked it off is really a by-the-numbers smear, mostly unexceptional but for its self-serious bloat. Far too many people — like the status-conscious phony Dave Zirin, for example — are taking it more seriously than it deserves — or pretending to —  by framing it as a heartfelt and even erudite essay instead of nakedly obvious, score-settling, power-serving hatchet job. To pull apart various elements is to wrongly suggest that any part of Dyson’s piece isn’t rife with malicious dishonesty.
However, the frequency with which Dyson and his fellow careerist vermin are deliberately mischaracterizing and exaggerating West’s alleged excoriation of Melissa Harris-Perry is more than I can bear. It pops up everywhere. In Dyson’s recent Salon interview with the revoltingly disingenuous Joan Walsh, Dyson calls West’s insults “deeply entrenched in sexist language and belief.” Walsh naturally concurs:  “It was disturbing. It felt very gendered and very personal.”
Zirin, wrote that West’s comments about Harris-Perry were so “vicious” they “anger [his] blood” and compared them to Muhammad Ali’s extended campaign of racialized insults against Joe Frazier in the 60s. Jamil Smith, Dyson’s editor at "The New Republic," called West’s comments against Harris-Perry “hyperbolic vitriol.”
While reading this stuff, you might think you’d heard the story wrong. That West hadn’t simply said that Harris-Perry had become “the momentary darling of liberals…in over her head…a fake and a fraud.” Strong stuff, certainly, but entrenched in sexist language and belief? Disturbingly gendered and personal? Hyperbolic? So vicious that your blood boils?
Amidst all this, um, hyperbole, you might also forget that Dyson himself disclosed in his hit piece that West was reacting to two extremely unflattering articles Harris-Perry had written about West and his colleague Tavis Smiley, one in 2008 and another in 2011. In other words, Harris-Perry started this fight, and brutally so.
In the 2011 piece for "The Nation," Perry called West’s remarks about Obama in a "Truthdig" article, “a self-aggrandizing, victimology sermon deceptively wrapped in the discourse of prophetic witness” that provides “stunning insight into the delicate ego of the self-appointed black leadership class that has been largely supplanted.”
In the same essay, she introduces talking points that would find themselves in "The New Republic" four years later — West’s acrimony owes to a grudge over Obama’s failure to provide him with tickets to the first inauguration; “the tiresome repetitiveness with which West invokes the name of his erstwhile Harvard nemesis Lawrence Summers as indicative of President Obama’s failed economic vision;” that West is a privileged elitist whose claimed affinity for the common people is hypocritical. She calls him “dishonest” and several times suggests he and Smiley are unintentionally hilarious.
The implication is that West is a bitter, anachronistic, increasingly irrelevant hypocrite, whose objections to Obama are rooted less in political conviction than a fragile ego. All of this of course foreshadows Dyson’s “Ghost” theme. I can’t imagine that any objective person could look at the gleeful nastiness and length of Harris-Perry’s piece and conclude that West’s reply, which came several months later, was in any way disproportional. If anything, it’s muted by comparison. But then we’re not dealing with objective people. We’re not even dealing with subjective people. Or hypocrites. We’re dealing with liars. Professional liars. The worst kind.

Michael Eric Dyson’s Hatchet Eulogy for Cornel West
White Supremacy and Magic Paper Part 4:  The White Supremacy Difference

The following essay's givens cannot be true, of course, but if they are, would the Price-Waterhouse or CIA connection affect the sentence?

Or are juries selected carefully now for deafness?

Or "brainwashing"?

(Seems like only a light misting is all that's necessary here.)

We await on tenterhooks.

(Not any more.)

And although a young man will be dead (eventually), we'll never know what really happened.

(Until the next Wiki-leaks.)

Boston Terror Suspects' Uncle Was Married to CIA Officer's Daughter and Even Shared a Home with the Agent

By Katie Davies

An uncle of the Boston bombers was previously married to a CIA officer's daughter for three years, it emerged today.

Ruslan Tsarni, who publicly denounced his two terrorist nephews' actions and called them 'Losers', even lived with his father-in-law agent Graham Fuller in his Maryland home for a year.

Mr Fuller was forced to explain the relationship today as news of the family link emerged online.

Son-in-law: Former CIA agent Graham Fuller explained his relationship to the two Boston terror suspects' uncle today. Ruslan Tsarni was married for three years to his daughter, Samantha.

Son-in-law: Former CIA agent Graham Fuller explained his relationship to the two Boston terror suspects' uncle today

Son-in-law:  Former CIA agent Graham Fuller explained his relationship to the two Boston terror suspects' uncle today. Ruslan Tsarni was married for three years to his daughter, Samantha.

He told "Al-Monitor" that his daughter, Samantha, was married to Ruslan, whose surname was then Tsarnaev, for three to four years in the 1990s.

The couple divorced in 1999 more than ten years after he left the agency in 1987.

'Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Tsarni) for 3-4 years, and they lived in Bishkek for one year where Samantha was working for Price Waterhouse on privatization projects,' Mr Fuller said.

'They also lived in our house in [Maryland] for a year or so and they were divorced in 1999, I believe.'

'I, of course, retired from CIA in 1987 and had moved on to working as a senior political scientist for RAND.'

He said his son-in-law showed no interest in the agency or politics but spoke generally about his family in Chechnya.

He said any attempts to portray the relationship as a link between the security agency and the two terrorists was 'absurd'.

'Like all Chechens, Ruslan was very concerned about his native land, but I saw no particular involvement in politics,' Fuller told "Al-Monitor."

'I doubt he even had much to say of intelligence value other than talking about his own family’s sad tale of deportation from Chechnya by Stalin to Central Asia. Every Chechen family has such stories.'

Nephews: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could at one time count a CIA agents daughter as their aunt

Nephews:  Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could at one time count a CIA agent's daughter as their aunt.

Outraged: Ruslan Tsarni made his strong feeling against his nephews actions known in the aftermath of the Boston attacks

Outraged:  Ruslan Tsarni made his feelings against his nephews actions known to the media in the aftermath of the Boston attacks.

Fuller visited his daughter and her husband in Bishek, as a former Russian history graduate himself interested in 'Soviet minorities'.

He said he may have met the terror suspects' father, Aznor, there once and his daughter knew the Tsarnaev family when Tamerlan was a toddler and before his younger brother was born.

'I for one was astonished at the events, and to find myself at two degrees of separation from them,' he added.

Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Montgomery Village, Maryland, was thrust into the spotlight as the names of his two nephews emerged in connection to the Boston terror attack.

He stood on his driveway and attacked the two men calling them 'Losers'.

He has since reported a rift between his family and that of his brother Aznor's and said his older nephew Tamerlan had become increasingly extreme in his religious views.

He said he last spoke to him in 2009 when he declared he was dropping out of school to do 'God's business' and Tsarni was concerned at his religious fervor.

'[The bombing] has nothing to do with Chechen … He put a shame on our family, he put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity,' he told broadcasters in the aftermath of the bombings.

He also told reporters that Tamerlan had a friend called Misha who 'brainwashed' him.

'This person just took his brain. He just brainwashed him completely,' he said.

FBI agents today said they had tracked down Misha and believed he had no link to the terror attacks.

Lucky Misha.

Every time I see some inside information on the Big Dawgs who run the CIA, etc., etc., I am always deeply impressed at the level of erudition and meritocracy yielding such fine operational results. (Or is that mediocrity?)

The stories of the soldiers and service members of the 20th century are very familiar, the typical themes having been told and retold in so many books and films that they are now embedded in US culture and consciousness. But what about the lives of the men and women who today engage the computer consoles of our remote-controlled war machine? How does it feel to be a US Air Force pilot launching death and destruction halfway across the world in the morning before swinging by your kid's soccer practice in the afternoon? Despite media reports of unique mental and emotional pressures, the drama of the drone warrior, far removed from that of the grunt in the trenches, is still largely a mystery.
That's beginning to change. "Good Kill," directed by Andrew Niccol ("The Truman Show," "Gattaca," "Lord of War"), is based on the real experiences of drone operators and effectively brings to life the inner conflicts and insidious risks of waging war abroad without ever leaving home. Playing Maj. Tommy Egan, an F-16 fighter pilot assigned to operate CIA drones at a base outside Las Vegas, Ethan Hawke offers a compelling performance of a career military man tortured by complex guilt. In between targeted killing in Central Asia, Egan soaks himself in vodka and self-loathing and can barely sleep.

Hawke's character appears to struggle not only with depression, but also with a condition some psychologists and military officers call "moral injury"  a psychological reaction to severe moral transgression when deeply held beliefs and expectations of "what's right" clash with the reality of something gone very wrong. Moral injury appears to be qualitatively different from post-traumatic stress disorder, although there are some psychologists who believe it's a subtype of PTSD. The stress and anxiety particular to drone pilots, unlike a fighter pilot evading hostiles or a soldier ducking in a trench, appear to stem not from their fear of imminent death, but from the intense moral conflict inherent to their role. The only armor these warriors must take into battle is psychological; defense mechanisms replace helmets.

By all accounts, operating armed drones is, paradoxically, a very intimate killing experience. Egan and his colleagues follow people's "patterns of life" over days and weeks with high-precision infrared video cameras while they wait for orders from the CIA to fire in the vicinity of innocent civilians. As Egan is repeatedly ordered to track, engage and then count bodies in the gruesome aftermath of the destruction he has caused, the conflict between his responsibilities at work and his responsibilities to humanity begin to tear him apart.

While an imperfect film that occasionally veers headlong into cliché and oversimplification, "Good Kill" presents some of the best critiques of the drone program many audience members are likely to see and hear. Unsurprisingly, the US Department of Defense declined to provide "Good Kill" the free material support that it often gives feel-good military films like "Top Gun;" the Pentagon typically offers this valuable assistance via Phil Strub, its longtime point man for cinematic propaganda, in exchange for detailed script doctoring.
Challenging Articles of Faith

Egan's wife (played by "Mad Men" actress January Jones) could be speaking on behalf of the American people when, frustrated and alienated from his experience, but still hoping to be supportive, she asks her suffering husband, "You're still making people safer, right?" The doublethink she expresses describes one of the fundamental articles of faith on which the drone program rests. Yet there is little clarity about how many suspected "high-level" terrorists are actually being killed due to the secretive nature of the program and the "imperfect best guess" intelligence that strikes are based on (a 2012 Stanford/New York University report estimated that a full 2 percent of those killed by US drones in Pakistan were "high-level" targets).

There's also the high likelihood that the US drone war in Asia and Africa is actually increasing the number of terrorist groups and aiding their recruitment efforts, a view taken by an internal CIA analysis published by WikiLeaks.

As for what everyday people think, Americans have been very supportive of the drone program in recent years, at least as measured by the faith-based questions asked by pollsters; the rest of the world is not a big fan.

"Good Kill" also challenges the questionable declaration made by US officials that drone operators are authorized to fire missiles only in circumstances where there is "near certainty" that no innocent civilians will be killed by the strike. In reality, true adherence to this principle is extremely unlikely, and we know that thousands of civilians - meaning members of families, including small children, who were simply minding their own business - have already been killed by US drones.

In fact, the Obama administration's no-innocents-will-be-deliberately-harmed claim is the same public relations tactic used to gain support for all modern US wars. US officials have previously acknowledged using "a macabre kind of calculus" in order to answer moral and legal questions about the maximum number of innocent civilians who may be deliberately killed in any strike.

The Obama administration does not publicly acknowledge that it has killed thousands of civilians with drone strikes. With impressive contempt for the truth, it claims that all of the military-age males killed with drones were, by definition, enemy combatants unless posthumous evidence proves otherwise.

At the same time, the administration keeps the official numbers of civilians it has killed with drones top secret. So for anyone paying attention, the White House has barely any credibility when discussing the facts of drone warfare. "Good Kill" may be fiction, but, ironically, it gives a better sense of the workings and effects of the actual US drone program than has been offered so far by government officials.

The US government reportedly intends to keep adding names to its kill lists for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the Air Force is now training more drone pilots than traditional fighter pilots. At the same time, many drone operators are not renewing their contracts and recruiters are having a hard time meeting demand, so they have started recruiting kids at gaming conferences. "Telewarfare" appears to be the new normal.

Interestingly, at the same time that "Good Kill" is being released, a one-woman play called "Grounded" at the Public Theater in New York City (written by George Brant, directed by Julie Taymor and starring Anne Hathaway) is also attempting to articulate the moral conundrums and life difficulties of "driving to war," as Hathaway's nameless character puts it. (Both Hawke and Hathaway interviewed former drone operators - some of whom have come forward to publicly criticize the drone program - in preparation for their roles.)

. . . The power to observe the private lives of others from afar without risk to the self taps into certain voyeuristic impulses that may be universal. When that unchecked power comes with the ability to annihilate and incinerate at will, with only a 10-second delay between trigger and explosion (make sure those kids don't run into the crosshairs at the last second), the realm of the humane has been abandoned. Drone pilots find themselves in the unenviable position of playing not heroes, but flawed demigods who watch intensely from Olympus while being handed lightning bolts by a Zeus who also decides which hapless mortals they must target. And herein lies their psychological drama, and their tragedy, and why they also deserve our sympathy.

Despite being far away from the physical violence they unleash, they are not safe.The power to observe the private lives of others from afar without risk to the self taps into certain voyeuristic impulses that may be universal. When that unchecked power comes with the ability to annihilate and incinerate at will, with only a 10-second delay between trigger and explosion (make sure those kids don't run into the crosshairs at the last second), the realm of the humane has been abandoned. Drone pilots find themselves in the unenviable position of playing not heroes, but flawed demigods who watch intensely from Olympus while being handed lightning bolts by a Zeus who also decides which hapless mortals they must target. And herein lies their psychological drama, and their tragedy, and why they also deserve our sympathy. Despite being far away from the physical violence they unleash, they are not safe.

This episode provides updates on Verizon's purchase of AOL, why Facebook's "contribution" to ending inequality falls so short and why deadly Mediterranean migrations reflect capitalism's uneven development across the globe. We also respond to questions regarding whether student debt can lead to reduced Social Security benefits.

Visit Professor Wolff's social movement project, and

Watchdogs say big corporations are taking taxpayers for a ride when they donate to the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is actually a lobbying organization, not a tax-exempt charity, as it claims on its filings with the IRS.

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now!:  Drilling has resumed near the site of the BP-operated offshore oil rig that exploded five years ago in the worst industrial environmental disaster in US history. A Louisiana-based oil company purchased the area from BP and is now drilling into the Macondo reservoir.

Richmond-based Dominion Resources, which wields near-monopoly power over Virginia's electric grid, is skimping on solar and wind, and wants to boost demand for a fracked-gas pipeline and another nuclear reactor. Why is Dominion getting away with paying lip service to green energy?

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