How to be a female pop star in 2014

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Carolyn Wonderland

Yet another Texas Treasure and a hell of a lot more worthy of me ripping a CD of to play  in the car than some vapid, vacuous poptart.

‘Assassination’ of Public Health Systems Driving Ebola Crisis, Experts Warn

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/10/16/assassination-public-health-systems-driving-ebola-crisis-experts-warn

Neoliberal economic policies that defund public health responsible for current crisis in West Africa and across the globe, say analysts

Sarah Lazare
Published on Thursday, October 16, 2014 Common Dreams

As the official West African death toll in the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history nears 5,000, global concerns about the highly infectious disease continue to mount. Analysts and medical providers, from Liberia to the United States, say that in order to address the crisis, the international community must tackle the real culprit: western-driven economic policies defunding public health systems around the world, particularly in the countries hit hardest by the outbreak.

“The neoliberal economic model assassinated public infrastructure,” said Emira Woods, a Liberia native and social impact director at ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice, in an interview with Common Dreams. “A crisis of the proportion we’ve seen since the beginning of the Ebola catastrophe shows this model has failed.”

Gutting of West African Public Health Systems

Since the 1980s, western financial institutions have given loans to third world governments on the condition those states impose austere domestic reforms and roll back public services. This approach is encapsulated in the 1981 World Bank report Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, which presses for “structural adjustments,” including rapid privatization, shrinking of public services and subsidies, and a shift towards export dependency as a solution to “slow economic growth.”

As Macalester College Professor William Moseley and colleagues explain in a paper for the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, “In West Africa, the resulting neoliberal economic policies sought to promote growth and prosperity through structural adjustment programs (SAPs) that generally involved contraction of government services, renewed export orientation on crops or goods deemed to have a comparative advantage, privatization of parastatal organizations, removal or reduction of many subsidies and tariffs, and currency devaluations.”

“What you had was a shift of public expenditures from health care, school, and essential services to a model of economic development driven by the World bank and International Monetary Fund, which said that public service provision was not passage to development, and services should be privatized,” said Woods. “There was this notion that poor people can pay, and services are better provided by the private sector.”

While years of war played a role in weakening public systems, it was the “war against people driven by international financial institutions” that is largely responsible for decimating the public health care system, eroding wages and conditions for health care workers, and fueling the crisis sweeping West Africa today, says Woods. “Over the past 6 months to a year there have been rolling health care worker strikes in country after country—Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia,” said Woods. “Nurses and doctors are risking and losing their lives but don’t have protective gear needed to serve patients and save their own lives. They are on the front lines and have not had their voices heard.”

Even the World Health Organization, which is tasked by the United Nations with directing international responses to epidemics, acknowledges the detrimental impact these policies have had on public health systems. “In health, (Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs] affect both the supply of health services (by insisting on cuts in health spending) and the demand for health services (by reducing household income, thus leaving people with less money for health),” states the organization. “Studies have shown that SAPs policies have slowed down improvements in, or worsened, the health status of people in countries implementing them. The results reported include worse nutritional status of children, increased incidence of infectious diseases, and higher infant and maternal mortality rates.”

A “Highly Vulnerable” World

Medical responders have criticized the international community for failing to aggressively address the crisis. In a press statement issued in late August, Brice de le Vingne, Doctors Without Borders director of operations slammed western states for their isolationist policies towards the epidemic: “Self-protection is occupying the entire focus of states that have the expertise and resources to make a dramatic difference in the affected countries. They can do more, so why don’t they?”

The WHO has recently suffered severe budget cuts that have left it weakened, under-staffed, and incapable of adequately responding to the international emergency. “There’s no doubt we’ve not been as quick and as powerful as we might have been,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, a WHO assistant director general, told the New York Times in an article examining the cuts.

Critics say the de-funding of public health system within western states is putting populations at risk. Despite the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and the Obama administration to assure the U.S. public of a robust response, nurses tell a different story. Workers with the union National Nurses United have repeatedly warned that the for-profit U.S. health care system is in fact ill-prepared for an Ebola outbreak, with U.S. hospitals lacking basic protocols, training, and protective gear.

Meanwhile, Woods warns, the U.S.’s militarized response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa—including Obama’s authorization on Thursday for the Pentagon to deploy reserve and National Guard troops—raises serious concerns. “If you think about the costs of sending in military to build compared to putting resources into nurses and doctors and rebuilding public health infrastructure that will last, U.S. tax payers should be really questioning the tax dollars being spent and what the long term implications are.”

“The world will remain highly vulnerable to this and similar outbreaks unless all countries prioritize the universal right to health, including the international obligation of rich countries to pay their fair share in ensuring that basic health capacity is available everywhere,” the global justice organization U.S. Africa Network argues. “The failure to do so is a violation of human rights and our common humanity.”

Lawrence Krauss and “The Unbelievers”

US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History

From Truth Out http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26842-us-government-sanitizes-vietnam-war-history

By Marjorie Cohn
Thursday, 16 October 2014

For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the “Vietnam syndrome,” in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!”

With George W. Bush’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama’s drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome. By planting disinformation in the public realm, the government has built support for its recent wars, as it did with Vietnam.

Now the Pentagon is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history. Replete with a fancy interactive website, the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war. The program is focused on honoring our service members who fought in Vietnam. But conspicuously absent from the website is a description of the antiwar movement, at the heart of which was the GI movement.

Thousands of GIs participated in the antiwar movement. Many felt betrayed by their government. They established coffee houses and underground newspapers where they shared information about resistance. During the course of the war, more than 500,000 soldiers deserted. The strength of the rebellion of ground troops caused the military to shift to an air war. Ultimately, the war claimed the lives of 58,000 Americans. Untold numbers were wounded and returned with post-traumatic stress disorder. In an astounding statistic, more Vietnam veterans have committed suicide than were killed in the war.

Millions of Americans, many of us students on college campuses, marched, demonstrated, spoke out, sang and protested against the war. Thousands were arrested and some, at Kent State and Jackson State, were killed. The military draft and images of dead Vietnamese galvanized the movement. On November 15, 1969, in what was the largest protest demonstration in Washington, DC, at that time, 250,000 people marched on the nation’s capital, demanding an end to the war. Yet the Pentagon’s website merely refers to it as a “massive protest.”

But Americans weren’t the only ones dying. Between 2 and 3 million Indochinese – in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – were killed. War crimes – such as the My Lai massacre – were common. In 1968, US soldiers slaughtered 500 unarmed old men, women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Yet the Pentagon website refers only to the “My Lai Incident,” despite the fact that it is customarily referred to as a massacre.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26842-us-government-sanitizes-vietnam-war-history

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system-ethics-personality-psychopathicsthic

An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities


theguardian.com, Monday 29 September 2014

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed.

It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That’s why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won’t be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare, the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it’s known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.

Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the “infantilisation of the workers”. Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities (“She got a new office chair and I didn’t”), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system-ethics-personality-psychopathicsthic

Reason to Say Fuck You to Smart Phones #7047

Smart Phones for Stupid Sheeple #7047

I don’t own a smart phone or a tablet.  I own a dumb phone and may upgrade to an only dim witted phone because Tracfone offers triple minutes with it.

I hate cell phones in general although I do tolerate their use for conversations.

I think people who whip them out at concerts should be asked to turn them off.

The same for people who use them in restaurants.

I don’t Twitter or for that matter text.  Send me a text and I never read it.

I don’t play games on it.

Watch a movie on a four inch screen when I have a big screen at home?  You’re kidding, right?

Spend umpteen dollars a month on wireless service so I can be tracked by the NSA and who knows how many other government and NGO organizations.  You have to be fucking joking…

I turn my phone off when I’m not making a call to conserve battery life and make it harder to track.

Why would anyone with a drop of common sense put all sorts of personal data including access to one’s bank accounts and  credit cards on a device so prone to theft and or hacking?

I have a land line and all sorts of annoying assholes feel compelled to call me to try and sell me crap.  Now if I wanted said crap I am perfectly capable of going to my computer and finding a reputable source for the fore mentioned crap.  Not only that I can check out the sources to make sure they aren’t out to rip me off.

I am tired as hell of being assaulted 24/7/365 by advertisers.

I have never seen a billboard that was worth cutting down a tree to erect.  I would rather look at a slum or junkyard than a billboard.

Now they are planning on further invading our privacy.

New York Times: Businesses Are Turning to Beacons, and It’s Going to Be O.K.


Oct. 15, 2014

THE beacons are here. And they might not be all bad.

Beacons, tiny low-powered radio transmitters that send signals to phones just feet away, have quickly become a new front in the advertising industry’s chase to find you whenever, and exactly wherever, you are.

Although most consumers are just learning about these devices, tens or even hundreds of thousands of them have been installed across the country: outdoors on buildings, inside stores and even at National Football League and Major League Baseball stadiums.

The point of the devices is to send a specific signal, using low-energy Bluetooth, to phones that come into proximity, as long as those phones are running apps that can respond to the beacon. Those codes then set off an action on the phone, like a coupon, a reminder, a reward or just information. A beacon at the gates of a baseball stadium could open a map to the user’s seat and offer a beer or hot dog coupon.

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