Will Shopping Save Us?

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/25-1

by Danny Schechter
Published on Friday, November 25, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Today’s the day. It’s “Black Friday” (“black” as in the day our business supposedly go into the black.) This may not have been such a wise use of language since the Wall Street crash of 1929, ushering in the Great Depression, started on a “Black Thursday.”

Throughout America, an advertising-dominated media is plugging all the “bargains” while shoppers, hungry to save a few bucks, in a country where more than half of our families are barely making it, are off to the malls in an annual ritual that each year barely saves the retail outlets but adds costly bills to already squeezed and debt dependent consumers.

The easy availability of credit has created what Robert Manning calls our Credit Card Nation, where we are encouraged to shop until we drop. In the aftermath of the terror attacks of September l1, 2001, recall that President Bush made that point shamelessly when he told the American people that the best way to help in that traumatic period was to go shopping again.

He knew, even if most Americans didn’t, that it is their non-stop consumption that drives the economy. Without it, I guess, the terrorists could have won.

“In fact,” Robert Manning writes in his seminal book on credit cards, “with the ascendance of the post-industrial economy, bank credit cards have become an essential technological and financial tool for commercial transactions as well as an increasingly important macro-economic tool for U.S. policy-makers.”

And that is why this year, lobbyists for the retail shopping industry are begging the Federal Reserve Bank to further cut the costs of debit cards imposed by avaricious banks.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/25-1

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Buffy Sainte Marie

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Escobar: No war with Iran before 2012 elections

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Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/nov/24/frank-miller-hollywood-fascism

Fans were shocked when Batman writer Frank Miller furiously attacked the Occupy movement. They shouldn’t have been, says Rick Moody – he was just voicing Hollywood’s unspoken values

Rick Moody
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 24 November 2011

A sturdy corollary emerges in the wake of the graphic artist Frank Miller‘s recent diatribe against the Occupy Wall Street movement (“A pack of louts, thieves, and rapists … Wake up, pond scum, America is at war against a ruthless enemy”), available for perusal at frankmillerink.com). That corollary, of which we should be reminded from time to time, is this: popular entertainment from Hollywood is – to greater or lesser extent – propaganda. And Miller has his part in that, thanks to films such as 300 and Sin City.

Perhaps you have had this thought before. Perhaps you have had it often. I can remember politics dawning on me while watching a Steven Seagal vehicle, Under Siege, in 1992. I was in my early 30s. The film was without redeeming merit – there’s no other way to put it – and it was about a “ruthless enemy” and the reimposition of the American social order through violence and rugged individualism. Why had I paid hard-earned money for it? Good question. Before Under Siege, I had a tendency to think action films were funny. I had a sort of Brechtian relationship to their awfulness. And I was amused when films themselves recognised the level to which they stooped, as Under Siege assuredly did.

The moment of revelation could have come at any time. It could have come earlier, and it did among my more astute friends. Had I watched any of the later Rocky pictures, for example, or had I watched Rambo, I might have registered that there was little depicted in these frames but feel-good, reactionary message-deployment. But there were, apparently, films too embarrassing for me to see, Rocky IV and Rambo among them. I remember thinking True Lies, the abominable 1994 James Cameron film (featuring Republican governor-to-be Arnold Schwarzenegger), with its big, concluding nuclear blast – the nuclear blast we were meant to want to see – was, well, more than suspect. (I could never again watch a Cameron film without disgust. And that includes the racist, New Age blather of Avatar.) Or what about the expensive and aesthetically pretentious Gladiator (2000), which I still contend is an allegory about George W Bush’s candidacy for president, despite the fact that director and principal actor were not US citizens. Is it possible to think of a film such as Gladiator outside of its political subtext? Are Ridley Scott’s falling petals, which he seems to like so much that he puts them in his films over and over again, anything more than a way to gussy up the triumph of oligarchy, corporate capital and globalisation?

The types of men (almost always men) who have historically favoured the action film genre, it’s safe to say, are often, if not always, politically conservative: Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Mel Gibson, even Clint Eastwood (former Republican mayor of Carmel, California), all proud defenders of a conservative agenda, and/or justifiers of vigilantism. With some of these celebrities, the kneejerk qualities of their politics are self-evident, and in other cases (Eastwood), the reactionary part of their world view is more nuanced. But the brand of politics is the same.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/nov/24/frank-miller-hollywood-fascism

Robocops vs Occupy Wall St: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Tactics

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/153193/robocops_vs_occupy_wall_st%3A_the_rise_of_paramilitary_police_tactics/

The most aggressive policing originates in methods developed by law enforcement agencies in Miami in response to mass protests in 2003.

By Natasha Lennard
November 23, 2011

Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began in mid-September, protesters and reporters have been learning the hard way how diverse police departments handle large-scale street demonstrations — sometimes with rubber bullets, sometimes, as in Davis, Calif., with pepper spray in the face.

While police departments have deployed tear gas in cities including Denver, Seattle and on more than three separate occasions in Oakland, Calif., in response to Occupy street demonstrations, protesters in New York have been met with the sheer force of numbers, pepper spray, kettling nets to hold in crowds, and batons. Dozens have been hospitalized by a variety of crowd control tactics.

The tactics vary from city to city, but the most aggressive policing originates in methods developed by law enforcement agencies in Miami in response to large protests against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement in November 2003. Miami’s approach, in the words of Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle, created,  “a model … for the rest of the world to emulate in the future when these sort of events take place.”

In Miami more than 10,000 demonstrators converged on the downtown area, where a conference of trade ministers from 34 countries met to discuss the FTAA, which many South American nations opposed. Police in riot gear used rubber bullets, projectiles and batons to aggressively clear the streets of protesters. An estimated $8.5 million was spent on security for the FTAA conference and police forces from around the state were pulled in.  The ministers didn’t reach any agreement and at least 140 protesters were arrested. Many more were forcibly blocked from assembling.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/153193/robocops_vs_occupy_wall_st%3A_the_rise_of_paramilitary_police_tactics/

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Anonymous: Operation Horizon – Dec. 17th

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Weeding out corporate psychopaths

From The Toronto Star: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1091678–weeding-out-corporate-psychopaths

Mitchell Anderson
Published On Wed Nov 23 2011

Given the state of the global economy, it might not surprise you to learn that psychopaths may be controlling the world. Not violent criminals, but corporate psychopaths who nonetheless have a genetically inherited biochemical condition that prevents them from feeling normal human empathy.

Scientific research is revealing that 21st century financial institutions with a high rate of turnover and expanding global power have become highly attractive to psychopathic individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the companies they work for.

A peer-reviewed theoretical paper titled “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” details how highly placed psychopaths in the banking sector may have nearly brought down the world economy through their own inherent inability to care about the consequences of their actions.

The author of this paper, Clive Boddy, previously of Nottingham Trent University, believes this theory would go a long way to explain how senior managers acted in ways that were disastrous for the institutions they worked for, the investors they represented and the global economy at large.

If true, this also means the astronomically expensive public bailouts will not solve the problem since many of the morally impaired individuals who caused this mess likely remain in positions of power. Worse, they may be the same people advising governments on how to resolve this crisis.

To tackle this problem, we must instead examine this rare and curious condition, and why recent corporate history may have elevated precisely the wrong type of people to positions of great power and public trust.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1091678–weeding-out-corporate-psychopaths

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New Documentary Tracks Cultural Genocide of American Indians

From Truth Out: http://www.truth-out.org/new-documentary-tracks-cultural-genocide-american-indians/1322003627

by: Rose Aguilar
Thursday 24 November 2011

In 1892, US Army officer Richard Pratt delivered a speech in which he described his philosophy behind US government-run boarding schools for American Indians. “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one,” he said. “In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

From 1879 until the 1960s, more than 100,000 American Indian children were forced to attend boarding schools. Children were forcibly removed or kidnapped from their homes and taken to the schools. Families risked imprisonment if they stood in the way or attempted to take their children back.

Many of the country’s 100 schools were still active up until the 1970s. Generations of children were subjected to dehumanization, cruelty and beatings, all intended to strip them of their Native identity and culture. The ultimate goal was to “civilize” the children.

A new documentary, “The Thick Dark Fog,” shines a light on the traumatic boarding school experience through the telling of personal stories. The film focuses on Walter Littlemoon, a Lakota who was forced to attend a federal government boarding school on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in the 1950s. Littlemoon says his culture, language and spirituality were brutally suppressed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/new-documentary-tracks-cultural-genocide-american-indians/1322003627

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Pay Attention: How Big Pharma Contrived the Great American Adderall Drought

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/153176/pay_attention%3A_how_big_pharma_contrived_the_great_american_adderall_drought/

During the Great Ritalin Scare of 1993, shortages prompted thousands to switch to Adderall. Now, Shire is contriving an Adderall drought to convert patients to a new ADD drug.

By Moe Tkacik
November 22, 2011

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When Jay V.’s pharmacist told him about the nationwide Adderall shortages last weekend, he reacted as any economically rational finance professional would, and attempted to bribe her. Whatever the cost, “it’s cheaper than cocaine,” his reasoning went. And even if it isn’t, you can’t put a price on never having to go back to doing bumps in the work bathroom to get through late night deal committee meetings, can you?

Jay’s pharmacist said she was reserving her supply for regular customers, but that the price had doubled and the clock was ticking. “They’re down to one bottle,” Jay said, “and if I don’t get them a prescription by the end of next week I forfeit my right to it.” So long as he can tear himself away from one of the 16-hour days he cites as the reason he needs Adderall to begin with, he’ll be fine. At least, for the next month or so….

If addiction is the kind of thing you think about a lot, it’s easy to overlook its significance in the cold, objective Realpolitik scheme of things, which is this: it’s a great fucking business model. From the British East India Company to the Bronfman clan to Duke University, history is redolent of abject mediocrities who owe their billions to Big Addiction.

The best of the addiction-based business models are “addiction-proof” addictive drug, and the Adderall story is at its core the saga of a nearly century-long quest for this unattainable ideal. Amphetamine salt—Adderall’s active ingredient—has been the subject of heady dispute within the medical profession since the drug company Smith, Kline and French began peddling the stuff in 1935, but for decades just about the only thing medical community generally agreed about was that it was not addictive. The SKF sales department did, however, have a term for the loyalty it engendered among consumers: “stick.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/drugs/153176/pay_attention%3A_how_big_pharma_contrived_the_great_american_adderall_drought/

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Max Keiser on Europe’s Brave New Debt

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Greek police make first raid on university since fall of military junta

From World Socialist Web Site:  http://wsws.org/articles/2011/nov2011/gree-n24.shtml

By Robert Stevens
24 November 2011

Within days of being installed at the behest of the international financial elite, the new Greek coalition government led by top banker and prime minister Lucas Papademos has signalled its intention to impose cuts by authoritarian means.

On November 17 the government utilised the abolition in August of the Academic Asylum law by the previous social democratic PASOK government to authorise the police entry into a public university, at Thessaloniki, for the first time since 1982.

The Academic Asylum’ legislation law, barring the police from campuses, was passed in the early 1980s. It required police to seek the permission of a prosecutor before being able to enter the grounds of higher education establishments. Students were guaranteed sanctuary from arrest or state brutality.

The law was enacted in response to the brutal murder of students who took part in an uprising at the Polytechnic in Athens on November 17, 1973, by the US-backed military junta. On that day students launched strike action under the slogan of “bread, education, freedom”, against the Greek military, led by George Papadopoulos, which had taken power in 1967.

Since the fall of the junta in 1974, students, youth and workers throughout Greece have marked November 17 as the end of a three-day period of protests and remembrance of the victims of the Greek colonels’ regime.

This year, in the aftermath of the October 19-20 general strike that saw the largest protests on the streets since the fall of the junta, the Papademos regime quickly moved to crack down on the annual demonstrations.

As of November 15, a first instance prosecuting court was put on standby to “handle possible incidents” according to the Athens News Agency.

Continue reading at:  http://wsws.org/articles/2011/nov2011/gree-n24.shtml

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