Lawrence Krauss and “The Unbelievers”

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US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History

From Truth Out

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.

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Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

From The Guardian UK:

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

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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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Misogynistic Taliban Christian group calls Obama administration “irresponsible” for fast-tracking Ebola vaccines

From Salon:

The Woman Hating anti-abortion group Children of God for Life opposes new Ebola treatments being developed with stem cells

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

As the Obama administration faces ongoing backlash over its handling of the U.S. Ebola outbreak, a new criticism has emerged from the right — this time, over the administration’s clearest method of preventing the spread of the virus. On Thursday, the religious right-to-life group Children of God for Life issued a statement opposing federally funded projects to develop an Ebola vaccine that rely on the use of stem cells, calling the Obama administration “irresponsible” for approving them.

“It is completely irresponsible of this administration to put these problem vaccines on fast-track for approval and ignore the fact that a massive number of people may very well refuse them,” Children of God for Life director Debi Vinnedge said. “Why not fast track a product that everyone can use in good conscience?”

Judie Brown, president of COGFL affiliate organization American Life League issued a joint statement calling on “every person who values the life of every human being” to petition the Department of Health and Human Services, NIH, FDA and NIAID to stop research on two particular potential Ebola vaccines. “It is absolutely outrageous that a scientist would consider using aborted fetal cell lines in manufacturing any Ebola vaccine,” Brown said.

COFGL has also been known to push discredited claims that vaccines cause autism, Right Wing Watch reports.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization released a report estimating that as of Oct. 12, 4,493 people worldwide had died from Ebola. WHO also reported a total of 8,997 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola in seven countries, including the U.S.

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“Remove Israel from That Map!”

From Gatestone Institute:

by Khaled Abu Toameh
October 9, 2014

The uproar that erupted throughout the Arab world over the use of a map with Israel’s name on it is yet another reminder that many Arabs still have not come to terms with Israel’s existence — and apparently are not interested in coming to terms with it.

The protestors were not demanding a two-state solution and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They were protesting against Israel’s existence; that is what really bothers them.

How can anyone seriously expect that, if Israel pulled back to the pre-1967 lines, the Arab world will consider the “Israeli-Arab Conflict over?”

This conflict is not about a settlement or a checkpoint or a fence — but about Israel’s very existence. To make peace with Israel, the Arab world needs to prepare its people for such a move, and not incite violence against Israel and demand that it be removed from maps.

The Saudi MBC TV network was recently forced to apologize to its hundreds of millions of viewers for using the name Israel instead of Palestine.

The apology came after viewers strongly condemned the network and threatened to boycott its programs over the use of a map with Israel’s name on it.

The reason Israel appeared on the MBC’s map was because of the participation of two Arab citizens of Israel in its popular Arab Idol contest. The show, based on the popular British show Pop Idol, is the most widely viewed in the Arab world.

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Salman Rushdie slams ‘Islamophobe’ label: It’s right to be hostile to extremism

From Raw Story:

14 Oct 2014

In a speech denouncing the Islamic extremist group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and the “hate-filled rhetoric” of Islamic extremism, author Salman Rushdie warned that the world must come to grips with what he called “a new age of religious mayhem” perpetrated by Muslim fanatics.

U.K. news daily The Telegraph reported that Rushdie was addressing the audience at the PEN/Pinter Prize lecture, where he was honored for his achievements in literature. His 1989 book The Satanic Verses was considered blasphemy by hardline Muslims and as a result, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa on Rushdie’s life, meaning that by the dictates of the Muslim faith, the author must be killed.

Rushdie spent several years in hiding from zealots and fanatics who were out to silence him. Now, he said in his speech at the British Library on Sunday night, he sees young British Muslims being seduced by what he called “jihadi-cool” and worries that they will be used as foot soldiers to the nascent ultra-extremist movement forming in Syria and its neighbor Iraq.

In addition to grisly videos of beheadings and televised diatribes against the west, ISIS and its sympathizers have turned to rap videos and Internet screeds. Rushdie sees these recruitment tools as encoded hate speech designed to pull in the disaffected.

“It’s hard not to conclude that this hate-filled religious rhetoric, pouring from the mouths of ruthless fanatics into the ears of angry young men, has become the most dangerous new weapon in the world today,” he said.

“A word I dislike greatly, ‘Islamophobia’, has been coined to discredit those who point at these excesses, by labeling them as bigots,” he went on. “But in the first place, if I don’t like your ideas, it must be acceptable for me to say so, just as it is acceptable for you to say that you don’t like mine. Ideas cannot be ring-fenced just because they claim to have this or that fictional sky god on their side.”

“In the second place,” he said, “it’s important to remember that most of those who suffer under the yoke of the new Islamic fanaticism are other Muslims.”

“It is right to feel phobia towards such matters,” Rushdie declared. “As several commentators have said, what is being killed in Iraq is not just human beings, but a whole culture. To feel aversion towards such a force is not bigotry. It is the only possible response to the horror of events.”

“I can’t, as a citizen, avoid speaking of the horror of the world in this new age of religious mayhem, and of the language that conjures it up and justifies it,” he said.

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