Tag Archives: stranger in a strangeland

Doomsday

doomWell, the world hasn’t ended yet. But this may be a distinction without a difference, as they say, when we see how officious officials from every land and clime are hurriedly harkening a harrowing hell in a handbasket. Make up for lost time, boys, because the Mayan Calendar was off a spell!

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-21: Doomsday by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
Hall of the Mountain King – Apocalyptica
Rag Na Rok – GWAR
End Of The World – Aphrodite’s Child
The Four Horsemen – Iron Horse
Earth Died Screaming – Tom Waits
Kaamos – Apocalyptica
Coma – Apocalyptica
The End of the World – The Cure
Tiny Apocalypse – David Byrne
Hurry Down Doomsday – Elvis Costello
Do You Believe In Rapture? – Sonic Youth
Creeping Death – Apocalyptica
Beyond Time – Apocalyptica
Post-Apocalyptic Rap Blues – Busdriver
Prophecy – Iced Earth
Hope – Apocalyptica
The End – The Doors

I am dead set against entering yet another STUPID and RIDICULOUS gun control debate. I don’t want everyone’s guns taken away. I will say this; it is incredibly hypocritical to blame Hollywood and videogame FANTASY violence (which has no correlative effect) while defending what causes ACTUAL violence. It is hypocritical to get riled up about our rights to guns, but not the right to protest, the right to education, health care, decent wages… and hypocritical to think the federal government can be trusted putting armed personnel in schools..

But right-wing extremists have blamed everything from Obamacare, abortion, feminism, homosexuality, science, Hurricane Sandy, comedian Jon Stewart, sex, black rapists,  women and people of color for not being nice enough to white men as they’re robbed of privilege, they say we need stricter federal laws and controls on the mentally ill, like many of the Republicans’ diseased brains.

It’s a silly solution to suppose that a few armed civilians will stop doomsday. Most times they arrive too late, or after the shooting is already over, and these so-called ‘vigilantes’ are also usually police, security personnel, or even marines.

And what about in which citizens try to use their guns and things go terribly wrong? Shopping mall shooting in Tacoma, Washington, or Courthouse shooting in Tyler, Texas, where the armed interlocutors are shot dead instead of heroically saving the day. And as we saw earlier this year in Manhattan, even the police tend to wound many innocent bystanders when shooting after a perpetrator.

And just how do we keep weapons out of the hands of mentally ill people. It’s frighteningly easy for people with serious psychiatric problems to purchase weapons, thanks to the NRA’s past efforts. 40 percent of private gun sales don’t require buyers to be vetted.

The law also defines disqualifying mental illness narrowly. It only forbids gun sales to people who have been determined by a court to be seriously mentally ill, or who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. This means that the system often overlooks dangerous and disturbed people who don’t have a paper trail. Many states submit little to no mental health data to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System

“We have no idea how many prohibited people there are in the United States,” John Strong, chief of the FBI section overseeing the NICS “We’re not even close to being able to know.”

Surveillance as a substitute for gun control is no idle threat. In the age of anti-terrorism, courts have already permitted the National Security Agency to troll among otherwise confidential records—everything from cell phone and computer-information trails to bank and insurance company records. The Fourth Amendment, which usually requires a warrant for invasion of privacy, has been simply waived.

Any minute now, they could decide that treating and serving the poor mentally ill is not adequate, and put them all on a registry instead. The NSA could create a database in which half of Americans are classified as potential mass killers.

The problem is the gross underfunding of known treatments that work. Adding stigma and surveillance while not adding funds would only make an injustice that much worse.

But I’m not condemning the NRA for their delayed response (I would have preferred them to have shut up longer), or even the atrocious and tone-deaf and reactionary stances they take. They’re like any lobbyist, and their toxic beliefs are seen as normalized and powerful because their speech and deregulated money are one and the same in Washington DC.

Lobbyists in general are bringing about the end times, and the infernal revolving door between government and big business.

We see it with gun advocates, health insurance “providers”, private prisons, wall street, and the so-called public officials that are supposed to regulate them. But why would you regulate your own job? The industry spends as much as $8 billion a year and employs some 100,000 people, including former government staffers who make far more than they did on the public payroll.

A third of those leaving Congress after the 2010 elections became lobbyists, making between half a million to millions of dollars.

And a lot of this greedy, shady, behind closed doors decision making and networking and coordination of disparate objectives is facilitated by right-wing group ALEC.

Israeli lobbyists push us to be more hawkish. And Wall Street lobbyists push hard to cut entitlements and funnel more public money into their pockets. It defies logic and fairness to give more tax breaks to the wealthy while cutting benefits for the near-poor.

Right-wing Un-Americans aren’t particularly interested in a smaller, less intrusive government—if that were the case, they’d support a large reduction in military spending, and the overall national security state. Instead, Republicans are reliable supporters of large increases to military spending, and—as we saw with Paul Ryan’s budget—are willing to drastically cut social services (which will yield very little in savings but affect the middle and lower class) in order to fund greater spending on military. Cuts that significantly harm the elderly.

CNN/ORC International poll also indicates that a slight majority of Americans sees the Republican party’s policies and views as too extreme, a first for the GOP, and fewer than a third say they trust congressional Republicans more than President Barack Obama to deal with the major issues facing the nation.

53% say the GOP should compromise more, with 41% saying the Democratic Party should. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say they view the policies of the GOP as too extreme, up 17 points from two years ago. Only 37% say they view the polices of the Democratic Party as too extreme. Nearly half (48%) would blame the GOP if the fiscal cliff occurs

Instead of heeding the public, as always, the Republicans are holding the economy hostage.

Our supposedly infallible U.S. Constitution is failing Americans because our current parties are not capable of reacting to national emergencies. The temper tantrums and ‘tyranny of the minority’ cannot accept results of a presidential election, cannot compromise, and cannot return to debate now.

Obama seems all too happy to fall right over for them. Either weak, or co-conspirator in the destabilization of the middle class via “right to work” laws, weaker unions and lower benefits and wages.

We live in a country that bans people trying to get their lives back in order from getting government assistance. They are keeping Americans from getting back to work.

There’s a two-tier justice system in America. Need proof? Bankers for HSBC were found guilty of laundering billions of dollars for drug cartels and groups linked to al-Qaeda. Their punishment? Pay a small portion of their billions of profit, and defer bonuses.

But not all the billionaires are evil scumbags:

The group United for a Fair Economy organized a project called Responsible Wealth, which includes prominent Americans such as Warren Buffett, George Soros, Robert Rubin and Abigail Disney. The group is calling for the implementation of a Responsible Estate Tax proposal that would raise new revenue while spurring deep and damaging budget cuts.

The proposal is significantly stronger than President Barack Obama’s proposal on the estate tax. The rich Americans part of this project are calling for the estate tax level to return to its pre-George W. Bush rates, which would “raise a half a trillion dollars—$536 billion—over 10 years.” Obama’s proposal, on the other hand, “leaves $256 billion of that revenue on the table,” the group says,

Some CEOs have come out of the cult, and admit that tax cuts for them don’t create jobs:

Bill Harris, the former CEO of PayPal and Intuit (the giant software company whose main clients are small business), and the current CEO of Personal Capital, recently wrote a column in Forbes headlined “Tax Cuts Don’t Create Jobs.”

“what do entrepreneurs need to grow companies and create jobs? I think it’s not tax cuts. Issues like marginal tax rates are just not in the consideration set of entrepreneurial companies. They’re thinking about funding or growing or evolving or investing. What they do need is a healthy economy, because then consumers will go out and spend and buy things that new companies are selling.”

Because there are things we could do now to cut the deficit without touching our social programs.

  1. Close multiple loopholes in the capital gains law: $174.2 billion. (1.42x)
  1. Refuse to compromise on the president’s $250,000 figure for increased taxation: $183 billion (1.5x)
  2. Reduce the budget for U.S. overseas military bases by 20 percent: $200 billion. (1.6x)
  3. Allow the government to negotiate with drug companies: $220 billion. (1.8x)
  4. Enact DoD-friendly cuts to military budget: $519 billion. (4.25x)
  5. Eliminate corporate tax loopholes: $1.24 trillion (10x)
  6. Create a financial transactions tax for high-volume Wall Street trading: $1.8 trillion (14.75x)
  7. Enact Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s ‘Fairness in Taxation Act’ for very high earners: $872.5 billion. (7.15x)

The bill adds the following tax brackets:

  • $1-10 million: 45%
  • $10-20 million: 46%
  • $20-100 million: 47%
  • $100 million to $1 billion: 48%
  • $1 billion and over: 49%

We need to do something. Wealthy political investors will keep pouring money into politics—until they’re stopped.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-21: Doomsday by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Voynich

voynichThis week we eschew that media violence to discuss the mysterious Voynich Manuscript with aaronJacob, some of the more ridiculous beliefs surrounding it, and even the more sane claims. We’ll hear clips from Terence McKenna and Brian Dunning, and consider everything from Rosicrucians, secret alchemical societies, spirits and seances, psychedelic visions, time travel and even the Necronomicon.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-15: Voynich by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
Hall Of The Mountain King – Self Diagnosis
the history of utah – camper van beethoven
The Magic City – Sun Ra
Music For Electric Violin – Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa
The Garbage State – R. Stevie Moore
Man Of Mystery – The Shadows
Strangers From the Sky – Kim Fowley
Song of the death machine (1970) – Bruce Haack
Polaris – Man Or Astroman
Principles Unknown – Man Or Astroman
Space Prophet Dogon – Sun City Girls
Dengue Fever – Flowers
Misterioso – Thelonious Monk
Sap Alan On The Tellial – Mong Hang

We spend the rest of the show discussing skepticism, science, atheism, bias and reasonable reactions to political travesties.

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

The Naughty List

Stock PhotoSince Christmas is coming, and The Stranger has plans to talk to Santa this month, it only seems fitting to compile a list of those who have been very naughty on a societal level, to save old Saint Nick the burdensome time involved. After all, he’ll need that extra time to shovel massive amounts of coal (which Mitt Romney would actually love). Beyond these ne’er-do-wells, we’ll take a look at some of the toys and gadgets that humanity are using both as tools for good and instruments of evil.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-08: The Naughty List by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Funk United
Why Don’t You Take Us – Sky King
Peace And Love (Movement I-V) – Mandrill
Garden Of Paradise – Steve Hillage
Dream Weaver – Gary Wright
Dreams/Comrades – Stark Reality
Smokey Joe The Dreamer – Bullet
Dream Sequence – Amon Tobin
In-flux – DJ Shadow
When Happening – Bleubird
Bill Murray – Gorillaz
Devoted Bone Dance – Faust
The Grid – Philip Glass
Silver – Bonobo
In The Music (w/Malik B.) – The Roots
Il Ponte Di Corde – Ennio Morricone
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) – Nancy Sinatra

Another Pew Survey finds that most Americans would lay the blame on Republicans if no “fiscal cliff” deal is reached by the end of the year.

The poll finds that 53 percent say Republicans in Congress would be blamed, while 27 percent say President Obama would be to blame, down from 29 percent last time.

Of course, the fake fiscal cliff ignores other, very real cliffs in this country: The child poverty cliff. Education. The Baby-boomer healthcare cliff. The environment.

And that naughty GOP stands obstinate against raising taxes on the wealthy, but is planning to raise taxes on the wretched middle classes, cutting the spending that helps them and throwing them over the cliff. They are a group of despicable tax extremists, with a full quarter of registered Republicans in the country say they want to secede from the United States , Public Policy Polling (PPP) reports. The polling company posted a Twitter message yesterday that read: “25% of Republicans want their state to secede on account of Obama’s reelection.”

49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore.

This week they turned against their own Bob Dole to challenge a Civil Rights bill, and fought against the UN’s disability rights rules (which had no enforcement, anyway) based on their outmoded and baseless conspiracy theories:

  • UN Disability Treaty ‘Undermines American Sovereignty’
  • Agenda 21
  • UN Arms Trade Treaty
  • Reparations for Climate Change

Our only hope now is that the GOP will purge the most awful in their party, in hopes that Santa Claus will spare them.

The courts aren’t much better, granting more power to corporations over actual individual humans, far beyond the U.S. Supreme Court 2010 Citizens United ruling.

  1. Secret Courts For Consumer Products
  2. Corporate Religious Freedom
  3. Employment-Employee Arbitration Denied a Day In Court
  4. Patent Rulings Also Extending Corporate Clout

So these giant financial fictions have been using every tool at their disposal to hollow out America and put us on the verge of DEBTPOCALYPSE! Can we really blame our judges and politicians for merely being tools?

40 years of austerity politics have hollowed out the heartland, as financial wizards of Wall Street gobbled up ever more of the nation’s resources.

The financial services industry alone takes as much as $635 billion from the real economy annually, a ‘creative extraction‘ for financial services they call “capital intermediation pipeline”. But the advancement of technology and quantitative analysis should have made the process less expensive. But they have not. Capital intermediation is now more costly than it was in the days of JP Morgan (adjusted for inflation).

New research points out that capital intermediation costs have been rising since 1980, coincident with the beginning of three and a half decades of deregulation. The average financial sector share of the GDP over the 20 years prior to 1980 (4.2 percent), the current financial sector share of GDP, 8.3 percent, means that the amount of GDP represented by the financial sector is $635 billion higher each year than it would be based on its GDP share before the Great Deregulation Experiment began.

Capital intermediation is the process through which the economy determines which productive activities, if any, will be implemented. It is how the supply of jobs for the American public is replenished and preserved. A broad and diverse supply of new jobs better assures that income and wealth will be fairly and evenly distributed. The public bears the cost of the value extracted by the financial sector by exploiting distortions in this critically important process, distortions that it often creates to generate higher profits.

In short, it’s as if there were a tax on the non-financial portions of the economy that redistributes wealth to the financial sector.

Financial markets work efficiently when prices are transparent and fairly reflect fundamental value. Consumers cannot know which ones to trust, and which ones to bust. Corporations have been on a record-shattering crime spree;

  • Wells Fargo paid a $175 million settlement after the feds caught its brokers systematically pushing minority customers into mortgages with higher rates and fees, even though they posed the same credit risks as whites. One study found that Wells Fargo charged Hispanics $2,000 more in what the Justice Department called a “racial surtax.” The bank docked blacks nearly $3,000 extra

And while this massive civil rights fraud was perpetrated against 30,000 customers, the settlement amounted to just .011 percent of the San Francisco bank’s annual income.

  • U.S. Bank also swindled its customers. Instead of logging debit card purchases in the order they were made, the bank rearranged them from highest amount to lowest, the better to artificially stick customers with overdraft fees. U.S. Bank paid $55 million to settle a class action suit in July. It was the 13th major bank caught running this scam.
  • American Express. It promised $300 to anyone who signed up for its Blue Sky card, then decided it would be way better to just stiff them. The company was also caught charging illegal late fees and discriminating against older applicants.
  • Bank of America was caught illegally foreclosing on the homes of active-duty soldiers. Visa and MasterCard were charged with fixing the prices they charged merchants to process credit card payments. Morgan Stanley colluded to drive up New York electricity prices. And in the most depraved case of all, Morgan Stanley was even sued for allegedly swindling Irish nuns in an investment deal.

Yet not a single boss went to jail.

This is the new Mafioso, with Senators and judges in their pockets. Most never see a day in court, or settle for just a fraction of what they’ve stolen. Many deny any wrongdoing and still see their wealth and stock prices rise. They also unleash far more damage on the world stage than any Mafia don.

They’re hitting the media echo chamber they own and love, both Republicans and Democrats, to advocate the shredding of the social safety net that Americans need and love. They want to bleed every last drop from us.

The group includes Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, Honeywell’s David Cote, Aetna’s Mark Bertolini, Delta Airlines’ Richard Anderson, Boeing’s W. James McNerney, and over 100 other influential business honchos and their supporters.

These CEOs talk about shared sacrifice, but it seems that they don’t intend to share anything but your retirement money with their wealthy friends.

Many more obscenely rich whiners and ‘takers‘ are deserving of a kinky visit from the Krampus:

  • Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO, Goldman, Sachs & Co.
  • Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric Company
  • Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co
  • Carly Fiorina, David Cote The CEO of Honeywell International, David Siegel (Westgate resorts), John Metz…

Others destroy jobs rather than give back, dishonestly claiming that they can ‘fix the debt’ by slashing their own taxes:

  • Randall Stephenson, AT&T
    Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 6.3%
    U.S. job layoffs since 2007: 54,000
  • Lowell McAdam, Verizon
    Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: -3.3%
    U.S. job layoffs since 2007: 30,000
  • David Cote, Honeywell
    Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: -14.8%
    U.S. job layoffs since 2007: 4,000
  • Kenneth Frazier, Merck
    Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 13.2%
    U.S. job layoffs since 2007: 13,000
  • Terry Lundgren, Macy’s
    Average effective federal corporate income tax rate, 2009-2011: 20.7%
    U.S. job layoffs since 2007: 7,000

And let’s not forget the Koch Brothers and their insidiously well-funded ALEC, and the many shills of phony “public servants” they’ve paid for:

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that he would sign so-called “right to work” legislation designed to gut union membership in the auto capital of the world. He’s funded by the Koch brothers, and the legislation is typically, from ALEC.

The Capitol bldg in Michigan was chaotic as police peppersprayed protesters and locked down the building, forcing Democrats to seek a court order to get the doors open again. “It’s not only anti-worker, its anti-democratic,”

Right to work bills prohibit unions from requiring all members to pay dues. The laws make it much harder for unions to organize and exist. They have long been used in the South to push down wages and weaken worker movements. The Michigan bill will apply to both public and private sector unions.

At a time when working families are struggling, the Michigan GOP decided it was a fine time to push for a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions, while at the same time kneecapping their chief opponents in the political arena — organized workers.

But there has to be some ways to stop the bleeding caused by psychopathic plutocrats and their corporate fraud, rogue traders, rate fixing, and money laundering.

The Rich Don’t Always Win explores a host of these proposals.

Leverage the power of the public purse against excessive corporate executive pay. Congress couldn’t directly set limits on private corporate executive pay, yesterday’s progressives understood. But Congress could impose limits indirectly by denying federal government contracts and subsidies to corporations that lavished rewards on top executives.

In 1933, then-senator and later Supreme Court justice Hugo Black won congressional approval for legislation that denied federal air- and ocean-mail contracts to companies that paid their execs over $17,500, about $300,000 in today’s dollars.

But the New Deal never fully embraced the Hugo Black perspective. We could now, by denying federal contracts and tax breaks to any companies that pay their CEOs over 25 times what their workers are making.

Give Americans a safe alternative to private banks. For Louis Brandeis, a reform giant who also became a Supreme Court justice, prohibiting financial institutions from speculating with the savings of average Americans always remained a top priority.

In the early 1930s, Brandeis advocated the expansion of postal savings banks, a system — in effect since 1911 — that paid 2 percent interest on modest savings accounts maintained with the post office. That expansion never took place, and postal savings banks withered away.

Tax undistributed corporate profits. America’s biggest corporations are currently sitting on stashes of cash that have hit mega-billion levels.

Cap income at America’s economic summit. In 1942, in the midst of a war-time fiscal squeeze, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed a 100 percent tax on all individual income over $25,000, the equivalent of about $355,000 today.

Congress didn’t go along. But lawmakers did set the top tax rate at 94 percent on income over $200,000, and federal income tax top rates hovered around 90 percent for most of the next two decades, years of unprecedented prosperity.

We could, for instance, set the entry threshold for a new 90 percent top rate as a multiple of our nation’s minimum wage. The higher the minimum wage, the higher the threshold, the softer the total tax bite out of the nation’s highest incomes.

Our nation’s wealthiest and most powerful, under this approach, would suddenly have a vested interest in enhancing the well-being of our poorest and weakest.

Even former NY Gov Eliot Spitzer is advocating a tax on the trades made by the financial industries: A tax of less than half a percent on every $100 of stock sales or sales of other financial instruments including bonds, derivatives, and options. The tax could raise anywhere from $170 billion to $350 billion per year depending how it was applied.

The real way to Fix the Debt: End Corporate Entitlements and Demand Big Business Pays Its Fair Share.

The plutocrats are indeed a little worried in their towers; after spending millions to defeat Elizabeth Warren, she was elected anyway and will serve on the Senate’s Banking Committee, where she will have “influence over regulators and the industry that non-panel members don’t enjoy.”

She has built her career on being a progressive who fights against banks and big money. Warren was attacked during the election by the likes of the US Chamber of Commerce, who called her a “threat to free enterprise.” I, for one, would welcome that hatred.

In other good news, the Defense Department has begun planning for the roughly $500 billion in major cuts to their spending. Just the thing the doctor ordered for the debt and deficit, considering that our militarization accounts for the majority of our budget.

Of course, extrajudicial imprisonment and indefinite detention for Americans are still very much in the power of said military, what with the doubling down of the NDAA by traitors like Dianne Feinstein.

And Bradley Manning, who testified that he thought he would die in custody, serves as a canary to the sort of brutal treatment we all could face for standing up for our rights, our conscience, or against war crimes.

“Brad’s treatment at Quantico will forever be etched in our nation’s history as a disgraceful moment in time… Not only was it stupid and counterproductive – it was criminal,” ~Manning’s defense attorney David Combs said in his first-ever public appearance regarding US v. Manning.

Even the drone program, lauded by Democrats and Republicans alike for its efficiency at killing brown people, may have been copied by Iranian military, who are claiming to have shot down another.

Newly released records of drone licenses reveal extensive domestic surveillance within the continental United States.

These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

Air Force’s drone operators sometimes practice surveillance missions by tracking civilian cars along the highways.

Local police, military, even the corporations fused together to target American civilians.

Your email, saved messages, phone records, location data, IP addresses, text messages, cloud data, social media information, all of it has become available to law enforcement without a warrantThere are countless ways that the police can spy on you now without a warrantand the cops can pull some pretty outrageous stunts and get away with them:

  • The NYPD’s Demographics Unit has engaged in a massive surveillance program of Warrantless home surveillance, Infiltration, informants and monitoring similar to the COINTELPRO against activists in the 1960s.
  • Preemptive visits and harassment. One of the favorite tactics of police departments is targeting activists a day before a large event, even extrajudicial preemptive arrests.
  • Creating call logs from stolen phones. If you lose your phone in NYC and report it to the police, they’ll help you find it. So far, so good. Where the agreement turns pear-shaped, however, is what they do with your call logs. The NYPD subpoenas your call log from the day it was stolen onward, under the logic that the records could help find your phone, adding your information to a database called the Enterprise Case Management System, and the numbers are hyperlinked for cross-referencing. The call logs, all obtained without a court order and often without the victim’s permission or knowledge, could “conceivably be used for any investigative purpose,”
  • Stop and frisk.
  • Operation Pipeline.
  • Police dogs with the “Clever Hans effect” 
  • Surveillance drones.
  • For-profit Prisons.
  • School-to-prison pipelines. 
  • Scary capabilities to track you wherever you’re driving.

But, as with any technology, it can be used for good as well as evil. Mother Jones lists a few ways that drones, for instance, may be co-opted by the forces of productivity, science, and justice:

  • Farming: The Japanese have used robo-crop-dusters for decades, monitor the growth of crops, And with the shortage of skilled ag pilots, drones could very well swoop in.
  • Chasing storms
  • Catching poachers: The WWF just won a $5 million Google grant to implement a drone-based poacher surveillance system in Asia and Africa.
  • Watching the environment: The scientists who came up with the WWF drones have already used them to monitor orangutans and deforestation in Indonesia. The US Geological Survey also has a whole office devoted to drone projects.
  • Going into the danger zone: In the first weeks after the Fukushima nuclear disaster
  • Protecting human rights: On the flip side, some activists have suggested drones can be used to monitor human rights violations. The cofounders of the Genocide Intervention Network have argued that drones should be used by human rights organizations to document violence in Syria, where the government has tried to silence journalists with targeted killings.
  • Journalism: *Ulp* Is this another form of automation that may put me out of a job?

If you’re likewise afraid of being replaced, consider the future of replacing your own parts with cybernetics. The world’s largest brain simulation is underway, with 2.5 million simulated neurons:

With 2.5 million simulated neurons, a team of researchers at the University of Waterloo have claimed the world’s largest functioning model of the brain. Called Spaun (short for Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network), the model “captures biological details of each neuron, including which neurotransmitters are used, how voltages are generated in the cell, and how they communicate. Spaun uses this network of neurons to process visual images to control an arm that draws Spaun’s answers to perceptual, cognitive and motor tasks.”

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-08: The Naughty List by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Confusion

obama 2 cropNow that we’ve disentangled the quantum data, my mind has been struggling to reassemble and compartmentalize the various strings from that theory. Or perhaps it’s just my political junkie nature which is causing me to shake and tremble so violently from the confusing current events and media spin?

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-01: Confusion by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Christian Elsässer
What Difference a Day Makes – Dinah Washington
Confusion – Fela Kuti
Who Do You Love – Bo Diddley
Time Is Marching – John Lee Hooker
A Foggy Day – Billie Holiday
In A Silent Way / Shhh Peaceful / It’s About That Time (Bill Laswell Mix) – Miles Davis
Il Ricordo Di Serena – Riz Ortolani
Neurotico – Sergio Mendes
Inutil Paisagem (Useless Landscape) 3’11 – Antonio Carlos Jobim
Cubano Chant – Art Blakey
Mara-Jat’s Love – Alberto Baldan Bembo
Machine Gun – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Nautilus (Rob Swift Scratch Remix) – Bob James
Look To The Sun – Guru
Bridge on the Ninth Dimension – Sun Ra
I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know – Blood, Sweat & Tears
Whole Lotta Love – Ike & Tina Turner
The Thrill is Gone – Chet Baker
A Very Precious Time – Gil Scott Heron and Brian Jack

A look at the electoral map reveals that America isn’t mostly red or blue, but largely purple. Something that we’ve known for some time on this show, and will continue to represent going forward. After all, if you’re going to drink somebody’s Kool-Aid, purple is the best flavor.

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American voters rejected voter id, racist rhetoric, class war politics, and saw that Obama’s efforts to stimulate the economy were working (slowly) and needed more time to honestly kick off.

We must avoid a false “centrism” that has been pulled to the right along with the other loud loonies, and dispel with notions of compromise that are actually false dilemmas.

As Bill Maher put it, “There’s no third term, Mr. President, so you may as well throw caution to the wind, ’cause it’s not like we’re using it to produce energy.” Because “if not now, when?”

Americans aren’t stupid. And we know what to expect. A national CNN/ORC poll found that the expectations for Congress in the budget showdown are low, with two-thirds of respondents saying they expect lawmakers to act like ”spoiled children,” not “responsible adults,” during the negotiations.

77 percent of those surveyed also said they believe they would be personally impacted if the country is allowed to go off the “fiscal cliff” – but if that happens, 45 percent said they would blame Congressional Republicans, as opposed to 34 percent who would blame Obama.

AlterNet covers the various social programs that are being threatened by our esteemed leaders:

  • Medicaid ( $258 billion ): Though Obama has largely targeted providers for potential Medicaid cuts, Republicans want beneficiaries to fork over more. In which case, says Kogan, patients might be forced to make copayments, or program costs may be shifted to the states, which could decide to scale back coverage.
  • Food Stamps ( $78 billion in 2011) : The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program serves about 45 million people . It is not part of discretionary spending, but Ellen Nissenbaum, senior vice president for government affairs at CBPP, toldThe Nation it faces a real prospect of being cut in negotiations.
  • Supplemental Security Income ( $47 billion ): Social Security itself is mostly off the table, but Supplemental Security Income for the blind, elderly, and disabled, is likely to take a hit
  • Pell Grants ( $36 billion ): These need-based grants help some 10 million low-income students afford college.
  • Title 1 Education Grants
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance
  • Job Training
  • Head Start
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
  • Community Health Centers
  • Women, Infants and Children ($8.9 million in 2011): The Department of Agriculture’s WIC programhelps low-income moms and babies get access to supplemental nutrition and health care referrals. WIC has about 9 million participants , most of whom are kids.

The entire debate is stupid. Obama won the election based (partly) on promises raise taxes on the extremely wealthy, but Republicans would rather hock damaging “entitlement reform” than raise taxes one penny. In other words, “asking old people to work longer and accept less in return.”

Cutting (or “reforming”) Medicare in response to a pseudo-crisis invented by Congress would be an effective way to prove that liberal conspiracists are correct when they claim that all deficit hysteria is merely an excuse to roll back social insurance programs.

Any “serious” and “responsible” discussion must love austerity and upward-redistribution. Any precondition for cooperation is for Democrats to support Bush-era tax rates (which we are still in, btw)!

According to the conventional wisdom, any grand bargain should be modeled on plans like the Bowles-Simpson plan or the Rivlin-Domenici plan — financing lower tax rates on the rich by closing tax loopholes and cutting Social Security and Medicare. Social Security does not and cannot add to the deficit, and both programs only need minor tweaks, but are overall sustainable for decades.

But there is no evidence that the low tax rates on the wealthy encourage them to spend or invest, no evidence that higher tax rates would deter the spending and investment that they might otherwise do.

Via The Next New Deal:

The Simpson-Bowles budget balancing plan seems to have become the common-sense standard for dealing with America’s future budget deficits. this move toward the right is dangerous to the future of the nation and essentially cruel—far more dangerous than the level of the deficit over the next 15 years. The commission proposed cuts in Social Security benefits of 15 percent for medium earners, for example. The right-wing Heritage Foundation spawned many of their ideas, and any progressive notions like those of Paul Volcker or Warren Buffett, seem to be watered down or cut out or ignored.

But these lies that the rich promote growth and that America can’t afford the Social Security that we’ve already been paying into are repeated often enough that they become ‘Beltway wisdom’. But no amount of repetition will turn them into facts.

The United States needs a middle-class welfare state that is bigger, not smaller. It’s the restricted, elitist private welfare state that needs to be cut, not the universal public social insurance system. Most industrial nations do not rely as heavily on private over public programs as we do here (retirement security and health care are prime examples). Deficit hawks would make cuts to stingy social security benefits, leaving the poor, the old, and the laborers to the mercy of their employer’s fickle pension programs, 401Ks and IRAs.

George Bush failed to privatize our social programs due to public outrage and popular outcry, but the con artists are still trying to take what little pittance is left form the elderly, compelling them to gamble their savings in the private markets and mutual funds.

Their objective is to compel Americans to try to make up the losses in public benefits by gambling more with their savings in mutual funds, from which hefty profits will be skimmed by overpaid money managers. Meanwhile, unscrupulous money managers capture many of the returns from private investments for themselves via deceptive fees. Wall Street wants to charge fees on as much of our programs as it can.

Furthermore, there is no looming crisis of debt or deficits, such that sacrifices in general are necessary. None. Not in the short run – as almost everyone agrees.  But also: not in the long run.  What we have are computer projections, based on arbitrary – and suspicious – assumptions. CBO has adjusted its interest rate forecast, and even under its “alternative fiscal scenario” the debt/GDP ratio now stabilizes after a few years.

There is no looming crisis of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, such that these programs must be reformed?  There just isn’t!  Social insurance programs are not businesses. They are not required to make a profit; they need not be funded from any particular stream of tax revenues over any particular time.  Reasonable control of health care costs – public and private – is necessary and also sufficient to keep the costs of Medicare and Medicaid within bounds, but none of our politicians are speaking about this.

They are more concerned about military sequestration, even though Pentagon spending is already set to decline as we adjust our military programs to our national security needs.

Social Security doesn’t add a penny to the debt and should not be part of any deficit reduction talks.” ~Sen. Dick Durbin

“cutting Social Security and Medicare for the sake of an arbitrary and needless budgetary reduction of $4 trillion and as a “solution” to an entirely contrived fiscal crisis is bad policy. It is bad economic policy and worse social policy. And for Democrats, it is dumb politics. If Republicans want to be the ones to attack America’s two most valued social programs, Obama should let them go right ahead—until they march off their own fiscal cliff.” ~Rob Kuttner

Medicare and Medicaid aren’t “chief drivers of the deficit”; Bush tax cuts and two unfunded wars are. The best solution to deficits is to let all the Bush tax cuts lapse and not cut spending at all, while taxing capital gains and dividends as regular income. This would raise some $2 trillion, which the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities argues would be enough deficit reduction to stabilize the national debt.

Instead we have dishonest actors who would gladly lead us over their own constructed “cliff” rather than lead to real solutions, avert mythical problems as opposed to real ones.

Even ignoring that it was entirely invented, the “fiscal cliff” is not even a cliff. All of the tax and spending cuts “scheduled” to take effect Dec. 31 will take effect gradually, and can be reversed by Congress.

Why try to make a deal with this Congress, anyway, when the next one will have more Democrats, and most important, more liberals, on both the House and the Senate side?

The Brookings Institution held panels on the future budget, and in general, centrists on those panels agreed that spending as a percent of GDP should be 23 to 25 percent 20 years from now. He thinks the Simpson-Bowles plan is simply wrong for America. In truth, Social Security is inadequate today, and Medicaid tragically so.

All this while a few of the country’s wealthiest and most patriotic billionaires are calling to for more taxes on themselves.

“Let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if – gasp – capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.” ~Billionaire investor Warren Buffett

But most of the rich feel so entitled, they claim that anything that hurts them will also hurt the economy. They are essentially threatening ‘a knife to the throat of America’s frail recovery.’

Via In These Times:

The GOP sore losers have America up against a wall. Republicans don’t care that the majority of the country voted for a candidate who promised to raise taxes on the rich. Republicans don’t care that an even larger majority—60 percent—told election day pollsters they wanted those taxes raised. Republicans don’t care about majority-rule democracy at all. They’re demanding ransom—extension of tax cuts for the rich. If Americans don’t submit, Republicans will slash the nation’s economy.

The party that lost the Presidency, lost seats in the House and lost seats in the Senate is willing to take down the economy, to eviscerate programs like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration rather than require the entitled rich pull their weight as citizens of the country that enabled them to live lives of unprecedented luxury.

Romney and the GOP said that Obama bought his votes with promises of gifts, but THEY don’t think they were buying the votes of the rich with their promise to add another 20 percent break on top of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest.

That’s because they believe they’re entitled. They derisively refer to the social safety net programs that prevent the nation’s poor and elderly from being reduced to eating cat food as “entitlements.” But it’s the entitled rich—Romney, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and their ilk—who demand that America give them “stuff” like tax breaks for sending jobs overseas, like tax loopholes for hoarding their assets in the Caymans, like government-paid roads and sewers and rail lines to their businesses.

The CEOs, calling themselves the “Fix the Debt” coalition, claim they’ll pay a secret amount more in taxes if the 99 percent suffers cuts to its social safety net and endures slashed government programs, just accepts cat food as its meat course.

They’ve proposed extending the tax cuts for the 98 percent right now. The richest two percent would benefit from these breaks as well, receiving them on the first $250,000 of their earnings. Everybody gets something. This proposal passed the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Republican-controlled House refuses to even vote on it.

That gap between America’s high-income and middle-income households, after all, has been growing almost as fast as the gap between rich and poor.

A new income inequality study from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute has found that in the three-year span from 2008 through 2010, in 15 different states, our most affluent 20 percent averaged over eight times the income of our poorest 20 percent. Back in the late 1970s, the new Pulling Apart points out, not one single state had a top-to-bottom ratio that ran over eight times.

In all 50 states, the gap between top 20 and middle 20 percent has widened “significantly.” The gap between middle 20 percent and top 5 percent has widened even more. By almost five times in the largest states.

Plus, these Census surveys do not even take into account income from capital gains. 87 percent of all capital gains “will go to families in the top 5 percent of the U.S. income distribution.”

Rising inequality, they contend, “adversely affects our economy and political system.” They eat away at our social cohesion. Deeply unequal societies just don’t work together in a democracy. The rich in these societies live apart, in their own private universes.

Here are some other numbers the conservative rich would rather have ignored, distorted or fudged:

  1. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.
  2. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs: According to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds.
  3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.
  4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession: After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.
  5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.
  6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.
  7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.
  8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.
  9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.
  10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.

We have the radical right to thank for much of this. There will always be those in the GOP, or proudly to its right, who will protest any policy movement toward the center as an abandonment of conservative principles.

You are allowed to believe whatever you want in America, but remember that false beliefs ultimately lead to suffering.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-01: Confusion by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Alternate Reality

alternaterealityWell, the quantum experiment failed, and I’ve been so depressed about the results of the election that I haven’t done a show in two weeks. Of course, when things change, it’s not always for the better, so we’ll be looking at what dystopic world now surrounds us, and if it was really that different than the indefinite, extra-judicial despotism we were bound for, anyway.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-11-24: Alternate Reality by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Duke Ellington
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out – Bessie Smith
Offertorium: Terra tremuit et quievit – Anonymous
Village Green/Village Green Preservation Society – Ray Davies
All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast – Bill Callahan
On A Good Day – Joanna Newsom
Meditation of the Night – Benjy Wertheimer
Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals
Went Home Today – Merriday Park
Flame Sky – Santana
Lucky Man – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Kid Charlemagne – Steely Dan
Where Have All The Good Times Gone – David Bowie
Looking for Safety – Steve Roach
Rockets – Cat Power
Lachlom – Yael Naim
Troubles Will be Gone – The Tallest Man on Earth
Prayer – Kow Otani
Rusty Cage – Johnny Cash

With glitches, screw-ups, and assorted shenanigans galore, this ended up being the most expensive election ever, a whopping $6 billion. Millionaire political donors still ended the night with far more influence than the American people. Make no mistake about it, the Big Money won big, and inequality in political wealth undermines the principle of “one person, one vote” and threatens our very democracyTwo thirds of winning House incumbents outspent their opponents by a factor of nine.

As we saw on election night, Karl Rove made some absurd prediction about Ohio, which inexplicably turned out to be true! While looking at his ipad, he claimed the vote would turn out drastically different than the exit polling. At the same time, many members of Anonymous were raided by police, even as they had threatened to release proof that the election was rigged. They are not being granted interviews or media access at this time, and their computers or DOX kept under lock and key.

The results are indeed being challenged, as Voting and civil rights activists claimed that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was causing mass confusion across the state as people tried to go to the polls. Voters waited in lines for hours, many asked for photo identification, and some were even turned away, despite a judge ruling that this was illegal.

“We’ve definitely gotten reports about voters being turned away,” Eric Marshall, co-director of the Election Protection coalition, told TPM. “We’ve had reports of people who have shown up, been asked, and when they didn’t show ID they were turned away.”

Examples abound of how easily the entire election could have been rigged, with not much more than a few dollars’ worth of parts from RadioShack.

“It’s a classic attack on security devices,” Roger Johnston tells Popular Science. “You implant a microprocessor or some other electronic device into the voting machine, and that lets you control the voting and turn cheating on and off. We’re basically interfering with transmitting the voter’s intent.”

Americans need to look inside ourselves, reflect on our values and question: why do we allow our fellow citizens’ votes to be discounted? Why do we put up with this?

Long lines were the story for in many poor neighborhoods across the country, while Florida’s Governor Scott Brown reduced early voting times. Neighborhoods of color were disproportionately affected, a repeat of 2008:

The AFL-CIO study tracked with similar findings in other recent elections. An MIT survey of 10,000 voters in 2008 found that waits for African Americans were more than twice as long as those for white voters for both early and election day voting.

With the number of problems with the provisional ballots and inconsistencies with the exit polling in Ohio, many progressives are alleging fraud:

1. Claims of Fraud
2. Voter Suppression
3. Obama Wasn’t Progressive Enough!
4. Rich People are just going to vote for the Rich guy no matter what because he gives them free stuff!
5. There is no God.
6. The Conservative Media

But now we have to contend with the unskewed polls, that Karl Rove was right. The rich are vindicated by their love of money over country.

Fully 89 percent of Romney’s 2012 voters are non-Hispanic whites. And they rule the country. They want to shut down the government like they almost did in 2011. They want people to die from not having health care. We must not bow down to them yet.

Republicans, triumphant and spiteful, are already promising to throw us off the fiscal cliff.

In an exclusive statement to the  far-right Brietbart.com , McConnell promised conservatives that he wouldn’t be willing to raise taxes at all to avoid the automatic spending cuts and tax hike trigger that will otherwise go into effect

Now is their perfect time to make severe cuts to popular programs in the social safety net; Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disaster relief, food assistance, housing and other threatened programs, so they can happily grant big handouts and tax breaks for major corporations.

And then there are the extremist ingrates, far-right radical Republicans that think Romney isn’t severely conservative enough. In many ways, the election did not change anything.

This year, neither presidential candidate focused on blasting a do-nothing Congress or, in Obama’s case, “Republican obstructionism”. I think it may have been this lack of energy, this satisfaction with the status quo, that lost him the vote. He wasn’t progressive enough.

Because the right will keep on moving righter now. Via TPM:

The head of Maine’s Republican Party defended himself on Thursday over comments he made about black people committing voter fraud in his state. he still insisted it was “unusual” to see so many black voters at the polls in an overwhelmingly white state.

“The reason I said it, ‘cause I don’t know where you live, but where I come from in rural Maine, it’s a small percentage of the population. I think we’re the whitest state in the country. So if you go to the polls and see people who are black, it’s unusual. And when you see a lot of people who are black, like six or eight or ten people, you think, ‘Wow, where do they live?’ That was my point.”

“Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in (these) towns knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen? I don’t know. We’re going to find out.”

And of course, those Anti-American secessionists who are fed up with “Progressives” like Obama, and apparently even “Moderates” like Romney.

Thousands of petitioners from seven states (many headed by race-baiter Matt Drudge) are demanding the White House let them secede from America. Thousands more are petitioning the White House to just kick them out already and be done with it.

Despite President Obama’s defeat, one petition demanding the administration “grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government” has secured over 83,000 signatures. The White House has said it will respond to any petitions that receive backing from 25,000 people or more.

Meanwhile, George GOPers are claiming that there has been an ‘Obama mind-control conspiracy‘ growing over the last four years. A “conspiracy to transform America from the land of the free, to the land of the collective,” and lawmakers there say that “our own governments are doing this. Our own local city councils and county commissions – they’re doing this.”

Other lawmakers in Wisconsin are backing a bill that would declare the Affordable Care Act illegal, and allow law enforcement to arrest any federal officials who try to implement it.

Many businesses are vindictively taking a stand against Obama’s health care legacy (which is going to be hard for Republicans to repeal), but threatening to cut worker hours.

  • Papa John’s CEO plans to slash workers’ hours so he doesn’t have to cover them. It’s one of the nation’s 50 biggest low-wage employers.

(You know who not to take seriously when they say they really want everyone to have health insurance and ‘it’s a shame’ Obamacare isn’t the right way to insure more people? People who run businesses where only a third of workers are insured. And do you really want potentially sick people making your food?)

  • Applebee’s New York CEO says he’ll ax jobs because of Obamacare. Zane Tankel, another so-called “job creator” who’s threatened to fire employees and freeze hiring.
  • Small business owner in Georgia says he fired workers who voted for Obama. “Yesterday I called all my part-time employees in and said because Obamacare will be enacted (despite Romney winning) I was cutting their hours from 30 to 25 a week so I would not fall under the Obamacare mandate,” said the man, who identified himself only as Stu. “I had to lay two full-timers off to get under the 50-person cap. I tried to make sure that the people I had to lay off voted for Obama.”
  • Las Vegas businessman says he laid off 22 employees after election night. ~Las Vegas business owner to radio host Kevin Wall on 100.5 KXNT, after firing 22 of his 114 workers yesterday.
  • Coal company lays off 160 workers because of Obama’s “war on coal.” Claims they laid off workers who had voters cast their ballot for the president. This is illegal, for one thing, but also idiotic. Obama’s policies had only benefitted the coal industry.

Yes, we will continue to live in an economy where most of Americans toil their lives away with few options, little upwards mobility, fewer and fewer rights, all in the servitude of the American wealthy ruling elite class. The CEOs want us to work longer hours for fewer benefits.

Lloyd Blankfein – CEO of Wall Street behemoth Goldman Sachs — told CBS News’ Scott Pelley that he believes the retirement age needs to be raised because “in general, entitlements  have to be slowed down and contained

Even federal judges want people to work without wages!

The corporate masters seem to have forgotten they depend on working people for their own survival.

Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As for Obama’s legacy, hastily handed over to someone slightly more conservative but with less foreign policy knowledge, it will be a dastardly one.

It really makes you think that, no matter what Alternative Reality had happened, we’d still be screwed.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-11-24: Alternate Reality by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Reality

realityWell, the quantum experiment failed, though people are screaming in the streets. I think that’s mostly because Barack Obama won his re-election. Of course, the more things stay the same, they more they change, so we’ll take a look at exactly what the status of quo is following a hard-fought campaign season of false promises, a first term of capitulation, and a platform of lies.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-11-10: Reality by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Saga
Purple People Eater m Witch Dr – Big Bopper
Meditations – Charles Mingus Sextet/Eric Dolphy
Chuncho (the forest creatures) – Yma Sumac
Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict – Pink Floyd
Realrain – Cosmic And Optimus Rhymes
Little April Showers – Disney’s Bambi
The Lonely Shepherd – Zamfir
Arabesque No. 1 – Tomita
Sunrise in the Western Sky – Sun Ra
Expressway to your heart – Blues Brothers
Train, Train – Blackfoot
Fables of Faubus – Charles Mingus Sextet/Eric Dolphy
Stonehenge – Spinal Tap
Crossfire – Ain Soph
Time Marches On Theme – Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic
Big Furry Head – Amon Tobin

With glitches, screw-ups, and assorted shenanigans galore, this ended up being the most expensive election ever, a whopping $6 billion. Millionaire political donors still ended the night with far more influence than the American people. Make no mistake about it, the Big Money won big, and inequality in political wealth undermines the principle of “one person, one vote” and threatens our very democracy.

Voting and civil rights activists said Tuesday that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was causing mass confusion across the state as people tried to go to the polls. Voters waited in lines for hours, many asked for photo identification, and some were even turned away, despite a judge ruling that this was illegal.

“We’ve definitely gotten reports about voters being turned away,” Eric Marshall, co-director of the Election Protection coalition, told TPM. “We’ve had reports of people who have shown up, been asked, and when they didn’t show ID they were turned away.”

Americans need to look inside ourselves, reflect on our values and question: why do we allow our fellow citizens’ votes to be discounted? Why do we put up with this?

Long lines were the story for in many poor neighborhoods across the country, while Florida’s Governor Scott Brown reduced early voting times. Neighborhoods of color were disproportionately affected, a repeat of 2008:

The AFL-CIO study tracked with similar findings in other recent elections. An MIT survey of 10,000 voters in 2008 found that waits for African Americans were more than twice as long as those for white voters for both early and election day voting.

Conservatives are already jumping on any faulty claims they can to delegitimize the SCARY BLACK MAN!

1. Claims of Fraud
2. Voter Suppression
3. Mitt Romney Wasn’t Conservative Enough
4. Moochers Just Want to Mooch!
5. God is Punishing Us
6. The Liberal Media

Speaking of the biased media, FOX News now has to mend its wounds after such a truthy trouncing. After Obama’s victory and Karl Rove‘s suspiciously obstinate freakout, the Spin Zone immediately took effect with FOX pundits wearing purple in defeat.

Last night, lamenting the fact that America is no longer the exclusive land of white people, Bill O’Reilly said that America was becoming a country of people who just “wanted stuff.”

“Half the country says it’s time we deal with these huge massive problems, and a little more than half the country says, ‘Nah we don’t feel like dealing like them.’” ~Charlie Hurt of the Washington Times

A Fox correspondent reporting from Ohio said, “Ohio election official says illegal votes were cast in the state!” If you want to know how many, Fox won’t tell you.

It may just turn out that constantly lying, distorting stories to suit your ideological bias, race-baiting, appealing to fear, and denying reality won’t win you elections! They’re really only hurting themselves. This is an allegation not only against the Conservative Media, but the Liberal Media as well. FOX News (et al) are just much worse perpetrators of their self-delusion bubble.

Their self-reinforcing worldview resulted in a year of magical thinking that obscured what was really happening this election cycle.

And in fact, those voter-suppression tactics seemed to have backfired on the GOP, with minorities showing up in full force in what may also prove to be the greatest turnout of African American voters ever. Exit polls show that the black vote in this election appears to have exceeded the record high turnout of 2008, despite the fact that this year even more people had to wait on lines for hours, endured confusion at polling places, were told to produce IDs that the law does not require, and made to cast provisional ballots because of snafus at election sites.

“Funny thing about black folks — just try to tell us we can’t do something,” said Dr. Ron Daniels, former third-party presidential candidate and former executive director of the Rainbow Coalition

Mitt Romney lost Latinos by unprecedented margins — even worse than the initial exit polls showed — according to a study by Latino Decisions.

An election eve poll of 5,600 voters across all 50 states by the group, which has researched the Latino vote throughout the campaign, concluded Obama won by an eye-popping 75-23 margin.

Young people, as in 2008, seemed to have overwhelmingly voted for Obama.

Interestingly, the numbers appear even more damning in the Republicans’ hatred against MuslimsIn the 2000 election, approximately 70% of Muslims in America voted for Bush; among non-African-American Muslims, the ratio was over 80%. Four years later, Bush’s share of the vote among Muslims was 4%. It never recovered.

“There is simply no way that I can justify voting for a party that denies the very legitimacy of my identity as an American.” ~Anonymous Muslim-American

Luckily, many of the Anti-Muslim (human-hating) Caucus were not re-elected.

And even the Mormons, a group Romney should have been able to count on, voted for Bush by a slightly higher margin than “their own” candidate.

A Pew Research survey of voters by religion found that a higher percentage of Mormons voted for George W. Bush in 2004 than Mitt Romney in 2012.
According to Pew, in 2004 Bush got 80 percent of the Mormon vote, while Romney got 78 percent this year.

Apparently, nobody wanted Mitt Romney to be president.

Americans elected their first openly gay senator, legalized recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado, increased the number of women on the U.S. Senate to 20 (the most yet), and New Hampshire became the first state to have an all-female congressional delegation in United States history.

In Hawaii, Japan-born Mazie Hirono became the first Asian American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate, while Tulsi Gabbard became the first-ever practicing Hindu in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a way, the O’Reillys of the world are right to be scared. Changing demographics like this are dooming the current GOP, where fully 89 percent of Romney’s 2012 voters are non-Hispanic whites.

“Obama wins because it’s not a traditional America anymore,” Bill O’Reilly said on Fox News last night.  “The white establishment is the minority. People want things.” Things like.. ya know… rights. Perhaps the disenfranchised minorities who are relegated to the lower classes might have voted for the guy if he hadn’t said things like “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”

Via Salon:

Much of the GOP — think Romney, Mourdock, Akin — cling to a political narrative according to which white male voters are “conservative” and “minority” voters are “liberal,” and where white male voters are self-sufficient and everyone else is dependent.  It’s exactly this form of white-on-white racial profiling, a fear of the future, that produced the election’s outrageous comments about unions, the poor, rape, women, minorities and the like.

Why did conservative straight white men self-destruct so spectacularly this election? Perhaps because, in trying to secure the votes of other white men, they failed to notice that these white men have mothers, daughters, gay relatives and/or friends who are racial minorities; and that other white men are suffering economically.

Maybe the Republicans’ election-night drubbing will be enough to convince them to quiet the extremists in their midst, but probably not. Already, there are those screaming to secede from the union. Anti-American traitors:

“We must contest every single inch of ground and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity. But in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity.” ~Peter Morrison, Treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party

Even now, Republicans are turning on each other, referring to their ‘shitty candidates.’

Via TPM:

But the Republicans aren’t the only ones deluding themselves. Both President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are calling for the GOP to drop its acts of obstructionism, especially when it comes to the debt ceiling fight and the budget.

“What we need is action from the House. And I’ve got the pen — ready to sign the bill right away.” ~Barack Obama

Republicans, bitter and spiteful, are already promising to throw us off the fiscal cliff.

In an exclusive statement to the  far-right Brietbart.com , McConnell promised conservatives that he wouldn’t be willing to raise taxes at all to avoid the automatic spending cuts and tax hike trigger that will otherwise go into effect

Because that’s something the Big Money wants. Neither side will acknowledge that the entire fiscal cliff is an entirely fake, engineered crisis. But if our elected officials can throw Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disaster relief, food assistance, housing and other threatened programs under the bus, they would happily do so if it meant big handouts and tax breaks for major corporations.

Of course, that’s not good enough for the billionaires, who are already threatening to fire their employees should the President do… I don’t know… anything.

“If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. This means fewer jobs, less benefits, and certainly less opportunity for everyone.”

~David Siegel, the founder of Central Florida Investments and Westgate Resorts

“I explained to them a month ago that if Obama gets in office that the regulations for Obamacare are gonna hurt our business, and I’m gonna have to make provisions to make sure I have enough money to cover the payroll taxes, the additional health care I’m gonna have to do, and I explained that to them and I said you do what you feel like in your heart you need to do, but I’m just letting you know as a warning this is things I have to think of as a business owner.” 

~Las Vegas business owner to radio host Kevin Wall on 100.5 KXNT, after firing 22 of his 114 workers yesterday.

So while Wall Street and Big Business spent big against Obama and for Romney, the will be doing just fine. The fact is, Obama has proposed tax cuts that would benefit many small business owners, including reducing the corporate tax rate for just 25 percent for manufacturing companies. Stocks on several companies went up following the election, including Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (SWHC), Strum, Ruger & Co. (RGR), HCA Holdings Inc.(HCA), Health Management Associates Inc. (HMA) and Centene Corp. (CNC).

Yes, we will continue to live in an economy where most of Americans toil their lives away with few options, little upwards mobility, fewer and fewer rights, all in the servitude of the American wealthy ruling elite class.

How dare the peasantry feel entitled to rights?

Many serious and egregious issues that affect Americans every day will go unanswered, as they went unquestioned during the election.

I’m starting to think that Reality isn’t that which we make it. Because who would want all this?

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-11-10: Reality by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Redux!

With the mysterious digital wraith’s de-atomization of last week’s show, The Stranger attempts to quantum entangle and mystically fuse two weeks worth of music and politics into one Strange Land, an experiment that may result in a rerun, a redux, Groundhog’s Day, or an alternate parallel pocket universe.

Hopefully the eerie, lonely, pensive, eclectic and syncopated rhythms will challenge you on a visceral and cerebral level. Failing that, some monkey news!

PLAYLIST
Hall Of The Mountain King/Louie Louie – Half Japanese
Ife (Fast) – Miles Davis (Tribute)
Pink Elephants On Parade – Sun Ra
Troubleman – Nina Miranda – Buddha-Bar
Stem / Long Stem / Transmission 2 – DJ Shadow
Sordid – Amon Tobin
We No Speak Americano (Original mix) – Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup
Homesick (Bonustrack) – Parov Stelar
Kagemusha – Akira Kurosawa
Radar Maker – Mogwai
Tribulations – LCD Soundsystem
Is This The Last Time – Spoon
Cowboy Junkies – Common Disaster
Cherry – RATATAT
Emotion – Daft Punk
Necromancer – Gnarls Barkley
Quest for the 12 Monkeys – Astor Piazzolla
the count dance – (8BitPeoples) – twilight electric
Radio Nufonia – Kid Koala
Not Happy – Pere Ubu

Yet again I am forced to cover ridiculous news such as the sabre-rattling of “not if but when” in Iran, while even the president himself cannot seem to align with either direct talks or “not bluffs” on attack, “thus again routinely violating the U.N. Charter, the foundation of international law” as Noam Chomsky puts it. In fact, he writes that most of the nations in the world agree that Iran is no more or less dangerous and unpredictable than a nuclear-powered Israel.

And while I am NOT a conspiracy theorist adherent to the hoax of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion… there is a minority of powerful political elites (just like in this country) with a classist, racist, neoconservative bent in opposition of their own people and neighbors.

But isn’t it interesting that the same things that we could legitimately criticize Iran for: right-wing theocracy, crushing free speech and dissemination of information, women’s rights… are the same issues that this neoconservative government is corrupting in our democracy…

The federal government has appropriated about $635 billion, accounting for inflation, for homeland security-related activities and equipment since the 9/11 attacks. The Department of Homeland Security alone has doled out somewhere between $30 billion and $40 billion in direct grants to state and local law enforcement, as well as other first responders to build out the police state… The Obama White House itself has directly funded part of the New York Police Department’s anti-Muslim surveillance program. Top officials of New York’s finest have, however, repeatedly refused to disclose just how much anti-terrorism money it has been spending, citing, of course, security.

Drones are already patrolling our skies, the Obama admin. is looking for warrantless access to your cell phone location data, and now, only days after clearing Congress, US President Barack Obama has signed his name to H.R. 347, officially making it a federal offense to cause a disturbance at certain political events — essentially criminalizing protest in the States. Another attempt to strip the power of speech from a disenfranchised majority and limit what little recourse they have against plundering criminals.

This ‘attack the rich’ motif is nothing new. When we talk about revulsion of the extremely super-wealthy, we’re talking about accountability, we’re talking about having clear evidence that there is an entire class of people whose crimes go unpunished. And whenever there is a crime wave on, the American people suddenly get all upset and want the police to do something about it. After a wave of child kidnappings and molestations in the late 70’s and 80’s, it became our paranoid nation’s major fear. When the Saving and Loan scandal rocked the nation, people were writing their representatives. When terrorists actually dared to hit us on our own turf, people finally started to care what radical Islam was, or the names of some of those Middle Eastern countries. Riots, gang violence, murder sprees, rapists, and everything else on the evening news that scared the bejeesus out of us in a news cycle, our very life cycle! The exception here being that there is little to no law enforcement action to stop these multi-million or multi-billion or multi-trillion dollar crimes! And if nothing is being done, then it becomes a more and more legitimate concern.

We finally have the estimated data for 2010 by income percentile, and it turns out that the top 1 percent had a fantastic year. According to the data is in the World Top Income Database, as well as Emmanuel Saez’s updated “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States”, “the top 1 percent captured 93 percent of the income gains in the first year of recovery.” Pre-recession, inequality hadn’t been that high since the Great Depression, and we are quickly returning to that state.

We need more transparency, not less! We need open-source software for replicable science. We need criminals brought to justice. We need a government that is for the people, not targeting their own citizenry at the behest of the elites. We need to root out the cheats in our technologically trusting age. We need dogged journalists (which are more and more being represented by hackers and not mainstream media sellouts) to keep corporate kings and “elected” officials on their toes.

But three years into his presidency, critics say Obama’s administration has failed to deliver the refreshing blast of transparency that the president promised. “Obama is the sixth administration that’s been in office since I’ve been doing Freedom of Information Act work. … It’s kind of shocking to me to say this, but of the six, this administration is the worst on FOIA issues. The worst. There’s just no question about it,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington lawyer who’s been filing FOIA cases since 1978. “This administration is raising one barrier after another. … It’s gotten to the point where I’m stunned — I’m really stunned.”

And last September, the CIA quietly changed its long-standing policy for how it would process certain records requests by implementing a new fee structure that will essentially discourage the public from trying to get the agency to declassify secret government documents with costs up to $72 per hour, “even if no information is found or released,” wrote Nate Jones of George Washington University’s National Security Archive, a historical research group that files numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and publishes declassified documents.

At the same time, the intelligencia beat the drums of cyberwar against activists instead of attempting to fix or even address the problems that are making them activist out in the first place! And though they have recently been able to turn well-connected Anon Sabu against other hacktivists such as Stratfor-infiltrating aficionado Anarchaos, Anonymous itself has no leadership. The juxtaposition of the FBI’s triumphant announcement: “We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec,” and the group’s own mantra “Anonymous is a hydra, cut off one head and we grow two back.” illustrate the disconnect between the power elite and the freedom fighters. Further undermining their goals, the FBI is making their message clear; the FBI indictment says Sabu’s crimes can get him 124 years and 6 months of prison time. Help us by turning on your fellows and go to prison for life.

The information itself, leaked like the dam in the old fable, is showing us once again which side is in the right. How soon some forget that Bradley Manning is facing trial for whistle-blowing on horrific war crimes. As more secrets are being leaked proving these conspiracy theories true (corporate spying, faked science reporting, intimidation, bribery, collusion) the old Mark Twain phrase “two can keep a secret of one of them is dead” rings more true in this digital age than ever before. Whether you’re the U.S. Military trying to cover up war crimes, or a corporation illegally spying on or manipulating the state, the citizens, their customers, and their competition.

In a post-national future, protest movements like Anonymous, Occupy, the Arab Spring, riseup.net, and others with common goals will have to learn how to overcome their oppressors by balancing mass actions with individual traditions and religions to be respected! For there have been many questions these past weeks of ideological difference, mostly from the myopic and bigoted Santorum, conservative preachers and loudmouth radio hosts, and while these GOPers are learning hard lessons about alienating the all-important independent votes, so too should progressives learn what social issues and ideologies they can share, overlook, reach out on, or reject with grass roots activists on the right.

We cannot ignore religion permeating every thing that is done in this country, and while we should keep a strict wall between church and state to restrict any one group from becoming the theocrats, it is wrong to think that religious thinking and morality are not the basis for our very system of law. The problem is, there are those who use and subvert the predominately Christian doctrine to their twisted, evil way of fundamentalist thinking, just like is being done to Islam in the Middle East. Many power-brokers in this country emphasize the angry, jealous God, and promote a dark bastardized version of the religion in which Greed, selfishness, and emphasis on the “me” economy forsake Jesus the philosopher’s greatest wisdom:

“The Jesus of the Gospels, especially of Matthew, Mark and Luke was one of the great progressive thinkers in human history. His great passion was helping the poor, the sick, those most oppressed and reviled by the rest of society. His teachings focused on mercy, kindness, forgiveness, not judging others, and loving one’s neighbors as much as yourself. His “Golden Rule” was that we should treat everyone as we ourselves would want to be treated. He taught that we would ultimately be judged by how we treated the hungry and the ill, by whether we visited those in prison and whether we treated strangers with kindness. He said we should forgive our enemies, “turn the other cheek” when slapped, and that only those who had never sinned (in other words, none of us) should cast the first stone to condemn the sinner.”

NOT the dogmatic, Draconian and Machiavellian form that has routinely taken total control and power in Western Civilization. Because of course, these monied interests don’t represent what most of America believes or thinks or aspires to. Some of them may be taken in by the propaganda machines, but don’t think for a second that this is where our true moralities lie.

It is imperative that regardless of ideology, all of us in the attacked classes remain each other’s keepers against the predators! Don’t let the federal government enslave us! This year, as many as five million eligible voters will lose their right to vote due to already passed measures to make voting MORE difficult, not less. In FLORIDA, ILLINOIS, MAINE, OHIO, TEXAS, ALABAMA, KANSAS, TENNESSEE, GEORGIA, WEST VIRGINIA, IOWA, MISSISSIPPI, SOUTH CAROLINA & RHODE ISLAND New measures include  restrictions on where people can register to vote, less time for *early* voting and stricter laws requiring people to provide government issued photo IDs. “African Amercans, and other racial and ethnic minorities are very heavily targeted,” said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau.  “The poor, those who don’t drive cars or have cars are also very heavily targeted.” In Florida, Iowa,  Virginia and Kentucky, anyone convicted of a felony has their right to vote denied permanently.

Don’t let corporations scam you! Don’t refinance you home, sending the debt into a spiral of wholly subsidiary collections and inflations! Take advantage of the desperate universities, don’t let them take advantage of you! Stanford had over 150,000 people sign up for a single course on artificial intelligence Suddenly, prestigious, invite-only events for the intellectual elite like TED are being opened up to licensees all over the world. There are even Floating Universities, offering knowledge and access to Big Thinkers from prestigious universities, all at a fraction of the cost of a liberal arts education. And now more than ever, small claims court is benefitting and helping the lower classes in their local systems to fight back against the corporate giants!

The United States Constitution is, at 225 years, the oldest of its kind, and has been the go-to model for over 160 countries wishing to write their own. By 1987, almost 95% of countries with constitutions had versions based on the American one. The oldest standing constitution had come to be relied upon as a framework to develop newer ones. And though Al Franken lauded our constitution as a ‘living document’ that can change with technology changing our lives, (in reference to consumer privacy bills), the time’s they are a-changing! With widespread realization that our democracy has been thoroughly co-opted and corropted, it might be time to bring a new constitutional document to life. One that will relevantly address the future reality we find ourselves entering.

Social media has upturned the social pecking order, with access to crowdsourcing, individual branding, prosumer equipment, instant access to formerly obscure knowledge, and a freelance economy, all coupled with the increasingly unpopularity of wealth, we are seeing dramatic changes to what status actually defines or means.

We see that protest movements and activist groups are empowered online by community, and hopefully even people with differences fight for common goals and interests, in a digital buffet of similarly-minded humans.

Anti-science quantum mysticism, synchronicity and confirmation bias may be flipped on its head! We have a populace of frail, fragile, scared humans, obsessed with the future (some go so far as to convince themselves they have some kind of psychic relationship with the future). But in the future, as advances in science, agriculture and medicine allow many of our worries to fall away gradually, we will also be so enmeshed with machine-thinking so that we will no longer obsess over such uncertainties. And while we may not be obsessed by the past either, we will have total recall of what is known or theorized at every point in our recorded history, whether the secrets of the time of Jesus, our unusual and forgotten bisected sleep patterns of old, or the obfuscated origins of our economic collapse!

A technology-fueled society is even now coalescing into three distinct tiers: the hyper-connected digital elite, the well-connected middle class and the aspiring majority (who don’t have any real access to technology).

According to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, a small privileged group within society will become the new Digital Snobs:

“The privileged few, the hyper-connected, are likely to face a future that will only be limited by what technology can do. They will have access to unlimited processing power and high-speed networks in most major cities. In Schmidt’s vision, this group will soon be represented by robots at multiple events at the same time while sitting in your office. For them, technologies that once looked like science fiction, will soon be available. Driverless cars, for example, will soon reduce accidents. At the same time, though, technology will actually become much easier to use and ideally just disappear.”

Imagine if information, knowledge, education, 3-d printed goods and digital services, communications, access to legal medical or civic resources, and even the rights over your own identity were reserved for a new brand of higher ups! The same cycle of oppression and liberation must be fought anew.

So once we get past our current threats and moral imperatives, our species faces a whole set of new ones.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-03-10: Redux! by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger

thestranger@earthling.net

“Once that coup is reversed, everything else falls into place” – Chris Hedges