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  1. Atypical is offline
    07-13-2018, 02:31 PM #81
    1984 is Back!

    New technology that "helps" with more convenience and speed in doing routine things. Very tempting especially considering wanting to "get it first" and the peer pressure that comes with that.

    Well, there are are a number of reports that show that companies are mining your activities, (e.g. Facebook) invading your privacy and otherwise manipulating you in multiple ways without telling you or giving you a choice to REALLY opt out of the whole process.

    The greedy bloodsuckers, who are without conscience, are continually working in their behalf not yours. Here is another effort.


  2. Atypical is offline
    07-15-2018, 10:11 AM #82
    Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and the Triumph of Nothing Over Everyone

    Masha Gessen, New Yorker

    Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are about to hold a meeting that will reflect their shared understanding of power: the triumph of nothing over everyone. American journalists have been trying to guess what the two Presidents might discuss when they meet in Helsinki on Monday. The special counsel Robert Mueller apparently tried to create a topic they would not be able to avoid, by announcing the indictment of twelve Russian military-intelligence officers on Friday for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.

    The Russian media barely acknowledged the indictments but mostly continued to report on the bare facts of the meeting: it may last three hours; there will be a press conference; the two Presidents will answer four questions; the Russian President’s limousine has been delivered to Helsinki, and it is a new model. In other words, in Russia, the only thing that matters about the summit is the bare fact of it. It is the hollow power gesture taken to its world-stage extreme.

    The deliberately empty gesture is the ultimate innovation of the Trump Presidency. Beginning with his transition-era announcement of saving American jobs at a Carrier plant—an accomplishment of no consequence for the country as a whole and little, if any, consequence for many Carrier employees—Trump has trafficked in hollow symbols. Each gesture is designed to affirm his image as a dealmaker, even though the deals are devoid of substance at best and costly at worst. In this context, the Trump-Putin summit, a meeting without an agenda, appears entirely logical.

    For his part, Putin has spent nearly two decades hollowing out Russian politics, media, and public language. His system rests on rituals devoid of content: elections in which voters have no meaningful choice, court and administrative procedures whose outcomes are preordained, and media that speak with a single, vacant voice. For the last several weeks, these media have been trumpeting the looming summit.

    Kremlin-dominated media—which is to say, nearly all media—have published pieces aimed at discouraging overly enthusiastic summit expectations. Although Trump has suggested that he is open to recognizing the Russian occupation of Crimea, Russian analysts have warned compatriots against expecting that Helsinki would lead to the recognition of Russian expansion or to the lifting of sanctions against Russia. For Putin, the summit itself is a triumph—filling it with content would be unnecessary and possibly even undesirable.

    Putin’s power and legitimacy in Russia rest on two pillars: mobilization at home and perceived fear abroad. Russians see themselves fighting two wars against the United States–one in Ukraine and one in Syria. The ongoing economic pressure exerted by sanctions serves as a constant reminder that Russians need to stick together in the face of a powerful enemy. That Putin has been able to bring the enemy to the negotiating table testifies to the Russian President’s fearsome power.

    For Putin, less discussion in Helsinki is more. His power will be manifested in things not discussed: Russian interference in the election, which Trump is clearly loath to bring up, and human-rights issues that an American leader would traditionally broach at such a meeting. A political prisoner, the Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, who is serving a twenty-year sentence in a Russian prison colony on trumped-up terrorism charges, is in the second month of his hunger strike. He is trying to draw attention to the fate of more than sixty other Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia. American and international human-rights activists have been waging a hopeless fight to get the issue on the summit agenda—or on the White House radar at all.

    The mere fact of the meeting, followed by a joint press conference with the American President, will be a demonstration of power for Putin. He needs to deliver nothing else. If, however, he is also able to nudge Trump toward a verbal acknowledgment of the legitimacy of Russia’s interests in its old sphere of influence—something that Putin will almost certainly bring up in conversation, making Trump likely to parrot an attitude he instinctively understands—Russians will perceive it as Putin restoring Russia’s superpower status. Putin may also suggest a deal whereby the United States pulls out of Syria. Being able to make such an announcement would make Trump feel like the dealmaker he longs to be. To Russians, it would look like they had won the war. If any deal happens, though, it will be merely an accidental substantive bonus attached to a performance designed to be empty.


    There is no doubt that Trump has longstanding "arrangements" with Russian contacts for a number of reasons; one was publicly touted by one of his sons. His obsequious behavior to Putin, et al, is repellent as is his indifference to hold them responsible for any meddling they do here. There is a word for his behavior.

    These "meetings" are likely only so that they can talk privately, with minimal scrutiny, to avoid a record of what was said.
    Last edited by Atypical; 07-15-2018 at 10:15 AM.

  3. Atypical is offline
    07-22-2018, 12:43 PM #83
    JULY 20, 2018

    Any Russian interference is only a small part of the “election meddling” we should care about…

    I was trained at NSA headquarters as a signals intelligence officer in the Marines. This was about a decade ago, and I was by no means an area specialist. That said, I was privy to relevant briefs. At the time I learned that U.S. cyber operations in Russia, across Russia’s periphery, and around the world already dwarfed Russian operations in size, capability, and frequency. It wasn’t even close, and the expectation was that the gap was about to grow a whole lot wider.

    This should hardly come as a surprise. Just compare the defense budgets of the United States and Russia. The president recently signed a gargantuan $700 billion gift to the Pentagon, with marginal dissent from either party or their affiliated media outlets. The budget increase alone ($61 billion) exceeds Russia’s entire annual expenditure ($46). The U.S. military budget now equals more than the combined budgets of China, Russia, Britain, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, and France. As Vice concluded, “it’s 14 times larger than the Kremlin’s budget.”

    Furthermore, covert American operations are deeply invested in interrupting democratic processes not only in Russia, but everywhere else. This includes the heart of Europe, where corporate media is now pretending the United States has always respected happy norms and decorum. It is as if the Snowden leaks never happened. The Defense Department’s tapping of Angela Merkel’s phone never happened. The Obama administration’s spying on the German press, including Der Spiegel, never happened. The same administration’s outing of German government whistle-blowers never happened.

    Electoral meddling in particular happens all the time, both to us and by us. The U.S. government rigged the Russian election for Yeltsin in 1996, and then they bragged about it in a cover story for Time. (You can still find the cover online.) This followed the disastrous capitalist “shock therapy” of the early nineties and preceded the rise of the Russian oligarchs. Putin’s brand of nationalist resentment grew out of this moment of extreme collective humiliation. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is happily on record pushing for the tampering of Palestinian elections in 2006.

    As the political scientist Dov H. Levin has shown, between 1946 and 2000, the United States government conducted at least 81 electoral interventions in other countries, while Russia conducted at least 36. This does not include the U.S. government’s violent overthrow of dozens of governments during this same period, including democratic governments in places like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), and Chile (1973). As recent as 2009, Hillary Clinton’s State Department played a complicit role in the brutal deposition of democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya’s government in Honduras. No other country, including Russia, even approaches this level of wanton disregard for the norms of sovereignty. Around the world, organizations that the U.S. “fund[s], support[s] and direct[s] are openly dedicated to manipulating foreign elections, creating U.S.-friendly opposition movements and even overthrowing governments that impede U.S. interests worldwide.” In 1999, President Clinton sent three advisers to Israel to try to swing the country’s elections for Ehud Barak. The New York Times reported that they were “writing advertisements, plotting strategy and taking polls” for the candidate. Imagine what the reaction would be if Putin had literally dispatched three top deputies to join the Trump campaign.

    Of course, a few dozen wrongs don’t make a right, and the fact that U.S. outrage over Russian interference is comically hypocritical doesn’t make tampering with our elections unobjectionable. But anyone who sees the Russian activity as an antidemocratic outrage should be condemning the United States just as loudly, and treating the Russia story as some kind of unprecedented act of covert control is laughable.

    That said, just because the United States leads the world in meddling of all kinds, that doesn’t mean we are immune to it. In fact, meddling from abroad comes in many forms. Prominent think tanks in Washington are funded by the Gulf states. The United Arab Emirates contributes generously to the coffers of the Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Center for American Progress (CAP). The Brookings Institute graciously accepts millions from Qatar. The Atlantic Council and Center for Strategic and International Studies enjoy similar arrangements with other oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia. The same can be said for numerous other repressive governments beyond the Gulf. And then there are the defense contractors, Wall Street banks, and Silicon Valley behemoths, all of which have joined such governments in capturing intellectual real estate in academia as well.

    Our politicians, of course, are being flooded with cash from foreign-related interests. Pro-Israel billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban have bought themselves outsized influence in both parties, with Adelson successfully financing Trump’s rise to power and Saban effectively blocking Keith Ellison’s bid for Democratic National Committee chair. The Turkish lobby, likewise, continues to prove itself another bipartisan force, with everyone from former House leader Dick Gephardt to disgraced national security advisor Michael Flynn being enlisted to secure Ankara prerogatives while whitewashing various crimes against the Armenians and Kurds. As for explicit electoral interference, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been implicated in foul play in the 2016 election. Same goes for Ukraine. Same goes for Israel in 2012. And these are just the instances so brazen that they have made their way into Wikipedia.

    Lastly, our entire corporate media is owned and run by a global capitalist elite who could care less about us and our schoolkid patriotism. There are essentially five multinational corporations that now own the news media. This is down from six just a few years ago. In 1983 it was 50. This rapid consolidation is thanks to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, itself a bipartisan bill purchased by the donor class. The few dozen billionaires with the largest shares in these companies are almost all white men. They are also almost all tied up in business investments around the globe. And almost all their investments bear zero regard for the needs or desires of Americans or non-Americans alike.

    Cont'd below

  4. Atypical is offline
    07-22-2018, 12:43 PM #84

    For Russian interference to be a threat to our democracy, we would have to have a democracy to begin with. But our elections are already so heavily manipulated by corporations and foreign governments that it’s hard to take seriously anyone who sees Russia as a singular threat to our system of government. The issue needs to be kept in perspective, and seen in the context of both our country’s own actions and the other, even greater, barriers that prevent us from having a true democracy that reflects the will of the people rather than corporate and government interests.

    Look, by all means, let’s protect the integrity of our voting systems. As Seth Ackerman just counseled in Jacobin, let’s follow Europe’s lead in a practical, guarded response to Putin’s authoritarian machinations, free of hysteria. Let’s keep pushing for independent investigations into Trump, his team, and their possibly criminal involvement with the Russian government and other unsavory entities. Let’s hold them accountable accordingly. But let’s also stop swallowing state and corporate propaganda hook, line, and sinker. Let’s stop being blind to military-industrial stakes in escalating U.S.-Russia tensions in Syria, Yemen, Iran, Ukraine, and the Russian periphery, never mind the cyber arena altogether. Let’s spend more time exposing the ways the conversation around Russia points to liberal and progressive acquiescence toward (one might say collusion with) imperialist narratives that only guarantee further death and destruction for poor and working people everywhere.

    Beyond all that, let’s finally start doing the hard work of fleshing out a left foreign policy. Aziz Rana has an urgent piece in N+1 arguing that the left lacks a coherent approach to international affairs, and needs to spend its time articulating a clear response to the “bipartisan cold war ideology that has shaped American elite thinking since the 1940s, organized around the idea that the US rightly enjoys military and economic primacy because its interests are the world’s interests.” Rana lays out a set of principles that can guide the creation of an alternative approach and answer difficult practical questions like “If the US should not be the enforcer of Saudi and Israeli led dictates in the Middle East, what are alternative regional orderings?” and “What would demobilizing significant elements of the national security state look like?” We should do our best to make sure that everyone reads Rana’s piece, and faces up to the challenge he poses. Doing so will require us to be thoughtful and consistent, and to make sure that instead of following the corporate media’s lead on what to be outraged about, we work it out for ourselves and keep things in perspective.


    The media distorts and exaggerates everything to some degree. Recall the adage, "if it bleeds it leads." Media is a business before any other consideration so eyes, ears and MONEY is always more important than ethics or objectivity.

    I do not dismiss Russian meddling only to place it in perspective due to its obvious potential as a bogeyman to be exploited for a multitude of (financial/political) reasons.

    This is a must-read for anyone who needs to understand how the world really works.

    Many good links.
    Last edited by Atypical; 07-22-2018 at 03:38 PM.

  5. Atypical is offline
    07-27-2018, 01:07 PM #85
    I've never been much of a movie fan. There are some, though, that have an import that may be subtle yet fascinating and provide endless opportunities for reflection.

    Many Japanese films fit that category, especially those by Akira Kurosawa. One of his greatest is Rashomon.

    This essay, which is from the great site Aeon, shows how "entertainment" can sometimes be more and capable of provoking significant contemplation.

    Philosophy has a lot to learn from film

    Costica Bradatan

  6. Atypical is offline
    08-02-2018, 12:03 PM #86
    There are many myths that have been around for a long time. They are never debunked because they are useful to those who want to control and manipulate matters to their benefit.

    A significant myth is the country's "debt." It is used to prevent spending on programs that help those who need it and on other beneficial projects that some are not in favor of for political reasons.

    The country's finances are NOT like a family's household income and expenditures but that image is used to scare off attempts at socially appropriate spending. Nevertheless, money is always available for the military and other "necessary" uses.

    Here is one essay about U.S. debt that explains the details.

    The Explicable Mystery of the National Debt

    Finally, there is a movement, MMT, to explain how this myth can be corrected so that artificial and unnecessary constraints can be removed.

    New Economic Perspectives
    Last edited by Atypical; 08-02-2018 at 12:13 PM.

  7. Atypical is offline
    08-10-2018, 01:32 PM #87
    There is stupid, unethical and illegal behavior everywhere. But, that doesn't mean it is evenly spread or equally disgusting. This administration and the rest of the Republicans have established a new world record for those behaviors, and, if you add in the destruction of environmental, consumer and human empathy concerns, they have shown AGAIN how vicious they always are.

    Bill Black is a national treasure who is on the side of the average working person. His credentials are mentioned in this link. In it he explains the current insider trading case against Rep Chris Collins R. You will learn - and laugh - a lot.
    Last edited by Atypical; 08-10-2018 at 01:34 PM.

  8. Atypical is offline
    08-20-2018, 09:40 AM #88
    There are many insidious activities in the country, especially now. Many seem to be innocent so we rarely notice them for what they really are and how they shape our thinking and behavior. Don't look to headline news to sound an alarm.

    The Militarization of Sports and the Redefinition of Patriotism

  9. Atypical is offline
    08-21-2018, 12:04 PM #89
    If one knows the long-term history of the Catholic Church; the financial scandals, the political meddling in countless governments, including collusion with vicious right-wing criminals (e.g., Nazis) and the fraudulent myth on which it is based, the only conclusion is that it always has been and is still a criminal entity.

    Child Abuse, the Catholic Church and the Justice of Real Consequences

  10. Atypical is offline
    08-27-2018, 02:03 PM #90
    It is customary to laud someone who has died, and considered unsympathetic and rude to list things, however true and accurate, that undercut or diminish a believed or preferred image.

    We do ourselves no favors by misrepresenting reality.
    Last edited by Atypical; 08-29-2018 at 04:27 PM.

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