Posted by: quiscus | June 30, 2010

June 30, 2010

1.  “Are the Russians Really Coming?

So what’s the point? Who knows? There are plenty of people in the US government who would look favorably on a souring of US-Russian relations. Perhaps the Obama administration is retaliating for Moscow’s lack of cooperation with the Iranian sanctions. Or maybe the idea is to divert attention away from the spy networks that really matter ….

Day in and day out we are told that al-Qaeda and its allies are relentlessly trying to penetrate the US so they can blow up a few cities with suitcase nukes, or whatever horrific weapon they’ve gotten their hands on, and yet what does the FBI come up with: a dozen or so Russian “moles” left over from the cold war, happily ripping off their bosses for all kinds of goodies (the Murphys got a $400,000 house paid for by Russian taxpayers, and put in their name), and having a good old time in America.

The more we learn about the cabal that didn’t steal a single secret, the louder the alarm on your BS-ometer will ring – that is, if you’re paying attention to the upshot of this case at all. Most people won’t, of course; they’ll just remember the headlines about “Russian spies” and retain a general impression of Russian malevolence – and that’s the whole point. That’s what propaganda – good propaganda – accomplishes.  So we can say, with this little operation: Mission accomplished!”
http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2010/06/29/are-the-russians-really-coming/

2.  “Ending wars peacefully just got harder

The US Supreme Court ruled last week that giving support to groups listed as terrorist is illegal, even if that support is designed to end violence.

The upshot is that work to end the world’s ongoing armed conflicts through peaceful means – mediation support, or training in how to peacefully resolve disputes – comes with a risk of 15 years in prison.

The quiet diplomacy with IRA and loyalist paramilitaries which helped bring about the Good Friday agreement – meetings, training seminars and facilitated dialogues – would now be deemed a terrorist offence.

This clarification of a law first adopted in 1996 and adjusted in the 2001 Patriot Act, is a big setback for American organisations well known for their work in mediation, such as the Carter Center, the American Friends Service Committee or the Conflict Management Group.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/10432265.stm

3.  “Did the Fed Economist Slam Bloggers for the Same Reason that Fundamentalist Priests Slammed the Printing Press?

Kartik Athreya of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank argues that bloggers are stupid, and that only PhD economists have a right to say anything about economics policy.

As I pointed out in December, economists are trained to ignore reality:

As I have repeatedly noted, mainstream economists and financial advisors have been using faulty and unrealistic models for years. See this, this, this, this, this and this.

And I have pointed out numerous times that economists and advisors have a financial incentive to use faulty models.

I think that the question that needs to be asked is how the discipline was untracked and trivialized from its classical flowering? How did it become marginalized and trivialized, taking for granted the social structures and dynamics that should be the substance and focal point of its analysis?…

To answer this question, my book describes the “intellectual engineering” that has turned the economics discipline into a public relations exercise for the rentier classes criticized by the classical economists: landlords, bankers and monopolists. It was largely to counter criticisms of their unearned income and wealth, after all, that the post-classical reaction aimed to limit the conceptual “toolbox” of economists to become so unrealistic, narrow-minded and self-serving to the status quo. It has ended up as an intellectual ploy to distract attention away from the financial and property dynamics that are polarizing our world between debtors and creditors, property owners and renters, while steering politics from democracy to oligarchy…

[As one Nobel prize winning economist stated,] “In pointing out the consequences of a set of abstract assumptions, one need not be committed unduly as to the relation between reality and these assumptions.”

As Upton Sinclair said:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Michael Rivero may have the hardest-hitting critique of all:

This seems to be a return to the mindset of the middle ages where only the clergy were allowed to read and interpret the bible and the laity were presumed incapable of comprehending the intricacies and subtle nuances of the faith.

And indeed there is a great deal of similarity between economics and [fundamentalist version of] religion in that both depend on the unquestioning faith of the masses that those pretty printed pieces of paper represent something real, albeit invisible.

But the advent of the printing press led people to take a closer look at the actual content of [fundamentalist version of] religion and it has been revealed not as a complex and sophisticated system but as a mish-mash of half-baked myths and legends often in contradiction with itself and used to enrich the church ….

The same is true of eocnomics. the advent of the blog has led people to take a closer look at the actual content of economics and it has been revealed not as a complex and sophisticated system but as a mish-mash of half-baked theories and math often in contradiction with itself and used to enrich the bankers and conceal their fraud against the public. Athreya is reacting to the blogs the way [fundamentalist] priests reacted to Gutenberg’s Printing Press.”

http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2010/06/did-fed-economist-slam-bloggers-for.html

4.  “Gulf of Mexico Presents Unprecedented Toxicity Problems

All of this sounds bad, and it is, but here`s the kicker: as part of the earth`s interconnected ecosystem, rain water comes from the oceans. So, it shouldn`t be a surprise that scientists are predicting severe destruction across the U.S. from toxic rains – and it appears the first cases are being reported about 400 miles from the Gulf. In fact, hundreds of acres of Tennessee farm land are at risk.

The crops have small, raindrop-sized burn marks on them and while the mainstream media is reporting crop damage, they haven`t yet made the connection between the toxic, chemical-ridden rains and the potential crop failure. It`s being reported that these raindrop-sized burn marks are affecting everything in sight, and no plant is immune. Dead birds are also being found nearby. These crops may fail and if they do survive, it`s likely they`ll be toxic to consume because plants being watered with toxic chemicals will absorb those chemicals into their cells.”

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19962

5.  “New study documents media’s servitude to government

A newly released study from students at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government provides the latest evidence of how thoroughly devoted the American establishment media is to amplifying and serving (rather than checking) government officials.  This new study examines how waterboarding has been discussed by America’s four largest newspapers over the past 100 years, and finds that the technique, almost invariably, was unequivocally referred to as “torture” — until the U.S. Government began openly using it and insisting that it was not torture, at which time these newspapers obediently ceased describing it that way

The behavior is even more egregious when government dictates (as of now, this is no longer torture) lead directly to the change in media behavior.  And the ultimate effect of this joint government/media obfuscation is to further entrench the destructive notion that we’re different, exceptional, better, and therefore we deserve even a different language to describe what it is that we do.  This Harvard study documents the exact process by which the political class convinces itself and others that bad and illegal things are, by definition, only what those Bad, Other Foreign Countries do, but never ourselves.”

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/06/30/media/index.html

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