Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! stat from our new age of national security. How many Americans have security clearances? The answer: 5.1 million, a figure that reflects the explosive growth of the national security state in the post-9/11 era. Imagine the kind of system needed just to vet that many people for access to our secret world (to the tune of billions of dollars). We’re talking here about the total population of Norway and significantly more people than you can find in Costa Rica, Ireland, or New Zealand. And yet it’s only about 1.6% of the American population, while on ever more matters, the unvetted 98.4% of us are meant to be left in the dark.
For our own safety, of course. That goes without saying. [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Os – Michael’s Blog
November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War cliches about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth.” What other reason could there have been?
First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons: [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Ou – Michael’s Blog
As we look across the globe this month, the signs of a continued escalation of the impacts of runaway anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continue to increase, alongside a drumbeat of fresh scientific studies confirming their connection to the ongoing human geo-engineering project of emitting carbon dioxide at ever-increasing rates into the atmosphere.
A major study recently published in New Scientist found that “scientists may have hugely underestimated the extent of global warming because temperature readings from southern hemisphere seas were inaccurate,” and said that ACD is “worse than we thought” because it is happening “faster than we realized.”
As has become predictable now, as evidence of increasing ACD continues to mount, denial and corporate exploitation are accelerating right along with it.
Climate Disruption DispatchesThis is the start of the paragraph. [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Oq – Michael’s Blog
The West’s case blaming Russia for the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine last July appears to be crumbling as the German foreign intelligence agency has concluded that the anti-aircraft missile battery involved came from a Ukrainian military base, according to a report by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.
The Obama administration and other Western governments have pointed the finger of blame at Russia for supposedly supplying a sophisticated BUK missile system to ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine who then allegedly used the weapon on July 17 to shoot down what they thought was a Ukrainian military plane but turned out to be Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 people onboard. [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Oo – Michael’s Blog
The call is expected to trigger a major Capitol Hill fight about whether or not tech companies need to give the government access to their users’ data.
“It’s going to be a tough fight for sure,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the Patriot Act’s original author, told The Hill in a statement.
He argues Apple and other companies are taking the privacy of consumers into their own hands because Congress has failed to pass legislation in response to public anger over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Om – Michael’s Blog
Earlier this year my family and I had a chance to travel the world. I had just received a generous advance for my first book, all of our kids were being homeschooled, and the lease was up on our Southern California home. As a family we had crossed the Texas border into Mexico one time, but we had never actually used our passports before. We saw the opportunity to escape the American bubble for an extended trip as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the six of us. What we saw in London and Paris and throughout South Africa during our months abroad was postcard-worthy, but now that we’re back in the states, one thing has stuck with me: For good reason, people view our country like it’s the wild, wild west—and our police are front and center in this popular opinion.
Jump below the fold for more. [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Ok – Michael’s Blog
Based on recently released Census Bureau data, women made up almost half of the workforce last year. Yet, even working full-time and year-round, they were paid only 79 cents for every dollar men made. The wage gap varies considerably between states. Women receive 86 cents for every dollar men make in New York, for example, while in Louisiana, women are paid just 66% of what men earn.
Income inequality is only one of the challenges women face. Across the nation, women are less likely to serve in leadership roles both in the private and public sectors. Health outcomes among female populations also vary considerably between states. Based on 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis, Mississippi is the worst state for women in the nation. [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Oi – Michael’s Blog
I met with Sheldon S. Wolin in Salem, Ore., and John Ralston Saul in Toronto and asked the two political philosophers the same question. If, as Saul has written, we have undergone a corporate coup d’état and now live under a species of corporate dictatorship that Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” if the internal mechanisms that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible remain ineffective, if corporate power retains its chokehold on our economy and governance, including our legislative bodies, judiciary and systems of information, and if these corporate forces are able to use the security and surveillance apparatus and militarized police forces to criminalize dissent, how will change occur and what will it look like?
Wolin, who wrote the books “Politics and Vision” and “Democracy Incorporated,” and Saul, who wrote “Voltaire’s Bastards” and “The Unconscious Civilization,” see democratic rituals and institutions, especially in the United States, as largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power. Wolin and Saul excoriate academics, intellectuals and journalists, charging they have abrogated their calling to expose abuses of power and give voice to social criticism; they instead function as echo chambers for elites, courtiers and corporate systems managers. Neither believes the current economic system is sustainable. And each calls for mass movements willing to carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience to disrupt and delegitimize corporate power. [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Og – Michael’s Blog
“This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained,” the WHO said in a statement, adding that Nigeria’s success could be a lesson for other countries in the world experiencing an outbreak. “Many wealthy countries, with outstanding health systems, may have something to learn as well,” it added.
Ebola first arrived in Lagos, Nigeria—one of the largest cities in the world—on July 20. Global health officials feared the worst, warning that the disease could wreak untold havoc in the country.
But it hasn’t turned out that way. To date, Nigeria has reported only 20 confirmed or probable Ebola cases in a nation of 174 million people. Equally remarkable, there have only been eight deaths—about half the fatality rate experienced by other countries involved in the current outbreak. In fact, Nigeria could be declared Ebola-free as early as October 12. (That date would be 42 days after the last case was diagnosed, or double the maximum amount of time needed for the disease to incubate in a human body—the standard used by global health authorities.) [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Oe – Michael’s Blog
Lost in the venomous arguments that have recently been flying back and forth between Muslims and atheists – on HBO and on op-ed pages, in the United States and beyond – is just how much these two marginalized, underrepresented groups have in common.
According to a Pew poll conducted this year, Muslims and atheists are the two least favorably viewed religious or ethical groups in the US. Both communities are severely underrepresented in the general population – roughly 2% of Americans identify as atheists, compared to 1% for Muslims. Both face rising levels of animosity from the general public. And both tend to be defined by the loudest voices within their communities. [Read more]
– http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Oc – Michael’s Blog