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FIP Year In Review

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2015-07-15
Multiple Discoveries from NASA's New Horizons Pluto Mission

2014-07-09
R.I.P. William 'Bill' Herbert Kelder - Intellpuke

2013-11-28
Gamers Donate 37,500 Pounds Of Food To Needy

2013-09-30
Statement From The Whitehouse Regarding The Government Shutdown

2013-09-29
An Open Response To 'Organizing for Action'

2013-08-26
Bayou Corne: The Biggest Ongoing Disaster In The U.S. You Have Not Heard Of

2013-04-21
Boston Mayor Hopes Feds 'Throw the Book' at Marathon Bombing Suspect

2013-04-19
Boston Police Closing In On Suspects

2013-04-15
2 Explosions At Boston Marathon. 2 Dead, Many Injured.

2013-01-03
The Press vs Citizens Rights and Privacy - Act 3

2012-12-30
CBS News - Year In Review 2012

Nature.com - 366 Days: 2012 In Review

The Guardian - 2012 In Review: An Interactive Guide To The Year That Was

TruTV - The Biggest Conspiracy Theories of 2012

Colbert Nation: 2012: A Look Back

FIP Year In Review(s?)

2012-12-25
Happy Holidays

2012-12-21
Welcome To A New Era!

2012-12-16
An Open Letter To United Health Care, Medcom, And The Medical Insurance Industry In General

2012-11-17
Whitehouse Petition To Remove "Under God" and "In God" From Currency And The Pledge.

2012-11-15
December 21, 2012

2012-11-11
If Hillary Clinton Ran For President, She Would Probably Be The Best-prepared Candidate In American History

2012-11-10
CIA Director David Petraeus Resigns After FBI Investigation Uncovers Affair With High-Profile Journalist

FIP Format Update

2012-11-07
Thank you for voting.

2012-11-06
Live Election Results

2012-09-30
FIP In Hiatus

2012-09-18
U.S.-Afghan Military Operations Suspended After Attacks

Iran Nuclear Chief Says IAEA Might Be Infiltrated By 'Terrorists And Saboteurs'

Romney Stands By Gaffe





Free Internet Press - News Aggregator
Updated every 10 minutes.
Talking race, faith 2 weeks after Sam DuBose killing
2015-08-03 04:11:47 (2 days ago) 

Sundays for some are a day of reflection, praise, questioning, prayer.

        
 
Morning Updates: A skyscraper just lost its famous name, and Mayor Walsh looks past the Olympics
2015-08-03 04:11:41 (2 days ago) 
Mayor Marty Walsh calls for fixing up Widett Circle in the post-Olympic era, the Hancock Tower gets a lame name change, and the rest of the news you need to know today.








 
Boy, 9, dies after being hit by bat
2015-08-03 04:11:38 (2 days ago) 
A nine-year-old boy dies after being accidentally hit in the head by a bat during a baseball game in the USA.
 
Saudi King Leaves France After 8 Days of Beach Controversy
2015-08-03 04:10:03 (2 days ago) 
Saudi king leaves France after 8 days of controversy over closed public beach
 
Wildfire continues to burn in California - video
2015-08-03 04:02:28 (2 days ago) 
 
Injured Canberra Raider Sia Soliola forced to drive 24 hours from Townsville after NRL loss
2015-08-03 04:02:04 (2 days ago) 
Hearing your season could be over is bad enough, let alone being forced to drive 24 hours to get home. 
 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 04:00:12 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 04:00:12 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Indigenous activist Murrumu detained after refusing to recognise former name
2015-08-03 03:50:58 (2 days ago) 
 
Obama White House says carbon emissions cuts legal under Clean Air Act
2015-08-03 03:50:57 (2 days ago) 
 
Islanders search for MH370 parts
2015-08-03 03:50:34 (2 days ago) 
Steve Wang still listens sometimes to the last voicemail his mother left for him before she boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
 
Morning Updates: A skyscraper just lost its famous name, and Mayor Walsh looks past the Olympics
2015-08-03 03:50:27 (2 days ago) 
Mayor Marty Walsh calls for fixing up Widett Circle in the post-Olympic era, the Hancock Tower gets a lame name change, and the rest of the news you need to know today.








 
Boy, 9, dies after being hit by bat
2015-08-03 03:50:24 (2 days ago) 
A nine-year-old boy dies after being accidentally hit in the head by a bat during a baseball game in the USA.
 
New Mexico Gov. Martinez: 'Coward' Set off 2 Church Blasts
2015-08-03 03:50:02 (2 days ago) 
New Mexico Gov. Martinez says 'coward' who set off 2 church explosions will be caught
 
How the AP-GfK poll on water was conducted
2015-08-03 03:40:31 (2 days ago) 
 
5 things to know about Congress' fight over Planned Parenthood videos as Senate showdown nears
2015-08-03 03:40:31 (2 days ago) 
 
These two New Hampshire girls are on a mission to get a selfie with every single presidential candidate
2015-08-03 03:40:02 (2 days ago) 
Two New Hampshire high school girls, Emma and Addy Nozell, are on a mission to get a selfie with every presidential candidate.








 
Barbarous beheading inflicted on innocent robot tourist
2015-08-03 03:32:10 (2 days ago) 
 
Police Officer and Several Others Are Struck by Speeding Vehicle in Jersey City
2015-08-03 03:31:55 (2 days ago) 
The officer was taken to Jersey City Medical Center, along with 11 other people, who were in stable condition, officials said.









 
[Ticker] Poroshenko promises Crimean Tartars road-map for future in Ukraine
2015-08-03 03:31:49 (2 days ago) 
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has pledged to develop a road map for giving Crimea national territorial autonomy within the Ukrainian state. He gave the promise in a speech to the second World Congress of the Crimean Tatars held in Ankara over the weekend.








 
[Ticker] Merkel considering fourth term in office
2015-08-03 03:31:49 (2 days ago) 
German chancellor Angela Merkel is considering a fourth term in office, Der Spiegel reported on Saturday. The news magazine said Merkel had already held a meeting with senior party aides in her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to discuss an election campaign strategy for 2017.








 
MH370: Islanders in Indian Ocean search for more debris
2015-08-03 03:30:49 (2 days ago) 
 
Morning Updates: A skyscraper just lost its famous name, and Mayor Walsh looks past the Olympics
2015-08-03 03:30:35 (2 days ago) 
Mayor Marty Walsh calls for fixing up Widett Circle in the post-Olympic era, the Hancock Tower gets a lame name change, and the rest of the news you need to know today.








 
Channel delays prompt seafood talks
2015-08-03 03:30:32 (2 days ago) 
Alternative ways for Scottish seafood producers to get their products to market during the ongoing Calais crisis are to be discussed at a meeting.
 
Analysis: US-Turkey deal on Syria a big gamble
2015-08-03 03:30:30 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are both taking a big gamble as they agree to work together against the Islamic State group militants in Syria....
 
Water & farmers: Things to know about AP-GfK drought poll
2015-08-03 03:30:29 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds most Americans think of water as a limited resource that can be depleted if people use too much. When asked to rate priorities when water is scarce during a drought, more said agriculture should be a top or high priority over residential needs, wildlife and industry....
 
How Florida's Racketeer Cops Laundered Drug Money, Lived Lavish Lifestyles
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
Two Sunshine State police departments turned drug law enforcement into a lucrative racket. What a shock.

An investigative report by the Miami Herald published today reveals that two local Florida police agencies engaged in a slick money laundering scheme ripped from a Hollywood movie, reaping a whopping $2.4 million for themselves in drug money.

The Tri-County Task Force, which consisted of officers from two small police agencies, the Glade County Sheriff’s Office and Bal Harbour Police Department, laundered millions of dollars via SunTrust Bank through countries including Panama and China, the Herald found.

Per the Herald:

The Tri-County Task Force turned a money-laundering investigation into a multi-million-dollar enterprise, spending lavishly on travel and dining while picking up suitcases stuffed with drug cash from as far away as Los Angeles and San Juan.

The officers used fake names to set up seven accounts, starting in 2009, with the help of SunTrust official Ivan Morales, laundering millions each month.

The so-called sting operation laundered a total of $71.5 million — but did not result in any arrests. The illegal cash was moved overseas despite U.S. policy that forbids it.

In the course of the operation, officers picked up $152,740 from a woman pushing a baby stroller in Queens. The money was sent to Panama. The next month they did it again, but picked up the money from outside the Blue Bay Diner in Flushing, New York.

“They wanted to pump as much money as possible,” Michael McDonald, a trial consultant and former Internal Revenue Service special agent who supervised money-laundering stings, told the Herald. “It was off the wall.”

The task force has been disbanded, and officials are in the midst of trying to track down its lavish expenses, which include $100,000 laptops, iPads and other electronics. The officers flew first class, stayed at resorts for $350 a night and enjoyed dinners with $1,000 tabs.

“It was an off-the-charts, clandestine pot of money,” Jorge Gonzalez, the Bal Harbour village manager, told the Herald. “It seemed like they had carte blanche to do whatever they wanted to do.”

 

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Why Deep Red States Are Rethinking the Death Penalty
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
There are few things that embody big government more than capital punishment.

Marc Hyden hasn’t always opposed capital punishment. The first time he remembers talking about the subject he was six years old, standing on the playground of his elementary school, telling a friend he supported the death penalty because his parents were Republicans.

“It was more of a glacial change,” says Hyden of his own path to opposing capital punishment. “I had always been taught that this is what conservatives do, that we support the death penalty.” But as he grew older, the more and more he learned about it, the harder and harder it was for him to justify his support of the practice. “I was grasping.”

Hyden has since stopped grasping. Now 31, he’s one of the nation’s leading conservative anti-death-penalty activists, a small but growing group that sees the death penalty as antithetical to conservative values and the cause of limited government. Expensive, inefficient, and lethal, execution has come to represent much that’s wrong with big government today in many conservatives’ minds—particularly millennials.

And Hyden is one of their most visible spokesmen. As the national advocacy coordinator at Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (CCATDP), a project at Equal Justice USA, Hyden speaks at Republican conferences and clubs, liaises with the media, attends Tea Party rallies, and is, more generally, part of an insurgency of conservative activists seeking to end capital punishment in deep red states.  

That movement has been most visible in Nebraska, where a campaign to ban the death penalty has inspired fierce debate among the state’s deep red electorate. This past May, Nebraska’s heavily Republican legislature voted both to pass LB268, a repeal of the state’s death penalty, and override a veto from Republican Governor Pete Ricketts. But death penalty advocates like Ricketts have vowed not to go down without a fight.

On June 1, Nebraskans for the Death Penalty, a recently formed group of the governor’s political allies, filed an initial petition with the Secretary of State to put a repeal of LB268 on the state’s ballot in 2016. They have until August 27 to get approximately 57,000 signatures. If they get twice that number, the law will be stayed until the election.

“The governor has shown that he’s pretty passionate about saving Nebraska’s death penalty. I don’t really understand why, personally,” says Matt Maly, a coordinator for the Nebraska state branch of the CCATDP. Together with Nebraskans for Public Safety he has been working to fight the ballot initiative. According to Maly, it’s still unclear whether or not the pro-death penalty group will get the required number of signatures in time.

Abolishing the death penalty, a reform wholly endorsed by Bernie Sanders, in Nebraska—a state so red that, in 2012, Mitt Romney carried 92 of its 93 counties (a majority of them by more than 70 percent)—may seem contrary to its political reality, especially in light of the attempt to put it on the ballot. But, as Maly is quick to point out, it’s not.

“There are a lot of Nebraskans who don’t want this—who don’t want to bother with all of this effort to try and reinstate the death penalty,” says Maly.

And the numbers corroborate his claims. While, nationally, only 17 percent of Republicans oppose capital punishment, in Nebraska, 40.9 percent of registered Republicans support replacing the death penalty with life without parole. Overall, 48 percent of Nebraskans would replace the death penalty and only 35 percent would keep it.

It’s tempting to see Nebraska and these polling numbers as the latest, albeit unexpected, example of an increasingly liberal America—a fluke instance in which a conservative community is an early adopter of a progressive idea. But, Nebraskans are embracing abolition because of their conservatism, not in spite of it.

“Conservatives don’t like big government,” says Maly, “They don’t like ineffective, expensive programs. And that’s exactly what the death penalty is.”

“Conservatives don’t like big government,” says Maly, “They don’t like ineffective, expensive programs. And that’s exactly what the death penalty is.”

The mere concept of the state putting someone to death is antithetical to the principle of limited government. “There’s no greater power than the power to take a life, and our government currently retains that authority,” says Hyden, “If you don’t trust a government to deliver a piece of mail or launch a healthcare website, why would you trust them to take a life?”

All of the evidence suggests that we shouldn’t.

Since 1973, 155 people sentenced to death have been exonerated. Many of the conservative activists and activists working in red states whom I talked to said that the events their groups put on at which exonerees or their families speak about their experiences are among their most influential and well-received. Heather Beaudoin, who runs CCATDP alongside Hyden, actually got into the field after stumbling across an event with an exoneree being held at the Helena, Montana, college where she was working.

As for the cost, in 2012, an article in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review estimated that, between 2013 and 2050, capital punishment would cost the state of California an additional $5 billion to $8 billion. In other words: if, instead of seeking the death penalty, California just accepted a sentence of life without parole in every capital case, the state would save as much as $216 million a year, even after paying the cost of imprisoning those prisoners for the rest of their natural lives. In Maryland, a report from the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center found that cases ending in capital convictions cost the state on average $3 million, $1.8 million more than capital-eligible cases in which the death penalty is not pursued. A 2014 report from solid red Idaho’s legislature was hesitant, but said, “Simply having death as a sentencing option costs money.”

In addition to state finances, local budgets are also affected. Maly likes to tell the story of Richardson County, Nebraska, which had to mortgage all of its ambulances just to pay for a capital case in a state that hasn’t carried out an execution in almost 20 years.

These conservative arguments against the death penalty aren’t just taking hold in Nebraska. They seem to be having an effect in other deeply conservative states, as well.

One state south, in Kansas, a repeal bill was introduced in the House this year, but it failed to advance. According to Mary Sloan, the executive director of the non-partisan Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, the bill will carry over into the 2016 legislative session and is expected to have Democratic, moderate Republican, and conservative Republicans sponsors. Sloan is optimistic about the bill’s chances, citing a need to focus on more immediate issues like the budget, and not a lack of support, as the reason for its failure to advance this year.

Tennessee, another conservative state, is not, as Kansas appears to be, on the brink of abolition, but it’s still closer to getting rid of the death penalty than you may think. Stacy Rector, the executive director of Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, says a few years ago she would have said her state was a decade or so away from passing a repeal—now her best guess is three to five years.

“It feels like the speed at which things are changing has kicked into high gear,” she says.

And this is a theme that almost everyone who I talked to repeated—that the tide was beginning to turn against the death penalty, and fast.

“Right now there’s 19 that have repealed,” says Maly, “The best case scenario is we continue to knock off states, getting rid of this wasteful program quicker and quicker. And it looks like that’s starting to happen.” Among the states Maly believes to be close is Kansas, but also North Carolina, Montana, Colorado, and New Hampshire. There are even nascent movements and groups appearing in states like Texas, Florida, and Alabama.

The obvious question to ask is, of course, Why now?

There’s an argument to be made that it’s, at least in some part, a product of generational change. The more libertarian-leanings of young Republicans are well documented. Sixty-eight percent of millennial Republicans, for example, support the legalization of marijuana, compared to just 47 percent and 38 percent of their Gen X and Boomer counterparts, respectively. The death penalty seems to be another one of those issues in which young Republicans are choosing limited government over the traditional party line.

When he goes out and talks to young people, Hyden definitely notices how receptive they are to his arguments about government overreach. “I love talking to young people,” he says, “They tend to be much more skeptical of government power, in general.”

But, according to Sloan, the change is in no way limited to people under 35. More than anything else, she says, the death penalty is a matter of public education, and opinion is shifting because more people are becoming informed on the ills of the system—a sentiment her counterparts from other states echoed.

“You find that when you’re really able to sit down with someone and have a conversation about the way the system is actually functioning—that’s where we gain ground,” says Beaudoin, who works mainly with Evangelical communities, “It’s no longer a conversation about the death penalty in theory.”

In the end, it’s a testament to the activists in these deep red states that the tide is beginning to turn. And, while the fight isn’t yet over in Nebraska, it seems to have given them energy—not that they needed it.

On the day the Nebraska legislature voted to override Governor Ricketts’s veto, one state south, the staff of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty was streaming coverage of the vote in their offices across the state. “All of the staff members in Topeka were watching,” says Sloan, “When the governor’s veto was finally overridden we were all cheering.”

 Related StoriesThe New Holy Grail of Republican PrimariesRepublicans Need to Find a New Culture War to FightThe Republican War on Vegetables
 
People Are Dying from Contaminated Food, but Obama and Congress Don't Seem to Care
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
A sweeping food safety reform bill was passed five years ago, but not a single new rule has yet been implemented — and people continue to die.

In 2010, after thousands of Americans were sickened by tainted spinach, peanut butter and eggs, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a sweeping reform bill that gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new powers to help ensure the safety of the nation's food system. It was the nation's first major food policy legislation since FDR signed the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938. But now, five years later, according to a recent POLITICO investigation, not a single one of the new rules has been implemented and the entire mission has a $276-million funding gap. So what happened?

The FSMA, which affects every facet of the nation's food system, was a big victory for Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), the bill's author, who had been advocating food-safety reform for two decades. (Dingell stepped down in January and was succeeded by his wife Debbie Dingell, also a Democrat.) The bill gives the FDA — which is responsible for 80 percent of America's food supply — additional authority to regulate food facilities, establish safe produce standards, issue mandatory food recalls, oversee imported foods and require improvements in surveillance and outbreak response. The new legislation also requires the agency to undertake over a dozen rule makings and issue at least 10 guidance documents. It had wide support from both trade associations and consumer advocacy groups, and was passed with strong bipartisan margins.

"Americans are dying because the Food and Drug Administration does not have authority to protect them, and American producers and agriculture are being hurt," Dingell told the Washington Post after the House passed the 159-page bill by a vote of 283-142 in July 2009. "This will fundamentally change the way in which we ensure the safety of our food supply." He suggested that preventing a mere 10 percent of outbreaks of food borne illnesses would save the economy $15.2 billion. That figure is based on the estimate, made by former FDA economist Robert Scharff, that foodborne illness costs about $152 billion a year.

The act is "bigger than anything since Teddy Roosevelt cleaned up the meatpacking industry," writes Helena Bottemiller Evich, who reports on food and agriculture for POLITICO. "The law mandated more inspections and much tougher anti-contamination standards for everything from peaches to imported pesto sauce, and it placed more emphasis on preventing outbreaks than on chasing them down after people become sick."

In addition to conferring new powers to the FDA, the FSMA gives new responsibilities to food producers and importers — including some 360,000 facilities here and abroad — such as paying an annual $500 registration fee to help fund the FDA's inspections, research and enforcement of the law.

But trouble started brewing early on. In February 2011, barely a month after President Obama signed the FSMA into law, Rep. Dingell wrote a letter to the House budget and appropriations committees, expressing his concerns about the efforts to slash FDA funding:

[I]t is demonstrably clear that preventing outbreaks of food-borne illness is far less costly to our government, business, and society than allowing them to occur…While I understand the need for fiscal responsibility in this time of unprecedented budget deficits, it is imperative that we not compromise public safety in the name of being 'penny-wise but pound foolish.'

Today, with none of the new rules implemented and a huge funding gap that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, cannot be made up in the fees to producers, the American public is still waiting for a better food safety system. And as the funding shortfall continues, so too do the potential dangers. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of imported goods that the FDA regulates increased by 35 percent, yet the agency inspects or samples less than 1 percent of them.

It's an impossible task: About $2 trillion worth of products from more than 230 countries enter the United States every year. So the FDA must focus heir efforts on inspections based on risk. In 2012 (the most recent year for which data is available), the FDA and the states under contract with the agency inspected or attempted to inspect more than 24,000 domestic food facilities, while the FDA inspected more than 1,300 foreign food facilities. Those numbers are up from a little over 19,000 domestic food facilities and less than 1,000 foreign food facilities the previous year.

And while the FDA continues its Sisyphean task, people continue to become ill, be hospitalized and die from food they believed was safe to eat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of food borne diseases. The leading causes of annual deaths are Salmonella (378/year), Toxoplasma (327/year), Listeria (255/year) and norovirus (149/year). The food industry also takes a big hit from tainted food, with an estimated loss of more than $75 billion in lost sales, legal expenses and recalls.

Evich characterizes the current situation as an opportunity squandered: "A law that could have been legacy-defining for President Barack Obama instead represents a startling example of a broad and bipartisan policy initiative stymied by politics and the neglect of some of its strongest proponents." She adds:

The breakdown of food-safety reform is also a reminder of how quickly momentum can be lost without leadership. The White House has routinely put nutrition policy ahead of food safety, sat on key regulations for months and made only halfhearted attempts to fund the law, according to dozens of interviews with current and former government officials, industry leaders and consumer advocates. Congress, too, bears blame: With no real pressure from the White House or the public, Capitol Hill has given the FDA less than half of what the agency says it needs to actually enforce the new rules, once they take effect. And many of the industry lobbyists and advocates who once championed the measure have turned their attention to other, more pressing policy battles.

In the meantime, outbreaks continue to happen. Since the FSMA became a law, thousands of people have become sick and several dozen have died from contaminated cantaloupes, salad greens, pomegranate seeds, sushi tuna and cilantro, to name a few. Earlier this year, Blue Bell Creameries recalled their entire line of ice cream due to a Listeria outbreak.

The FSMA also has its critics. Some farmers and their GOP allies on Capitol Hill argue that the law gives too much power to the federal government, places undue financial and logistical burdens on food producers and won't actually make Americans any safer.

"The federal government will tell our farmers and ranchers how to do something they've been doing since the dawn of mankind," said Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.). "It goes too far in the direction of trying to produce food from a bureaucrat's chair in Washington, D.C."

Sarah Parsons, a former Farm Fellow at Duke Campus Farm, a one-acre, student-led sustainable farm and a multiyear project to construct an educational farming facility on Duke University land, argues that the new regulations create a burden on smaller conventional as well as organic farms:

FSMA has the potential to be costly for some farms, particularly smaller farms, and it places a large logistical burden on farmers. According to the FDA, the costs required to update a farm’s operations to be in compliance with the new FSMA rules can range anywhere between about $4,500 for a small farm to about $30,500 for a larger farm. When considering a small farm that grosses $25,000 a year, $4,500 is a large cost. Such high costs can also deter beginning farmers and potentially put smaller farms out of business. FSMA … requires intensive documentation that can be unreasonable for smaller farms to complete, given the smaller size of their staff. Additionally, should a farm want to maintain sales to direct markets (such as restaurants and farmers’ markets), it seems unnecessary that farms be required to comply with FSMA rules. It appears as though the intent of FSMA is to create additional safeguards against the risk of food contamination at a large scale. In instances, where large amounts of produce are being transported to markets and institutions across the country, then there is a place for FSMA …However, in instances where it is easy to trace food back to the farmer (i.e. when food is sourced directly from the farm to a restaurant or a farmers’ market), it does not seem as necessary to require these additional regulations and safeguards. On a small scale, a farmer, who has a direct relationship with a restaurant or his customer, is already heavily affected by the burden of accountability. It is in the direct interest of the small farmer to provide quality produce, because he is likely to lose his customers if he does not. The onus of accountability may be burden enough …Another major issue with FSMA is that it creates regulations only for biological contaminants on produce. Therefore, it places an undue burden on farms that use organic and sustainable practices. Conventional farms that use synthetic chemicals are not included in the new FSMA regulations. This reality raises the question that we, as a society, have to ask ourselves. Should we not be equally concerned about chemical contaminants on our food as we are biological contaminants?

The FSMA's supporters and critics should be able to agree on one thing: Americans are still getting sick and dying from the food they eat, in worrisome numbers. A large reason for that is the fact that the nation's food safety system is broken. And the FSMA isn't fixing it — at least not yet. Perhaps the FSMA breakdown is a symptom of a much bigger broken system, one in which historic legislation meant to protect public health can be enacted — and then immediately forgotten by those who enacted it.

Evich points out that the country's food safety system was "born out of crisis" when the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and Federal Meat Inspection Act was passed as a response to the horrifying conditions at the meatpacking plants in Chicago, which were brought into public view by Upton Sinclair's book, "The Jungle," published in the same year. Since then, Evich says, the system for safeguarding America's food supply "has unfolded in a piecemeal and reactive fashion," which has "created a regulatory monstrosity of a dozen poorly coordinated federal agencies that give the illusion of comprehensive coverage but in reality are woefully inadequate to the task of protecting the nation’s food supply."

But without proper funding or a champion in Washington, the FSMA remains as woefully inadequate as the system it was meant to fix. "Whether you agree with him or not, this president is picking his own legacies and he is stepping it up as he nears the end," said Dan Flynn, the editor-in-chief of Food Safety News. "And when he is off doing prison reform, trade, Cuba, Iran and the others, it is easy to see how food safety could fall between the cracks."

In "The Jungle," a speaker at a socialist rally pleads to the working man to free himself from wage slavery: "Can you not see that the task is your task — yours to dream, yours to resolve, yours to execute?” He might as well have been speaking to President Obama and Congress about their task to protect the American people from the food they eat.

 Related StoriesGMO Soy Accumulates Formaldehyde and Disrupts Plant Metabolism, Says New StudySenate Bill Seeks to Repeal Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for Beef, Pork and ChickenBig Food Wants You to Believe These 7 Products Are Healthy
 
AP-GfK Poll: Americans Favor Farmers & Food During Drought
2015-08-03 03:30:12 (2 days ago) 
AP-GfK poll: Americans favor farmers over industry, wildlife & residential use during drought
 
Give me your tired, your poor … the Europeans embracing migrants
2015-08-03 03:20:38 (2 days ago) 
 
Amal Clooney to fight for Greste
2015-08-03 03:20:33 (2 days ago) 
Lawyers will pressure the Egyptian president to pardon Peter Greste if he and his colleagues are convicted again.
 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 03:20:03 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 03:20:03 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Collection of creepy and unnerving images ¨NSFW¨
2015-08-03 03:11:46 (2 days ago) 
submitted by illegitimatetimelord to creepy
[link] [103 comments]
 
Trump tells staffer 'You're fired!' after racist posts
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
DONALD TRUMP's campaign fired a staffer yesterday for what it said were racially offensive Facebook posts. "Effective immediately, Sam Nunberg, a low-level political adviser, is no longer associated with the Donald Trump For President campaign," Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said in an interview.
 
In the Nation
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
 
ISRAEL
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
Israeli leaders proposed harsh new measures Sunday to curb "Jewish terrorism," following a wave of extremist violence. An Israeli teen died Sunday after being stabbed by a Jewish extremist at a gay pride parade last week. Hours earlier, thousands of Israelis held antiviolence rallies across the country. Israelis were reeling from the recent violence that included Jewish s
 
Funding Planned Parenthood
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON - Republicans will likely lose Monday's Senate showdown over halting federal aid to Planned Parenthood. Yet the political offensive by abortion foes has just started, prompted by a batch of unsettling videos that has focused attention on the group's little-noticed practice of providing fetal tissue to researchers.
 
Trump tells staffer 'You're fired!' after racist posts
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
DONALD TRUMP's campaign fired a staffer yesterday for what it said were racially offensive Facebook posts. "Effective immediately, Sam Nunberg, a low-level political adviser, is no longer associated with the Donald Trump For President campaign," Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said in an interview.
 
In the Nation
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
 
ISRAEL
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
Israeli leaders proposed harsh new measures Sunday to curb "Jewish terrorism," following a wave of extremist violence. An Israeli teen died Sunday after being stabbed by a Jewish extremist at a gay pride parade last week. Hours earlier, thousands of Israelis held antiviolence rallies across the country. Israelis were reeling from the recent violence that included Jewish s
 
Funding Planned Parenthood
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON - Republicans will likely lose Monday's Senate showdown over halting federal aid to Planned Parenthood. Yet the political offensive by abortion foes has just started, prompted by a batch of unsettling videos that has focused attention on the group's little-noticed practice of providing fetal tissue to researchers.
 
Politicians can't be left unwatched
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
Baer Growls IT'S HARD not to notice - as I noted in a column Thursday - the uptick in public corruption, especially in Philly and Pennsylvania.
 
In Delco, hot campaign a trois in your mailbox
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
Tomorrow’s special election in Delaware County has an odd mix of candidates, outside interest and lots of ugly mail.
 
John Wiernicki | Architect, survivor, 89
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
John Wiernicki, 89, a U.S. Postal Service architect who as a teenage partisan fought Nazi invaders in his native Poland and survived more than a year in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, died July 17 at his home in Bethesda, Md. The cause was pneumonia, said his son Chris Wiernicki.
 
Program honors graduates who choose the military
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
He was surprised seven years ago when he realized how little public recognition was given to high school graduates who chose military service over college.
 
John Paul Knox, lawyer, community leader
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
John Paul Knox, 87, formerly of Oreland, a lawyer in Montgomery County for many years, died Tuesday, July 21, of cancer at Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, a retirement community in Charlottesville, Va.
 
EXCLUSIVE: Odds are slim of finding affordable housing in NY
2015-08-03 03:11:37 (2 days ago) 
There were 696 applications for every "affordable" apartment offered in city lotteries dating back to July 2013.








 
Alive and kicking: Australia's animal export trade booms despite persistent claims of cruelty
2015-08-03 03:11:14 (2 days ago) 
 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 04:11:42 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 04:11:41 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Boy, 9, dies after being hit by bat
2015-08-03 04:11:38 (2 days ago) 
A nine-year-old boy dies after being accidentally hit in the head by a bat during a baseball game in Kansas.
 
Greece: Stock Market Reopens With 22 Percent Loss
2015-08-03 04:10:03 (2 days ago) 
Greece's stock market reopens after a month, plunges over 22 percent in early trading
 
Obama White House says carbon emissions cuts legal under Clean Air Act
2015-08-03 04:02:28 (2 days ago) 
 
San Fernando Valley weather forecast: Sunny, breezy for Monday
2015-08-03 04:01:22 (2 days ago) 

The San Fernando Valley on Monday morning will see patchy low clouds and fog, becoming sunny with 15 mph south winds in the afternoon. Highs will be in the mid 80s to low 90s.

Monday night will be mostly clear with areas of 15 mph south winds in the evening, becoming partly cloudy. Lows will be in the 60s.

 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 04:00:12 (2 days ago) 









 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 04:00:12 (2 days ago) 









 
Family in mourning after toddler killed in West Bank arson attack – video
2015-08-03 03:50:58 (2 days ago) 
 
Wildfire continues to burn in California - video
2015-08-03 03:50:57 (2 days ago) 
 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 03:50:28 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 03:50:27 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
The Fukaminato River landslide in Japan
2015-08-03 03:50:04 (2 days ago) 
Even better footage has now emerged of the Fukaminato River landslide in Japan, which appears to be occurring at the site of an old quarry
 
Raging Northern California Wildfires Prompt Evacuations
2015-08-03 03:50:02 (2 days ago) 
Raging Northern California wildfires prompt evacuations; thousands of homes still threatened
 
Authorities: 2 women dead from suspected drug overdoses after collapsing at music festival
2015-08-03 03:40:31 (2 days ago) 
 
Raging Northern California wildfires prompt evacuations; thousands of homes still threatened
2015-08-03 03:40:31 (2 days ago) 
 
Morning Updates: A skyscraper just lost its famous name, and Mayor Walsh looks past the Olympics
2015-08-03 03:40:02 (2 days ago) 
Mayor Marty Walsh calls for fixing up Widett Circle in the post-Olympic era, the Hancock Tower gets a lame name change, and the rest of the news you need to know today.








 
Psychologist who trains cops to shoot first, ask questions later makes big money at their trials
2015-08-03 03:32:02 (2 days ago) 
submitted by helpmeredditimbored to news
[link] [110 comments]
 
Lens Blog: Visualizing the Common Core Curriculum
2015-08-03 03:31:55 (2 days ago) 
A photographer went back to school to complete an assignment: helping people visualize the much-contested educational initiative known as the Common Core.









 
[Ticker] Tsipras admits to having authorised euro-exit contingency plan
2015-08-03 03:31:49 (2 days ago) 
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday confirmed in parliament that he had authorised former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to draft a euro-exit contingency plan. Varoufakis has been hit with lawsuits over his role in preparing a contingency plan in the event of Greece being forced to leave the euro.








 
Former Beau Biden Adviser Joins Effort to Get Joe Running
2015-08-03 03:31:47 (2 days ago) 
A senior adviser to Joe Biden's late son Beau is joining the Draft Biden Super PAC to lay the financial groundwork for a potential presidential bid.









 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 03:30:37 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 03:30:35 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Trinity Mirror 'profits on course'
2015-08-03 03:30:32 (2 days ago) 
UK newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror says it expects to hit its profit forecasts for 2015, as half-year revenues and profits fall.
 
Analysis: US-Turkey deal on Syria a big gamble
2015-08-03 03:30:30 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are both taking a big gamble as they agree to work together against the Islamic State group militants in Syria. Their goals, while overlapping in some ways, are far different in others, mainly on the question of how to handle Kurdish militants battling Islamic State fighters in Syria. And that's the problem....
 
2 women dead from suspected drug overdoses at music fest
2015-08-03 03:30:29 (2 days ago) 
POMONA, Calif. (AP) -- Two women died from suspected drug overdoses at a popular weekend music festival, prompting calls for an investigation and concern over the use of narcotics at youth-oriented events....
 
Joe Biden Aides Discussing Possible 2016 Run With Democratic Leaders, Report Says
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
New York Times says vice-president’s sons urged him to run.

The dying wish of Vice-President Joe Biden’s son was reportedly that his father run for the White House in 2016, against Hillary Clinton.

 

Beau Biden, the attorney general of Delaware and a US military veteran who served in Iraq, died in May of brain cancer at the age of 46. The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that after he found out he was not going to live, Beau Biden tried to make his father promise to enter the race for the Democratic nomination.

“Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralysed,” Dowd wrote. “But he had a mission: he tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”

Dowd also wrote that Biden’s other son, Hunter, “also pushed his father, telling him, ‘Dad, it’s who you are’”.

Quoting “several people who have spoken to Mr Biden or his closest advisers”,the Times subsequently reported: “Mr Biden’s advisers have started to reach out to Democratic leaders and donors who have not yet committed to Mrs Clinton or who have grown concerned about what they see as her increasingly visible vulnerabilities as a candidate.”

Biden, a long-term US senator from Delaware, ran for president in 1988 and 2008. In the 2008 primaries he trailed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Clinton went on to serve as Obama’s first secretary of state and is now the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

Clinton has come under sustained criticism from Republicans over her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, as well as the September 2012 attack on a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya.

A third Biden run has long been rumoured, and the vice-president scores highly in polls concerning the Democratic field despite not having declared his candidacy.

Clinton’s opponents are led by the independent Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, the only candidate to score even relatively close to her in the polls. The former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia senator and Reagan administration navy secretary Jim Webb and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee have also declared their candidacies.

While Biden has done little to lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign, he has maintained a loyal network of political advisers and has gone out of his way to stay in contact with longtime supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Dowd wrote that though Biden “gets along with Hillary and has always been respectful of the Democratic Party’s desire to make more history by putting the first woman in the Oval Office”, the vice-president “has been having meetings at his Washington residence to explore the idea of taking on Hillary” in the early voting states.

At Beau Biden’s funeral in Wilmington, Delaware, in June, President Obama delivered a tearful eulogy. The president and vice-president embraced, after Obama said he considered himself and his family to have become honorary members of “the Biden clan”.

 

Reports of a tense relationship between the Obamas and Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have persisted throughout the Obama presidency.

“The No 1 thing voters want is a candidate who is honest and trustworthy, and the veep is leading in those polls,” the Times quoted William Pierce, executive director of the Draft Biden Super Pac, as saying.

In concluding her column, meanwhile, Dowdwrote: “When Beau was dying, the family got rubber bracelets in blue – his favorite color – that said ‘WWBD’, What Would Beau Do, honouring the fact that Beau was a stickler for doing the right thing.

“Joe Biden knows what Beau wants. Now he just has to decide if it’s who he is.”

 
We Have the Left And Right All Wrong: The Real Story Of the Politics Of Nostalgia And Tradition
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
It's no longer the right who wants a return to the past.

Ever since Edmund Burke, founder of the conservative tradition,declared, “The very idea of the fabrication of a new government, is enough to fill us with disgust and horror,” pundits and scholars have divided the political world along the axis of time. The left is the party of the future; the right, the party of the past. Liberals believe in progress and the new; conservatives, in tradition and the old. Hope versus history, morrow versus memory, utopia versus reality: these are the stuff of our great debates.

In “The Reactionary Mind,” I argued that this view of the political divide is incorrect, at least as it pertains to the right. Beginning with Burke, conservatives have been less committed to tradition or the past than to a hierarchical vision of society. In Burke’s case, it was aristocrats over commoners; in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it would be masters over slaves, employers over employees, husbands and men over women and wives. And so it remains: the most consistent feature of contemporary American conservatism is the GOP’s war on reproductive freedom and worker rights.

When it comes to history, conservatives have demonstrated a flexibility about time best captured by an aristocratic character in “The Leopard,” Giuseppe Di Lampedusa’s novel about nineteenth-century Sicily: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” In defense of an established order of power, any innovation can be countenanced, any past disposed of. Time, in other words, is not the key.

But if the right’s window does not open onto the past, must the left’s open onto the future? Not necessarily, claim two fascinating new books: Steve Fraser’s “The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power” and Kristin Ross’s “Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune.” When it comes to past and future, they show, the left can be as ambidextrous as the right. What’s more, it may be the left’s ability to look backward while marching forward that explains its most potent moments of power and possibility.

Fraser is our preeminent historian of America as a capitalist civilization. No one is more attuned to the inner vibrations of our monied culture: the brazen fantasies of its wildest speculators, the embittered rage of its most abject victims, how the market both awakens desire and stokes dreams of revenge. Writing a prose of sinuous beauty, Fraser has brought a sense of high literature to everything from labor leader Sidney Hillman to Wall Street, reminding one of those poets the critic Floyd Dell once described as “seismographs of social disturbance.”

In ”Age of Acquiescence,” Fraser pursues a comparison often noted between our time and what Mark Twain called “The Gilded Age,” those decades of the last turn of the century when wealth and power were gathered at the top and powerlessness and poverty collected at the bottom. Why, Fraser asks, do workers and citizens today accede to the inequalities and injustices of capitalism that they refused to accept 100 to 150 years ago? After the Civil War, farmers and workers responded to the explosion of corporate power and financial wealth with desperate acts of violence and audacious feats of political creativity. The reason they could see a utopia beyond industrial capitalism, says Fraser, is that they remembered a reality before industrial capitalism. Their vision of the future was fueled by a memory of the past.

In 1820, 80% of Americans were self-employed; by 1940, 80% worked for someone—or something—else. “The individual has gone,” declared John D. Rockefeller, “never to return.” Driven into the mills and the mines or onto the rails, these refugees from the shop and the farm were injured, maimed, or killed (35,000 per year) by industrial capitalism. They were the lucky ones. Many Americans couldn’t get work at all. In the 1870s, unemployment became a census category for the first time. So desperate were jobless New Yorkers that they got themselves arrested just to enjoy a night off the streets, in jail. They also struck, marched, organized, bombed and killed, launching decades of class warfare, literal and metaphoric, that would haunt the country’s elites for years to come.

The fact of unemployment, Fraser writes, struck these men and women “as shocking, unnatural, and traumatic,” as did the astronomic new wealth of the nation’s plutocrats. That’s because they remembered a life before wage labor and their pervasive dependence on—and the compulsion of—the market. So powerful was this memory of a pre-capitalist past that it framed the way they understood their enemies: well into the twentieth century, Fraser reminds us, FDR was railing against “economic royalists” and “Tories of industry.” Not merely as propaganda but as a residue of the world not long ago left behind.

But it was precisely that memory, Fraser argues, that shock of the new, that made these rebels so ready to demand something even newer: a cooperative commonwealth, in which production would be collectively managed and profit democratically shared. Scandalized by the novelty of capital, they did not opt for an escapist nostalgia. They instead turned to the state, traditionally an object of opprobrium, and demanded that it assume new responsibilities: take over industry, tax wealth, supply credit, store surpluses—all for the sake of a vision drawn from a pre-capitalist past:

It is undeniable that the movement owed its fervor and sense of political and moral peril to the republican, smallholder mentality of the Revolution. Passionate attachments to immemorial traditions and ancient creeds—one might say to a useable or empowering past—were conjoined to creative methods of reconfiguring the future, all as a way of escaping the torments of an intolerable or even fatal present.

What Fraser shows, with vivid set pieces drawn from the nation’s most violent battlefields, is that far from presenting itself as the enemy, the past was viewed by workers and farmers as a resource and an ally. In part because the capitalist right so heartily embraced the rhetoric of progress and the future (no one, it seems, was content with the present). But more than that, historical memory enabled workers and farmers to see beyond the horizon of the capitalist present, to know, in their bones, what Marx was constantly struggling to imprint upon the mind of the left: that capitalism was but one mode of economic life, that its existence was contingent and historical rather than natural and eternal, and that because there was a past in which it did not exist there might be a future when it would cease to exist. Like the nation, capitalism rests upon repeated acts of forgetting; a robust anti-capitalism asks us to remember.

Perhaps, a critic might respond, this is a peculiarly American story. It’s long been noted how devoted Americans are to the Revolution and the republic it created. It should come as no surprise, then, that even America’s most violent radicals would resort to a vocabulary of the past. One must turn to Europe’s revolutions, our critic might conclude, to hear what a true left sounds like. One must listen to the wildest voices of French Revolution, 1848, and the Paris Commune.

Except, this is what those voices sounded like:

I must of necessity turn back to past times, and even times a very long while passed; and you must believe I do so with distinct purpose of showing you where lies the hope for the future, and not in mere empty regret for the days which can never come again.

That’s William Morris, the English socialist who “during the 1880s,” writes Kristin Ross, “would become Britain’s most vigorous and creative supporter of the memory of the Paris Commune.” Morris features prominently in Ross’s book on the Commune of 1871, Paris’s 72-day experiment with radical democracy that ended with the French army’s massacre of thousands of Parisian citizens.

The Commune is one of the most storied events in the history of the European left (just last year, the Yale historian John Merriman offered a blow-by-blow account of those fateful 72 days and their bloody aftermath in his “Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune“). Ross, a literary critic at NYU, takes a novel approach to that story, examining what it was that the Communards said they were doing and how their admirers—particularly Morris, the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin, and Marx—relayed and recast their words in the most far-flung precincts of Iceland, Siberia, even Idaho.

Ross is the perfect guide for such a journey: few critics are more attuned to how words and images can travel. In July 1871, for example, just months after the Communards had been slaughtered, Morris toured Iceland. Ross follows him there, to the volcanic countryside, only to find him “reminded by the loose stones on the edges of the lava fields of ‘a half-ruined Paris barricade.’”

One of the most visually spectacular acts of the Commune was the toppling of the Vendôme Column on May 16. Built originally as a monument to France’s victories under Napoleon, it had come to represent the despotic regime of his nephew Napoleon III. Tickets to the event were sold to Parisians, who gathered by the thousands to watch this assault on a hated symbol of the Second French Empire. Nearly 20 years later, Ross notes, Morris would replay this event in his novel “News from Nowhere,” when he imagines London’s “Trafalgar Square, cleansed of its own imperialist monumentality” in the form of Nelson’s Column, transformed “into an apricot orchard.”

Ross has an acute eye for this juxtaposition of the pastoral and the political, how the vines of nature can overtake the monuments of empire, how revolutionary events can interrupt the silence of the countryside. Like Morris, she is drawn to parables, especially parables about travel across not just space (as in the lava fields of Iceland) but also time:

Parable, from the Greek meaning “beside,” plus “casting, putting, turning”: a “putting beside” or “putting side by side.” A parable is not about going backwards or reversing time but about opening it up—opening up the web of possibilities. In this case… as a way of recruiting past hopes to serve present needs.

Ross does not argue, in the manner of Fraser, that the memory of pre-capitalist society fired the imagination of the Commune, whose far-reaching proposals included daycare centers for working-class children that would house “‘an aviary full of birds’ to combat boredom, ‘the great malady of young children.’” She focuses instead on how the Commune prompted a renewed interest, among radicals like Marx and Kropotkin, in pre-capitalist institutions like the Russian obshina, the agricultural property held by a village in common.

We must “not be frightened of the word ‘archaic,’” Marx writes Vera Zasulich in a letter that Ross cites as a clue to Marx’s post-Commune writings about Russian agrarianism. What’s most significant about these and Kropotkin’s writings, Ross shows, is how much they eschew nostalgia and romanticism. Neither writer looks for or finds an arcadian past in the countryside. Both seek instead a source of information about the capitalist present and insight into a possible communist future: it was the isolation of the Paris workers from the peasants in the countryside, Marx was convinced, that had allowed the French state to crush the Commune so easily. Understanding the countryside would be key to moving forward, not merely tactically but imaginatively. In turning to the past, Marx was perhaps returning to one of his earliest insights, which he formulated in an1843 letter to Arnold Ruge:

It will then become evident that the world has long dreamed of possessing something of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality. It will become evident that it is not a question of drawing a great mental dividing line between past and future, but of realising the thoughts of the past. Lastly, it will become evident that mankind is not beginning a new work, but is consciously carrying into effect its old work.

In his “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” Burke is supposed to have given voice to the conservative dispensation by describing society as “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” Yet who in and around the Commune had greater sensitivity to the delicate and mutual dependencies of past and future: The anarchist Kropotkin, who spent an entire week in prison tapping out the history of the Commune to his young neighbor in the next cell, lest it be forgotten? The Communard geographer Élisée Reclus, who called for solidarity “between those who travel through the conscious arena and those who are longer here”? Or the reactionaries in charge of the French regime, who spent the better part of the 1870s forbidding anyone who managed to survive the Commune from carving any mention of it on their gravestones?

 

 
Body Cams Can Capture Abuse, But Can They End Police Brutality?
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
Criminal justice experts say much more is needed to really reform police departments nationwide.

The swift first-degree murder charge filed against a former University of Cincinnati police officer after his body camera captured him shooting an unarmed black man to death reflects how crucial video is in proving police misconduct.

When Ray Tensing pulled Samuel Dubose over on July 19, his body camera captured the entire stop. After Dubose was unable to produce a license and prevented Tensing from opening the driver door of his vehicle, the former cop shot him in the head. Tensing claimed he was being dragged by the car, which was proven untrue. A police report of the incident also shows officers on the scene lied about seeing Dubose’s car “dragging” Tensing.

Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said that, without body camera footage, he would have “nothing” and that “it would have been a very, very different case.”

The power of camera footage was also on display in North Charleston, S.C., earlier this year when police officer Michael Slager was captured on cell phone video shooting Walter Scott in the back. He was immediately fired and charged with first-degree murder. Several California cities, including Oakland and San Diego, have reported a decline in complaints against officers after members of their departments began wearing body cameras.

The idea of body cameras is popular with national politicians. Hillary Clinton, a leading presidential candidate, has called for all police departments to outfit their officers with body cams. In December, Obama proposed to spend $75 million for 50,000 body cameras, but funding is being stalled in Congress. At the moment it is not clear exactly how many police departments are using body cameras. The ACLU estimates that 25 percent of the nation’s 17,000 law enforcement agencies use them. Over the past few months, more local departments have begun pilot programs to test body camera technology, so the idea is catching on.

As critical as body cameras are in exposing police abuses, law enforcement experts told AlterNet that policymakers at the local and national levels need to do much more to curtail police brutality. Tensing wore a body camera, but still ended up abusing his power and shooting Dubose to death for no reason.

“It just goes to show how ineffective body cameras are and will be in reducing these kinds of incidents,” Shafiq R. Fulcher Abdussabur, a former president of the National Association for Black Law Enforcement Officers who works as a police sergeant in New England, told AlterNet. “Body cameras do not deter police misuse of deadly force. They just capture it. That’s all they do.”

Alexandra Moffett-Bateau, an assistant professor of political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, added that body cameras are an incomplete solution.

“I think body cameras are a necessity given the political climate that we live in, but I'm not sure they are the answer,” Moffett-Bateau told AlterNet. “We saw in the filming with Sandra Bland that all of this technology can be tampered with in one way or another. So, yes, they are making a difference, but I'm not sure that they are the best or even the most effective solution.”

Some issues with body cameras include the discretion officers have in turning them on or off during a stop and at which point. A report reviewing the NYPD’s body camera pilot program recommends that officers turn on their cameras during all interactions with the public, as opposed to just "reasonable suspicion" interactions as currently required. A police monitor wrote in a report of the Denver Police Department’s body camera pilot program that, out of 80 use of force accidents, usable footage was available just 47 percent of the time.

Will officers face severe disciplinary actions if they do not turn on their body cameras? How often are body cameras monitored by supervisors and who is making sure footage is being properly stored on a regular basis, untampered? Can we even trust police officers to turn over video of possible misconduct to local prosecutors? These are some of the myriad questions regarding body cameras.

Robert Gangi of the Police Reform Organizing Project, in New York City, says officers like Tensing need to know that if they abuse their power, the law won’t protect them. AlterNet shared some reform ideas he favors, including police review boards having subpoena powers and ending the doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which protects officers from lawsuits that allege they violated a private citizen's civil rights. But even those wouldn’t go far enough.

The problem, Gangi says, is that cops are often evaluated on quota-based policing such as “broken windows” and other tactics that focus on racking up arrests that have been shown to disproportionately target minorities. In New York City, more than 80 percent of people arrested under “broken windows” for the past 13 years have been black or Latino. Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told NPR that some of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country use quota systems. In 2013, the Los Angeles City Council settled a $6 million lawsuit with a group of police officers who accused their supervisors of enforcing a secret quota system for traffic tickets. As the Washington Post reported, black people are far more likely to be pulled over for a traffic violations than white or Hispanic people. American Indians are more likely to be pulled over than any other race.

“Quota systems put pressure on cops to make these kinds of arrests and give out these kinds of tickets on a monthly basis,” Gangi told AlterNet. “It leads to discriminatory behavior by the police. Body cameras will help in certain instances, but they won’t change the nature of policing.”

So what will?

Moffett-Bateau believes police reform needs to be a national issue led by Washington with reforms that are as similarly far-reaching as the Civil Rights Act of 1965 for the country to see real change. “The federal government needs to get involved and overhaul the entire criminal justice system from top to bottom,” she said.

Martin O’Malley, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, revealed his criminal justice reform plan to Ebony.com Friday. One of his reform plans would be to nationalize use of force standards. The plan says O’Malley “will support legislation to require states to review and amend their own use of force laws to comply with federal guidelines.”

Eric Sanders, a former NYPD officer who currently works as a civil rights attorney, says cops have too many legal protections. He believes police officers’ internal review records should be made available to the public but many states have laws preventing that from happening. New York is one of 11 states that protect cops’ personnel files. So, if an officer is abusing his or her power on the job, it is nearly impossible for the public to gain access to that information. Police advocates claim that cops have a right to privacy, but Sanders, who served with the NYPD for more than 12 years, doesn’t agree.

“When you take that job, you waive a lot of the private parts of your life because you’ve been given so much authority,” he said. “Yet we turn around and say, ‘We don’t want people to use our records against us.’ No, no, no, no, no. You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. The bottom line is this: If the cop is clean, they are professional and doing what they are supposed to do, then you don’t have to worry about that.”

The overprotection of cops played out in San Diego, the same department that reported a decline in complaints. The SDPD refused the release video footage of at least two shootings in 2014 because the video was captured on devices pay for with tax dollars and the cops wearing them were on public payroll, so it’s not public record. If body cameras become a national standard, clarity over the rights of the public having access to the footage will have to be addressed.

Abdussabur, who wrote the book A Black Man’s Guide to Law Enforcement In America, says more training is needed. While activists like Rev. Al Sharpton and other national leaders have balked at the recommendation of more training as a reform tool, Abdussabur believes increased mandatory training that focuses on de-escalating conflicts and dealing with minority communities will make a difference. After officers leave the academy, they really don’t undergo much training to help them understand the communities they serve, he added.

“There is no mandatory training nationwide that says, ‘Police officers must be trained on how to deal with black people,’” he said. “We train police officers on how to use a gun. They don’t come in knowing how to use one. That firearms training is drilled into them until it becomes a second-nature habit of behavior when they’re out in the field. When they’re out in the field and see that black male dressed in red, we don’t want them thinking, ‘His name is probably Snukkie and he runs with the Bloods.’ Instead, we want training that specifically aims at removing false stereotypes and negative perceptions about black people.”

But Sanders says the real issue is that too many police departments cover up abusive behavior, and until the culture that protects bad cops is dismantled, body cameras won’t be enough to weed them out.

“Police work is not for everybody,” he said. “The problem is the screening process where you find out that officers are no longer suitable for police work and you don’t get rid of them. What we do is keep the same problem cops over and over again. Everyone knows who they are. They don’t get rid of them. There are no consequences for bad behavior. That’s the problem.”

 Related StoriesWhite Officer Pepper-sprays Crowd at Black Lives Matter Summit in ClevelandWATCH: Chicago Woman Shouts N-word At Black Mom — Then Lectures Her About the Constitution5 Black Women Have Been Found Dead in Jail in the Last Month
 
Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah Finishes First at the Haskell Invitational
2015-08-03 03:20:44 (2 days ago) 
A
 
Tut review – ‘Having an Oscar winner on board doesn’t give Tut gravitas. It’s still tosh, but jolly tosh’
2015-08-03 03:20:38 (2 days ago) 
 
After Haskell win, a few things to know about Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and team
2015-08-03 03:20:31 (2 days ago) 
 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 03:20:03 (2 days ago) 









 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 03:20:03 (2 days ago) 









 
I have a friend who hasn't seen "The Sixth Sense" and doesn't know the twist. I feel like I've discovered a unicorn or something.
2015-08-03 03:11:46 (2 days ago) 

So a little background: me and some friends of mine have been having these movie nights on and off for about a year or so. We were planning on having a Matrix-thon at some point, but when we brought that up to another friend, and she told us she didn't even know what The Matrix was about. Turns out there's a ton of big, famous movies she's never seen, so its kind of become a priority for us to show them to her.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago and we're going through my movies to pick something to watch, at which point she admits to us that she's never seen the Sixth Sense. We asked her if she knew the twist, and she looked at us confused and said "no". The rest of us had seen it, so obviously we got a little excited. She didn't have enough time to watch it, so we've been putting it off until the next time we can get together.

Have any of you met anyone who hasn't been spoiled on a well known twist? What was their reaction to it?

submitted by FriendGuy255 to movies
[link] [251 comments]
 
In the World
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
 
Shuttle wreckage on view
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA is offering up wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia for public view after hiding it from the world for decades.
 
Christie's policy focus isn't lifting him out of the pack
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
Facing New Hampshire voters at a recent town hall-style meeting, a Republican presidential candidate advocated for strengthening the military, repealing Obamacare, and providing treatment for drug addicts.
 
A new wave of buzz about a Biden run
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON - Vice President Biden's associates have resumed discussions about a 2016 presidential run after largely shelving such deliberations while his son was sick and dying this year. But Biden has yet to tell his staff whether he will run or personally ask them to do any planning for a potential campaign, according to several people close to the vice president.
 
In the World
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
 
Shuttle wreckage on view
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA is offering up wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia for public view after hiding it from the world for decades.
 
Christie's policy focus isn't lifting him out of the pack
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
Facing New Hampshire voters at a recent town hall-style meeting, a Republican presidential candidate advocated for strengthening the military, repealing Obamacare, and providing treatment for drug addicts.
 
A new wave of buzz about a Biden run
2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON - Vice President Biden's associates have resumed discussions about a 2016 presidential run after largely shelving such deliberations while his son was sick and dying this year. But Biden has yet to tell his staff whether he will run or personally ask them to do any planning for a potential campaign, according to several people close to the vice president.
 
IRA could help fund master's degree - but what about tax penalty?
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
Reader just left a government job and wants to get a degree in social work.
 
Traveling Canadian robot destroyed in Philly
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
HitchBOT had made its way through Germany, the Netherlands and its homeland, but couldn’t survive Philadelphia.
 
Evelyn B. Cramer, 96, teacher
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
Evelyn Burtis Cramer, 96, an elementary schoolteacher in Burlington County from 1950 to 1975, died Wednesday, July 29, at the Evergreens, the retirement community in Moorestown where she had lived since 1999.
 
Christie's policy focus isn't lifting him out of the pack
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
Facing New Hampshire voters at a recent town hall-style meeting, a Republican presidential candidate advocated for strengthening the military, repealing Obamacare, and providing treatment for drug addicts.
 
Power plant rules to change
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON - Aiming to jolt the rest of the world to action, President Obama moved ahead Sunday with even tougher greenhouse-gas cuts on American power plants, setting up a certain confrontation in the courts with energy producers and Republican-led states.
 
EXCLUSIVE: Donald Trump tried to push out street vendors
2015-08-03 03:11:37 (2 days ago) 
Donald Trump is just wild about veterans — as long as they’re not doing any peddling around his fancy Fifth Ave. digs.








 
Greece debt crisis: Athens stock exchange opens - live
2015-08-03 03:11:14 (2 days ago) 
 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 04:11:42 (2 days ago) 









 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 04:11:41 (2 days ago) 









 
'Bin Laden' crash airport reopens
2015-08-03 04:11:38 (2 days ago) 
An airport that was closed after a private jet crashed killing three members of Osama Bin Laden's family reopens.
 
Users of Jessica Alba’s Honest Company Sunscreen Are Posting Photos of Epic Sunburns
2015-08-03 04:02:43 (2 days ago) 
A
 
Greece debt crisis: Athens stock market falls 23% after reopening - live
2015-08-03 04:02:28 (2 days ago) 
 
Asia Markets: Asian markets fall as Chinese factory data prompts jitters
2015-08-03 04:00:24 (2 days ago) 
Asian shares drop amid jitters about weakening Chinese manufacturing data and continued declines in commodity prices.
 
These two New Hampshire girls are on a mission to get a selfie with every single presidential candidate
2015-08-03 04:00:12 (2 days ago) 
Two New Hampshire high school girls, Emma and Addy Nozell, are on a mission to get a selfie with every presidential candidate.








 
Books of The Times: Review: ‘The Economics of Inequality,’ by Thomas Piketty
2015-08-03 03:51:27 (2 days ago) 
Mr. Piketty follows up “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” last year’s landmark economic analysis, with a slightly revised version of a book he wrote in 1997.
 
Wildfire continues to burn in California - video
2015-08-03 03:50:58 (2 days ago) 
 
Chefchaouen: Inside Morocco's beautiful blue city
2015-08-03 03:50:37 (2 days ago) 
 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 03:50:28 (2 days ago) 









 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 03:50:27 (2 days ago) 









 
Water & Farmers: Things to Know About AP-GfK Drought Poll
2015-08-03 03:50:02 (2 days ago) 
Water limits, agriculture & development: Things to know about AP-GfK drought poll
 
9-Year-Old Bat Boy Dies After Being Struck by Bat
2015-08-03 03:50:02 (2 days ago) 
A 9-year-old bat boy for a Kansas baseball team died Sunday, one day after he was accidentally struck by a bat during a game.
 
Obama's outreach to congressional Democrats on Iran pact gets high marks as they weigh deal
2015-08-03 03:40:31 (2 days ago) 
 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 03:40:03 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Jurors in Boston’s next death penalty case will likely be asked about Boston Marathon bombing trial
2015-08-03 03:40:02 (2 days ago) 
Federal prosecutors in Boston’s next death penalty case plan on asking potential jurors about the Boston Marathon bombing trial.








 
Your identity is safe with us.
2015-08-03 03:32:02 (2 days ago) 
submitted by jagershotzz to funny
[link] [103 comments]
 
Athens stock exchange to reopen
2015-08-03 03:31:49 (2 days ago) 
The Athens stock market opens Monday after five weeks of closure meanwhile the political tensions surrounding the Greek crisis continue to simmer as the French finance minister criticises his German counterpart for 'Grexit' plans.








 
[Ticker] France and Britain appeal for EU-wide action on Calais migrant crisis
2015-08-03 03:31:49 (2 days ago) 
In a joint letter published in French and British newspapers, UK Home Secretary Theresa May and her French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, have called on other EU countries to help curb the flow of refugees to Europe. The call comes as 1000s of migrants attempt to reach the UK via Calais.








 
Tony Abbott denies Bronwyn Bishop offered inducements to quit as Speaker
2015-08-03 03:31:16 (2 days ago) 
 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 03:30:36 (2 days ago) 









 
Residents of the neighborhood where a mother was shot fear they cannot escape the violence
2015-08-03 03:30:35 (2 days ago) 









 
AP-GfK poll: Americans favor farmers & food during drought
2015-08-03 03:30:30 (2 days ago) 
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- When water gets scarce and the government slaps restrictions on its use, who should be first in line at the spigot? Farmers, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll....
 
Analysis: US-Turkey deal on Syria a big gamble
2015-08-03 03:30:29 (2 days ago) 
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are both taking a big gamble as they agree to work together against the Islamic State group militants in Syria....
 
The Evil Behind Cosby And Polanski: Can We Overcome Our Long, Painful History Of Rape And Power?
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
Can the cycle be broken?

This week’s extraordinary cover story by reporter Noreen Malone and photographer Amanda Demme in New York magazine, in which 35 women come forward to accuse Bill Cosby of rape or sexual assault – in considerable and often wrenching detail — ought to dispel the last shreds of doubt or ambiguity around the legendary comedian. To protect our proprietors and shareholders, journalists are still required to describe the charges against Cosby as unproven allegations, especially since he will almost certainly never face prosecution for any of them. I’m going to abide by those rules for those reasons, although they’re clearly ridiculous. None of the excuses or rationalizations floated over the years by Cosby’s defenders seem remotely sustainable in the face of all that overwhelming first-person testimony.

Given that the known number of Cosby accusers now approaches four dozen (11 more women were interviewed by New York’s reporters but declined to be identified), it requires either prodigious imagination or a prodigiously low opinion of women to suggest that they were all cases of misinterpretation or drunken consensual sex or conspiracy to blackmail or shameless promiscuity or sociopathic distortion of reality. If anyone in this terrible story has a distorted perception of reality, it isn’t the women who have spent years or decades struggling with the fact that they had been shamefully abused by an iconic and beloved celebrity.

But Bill Cosby is just one person, depraved as he may be, and the thorny moral questions posed by the slow and dreadful unraveling of his public persona as America’s dad go well beyond him. This might sound like an antiquated conception, but the whole Cosby story offers an opportunity for tremendous moral education and clarification to everyone in our society, I think, because the whitewashing of Cosby’s alleged crimes was a collective cultural phenomenon. That moment ought to have particular resonance for men and for members of the media, who have long observed a half-conscious code of silence when it came to male public figures, have often viewed the testimony of women as inherently unreliable, and have often lured themselves into a theological understanding of sexual consent as a profound mystery understood only by God.

But our moment of moral clarity will only pay benefits if we’re honest about the things we still don’t understand. Some questions have now been answered in the Cosby story, but other, bigger ones loom ahead. These are all interconnected, but we can start by describing them separately. How widespread is this kind of behavior among prominent and powerful men? Are there numerous other examples of male celebrities who have repeatedly abused women (or men, for that matter), but who have been more successfully insulated by layers of intimidation and money? Why was Cosby protected so assiduously by so many people for so long, when in retrospect the truth has been visible for years? Last comes a question that may seem peripheral but I think is fundamental: Why is Bill Cosby apparently convinced that he is not a rapist?

Now I’m going to turn those questions around, because the answer to that last one is easy (if profoundly uncomfortable) and because it leads to a greater understanding of the others. Some people have speculated, in the wake of this overwhelming wave of similar anecdotes, that Cosby may suffer from mental illness, or a pathological state of denial in which he does not remember or understand his own actions. I wouldn’t know, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Bill Cosby doesn’t think he’s a rapist because, under the terms of his own moral code, he is not a rapist.

I know exactly how that sounds. To be clear, I am not saying that the difference between right and wrong is purely a question of interpretation, and that Cosby is entitled to his own definition of rape. I’m saying that he is a product of a particular historical understanding of human sexuality and the essential nature of male-female relations, which is now widely seen as unacceptable but which continues to plague us. He is not the only person who is profoundly confused about these shifting codes and meanings, and that confusion represents a much larger problem. I’m also saying that we boil these questions down to unchanging absolutes about right and wrong at our peril; if we attempt to deny that morality is a mutating social process rather than an inflexible set of laws, we are likely to miss the most important lessons of the Cosby story.

These questions of perception and definition come up repeatedly in the first-person accounts of Cosby accusers compiled for that New York story. Malone observes that in his infamous “Quaalude deposition,” responding to the 2005 assault allegations made by Andrea Constand, “Cosby seemed confident that his behavior did not constitute rape.” He depicted himself instead as a rakish womanizer who was deeply attuned to “people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things.” In many cases the survivors of Cosby’s alleged assaults did not understand what had happened to them as rape until much later. In the words of Joan Tarshis, who says that Cosby raped her in 1969, “Back then, rape was done in an alleyway with somebody holding a knife to your throat that you didn’t know.” But the shifting legal and cultural understanding of rape, and the decades of feminist struggle that introduced unfamiliar concepts like date rape and marital rape into everyday usage (along with the fact that most rape victims know their assailants), are only one aspect of our agonizingly slow moral evolution.

Bill Cosby is not an isolated case or an anomaly. I don’t just mean that movie stars and tycoons and politicians have done the same things he allegedly did (or worse) as far back as we can see, although that’s clearly true too. Many people in Hollywood will tell you privately that the reason film-industry insiders were not more exercised by the case of Roman Polanski was that it did not strike anyone as unusual or especially egregious, at least compared to other stories they had heard from the rumor mill. In this reading, Polanski got caught for doing something once that Cosby has allegedly done dozens of times: Drugging a young woman into insensibility and raping her. To conclude the Hollywood-insider narrative, Polanski was a confused European whose wife had recently been murdered and who simply didn’t understand how the game was played. If he had gotten hold of the right lawyer and the right fixer the next day and written a sufficiently large check, it would have been just another ugly secret swept under the showbiz carpet.

I’m not offering this as a defense for his crime, but one thing we can say about Polanski is that at least he understood he had done something wrong. Cosby’s apparent defiance or moral blindness look especially alarming in the contemporary context, which is one of the few aspects of this story that is genuinely encouraging. Those 35 women who came forward in solidarity have used their stories of personal trauma to shine a light on the path we are traveling, a long and painful evolutionary process in the moral, legal and physical relationship between men and women. We no longer define female human beings as the property of their fathers and husbands, or as a subordinate caste with some but not all of the attributes of citizenship. But those are extremely recent changes in terms of human history, and to put it mildly they are not universally accepted in all quadrants of our society or all parts of the world. As with the story of the quest for racial justice in America, the principle of legal equality for women, although it was critically important, was quite likely the easy part.

Those of us raised in the liberal West in the aftermath of the Enlightenment may wish to understand certain moral truths as self-evident, to borrow the revolutionary phrase of slave-owning hypocrite Thomas Jefferson. History sits there grinning, with blood on its claws, suggesting that such sanctimony is misplaced. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the white dudes who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 weren’t quite sure whether the “inalienable rights” enumerated by Jefferson were meant to encompass all of humanity or just those individuals endowed by their Creator with specific characteristics of skin tone and gender assignment (not to mention Virginia tobacco acreage). A few of the more foresighted among them accurately perceived that the interpretation of that phrase was likely to cause major problems down the line for their newborn republic.

If we could clamber into our time machine with a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and go tell a 10th-century Viking raider, or a Greek warrior of the Homeric period, that it was morally unacceptable to rape the women in the cities he pillaged and burned, how do you suppose that would go? No concept of universal human rights or citizenship would have been remotely comprehensible to that person, still less any notion that women could determine their own destiny. (If our time machine had any integrity, it would strip us of those ideas during the journey, since they would be likely to get us killed.) It would be grossly inaccurate, however, to suggest that those societies lacked a sense of morality. If we told Achilles or Erik the Red that it was cruel to rape the women after eviscerating their husbands and children, they would enthusiastically agree: Cruelty was generally understood in those cultures as a virtue that exemplified valor and fearlessness.

We have indeed come a long way since then, although I see no prospect that the process of moral evolution can ever reach a conclusion. You can argue the Jeffersonian position that absolute moral standards do exist, even if human society has barely begun to comprehend them or put them into practice. (In other words, rape and torture and marrying your siblings have always been wrong, but for millions of years we simply didn’t know it.) Or you can take the darker view of 20th-century philosophy, which suggests that morality can only be a cultural, conditional and contextual process. Either way we arrive at the same conclusions about Bill Cosby: He was or is trapped in an outdated moral artifice, one shaped by a long, lingering legacy of misogyny and violence in which men understood themselves as predators and women as prey. He doesn’t think he’s a rapist; he thinks he’s doing what guys have always done. In order to grasp the moral lessons of the Cosby story, we have to face the fact that he’s right about that second part, while also insisting that it’s no longer a valid excuse.

We look at Bill Cosby now and express understandable shock and outrage, but after that we might do well to take a long look in the mirror and think about how and why we permitted him to hurt so many women over so many years. We are all heirs to that long tradition of sexual violence to a greater or lesser extent, and have all been shaped by its ideological and psychological effects. (As I understand it, this is pretty much what is meant by the controversial feminist term “rape culture.”) On some level – conscious for some people but unconscious for most – we didn’t want to face the truth about Cosby’s alleged crimes because it raised too many unresolved fears and unanswered questions.

When I say that Bill Cosby is not alone, that’s what I’m talking about. He is an extreme example of a diabolical dilemma that affects literally everyone and all aspects of human life. It is one thing to agree that women can vote and own property and hold citizenship, even if the legal equality of women remains an extremely contentious matter that is unevenly applied. It is quite another matter to move past the long history of our species, in which women were prized possessions or unpaid servants or the spoils of war – in which rape was understood as the natural order of things (if it was even understood as rape) – and toward an understanding of women as the moral equals of men, as sexual free agents and as the authors and subjects of their own stories. By coming together and speaking out, Bill Cosby’s accusers have offered us a startling moment of clarity, and have brought us a step or two closer to that goal.

 

 
How To Be Filmed Murdering a Man, Cover It Up, Be Free On Bail, And Ask For Your Job Back
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
Privilege at a whole new level. How to achieve what's posed in the headline? Be a police officer.

Only in America could a man do what Officer Ray Tensing did—be filmed blowing a man's head off, be filmed telling at least 21 lies about what led to him blowing said man's head off, be charged with murder, strongly condemned by the prosecutor, and then be free in a few hoursto ask for his job back. Yes, he asked for his job back.

That's exactly what has happened in this case.

Because it is incredibly gruesome, the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office chose not to release, at first, the full video of the murder of Sam Dubose by Officer Ray Tensing. I understand that, but by ending the video after the fatal shot was fired, we were all deprived of the opportunity to see something truly heinous—the outrageous fictional story concocted by Ray Tensing to justify a completely avoidable murder. See for yourself below.


It is this video, and this video alone, that caused Officer Ray Tensing to be charged with murder.

He was not caught in the vehicle. He was not dragged. He was not about to be run over.

In the video, Tensing claims these things, over and over and over again, and even feigns injury and pain from the dragging. His two fellow officers can be heard saying that they saw it as well. All lies. Incredibly, the DA decided not to press charges against these two additional officers, claiming that they participated fully in the investigation.

So incredible are Tensing and his union that they are actually claiming, in spite of the glaring video evidence, that he was fired from his job "without cause."

The grievance said, "Officer Tensing was terminated on 7/29/2015 without just cause for an on-duty fatal shooting. While Officer Tensing was indicted on a charge of murder, the indictment is not a conviction. Officer Tensing was also denied his due process rights of a pre-disciplinary hearing under the contract."

The grievance asked for Tensing to be reinstated immediately and "is to be made whole for all back pay and benefits including but not limited to sick time, vacation time, holidays, shift differential, pension contributions etc. afforded under the current contract."

But the truth is even uglier than this. Officer Ray Tensing is receiving support and monetary pledges from all over the country. Somehow, in spite of his heinous crime and unethical attempts at covering it all up, he is now some type of folk hero.

Ray Tensing is now free on bail, after only a few hours in jail. This is despicable.

This is America. 2015.

 

 
Top 8 Rock and Roll Death Conspiracies
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
From bonkers to believable, these stories offer hidden insights into the secrets behind our favorite rock stars' deaths.

I love a good conspiracy theory.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’m not into the loose-cannon, feverishly paranoid, life-is-one-big-false-flag thinking that has a stranglehold on today’s right wing. However, I do enjoy, now and again, picking over a good yarn that purports to get at some deeper, generally shadowy truth, hidden from us all, often in plain sight. Sometimes these tales are so far out and kooky they’re pretty much straight up comic relief; other times, they’re built on enough believable information to merit at least a moment’s consideration. In the end, they often make for pretty great stories. And who doesn’t love a good story?

I’m also a big fan of rock and roll. So it stands to reason that I would find the combination of the two — rock and conspiracy— a pretty delicious, if often disposable delight.

There are way too many rock and roll conspiracy theories to get into here, mostly because, for every rocker who died “before his time,” someone has invented a conspiracy theory to explain why. There’s a Jimi Hendrix conspiracy theory (his manager did it), several Michael Jackson conspiracy theories (including a Paul is dead-type story that claims he died in 2009 and was replaced by an MJ-style replicant), a Jeff Buckley conspiracy theory (his mom says he was too good of a swimmer for the official record to be true) and literally a million more. I couldn’t possibly cover them all here.

And while I’m not sure I buy any of the stories below, hook-line-and-sinker (honestly, some of them are just rifuckingdiclous), I do think a healthy dose of paranoia, countered with a measure of skepticism, is a good thing. So why not read up on all the possibilities, even if only to laugh at the most remote ones?

So here, for your reading pleasure — and I suppose, to judge for yourself— are eight of the greatest rock and roll death conspiracies ever.

1. Kurt Cobain

Courtney Love is a bit like the Nancy Spungen and Yoko Ono of grunge rock; a woman so hated by a contingent of her late husband’s fans that a surprising number of them blame her for nearly everything that went wrong in his life. In Love’s case, this extends to literal murder, and involves an intricate conspiracy theory that posits she literally paid to have her husband killed.

In the two decades since Kurt Cobain (according to the official record) died from a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head in his Seattle-area home on April 3, 1994, a countless number of both amateur and professional sleuths have implicated Love in his murder plot, resulting in a surprising amount of videos, articles and websites (OMG so many websites) dedicated to the subject. The theory goes like this: Love, realizing Cobain was pursuing divorce and/or retiring from music — both events that would result in the loss of millions — hired a killer to snuff out her husband so she could take over his estate. Among the key drivers behind this idea is Tom Grant, the private detective Love hired to locate Cobain in the days before his body was located, a period during which she claimed he’d gone missing after bailing from a rehab facility.

Grant, who says Love’s behavior gave him immediate reason to suspect she was involved, has spent the years since Cobain’s death trying to prove her guilt in numerous public forums. According to the P.I., the smoking guns include Love’s obstruction of his investigation; a handwritten note originally penned by Cobain to announce his retirement from music that Grant believes was later amended by someone else to suggest suicide; a toxicology report that proves Cobain, though once a heroin addict, would’ve been rendered too out-of-it to lift a gun and pull the trigger.

Also, as Gawker notes, no fingerprints were found on the gun or the pen used to write the aforementioned note (granted, that's kinda weird). In any case, a new documentary, Soaked in Bleach, is centered on the conspiracy theory. (Love’s lawyers have been sending cease-and-desist letters to theaters around the country that might consider screening it.). Kurt & Courtney, the hilariously scatterbrained 1998 Nick Broomfield documentary, is a good place to start if you’re interested. And Tom Grant’s website gives a detailed blow-by-blow account of what he claims is “proof.”

2. Bob Marley

According to approximately 30 percent of stoners (I’m guesstimating here) Bob Marley was killed in a CIA plot to wipe out the world’s most famous revolutionary Rastafarian, lest his music bring the world together and create real social change. As the theory goes, American intelligence agencies were keeping tabs on the singer, and even arranged a hit in November 1976. (You can read about it here, in an article by Alex Constantine published in -- wait for it -- High Times.)

When that failed, the CIA resorted to an old tactic it had supposedly tried with Fidel Castro: poisoning his shoes (one estimate holds that the agency tried to assassinate Fidel 638 times in a series of cartoonishly ridiculous and ultimately unsuccessful ways). While the standard story is that Marley died of toe cancer resulting from a soccer injury, the conspiracy claims that in December 1976, while backstage at the Smile Jamaica concert, Marley was gifted with a brand new pair of boots. Lee Lew-Lee, a cinematographer and documentarian on the scene, reportedly states that when Marley went to put one of the boots on, a minor injury occurred: “He put his foot in and said, ‘Ow!’ A friend got in there…he said, ‘let’s [get] in the boot, and he pulled a length of copper wire out — it was embedded in the boot.”

Said wire, according to the conspiracy, was coated with some sort of cancer-causing agent. And the mysterious giver of the boots? If you believe the story, one Carl Colby had been spotted backstage, having gained access by claiming to be a member of the film crew, though he was never seen holding a camera. Colby is the son of William Colby, who at the time was the executive director of the CIA.

3. John Lennon

There are so many conspiracy theories around John Lennon’s death that chronicling them would be a book on its own, with some sections more believable than others. (One holds that author Stephen King was Lennon’s assassin; we should all be so lucky as to get high on whatever the founder of that theory was smoking.) It’s certainly true that the FBI kept files on Lennon. The last 10 documents weren’t released until 2006, the same year as the release of the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon, which does a good job of distilling all the basics.

Without getting too far into the weeds, the most salient fact is that Mark David Chapman, Lennon’s killer, is said to have been a CIA-programmed killer — a “Manchurian Candidate” of sorts tied to the intelligence agency’s MK-Ultra mind control experiments (which were absolutely very real). Conspiracy theorists cite his involvement with World Vision International, a Christian missionary organization (and according to lore, CIA black ops killing-machine training ground), a group that pops up in so many diverse conspiracy theories it kind of makes your head spin. (For example, Reagan’s would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., was the son of World Visions’ one-time president John Hinkley, Sr., an oil industry titan who was purportedly close friends with Bush 41, who would’ve become president had the bullet met its intended mark.)

Conspiracists also note that Hinckley essentially went on a globe-trotting world tour with no reliable source of income, except for, you know, the checks the CIA must’ve been sending him. Also consistently pushed forth as evidence is the fact that after shooting Lennon, Chapman calmly stood reading Catcher in the Rye, which essentially figures as the “red button” used to give Chapman his marching orders. There’s so much more to this than I can get into here, including theories about multiple shooters, but the Internet has no lack of sites where you can read more. Lennon’s son Sean believes there was government involvement as well, saying in a 1998 interview, “Anybody who thinks that Mark Chapman was just some crazy guy who killed my dad for his personal interests is insane, I think, or very naive.”

4. Elliott Smith

I’m biased, but I’d say that Elliott Smith was one of the best songwriters of our age; a man who wrote beautifully sad, exquisitely crafted songs, mostly using just a 4-track. (His entire catalogue is just awesome, but Either/Or is so impossibly great it makes my teeth hurt.) That said, there was a reason he was known as Mr. Misery, and his drug addictions, heartache and depression were well known during his lifetime.

On Oct. 21, 2003, Smith’s girlfriend Jennifer Chiba called paramedics saying Smith, then 34, was in need of immediate medical attention; the musician later died at the hospital. In Chiba’s version of events, she and Smith had an explosive fight (she admitted this was not an unusual occurrence) from which she essentially escaped by holing up in the bathroom and showering. Per Wikipedia, “Chiba heard him scream, and upon opening the door, saw Smith standing with a knife in his chest. She pulled the knife out, after which he collapsed and she called 911.”

It was a story that stirred controversy from the beginning, and the swirling rumors only gained velocity after an autopsy declined to designate the death as a suicide, leaving open the possibility of a homicide. The Smoking Gun website highlights aspects of the report that have fueled the conspiracy theory, such as, “[t]he autopsy report cited the absence of ‘hesitation wounds,’ the presence of ‘possible defensive wounds,’ and ‘stabbing through clothing’ as atypical of suicide. In addition, the actions of Smith's live-in girlfriend, musician Jennifer Chiba, were of concern to investigators...The medical examiner noted that Chiba's ‘reported removal of the knife and subsequent refusal to speak with detectives are all of concern.’"

There’s more, of course, and a writer named Alyson Camus has dedicated a tremendous amount of effort to uncovering details that, at the very least, raise questions about the case. Recently, she started a Change.org petition requesting the LAPD either fully reopen the case or close the book on it.

5. Biggie Smalls

It’s been nearly 20 years since Biggie Smalls’ 1997 death, and there still hasn’t been a single arrest made in connection with the murder of one of the best MCs of all time. There have been, however, more conspiracy theories than you can shake a stick at. Shot to death in a drive-by as he rode in the  passenger seat of a car in Los Angeles, Christopher Wallace’s death — which came roughly six months after rival Tupac Shakur’s murder (more on that below)— was in many ways the death knell of the East Coast/West Coast rap feud of the 1990s; back-to-back moments so awful they made everyone realize the futility of the whole terrible thing.

Most of the conspiracy theories around Smalls' death allege some LAPD involvement; perhaps the most well-known involves former detective Russell Poole, who claims he left the Los Angeles force after top brass quashed his efforts to reveal corrupt cops had been among the shooters. Another former LAPD investigator, Greg Kading, who wrote a book in which he implicates another shooter (a man whose aliases include Darnell Bolton) also claims he handed in his badge after he was removed from the police investigation, presumably for coming too close to the truth.

Documentarian Nick Broomfield (same guy as in the Cobain case) made 2002’s Biggie and Tupac, which alleges Suge Knight — the former head of Death Row Records who is equally famous for not being the nicest guy — had both Shakur and Smalls killed, in the case of the former, to keep him from leaving his label; the latter, to throw cops off his scent. In 2002, Smalls’ mother, Voletta Wallace and his widow, Faith Evans, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the LAPD, essentially implicating two officers; it was dismissed in 2010. In the years following his death, the Notorious B.I.G.’s shadow has loomed large over hip-hop history. (His heir apparent, the Supreme Court’s Notorious RGG — aka Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg— spoke briefly about the rapper in a recent speech at Duke University.)

6. Tupac Shakur

While Tupac’s death is often spoken of in connection with Biggie Smalls, for obvious reasons, he holds the unique distinction of being at the center of a theory that suggests he’s actually not dead at all, but in hiding. Which would at least explain why he’s put out so many albums since he died. I mean seriously.

The rapper, who was supposedly killed in a drive-by shooting while he was a passenger in a car driven by Suge Knight, died on Sept. 13, 1996 — that is, if you’ve bought the Illuminati’s story. But according to a popular conspiracy theory, Shakur is actually in Cuba, likely residing with godmother and FBI Most Wanted revolutionary Assata Shakur, just keeping a low profile and enjoying not being famous. Gawker did a pretty great and hilarious unraveling of the whole theory early this year, which included a much-circulated picture purporting to show the rapper in the hours before his death, and a lengthy list of Conspiracy Red Flags it raises. Most are below:

The picture above, said to be the last photo taken before the shooting, raises two interesting questions: If Tupac was shot on 9/7/96, why does the photo indicate it was taken on 9/8/96?Why are there no keys in the car's ignition?14 shots were fired, four of which hit Tupac. Knight, who is a considerably large man (around 6'4, 260 pounds) was not hit once. He was said to have sustained minimal injures from bullet fragments, but no serious wounds were recorded. Did Knight mastermind the shooting? (Believe what you will, but nobody's luck is that good.)Since being shot at Quad Recording Studios on Nov. 30, 1994, Pac wore a bullet-proof vest almost everywhere. It seems odd, on such a high profile night, that he'd forego protection.The BMW from the photo does not match the BMW from the police investigation video.The streets of Las Vegas are typically jam-packed with an assortment of cars, people, and entertainers trying to earn a living. Tupac was shot two hours after the Mike Tyson/Bruce Seldon fight, and the streets, the strip especially, were likely congested with traffic that night. And yet, nobody spotted the white Cadillac?The official coroner's report lists Tupac as 72 inches tall (6 feet) and 215 pounds. But the rapper's driver's license identifies him as 5'10 and 168 pounds.Afeni Shakur (Tupac's mother) and medical staff are the only people who saw the rapper once he was admitted into the hospital. Years later, in a video interview, Afeni says, "In the end, he chose to leave quietly." What did she mean by "leave quietly"? Was she implying Tupac had a hand in his removal from the spotlight?Tupac was reportedly cremated, and the man who cremated him retired after doing so. He has not been seen since, which, at the very least, is a little suspicious.

7. Jim Morrison

For nearly 40 years, the best known conspiracy theory concerning Jim Morrison’s death is that it was all a big hoax, a bit of fakery made up by the singer to escape the confining life of an international sex symbol and rock-and-roll star. Morrison, who was famously found dead in a bathtub in the Paris apartment he shared with girlfriend Pamela Courson, was supposedly seen by just three people in his post-mortem state (Courson; the couple's friend, Alain Ray; and the doctor who signed the death certificate) before he was placed in a sealed coffin. With no autopsy performed and numerous reports that Morrison had previously declared to friends he would someday fake his own death, the conspiracy theory flourished. (Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek didn’t help matters when he said things in the press like, “I often wonder if his death has been an elaborate charade,” as he did in 2008.)

But in 2008, former journalist Sam Bernett claimed Morrison was definitely dead, that he’d seen the body, and that the singer had died of a heroin overdose at a club called Rock & Roll Circus in Paris. In a book called The End: Jim Morrison, Bernett claims Morrison arrived at the venue about 1am looking for heroin to take home to Courson. After scoring, he went into the bathroom, where he was later discovered in a stall, foaming at the mouth and sans pulse. Bernett says two drug dealers— employees of high-profile drug dealer Jean de Breteuil — absconded with the body, which they presumably took to Morrison’s apartment and placed in the tub in an effort to revive the singer.

According to Bernett, singer Marianne Faithfull was at the club that night and was aware of what was happening. Like Bernett, she was supposedly sworn to silence. Faithfull has recently come out with her own version of the story, one that implicates her ex-boyfriend de Breteuil, but claims the overdose took place at Morrison’s apartment. As Rolling Stone points out, the statute of limitations is way past for anything truly new to come out of the case, so new news won’t do much to change the state of things.

8. Lou Reed

In what is perhaps the rock-and-roll conspiracy theory to end all rock-and-roll conspiracy theories, I have to mention the one about Lada Gaga killing Lou Reed. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: According to this story, Lady Gaga desperately wanted Lou Reed to act as a creative consultant on her 2014 album Artpop, which was meant to be a near song-by-song homage to the Velvet Underground’s most beloved and influential tracks. Though Reed, lured by a $1.2 million fee, initially signed on to help guide the project, he quickly fell out of love with the music and began distancing himself from the record, going so far as to badmouth it to associates and friends.

Gaga, already enraged because Reed couldn’t seem to stop publicly gushing about Kanye’s Yeezy (if you haven’t read his glowing Talkhouse review of the album, you absolutely should), flew into revenge mode. The rest involves Gaga and her team, including some of the biggest executives in music, somehow infiltrating Reed’s hospital room following surgery for a liver transplant, poisoning him via an IV, and ensuring his negative words about Artpop would never reach public ears. (It’s pretty elaborate; there’s more here, if you really need it.) And yet, the album went on to disappointing sales, proving Lou Reed’s incredibly discriminating taste was right after all. And there you have it.

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Meet the Hedge Funders and Billionaires Who Pillage Under the Shield of Philanthropy
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
For every dollar they give, they take 44 from the rest of us.

America’s parasitical oligarchs are masters of public relations. One of their favorite tactics is to masquerade as defenders of the common folk while neatly arranging things behind the scenes so that they can continue to plunder unimpeded. Perhaps nowhere is this sleight of hand displayed so artfully as it is at a particular high-profile charity with the nerve to bill itself as itself as “New York's largest poverty-fighting organization.”

British novelist Anthony Trollope once wrote, “I have sometimes thought that there is no being so venomous, so bloodthirsty as a professed philanthropist.”

Meet the benevolent patrons of the Robin Hood Foundation.

Robin Hood in Reverse

The Robin Hood Foundation, named for that green-jerkined hero of redistribution who stole from the rich to give to the poor, is run, ironically, by some of the most rapacious capitalists the country has ever produced — men who make robber barons of previous generations look like small-time crooks. Founded by hedge fund mogul Paul Tudor Jones, the foundation boasts 19 billionaires on its leadership boards and committees, the likes of which include this sample of American plutocracy:

-Hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen, who, when he is not being probed for insider trading  (his company, SAC Capital Advisors, pled guilty to securities and wire fraud) is busy throwing parties for himself worthy of a Roman emperor at his Hamptons palace and bragging about his $700 million art collection. He suspends a 13-foot shark in formaldehyde from the ceiling his office, perhaps as an avatar of his business practices.

-Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone, who threatened to turn off the charity donations if Pope Francis dared to continue criticizing capitalism and inequality, and also likened the plight of the wealthy in America to Nazi Germany. The GOP megadonor doesn’t care for bank regulation and it’s no surprise that he is the main booster for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s presidential bid, as his plan to shred Social Security is a fond wish of the tycoon’s.

- Hedge fund billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller, funder of right-wing causes who dedicates himself to spreading deficit hysteria and ginning up generational warfare on college campuses by trying to convince young people that they are being robbed by seniors using Social Security and Medicare. A long-time anti-tax crusader and supporter of such anti-labor enthusiasts as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Druckenmiller warned President Obama that any attempt to tax the rich to pay for social services for the poor would be futile.

By occupation (the more useless and parasitical the better), it comes as no surprise that 12 of the 19 men in leadership positions at the Robin Hood Foundation happen to be hedge fund managers. A group called Hedge Clippers, supported by a coalition of labor unions and community groups and devoted to exposing how billionaires scheme to inflate their wealth and influence, has pointed out in a scathing report that the Robin Hood Foundation has close ties to an organization called the Managed Funds Association (MFA) that — shocker! —lobbies tirelessly for unjustified tax breaks for hedgies. Paul Tudor Jones’s top deputy, John Torell, chairs the MFA, and 31 members of Robin Hood’s governing board and leadership committees are executives at firms that belong to the highest membership levels of the organization.

The MFA was relatively small until 2007, when Congress started eyeing the “carried interest” tax loophole. Then it brought out the heavy artillery to protect elites from paying their fair share. The carried interest loophole is the MFA’s top priority.

The King of Scams

The carried interest loophole, as economist Dean Baker put it, is likely the worst of all the “sneaky and squirrelly ways that the rich use to escape their tax liability.”  It goes down like this: Hedge fund managers brazenly claim they deserve to pay a special low tax rate on the money they earn overseeing the funds they manage because, um, it’s not guaranteed. So they pay 20 percent instead of the 39.6 percent they would pay if the money were taxed as ordinary income. They get very rich from this windfall, just ask Mitt Romney. But you know what? Lots of workers have no guarantee about the money they’ll earn, from people selling cars to the guy who just served you a burger. Do they get a special tax rate? No, they don’t. They pay full freight. In fact, almost nobody’s income is guaranteed. You could get a pay cut tomorrow. Or a pink slip. Do you still pay regular income tax? Yep, you do.

This unfair tax break basically allows hedge fund managers to screw their fellow Americans out of money that could do things the illustrious patrons of the Robin Hood Foundation claim are so dear to their hearts, like building schools and feeding the poor. According to a Congressional Research Service cited in the Hedge Clippers report, closing the carried interest loophole would generate $17 billion a year. How many hungry children in New York City could that feed? All of them?

The loophole makes absolutely no economic or social sense, it’s just a way for the rich to say, hey, we’re powerful enough to lobby for this insanity, so you little people just go ahead and pay for that airport where our private jets are about to land and that road where our Porsches and limos cruise. It’s a middle finger held up to every hard-working person in America. Dirt kicked in the face of the poor.

It’s a driver of inequality and encourages risky speculation on Wall Street. Hillary Clinton, perhaps hoping to ward off the threat of Bernie Sanders, has been making noise about closing the carried interest loophole, which many a politician has made before. Given the cultural focus on inequality and the egregiousness of the policy, it may just be vulnerable. Let’s hope so.

Den of Thieves

The mission statement of the Robin Hood Foundation brays about all the funding it provides for school programs, generating “meaningful results for families in New York's poorest neighborhoods.” Soup kitchens! Homeless shelters! Job training! The tuxedoed tycoons throw money at all these causes “to give New York’s neediest citizens the tools they need to build better lives.”

How far does this largesse actually go toward ameliorating New York’s poverty problem? Unsurprisingly, not very far at all. In fact, as Hedge Clippers points out, the poverty rate in the city has grown over the course of the Robin Hood Foundation’s history, from 20 percent in 1990 to 21.2 percent in 2012.

Guess what’s also grown? The bank accounts of 19 billionaires on the Robin Hood Foundation’s boards, which have ballooned 93 percent since 2008.

Hedge Clippers applied a delicious tactic to expose the hypocrisy at the heart of the Robin Hood Foundation with stark mathematical precision— they used the organizations own metrics as an analytical tool. The foundation is famed for using grantee evaluations, cost-benefit analyses, and performance measures, including a metrics system freakishly named “relentless monetization.” So the Clippers applied these methods to the foundation’s hedge fund backers themselves, systematically exposing the degree to which they increase inequality and poverty.

How bad it is?  A chilling ratio summarizes just how bad— 44:1. That is to say, for every dollar the Robin Hood Foundation hedge fund managers studied give to the organization’s antipoverty efforts, they soak up $44 from the public in the form of tax avoidance and anti-tax advocacy.  The authors of the report believe that to be a conservative estimate.

Take the case of Steve Cohen, he of the shark in formaldehyde, and board member emeritus of the Robin Hood Foundation.

The tally of his recent donations to the foundation: $4,850,000.

The estimated amount he ripped off the public in 2014 by paying special low tax rates: $1,300,000,000.           

Quite a difference.

When they aren’t advocating tax swindles, members of the Robin Hood Foundation put in plenty of time fighting fair wages, trying to shred the social safety net, and killing worker protections through their associations with organizations like the Manhattan Institute, the Partnership for New York City (the voice of big business in NYC and a big foe of paid sick leave), and Fix the Debt (a notorious group devoted to crushing Social Security and Medicare).

When you think about it, it looks as if the Robin Hood Foundation members are actively trying to strip the public and strangle working people to such a degree that poverty and nickels thrown by billionaires will be all that’s left of America.  The rest of us will all be living in Sherwood Forest.  

The Robin Hood Foundation’s new motto: Increasing poverty is our business.

 

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2015-08-03 03:20:40 (2 days ago) 
Boss explains lousy Q1 results

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2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
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2015-08-03 03:11:41 (2 days ago) 
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Six Endangered Animals That Poaching Might Take From Us
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Graveyard bomb 'left to kill police'
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2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
Researcher tells Guardian Jericho seen ‘probably mating’.

Despite reports that Cecil the lion’s “brother” Jericho had been shot dead by a poacher, a field researcher at Hwange Lion Research said on Saturday: “He looks alive and well.” Another conservation worker said the lion had been seen with a female earlier in the day, “probably mating”. 

On Sunday, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority released a photograph of Jericho that it said was taken that morning. A statement said Jericho was “still alive and being monitored” by the researcher Brent Stapelkamp, who was following Jericho’s movements with the help of a satellite collar.

In a statement emailed to the Guardian, Professor David Macdonald, director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford, said: “Jericho was seen alive and well at 6.15am [on Sunday]. He has been feeding on a giraffe kill with the lionesses from his pride.”

McDonald also explained that Jericho is not in fact Cecil’s blood brother, but rather a partner in a “coalition” of a kind often formed by unrelated male lions to better compete for territory and prides.

On Saturday, as confusion reigned over Jericho’s health, Stapelkamp told the Guardian he was confident that Jericho was alive. “Nothing looks untoward. It looks like he’s been moving around all day and in fact he sent his last points at six minutes past eight our time,” he said.

Stapelkamp added: “Certainly, I’ve been asked to go and look for him tomorrow morning so I will confirm he is alive and send pictures to the world.”

Trevor Lane of the Bhejane Trust, a wildlife conservation group that works with Hwange national park, said in an email to the Guardian that Jericho had been seen with a female, “probably mating”. Lane added that parks were investigating another lion that was shot on 2 July, though that animal was not collared nor with a pride.

Drew Abrahamson, a wildlife photographer, said on Facebook Jericho had been sending out “normal collar movement” and posted an image showing the satellite information.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) prompted the flurry of press activity when it said on Facebook earlier on Saturday that Cecil’s brother, Jericho, had been shot at 4pm. “We are absolutely heartbroken,” the statement said.

“I think this type of misinformation is characteristic of that particular source,” Stapelkamp said.

Stephen Long, who also works for Bhejane Trust and lives in the western end of the Hwange national park, far from where Jericho holds territory, said in an email: “ZCTF has the same level of credibility as the National Enquirer.” ZCTF did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, has been accused of illegally killing Cecil after the lion was lured outside a national reserve. He allegedly paid $50,000 for the hunting trip. Cecil, a 13-year-old lion with a distinctive black mane, was a popular tourist attraction at Hwange national park before he was killed earlier this month.

Zimbabwe’s environment minister has called on Palmer to be extradited from the US to be put on trial for the illegal hunt. On Saturday, wildlife authorities said they had suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in the area where Cecil was killed.

The Zimbabwe National Parks authority also said it was investigating the killing of another lion in April that may have been illegal, and said it only received the information this week.

Palmer on Thursday wrote to to his patients to apologize for killing Cecil, saying he did not know the lion was beloved by many. Palmer also described hunting as his passion and has killed 43 different types of animals, including an elephant and polar bear, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I don’t often talk about hunting with my patients because it can be a divisive and emotionally charged topic,” he wrote. “I understand and respect that not everyone shares the same views on hunting.”

On Sunday, Stapelkamp said Cecil and Jericho oversaw two prides together. The statement from the wildlife authority said the two lions were partners in a “coalition” but were not related.

 
Teachers Are Spending Thousands Of Their Own Money to Stock Classrooms with Basic Supplies
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
They're often forced to foot the bill for the essentials that make learning possible.

School may be out for summer, but I guarantee you there’s one thing teachers are already worried about as they plan for the coming school year: how they'll offset the inevitable out-of-pocket costs that come with running a classroom.

It’s not just a few books or art supplies we’re talking about here; the truth is much more discouraging. During my last year of teaching, I spent over $5,000 of my own money on my classroom during the year, and I know I wasn’t alone. On an annual salary of $42,000, that was hardly pocket change.

The Reason Teachers Have to Pay

In the United States, it has become increasingly clear, we just don’t value education.The average starting teaching salary in the US in 2012-2013 was $36,141, notably low considering that even intern teachers require a bachelor’s degree, plus credentialing for those who remain in the profession. In one of the country’s most expensive cities, San Francisco, a beginning teacher made just $47,902 during the 2014-2015 school year, far from enough to live on as a sole source of income when a 1 bedroom apartment in SF averages $3,213/mo (that adds up $38,556 per year — more than 80% of the pre-tax income).

Every part of education in the United States has its own set of financial woes, but teachers bear the brunt of the burden. Many public schools, even districts located in wealthy areas, do not give their teachers any money for supplies; those that do may only provide $200 - $250 per classroom (and those funds are often distributed only to new teachers). In some areas, the PTA (parent-teacher association) steps in with a modest but helpful stipend to each teacher at the beginning of the school year. But even the more generous PTA grants of $500 or higher don’t provide for much past the initial setting up of a classroom. And relying on private donations only works in middle- and upper-class areas, thereby increasing disparity. I taught in a poor neighborhood in Oakland, and we never had a functioning PTA in the eight years I was employed there.

A Tour of Expenditures

I was shocked my first year of teaching, when I found myself spending several hundred dollars just to set up the classroom for the first day of school. The school provided desks, chairs, tables, textbooks, and not a lot beyond that. There were a few “free reading” books, but they looked like they were decades older than the children and hadn’t been treated well.  

New and naïve, I asked the office where I’d get supplies. The office clerk let me into the supply room and counted out my supplies for the first part of the year: one box of crayons per child, two pencils per child, 10 rulers, lined paper, composition books, and some markers. She gave me some chalk and when I pointed out that I had whiteboards and needed dry erase markers, just shrugged and said, “Do you want the chalk or not?” I looked around and requested a stapler and staples, tape dispenser and tape, construction paper, and some more markers. That was all there was.

I asked where I got scissors, and the office clerk laughed and suggested I visit the nearest office supply store. Also not in the school supply room: permanent markers, paints in any color except shades of brown, paintbrushes, tissues, hand sanitizer, soap, glue, glue sticks, erasers, folders, pencil sharpeners, binders, or spiral notebooks.

Those were just the basics. A good teacher who wants to make her students feel welcome on the first day of school needs a lot more. Most of us buy welcome posters to hang on our door, writing our name and grade level, sometimes with all the children’s names. This can be made but since we usually don’t get paid for set-up days, it can be hard for some teachers to justify the time. Bulletin boards are usually changed monthly and there can be considerable time and expense involved in each iteration of these, as well.

I used to buy spiral notebooks, extra pencils, scissors, colored pencils, pencil boxes, number lines and name-tags for the top of the desks, folders for homework, and much more for every child. In some schools, the parents are expected to provide that, but our parents couldn’t afford it, so I provided this for all 20 students. In addition, I needed those dry erase markers; at least one fan for my greenhouse of a classroom; and many, many books to try to interest the students in reading at all their different levels and with all their different interests. I was lucky that I had access to computers donated by friends that year because the school didn’t provide me with any working computers. My luck ran out with the peripherals though, and I had to purchase my own scanner, printer and printer ink. I have friends who were expected to pay for overhead projectors, AV carts and computers on their own.

These purchases certainly added up. This first set of materials was only for the beginning of school, and I had to purchase it all before I even received a paycheck. 

On an ongoing basis, the expenses piled up. The school didn’t give us enough pencils and crayons to last for a school year, so I bought more when I saw them on sale. Some supplies needed to be replenished regularly: soap, hand sanitizer, tissue, art supplies, printer ink, and dry erase markers seemed to run out very quickly, and I spent a lot of money on them every year. Electric pencil sharpeners had to be replaced most years as they received so much wear. Notebooks and erasers are thought of as staples in any classroom, but teachers end up purchasing these for many, many classrooms. When we exceeded the permitted number of photocopies for the year, we paid not only for the paper but each copy as well.

Teachers do not simply teach the curriculum that is given to them by a school district. They often need to buy reproducible workbooks, source material, computer software, and hands-on math tools to supplement the basic curriculum, and help students learn in a variety of ways. While these are necessary for effective learning, teachers are on their own to purchase them, even in areas where parents may provide many of the other supplies.

Nobody goes into teaching for the money; most people become teachers because they care deeply for the well-being of the children they teach. Because of this, many educators pay for children to go on field trips that the families can’t afford. You often find teachers purchasing food for children who don’t eat enough at home. I’ve had friends buy clothing for children, especially socks and underwear, and I even know one teacher who bought a bed for a student who didn’t have one.

Ways to Help

Concerned citizens or parents can help in several ways. First, be politically aware: make it your business to vote and to advocate for school bond issueson the ballot, which can ease the financial pain for teachers a little, depending on how the funds are allocated. Monetary donations to PTAs can also provide the stipends for supplies mentioned above.

Everybody knows at least one teacher, whether it be your child’s teacher, a friend, or a family member. Pass along your gently used office supplies and the books your children have outgrown to that teacher. If you have rewards points for office supply stores, offer to donate them as well, or see if your teacher has a wish list of things you could buy and donate. You may not think a pack of Sharpies or an older electric pencil sharpener will help, but every little bit really does make a difference, and supporting teachers offers them some much needed recognition and appreciation, too. 

Supporting your child’s classroom, PTA, or school is a fine place to start, but supplementing an already well-resourced school exacerbates the inequality of educational funding based on property taxes. Sometimes PTA funds are pooled within a district, which can equalize things. If you are part of a PTA in a more affluent school, think about partnering with a needier school.

Finally, DonorsChoose is a wonderful non-profit that allows anyone to donate to classrooms across the country. Teachers write short grant requests that are posted on the site, and donors make tax-deductible contributions to fund those specific projects (often with matching funds from foundations). I have received funding for class pets, an abacus set, high-interest books, cleaning supplies, and more this way. The range of proposed teacher projects is vast, so prospective donors can choose to fund something that they are particularly interested in, and can specifically seek out schools in poorer neighborhoods, if they choose.

Teaching is a tough job, and one with relatively poor compensation.Thank the teachers you know, and if you can afford it, send some supplies their way.

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Lena Dunham, White Privilege and the Myth That Anything Is Possible
2015-08-03 03:30:28 (2 days ago) 
The "Girls" creator had more than just drive and spunk on her side.

Watching Lena Dunham’s 2009 proto-"Girls" film, Tiny Furniture, I was struck with a question I often ask myself when I'm watching random films on Netflix: How did this get made?

As always, I turned to IMDb for answers. I found a simple explanation, right away. The very first piece of trivia for the film is this:

"Lena Dunham used her parents’ money to make the film. She didn’t have enough to pay anyone, so she ended up asking her friends and family to be part of it and it worked."

There isn’t any great surprise. This information nugget makes it sound like a scrappy Lena Dunham put things together with good, old-fashioned, Little Rascals-style gumption.

Also, maybe, some privilege.

As my first question was mostly answered, a second question pinballed around in my head, one a lot of people have asked about Dunham’s HBO series “Girls”: Where are all the people of color? Besides the simple answer, not in this film, I think another, slightly less sarcastic answer may be hidden in the riddle of how this movie got made. It wasn’t just access to mommy and daddy’s checkbook. Something is hidden in the quote above, specifically in the words: “And it worked.”

The girls from "Girls" in front of a curiously empty basketball court in NYC.

That piece of trivia is so enthusiastic, and so proud of Dunham, yet so reductive. What worked? The film was a success? She became an "overnight" sensation? She drew the attention of HBO? Maybe it just means she got her film made, period. 

Consider, for a moment, how that happened.

Even with unpaid actors, Dunham says the movie cost $65,000, almost certainly less than the actual cost, but far more than most 23-year-olds can afford without assistance. I suppose it is possible that her father, Carroll Dunham IV, and her mom, Laurie Simmons, sold everything they owned to raise that money and support their daughter’s dream, but, no, that is not what happened. (If it was, trust me, it would be part of the narrative.)

Not only did Dunham get the money for the film from her parents, but we can infer she was also supported during the making of the film. She wasn’t serving coffee. She wasn’t waiting tables. She wasn’t driving a cab or working construction. She was able to devote her energy to her film, and answer to no one, giving her the freedom to explore any idea she wished, within the limitations of the budget.

Dunham cast her mom and her sister in important roles (as her mom and her sister). Both of them were free of any pressing commitments (like jobs) so they could act in a film. (To be fair, her younger sister may have been in school, and while plenty of teens get jobs, well, why would she?)

Dunham’s mother does have a job. She is a photographer who takes pictures of, among other things, tiny furniture. (More on that in a minute.) I suspect she makes her own schedule, as tiny furniture is not a demanding client.

Dunham rounded out her cast with unpaid friends. Friends who could be available to learn lines, learn how to act (or do their best), and be on set without other commitments getting in the way. Friends who were financially stable enough to live in New York City and act in a movie without compensation. I don't know if they had job or not.

Oh, and her friends just all happen to be white.

Is it fair to infer that Lena Dunham doesn’t have any friends of color, just because we don’t see them in this movie? No. I know you’re thinking it. Or you think I’m thinking it. But neither of us know.

So what are the possibilities? Maybe Lena Dunham didn’t have any friends of color, free of obligation to participate in her breakthrough movie. Or, maybe, her friends of color lack the detached talent of Jemima Kirke or the ability to read lines and also do makeup for free, like Rachel Howe. Whatever the reason, we do know that, among Lena Dunham’s theoretical friends of color, none of them were given roles in this film.

There is one more possibility. All Lena Dunham’s white friends may not be rich and free from obligation. It could be that some of them were willing to sacrifice and starve to help Lena get her movie made. If true, it is also possible that only Lena’s white friends were willing to make that sacrifice. So if that is true it might imply that people of color are lazy, but, really? That is an outmoded, racist myth, that no adult in this day and age has any right to believe. I can’t even think of a good reason to bring it up, because Lena Dunham’s well-reviewed Tiny Furniture isn’t a movie that even deals with race, right?

The point is, Lena asked her friends and family to star in her movie, and it worked! She now had people to film, and a script she had written with her creativity, about subjects she wanted to explore (race not being one of them), and so off she went to film. Where? In and around New York City.

Given the budget, it is likely she filmed outside without permits, which I’m all for on a film of this scale. Inside, she filmed in enormous apartments, especially by New York standards. (Filming in a typical New York apartment is difficult, because there isn’t room for lights and people at the same time.) Where did she find these large spaces? How did she get access? My guess is through her friends and family, who she already cast in the film.

I’m pretty sure the space that serves as the main character’s home, is Lena Dunham’s mother’s home, right down to the clean, yet cluttered, photography space where her mother, and her mother’s character, both take pictures of Tiny Furniture.

What’s up with the tiny furniture? I assume something profound. The script won Best First Screenplay for Dunham and her finely crafted words at the Independent Spirit Awards, which is quite an accomplishment when you consider it was her second screenplay, from the second movie that she also acted in and directed.

Yes. Lena Dunham wrote, directed and starred in a feature-length movie before she was an "overnight sensation" with “Girls” and Tiny Furniture. And that’s just the feature. She also made numerous shorts and a web series, “Delusional Downtown Divas,” which you can see on the Guggenheim Museum's YouTube channel.

I don’t know if you just noticed, but it’s the Guggenheim Museum’s YouTube channel. The Guggenheim! How do you get your video on that? You might think it is because of Lena Dunham’s fame, but no, that video has been sitting there since at least 2010. Maybe she just sent it to them, and it worked! I suppose it helps to film one of your web series videos right inside the Guggenheim?  Probably it does, but how do you get inside? Maybe Lena Dunham asked, and it worked?

This makes it sound like luck. But surely some other force is working to help her out. Maybe that force was a person? If your mom is a former fellow at the Guggenheim, like Lena’s mom, Laurie Simmons, was in 1997, that might help. Here is a picture of Laurie Simmons, with her husband, Carroll Dunham IV, and oh hey! it’s Eileen Guggenheim.

The caption on this photo said Lena Dunham’s parents were being honored in NYC. (I’ve been to NYC, but I’ve never been honored. Groped, spit-on and drunk, sure, but never honored. To be fair, I haven’t earned it.) The picture is from a ball thrown for Lena Dunham’s parents by the New York Academy of Art, where both Dunham’s parents were given honorary doctorates.

Here is the other thing about NYC: every time I’ve been it's been filled with people from all all sorts of backgrounds. But Lena Dunham’s NYC doesn’t look like that. It has very little color, even in the background, and is especially devoid of African Americans. Is it because Lena Dunham’s experience is also nearly devoid of people of color, especially African Americans? If we look at the faces from the Ball, it’s a sea of white. If we look at the curators and directors at the Guggenheim, vastly white.

It makes me wonder if, back in 2009, Lena didn’t know there were non-white people living in NYC!

But then there is this:

Midway through the film Lena Dunham’s character has to get a job. She works as a “daytime hostess,” which I learned is a job answering phones and taking reservations until the restaurant actually opens. I didn't know this, in itself, was an actual job. Not all by itself. But I don’t know anything about running a restaurant in New York. So let’s assume this is just the way it is done, and it works, (see what I did there?) even if it’s a crazy waste of money.

At her job, Lena flirts with the hot but distant chef (or maybe he is a saucier) with fine features. This guy suddenly looks to a corner of what had seemed like an empty room, where we cut to a sleeping busboy — and he appears to possibly not be white!

The hot chef/love-lust interest explains to Lena Dunham’s character (with words Lena Dunham, as screenwriter, wrote and won awards for):

All you need to know is that these guys, are the laziest fucking guys in the world. Your job consists of mostly making sure they’re not sleeping or molesting you.

As it turns out there is more to her character’s job than answering phones. I thought it was weird I didn’t hear about this scene before, in this well-reviewed, “sharply written” movie that, in theory, made Lena Dunham’s career, but I didn’t know where the movie was going to take this comment. Maybe she was going to take on racism head-on. Characters in movies say lots of things. What matters is how the movie handles them. The film’s point of view is important. What does she do? Her character literally giggles as he says it. It’s funny!

I thought: Maybe Lena’s character is going to go off on him later. Maybe she will learn something. I assumed the film would bring up this comment further on and use it to point out what a horrible guy the chef is for saying such a bullshit thing. But no. There is no commentary. The line, as it reads in the film — from the point of view of the film — is that casual racism and prejudice are just part of a white girl’s flirtation. No judgment. Let’s go have sex in a metal pipe. (Indeed, that is where the movie later takes us instead, in this movie Lena wrote, all by herself.)

Now, I know I said above that Lena Dunham didn’t have, didn’t want, or didn’t choose any of her theoretical friends of color to appear in this film. Yet here is a guy of color, sleeping through a scene in the corner of a restaurant. He doesn’t have any lines, but he is there!

Yes. And I thought to myself, surely he is not a friend of Lena Dunham’s. I didn’t know if he was a friend of a friend of Lena Dunham’s who thought it would be cool to sleep in a corner for two minutes of the film, or if it was a guy she pulled off the street, or maybe he was even cast and had the only paying role. But then I looked it up, and it's Jody Lee Lipes, the movie’s director of photography.

Was Jody Lee Lipes paid for his work? I don’t know. I sure hope so, but then, I also know that Lena Dunham doesn't think much of paying people for their work, because people should just be glad for the exposure she gives them. (Or, at least, this is what she thought until five years after this movie was made, when people got all up in her business about not paying people who performed on her book tour.)

Maybe she just asked him nicely if he would shoot her film for her, and it worked!

Is Jody Lee Lipes a person of color? I can’t know. Jumping to that conclusion is a dangerous business. What I do know is that he reads as non-white in this film, intentional or not, and the award-winning script’s commentary about the character Busboy feels racist as Donald Trump.

You might get the sense I don’t like Lena Dunham, but that isn’t true. I don’t like this movie. That isn’t the same thing. But what I really don’t like — the thing that I find maddening, and detestable, is the myth — the myth that hard work and talent equal success; the myth that anything is possible if we only try hard enough. The myth that she did her best and, by gosh, it worked!  Because the flip side to that myth, is that the rest of the losers out there, busing tables and trying to survive, dreaming of making films, or dancing, or painting (Like Lena’s dad, Carroll Dunham IV), aren’t making good on their dreams because they don’t have what it takes, which is a good, old-fashioned work ethic. It is a myth deeply rooted in racism and self-aggrandizement, passed down to us by slavery.

I did not just go there.

Yes. I did.

If my thesis strikes you as crazy, read this movie quote again:

All you need to know is that these guys, are the laziest fucking guys in the world. Your job consists of mostly making sure they’re not sleeping or molesting you.

Is that line more at home in “Sleepless in Seattle” or “12 Years a Slave”?

The myth allows white folks to believe that everyone has what they have because they deserve it. That sea of white at the Guggenheim Ball is filled with people who earned their place. The all-white nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards Best First Screenplay earned their place too, with talent and hard work. For people of color, who don’t get this access and exposure, it is only because they are lazy, unwilling to sacrifice and work for free for a rich, white girl on the movie she really, really, really wanted to make with mommy and daddy’s money. Those malingerers, see, they don’t work. The myth? It’s really ugly, and it works.

Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Maybe it’s just a movie and I should get over it. But you see, either art doesn’t matter, or it does. Either artists are important and say things and affect the world with their messages, or they don’t. Either they are honored with awards and balls and doctorates, or they aren’t, but you don’t get to have it both ways. The myth pretends Lena Dunham crafted and made her own feature with her hard work and incisive writing, but that is nothing more than a story — a better story than the one in the film.

Lena Dunham’s “Tiny Furniture” found people of color irrelevant and rendered them invisible, and it worked! Meanwhile, what movies go unmade by those people of all colors, whose families don’t chain back to Plymouth in 1620 (like Lena’s dad, Carroll Dunham IV), who don’t have access to the Guggenheims, and a handy $65,000, and whatever the first film cost, and enormous New York apartments, and a posse of friends who, sure, what the heck, are free for a few weeks to act in a film because, why not, we don’t need any money? Crazy? Maybe a little. But we are all being robbed of the possible, of stories about all of us, and that makes me a little bit insane.

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Diocese has no plans to shutter monastery
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
Reports that a Cistercian monastery tucked into a secluded place in South Jersey may close after five decades has caused anguish for parishioners at the church where the monks preach. But church leaders say there are no plans at present to shutter the Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Fatima in Mount Laurel.
 
Review: Higdon's 'Cold Mountain' premieres in Santa Fe
2015-08-03 03:11:38 (2 days ago) 
SANTA FE, N.M. - The new Jennifer Higdon/Gene Scheer opera Cold Mountain premiered amid intense expectations Saturday at the Santa Fe Opera Festival. Years in the making, with some of the best voices and creative minds in the business, the opera's five performances sold out and one has been added, and the Dutch recording label PentaTone is committed to releasing it.
 
Former Beau Biden Adviser Joins Effort to Get Joe Running
2015-08-03 03:11:31 (2 days ago) 
A senior adviser to Joe Biden's late son Beau is joining the Draft Biden Super PAC to lay the financial groundwork for a potential presidential bid.









 
The life artistic: Wes Anderson fan art – in pictures
2015-08-03 03:11:13 (2 days ago) 
 
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