Monday, October 20, 2014

Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K.

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/opinion/paul-krugman-amazons-monopsony-is-not-ok.html

Amazon.com, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.

O.K., I know that was kind of abrupt. But I wanted to get the central point out there right away, because discussions of Amazon tend, all too often, to get lost in side issues.

For example, critics of the company sometimes portray it as a monster about to take over the whole economy. Such claims are over the top — Amazon doesn’t dominate overall online sales, let alone retailing as a whole, and probably never will. But so what? Amazon is still playing a troubling role.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s defenders often digress into paeans to online bookselling, which has indeed been a good thing for many Americans, or testimonials to Amazon customer service — and in case you’re wondering, yes, I have Amazon Prime and use it a lot. But again, so what? The desirability of new technology, or even Amazon’s effective use of that technology, is not the issue. After all, John D. Rockefeller and his associates were pretty good at the oil business, too — but Standard Oil nonetheless had too much power, and public action to curb that power was essential.

And the same is true of Amazon today.

If you haven’t been following the recent Amazon news: Back in May a dispute between Amazon and Hachette, a major publishing house, broke out into open commercial warfare. Amazon had been demanding a larger cut of the price of Hachette books it sells; when Hachette balked, Amazon began disrupting the publisher’s sales. Hachette books weren’t banned outright from Amazon’s site, but Amazon began delaying their delivery, raising their prices, and/or steering customers to other publishers.

You might be tempted to say that this is just business — no different from Standard Oil, back in the days before it was broken up, refusing to ship oil via railroads that refused to grant it special discounts. But that is, of course, the point: The robber baron era ended when we as a nation decided that some business tactics were out of line. And the question is whether we want to go back on that decision.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/opinion/paul-krugman-amazons-monopsony-is-not-ok.html
Does Amazon really have robber-baron-type market power? When it comes to books, definitely. Amazon overwhelmingly dominates online book sales, with a market share comparable to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market when it was broken up in 1911. Even if you look at total book sales, Amazon is by far the largest player.

Pentagon: Global Warming Poses ‘Immediate Risk’ To National Security

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/14/3579338/pentagon-global-warming-national-security/

Posted on

In terms of U.S. defense strategy, climate change is a “threat multiplier” that can worsen national security problems such as terrorism and infectious disease spread, according to a new Pentagon report released Monday.

 The 20-page “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” said the U.S. Department of Defense is “already beginning to see” some of the impacts of sea level rise, changing precipitation patterns, rising global temperatures, and increased extreme weather — four key symptoms of global warming. These symptoms have the potential to “intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict” and will likely lead to “food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe,” the report said.
 
Because of uncertainty surrounding just how bad these problems will be in the future, the report calls for a proactive defense strategy — one which will require “thinking ahead and planning for a wide range of contingencies.”

“Climate change will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the nation and poses immediate risks to U.S. national security,” the report reads. “Weather has always affected military operations, and as the climate changes, the way we execute operations may be altered or constrained.”

The report in its entirety can be found here.

Monday’s report is far from the first time the U.S. Department of Defense has warned of the risks climate change poses to national security. The military has long shown that it understands the realities of climate change, releasing reports warning of altered natural disaster response and drought leading to conflicts over food and water. The Pentagon has also released an entire report solely on its strategy to address Arctic melting, which is allowing ships to access more of the Arctic Ocean.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/14/3579338/pentagon-global-warming-national-security/

The Age of Vulnerability

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-e-stiglitz/the-age-of-vulnerability_b_5978122.html

10/13/2014
 
NEW YORK -- Two new studies show, once again, the magnitude of the inequality problem plaguing the United States. The first, the U.S. Census Bureau's annual income and poverty report, shows that, despite the economy's supposed recovery from the Great Recession, ordinary Americans' incomes continue to stagnate. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, remains below its level a quarter century ago.

It used to be thought that America's greatest strength was not its military power, but an economic system that was the envy of the world. But why would others seek to emulate an economic model by which a large proportion -- even a majority -- of the population has seen their income stagnate while incomes at the top have soared?

A second study, the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Report 2014, corroborates these findings. Every year, the UNDP publishes a ranking of countries by their Human Development Index HDI, which incorporates other dimensions of well-being besides income, including health and education.

America ranks fifth according to HDI, below Norway, Australia, Switzerland and the Netherlands. But when its score is adjusted for inequality, it drops 23 spots -- among the largest such declines for any highly developed country. Indeed, the U.S. falls below Greece and Slovakia, countries that people do not typically regard as role models or as competitors with the U.S. at the top of the league tables.

The UNDP report emphasizes another aspect of societal performance: vulnerability. It points out that while many countries succeeded in moving people out of poverty, the lives of many are still precarious. A small event -- say, an illness in the family -- can push them back into destitution. Downward mobility is a real threat, while upward mobility is limited.

In the U.S., upward mobility is more myth than reality, whereas downward mobility and vulnerability is a widely shared experience. This is partly because of America's healthcare system, which still leaves poor Americans in a precarious position, despite President Barack Obama's reforms.
Those at the bottom are only a short step away from bankruptcy with all that that entails. Illness, divorce, or the loss of a job often is enough to push them over the brink.

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare") was intended to ameliorate these threats -- and there are strong indications that it is on its way to significantly reducing the number of uninsured Americans. But, partly owing to a Supreme Court decision and the obduracy of Republican governors and legislators, who in two dozen U.S. states have refused to expand Medicaid (insurance for the poor) -- even though the federal government pays almost the entire tab -- 41 million Americans remain uninsured. When economic inequality translates into political inequality -- as it has in large parts of the U.S. -- governments pay little attention to the needs of those at the bottom.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-e-stiglitz/the-age-of-vulnerability_b_5978122.html

In Defense of Obama

From Rolling Stone:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/in-defense-of-obama-20141008

The Nobel Prize-winning economist, once one of the president’s most notable critics, on why Obama is a historic success

By October 8, 2014

When it comes to Barack Obama, I've always been out of sync. Back in 2008, when many liberals were wildly enthusiastic about his candidacy and his press was strongly favorable, I was skeptical. I worried that he was naive, that his talk about transcending the political divide was a dangerous illusion given the unyielding extremism of the modern American right. Furthermore, it seemed clear to me that, far from being the transformational figure his supporters imagined, he was rather conventional-minded: Even before taking office, he showed signs of paying far too much attention to what some of us would later take to calling Very Serious People, people who regarded cutting budget deficits and a willingness to slash Social Security as the very essence of political virtue.

And I wasn't wrong. Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP's unwillingness to make even token concessions.

But now the shoe is on the other foot: Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn't deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it's working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it's much more effective than you'd think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

I'll go through those achievements shortly. First, however, let's take a moment to talk about the current wave of Obama-bashing. All Obama-bashing can be divided into three types. One, a constant of his time in office, is the onslaught from the right, which has never stopped portraying him as an Islamic atheist Marxist Kenyan. Nothing has changed on that front, and nothing will.

There's a different story on the left, where you now find a significant number of critics decrying Obama as, to quote Cornel West, someone who ''posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit.'' They're outraged that Wall Street hasn't been punished, that income inequality remains so high, that ''neoliberal'' economic policies are still in place. All of this seems to rest on the belief that if only Obama had put his eloquence behind a radical economic agenda, he could somehow have gotten that agenda past all the political barriers that have con- strained even his much more modest efforts. It's hard to take such claims seriously.

Finally, there's the constant belittling of Obama from mainstream pundits and talking heads. Turn on cable news (although I wouldn't advise it) and you'll hear endless talk about a rudderless, stalled administration, maybe even about a failed presidency. Such talk is often buttressed by polls showing that Obama does, indeed, have an approval rating that is very low by historical standards.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/in-defense-of-obama-20141008

Millions of Gen Xers Will Be Homeless Before You Know It

From Ted Rall:  http://rall.com/2014/10/13/syndicated-column-millions-of-gen-xers-will-be-homeless-before-you-know-it

Ted Rall
Oct 13, 2014


Forget terrorism, Ebola or even climate change — the most dangerous threat to this country is an epic retirement crisis.

We will soon see tens of millions of Americans reduced to poverty, bringing an end to the United States as an economic superpower.

Unlike attacks and pandemics, this crisis is an absolute certainty, one with a clear, near start date. But the media is hardly mentioning the imminent retirement crisis. So politicians haven’t even begun to think about it, much less take it seriously.

Actually, “retirement crisis” is a misnomer. The problem isn’t that people won’t be able to retire or will be living on a shoestring, though those things are true. We’re staring down the barrel of an epic old age crisis. For the average American, to be elderly will mean not mere belt-tightening, but real, grinding poverty: homelessness and hunger.

Throughout the last few decades, vulnerable people living from payday to payday have gotten battered by the shredding of the government safety net, a lack of accumulated savings caused by the boom-and-bust cycle of capitalism, and a lackluster real estate market.

Now members of the poor and lower middle class in their 50s and 60s are heading into a retirement crisis created by a perfect superstorm.

Traditional defined-benefit pension plans have been replaced by stingy 401(k)s and similar programs which employers no longer pay into, cap how much you can contribute (assuming you can afford it), take a beating during downturns in the stock market, and allow workers to tap when they’re laid off or run into financial trouble. After years of sketchy raids and outright theft, workers with old-fashioned corporate and government pensions can’t be sure their money will be there when they need it. The first Generation Xers — many of whom never had the opportunity to accumulate wealth due to several long recessions that impacted them particularly hard — will reach the traditional retirement age of 65 in the year 2024.

The facts are brutal:

Continue reading at:  http://rall.com/2014/10/13/syndicated-column-millions-of-gen-xers-will-be-homeless-before-you-know-it

Women don’t owe you anything

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/women-dont-owe-you-anything/

Amanda Marcotte
Oct. 10, 2014


There’s been a lot of great writing in recent weeks about the concept of affirmative consent. Sadly, there’s also been a lot of gross, distasteful writing defending the status quo, where women are expected to be available to men—sexually, emotionally, etc.—unless we say otherwise. I want to recommend this excellent piece by Amanda Taub at Vox explaining why she believes we really do need a shift from consent being an “opt-out” culture to an “opt-in” one. (As I’ve said before, putting women’s bodies on the same level we put houses and wallets, where you are assumed not welcome unless explicitly invited.) Part of the problem is that by telling women we are assumed to be consenting unless we say otherwise, the “say otherwise” is always up for debate by a man who believe our “no” is not good enough.

That burden isn’t just annoying for women. It’s dangerous. By exempting sexual aggressors from the responsibility of figuring out whether their partners are “eager and ready to sleep with them,” we’re asking their targets to either give in to sexual activity they don’t want, or to run the risk that a firm, assertive, continued rejection will end in violence.

This week, a Detroit man murdered a 27-year-old mother of three named Mary Spears after she rejected him in a bar. Right now, a woman is in critical condition in a New York City hospital because a man slashed her throat on the street after she declined to go on a date with him. In April, a Connecticut teenager was murdered by her 16-year-old classmate after she turned down his invitation to prom. Stories like these (and there are others) should remind us that women have a lot of reasons to fear the consequences of saying “no.” That’s all the more reason why silence shouldn’t be presumed to be consent.

The violence that erupts when a man decides that a woman hasn’t worked hard enough to opt out of her supposed obligation to please him seems shocking, but it’s entirely predictable in a society such as ours. Take, for instance, my post yesterday where I made fun of a man who wanted me to get off my bike, take off my headphones and engage me in a lengthy conversation about my body and his opinions on it. Many people in comments were upset, arguing that I did, in fact, have an obligation, merely by being a woman in the world, to drop what I was doing and give this man what he wanted because he wanted it. That my “no” was not good enough. That in order to opt out of the presumption of consent, I had to come up with more reasons that fuck-you-I’m-not-a-toy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/women-dont-owe-you-anything/

California Drought Might "Persist or Intensify" During Warm Winter: NOAA

From NBC LA:  http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/California-Drought-Winter-Forecast-Warm-Weather-El-Nino-279435912.html

The winter forecast brings few signs of recovery for drought-stricken California after a summer of record heat that took a toll on the state's already low reservoirs

By Jonathan Lloyd
Saturday, Oct 18, 2014


Drought conditions are likely to "persist or intensify" during what forecasters expect to be a warm winter in California, where water scarcity led to critically low reservoir levels and calls to conserve during the state's third consecutive dry year.

The dire winter outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration comes after a summer of punishing heat and disappointing 2013 rain season that was part of California's driest year on record.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor update has all of California in some type of drought category, just as the government-issued report has shown for the last three months. More than 58 percent of the state is considered in "exceptional drought," the most severe category assigned in the weekly report.

Some regions might see slight improvement this winter, but Californians hoping for significant and widespread relief, especially in the parched Central Valley region, are unlikely to find it during the coming months. California historically sees most of its rain for the year from November through February and early spring months.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/California-Drought-Winter-Forecast-Warm-Weather-El-Nino-279435912.html

How to be a female pop star in 2014


Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Carolyn Wonderland

Yet another Texas Treasure and a hell of a lot more worthy of me ripping a CD of to play  in the car than some vapid, vacuous poptart.












Thursday, October 16, 2014

'Assassination' of Public Health Systems Driving Ebola Crisis, Experts Warn

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/10/16/assassination-public-health-systems-driving-ebola-crisis-experts-warn

Neoliberal economic policies that defund public health responsible for current crisis in West Africa and across the globe, say analysts

Sarah Lazare Published on Thursday, October 16, 2014 Common Dreams

As the official West African death toll in the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history nears 5,000, global concerns about the highly infectious disease continue to mount. Analysts and medical providers, from Liberia to the United States, say that in order to address the crisis, the international community must tackle the real culprit: western-driven economic policies defunding public health systems around the world, particularly in the countries hit hardest by the outbreak.

"The neoliberal economic model assassinated public infrastructure," said Emira Woods, a Liberia native and social impact director at ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice, in an interview with Common Dreams. "A crisis of the proportion we've seen since the beginning of the Ebola catastrophe shows this model has failed."

Gutting of West African Public Health Systems

Since the 1980s, western financial institutions have given loans to third world governments on the condition those states impose austere domestic reforms and roll back public services. This approach is encapsulated in the 1981 World Bank report Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, which presses for "structural adjustments," including rapid privatization, shrinking of public services and subsidies, and a shift towards export dependency as a solution to "slow economic growth."

As Macalester College Professor William Moseley and colleagues explain in a paper for the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, "In West Africa, the resulting neoliberal economic policies sought to promote growth and prosperity through structural adjustment programs (SAPs) that generally involved contraction of government services, renewed export orientation on crops or goods deemed to have a comparative advantage, privatization of parastatal organizations, removal or reduction of many subsidies and tariffs, and currency devaluations."

"What you had was a shift of public expenditures from health care, school, and essential services to a model of economic development driven by the World bank and International Monetary Fund, which said that public service provision was not passage to development, and services should be privatized," said Woods. "There was this notion that poor people can pay, and services are better provided by the private sector."

While years of war played a role in weakening public systems, it was the "war against people driven by international financial institutions" that is largely responsible for decimating the public health care system, eroding wages and conditions for health care workers, and fueling the crisis sweeping West Africa today, says Woods. "Over the past 6 months to a year there have been rolling health care worker strikes in country after country—Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia," said Woods. "Nurses and doctors are risking and losing their lives but don't have protective gear needed to serve patients and save their own lives. They are on the front lines and have not had their voices heard."

Even the World Health Organization, which is tasked by the United Nations with directing international responses to epidemics, acknowledges the detrimental impact these policies have had on public health systems. "In health, (Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs] affect both the supply of health services (by insisting on cuts in health spending) and the demand for health services (by reducing household income, thus leaving people with less money for health)," states the organization. 

"Studies have shown that SAPs policies have slowed down improvements in, or worsened, the health status of people in countries implementing them. The results reported include worse nutritional status of children, increased incidence of infectious diseases, and higher infant and maternal mortality rates."

A "Highly Vulnerable" World

Medical responders have criticized the international community for failing to aggressively address the crisis. In a press statement issued in late August, Brice de le Vingne, Doctors Without Borders director of operations slammed western states for their isolationist policies towards the epidemic: "Self-protection is occupying the entire focus of states that have the expertise and resources to make a dramatic difference in the affected countries. They can do more, so why don’t they?"

The WHO has recently suffered severe budget cuts that have left it weakened, under-staffed, and incapable of adequately responding to the international emergency. "There’s no doubt we’ve not been as quick and as powerful as we might have been," Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, a WHO assistant director general, told the New York Times in an article examining the cuts.

Critics say the de-funding of public health system within western states is putting populations at risk. Despite the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and the Obama administration to assure the U.S. public of a robust response, nurses tell a different story. Workers with the union National Nurses United have repeatedly warned that the for-profit U.S. health care system is in fact ill-prepared for an Ebola outbreak, with U.S. hospitals lacking basic protocols, training, and protective gear.

Meanwhile, Woods warns, the U.S.'s militarized response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa—including Obama's authorization on Thursday for the Pentagon to deploy reserve and National Guard troops—raises serious concerns. "If you think about the costs of sending in military to build compared to putting resources into nurses and doctors and rebuilding public health infrastructure that will last, U.S. tax payers should be really questioning the tax dollars being spent and what the long term implications are."

"The world will remain highly vulnerable to this and similar outbreaks unless all countries prioritize the universal right to health, including the international obligation of rich countries to pay their fair share in ensuring that basic health capacity is available everywhere," the global justice organization U.S. Africa Network argues. "The failure to do so is a violation of human rights and our common humanity."

Lawrence Krauss and "The Unbelievers"


US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History

From Truth Out http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26842-us-government-sanitizes-vietnam-war-history

By Marjorie CohnThursday, 16 October 2014

For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the "Vietnam syndrome," in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!"

With George W. Bush's wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama's drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome. By planting disinformation in the public realm, the government has built support for its recent wars, as it did with Vietnam.

Now the Pentagon is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history. Replete with a fancy interactive website, the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war. The program is focused on honoring our service members who fought in Vietnam. But conspicuously absent from the website is a description of the antiwar movement, at the heart of which was the GI movement.

Thousands of GIs participated in the antiwar movement. Many felt betrayed by their government. They established coffee houses and underground newspapers where they shared information about resistance. During the course of the war, more than 500,000 soldiers deserted. The strength of the rebellion of ground troops caused the military to shift to an air war. Ultimately, the war claimed the lives of 58,000 Americans. Untold numbers were wounded and returned with post-traumatic stress disorder. In an astounding statistic, more Vietnam veterans have committed suicide than were killed in the war.

Millions of Americans, many of us students on college campuses, marched, demonstrated, spoke out, sang and protested against the war. Thousands were arrested and some, at Kent State and Jackson State, were killed. The military draft and images of dead Vietnamese galvanized the movement. On November 15, 1969, in what was the largest protest demonstration in Washington, DC, at that time, 250,000 people marched on the nation's capital, demanding an end to the war. Yet the Pentagon's website merely refers to it as a "massive protest."

But Americans weren't the only ones dying. Between 2 and 3 million Indochinese - in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - were killed. War crimes - such as the My Lai massacre - were common. In 1968, US soldiers slaughtered 500 unarmed old men, women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Yet the Pentagon website refers only to the "My Lai Incident," despite the fact that it is customarily referred to as a massacre.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26842-us-government-sanitizes-vietnam-war-history

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system-ethics-personality-psychopathicsthic

An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities

theguardian.com, Monday 29 September 2014

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed.

It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That’s why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won’t be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare, the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it’s known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.

Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the “infantilisation of the workers”. Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities (“She got a new office chair and I didn’t”), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/neoliberalism-economic-system-ethics-personality-psychopathicsthic

Reason to Say Fuck You to Smart Phones #7047

Smart Phones for Stupid Sheeple #7047

I don't own a smart phone or a tablet.  I own a dumb phone and may upgrade to an only dim witted phone because Tracfone offers triple minutes with it.

I hate cell phones in general although I do tolerate their use for conversations.

I think people who whip them out at concerts should be asked to turn them off.

The same for people who use them in restaurants.

I don't Twitter or for that matter text.  Send me a text and I never read it.

I don't play games on it.

Watch a movie on a four inch screen when I have a big screen at home?  You're kidding, right?

Spend umpteen dollars a month on wireless service so I can be tracked by the NSA and who knows how many other government and NGO organizations.  You have to be fucking joking...

I turn my phone off when I'm not making a call to conserve battery life and make it harder to track.

Why would anyone with a drop of common sense put all sorts of personal data including access to one's bank accounts and  credit cards on a device so prone to theft and or hacking?

I have a land line and all sorts of annoying assholes feel compelled to call me to try and sell me crap. 

Now if I wanted said crap I am perfectly capable of going to my computer and finding a reputable source for the fore mentioned crap.  Not only that I can check out the sources to make sure they aren't out to rip me off.

I am tired as hell of being assaulted 24/7/365 by advertisers.

I have never seen a billboard that was worth cutting down a tree to erect.  I would rather look at a slum or junkyard than a billboard.

Now they are planning on further invading our privacy.

New York Times: Businesses Are Turning to Beacons, and It’s Going to Be O.K.


Oct. 15, 2014

THE beacons are here. And they might not be all bad.
Beacons, tiny low-powered radio transmitters that send signals to phones just feet away, have quickly become a new front in the advertising industry’s chase to find you whenever, and exactly wherever, you are.
Although most consumers are just learning about these devices, tens or even hundreds of thousands of them have been installed across the country: outdoors on buildings, inside stores and even at National Football League and Major League Baseball stadiums.
The point of the devices is to send a specific signal, using low-energy Bluetooth, to phones that come into proximity, as long as those phones are running apps that can respond to the beacon. Those codes then set off an action on the phone, like a coupon, a reminder, a reward or just information. A beacon at the gates of a baseball stadium could open a map to the user’s seat and offer a beer or hot dog coupon.
If that puts some wanna be rich tech-holes out of work so be it...

Misogynistic Taliban Christian group calls Obama administration “irresponsible” for fast-tracking Ebola vaccines

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2014/10/16/right_to_life_group_calls_obama_administration_irresponsible_for_fast_tracking_ebola_vaccines/

The Woman Hating anti-abortion group Children of God for Life opposes new Ebola treatments being developed with stem cells

Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

As the Obama administration faces ongoing backlash over its handling of the U.S. Ebola outbreak, a new criticism has emerged from the right — this time, over the administration’s clearest method of preventing the spread of the virus. On Thursday, the religious right-to-life group Children of God for Life issued a statement opposing federally funded projects to develop an Ebola vaccine that rely on the use of stem cells, calling the Obama administration “irresponsible” for approving them.

“It is completely irresponsible of this administration to put these problem vaccines on fast-track for approval and ignore the fact that a massive number of people may very well refuse them,” Children of God for Life director Debi Vinnedge said. “Why not fast track a product that everyone can use in good conscience?”

Judie Brown, president of COGFL affiliate organization American Life League issued a joint statement calling on “every person who values the life of every human being” to petition the Department of Health and Human Services, NIH, FDA and NIAID to stop research on two particular potential Ebola vaccines. “It is absolutely outrageous that a scientist would consider using aborted fetal cell lines in manufacturing any Ebola vaccine,” Brown said.

COFGL has also been known to push discredited claims that vaccines cause autism, Right Wing Watch reports.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization released a report estimating that as of Oct. 12, 4,493 people worldwide had died from Ebola. WHO also reported a total of 8,997 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola in seven countries, including the U.S.