Sunday, May 31, 2009

Misery Hangs Over Gaza Despite Pledges of Help

Gaza is fucked. Thanks to the New York Times for this profound insight:

Dozens of families still live in tents amid collapsed buildings and rusting pipes. With construction materials barred, a few are building mud-brick homes. Everything but food and medicine has to be smuggled through desert tunnels from Egypt...

Four months after Israel waged a war here to stop Hamas rocket fire and two years after Hamas took full control of this coastal strip, Gaza is like an island adrift. Squeezed from without by an Israeli and Egyptian boycott and from within by their
Islamist rulers, the 1.5 million people here are cut off from any productivity or hope...
There are tens of thousands of educated and ambitious people here, teachers, engineers, translators, business managers, who have nothing to do but grow frustrated. They cannot practice their professions and they cannot leave. They collect welfare and smoke in cafes. A United Nations survey shows a spike in domestic violence...

Many here are especially worried about the young. At a program aimed at helping those traumatized by the January war, teenagers are offered colored markers to draw anything they like, says Farah Abu Qasem, 20, a student of English translation who volunteers at the program.

“They seem only to choose black and to draw things like tanks,” she said. “And when we ask them to draw something that represents the future, they leave the paper blank.”

No surprises there, and I'm not really sure why this story has been deemed headline worthy. I don't think it would have occurred to me to mention it, were it not for the deep irony in the juxtapostion of headlines.

Consider the New York Times headline, above, with this one from the same day - "Despite No Links to Violence, Founders of Muslim Charity Sentenced to Lengthy Terms for Donations to Needy Palestinians in Occupied Territories." That one is from Democracy Now!, a long-running and well-regarded independent media outlet from New York. Here's a synopsis of what happened:

Five founders of the Holy Land Foundation, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity, have received prison terms of up to sixty-five years on charges of supporting the Palestinian group Hamas. The five were never accused of supporting violence and were convicted for funding charities that aided needy Palestinians. The government’s case relied on Israeli intelligence as well as disputed documents and electronic surveillance gathered by the FBI over a span of fifteen years.

I think that might be part of the reason that, as a Palestinian man stuck living in Gaza said, “Right after the war, everybody came — journalists, foreign governments and charities promising to help,” said Hashem Dardona, 47, who is unemployed. “Now, nobody comes.” It's hard when they're shut down and locked up. That type of persecution sets a heavy example for others who would wish to do the same things.

Of course, we can never neglect to remember the fact that Israel is a piece of shit terror state run by fanatics with hardons for war: "in an effort to squeeze Hamas, Israel rations aid daily, allowing in about 100 trucks of food and medicine. Military officers in Tel Aviv count the calories to avoid a disaster." Brilliant. The pig fucks count calories of food rations going into Gaza so that not too many Palestinians starve or suffer malnutrition. I'm sure they thank their Israeli masters for that every day. I know I would.

Let's make that very plain: Israeli military commanders decide how much food people in Gaza are allowed to have. They decide when they can have it, and what kinds. Were they in such a mood, they could decide that Gazans get no food. What would happen? People would starve. Israel would face "international diplomatic pressure." The Israeli government would show no remorse or compunction and would surely blame those who died. In short, nothing would change. I wonder where "terrorism" comes from.

In Gaza, you have no control. You are controlled by shitbags of all stripes above you. And they pull those strings tight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fantasy pig world

Holy shit. I realize that most other people don't view the police like I do, but at the same time, it's shocking to see how highly people regard pigs and what they will tell you does not go on behind closed doors, or when video cameras aren't around, for that matter. Check this Supreme Court decision handed down today, about how the police can start asking questions without your lawyer:

Writing for the court majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said there was little if any chance a defendant will be badgered into waiving the right to have counsel present during police-initiated questioning.

Who actually believes that? Insane. Completely insane. The police will not hassle you? They will not try to do things that are inconsistent with the law? Then why the fuck did they make this part of the law today?

Now it's on you to invoke your right to an attorney, officially. The pig fucks can start in on you right away, legally. WHAT THE FUCK.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Arms Sent by U.S. May Be Falling Into Taliban Hands

As opposed to a few years back, when they were sent by the U.S. and put into Taliban hands. The article completely ignores that point, that Americans are fighting a force that the CIA funded, armed and trained. Fucking brilliant. Forget the past, they tell us every day. But remember the parts that serve them well, like 9/11. That one, you're supposed to never forget. You know? As though they'd let you forget anyway.

From the New York Times today:

KABUL — Insurgents in Afghanistan, fighting from some of the poorest and most remote regions on earth, have managed for years to maintain an intensive guerrilla war against materially superior American and Afghan forces.

Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents hint at one possible reason: Of 30 rifle magazines recently taken from insurgents’ corpses, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, identical to ammunition the United States had provided to Afghan government forces, according to an examination of ammunition markings by The New York Times and interviews with American officers and arms dealers.

Haha, pretty good contribution to the spectacle.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Paying sweatshop wages at American embassies

I guess government jobs are regarded pretty well here. Good benefits, job security, lots of days off compared to most other jobs, decent pay. Not so in the rest of the world.

Foreign nationals working for the American government in foreign lands get paid shit, says the State Department. Three to four dollars a day doesn't go far anywhere:

...some lower-grade foreign nationals who work for the State Department earn so little that they must cut back to one meal a day and send their children out to peddle on the streets.

This is comparable to what you hear about Nike factories or whatever. Except those Nike factories are maybe just in Honduras or Malaysia. American embassies are in approximately 170 countries. I bet the government could loosen up some money to pay its shitworkers a bit better if it ended a war or two.

Don't tase me bro!!

I'm just a stuffed animal.

Watch as ten police come together and collectively decide to unload on a plush cougar.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thanks for the swine flu, you sadistic fucks

What do you know, swine flu has been hanging around for over thirty years in factory pig farms.

Over decades, H1N1 evolved in pigs into a mild, purely swine flu, and became genetically fairly stable. In 1976, there was an outbreak of swine H1N1 in people at a military camp in New Jersey, with one death. The virus did not spread efficiently, though, and soon fizzled out...

We could have seen this coming, though. This type of virus emerged in the US in 1998 and has since become endemic on hog farms across North America. Equipped with a suite of pig, bird and human genes, it was also evolving rapidly...

But in 1998, says Richard Webby of St Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, swine H1N1 hybridised with human and bird viruses, resulting in "triple reassortants" that surfaced in Minnesota, Iowa and Texas. The viruses initially had human surface proteins and swine internal proteins, with the exception of three genes that make RNA polymerase, the crucial enzyme the virus uses to replicate in its host. Two were from bird flu and one from human flu. Researchers believe that the bird polymerase allows the virus to replicate faster than those with the human or swine versions, making it more virulent...

Thankfully, swine flu has been dutifully ignored over the years, so you can worry about American Idol instead.

The swine flu virus has been a serious pandemic threat for years, New Scientist can reveal - but research into its potential has been neglected compared with other kinds of flu.

I guess the fact that it's tied directly to multibillion dollar death house operations has gotten in the way of "scientists" (if they were really scientists and gave a fuck about their progress and helping people, they wouldn't be so dominated and pushed around by business) researching it. Can't harm industry. That's cardinal rule number one of capitalism, our political system.

And yes, industry seems like the place to put all of this blame. The Independent reports on what's going on in a small town in Mexico desecrated by a monstrous pig death factory in its midst:

Downwind of Xaltepec – where 15,000 squealing hogs are squeezed into 18 warehouses – residents of La Gloria blame Smithfield, Luter's firm, for an outbreak of respiratory problems that swept the town last month, killing two children. Now with Mexican authorities identifying a four-year-old from the town, Edgar Hernandes, as one of the first-known cases of swine flu, furious residents believe that they are ground zero of a pandemic threatening the world. The very suggestion has sent a shudder through the ranks of campaigners who have long argued that the sort of industrialised pig farming that has turned Smithfield into one of the most powerful corporations in the US, with a market value of $1.4bn, was a disaster waiting to happen...

Starting in February, one in six of the 3,000 residents reported health problems. The government initially dismissed the spike as a late-season rise in ordinary flu, but by April, health officials sealed off the town and sprayed chemicals to kill the flies that residents said were swarming about their homes...

The reports of swarming flies, terrible smells and pictures of rotting pigs left scattered around the perimeter of its industrialised pig farms in Mexico are echoes of the concerns that have long been troubling environmental activisits, campaigning against Smithfield in all the countries in which it operates, not least in the US. Critics say that – even on top of any questions about the humane treatment of the pigs – the sheer quantities of manure that have to be disposed of when thousands, or tens of thousands, of animals are housed together make it impossible to run this business in a safe way.

The manure is collected in a lake underneath the pig pens and then washed into giant pools or lagoons. It is eventually sprayed on nearby fields, but the lagoons have a habit of leaking or flooding.

This company has a history of destroying the areas in which it conducts its reprehensible operations, and doing so with a profound disregard for any outcomes. Money rules. Always.

In 1997 Smithfield was fined $12.6m for violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Its most recent financial reports show it is being sued in Missouri by residents near a facility there who accuse it of being a public nuisance, while a farm in Pennsylvania is under federal investigation over releases into the local water in 2007.

The other risk, scientists say, of concentrating so many pigs together is the risk of diseases spreading fast, a problem that farmers overcome by pumping the livestock full of vaccines and other drugs. In 2007 an outbreak of swine flu at its farms in Romania cost the company $13m.

Twelve million dollar fine. That's nothing. That's like taking twelve dollars from someone who has a thousand. Twelve thousand from someone who has a million. It's nothing.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trashing the planet to trash the planet

Thankfully, and with a great deal of foresight, Russia is constructing five floating and submersible nuclear power plants in the Arctic, so that they may drill for petroleum. There are no problems that could arise from this decision. Russia has an excellent history of nuclear safety and consideration for the natural world. The world needs the gas and oil deposits they may find, so that we may continue hemorraghing safe, non-toxic fumes and chemicals into the air, water and land. These deposits must be extracted at any cost, and Russia is the country for the job.

Here are some asinine things environmentalists have to say about this glorious achievement:

"It is highly risky. The risk of a nuclear accident on a floating power plant is increased. The plants' potential impact on the fragile Arctic environment through emissions of radioactivity and heat remains a major concern. If there is an accident, it would be impossible to handle," said Igor Kudrik, a spokesman.

Environmentalists also fear that if additional radioactive waste is produced, it will be dumped into the sea. Russia has a long record of polluting the Arctic with radioactive waste. Countries including Britain have had to offer Russia billions of dollars to decommission more than 160 nuclear submarines, but at least 12 nuclear reactors are known to have been dumped, along with more than 5,000 containers of solid and liquid nuclear waste, on the northern coast and on the island of Novaya Zemlya.

They are crazy people who hate progress and worship at the altar of Howard Dean.

Eating meat still kills you

And makes you sick and unhealthy for a long time before you die. And trashes the planet. From the New York Times last week:

The increase in mortality risk tied to the higher levels of meat consumption was described as “modest,” ranging from about 20 percent to nearly 40 percent. But the number of excess deaths that could be attributed to high meat consumption is quite large given the size of the American population.

Extrapolated to all Americans in the age group studied, the new findings suggest that over the course of a decade, the deaths of one million men and perhaps half a million women could be prevented just by eating less red and processed meats, according to estimates prepared by Dr. Barry Popkin, who wrote an editorial accompanying the report.

To prevent premature deaths related to red and processed meats, Dr. Popkin suggested in an interview that people should eat a hamburger only once or twice a week instead of every day, a small steak once a week instead of every other day, and a hot dog every month and a half instead of once a week.

Hahaha, hot dog every month and a half. That's great.

Anyway, the kinds of meat you eat don't change much:

In place of red meat, nonvegetarians might consider poultry and fish. In the study, the largest consumers of “white” meat from poultry and fish had a slight survival advantage.

Big surprise:

Likewise, those who ate the most fruits and vegetables also tended to live longer.

I wonder when people will get it. I mean, you tell people, you show them so clearly that they are destroying themselves with what they eat, but most won't change. How profoundly stupid - to intractably eat things that ruin us. We will not be moved. What are we proving to anyone? "I don't take advice from anyone. I won't consider anything you say." Great mindset. Nothing positive, that's for sure.

You can also show people, as has been done quite often, especially in the last few years, that their diets absolutely decimate the entire planet on which they and their children live:

Anyone who worries about global well-being has yet another reason to consume less red meat. Dr. Popkin, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, said that a reduced dependence on livestock for food could help to save the planet from the ravaging effects of environmental pollution, global warming and the depletion of potable water.

“In the United States,” Dr. Popkin wrote, “livestock production accounts for 55 percent of the erosion process, 37 percent of pesticides applied, 50 percent of antibiotics consumed, and a third of total discharge of nitrogen and phosphorus to surface water.”

But that won't do much either. At least it doesn't seem to. It's nearly unfathomable how much we waste in the pursuit of self-destruction. You can't free range egg your way out of this one. What will it take?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Meat's not neat

Farm Sanctuary just put out a report blowing up common ideas of animals whose confinement is labeled as as free range and organic. This is a big deal these days. Everyone wants grass-fed this and hormone-free that. Below are some hilights from it. What it comes down to is that no one has the right to dictate how other creatures live and die. All of the animals that people use for food are thinking, feeling creatures. That's fact. The only people who outright deny that are those in the businesses of animal exploitation. There is no way to justify our dominance and their misery, outside of might and because we can. Not great reasoning to stand upon. They have the same right to a decent life as you and I.

The Truth Behind The Labels:
Farm Animal Welfare Standards and Labeling Practices

Report Summary:

The USDA's Role in Product Labeling & Marketing Claims

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allows various product labels to be used on meat, dairy and eggs, including “cage free,” “free range,” “free roaming,” “pasture raised,” “grass fed,” “organic,” “natural,” and “naturally raised.” Many of these terms have vague, informal working definitions, and in most cases compliance is not verified through on-site audits. The agency approves labeling claims on meat and poultry products based on testimonials and documentation supplied by producers, with a couple of exceptions: the USDA does verify “cage free” conditions for egg-laying hens and “certified organic” conditions for all farm animal species.

  • Farmers are not required to provide “cage free” laying hens with access to the outdoors. Often, hens are crowded by the thousands into large barns where each bird is allotted approximately one square foot of space.
  • “Free range” birds raised for meat often lead lives very similar to their factory farmed counterparts. They may be crowded by the thousands into factory-like warehouses with no flock size limits, and the outdoor area may be little more than a barren dirt lot that is difficult for them to access.
  • “Natural” and “naturally raised” labels have little or no impact on animal welfare, and can be applied to products from animals raised in unnatural factory farm conditions. The “natural” label on animal products applies only to how meat, dairy and eggs are processed, and it has nothing to do with how the animals are treated when alive. The “naturally raised” claim is a misnomer, merely requiring that the animals be raised without antibiotics, animal by-products or synthetic growth promoters.
  • The “organic” label requires that all animals be given “access” to the outdoors, and that ruminants (i.e. grazing animals) have “access” to pasture. “Access” is not defined however, and as with free range requirements, the outdoor area may be unappealing and difficult for individual animals to reach. Organic mega-dairies have utilized loopholes in government standards to confine cows in factory farm conditions. Challenged by organic food advocates, the USDA has moved to clarify standards for pasture access.
  • ...Agribusiness has produced standards that basically codify existing cruel practices and fail to improve farm animal welfare. A handful of third-party programs initiated by food retailers and animal welfare advocates have created programs to disallow some of the worst affronts to animal well-being. But programs affecting the most animals have the lowest standards and even the highest welfare standards can not eliminate suffering that is inherent to all forms of animal agriculture.

    When animals are seen primarily as production units or commodities for sale – whether by factory farms or so-called “humane” operations – the animals’ welfare tends to be secondary to economic concerns.

    Farm Sanctuary has learned from more than two decades caring for rescued farm animals, that when given the opportunity, family units stay together. However, when animals are raised for food under any conditions, most are denied familial relationships. Chicks are ordered from hatcheries and shipped via the postal service. (Male chicks born at egg hatcheries are killed after sexing as they are considered of no use to the industry.) Dairy calves are removed from their mothers so that the milk their mothers biologically produce for them can be marketed to humans. Lambs and piglets are weaned and removed from their mothers to be fattened for slaughter...


    Anyone who knows us, man, they KNOW we got no bones no blood in our kitchen. Fuck no.

    Kind of makes me want to go to Jamaica.

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    They won't leave Assata alone

    I don't really get it. I suppose it's a combination of patriotism, the blind worship of police, racism, the hatred of all things radical, sexism, and some other things. Whatever the case, there are some (maybe more?) people who are so fucking fervent about Assata Shakur being recaptured. She's been in Cuba for twenty-five years. A few years back, in 2005, the state of New Jersey upped the reward for her capture to $1 million. The same day, the FBI put her on a "domestic terrorist watch list." Domestic terrorist. Living in Cuba since 1984/85. Convicted of shooting a cop. Lots of people shoot cops, but I don't think any of them has ever been deemed a terrorist before.

    So now some people, the types who subscribe to/create/maintain the attitudes I mentioned at the top of this post, like politicians and police, are saying that if Barack Obama wants to cool things out with Cuba, then he has to arrange to have Assata sent back here. As usual, these people have media outlets doing their work for them.

    This particularly troubling article, written by a man who is evidently quite conservative and at a minimum, fairly racist, does so much vile propagandizing for the masters. It's filled with so many problems. It's hard to determine where to start. Here are a few:

    • "Then, four years ago, the State Police increased the American bounty on her once-Afro'd head to $1 million..."

    • "Chesimard has reared her head now and then -- at times, it seems, to thumb her nose at the United States -- offering interviews to Newsday, among others, and writing books." - Reared her head? Why is she thumbing her nose by talking? I'm sure Newsday had a real black liberation agenda in mind when they put that piece together.

    • "Authorites eluded convictions in several crimes in the early 1970s, including shootings, a bank holdup and a hand-grenade attempt that blew up a police car." - I'm pretty sure "eluded" is not really the right word choice for what he's trying to say, but his point is fucked nonetheless: this guy writes like he knows better than anyone, like he was there. They are not accusations, but "crimes" that she got away with. And what the hell is "a hand-grenade attempt that blew up a police car."? This guy cannot get his head around the idea that she didn't do these things.

    • "She's been living under political asylum in Cuba the past 35 years. " She wasn't convicted until 1977. That's 32 years ago. Didn't make it to Cuba until 1984 at the earliest.

    • "At trial, Harper (cop) said that Foerster (dead cop) reached into the vehicle, pulled out and held up an automatic pistol and ammunition clip, and said 'Jim, look what I found,' while facing Harper at the rear of the vehicle." - Why would someone do that? "Hey, I found some bullets in the car, I'm not gonna pay attention to the people in it for a little bit." That would never happen, unless you were the literal dumbest pig.

    • "Harper testified that Acoli shot Foerster with a .38 caliber automatic pistol and then used Foerster's own gun to 'execute him.'" Harper also later testified that he lied.

    • "Chesimard was caught five miles down the road across from the Joyce Kilmer Service area." - He doesn't tell you the part that she was near death in the back seat of the car, having been shot in the back.

    • "Under cross-examination, Shakur was unable to explain how three clips of ammunition and 16 live shells had gotten into her shoulder bag." - That's a tough case to crack, huh?

    Then the fool blows his case at the end by having to admit a fact - "Jurors convicted Chesimard as an accomplice in the murders of both Foerster and Shakur -- more than enough for the state of New Jersey, which penalizes such convictions with life prison terms." Yup. She got life for being at the scene. Not for doing anything.
    Here are some points to consider, as related by one of her lawyers, Evelyn Williams:
    The forensic evidence examined by both the New Jersey crime laboratory in Trenton, New Jersey and FBI crime laboratories in Washington, D.C. established the following:
    1. The finger print analyses of every gun and every piece of ammunition found at the scene showed there were no fingerprints of Assata found on any of them. (The official analyses admitted into evidence) 
    2. Neutron Activation Analysis taken immediately after Assata was taken to the hospital that night showed there was no gun power residue on her hands. Effectively refuting the possibility that she had fired a gun. (The official analyses were admitted into evidence) 
    3. As a result of the bullet Harper shot under her armpit, while her arms were raised in, her median nerve was severed, immediately paralyzing her entire right arm, shattering her clavicle, and lodging in her chest so close to her heart that an operation to remove it was not feasible. A neurologist testified to that fact at the trial.
    4. A pathologist testified that “There is no conceivable way that the bullet could have traveled over to the clavicle if her arm was down. That trajectory is impossible.”
    5. A surgeon testified that “it was anatomically necessary that both arms be in the air for Ms. Chesimard to have received the wounds she did.”The state offered no expert witnesses to refute this medical testimony.
    6. Photographs depicting the gunshot entry wound under her armpit and the entry would of the bullet Harper shot into her back were admitted into evidence during the trial.
    The entire document is too long to post here, at three or four pages, but is totally worth a read. If nothing else, it can give you counterpoints, SOME kind of balance against this sensational trash making her out to be some kind of warlord or whatever.
    She's in Cuba. She's been there for a long time. The Cuban government welcomes her and provides her with protection. If she did it, why would she still be saying that she didn't?