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Brain-dead, redneck diesel lovers brag about how much toxic smoke their trucks can spew

Rollin' Coal
 
I’ve long since stopped being amazed at the mental knots that white, male conservatives (usually white and usually male, anyway) will tie themselves into as a reaction to their rage that other voices are permitted to participate in the political process and even occasionally combine to form a consensus that might infringe on their god-given rights to be a malicious dickwad. In the last month or so we’ve seen the phenomenon, in reaction to some 2nd Amendment infringements that are mostly imaginary, of shotgun-toting fellows deciding that Home Depot as well as various chain eateries might be a appropriate venues to bring portable machinery expressly designed to kill living organisms. The pushback on the part of Chili’s, Sonic, Chipotle, and Starbuck’s have largely been successful.

Valorizing guns is stupid and rude. When you enter a restaurant with lethal weapons, the best-case outcome is that everyone else in the establishment feels threatened and must cower in the face of your cheaply purchased superiority (it’s not that difficult to carry a gun, after all, any dummy or old fart can usually accomplish at least that much). Even to mention the disheartening statistics is a sure sign that you support Obummer’s incipient Orwellian police state, but here goes: In the United States, deaths due to firearms occur on the order of 30 a day; over a 99-day period in 2013, 215 children were killed, the vast majority as a result of accidents.

Anyway, the latest display of inconsiderate mouth-breathing bullshit has to do with climate change. It’s become common for the proud owners of diesel trucks to champion the unpleasant black spew that emanates from their vehicles as a key blow struck in the name of freedom, against the liberal elite that seeks to save the planet from climate-related catastrophe. The keyword for this, er, “movement” is “Rollin’ Coal.” There’s a “Rollin’ COAL” group on Facebook that has 15,000 likes. The commenters who push back against the fossil fuel stupidity routinely invoke the modest penis length of the “Rollin’ Coal” crowd:

“I’ve never seen a larger collection of men with tiny dicks over-compensating than on this page.”

 
Truck Yeah
 
One of the favorite tropes of the “Rollin’ Coal” groups is a little poem that goes like this:
 

Roll, roll, rollin’ coal
Let the hybrid see.
A big black cloud.
Exhaust that’s loud.
Watch the city boy flee.

 
Here’s a brief description of the trend, from “‘Rollin’ Coal’ Is Pollution Porn for Dudes With Pickup Trucks” by Elizabeth Kulze:
 

In small towns across America, manly men are customizing their jacked-up diesel trucks to intentionally emit giant plumes of toxic smoke every time they rev their engines. They call it “rollin’ coal,” and it’s something they do for fun.

-snip-

Aside from being macho, the rollin’ coal culture is also a renegade one. Kids make a point of blowing smoke back at pedestrians [see the video at the bottom of this page], in addition to cop cars and rice burners (Japanese-made sedans), which can make it dangerously difficult to see out of the windshield. Diesel soot can also be a great road rage weapon should some wimpy looking Honda Civic ever piss you off. “If someone makes you mad, you can just roll coal, and it makes you feel better sometimes,” says Ryan, a high school senior who works at the diesel garage with Robbie. “The other day I did it to this kid who was driving a Mustang with his windows down, and it was awesome.”

 
I haven’t figured out a way to embed it, but Kulze’s article features a video that makes the resentment-based roots of the diesel enthusiasm explicit, with its tittering references to “Prius driving socialists.” It’s really worth a look.

What’s most astonishing about the “Rollin’ Coal” folks is that, I mean, surely the highly visible black smoke tends to make the climate change case, doesn’t it? Is there any way that that smoke could be good for the environment? Have these diesel drivers ever seen a fish, a pond, a leaf, or a tree? Do they think that bees, trees and tadpoles can just withstand the toxic fumes with no consequence? It’s difficult to figure out what they’re thinking about or if they are even capable of thought at all. At best the practice is a way of saying “I get to do whatever I want, and any bad things that occur are your problem.” Lovely. I gain some comfort from considering that these types of particularly stupid good ol’ boys often graciously volunteer to remove themselves from the gene pool with drunk driving and other fun activities.

Below, a compilation of asshat diesel truck drivers intentionally releasing their smoky coal-black smoky on pedestrians, bicyclists, children and so forth. Surely this meets the definition of “assault” wouldn’t it? It’s as bad as spitting in someone’s face…
 

 
via Lawyers, Guns & Money

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘If they find it, they’ll play with it’
06.26.2014
12:12 pm

Topics:
Politics

Tags:
Guns


 
When I first clicked on this video I had no idea what it was going to be about or its message. I was pleasantly surprised when I stuck with it till the end. Its message is loud and clear. Perhaps very slightly NSFW, but it’s brilliant and extremely clever, I think you’ll agree, no matter which side of this issue you’re on.

I’m not going to tell you what’s about, why spoil the fun?

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Anarchism in America


 
As the title promises, Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher’s Anarchism in America is a documentary survey of anarchism in the United States. The film presents an overview of the movement’s history, such as the Spanish Civil War, the 1917 Revolution, Emma Goldman, and the deaths of Sacco and Vanzetti, and takes these as the points of departure for what were then (1983) contemporary observations from the outside looking in on Ronald Reagan’s America. Whether viewed as a time capsule or as an able introduction to the various forms of anarchism, the film makes for fascinating viewing and has held up well after 31 years.

What’s perfectly obvious is how much of a libertarian or individualistic route the American strain of anarchism takes—let’s call it “free market anarchism”—in stark contrast to European-style communal living experiments (such as squatters’ groups or farm co-ops). They’re just not quite the same school of thought, although if you were to draw a Venn diagram of what they do have in common, it would be significant but also… probably equally incompatible for the things which they lack in simpatico. Does anyone in Anarchism in America have any hopes for a revolution? Seemingly not in their lifetimes. (Many of them were right, of course. I’ve read that the filmmakers are planning a sequel, so I’d suspect that post-Occupy, post-Piketty, there would be more positive prognostications to be found along those lines today.)
 

Emma Goldman will not attend your revolution if she can’t dance….

The film also offers anarchist or anarchist-leaning thinkers uninterrupted camera time to make their points. Like Murray Bookchin, who says this:
 

I had entered the communist children’s movement, an organization called the Young Pioneers of America, in 1930 in New York City; I was only nine years of age. And I’d gone through the entire ’30s as a—Stalinist—initially, and then increasingly as someone who was more and more sympathetic to Trotskyism. And by 1939, after having seen Hitler rise to power, the Austrian workers’ revolt of 1934 (an almost completely forgotten episode in labor history), the Spanish revolution, by which I mean the so-called Spanish civil war—I finally became utterly disillusioned with Stalinism, and drifted increasingly toward Trotskyism. And by 1945, I, finally, also became disillusioned with Trotskyism; and I would say, now, increasingly with Marxism and Leninism.

And I began to try to explore what were movements and ideologies, if you like, that really were liberatory, that really freed people of this hierarchical mentality, of this authoritarian outlook, of this complete assimilation by the work ethic. And I now began to turn, very consciously, toward anarchist views, because anarchism posed a question, not simply of a struggle between classes based upon economic exploitation—anarchism really was posing a much broader historical question that even goes beyond our industrial civilization—not just classes, but hierarchy—hierarchy as it exists in the family, hierarchy as it exists in the school, hierarchy as it exists in sexual relationships, hierarchy as it exists between ethnic groups. Not only class divisions, based upon economic exploitation. And it was concerned not only with economic exploitation, it was concerned with domination, domination which may not even have any economic meaning at all: the domination of women by men in which women are not economically exploited; the domination of ordinary people by bureaucrats, in which you may even have welfare, so-called socialist type of state; domination as it exists today in China, even when you’re supposed to have a classless society; domination even as it exists in Russia, where you are supposed to have a classless society, you see.

So these are the things I noted in anarchism, and increasingly I came to the conclusion that if we were to avoid—or if we are to avoid—the mistakes in over one hundred years of proletarian socialism, if we are to really achieve a liberatory movement, not simply in terms of economic questions but in terms of every aspect of life, we would have to turn to anarchism because it alone posed the problem, not merely of class domination but hierarchical domination, and it alone posed the question, not simply of economic exploitation, but exploitation in every sphere of life. And it was that growing awareness, that we had to go beyond classism into hierarchy, and beyond exploitation into domination, that led me into anarchism, and to a commitment to an anarchist outlook.

 
Worth noting that Bookchin left anarchism behind, too, due to what he saw as the antisocial element to American style anarchist thought.

There’s one particularly amazing piece of footage (among several included in the film) that I wanted to call to your attention. It’s the demonstration of how a policeman’s truncheon fares against various food items such as an egg, squash, and an eggplant before moving on to a Yippie’s head. That clip comes from an “answer” film made by the Yippies in the aftermath of the Chicago riots that was played on television there due to the “equal-time” rule specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political parties who request it. When Mayor Richard Daley got to tell the city’s side of the story in something called “What Trees Did They Plant?” the Yippies got to tell their side in an extremely whacked-out short film scripted by Paul Krassner. That starts at 30:50 but if you want to see the entire thing, click over to archive.org, they’ve got it. (The guy with the truncheon is Chicago-based lefty humorist and radio broadcaster Marshall Efron, who played one of the prisoners in George Lucas’ THX 1138. He was also the voice of “Smelly Smurf” and works as a voice actor in animated films to this day.)

Toward the end of Anarchism in America, Jello Biafra and Dead Kennedys are seen onstage performing “We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now,” while in the interview segment a level-headed young Biafra suggests that anarchy, or some sort of revolution in the USA, is probably a long, long way off. If they do make the sequel, he’s one of the first people they ought to interview for it. I’d be curious if he still feels that way. I would suspect that he’s much more optimistic these days.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Loony rightwinger wants to criminalize homosexuality and adultery; ban rock music

nasusennaetihw.jpg
 
We’re living in strange days when every nutjob, krank and bigot thinks it a great idea to run for public off and air their poisonous views. Worse still is when these people believe they are sanctioned by some personal religious faith or aggrieved political agenda. Have our educational systems failed so badly that people grow-up to have nothing between their ears but inherited hatreds and delusional superstitions?

The latest political wannabe that fits the profile is Susan-Anne White, who is standing as an Independent candidate in the council elections for Fermanagh and Omagh district of Northern Ireland. At first, she may seem innocent enough, until you read some of the horrendous shite coming out of her mouth.

Ms. White co-writes a blog “The Truth Shall Set You Free” (really?) with Francis White (most likely her husband?) which they describe as follows:

In a Politically Correct society, the first casualty is truth. The media in its various forms are willing accomplices in the suppression of the truth. This blog represents the great Christian fight-back. Our targets will be Marxism/socialism, which has spawned Feminism, P.C., the green agenda, the ugliness and vulgarity that masquerades as “art”, and the moral collapse of society. We will not ignore politics either, nor the dangerous equality agenda, nor yet multiculturalism.

As Bible-believing Christians, we will also turn our attention to the tragic compromise and downgrade of so many once-sound fundamentalist, Evangelical churches.

It is our intention to cast the salt of the Word of God into the corrupt fountains all around.

Susan-Anne and Francis White.

(I’d include the link, but don’t want to give these people too much free publicity…)

White’s salt-casting election manifesto is based on ten “principles” drawn up by Norwich-based Dr. Alan Clifford (this man’s a doctor?), whose previous anti-gay and anti-Islam rants and pamphlets led to him being investigated by the police. White wants homosexuality criminalized, adultery criminalized and rock groups banned.

Speaking to The Belfast Telegraph, White said:

“I don’t consider myself extreme at all…”

Few extremists do, deary. White he claims she has had positive feedback from voters.

She explained her views on gay people:

“I would – if I had the power – make homosexuality a criminal offence once again. I would also make adultery a criminal offence, so I’m pretty fair in that respect. I think adultery is a terrible sin. Society has fallen to such a low level that most people wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at two men or two women walking hand in hand in the street…

“We believe that we need to be safe from the destructive homosexual agenda…. It (being gay) is portrayed as an alternative lifestyle and they are seeking to normalise it, and it’s being forced on society. It is saturation coverage of the gay agenda and their various demands.”

It’s not just gays and adulterers who would receive the first stone, the “vulgarity” of rock music and even modern poetry are condemned by Susan-Anne White’s tiny mind.

“One only has to think of some of those well-known rock groups from the 1970s and 1980s such as Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper and more recently Kurt Cobain,” she added. “The lyrics are promoting immorality, the noise is deafening, and they also promote anarchy.”

But surely poetry is good for the soul? Apparently not, according to Susan-Anne White:

“Society has been so desensitised to vulgarity and a lack of God-given talent that these people are thought of as great artists and entertainers when they are nothing of the kind,” she continued.

Ms. White might seem to be in need of urgent psychiatric attention, but no, she’s only warming-up, as she explained her concerns over the “Islamification” of Northern Ireland.

“The Islam threat is in the form of halal meat,” she added. “Some Muslims have said that they plan to conquer the world through halal meat, so if you’re asking me is Islam a threat in Co Tyrone, then yes, it is.”

Of course, the big question was kept till the end, when reporter Adrian Rutherford asked White if she seriously believed she would get elected?

“I think the likelihood is slim but I consider it a privilege to be able to highlight these matters door to door.”

Ms. White plans to form her own party, SAFE (Society And Family Enterprise party), which will be based on Dr. Clifford’s principles.

Below, a crank call gets made to Dr. Alan Clifford…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘He promises to just smoke pot as mayor. Not crack’: Hilarious anti-Rob Ford campaign posters
03.31.2014
10:47 am

Topics:
Amusing
Current Events
Drugs
Politics

Tags:
Rob Ford


^^^^^ I’d vote for him!

Apparently parody election signs are popping up all over Toronto by No Ford Nation. The tagline on all signs are, “Anyone’s better than Rob Ford.”

The reaction by Torontonians have been a mixed bag so far. Some people are finding the signs absolutely hilarious, while others are pissed-off and claim the signs are damaging the city’s reputation.


 

 
Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Inauguration of the ‘Pleasure Boat’: Divine rocks London’s 1985 Gay Pride event from the Thames
03.27.2014
08:55 am

Topics:
Music
Politics
Queer

Tags:
Divine

Divine
 
The summer of 1985 was an awfully interesting moment in the struggle to achieve gay rights. AIDS was in full swing but “the story” had not “broken” in the general media—Rock Hudson’s death of that terrible disease, which would do so much to “mainstream” AIDS, hadn’t happened yet. The gay community was obviously acutely aware that an epidemic was occurring, but clueless Ronald Reagan refused to countenance it. During the 1980s and into the 1990s, the gay community was intensely politicized, in a way that we have to some extent forgotten. A gay pride event was no ordinary thing, it was politicized by definition. (The Oscar-nominated 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague does an excellent job of documenting this period.)

Gay Pride Day in London that year was June 29, and as the blog Gay in the 80s well demonstrates, after lackluster turnout in the previous two years, there were many passionate protest events.

At this point in his career, Divine was spending a good deal of time in London and Europe generally, as Richard lovingly outlined in this post a couple of months ago; the same post includes several videos from Divine’s Hi-NRG/disco phase. He appeared on Top of the Pops, and some of his tracks made the charts. The beloved DJ John Peel lavished praise on him on the radio.

For the Gay Pride event in London, someone had the bright idea of showcasing Baltimore’s favorite drag queen on a boat on the Thames River. It’s difficult to reconstruct from the vantage point of today, but there just weren’t that many celebrities who were out in 1985. Being an out gay actor was tantamount to ensuring oneself marginalization, if not penury.

But as the star of several of John Waters’ scummy cinematic masterpieces, Divine was used to marginalization. His qualified successes on the pop scene surely felt like a measure of acceptance. It may also have been clear to him that his appeal cut across the regular lines of sexuality. Humor does that; if you’re funny and lighthearted (no matter how much pain you may be masking), people are going to respond to that.

Having insisted that his appearance not be “political,” Divine sang two songs as the “pleasure boat” floated past the Jubilee Gardens. But that appearance was as political as anything he ever did. The video below is enjoyable just to hear a portly 39-year-old former hair stylist from Baltimore belt out, with a voice as raspy as can be, his cover of the Four Seasons’ “Walk Like a Man” and then “Native Love (Step by Step),” the latter of which includes the defiant lyrics: “Hey GQ man, here I stand / For everyone to see / And if I’m not your type, well that’s alright / ‘Cuz that don’t matter to me.”

And there’s nothing quite so “Baltimore” as Divine’s between-songs patter: “Well fuck you all very much! … Let’s hear it for London, yeah! … Okay, It’s real good to be here, I fucking love you, yeah!” Pithy and to the point.

Divine’s manager Bernard Jay, in his book Not Simply Divine, reveals some of the background of the event:
 

Although he was always loyal to and appreciative of his gay audience, he was also very well aware that it wasn’t every one of them who approved. “I am trying to say to people, ‘Learn to laugh at yourself,’” he said. “Gay or straight, it helps if you can look at yourself for what you are and either accept it or do something about it.” For those gays who believed he demolished their public relations efforts, he added, “I cannot believe anyone can be so prissy and humorless. I am sure they are closet numbers who go home from the office, slip off their three-piece suits, and cook dinner wearing a silk slip and high heels.”

When he finally decided to stop avoiding the issue and answer the probing journalists directly, his astute comment was more amusing than revealing. “Don’t tell me about minority groups,” he told them. “I am a gay actor trying to make his living wearing a dress. Now that really is a minority group.”

Our good friends at Heaven in London [one of the largest gay discos in Europe] had approached Divi about being this year’s guest performer on Gay Pride Day. Divi and I agreed that he owed it to the club that started it all for him in Europe. And this particular community who had always supported him so loyally and enthusiastically. However, we were still insistent that his participation—without fee, of course—be as an entertainer and not interpreted as a political statement. He would make no speeches from the stage.

Heaven’s man in charge came up with the novel idea of Divi performing two songs, standing on the roof of a hired pleasure boat as it sailed slowly along the Thames and passed the Jubilee Gardens, where the celebrations would be taking place.

It was a huge success. The sight of Divine, in a body-hugging silver-blue gown, precariously balanced in heels on the sloping roof of the small craft, gently rocking on the tide of the Thames, while the makeshift speakers screamed “You Think You’re a Man,” was definitely one for sore eyes. As he performed, gyrating to the beat in his usual outrageous manner, another pleasure boat—this one full of innocent tourists—passed by. I noticed their tour guide busy trying to explain this extraordinary additional London attraction of a huge bum, swaying and rocking on top of a boat, to music that they couldn’t hear in their position on the Thames.

 
As Gay in the 80s noted, “All-in-all, it was an extraordinary – and empowering – day. It was the day that our community came together to ensure the future of Lesbian and Gay Pride. The rest, as they say, is history.”
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Intellectual Equals: Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir, vintage 1967 interview

ertrasriovuaeb.jpg
 
It is difficult to think of Jean-Paul Sartre without thinking of Simone de Beauvoir. They were lovers, comrades, friends whose lives were intrinsically entwined. Each morning they would work separately, then at four o’clock in the afternoon, they would meet and dine at La Palette, continuing their conversation, where it had left off. Then they would return to Sartre’s apartment, where they would work together until evening.

Sartre had moved to a tenth-floor, studio apartment on 222 Boulevardd Raspail in 1962, after the right-wing paramilitary group OAS had twice bombed his previous home on Rue Bonaparte.

It was a modern studio in one of the top floors of a modern building: one big wall full of books, a great leather armchair and a long worktable, thick and old—the kind of table used for meals in a convent—laden with manuscripts. From the table, one could see far into the distance, toward the Eiffel Tower. This new abode was Sartre’s farewell to Saint-Germain-des-Pres, to the postwar period, to the existential explosion—his return to Montparnasse, where, from then on, all those close to him would meet…

In the early 1960s, Sartre’s fame was at its height. He had been famously awarded and then rejected the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964. He was seen internationally as man of intellect, politics and scandal, yet at the same time, Sartre’s strict adherence to his singular brand of politics and philosophy often made him seem outdated to younger radicals and thinkers.

Even though at the time France was excited over Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Lacan, Althusser, and Foucault, Sartre refused to confront their fertile methods of investigation in any way whatsoever, let alone with the open mind that would have been useful in such a confrontation.

In an interview with L’Arc, Sartre restated his central beliefs:

“Philosophy represents totalized man’s struggle to recapture the meaning of totalization. No science can replace it, for each science applies itself to a well-delineated aspect of man… Philosophy is the investigation of praxis, and as such an investigation of man… the important thing is not what one does with man, but what he does with what one has done with him. What one has done with man, these are the structures, the signifiers, that the social sciences study. That which he does is history itself… Philosophy is the hinge.”

To the likes of Foucault, Sartre’s emphasis on:

...consciousness, subjectivity, freedom, responsibility and the self, his commitment to Marxist categories and dialectical thinking… his quasi Enlightenment humanism, Sartre seemed to personify everything that structuralists and poststructuralists like Foucault opposed. In effect, the enfant terrible of mid century France had become the “traditionalist” of the following generation.

Sartre was probably aware of this, and his rejection of the Nobel Prize was in part over a fear of being seen as part of the French establishment. This at a time when Sartre was dedicating himself to a biography of Gustave Flaubert, which Sartre (erroneously) believed would eclipse all of his previous work. This only convinced Michel Foucault that Sartre was a man of the 19th century.

Whilst always seeming to be hidden by the shadow of Sartre, it was in fact Simone de Beauvoir who was becoming far more relevant and radical in the 1960s, as her 1949 epoch-changing book The Second Sex was inspiring a generation of feminist writers and thinkers. There is a slight irony that this interview with Sartre and de Beauvoir, recorded for the French television series Dossiers in 1967, should focus so much attention to Sartre, when it was de Beauvoir’s ideas and writings that were more influential at the time. The film does capture the couple’s unique dynamic and discusses Sartre’s rejection of the Nobel Prize, his biography on Flaubert; while de Beauvoir discusses The Second Sex.  In French with subtitles.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Simone de Beauvoir: Why I am a Feminist
Albert Camus vs. Jean-Paul Sartre

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Treat yourself to that real working guillotine you’ve always wanted!


 
If you’re going to stage a coup d’etat, you need to make a bold statement to the populace that you’re not playing around, and what says “DO NOT TRIFLE WITH THE NEW ORDER” like public executions? Trouble is, modern methods like lethal injection are too painless and clinical to satisfy the bloodlust of a proper mob, so how’s a budding dictator to quash dissent?

Auctioneer Francois-Xavier Duflos of Nantes, France may have your execution solution. Via The Local:

A working French guillotine is expected to fetch up to €60,000 [about $83,500 USD] when it goes under the hammer on Thursday in the western French city of Nantes. 

The wood, iron, steel and brass relic, synonymous with the French Revolution, was used to execute people in the second half of the 19th century.

The blade of the guillotine bears the inscription ‘Armees de la Republique,” a reference to the Revolutionary Army that was created to defend France from its neighbors in the aftermath of the 1789 French Revolution.

“It was used by the army, it was assembled and disassembled,” Duflos told Europe 1. “It has certainly known several battlefields.”

 

 
“It was used by the army” surely means that people met their doom on this very machine, right? How could it be otherwise? Though the devices are most closely associated in the world’s consciousness with Maximilien de Robespierre’s excesses in the French Revolution, France used guillotines as their primary method of execution until 1977.

Bidding begins on Thursday. Good luck.

This 2004 interview with France’s last living guillotine executioner is mercifully bereft of any actual beheading footage. Its subject only speaks French, but if you turn the captions on, they’re not only in English, they’re sometimes wrong in amusing ways.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Bills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches: ‘Bez’ of Happy Mondays is running for Parliament
03.19.2014
05:38 am

Topics:
Music
Politics

Tags:

Bez
Bez and his maracas
 
It was reported on Monday that legendary “freaky dancer,” maracas player and alleged former ecstasy dealer Mark “Bez” Berry of the Happy Mondays and Black Grape has revealed his intention to run for Parliament in the UK general election next year.

Bez, who is currently 49 years old, told the Manchester Evening News of his plans to run as an MP in his home city of Salford, After years, if not decades, of sober study of the nation’s political problems, Bez has stated his plans to “stir things up,” redistribute wealth, end all war, and solve cancer and dementia. Frankly it sounds a lot less harmful than a lot of things I’ve heard politicians say.
 

I’ve been saying we need a revolution, and there’s no good shouting about it when you’re not actually doing anything. ... If you want to do something about things you’ve got to get into the corridors of power and take them on. ... If you’re voting for me, you’re voting as a protest about what’s happening in the world at the moment. ... I’m going to create a new world order and get rid of them and start again with a new, fairer system without evil being the main policy. ... One of my policies would be a permacultural society where we’ll end illness and get everybody back to an alkaline state.

 
Bez has a history of achievement in the political arena; in 2005 he won the UK reality show Celebrity Big Brother.

I have long believed that Bez’s role as semi-musician/mascot/dancing idiot is essentially unique in rock history, and I’d love it if he could parlay being the Linda McCartney of Happy Mondays into a slot in Parliament. Voters looking to assess Bez’s fitness for dealing with matters involving the Exchequer will be interested to learn that he’s “been made bankrupt twice” in his life, as revealed on the talk show This Morning with Martin Lewis (is his name really Martin Lewis?) last year.
 

 
Here he is in his heyday, on Top of the Pops with the Happy Mondays dancing to “Kinky Afro”:
 

 
via Brooklyn Vegan

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Edward Snowden’s testimony to the European Parliament is a must-read for EVERY concerned American

Edward Snowden
If Edward Snowden isn’t very careful, they’re going to crush his head!

The fate of Edward Snowden continues to be excruciatingly unresolved. The former NSA contractor who made international headlines in 2013 when he illegally disclosed details about the shocking scope of federal surveillance programs via The Guardian and other news outlets has been obliged to seek asylum from various non-U.S.-aligned governments, such as Russia, Ecuador, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Nobody really disputes that Snowden has committed criminal acts—no matter how justified—and yet the intransigent stance of the U.S. to hold over Snowden’s head the most draconian penalties (short of the death penalty, praise Jeebus). Attorney General Eric Holder promised that Snowden would not be tortured if Russia, Snowden’s current home, were to turn him over to U.S. authorities, but in the wake of Bush/Cheney and Obama himself, such promises ring hollow. In the end, the behavior of the U.S. government and other western governments has, unfortunately, tended for the most part to substantiate Snowden’s more “paranoid” claims. The optimal outcome at this stage would be for the United States to offer a more “reasonable” prison term of 3-5 years—such a gesture would go a long way towards confirming to suspicious citizens that the U.S. intends to get its house in order.

Short of that, acceptance by U.S.-friendly western goverments of the European Union would likewise tend to send the message that U.S.security-related surveillance interests don’t trump every other value in the geopolitical system. One of the dispiritng lessons of the Snowden affair thus far has been the lack of counterbalancing perspective in the global system, in other words, the only apparent recourse Snowden has had to escape punishment from the United States has been various “bad guys” like Iran, North Korea, Russia and so on.  The strong impression has been left that countries like Germany, France, U.K., and so on, which once may have acted as sensible, fair brokers are all (a) unduly beholden to the U.S., and (b) compromised in their own right, as each country has its own semi-legal regime of espionage and surveillance. If all western states are but satellites in the U.S. sphere of influence, then Snowden’s revelations become all the more urgent.

For this reason, Snowden’s testimony (delivered in the form of a written statement) to the European Parliament on March 7 is a huge story—one that, sadly, has gone largely unnoticed by major U.S. media outlets. (At this point it’s a little difficult to distinguish sinister anti-Snowden propaganda from regular Snowden fatigue.) You can read Snowden’s entire testimony here.

In his testimony, Snowden related that he has requested asylum in from a number of EU countries, only to be told by European Parliamentarians that the United States would not permit its EU partners to make such an offer. “I do seek EU asylum, but I have yet to receive a positive response to the requests I sent to various EU member states. Parliamentarians in the national governments have told me that the US, and I quote, ‘will not allow’ EU partners to offer political asylum to me, which is why the previous resolution on asylum ran into such mysterious opposition. I would welcome any offer of safe passage or permanent asylum, but I recognize that would require an act of extraordinary political courage.”
 
The NSA
 
In Snowden’s view, the NSA and the security agencies of various EU states have created a “European bazaar” in which the perception of shared interests among the EU states trump the rights and expectations of western citizens to conduct their affairs in private. Wrote Snowden:

“The result is a European bazaar, where an EU member state like Denmark may give the NSA access to a tapping center on the (unenforceable) condition that NSA doesn’t search it for Danes, and Germany may give the NSA access to another on the condition that it doesn’t search for Germans. Yet the two tapping sites may be two points on the same cable, so the NSA simply captures the communications of the German citizens as they transit Denmark, and the Danish citizens as they transit Germany, all the while considering it entirely in accordance with their agreements. Ultimately, each EU national government’s spy services are independently hawking domestic accesses to the NSA, GCHQ [U.K. Government Communications Headquarters], FRA [Försvarets radioanstalt, the Swedish National Defense Radio Establishment], and the like without having any awareness of how their individual contribution is enabling the greater patchwork of mass surveillance against ordinary citizens as a whole.”

Snowden has gone out of his way to put up a non-threatening front to the EU, insisting that he left the Russian secret service frustrated in its attempts to procure from Snowden further classified information about the United States. To the question “Did the Russian secret service approach you?” Snowden replied:

“Of course. Even the secret service of Andorra would have approached me, if they had had the chance: that’s their job. But I didn’t take any documents with me from Hong Kong, and while I’m sure they were disappointed, it doesn’t take long for an intelligence service to realize when they’re out of luck. I was also accompanied at all times by an utterly fearless journalist with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, which is the equivalent of Kryptonite for spies. As a consequence, we spent the next 40 days trapped in an airport instead of sleeping on piles of money while waiting for the next parade. But we walked out with heads held high. I would also add, for the record, that the United States government has repeatedly acknowledged that there is no evidence at all of any relationship between myself and the Russian intelligence service.”

According to Snowden, the NSA itself, which has well-nigh unregulated status within the U.S. federal government, has itself been pushing for EU states to take actions that do not benefit EU citizens:

“One of the foremost activities of the NSA’s FAD, or Foreign Affairs Division, is to pressure or incentivize EU member states to change their laws to enable mass surveillance. Lawyers from the NSA, as well as the UK’s GCHQ, work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers.”

The Snowden “affair” is a highly sensitive “node” in the incredibly complex network of institutions that touch on so many important aspects of our lives—the federal government, telecom companies, Google and Facebook, credit card companies, the U.S. military, Russia, the UN, and so on. If the European Parliament denies Snowden’s requests, it will be another depressing sign that those interrelated interests do not have your or my well-being at heart.

In this video, Democracy Now! looks at the three most important of Snowden’s revelations:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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