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‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’: The Smiths meet ‘First World Problems’


 
Youtuber Absolute Destiny created this hilarious montage of infomercials mixed with The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want.”

Who knew this maudlin song was a paean to consumerism???
 

 
With thanks to Brian Braun!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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So wait, we almost dropped a nuclear bomb on North Carolina in 1961??
09.23.2013
08:12 am

Topics:
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
Eric Schlosser

Dr. Strangelove
 
You might be fan of Eric Schlosser from his stellar reporting in Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness. If you are, you have another reason to be proud of him—in his new book Command and Control, Schlosser has uncovered a remarkable story about a nuclear annihilation the United States almost inflicted on itself.

That’s right: on January 23, 1961, two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina. The bombs were released after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the nuclear weapons did exactly what it was supposed to do in a wartime situation: its parachute opened and its trigger mechanisms engaged. In a newly declassified report, a senior engineer familiar with the details of the case stated that “one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe.”
 
Eric Schlosser, Command and Control
 
Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Each bomb was 260 times as powerful as the bomb detonated over Hiroshima in 1945. Had the device been triggered, the lethal fallout might well have spread over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, even New York City – it’s difficult to calculate the number of people that might have been killed, but it could well have numbered into the millions.

Writing eight years after the events, engineer Parker F. Jones named his secret report “Goldsboro Revisited or: How I learned to Mistrust the H-Bomb,” a cute reference to Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 classic black comedy about an accidental nuclear holocaust, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

According to The Guardian (UK), which was the first to report the story on Saturday,

The accident happened when a B-52 bomber got into trouble, having embarked from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in Goldsboro for a routine flight along the East Coast. As it went into a tailspin, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying became separated. One fell into a field near Faro, North Carolina, its parachute draped in the branches of a tree; the other plummeted into a meadow off Big Daddy’s Road.

Jones found that of the four safety mechanisms in the Faro bomb, designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only that final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity. “The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52,” Jones concludes.

-snip-

Using freedom of information, he discovered that at least 700 “significant” accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone.

Well, that’s sobering news. As a little reminder of what almost happened in Goldsboro, North Carolina, here’s the last couple of minutes of Dr. Strangelove:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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If ‘Breaking Bad’ was set in the UK it would be entirely different story



 
Brought to you by artist Christopher Keelty.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Commie!’: Racist Tea party goon squad menace Arizona activist at anti-immigration rally


 
Here’s how the cameraman, Dennis GIlman, an AZ pro-immigrant rights activist described what happened:

“This was filmed on the public lawn of the Arizona State Capitol on September 7, 2013 where the “We Are America Tour” added Arizona racist, former State Senate President President Russell Pearce. Pearce is famous for SB1070 and his association and endorsement of neo-Nazi JT Ready, who killed an entire family before killing himself in 2012. The local racists have worked closely with FAIR for years. I was there to film the speakers.

It’s a safe guess that if Minute Man founder Chris Simcox wasn’t sitting in jail for multiple counts of child molestation that he would’ve been a speaker at this event also. Is it any wonder why they didn’t want the “liberal Media” filming them? For my own safety, I refused to leave without a police escort. It took over 7 minutes for any law enforcement to arrive. The video is edited only for length.”

The speaker is Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, a failed former Republican candidate for the Arizona Senate who said such outrageously racist shit that even Jan Brewer had to distance herself from her last year. She tells the (obviously) low IQ crowd that she’s against amnesty and that immigrants should do things the legal way when they want to come to America, just like she did (Apparently what Mrs. Mercer means by that is that—hey, hey—they should all marry wealthy men!). These fucking brain-damaged numbnuts cheer her on.

Although the video pretty much tells the whole story here, as there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of nuance to what transpired, here’s some additional information via The Phoenix New Times:

All of it was unprovoked. It’s almost funny when, after they surround Gilman like a pack of wild dogs, they tell Gilman to “stop pushing.”

Fortunately, playwright James Garcia was on hand, taking pictures of what was going on. He recently posted some of these to Facebook, with an eyewitness account of what transpired. Garcia writes:

“He was exercising his First Amendment right as an independent journalist to document a news event when he was literally surrounded by several people who alternately tried obstructing his view to keep him from videotaping, while a few of them began pushing and shoving him around—apparently intent on trying to provoke him….

“At one point, some of protesters who had surrounded Dennis began to yell out that he was assaulting them. These were blatant lies. The most aggressive thing Dennis did was turn his camera on his aggressors in hopes of documenting their abuse, while he pointedly insisted that they not touch his camera equipment. “

To be fair, assuming the group had a permit for the rally on the state Senate lawn, they could ask Gilman to leave. And if he chooses not to, they could wait for the police to show up to ask him to leave.

Having a permit does not give you license to harass and assault someone. Gilman says that when the authorities showed up, he agreed to leave if they would escort him all the way to his car. Smart move, considering the nature of the crowd, and the fact many of them were packing.

The best thing the nativists could have done is ignore Gilman’s presence. By singling him out and acting like a bunch of schoolyard bullies, they not only revealed their true colors, they ruined a chance to convey their intended message. Now they have to defend themselves by blaming the victim, which makes them look even worse.

Here’s a little free PR advice for them that they won’t take: Apologize to Gilman and promise to ensure his safety at the next demonstration they hold, whatever that is. This would be the smart thing to do, a way of mitigating the damage. But they won’t, largely because they are filled with rage and must attack anyone who disagrees with them.

And also because they are really, really dumb.

For some time, members of the neo-Nazis affiliated “Remember 1986” group (co-sponsors of the event) have been known to show up and harass Mexican day laborers at a spot in Phoenix where they congregate.
 

 
Via reddit/r/politics

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The best thing EVER: Workers rights flash mob breaks out in Wal-Mart
09.06.2013
11:03 am

Topics:
Class War
Dance
Heroes
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
pro union


Boy are they ready!

This is a moment of true greatness, the best thing you’ll see all day. This shit takes flight:

September 5th, 2013, Raleigh, NC - As Walmart workers petition managers to reinstate employees who have been unfairly treated, a flash mob breaks out.

I wish I’d have witnessed this in person, but it’s thrilling just to see it on YouTube. The participants must have felt fantastic afterwards.

The deer-in-the-headlights looks the managers have on their mugs is priceless!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Mindblowing: HALF of the United States population lives in just these counties!
09.05.2013
11:00 am

Topics:
Idiocracy
Politics
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
census


 
Using the most recent census data, Joe Weisenthal and Walter Hickey at Business Insider have put together the above map that shows how half—HALF!—of the American population lives in just 146 counties!

Something like this goes to show—proves—that the way we apportion our Senators in Washington has become absolutely unworkable. Although it looks like she’s laying a new egg daily, why should a practically empty state like Wyoming get to send some conservative asshole like Liz Cheney to the Senate so that people living in, ahem, the POPULATED areas will have to deal with that nonsense for six years (or longer)? The entire concept of the Senate is getting to become tenuous when you see something like this. Something based on arbitrary state borders? How many states existed with tens of millions of residents when they framed the Constitution?

Visualizing it this way really seals it for me. Unpopulated states simply do not deserve the same Senate representation as the ones where most people live. It’s bullshit. It gives way, way too much influence to places where a close election can be won by a flaming nutcase if the GOP can manage to bus 300 extra octogenarians to voting booths. In California, our two Senators represent 38 million people while Wyoming’s would represent around HALF a million people.

And we know who tends to live in these least populated states…

This is a problem equal to gerrymandering, voter suppression and the Citizens United ruling. Worse, even, in many respects. The electoral college needs to go, too. Now. Perhaps it’s simply time to rethink these matters for the present century—not to mention the country—that we actually live in. That shouldn’t prove controversial, now, should it?

I crack myself up, sometimes…

Via Business Insider, where you can read a list of the 146 counties that half of Americans call home.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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(Real) Terrorism trading cards (for kids)

trading card
Is he smiling? Did they depict him smiling? Are they trying to teach children or haunt their dreams?
 
Millions of children all over the world are forced to learn about terrorism through first-hand experience, often before they’re old enough to grasp the geopolitical context of the violence. But what about those poor kids who grow up without that kind of hands-on education? What’s the best way to fill young minds with the horrors of war, colonialism, and oppression? Why, trading cards, of course! And that’s exactly what the Piedmont Candy Company did in 1987, with… somewhat problematic results.
 
trading card
 
Mussolini was a fascist dictator, and while he used terror tactics during his reign, “fascist dictator” is a higher, more historically relevant ranking. Plus, by 1987, he had been dead for over 40 years. He looks good on a card, but this is clearly phoned it. Try harder, Piedmont Candy Company.
 
trading card
 
“The Irish have been waging war against England for hundreds of years.” Really, Piedmont Candy Company? Really?!? That’s your read on anti-English sentiment among the Irish?
 
trading card
 
I feel like the fact that they mention the “safety” of bombs twice before telling kids how dangerous they are is a bit counterintuitive. (Really kids! Don’t make bombs yourself, but they’re super-safe, so if you happen to come across one, go to town!)
 
trading card
 
To answer your speculative question, no. No, they were not going to bomb the Statue of Liberty. You’re welcome.
 
trading card
 
Call me a snob, but I find it difficult to take your assessment of Iranian politics seriously when you can’t spell “Shiite” correctly.
 
trading cards
 
Jesus fucking Christ!
Lacing children’s candy with ahistoric, fear-mongering propaganda isn’t enough? You have to make them bloodthirsty, too? If you’re trying to turn them into little killing machines, why not just put angel dust, steroids, and bath salts in the chewing gum?
 
trading card
 
Wait, weren’t you just advocating for the liberal use of nuclear weapons?!? “No one is overly anxious to use them!” First of all, I’m quite sure you mean “overly eager,” not “overly anxious.” Second of all, you are overly eager to use them, Piedmont Candy Company! You are the terrifying example of nuke-happy psychos!

The insidious nature of sneaking ignorant, paranoid, violent nationalism into trading cards is baffling, and yet somehow simultaneously totally unsurprising. I wonder if the economic realities of 1987 Detroit didn’t add fuel to the panicked, reactionary fire—international politics have always been a convenient distraction from extreme poverty and wealth inequality. Regardless, I’m somewhat comforted that we’re not seeing anything quite this indoctrinating being lobbed at kids nowadays.

And if there is, please don’t tell me! Let me live in a world where candy is still sweet! 

Via Organic Mechanic

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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America is awash in money, yet poverty grows: We need a Basic Income Guarantee


 
This is a guest editorial by Allan Sheahen, the author of the new book Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security (Palgrave/MacMillan, NYC). A previous essay from Mr. Sheahen, “Jobs are not the answer: The BIG idea that libertarians and socialists alike can agree on?” was published at Dangerous Minds last week and proved to be very popular.

America is awash with money.

Yet poverty continues to grow.

Does anybody care?

The latest government figures show that 46 million Americans live in poverty, more than at any other time in our nation’s history. That’s 15.1 percent of our population. One in five children live below the poverty line of $22,314 for a family of four, compared to one in twelve in France and one in 38 in Sweden.

Yet whenever elected officials ask their constituents what issues are most important to them, poverty isn’t even on the list. The economy, jobs, Afghanistan, the environment, health care, and education always show up. But not poverty.

Accordingly, Congress is now debating not whether to cut food stamps for the poorest Americans, but by how much.  The Senate is proposing $4 billion in cuts. The House wants to cut $20 billion. Many Democrats are supporting the Senate version.

More than a half-million people are homeless in America. Food banks and homeless shelters are serving more people now than a year ago.  Unemployment is at 7.6 percent.

The problem is that all the private charities in America can’t end hunger and poverty. Ending poverty demands government programs, such as Social Security, unemployment compensation, Medicare, welfare, food stamps, child care, and more.

The 1996 Welfare Reform Act was sold to us as a way to get people off welfare, and it did.  Welfare rolls in the United States are down more than 50 percent.  But it didn’t reduce poverty. That’s because welfare reform dumped many recipients into low-paying jobs—with no benefits or ability to move up.

Does anybody care?

Maybe we care, but we don’t know what to do about it. So we shrug, say the poor will always be with us, and forget about it.

In 1969, a Presidential Commission recommended we establish a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) at the poverty level for all Americans.

On that Commission, the chairmen of IBM, Westinghouse, and Rand, former California Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown and 17 others unanimously agreed with economist Milton Friedman that: “We should replace the ragbag of welfare programs with a single, comprehensive program of income suplements in cash—a negative income tax.  It would provide an assured minimum to all persons in need, regardless of the reasons for their need.”

Fast-forward 44 years, and we find that welfare has failed because it has destroyed people’s ability to take control of their own lives and make their own decisions. We assume the poor are incapable of making sound decisions; that they can’t be trusted with cash and have to be protected from themselves. It’s as if your employer thought you so irresponsible that he sent part of your paycheck to your landlord, another part to your grocer, another to the bank that provided your car loan, another to your doctor.

There are more than 300 income-tested social programs costing more than $400 billion a year. Much of that money goes for administrative expenses, not to the needy.

Charles Murray, whose 1984 book Losing Ground claimed that welfare was doing more harm than good, now agrees with the BIG approach.

“America’s population is wealthier than any in history,” Murray writes in his new book, In Our Hands.  “Every year, the American government redistributes more than a trillion dollars of that wealth to provide for retirements, health care, and the alleviation of poverty. We still have millions of people without comfortable retirements, without adequate health care, and living in poverty. Only a government can spend so much money so ineffectually. The solution is to give the money to the people.”

Murray calls for giving an annual cash grant of $10,000—with no work requirements—to every adult over age 21.

Indeed, the U.S. is a wealthy nation. Our 2011 Gross Domestic Product was $14.4 trillion. That’s an average of $46,000 for each man, woman and child in the country. It’s an average of $61,000 per adult. It’s more than enough to end poverty.

Poverty is wrong. A Basic Income Guarantee would establish economic security as a universal right. It gives each of us the assurance that, no matter what happens, we won’t go hungry.

Allan Sheahen is the author of the new book: Basic Income Guarantee: Your Right to Economic Security (Palgrave/MacMillan, NYC).  For more information, go to www.basicincomeguarantee.com

Below, footage of FDR’s so-called “Second Bill of Rights” speech which was filmed right after he had finished his State of the Union Address on radio on January 11, 1944.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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How low can it go? Millions of Americans live on LESS THAN $2 A DAY according to alarming new study
08.19.2013
03:35 pm

Topics:
Class War
Economy
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
SOCIALISM NOW


 
A new report from the National Poverty Center (NPC) throws the disturbing trend of “extreme poverty” (as opposed to mere “deep poverty”) into stark relief: There are currently an astonishing 1.65 million American households (with 3.55 million children living in them) where each family member lives on less than $2 a day!

Mull that over for a moment. Half the country is near or below the poverty line already!

My parents operate a soup kitchen/food pantry out of their church and my mother has all kinds of sad stories about kids who will rip open packs of raisins and wolf them down like they’re feral and other kids who look like they’re dead behind their eyes. For many of the children who they see regularly, if it weren’t for subsidized school lunches and stops at more than one local church food pantry, they’d be starving. On the weekends, many of them probably do.

I should mention that this is in West Virginia, a state with super high, very persistent structural unemployment rates and a very, very frayed government social services network, one of the worst—and stingiest—in the nation. People think of West Virginia as being a backwards place, but you could choose instead to see it as a glimpse of a possible, even likely, future: Want to know what our increasingly predatory capitalist society will look like in another ten years? West Virginia looks like that NOW.

There are no jobs, the roads are full of potholes that can swallow a pick-up truck, the land has been raped by the coal companies’ mountaintop removal activities and your next door neighbor is all too happy to sell the fracking rights to his backyard to a multinational. Who cares what you think or if it fucks up your living situation? No one is going to turn away an offer that can see them turn into the next Jed Clampett. Who could blame them? I mean… get real.

West Virginia, rural Texas, the meth-head armies of the California desert, the vast tracts of uninhabited homes across the sun belt. There’s some ill shit brewing in this country.

Debra Watson writes at the World Socialist Website:

The report, published in Social Service Review, was authored by H. Luke Shaefer, University of Michigan, School of Social Work, and Kathryn Edin, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government. Measuring extreme poverty uncovers a further income stratification among those below the official poverty level. The sharply rising income inequality in the US has created in its wake a new phenomenon: massive numbers of US families that live in daily conditions once relegated the poorest of the poor in the economically underdeveloped world.

It throws light on particular aspects of the growth in inequality in the US that have not been examined in reports from the Census Bureau and other sources that compare income for different quintiles of the population. Some recent research has developed a category called “deep poverty” or a yearly income below half the official poverty line. Both these methods of research have revealed drastically rising inequality and the growth of deep poverty in recent years.

The researchers used the figure of $2 a day per person, the United Nations measure of poverty in developing countries. The official poverty line for a family of three would equate to roughly $17 per person per day averaged over a year. Deep poverty, below half the poverty line, would equate to an average of approximately $8.50 per person per day.

At $2 per person per day, the extreme poverty category examined in this report finds a family with virtually nothing to live on, or roughly 13 percent of what is considered official poverty. Social science researchers have estimated that it requires an income twice the Census Bureau’s official poverty level to actually support a family.

Counting food stamp benefits, now called SNAP, as cash only reduces the number of extremely poor households with children by half. The current food assistance benefit for a family of three tops out at $526. Since it only is available to families with income below 130 percent of the official poverty level, receiving the benefit does not bring any family to a livable income. If counted as the equivalent of cash income, the assistance actually would barely move a family in extreme poverty to deep poverty.

In addition, the SNAP benefit itself is facing serious cuts and even outright elimination for many poor families. In November, a family of three will lose $29 a month when the SNAP per person benefit allotment is cut as the federal government eliminates stimulus measures instituted in the immediate aftermath of recession. Five million people will be entirely cut off from SNAP benefits if limits in eligibility are imposed under plans to cut the program that emerged during discussion of the new Farm Bill this summer.

When Bill Clinton—no fan of welfare—was in office there were an average of 25.5 SNAP million recipients each month, but by the end of 2012, it was nearly twice that, at 47.5 million people.

The minimum wage is basically a slave wage, and everyone knows it. It works out to about just about half of what has been computed to be a living wage. You can work full-time and it’s still nowhere near close to providing for a life of basic dignity. Sure, no one’s forcing anyone with a whip to their backs to take a job that pays $7.40 an hour, but even when people are willing to work hard, and do, there’s often no way, as in none, for them to be able to make it work in this harsh, unsympathetic society.

And now the foaming at the mouth Republicans want to cut food stamps even more. The wishy-washy Democrats will undoubtedly let them get away with a little bit of it in the name of “compromise” (because they know, like the GOP knows, that the poorest of the poor seldom vote, so they’ll give on that).

Far from being Ronald Reagan’s “rising tide that lifts all boats,” in 2013 American-style capitalism is a raging tsunami of economic degradation, battering her own people against its rocks. If the news of millions of people in the richest country in the world living on less than $2 a day doesn’t shock you to your very core, what the fuck would?

Would it take a rash of childhood deaths attributed to malnourishment?

How many deaths of US children from severe malnutrition would be acceptable? Where then should society draw the line? Is allowing kids to suffer from brain damage and developmental problems okay or is that not okay?

It’s predictable that the most vulnerable are expected to bear the brunt of it. But for how long? An empty stomach breeds resentment. The GOP (and their complicit pals the moderate Democrats) seem intent on stoking the flames of class war. If they want to breed a class war mentality, they’re going about it in the right way!

Less than two dollars a day. How much lower can it go? (Hint: “To nothing” is not the correct answer)

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
We’re screwed: How will we survive in a future without jobs?

How much longer can capitalism last when robots do all the work?

Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Is this the single best segment of ‘The Colbert Report’ ever? It very well might be!
08.15.2013
09:56 am

Topics:
Heroes
Queer
Television
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
Stephen Colbert


One of the most eloquent men in America.

Stephen Colbert is a national treasure, we all know it, and this is perhaps the single best segment that I have ever seen on The Colbert Report.

Huffington Post said that it’s likely to leave you in tears and that’s most certainly true, but this is also absolutely hysterically funny. It’s a cute, sweet, feel-good tale, but when you see the preacher with the oxygen container, well, it goes into the comedic stratosphere after that. The producers and writers, and Stephen Colbert himself, of course, deserve a standing ovation.

I don’t really need to describe this to you, do I? Just hit play and meet Mayor Johnny Cummings of Vicco, Kentucky and the many wonderful people who live in his town (If you are blocked from the Comedy Central link, here it is on YouTube).
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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