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    • And They Made A Desert: 80 to 90% Drop In Nutrients In Food
      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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Saturday Morning: We’re Living the “Shock Doctrine”

Good Morning Conflucians!

Is it just me? Suddenly, I’m feeling almost in shock at what’s happening in our country and around the world. Maybe I could just regress back to childhood and watch cartoons on TV this morning? No. I have to stay present and face the reality of what is happening.

When Reagan was elected, I kind of checked out for awhile. I refused to read newspapers or watch TV news. I knew it was going to be bad, and so I just focused on other things than politics.

I did that again for awhile after 2000. I was so devastated by what happened–how the election was stolen with the help of the U.S. Supreme Court. I checked out again for awhile–until Bush used 9/11 to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. I’ve been paying attention since then. For some reason, this time I just can’t check out and pretend it isn’t happening.

In her book,The Shock Doctine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein writes:

“The history of the contemporary free market was written in shocks….Some of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five years, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical free-market reforms.”

Klein’s book is about the most influential political-economic philosophy of our times, Neoliberalism–which originated with Economist Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economics. I’m sure Dakinikat can articulate it all much better than I could. I only understand it from my experience and reading–from living it. Klein writes:

Friedman believed in a radical vision of society in which profit and the market would rule every aspect of life, from school to health-care, and even the army. He called for abolishing all trade protections, deregulating all prices, and eviscerating government services. These ideas have always been tremendously unpopular, and understandably so. They cause waves of unemployment, send prices soaring, make life more precarious for millions. Unable to advance their agenda democratically, Friedman and his disciples were drawn to the power of shock….

Friedman understood that just as prisoners are softened up for interrogation by the shock of their capture, massive disasters could serve to soften us up for his radical ‘free market’ crusade. He advised politicians that immediately after a crisis they should push through all the painful policies at once, before people could regain their footing. he called this method “economic shock treatment.”

Klein drew an analogy with the CIA methods of mind control and torture, which were used in federally funded experiments back in the ’50 and ’60s in government programs with weird names like MK-ULTRA, Project BlUEBIRD, later called Project ARTICHOKE.

Klein quotes from CIA interrogation manuals:

It’s a fundamental hypothesis of this handbook that these techniques are in essence methods of inducing regression of the personality… Experienced Interrogators recognize this effect when it appears and know that at this moment the subject is far more open to suggestion and far likelier to comply than he was just before he experienced the shock.

And another quote:

The subject should be apruptly awakened and immediately blindfolded and handcuffed. When arrrested at this time, most subjects experience feelings of shock, extreme insecurity, and psychological stress. The idea is to prevent the subject from relaxing and recovering from shock.

This is what our government is doing to us. Bush was pretty good at it, but the shocks somehow seem more harsh under Obama. Maybe it’s because–even though most of us here at TC knew Obama wasn’t going to bring “change we can believe in,” it still seems more shocking when these beat-downs come from a President with a D next to his name, backed by an overwhelming majority of D’s in Congress. And somehow, the fact that these shocks are being administered in the name of health care reform seems so hideous and cruel, that it’s hard to remain present and keep educating yourself about what is happening. Sometimes, I really feel like I’m being hit in the head with a hammer–again…and again…and again.

Here are a few of the latest news stories and opinions. Let’s hang together and fight back against the forces of shock!

From Robert Reich’s blog: How a Few Private Health Insurers Are on the Way to Controlling Health Care

The public option is dead, killed by a handful of senators from small states who are mostly bought off by Big Insurance and Big Pharma or intimidated by these industries’ deep pockets and power to run political ads against them….

…we…end up with a system that’s based on private insurers that have no incentive whatsoever to control their costs or the costs of pharmaceutical companies and medical providers. If you think the federal employee benefit plan is an answer to this, think again. Its premiums increased nearly 9 percent this year. And if you think an expanded Medicare is the answer, you’re smoking medical marijuana. The Senate bill allows an independent commission to hold back Medicare costs only if Medicare spending is rising faster than total health spending. So if health spending is soaring because private insurers have no incentive to control it, we’re all out of luck. Medicare explodes as well.

MSNBC: U.S. grapples with child hunger ‘epidemic’

Three weeks before he was elected president, Barack Obama set an audacious goal: end hunger among children in the United States by 2015.

Since his inauguration, Obama has seldom broached the subject. His aides brainstorm weekly with several agencies, but their internal conversations so far have not produced fundamentally new approaches. The president’s goal could prove daunting: Childhood hunger is more complex than previously understood, new research suggests, and is unlikely to be solved simply by spending more money for food programs.

NYT: Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics

New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows.

Boing Boing: Dr Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer, beaten and arrested at US border

I did not get out of the car to ask what was going on. I did not repeat that question when refused an answer and told to get back into the vehicle. In that other timeline I was not punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, shit-kicked, handcuffed, thrown wet and half-naked into a holding cell for three fucking hours, thrown into an even colder jail cell overnight, arraigned, and charged with assaulting a federal officer, all without access to legal representation (although they did try to get me to waive my Miranda rights. Twice.). Nor was I finally dumped across the border in shirtsleeves: computer seized, flash drive confiscated, even my fucking paper notepad withheld until they could find someone among their number literate enough to distinguish between handwritten notes on story ideas and, I suppose, nefarious terrorist plots. I was not left without my jacket in the face of Ontario’s first winter storm, after all buses and intercity shuttles had shut down for the night.

“In some other universe I am warm and content and not looking at spending two years in jail for the crime of having been punched in the face.”

Robert Scheer: Dear Barack, Spare Me Your E-Mails

Barack Obama’s faux populism is beginning to grate, and when yet another one of those “we the people” e-mails from the president landed on my screen as I was fishing around for a column subject, I came unglued. It is one thing to rob us blind by rewarding the power elite that created our problems but quite another to sugarcoat it in the rhetoric of a David taking on those Goliaths.

In each of the three most important areas of policy with which he has dealt, Obama speaks in the voice of the little people’s champion, but his actions cater fully to the demands of the most powerful economic interests.

With his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, he has given the military-industrial complex an excuse for the United States to carry on in spending more on defense than the rest of the world combined, without a credible military adversary in sight. His response to the banking meltdown was to continue George W. Bush’s massive giveaway of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street, and his health care reform has all the earmarks of a boondoggle for the medical industry profiteers.

Let’s face it: President Obama is Big Brother from Orwell’s 1984.

What are you reading this morning, fellow Conflucians? I hope you can find something to cheer me up. No matter how bad things are, we are all still here and we are in it together, so….

HAVE A STUPENDOUS SATURDAY!!!!!!!

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Friday Morning News

bd_morning_paper

California Wildfires

Arson caused California blaze

A massive fire that has charred nearly 145,000 acres in Southern California and destroyed dozens of homes north of Los Angeles was caused by arson, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said Thursday.

A homicide investigation has been initiated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department into the deaths of two firefighters as a result of the Station fire, said spokeswoman Rita Wears. The firefighters died Sunday in a vehicle crash while trying to escape fast-moving flames.

Arson fire is most unacceptable crime, Sheriff says

Massachusetts Senate Contest

Martha Coakley has officially thrown her hat into the ring

“We face a crisis of confidence. We have lost our distinguished and tenacious senator, Ted Kennedy,” Coakley said Thursday at an event surrounded by supporters. “We have depended upon him in the commonwealth and in Washington, and we will miss his strength, his leadership and his sense of humor. As some have noted, no one can fill his shoes, but we must strive to follow in his footsteps.”

Coakley is the first candidate on either side to officially enter the race for the seat that for more than four decades was held by Kennedy, who died last week.

On a more bizarre note, former Red Sox pitcher, and right wing nut Curt Schilling would not rule out running for the Massachusetts Senate seat.

“I do have some interest in the possibility,” Schilling wrote Wednesday on his blog, 38 Pitches (named after his uniform number with the Red Sox). “That being said, to get there from where I am today, many, many things would have to align themselves.”

A registered Independent, Schilling campaigned for George W. Bush in 2004 and for John McCain last year, and often vents, in populist voice, against Washington insiders who have lost touch with constituents.

Ted Kennedy’s Autobiography

Chappaquidick haunted me ‘every day of my life’

In a memoir titled “True Compass,” to be published Sept. 14, Kennedy called his actions in the 1969 car crash that led to the death of his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne “inexcusable.” When his car drove off the bridge, he wrote, he was afraid, overwhelmed and “made terrible decisions.” The senator was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and given a two-month suspended sentence.

Writing at the end of his life, as he struggled against brain cancer, Kennedy concluded: “That night on Chappaquiddick Island ended in a horrible tragedy that haunts me every day of my life.” Forced to live with the guilt over his failure to report the accident for hours, he acknowledged that Kopechne’s family suffered far worse. “Atonement is a process that never ends,” he wrote.

The Ongoing Health Care Nightmare

Health Care Idea Has Public Plan Only as Backup

As President Obama faces conflicting pressures from the left and the right over his proposal for a new public health insurance program, White House officials are investigating a possible compromise under which the government would offer its own health plan only if private insurers failed to provide affordable coverage.

No, Mr. O, that just isn’t going to be good enough. Think again.

Obama Will Lay Out Specifics in Health-Care Speech, Aides Say

Uh huh….I’ll believe that when I see it. Obama has never been specific about any policy yet.

Don’t be fooled by the public option

The fight over the public option has occupied much of the media coverage, but left unsaid is the fact that weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations have weakened the public option proposal to the point that it is hardly an option at all.

Who’s Blocking Health Care Reform Now? Blue Dogs? Senate Dems? House Progressives? Or the White House Itself?

The only obstacle to passage of the president’s health care — or health insurance legislation is the White House itself. Barack Obama knows better than any of us the difference between what he promised and what is about to be delivered. The undeniable difference is dawning on much of the public too, and is reflected in sagging poll numbers for Democrats and the president. The dozens of Democrats who have declared they will vote against any health care — or health insurance — bill that does not contain what they call a “public option,” are only trying to insulate themselves and protect President Obama from the worst consequences of his own treachery in selling out the vision of universal health care to big pharma and the insurance companies. They aren’t blocking the president’s bill. They’re trying to ensure that there is something in the bill they can defend to the outraged public who elected them to pass health care reform.

Black Caucus warns Obama on speech

Man bites off another man’s finger at Obama health care rally in CA

Ventura County sheriff’s deputies were called to Lynn Road and Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks near Los Angeles, according to TV station KTLA.

There, an estimated 100 supporters of healthcare reform affiliated with MoveOn.org had gathered as part of a nationwide array of pre-Labor Day rallies to attract attention in support of Obama’s reform plans currently before Congress.

Instead, the rally attracted the attention of a group of anti-healthcare-reform protesters across the street….

A scuffle ensued. And the pro-protester had a finger bitten off. (Updated at 8:18 a.m.: Conflicting later reports indicate the biter was a healthcare proponent and the now nine-fingered man an opponent.)

Interview with man who had finger bitten off at town hall

State Department

U.S. Suspends $30M to Honduras

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Thursday that the United States would formally suspend nearly $30 million in aid to the coup-installed government in Honduras. She also suggested for the first time that the United States might not recognize the country’s elections this fall if the ousted president was not returned to power by then.

How will Hillary Clinton, State Department respond to obscene behavior at U.S. embassy?

U.S. embassy in Kabul bans alcohol at guard camp

Torture

Report Suggests Physicians Experimented on Detainees in U.S. Custody

CIA doctors face human experimentation claims

The American Medical Association, the largest body of physicians in the US, said it was in open dialogue with the Obama administration and other government agencies over the role of doctors. “The participation of physicians in torture and interrogation is a violation of core ethical values,” it said.

The most incendiary accusation of PHR’s latest report, Aiding Torture, is that doctors actively monitored the CIA’s interrogation techniques with a view to determining their effectiveness, using detainees as human subjects without their consent. The report concludes that such data gathering was “a practice that approaches unlawful experimentation”.

Human experimentation without consent has been prohibited in any setting since 1947, when the Nuremberg Code, which resulted from the prosecution of Nazi doctors, set down 10 sacrosanct principles. The code states that voluntary consent of subjects is essential and that all unnecessary physical and mental suffering should be avoided.

Has everyone completely forgotten about MK-Ultra? More on MK-ULtra:

Project MK-ULTRA, or MKULTRA, was the code name for a covert CIA mind-control and chemical interrogation research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. The program began in the early 1950s, continuing at least through the late 1960s, and it used United States citizens as its test subjects.[1][2][3] The published evidence indicates that Project MK-ULTRA involved the surreptitious use of many types of drugs, as well as other methods, to manipulate individual mental states and to alter brain function.

Project MK-ULTRA was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MK-ULTRA files destroyed in 1973; the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations relied on the sworn testimony of direct participants and on the relatively small number of documents that survived Helms’ destruction order.[4]

Although the CIA insists that MK-ULTRA-type experiments have been abandoned, 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti has stated in various interviews that the CIA routinely conducts disinformation campaigns and that CIA mind control research continued. In a 1977 interview, Marchetti specifically called the CIA claim that MK-ULTRA was abandoned a “cover story.”[5][6]

Doesn’t anyone remember the Church hearings? Come on people, the seventies weren’t *that* long ago.

Afghanistan

Obama’s meaningless war

Gates open to sending more troops to Afghanistan

Afghanistan War is not slipping away

Famous last words before Gates goes the way of Rumsfeld?

Science and Nature

Are there specific genes that make us uniquely human?

New Antibodies to HIV found

Arctic warmest in 2,000 years

We’re all mutants, say scientists

Oddball News: Boston Gangsters

Famed Boston gangster Whitey Bulger turned 80 on Thursday.

Whitey Bulger needs his candles blown out

FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive

Where the heck is he, anyway?

Former mob underboss laid to rest

The Two Dons are Dead

Have a Fabulous Friday!!

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