Saturday, December 15, 2007

dirty red bastards 

I will be providing a PayPal link below in order to raise funds for the mirror shortage at the Times which has apparently reached crisis levels:

But despite the proximity and important interests in play, most Chinese newspaper readers had to content themselves with dry, narrowly drawn and sometimes inaccurate accounts of the events. Absent from the foreign news coverage was independent reporting from the scene or any in-depth analysis that referred to China’s strategic interests in the countries in question.


But what Chinese readers are able to learn of events in the rest of the world from most mainstream media here remains sharply limited in context and tightly controlled.


News media critics say one result of this lack of vigorous independent reporting is that what most Chinese news readers know of the world closely conforms with government policy and propaganda.

“By and large, China’s international reporting is a mirror of China’s diplomacy,” said Yu Guoming, a journalism professor at People’s University in Beijing. “As government mouthpieces, their international reports are linked with the government’s diplomacy. It’s not free, so what we’re really talking about is China’s diplomacy, not its media.”

Not that this isn't laughable on its face, but if there's any lingering doubt cf. Venezuela below. Or for an example plucked from the current news cycle, consider the Times' front page piece on the horrors currently taking place in the Congo. The conflict there is exponentially more murderous than that in the Sudan, having claimed upwards of 4 million lives in the last thirteen years.

However it is primarily driven by US and European corporate economic interests. The Congolese happen to be sitting on approximately 80% of the world's supply of Coltan, an essential substance for the manufacture of cell-phones and laptop computers, among other precious natural resources. Of course this goes nearly unmentioned in the Times piece which refers only to a "quest to control Congo’s unusually rich endowment of minerals and farmland". Those on this quest remain unnamed, and ethnic tension as source of the conflict emphasized in accordance with the Middle East reporting model.

But Save Darfur we must. Why, after all, go to Boston, Cleveland or Myrtle Beach to protest when you can rail at the dusky barbarians in Kinshasa from the comfort of your living room? Fuel costs make traveling so expensive these days. Surely we've a better chance at influencing an unallied foreign government than we do with the State Legislatures of Massachusetts, Ohio and South Carolina. Do we not? Kristof and his fellow scribes are only too happy to oblige, indulge and foment our desires to make the world a better place.

Well, so much for the Chinese media, but what of their leadership? We learn from David Brooks:

In the West, there are tensions between government and business elites. In China, these elites are part of the same social web, cooperating for mutual enrichment.

Which is why when in "the West" I choose to avoid cocktail parties, several thousand-dollar-a-plate fundraising dinners, corporate jet flights, four-star lunches, golf outings, and attending Boopsie's sports contests at Prep. That shit is tense.

In the interests of full-disclosure the Times should print a copy of Brooks' social calendar so we can rest assured that a man with the most prime newsprint real-estate in the country has extricated himself from the web of government and business elites. I'm sure Brooks knows no one who would fit the description and nothing he writes is conducive to mutual enrichment. Fucking. Douchenozzle.

voting conundrum: solved 

I've decided to switch my party affiliation to Republican so that I can vote early and often for Mike Huckabee.

Sadly No! explains why you should.

John Cole revels in shadenfreude at the Huckabee ascendancy. It is glorious.

The utter ruin of the GOP may be in sight. That is something I could not only get behind, but to which I would enjoy giving a hearty push. Up then down with Christopaths and Christianists! Vote Huck!

Now if we can only figure out a way to similarly scuttle the Democrats, the country may have a fighting chance at rising to minimum standards of humanity.

Friday, December 14, 2007

summary executions just got that much easier! 

U.S. forces in Iraq soon will be equipped with high-tech equipment that will let them process an Iraqi’s biometric data in minutes and help American soldiers decide whether they should execute the person or not, according to its inventor.

"A war fighter needs to know one of three things: Do I let him go? Keep him? Or shoot him on the spot?” Pentagon weapons designer Anh Duong told the Washington Post...


In Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military units already are operating under loose rules of engagement that allow them to kill individuals who are identified as suspected terrorists or who show the slightest evidence of being insurgents. American forces also have rounded up tens of thousands of Iraqi military-age males, or MAMs, for detention.

“The detainees have risen to over 18,000 and are projected to hit 30,000 (by the U.S. command) by the end of the year and 50,000 by the end of 2008,” Cordesman wrote in his trip report.

The sweeps have enabled the U.S. military to collect biometric data for future use if and when the Iraqis are released back into the general population.

Gone are the salad days when you could just round up tens of thousands of people and slaughter them wholesale. Over the years, do-gooders have erected legal barriers that tried to make consequence-free murder a thing of the past. Ever imperfect, such proscriptions certainly made things embarrassing if nothing else.

Fortunately your tax dollars are developing cutting-edge new technologies that enable heroes to continue God's work at the retail level. The new "lab in a box" neatly sidesteps half a century of sissification. Now we can just have mass arrests, process them, and put these animals back out into the wild. Our handheld biometric screeners will then be able to identify the tagged population and it's happy hunting! At a roadblock, roundup or house-to-house search, this exciting new technology makes killing hajis easier than a weekend at a canned bird hunt. Hell, you can just line the fuckers up on their way to work, scan 'em, bag 'em, and tag 'em without even leaving your checkpoint!

Not only does this allow us to routinize and systematize the murder process, it also protects anyone involved at all levels of the chain of command from pesky prosecutions! As the man says, "Distance from executions helps render responsibility hazy."

These little gadgets will surely grease the wheels for a smooth-running terror operation. As a matter of fact, the do-gooders might have even done us a favor. Killing a lot of people all at once is pretty scary to anyone who witnesses or hears about it, but memory is short. Killing the same amount of people spread out over a period of time and space keeps everyone on their toes at all times. After a while it will get around that a trip to the pokey for any reason will end in a death-sentence down the road. The Wogs won't go anywhere near an American soldier once the word hits the street. We're probably getting more terror and obedience per unit with the "lab in a box" than we ever did with a 500lb. bomb. That means efficiency and savings. Unless of course turning people's lives into a hopeless hell-on-earth makes them suicidally aggressive. That kind of thing will certainly fuck up your margin.

(via Tiny Revo, via Robert Parry)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A faith 

From Jeff Lindsay, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and administrator of a popular Mormon apologetics website:

Accounts of three major migrations from the Old World to the New World are provided in the Book of Mormon. Most of the text consists of records maintained by the Nephite people, which descended from a group that left Jerusalem in 600 B.C. That group, consisting of the family of Lehi and others, split into two rival groups which became known as the Nephites (descended from Nephi) and the Lamanites (descended from Laman, eldest son of Lehi). These groups seem to have gained strength and numbers by incorporating (possibly conquering?) other diverse peoples in the area, as anthropologist John Sorensen ably documents in his article, "When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 1(1): 1-34 (1992), Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Provo, Utah.

In the Book of Ether, a condensed account is offered of the ancient Jaredites, a people which escaped the dramatic changes occurring at the time of the tower of Babel. They were led by the Lord to construct unique, sealed vessels (with provisions for ventilation and miraculous provisions for lighting) in which they traversed the Atlantic to the New World, establishing a civilization that could correspond with or be tied to the Olmecs (based on the stimulating analysis of Dr. John Sorensen in his monumental book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book Comp., S.L.C., UT, 1985. This civilization showed marked differences in culture and government compared to the Nephites and Lamanites, though they suffered similar destruction in the end. The story is a stunning tragedy of man's rejection of God.

Another migration to the New World occurred around 588 B.C. when some survivors of the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem (including Mulek, of royal blood) fled to the New World (details are not provided - the journey may have been made with the help of Phoenician sailors). The Mulekites had been on their own for several generations when the Nephites joined forces with them....

The Book of Mormon people had a marvelous understanding of the role of Christ as Savior. Before His mortal ministry, many Book of Mormon people (or at least the more spiritually oriented ones) understood that the sacrifices of the law of Moses were a symbol of the Messiah who would be crucified. Prophets taught that the plan of salvation for humankind was only possible through the Atonement of Christ, in which the demands of justice were satisfied by the infinite sacrifice of the pure and holy Messiah, thus bringing about mercy. This plan of redemption brought about forgiveness of sins to those who repent and accept Christ, following Him.

The highlight of the Book of Mormon is the ministry of the Resurrected Christ to the Book of Mormon peoples - Nephites and Lamanites. (Chapter 11 of Third Nephi begins the account of the ministry of Christ to the Lamanites and Nephites.) He brought His Gospel in its fullness to these people, taught them the Sermon on the Mount, blessed their children, gave authority to chosen disciples to baptize and administer the sacrament, organized His Church, and ushered a fallen society into a golden era of 200 years of peace.

Note that, according to Mr. Lindsay, God could be merciful only after he vented his just rage by mercilessly torturing the body of a man who was strong enough to take it. This is what Mr. Lindsay calls "atonement," "in which the demands of justice were satisfied by the infinite sacrifice of the pure and holy Messiah, thus bringing about mercy."

And note that not just Mormons but evangelical "Christians" like Mike Huckabee--and many other American "Christians," under all sorts of labels including "Catholic"--accept and indeed celebrate this particular notion of "atonement."

If you believe that reconciliation with God, and reconciliation with other people, could have been magically instituted by the torture and murder of one guy in the desert 2,000 years ago; and if you believe that you can "have" this reconciliation simply by saying that you "believe" in the saving power of this murder; then you already believe in the worst kind of black magic. And to explain this magical transmission of peace, worldwide, through one splendid killing, you are going to have to devise--consciously or unconsciously--absurd fantasies like the ones we see in the Book of Mormon about angels and Israelites flying or floating all around the world.

It could be said that the Book of Mormon articulates the unconscious presuppositions of most versions of "Christianity" in the United States.

Mormon Jesus to star in Pixar's next feature 

A rough cut has been leaked to AmCop:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

when rich white kids attack 

With that headline, hopefully Fox will pick this up...

A Spanish journalist has cobbled together a brief documentary about the Venezuelan student movement, its funding sources and right-wing, sometimes openly fascist allies (awk-ward!), and the other side of the "crazy gun-wielding Chavista students" story. It turns out the Venezuelan students are directly analagous to the US anti-war students of the '60's who were also children of privilege as well as heavily funded and trained by foreign governments and corporatist political parties. The wheel of history comes full circle!

Unfortunately I can't embed the video, (what is this, 2006?) but you can view it here. The doc originally aired on TeleSur, the Chavez-created pan-American lefty news channel. Embarrassing expose of right-wing corporate student movement? Or pro-Chavez propaganda? Or both?! Sure beats reading anyway!


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