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  • Jun 19, 19

    "Many of these matanzas involve children gunning down their classmates. Even in a country like Mexico, accustomed to recurring slaughters of narcos by other narcos, the school shootings are a shock.

    Americans are now used to things that in any other country would be unthinkable: bulletproof backpacks for high-school students, police walking the halls, metal detectors, proposals to arm teachers, “active-shooter” drills. To the rest of the world (or to Americans who were in high school in the Sixties) this is insane.

    But normal in the Indispensable Country.

    The now-predictable annual harvest of 700 successful homicides in Chicago, the 300 in Baltimore, plus thousands of wounded, seem to outsiders like something out of Blade Runner. Much of the civilized world looks with wonder on an American overflowing with guns and using them on each other. Only in America. Interestingly the most heavily armed countries in the world, Israel and Switzerland, have virtually no gun crime.

    This is the country Americans believe the world wants to imitate. No. From outside, it seems more a country in political and cultural freefall.

    To everyone else, the militarism of the United States, its absurd military expenditures, its huge number of nuclear weapons, its desire to upgrade them, to develop small tactical nuclear weapons, its preparation for nuclear war with specialized flying bunkers–seems nutty. No other country does this. None wants to. In Mexico people roll their eyes. What the hell is wrong with the gringos?

    “Affectionately known as the “doomsday plane,” the modified Boeing 747 is used to transport the Secretary of Defense and is born and bred for battle. It stands nearly six stories tall, is equipped with four colossal engines, and is capable of enduring the immediate aftermath of a nuclear detonation.” The language is that of a little boy of twelve watching Star Wars. It is the attitude of much of America.

    Easily found online: the racial disaster in the US, the dozens of cities with domestic Sowetos in their hearts, the huge, hopeless, entirely black regions where whites dare not walk. In these, entirely black schools turn out millions of barely literates who for the remaining fifty years of their lives will be unemployable. This is all online with photos and statistics.

    “Man, just out of jail, arrested in rape of woman, 78….” Another face of race in America. These stories, common as potatoes–a similar gentleman just threw a white child of five from three floors up–are suppressed to the extent possible by the American media, but often show up in British dailies. Such things almost never happened in Europe before the arrival of African and Muslim immigrants. The whole world can see.

    Freedoms? More sophisticated readers abroad know of our intensifying censorship, the words that can get you fired, the controlled press, the surveillance. Americans know what you can’t say and who you can’t say it about. We know the police are militarized and out of control. We see the cell-cam videos of beatings. So does the world.

    America’s foreign policy makes it hated in most of the world. It seems murderous, thuggish, brutal, a menace to everyone. For example, the U.S. killed over a million people in Iraq. This does not bother Americans. Since 2000 it has destroyed Iraq, Syria, Libya, enters its eighteenth year of butchering Afghans, bombs Somalia, sends troops to Africa. It militarily threatens North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, seeks to destroy the economies of Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, China. It sanctions Europe. No other country does this.

    This is not the griping of Fred. It is what the whole world sees, daily, in detail.

    Number of wars started since 2000 by Iran: 0r. Russia: 0. China: 0. North Korea: 0. America…? Number of countries openly running torture sites while talking of human rights? 1. The country with the largest prison population? The answer is left to the reader as an exercise.

    Even today, many Americans speak of American Values, of the country’s devotion to democracy and human rights and freedom. Maybe Americans believe it. No one else does. The United States has a horrendous history of installing or supporting hideous dictators, supporting repressive regimes, overthrowing elected governments. Human rights? In Saudi Arabia? Israel? The world is not blind.

    Americans, self-absorbed, perhaps the most historically ignorant of First-World peoples, shrugs such things off. “Oh, get over it.” Whatever it was. The nations involved do not shrug them off. You can bet the Chinese know about Legation days, America’s role in forcing the opium trade on China, extraterritoriality.

    From abroad, America is a feral, amoral, remorseless empire, rotting from within, willing to do anything to maintain its dominance. From inside the U.S., it seems otherwise. Do you, an American reader, want to kill Afghans? Buy another trillion dollars of nuclear weapons? War with Iran? Russia? But Americans have no influence over what Washington does, and the world judges by what it sees.

    Other Stuff

    While China is often politically reprehensible, its engineering is amazing. This, on the Hong Kong Macau sea bridge, is long at twenty minutes and a bit rayrah. It is representative of the huge scale and ambitiousness of Chinese infrastructure programs."

  • Jun 12, 19

    "All things in our universe are constantly in motion, vibrating. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at various frequencies. Resonance is a type of motion, characterized by oscillation between two states. And ultimately all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields.

    An interesting phenomenon occurs when different vibrating things/processes come into proximity: they will often start, after a little time, to vibrate together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious. This is described today as the phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization.

    Examining this phenomenon leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness and about the universe more generally....

    Gamma waves are typically defined as about 30 to 90 cycles per second (hertz), theta as a 4- to 7-hz rhythm, and beta as 12.5 to 30 hz. These aren’t hard cutoffs—they’re rules of thumb—and they vary somewhat in different species.

    So, theta and beta are significantly slower than gamma waves. But the three work together to produce, or at least facilitate (the exact relationship between electrical brain patterns and consciousness is still very much up for debate), various types of human consciousness.

    Fries calls his concept “communication through coherence” or CTC. For Fries it’s all about neuronal synchronization. Synchronization, in terms of shared electrical oscillation rates, allows for smooth communication between neurons and groups of neurons. Without coherence (synchronization), inputs arrive at random phases of the neuron excitability cycle and are ineffective, or at least much less effective, in communication....

    Our resonance theory of consciousness attempts to provide a unified framework that includes neuroscience and the study of human consciousness, but also more fundamental questions of neurobiology and biophysics. It gets to the heart of the differences that matter when it comes to consciousness and the evolution of physical systems.

    It is all about vibrations, but it’s also about the type of vibrations and, most importantly, about shared vibrations.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it … man.

  • Jun 01, 19

    That’s the game we play. To get through dinner, to get through a movie or a game, to get through quality time with our loved ones, we must temporarily suspend our knowledge that people are being slaughtered all around us. We speak of the Wild Wild West as some nostalgic era of the past, but we’re living it. The United States is the only nation in the world that has more guns than people. And it shows. Americans are shooting and killing themselves and killing others with guns at a pace that should be treated as a dire National Emergency. If we just enacted a fraction of the basic standards and norms held by the rest of the world, our nation would be so much safer....

    "ON FRIDAY EVENING my wife and I were on our way to dinner with our three youngest kids when I happened to learn from Twitter that a man in Virginia Beach had just shot and killed 12 people. And so my struggle, which I am sure is also regularly your struggle, began. In almost every developed nation in the world, 12 people being killed in a mass shooting would make that incident the deadliest in years. In some nations it would be the deadliest ever. But in the United States, they happen so often, with such ferocity and carnage, that when we learn about the next one, we hardly skip a beat. Indeed, 2018 was by far the most violent year ever measured for school shootings in the United States and 2017 was the deadliest year in at least a half-century for gun deaths altogether in this country – with an astounding 40,000 people killed by guns. That’s 110 people per day. We couldn’t keep up if we tried."...

    In New Zealand, after 51 men, women, and children were shot to death earlier this year while gathered for prayers in their local mosques, the nation, in a matter of just a few days, made radical shifts in their gun laws – banning assault rifles and so much more. And that urgency is just what the United States needs, but I am afraid we’ve crossed some invisible threshold, given up after burying so many thoughts of so many shootings and so much violence — so that we can just have dinner in peace.

  • Apr 18, 19

    The global ruling elites are preparing for dystopia. And we too should be.

    “A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial,” George Orwell wrote. “That is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.” Our elites have exhausted fraud. Force is all they have left....

    The United States is a wounded beast, bellowing and thrashing in its death throes. It can inflict tremendous damage, but it cannot recover. These are the last, agonizing days of the American Empire. The death blow will come when the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, a process already underway. The value of the dollar will plummet, setting off a severe depression and demanding instant contraction of the military overseas.

    Seth A. Klarman, who runs the Baupost Group hedge fund, which manages about $27 billion, just sent a sobering 22-page letter to his investors. He pointed out that the nation’s ratio of government debt to gross domestic product from 2008 to 2017 exceeded 100 percent and is close to that in France, Canada, Britain and Spain. The debt crisis, he warned, could be the “seeds” of the next financial crisis. He decried the global unraveling of “social cohesion,” adding, “It can’t be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions.”

    “There is no way to know how much debt is too much, but America will inevitably reach an inflection point whereupon a suddenly more skeptical debt market will refuse to continue to lend to us at rates we can afford,” he said in the letter. “By the time such a crisis hits, it will likely be too late to get our house in order.”

    The ruling elites, worried about impending financial collapse, are scrambling to cement into place harsh legal and physical forms of control to stymie what they fear could be widespread popular unrest, nascent forms of which can be seen in the strikes carried out by American teachers and the protests by the “yellow vests” in France.

    The ruling ideology of neoliberalism, the ruling elites recognize, has been discredited across the political spectrum....

    Central to any totalitarian ideology is a constant inquisition against supposedly clandestine and sinister groups held responsible for the country’s demise. Conspiracy theories, which already color Trump’s worldview, will proliferate. The ruling rhetoric will whipsaw the population, swinging from championing individualism and personal freedom to calling for abject subservience to those who claim to speak for the nation and God, from the sanctity of life to advocating the death penalty, unrestrained police violence and militarism, from love and compassion to the fear of being branded a heretic or traitor. A grotesque hypermasculinity will be celebrated. Violence will be held up as the mechanism to cleanse the society and the world of evil. Facts will be erased or altered. Lies will become true. Political language will be cognitive dissonance. The more the country declines, the more the paranoia and collective insanity will grow. All of these elements are present in varying forms within the culture and our failed democracy. They will become pronounced as the country unravels and the disease of totalitarianism spreads.

    The ruling oligarchs, as in all failed states, will retreat into fortified compounds, many of which they are already preparing, where they will have access to basic services, health care, education, water, electricity and security largely denied to the wider population. The central government will be reduced to its most basic functions—internal and external security and collecting taxes. Severe poverty will cripple the lives of most citizens. Any essential service once provided by the state, from utilities to basic policing, will be privatized, expensive and inaccessible to those without resources. Trash will pile up in the streets. Crime will explode. The electrical grid and water systems—decrepit, poorly maintained and run by corporations—will repeatedly turn on and off.

    The mass media will become nakedly Orwellian, chatting endlessly about a bright future and pretending America remains a great superpower. It will substitute political gossip for news—a corruption already far advanced—while insisting that the country is in an economic recovery or about to enter one. It will refuse to address ever-worsening social inequality, political and environmental deterioration and military debacles. Its primary role will be to peddle illusions so that an atomized public, fixated on its electronic screens, will be diverted from the collapse and see its plight as personal rather than collective. Dissent will become more difficult as critics are censored and attacked as responsible for the decline. Hate groups and hate crimes will proliferate and be tacitly empowered and condoned by the state. Mass shootings will be commonplace. The weak—especially children, women, the disabled, the sick and the elderly—will be exploited, abandoned or abused. The strong will be omnipotent.

    There will still be money to be made. Corporations will sell anything for a profit—security, dwindling food supplies, fossil fuel, water, electricity, education, medical care, transportation—forcing citizens into debt peonage that will see their meager assets seized when they can’t make payments. The prison population, already the largest in the world, will expand along with the number of citizens forced to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day. Big corporations will pay no income tax or at best a symbolic tax. They will be above the law, able to abuse and underpay workers and poison the environment without oversight or regulation.

    As income inequality becomes more massive, financial titans such as Jeff Bezos, worth some $140 billion, will increasingly function as modern-day slaveholders. They will preside over financial empires where impoverished employees will live in run-down campers and trailer parks while toiling 12 hours a day in vast, poorly ventilated warehouses. These employees, paid subsistence wages, will be constantly recorded, tracked and monitored by digital devices. They will be fired when the punishing work conditions cripple their health. For many Amazon employees the future is now.

    Work will be a form of serfdom for all but the upper elites and managers. Jeffrey Pfeffer in his book “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—and What We Can Do About It” quotes a survey in which 61 percent of employees said workplace stress had made them ill and 7 percent said they required hospitalization as a result. The stress of overwork, he writes, may cause 120,000 deaths annually in the United States. In China there are an estimated 1 million deaths a year from overwork.

    This is the world the elites are preparing for by setting in place legal mechanisms and internal security forces to strip us of liberty.

    We, too, must begin to prepare for this dystopia, not only to ensure our survival but to build mechanisms to blunt and attempt to overthrow the totalitarian power the elites expect to wield. Alexander Herzen, speaking to a group of anarchists a century ago about how to overthrow the Russian czar, reminded his listeners that it was their job not to save a dying system but to replace it: “We think we are the doctors. We are the disease.” All efforts to reform the American system is capitulation. No progressive in the Democratic Party is going to rise up, take control of the party and save us. There is one ruling party. The corporate party. It may engage in petty, internecine warfare, as it did in the recent government shutdown. It may squabble over power and the spoils of power. It may come wrapped in more tolerant stances regarding women, LGBT rights and the dignity of people of color, but on the fundamental issues of war, internal security and corporate domination there is no divergence.

    We must carry out organized civil disobedience and forms of non-cooperation to weaken corporate power. We must use, as in France, widespread and sustained social unrest to push back against the designs of our corporate masters. We must sever ourselves from reliance on corporations in order to build independent, sustainable communities and alternative forms of power. The less we need corporations the freer we will become. This will be true in every aspect of our lives, including food production, education, journalism, artistic expression and work. Life will have to be communal. No one, unless he or she is part of the ruling elite, will have the resources to survive alone.

    The longer we pretend this dystopian world is not imminent, the more unprepared and disempowered we will be. The ruling elite’s goal is to keep us entertained, frightened and passive while they build draconian structures of oppression grounded in this dark reality. It is up to us to pit power against power. Ours against theirs. Even if we cannot alter the larger culture, we can at least create self-sustaining enclaves where we can approximate freedom. We can keep alive the burning embers of a world based on mutual aid rather than mutual exploitation. And this, given what lies in front of us, will be a victory.

  • Apr 10, 19

    "A new Pew Research Center survey focused on what Americans think the United States will be like in 2050 finds that majorities of Americans foresee a country with a burgeoning national debt, a wider gap between the rich and the poor and a workforce threatened by automation.

    Majorities predict that the economy will be weaker, health care will be less affordable, the condition of the environment will be worse and older Americans will have a harder time making ends meet than they do now. Also predicted: a terrorist attack as bad as or worse than 9/11 sometime over the next 30 years.

    These grim predictions mirror, in part, the public’s sour mood about the current state of the country. The share of Americans who are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country – seven-in-ten in January of 2019 – is higher now than at any time in the past year.

    The view of the U.S. in 2050 that the public sees in its crystal ball includes major changes in the country’s political leadership. Nearly nine-in-ten predict that a woman will be elected president, and roughly two-thirds (65%) say the same about a Hispanic person. And, on a decidedly optimistic note, more than half expect a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by 2050."

  • Mar 19, 19

    "Malevolent authority, combined with a passive citizenry is the recipe for tyranny and so anti-authoritarians should not be feared or ostracized, they should be welcomed. They are the individuals who raise the alarm and awaken the slumbering masses to the existence of corrupt authority. A society without a healthy number of anti-authoritarians, or a society in which anti-authoritarians are shunned and silenced, is a society that has chosen the comfort of illusions, over the desire for truth, and is therefore a society paving the way for its own destruction. For as the 18th century French philosopher Voltaire cautioned:

    “So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious or otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.”

    Voltaire"

  • Mar 17, 19

    "Cheating. Bribery. Lying. The wealthy and privileged buying what was reserved for the deserving. It’s all there on vivid display. Modern American society has become increasingly and banally corrupt, both in the ways in which “justice” is meted out and in who is allowed to access elite education and the power that comes with it.

    The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes. We pretend to be better than Russia and other oligarchies, but we too are dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

    The average American citizen has very little power, as a 2014 study by Princeton University found. The research reviewed 1,779 public policy questions asked between 1981 and 2002 and the responses by different income levels and interest groups; then calculated the likelihood that certain policies would be adopted."....

    The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy:

    …our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. …[T]he preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy....

    At least in an outright class system like the British Houses of Lords and Commons, there is not this farcical playacting of equal opportunity. The elites, with their privilege and titles, know the reason they are there and feel some sense of obligation to those less well off than they are. At the very least, they do not engage in the ritual pretense of “deserving” what they “earned”—quite unlike those who descend on Washington, D.C. believing that they really are better than their compatriots in flyover country.

    All societies engage in myth-making about themselves. But the myth of meritocracy may be our most pervasive and destructive belief—and it mirrors the myth that anything like “justice” is served up in our courts.

    Remember the Dupont heir who received no prison time after being convicted for raping his three-year-old daughter because the judge ruled that six-foot-four Robert Richards “wouldn’t fare well in prison”? Or the more recent case of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who had connections to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and faced a 53-page federal indictment for sex-trafficking over two dozens underage girls? He received instead a sweetheart deal that concealed the extent of his crimes. Rather than the federal life imprisonment term he was facing, Epstein is currently on house arrest after receiving only 13 months in county jail. The lead prosecutor in that case had previously been reprimanded by a federal judge in another underage sex crimes case for concealing victim information, the Miami Herald reports.

    While the rich are able to escape consequences for even the most horrific of crimes, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Approximately 7 million people were under some form of correctional control by the end of 2011, including 2.2 million who were detained in federal, state, and local prisons and jails. One in every 10 black men in his thirties is in prison or jail, and one out of three black men born in 2001 can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes.

    While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed. There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them.

    Despite all this evidence, most Americans embrace a version of the Calvinist beliefs promulgated by their forebears, believing that the elect deserve their status. We remain confident that when our children apply to college or are questioned by police, they will receive just and fair outcomes. If our neighbors’ and friends’ kids do not, then we assure ourselves that it is they who are at fault, not the system.

    The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action.

  • Jul 12, 18

    "“It’s having a classic authoritarian collapse. Democracy is imploding as a result of stagnation, which triggers old tribal wounds, as people compete just to survive.

    And now, the collapse is entering a fascist phase. Dehumanization has begun. People are being stripped of personhood. Institutions are being taken over by supremacists. Concentration camps are being built. Babies are being forcibly separated from their parents, and put in them. All this follows the classic pattern, doesn’t it? The one of Nazi Germany, of Rwanda, of Yugoslavia, and many more.”

    Here is what happens next. The Europeans nod in agreement. I can see the lessons of their own history blazing in their eyes. The Africans mutter “incredible”, and I can see their own history, too flashing before them. The Asians nod, remembering Mao, Pol Pot, and more. Everybody agrees. And then they ask, horrified, alarmed, “But why don’t they stop it? Haven’t they learned anything from history? Why do they let it just go on?!”

    Then I look at the American. He is looking at me with something like an angry scowl. His arms are crossed. His eyes are narrow in skepticism. The body language of resistance is unmistakeable. His mind is closing. His psyche, his heart, is switching off. He is shutting down.

    It’s as if I can read his mind — perhaps that’s an unfair thing to say, so you be the judge, using yourself as the example, or perhaps people that you know.

    “No!”, he is saying to himself, “none of this is happening! You’re wrong. So wrong. What’s wrong with you? Why would you even say things like that? We are not doing or undergoing anything that means the words ‘authoritarianism’, ‘fascism’, and ‘concentration camps’! We are better than that. We’re above that. We fought wars against that. So the laws of history don’t apply to us. We’re the noblest and wisest nation in history. How could the greatest nation in history do anything that bad?

    He goes on: “It isn’t that bad. The Supreme Court will step in. The GOP will stop it all. Mueller will throw them out. People will come to their senses. See — you don’t get all this. It isn’t happening here. It isn’t! It isn’t. Happening. Here.”

    By now his teeth are gritted. His breath is shallow. The blood has drained from his face, which is pale. He is having an intense argument with himself, not me. But I can se the mental debate unfold, line by line, thought by thought. Do you think I’ve roughly represented yours — or at least that of many people you know?

    And yet. It is beyond any sensible debate that it is indeed happening here (I’ll get to that in a moment). As I’ve pointed out, all the people in all the nations who’ve already undergone “it” agree without reservation. Only Americans — only Americans — can’t bring themselves to believe, admit, acknowledge, and thus confirm that it is happening here.

    But why? And what happens when a society does that? I think that it is a fatal cocktail of hubris, ignorance, and denial that is making the American believe it is not happening in America. "...

    What defines a crime against humanity? Here are some excerpts from the UN’s definition: “mass deportation…”, “forcible transfer of population”, “enforced disappearance”, “political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender persecution”, “apartheid”. Wouldn’t you say that those are precisely the things that America that happen when babies are disappeared into “detainment centers”? Is there any way to seriously argue those are not the things America is doing today? But because the American has never been taught what they are, he thinks it is outlandish, bizarre, and frankly impossible that his nation would be committing them. So there he is, reassuring himself. “It can’t be happening here!”, but he hasn’t even been taught what “it” genuinely is. So how would he know the real thing if it fell upon him?...

    So the American’s immediate tendency, when confronted with what is happening now in America, is denial. A kind of deep, profound, severe, and lasting textbook psychological denial. A person without enough moral courage — and it takes a great deal, to be fair — cannot bear the anxiety, guilt, and shame of saying: “My God! Terrible things are being done in my name. We are becoming all the things we used to fight against!” When you can’t bear the sense of dread, humiliation, and belittlement of that insight, then you must deny it, project it, or react against it. It can’t happen here. It can’t be happening here.

    Now we are at the heart of the issue. “It” isn’t happening here. But what, precisely, isn’t happening? Nothing. That is the paradox.. “It” is the words he is missing: fascism, authoritarianism, crimes against humanity, and so on. So “it isn’t happening here” is a way for a mind not to think any of those thoughts, and to feel the horror of what they mean. But if those words cannot be uttered, then the truth itself holds no value. That is what Orwell and Arendt warned of. But a person that cannot know, say, hold, contain, or tell a truth is not just a pliable thing — he is an impotent being,

    And so there the American is.

    “It’s terrible!” he cries. “It is an outrage!!” he shouts. He feels he has done his moral duty, perhaps....

    He cannot say it. He does not have the words. He cannot let himself think the thoughts. It would shatter his mind if he did. After all, isn’t America the greatest country on earth? Aren’t Americans the greatest people of all? Without these beliefs, what’s left of the ego?

    “It can’t be!! No! It isn’t happening here!!”, he cries, at last, defeated. But he has only defeated himself. That is how the authoritarians have won, and will go on winning. “It isn’t happening here.”

    And with those four words, he has made himself not just impotent. But a fool of history, which laughs, as it turns back the clock.

  • Feb 27, 18

    "Since 2000, there have been 270,000 murders in the US, 600,000 drug overdoses (200,000 involving opioids), 650,000 suicides (130,000 by veterans), and 85,000 workplace deaths. An estimated 700,000 people have died prematurely during this period due to lack of health care. Police killed over 12,000 people from 2000 to 2014, and up to 27,000 immigrants have died attempting to cross the US-Mexico border since 1998. The government has executed roughly 850 prisoners since 2000. Over 2.2 million adults are currently incarcerated in jails and prisons, with another 4.7 million on probation or parole.

    There are two critical factors in the phenomenon of American violence. The first is the extreme level of social inequality."

  • Feb 21, 18

    "The first number you see is 94% — and your eyes pop with incredulity.

    But it's true: Almost every one of hundreds of women questioned in an exclusive survey by USA TODAY say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault during their careers in Hollywood. "

  • Mar 02, 17

    "Although he died when he was only 53 years old, Philip K. Dick (1928 – 1982) published 44 novels and 121 short stories during his lifetime and solidified his position as arguably the most literary of science fiction writers. His novel Ubik appears on TIME magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels, and Dick is the only science fiction writer to get honored in the prestigious Library of America series, a kind of pantheon of American literature.

    If you’re not intimately familiar with his novels, then you assuredly know major films based on Dick’s work – Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darklyand Minority Report. Today, we bring you another way to get acquainted with his writing. We’re presenting a selection of Dick’s stories available for free on the web. Below we have culled together 11 short stories from our collections, 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices and 550 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free. Some of the stories collected here have also found their way into the recently-published book, Selected Stories by Philip K. Dick, which features an introduction by Jonathan Lethem."

  • Mar 02, 17

    "The hippies saw the election returns as brutal confirmation of the futility of fighting the Establishment on its own terms. There had to be a whole new scene, they said, and the only way to do it was to make the big move either figuratively or literally from Berkeley to the Haight-Ashbury, from pragmatism to mysticism, from politics to dope, from the involvement of protest to the peaceful disengagement of love, nature, and spontaneity. "

  • Feb 03, 17

    "In his run-and-gun guest verse, he weighs in on President Donald Trump, calling him "a bitch" and threatening to "make his whole brand go under." However, Eminem saves his most brutal bars for one of the people who helped put him in power: conservative pundit Ann Coulter.

    He reserves 10 whole bars for her, promising to "make an example of her" as revenge for Sandra Bland and Philando Castille, two black people killed in police custody in the past two years. The lyrics about Coulter in full:

    And fuck Ann Coulter with a Klan poster
    With a lamp post, door handle, shutter
    A damn bolt cutter, a sandal, a can opener, a candle, rubber
    Piano, a flannel, sucker, some hand soap, butter
    A banjo and manhole cover
    Hand over the mouth and nose smother
    Trample ran over the tramp with the Land Rover
    The band, the Lambo, Hummer and Road Runner
    Go ham donut or go Rambo, gotta make an example of her
    That's for Sandra Bland ho and Philando
    Coulter actively followed the Bland case as its investigation developed from a prison suicide to a murder. Back in July 2015, she tweeted several items referring to Bland as a "druggie/scofflaw.""

  • Jul 10, 14

    "We heard that Kourt found an "inappropriate" photo of Scott and another woman. But now we may know the reason behind the pair's constant strife -- and it may be even worse than all of the other supposed reasons. It's because ... well, it's all fake!

    Yes, just as there were those who accused Tori Spelling's marital troubles as nothing but a ploy for ratings, so too are there plenty who think that Kourt and Scott are acting out problems that don't exist for the cameras. Say it ain't so!

    In fact, a source told New York Daily News' Confidential that things are actually better than ever between them!

    Cameras caught Scott partying up at a New York nightclub recently (I hope Amstel is paying him, because Scott was rarely seen without one in his hand), while preggo Kourt went to North West's "Kidchella" party and repeatedly called him.

    Producers even apparently sat an attractive brunette down next to Scott and tried to make it like the two were flirting. However, the truth was much more dasterdly. Says a source:

    Scott’s excited to have another baby. Kourtney and him couldn’t be better. It’s all bulls--t."

  • Jul 10, 14

    "The dystopian sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer, director Bong Joon-Ho’s first English-language release, takes place 17 years after a geo-engineering scheme to stop global warming catapulted the Earth into an ice age in — that’s right — July 2014. Virtually everyone on the planet freezes to death, with the few hundred survivors left to either buy tickets to or push their way onto a train that can shelter them for seemingly forever.

    The catch is that the ticketing system instantaneously creates a class hierarchy both mimicking and intensifying the one that presumably existed before the disaster. Those who can afford to buy their way on enjoy sushi and nightclubs in the front of the train while everyone else subsists on gelatinous protein blocks in the cramped last few cars of its tail end — a rolling, heavily policed slum.

    Though ostensibly controlled by Wilfred, an elusive corporate magnate, the train actually functions by exploiting the labor of those in the tail, who are forcefully told to be grateful that they made it on at all.

    The plot revolves around a group of tail residents who wage a revolution to seize the engine from Wilfred. As the film’s protagonist Curtis notes, “All other revolutions failed because they couldn’t take the engine.” Played by none other than Captain America himself Chris Evans, Curtis takes on something of a cult hero status as the film progresses, being only somewhat reluctantly pushed to take on the mantle of revolutionary leadership by his underclass brethren."

  • Jul 08, 14

    "Lana Del Rey is pushing the envelope, and here’s her message, delivered with a languid pout: 21st-century America is a rotting corpse, deadlocked culturally, economically, and politically, and since there’s nothing we can do about it, let’s enjoy ourselves as the body-politic disintegrates, perhaps by savoring some toothsome bites of the past: candy-colored Super 8 films, juicy jazz tunes and clips of sultry screen sirens. The future is a retrospective.

    All of this echoes the ancient danse macabre, the dance of death, the motif that sprang out of the medieval horrors of war and the plague. It’s a plea for fevered amusement while you’ve still got time.

    Queen of the Damned

    You might call Del Rey a musical Queen of the Damned: the expression of a generational sense that America has lost its way, and there’s little hope for redemption. Del Rey’s haunting sense of exhausted sadness is perfect pitch for an era when climate change threatens the planet, bloodsucking financial predators steal the future of our youth and consumer culture deadens everyone. The kingdom of wealth is sterile and limiting; perhaps the kingdom of death is preferable. Del Rey’s pose of expectant pleasure at the coming apocalypse strikes a resonant chord — a cool bravado that eases the pain. In her romantic fantasies, you can almost hear strains of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, a love story in which young lovers seek peace through annihilation.

    Del Rey and fellow avatars of the death-and-the-maiden trope —one of the oldest in art — have been creeping onto the cultural scene since the global financial meltdown of 2007-’08, and not just in America. In Lars Von Trier’s 2011 film “Melancholia,” Kirsten Dunst’s character Justine welcomes the end of the world by offering her sprawling naked body to a rogue planet hurtling toward earth. “Life on earth is evil,” murmurs Justine. “No one will miss it.”

    All of this is no surprise to students of psychoanalysis. It was a woman, Sabina Spielrein, who gave Sigmund Freud the inspiration for his theory of the death drive, writing of young women who dream of lying in a coffin, yearning to return to the womb through the tomb. It is women who are most acutely aware of the limitations of society’s institutions and its life-denying strictures: scripts for marriage, motherhood, and career still don’t accommodate women’s desires and creative potential. Why not just imagine sinking into a blissful abyss with your lover?

    For millennials, the desire to reject an inhumane future in favor of a sensual plunge into undifferentiated nature is mirrored in Del Rey’s videos, where she is often submerged in water, as if suspended in Earth’s amniotic fluid. The world can be saved only when life returns to its primal source.

    This potent combination of women, sex and death is going to be one of the calling cards of late-stage capitalism. We are experiencing fearsome global dislocations and distorted social and economic systems that are killing our life-affirming instincts. The death drive is perennial, but when a society seems to hover on the eve of destruction, these Eves of the Apocalypse — suicidal brides, young women fixated on pain and death — emerge to speak our well-founded anxieties. They signal that just now, the death drive is very strong.

    The sociologist Emile Durkheim wrote of “anomic suicide,” a desire for death that comes from confusion and lack of social direction in the face of hard economic times and societal upheaval. When young people can’t find legitimate aspirations, they feel lost and disoriented. They begin to lose any sense of the limits of desires and become mired in a sense of chronic disappointment. A bankruptcy of expectations leads to a nostalgic fixation on the past and inability to actively meet the future.

    What Lana Del Rey is selling is what a big chunk of America’s youth is feeling: contemporary capitalist society is a deathly bore.

  • Jul 08, 14

    After a series of wild outbursts and derivative art stunts, former Disney property Shia LaBeouf is "voluntarily seeking treatment for alcohol addiction." But what precipitated LaBeouf's unraveling? Was it a systemic failure in his MK-ULTRA Monarch slave conditioning? Unblock your Ajna chakra and examine the facts.....

    In a recent post, the Vigilant Citizen speculated that LaBeouf's recent meltdown was in some way related to a September 2008 interview that the star did on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Promoting the paranoid, political thriller Eagle Eye, LaBeouf told Leno that one of the film's FBI consultants revealed to him that 1-in-5 phone calls made by Americans is logged — proving this to LaBeouf by playing for him one of his very own, very intimate, phone calls."

  • Jul 01, 14

    "Harley-Davidson's new electric motorcycle just got a thumbs up from one of their most famous hog hounds ... Peter Fonda -- who says he's planning to ride one coast-to-coast."

  • Jun 26, 14

    "The decision by well-known rap group Wu-Tang Clan to auction off an album the group secretly recorded to a single bidder for millions of dollars expresses in the most repugnant fashion the integration of the popular music establishment and massive global wealth. The notion that the official hip hop world represents anything “subversive” or “oppositional” is laughable and should be put to rest, once and for all.

    Wu-Tang Clan announced the plan in April, indicating that the release of the album would take place in July. The new work, to be named The Wu: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, will be available for listening at “renowned galleries, museums, venues and exhibition spaces around the world” for $30 to $50 per attendee, before being sold to a private bidder."

  • Jun 23, 14

    "Could these two be a match made in political music heaven?

    LOLz! They COULD be!

    Katy Perry took to her Instagram to show the world her geeky side when she posted a pic of her and none other than Hillary Clinton!

    However, the pic wasn't just to show the world KP's political interest, she ALSO extended an offer to the possible Presidential candidate!

    She said:

    I told @hillaryclinton that I would write her a "theme" song if she needs it…

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