the contents of my inbox: wmtc linkathon

Here are various things that readers have sent me or that I have collected over some unspecified period of time, which I don't want to delete unshared, but can't spend any time writing about. Enter at your own risk.

The Ratchet Effect:
In every election year, the Democrats come and tell us that the country has moved to the right, and so the Democratic Party has to move right too in the name of realism and electability. Gotta keep these right-wing madmen out of the White House, no matter what it takes.

(Actually, they don't say they're going to move to the right; they say they're going to move to the center. But of course it amounts to the same thing, if you're supposed to be left of center. It's the same direction of movement.)

So now the Democrats have moved to the "center." But of course this has the effect of shifting the "center" farther to the right.

Now, as a consequence, the Republicans suddenly don't seem so crazy anymore -- they're closer to the center, through no effort of their own, because the center has shifted closer to them. So they can move even further right, and still end up no farther from the "center" than they were four years ago. ...

This is not a vast conspiracy. Nobody planned it out. ... [I]t evolved. And it evolved for the same reason that anything evolves: it was useful.

* * * *

The mortality rate in California for pregnant women has nearly tripled in the past decade. It is now more dangerous to give birth in California than it is in Kuwait or Bosnia.

* * * *

Iraq has banned 14 parties from taking part in its next election. Blogger lefti:
That's the 'democracy' that 'we' are told 'we' fought to create. Meanwhile, in another 'democracy' that the U.S. supports (to the tune of billions every year) in the region, Egypt deported George Galloway and forbade him from ever returning, all for the 'crime' of delivering humanitarian supplies to the besieged people of Gaza."

Lefti also links to an interview in which journalist Allan Nairn notes that the grotesque euphemism "collateral damage" is not used in the military. Murdered civilians are referred to as "bugsplat".

* * * *

President Obama continues to crank up the US war machine: threatening Iran, murdering civilians in Pakistan, asking for $5 billion to fortify the US nuclear arsenal, and selling $6.4 billion in military hardware to Taiwan. He also claims the right to kill anyone on earth without charges, without trial, without warning.

* * * *

ABC reports that high-powered rifle sights used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan (and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers) have references to New Testament passages inscribed on them (pic here). Trijicon has a $660,000,000 contract with the US military -- and says it has been putting New Testament passages on its products for more than two decades. Now the Michigan company says that it will be providing 100 kits to remove the references on already deployed products.

* * * *

Wired reports that the FBI and various telecom companies conspired collaborated (feel better?) to routinely violate federal wiretapping laws for four years, as agents got access to reporters' and citizens' phone records using fake emergency declarations or simply asking for them. The inspector general also reveals that the Obama administration retroactively legalized these activities through a secret ruling in early January 2010. That particular fact is buried near the end of the 289-page report.

Meanwhile, Yahoo! claims that its surveillance policies, such as allowing the Justice Department to request wiretaps of its users and revealing the amount it charges US taxpayers per wiretap, should be kept secret because the information would "shock" customers. Verizon said it cannot provide details on its charges for wiretaps because it would be "confusing".

* * * *

Jordan Miles, 18, a violinist and honour student at the prestigious Creative and Performing Arts High School in Pittsburgh, was severely beaten by three plainclothes officers who believed he was carrying a gun (video). The teenager - who is African-American - said he resisted arrest because he believed the three white men were trying to abduct him.

* * * *

Lastly, something cool and beautiful: a photography of a completely frozen Niagara Falls, dated 1911, with thanks to James Morton.

* * * *

Thanks to everyone who sends me goodies, and thanks to Allan for getting this post out of drafts.

No comments: