The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
- The Guardian
The NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system and it analyses them and it measures them, and it stores them for periods of time, simply because that’s the easiest most efficient and most valuable way to achieve these ends. While they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government, or someone suspected of terrorism, they are collecting your communications to do so. Any analyst, at any time, can target anyone.
- Edward Snowden
You’ll hear it in the blues, in country, in roots music, in alt+country, insurgent country, or less-breathlessly in what’s being called Americana these days. John Fahey (1939-2001) called it American primitive guitar, and he played it on the steel-string acoustic which he pioneered.
He was raised on bluegrass and country, but found the blues upon hearing Praise God, I’m Satisfied by Blind Willie Johnson. Here, Fahey’s Desperate Man Blues has been paired – with magical results – with the sort of short film that would have played in the arcades on Thomas Edison’s kinetoscopes, or peep-hole viewers over a century ago.
Originally posted Dec. 8, 2010
This chart, care of the Economist’s Chart of the Day blog, is in some way the very essence of historical reductionism. By estimating all economic output side-by-side with estimated person-years (and, yes, there’s an awful lot of guestimates producing those two numbers) it presents an extraordinary picture of human economic and demographic progress. Clearly, two things jump out at one. The first is that there are a lot more people (a lot more–1 billion or so in 1800, 7 billion now), living a lot longer. Most people who have every lived have lived recently. Second, the Industrial Revolution, contrary to the fads of the economic historians, was a real revolution. The burst of productivity and output (and, of course, levels of resource utilization) are an order of magnitude higher than the pre-industrial world. This tremendous economic leap shows no signs of abating. This shift into a new global gear has any number of important implications, the most obvious being that if distributed properly, this largess should annihilate deprivation in every corner of the globe. It is hardly surprising that the welfare state became a viable option in the 20th century and seems very confusing when elites in the leading economic zones argue that “we can’t afford” this or that aspect of social provisioning (such as education, health and jobs). No wonder that those economies which ignore neo-liberal orthodoxy are doing just fine. The entire world is surfing on an enormous wave of economic production and surfing the wave instead of trying to divert its waters to a tiny elite is probably a better option.
Perhaps you caught Alexis Goldstein on one of her several appearances on UP with Chris Hayes, where she named names and kicked ass on all matters related to Wall Street chicanery. Whether it’s the politics and legalese of financial
nonreform, or the intricacies of derivatives trading, she seems to really know her shit. And now she and fellow OCCUPant and journalist Jesse Myerson are collaborating on a podcast; Disorderly Conduct (NSFW) promises lively discussion of “political reforms and transactional politics, and utopian ideals”. Formal launch is planned for August, but they have released a preview episode which you can play below. There is also an earlier one that you can hear on the Beyond the Pale podcast for May 12. We may well hear from Goldstein alone prior to the maiden voyage of DC as she recently crowd-sourced funding for a podcasting mic, a cause I was only too happy to contribute to as hers is a voice that ought to be heard, loud and clear, on the Inter-commons.
The Briarpatch, a pugnacious periodical from the pearl of the prairies, Regina, Saskatchewan, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its first print edition back in 1973. Fiercely independent and wholly reader-supported, this venue for the vexed and the visionary is in fund-drive mode and calling for new Sustainers to help it continue its mission to provide original reporting, insight, and analysis from a grassroots perspective for years to come.
Another reason for the Briarpatch to celebrate is its recent recruitment of Andrew Loewen as co-editor/publisher. A prolific blogger here at the Paltry, Loewen brings to the Briar his prodigious wit, drive and fire-in-the-belly. Radical sapiens should give the Briarpatch a read, and lend it their support.
This issue of Briarpatch marks our 40th anniversary of publishing. Former staff members and volunteers reflect on 40 years of scraping by and thriving as a grassroots magazine of radical politics, from a four-page newsletter titled Notes from the Briar Patch in 1973 to a magazine with national reach. Joe Catron reports from the Gaza Strip on fishers and farmers on the front lines of occupation, Aaron Lakoff writes on resistance to repackaged neoliberalism in Quebec’s North, and Leanne Betasamosake makes the case for a diplomacy of love.
The Briarpatch anniversary donation drive continues through June 23.
Dr. Kenneth Thomas, a political science professor at the University of Misouri-St. Louis and blogger at Business Insider, has actually read the turgid 2013 Economic Report of the President–in particular Appendix B-47, “Hours and Earnings in Non-Agricultural Industries, 1966-2012.” Since literally nobody else, he found, in the media cares about this stuff, he has decided to report the grim news. Real wages continue their relentless generational decline, remaining well below their 1972 peak. The data covers about 80% of the workforce (they cover production and non-supervisory workers in the private sector) and shows a number of disturbing trends. First, despite productivity more than doubling in this period, workers’ wages are still 14% of their peak. While this is not as severe as the relentless attack on workers’ wages in the Reagan years (by 1992 wages were 22% below peak), the improvement in real wages in the Clinton years came to an abrupt standstill in the Bush II years and have resumed their fall in the Obama years. In fact, they fell another 0.2% in 2012. An average worker’s weekly pay (in constant 1982-84 dollars) was $295.49 in 2011 but fell to $294.83 per week in 2012.
Ah, the sweet smell of recovery! Now, keep in mind, as Dr. Thomas points out, that this is the engine of inequality–increases in productivity that are not shared with the workers who produced them (at least in part, I want none of this “takers v. makers” silliness) lead to ever greater concentrations of wealth among fewer and fewer people. And please note, this nonsense of “preserving the American dream” so the next generation is not poorer than the present one is patently ridiculous for the vast majority of American workers, who already have a much lower take-home pay than their mothers’ and fathers’ generation. Statistically, your kids will be more poor than you. Statistically, you are poorer than your parents. Apologists for this state of affairs like to point out that some goods and services are much cheaper these days, so of course people can now afford the computer processing power that only a large company could buy in 1972. Given the fact that so many other basic commodities from fuel to housing to health care to education are so much more staggeringly expensive than they were in 1972, this is hardly an argument made in good faith.
Company Store in the Mining Town of Capels, West Virginia, 1938–The Old-fashioned Way of Keeping Your Workers Poor (c/o Wiki Commons)
Part 2 after the break.
Friend of the site, Geoff Berner, has a new video to go along with his stomping crowd-pleaser When DD Gets Her Donkey, Everything Will Be Alright. It’s a cure for what ails you.
For more of what ails you, let me recommend That’s What Keeps The Rent Down, Baby, a wry take on creative urban gentrified poverty and its discontents. Have you hugged your mugger recently? Do.
*Yes, I know a donkey is not a mule.
He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.So said Dr. Johnson. Unfortunately not all pain is thereby abated.
I made this video in a month during the summer of 2004 by sneaking into Cal Arts to use the equipment. Whenever the security guard came around I’d turn off the light and keep quiet… but during the day I felt safe enough to blast 80s rap tapes I bought from Goodwill. I also got in trouble for sleeping in the parking lot one morning. Those were the days.
Via Cartoon Brew
Originally posted June 21, 2011
Despite the collapse of any intellectual justification for cutting deficits during times of economic weakness and the political defeat of those factions supporting such so-called “austerity” policies, both tired and largely ignorant defenses of deficit cutting continue (even from the so-called “left”) and even governments elected on opposing austerity have continued to cut spending and increase taxes. The results, as Krugthullu never tires of pointing out (and has increasingly been naming names in doing so), have been predictably catastrophic. Unemployment, in particularly long-term unemployment (and let’s be clear here, it would be better to call this “the never to be employed again”) has been stubbornly high in the United States and spiking everywhere in Europe. Economic performance is anemic at best–thus proving the austrians and their supporters “spectacularly and obviously wrong,” and yet data is waved away with the conviction of a bunch of evangelicals presented with dinosaur fossils.
Yet for an historian, the obvious metric to judge all these claims is a very simple one–hunger. While it is difficult to measure hunger (we are at times reduced to such approaches as counting famines and measuring army recruits), the effort is always worthwhile since those societies stressed by rising rates of what economists rather euphemistically call “food insecurity” are likely candidates for collapse, political instability or rampant disease. Such societies, mind you, may not be countries with declining agricultural productivity–indeed, large-scale food exports are often linked to the increase of hunger: Russian peasant famines in the late Tsarist period went hand-in-hand with Russia’s massive grain exports (see Stalin, too, who played this hunger game), the Irish have been mystified (well, not really) to this day how their culture was destroyed by the blight on one crop while so many other foodstuffs were exported to the industrial cities of Britain. Thanks to such theorists as Thomas Malthus and bureaucrats as Sergei Witte, the victims of such impoverishing government policies were always found to be the authors of their own distress. As the great Russian historian Kliuchevsky observed, “As the state grew fat, the people grew thin.” (Although other folks, including the radical geographer Mike Davies would probably amend this to “As the empire grows fat . . . ).
By this reckoning, the leading Western nations aren’t doing so well. In fact, they are doing rather poorly. A new Pew report indicates that survey results indicate that many more people are having trouble feeding their families than did prior to the Lesser Depression. Olga Kazan in The Atlantic has broken the numbers down into handy chart form and they paint a picture of massive, austerity-produced pain. Pew asked respondents, “Have there been times during the last year when you did not have enough money to buy food your family needed?” The numbers answering “yes” have spiked up to and even past the 20% threshold.
Have there been times during the last year when you did not have enough money to buy food your family needed? (c/o The Atlantic)
Read the rest of this entry »
Barricades coming down, couches coming in, banks stole our homes, so we’re moving in.
For a primer on the mortgage scam from Matt Taibbi, click here.