20 December 2007

Voters who go to the polls may win $1m - Telegraph

And then there is this from Arizona: Voters who go to the polls may win $1m - Telegraph:

"Who wants to be a millionaire? Anyone using the ballot box in America's western state of Arizona, if campaigners have their way.

Under the scheme, which is designed to increase turnout, a $1 million (£550,000) prize will be handed to a voter selected at random after elections held every two years. Those taking part in party primary elections could win another $1 million prize. [...]

The next step will be openly paying people to vote for a particular candidate.

But the scheme has been attacked by those arguing that voting is a civic duty. They worry that voters would cast their ballots without examining the issues, or the candidates."

Uh, isn't that what is happening already?

A young blonde Icelandic woman's recent experience visiting the US -- Signs of the Times News

We put this story up a few days ago:A young blonde Icelandic woman's recent experience visiting the US -- Signs of the Times News.

Eva Ósk Arnardóttir was on her way for a few days of shopping with some friends in New York. When she arrived at JFK airport, she was pulled aside for a visa violation stemming from 1995. In her account, she describes the humiliation she suffered, including being put into chains, being refused any communication with her embassy, refused a chance to sleep, and put into jail.

The story has drawn a lot of comments, most of which express outrage at the conduct of the customs and immigration officials. Most people are genuinely appalled at how she was treated.

Then there have been a few "America can do no wrong" type comments. What is of concern is that there are people who equate a visa violation (Arnardóttir overstayed her visa in 1995) and dangerous and violent criminal activity. For these black and white 'thinkers', a crime is a crime is a crime. For those who are able to think a little more clearly, the episode is one of many that show how the US is turning into a police state. For the a desscription of how this change has been happening through new laws passed by Congress, check out the excellent article by Stephen Lendman, Police State America - A Look Back and Ahead. For an overview of incidents similar to that befalling Eva Ósk Arnardóttir, read Militarized Police, Overreaction and Overkill: Have You Noticed It In Your Town Yet?.

New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection -- Signs of the Times News

Laura has a new article up, a review of Mike Baillie's important book New Light on the Black Death: The Cosmic Connection:

Medieval depiction of the Black Death

I just finished reading this one and all I can say is: Wow! This was an intense book! Not a long one, either - just 208 pages including appendices. It's tight and economical with no wasted words or idle rambling around. Every example and temporary diversion is crucial to the central argument which is - brace yourself for this one - Mike Baillie (yeah, a real scientist and not a crackpot), is saying that the Black Death, one of the most deadly pandemics in human history, said to have killed possibly two thirds of the entire population of Europe, not to mention millions all over the planet, probably wasn't Bubonic Plague but was rather Death By Comet(s)!

Oh yeah! That's far out, isn't it?

Then when you are done with that one, check out our article Forget About Global Warming: We're One Step From Extinction!

17 December 2007

US woman launches 'Taserware' parties | The Register

And then there was this gem....:

An enterprising Arizona woman has redefined the Tupperware party paradigm for the 21st century, and is hosting girlie get-togethers where security-conscious women can get to grips with the US's fave non-lethal lethal weapon - the Taser...

Shafman explained: 'I felt that we have Tupperware parties and candle parties to protect our food and house, so why not have a Taser party to learn how to protect our lives and bodies?'

The end of the last century saw the advent of Tupperware-inspired sex toy parties, which somehow seems fitting with the general ethos of the times. And, unfortunately, taser parties are very much part of the ethos of the period of the Bush Reich, the period opened by the false flag attacks on 9/11... "the day everything changed".

As excited as these women are by the tasers, there does appear to be a down side:

The only cause for concern among mothers was the C2's range of colours - black, blue, pink and silver - some of which might lead their kids to view the weapon as a toy. Mum-of-two Caily Scheur said: "I want to protect my children from [the Taser] just as much as I want to protect myself by using it."

Forbes: World No.1 baby--Shiloh _English_Xinhua

It can now be reported that::

BEIJING, Dec. 17 -- Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's 1-year-old daughter Shiloh has been named the most influential infant in the world by Forbes magazine.

The only biological child of two of Hollywood's hottest stars tops the newly published list, compiled through media exposure over 2007-- beating an army of celebrity under-fives to the No. 1 spot.

Say what?

Influential with who? Their peers? The readers of Forbes?

The mind boggles at the lunacy of it all.

OK. You can resume your normal lives.

16 December 2007

Militarized Police, Overreaction and Overkill: Have You Noticed It In Your Town Yet? -- Signs of the Times News

Militarized Police, Overreaction and Overkill: Have You Noticed It In Your Town Yet? -- Signs of the Times News: Do you think that reports of police overreactions are overblown? Check out the pattern described in this article. Police in the US are being militarized, and that is not a good thing. The friendly neighbourhood cop on the corner is becoming a thing of the past....

14 December 2007

Freedom's just another word for...

©Richmond Times-Dispatch
People fighting over used iBooks offered for $50 by the Henrico County school system in Virginia. "A rush to purchase $50 used laptops turned into a violent stampede Tuesday [August 2005], with people getting thrown to the pavement, beaten with a folding chair and nearly driven over. One woman went so far as to wet herself rather than surrender her place in line."

Ever feel a compulsion to shop?

The following comes from an interview with Susan Linn, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, by Terrence McNally, AlterNet: Born to Shop: How Marketers Brainwash Babies:

Linn: Studies suggest that marketing is a factor in many of the problems facing children today. It's not the sole cause of any of them, but it's a factor in childhood obesity, eating disorders, precocious and irresponsible sexuality, youth violence, certainly underage drinking and tobacco use, family stress, the acquisition of materialistic values, the false notion that things will make us happy.

And the one that is dearest to my heart, the erosion of children's creative play. Which doesn't sound like much until you realize that such play is the foundation of learning, critical thinking, and empathy -- and I believe, also essential to democracy."[...]

McNally: You write that two of the most worrisome things to you -- and I suspect these are not things that people might think of immediately: One, that it's having an adverse effect on creativity and children's creative play, and two, on democracy itself.

Linn: There's a threat to creative play in a lot of different ways. One of them is the notion that you need certain products or brands in order to play. You can't play Harry Potter without a Harry Potter wand or a Harry Potter broomstick or this or that. Creativity comes out of silence and emptiness in some ways and out of desire. You need that in order to create. So if everything is given to you -- all of these media-linked toys, and the scripts themselves, and your seeing them over and over again. One thing that happens is that you don't need to be creative.[...]

McNally: You say it has a ripple effect on democracy. How so?

Linn: What children learn through marketing or in commercial culture is antithetical to democracy. What do marketers want them to learn? Impulse buying -- that's terrible in a democracy. Lifetime brand loyalty, unthinking brand loyalty -- well, we're certainly experiencing the problem with that. They're learning "me first" -- that's not helpful in a democracy.

A more subtle message in marketing is that there is a right way to do something. That's where we get the connection to the erosion of children's creative play. Creativity thrives in democracy and democracy thrives because of creativity. When we squelch that, we'd do very well in a dictatorship.

Long gone are the days when a couple of sticks served as guns or dolls were made by mothers for their daughters. Now it has to be a toy recognizable from the television or Internet.

The rights and responsibilities of citizenship have been reduced to one: the right to shop. Democracy has become having a choice between competing products. You vote with your dollar, or now, with your credit card. For those who are old enough to remember the propaganda during the cold war, one of the harshest critisisems directed at the Soviet Union was that the people there didn't have any choice. The state decided what products were on the shelves. There was only one of everything.

Academics who are considered serious theorists told us that the advent of the information multiverse, with 500 channels of TV coming to your home, would turn us into something more than consumers. With all of that choice, we would somehow become creators. Merely selecting from the programmes offered would allow us to customize our own newspapers or news programmes.

What a joke!

Citizenship has been emptied of its political and civic responsabilities. It is no longer a question of forming an opinion yourself in order to contribute to the political debate on the future of your society. Your only responsibility is economic. All you need to do is get down to the shopping centres and spend, spend, spend. Empty your wallet for America! Go into debt for America!

Remember what the decider-in-chief said in the days after 9/11?

I see an opportunity at home when I hear the stories of Christian and Jewish women alike, helping women of cover, Arab American women go shop because they're afraid to leave their home. Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2001

He must have loved that idea so much that he repeated a week later.

I was struck by this: that in many cities, when Christian and Jewish women learn that Muslim women — women of cover — were afraid of going out of their homes alone, that they went shopping with them, that they showed true friendship and support — an act that shows the world the true nature of America. Presidential Prime Time News Conference, Oct. 11, 2001

We'll pass by his remarks about "women of cover"... but the president's idea of what "true friendship and support" means is revealing and quite in tune with his other remarks. And it certainly does "show the world the true nature of America, or at least the America shaped by the pathocrats.

And then there was his famous cry of encouragement to rally Americans after 9/11:

I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy. Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity. They did not touch its source. America is successful because of the hard work, and creativity, and enterprise of our people. These were the true strengths of our economy before September 11th, and they are our strengths today. (Applause.)

Five years later, he stayed with this theme with his year end press conference on December 20, 2006.

As we work with Congress in the coming year to chart a new course in Iraq and strengthen our military to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must also work together to achieve important goals for the American people here at home. This work begins with keeping our economy growing. … and I encourage you all to go shopping more.

In the interview above, Susan Linn mentions how marketing efforts are directed now towards babies. With different marketing campaigns aimed at younger and younger children, our children are being led straight from the cradle to the shopping centre, and the shopping centre has replaced the commons as the public meeting place. Just don't wear the wrong t-shirt because unlike the commons, the shopping centre is private property.

To paraphrase an old song, freedom's just another word for having the right to shop.