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An excerpt from the above linked-to article (with attached link to video) follows:
Jon Stewart did not really talk about whether or not he thought the top-grossing action flick “Noah” is a good movie or not last night. But he did point out that despite a lot of clamoring and complaining among Christian kooks that Hollywood just does not “churn out” enough religious movies, they are still not happy with “Noah.”
My online response to the above linked-to article/video follows:
A zillion people pile on about this movie, everyone having their own agenda, beliefs and biases. Having that happen, without ground rules – like compartmentalizing areas of agreement and disagreement and proceeding from there so that we aren’t just screaming abuses at each other – can only lead to the cacophony we are hearing and the hostility we are reading.
I was once a Bible student. Yes, I’ve read the entire Bible, in comprehensible modern English (which isn’t to say that the Elizabethan English isn’t beautiful nor completely unintelligible).
I have forgotten more of the Bible than most people have ever learned. I believe, however, that it’s more important to ‘understand’ the message than remember exactly what the words were.
I am religious. But I don’t believe in forcing my religious views on others. You can know me for a long time and not know that I’m religious. If the subject comes up, I’ll engage, depending. I will not engage flamers.
Initially I figured I’d pass on this movie. I take God seriously (not fanatically). I don’t enjoy opportunities to dump on God even when it’s friends who are doing it. I will leave that to others who possess that need. Then I thought that maybe there’d be good special effects in this flick. I figured I’d not agree with the author’s version (What’s the chance of that?) anyway and I also figured that while I’d disagree with the author’s interpretation, he isn’t likely seeking to make an uninteresting, totally offensive movie. I was right. I don’t really care what the author’s views on God and Noah are (and don’t know). I just went into the theater expecting to be entertained. And I was. It was really just another episode of Supernatural (the tv show) to me. And I love Supernatural, even though it’s nuts and I have no doubt that am not going to be in agreement with writers contributing to the series about God etc.. I don’t care. People can think and believe what they want. And that doesn’t prevent me from befriending such ones, provided they are friendly.
Jon Stewart has his tv show and is a STAR. I have my blog, and while I’m not a star, I too can say whatever the hell I want on my own blog (within limits, since it’s WordPress.com and not WordPress.org).
Jon notes that Christian critics complain that Noah is not a documentary. But why do they say so? (Their position is absurd, but…) Jon doesn’t make the obvious point that Darren Aronofsky only ‘based’ his story on the Bible. It isn’t meant to be a documentary. Instead, He slags the Bible by sneeringly pointing out that it says that Noah is 950 years old, implying that even if a movie was made that faithfully represented what was in the Bible, then it still couldn’t be a documentary because the Bible’s fiction. And the comment about pairs of animals being loaded into the ark was added in to give force to his slag and hopefully, keep the audience from questioning Jon’s ‘authority’. In fact, The Bible wouldn’t have to say anything about ‘pairs’ for us to understand that you’re going to need pairs of animals who can reproduce. Duh! Does the Bible suggest that ‘absolutely’ every specimen had to make it’s way into the ark? If you want to read it that way, you can. I, and others, do not. Without the operation of biological evolution – which isn’t happening and has never happened – you will still get a ramification of species from the representative samples taken into the ark. Why wouldn’t you expect that? Oh, yes. Because you need to make the Bible account out to be ridiculous and there are areas where the account is just ambiguous enough, just lacking in enough details that you might possibly be able to jump on it and do that.
With Jon, You have ‘no way’ to do a documentary of the Bible story of Noah because the Bible isn’t factual – because Jon says so and because Jon’s definitions prevail on Jon’s show. Why is it hypocritical? Because in the next breath he tears a strip off critics who complain about the movie’s inclusion of Noah’s incidence of drunkenness. How? He quotes the Bible. And Jon is right. That incident is there. But, Jon thereby implies that the Bible is the reference to which we should refer in dealing with Christian critics of the movie. Is it or isn’t it? The Bible can be quoted ‘if’ it supports Jon’s arguments. If it doesn’t, then the Bible’s just fiction that we should ignore.
That’s okay Jon. I take you as entertainment. And I note that sometimes, when you make fun of power, you’re right. And that’s all. If you want to go all the way over into the dark army’s camp, the way Bill Maher has, Feel free. Then I’ll label you ‘the enemy’, appropriately. In the meantime, I say to those ones: Cash that paycheque – while we still have a money system.
My belief is that when people knowingly and willingly reject God, they thereby lose their peaceableness. The condition of peaceableness is one in which, when there isn’t some external, irresistible force forcing you to cause trouble for others, then you will not choose to do so. Without that internal health, a person who rejects God is ever after trying to prove to himself and to others that there is no God. That person is trying to deal with the disturbance he or she has created within himself and it manifests as trouble making for others.
You can believe that or not. But that’s my belief. If disturbed souls, who have no intention (and no humility) of self-examining and re-evaluating, prefer the moral support of others who have chosen to embrace an overview similar to their’s, They can then choose to grab onto that support as proof that they are right if they wish to do so. It’s easy for one thing. Whatever gets you through the night, as they say. But there are consequences. The nights and days we get through by the methods we choose don’t mean we are right. Time, not a great crowd applauding your words, will tell.
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Oakland Ross follows:
A leading member of Canada’s Hispanic community faces deportation and the probable breakup of his family because he once acted as an informal liaison arranging contacts between armed rebels and foreign journalists covering the civil war that convulsed El Salvador during the 1980s…
According to lawyer Steve Foster, who is handling the case pro-bono, Vigil has been snared by an extremely broad provision of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that bars admission to anyone who has ever belonged to an organization that “engages, has engaged or will engage in” the subversion of a government by force (or, in the case of a democratic government, by any means at all, forceful or otherwise).
“That’s the hook they’ve caught him on,” said Foster. “The act would catch Nelson Mandela in the same way.”…
Vigil was a university student in El Salvador during the late 1980s and, like many others, got caught up in the civil war then raging through the country, pitting leftist rebels known as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front against the country’s U.S.-backed government and its often brutal army.
Working as a journalist, Vigil sometimes arranged contacts between foreign journalists and the rebels, and he briefly served as the FMLN’s press secretary in 1992 after the guerrillas laid down their arms and morphed into a legitimate political party. Because of repeated death threats from right-wing elements, Vigil and his family fled to Canada in 2001 and sought refugee status…
Following the war, a truth and reconciliation commission blamed the army and other right-wing security forces for 95 per cent of the carnage and the FMLN for just 5 per cent.
Meanwhile, the FMLN has been the duly elected government of El Salvador for the past four years, enjoying full diplomatic relations with Canada.
Really, What more needs to be said? What pigs Stephen Harper and his associates are!
What these lawlessness law and order governments do, they always do, ostensibly, for national security or as part of their war on terrorism. As Noam Chomsky points out, however, national security is about protecting the abusive state from angry, abused citizens. Toss in a generous amount of propaganda and ideology and the abuse becomes positively spicy. Here’s a man who survived state terror, aided and abetted by the US, a country whose ruling class has always been, to an extent, Canada’s de facto ruling class, idolized and serviced by continentalist, corporatist Canadian ‘leaders’ like Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper (and other leaders to a lesser extent), and you get nightmares like that which the innocent Oscar Vigil is experiencing.
Let me repeat something I quoted from Ross’s article, adding in my own emphasis: “Following the war, a truth and reconciliation commission blamed the army and other right-wing security forces for 95 per cent of the carnage and the FMLN for just 5 per cent.”
Stephen Harper is another general in the army of darkness waging war on the light, causing untold suffering to billions. Say this for the man, He knows where he stands and it isn’t with regular people. He stands with fascists and neo-Nazis, not just in his recent siding with the neo-Nazis and fascists who helped force Ukraine’s President out of office, but in other ways as well. He plays ‘riches for the strongest’ aggressively. He’s cunning and a great ally of this dark world’s powerful special interests as he misses no opportunity to assist them in their pursuit of glory and riches. He may mouth nice things about human rights and democracy and denounce countries like China for not caring about those things, but when push comes to shove, what we see is his complete refusal to let a lack of democracy, alongside regular human rights violations, get in the way of his partners in the private sector doing profitable business with human rights abusers wherever and whoever they are.
Stephen Harper and his corporatocracy colleagues running various countries have made their choice to reject the creator and play the great, Darwinian game of ‘riches for the strongest’ in which there has to be losers so that eager rule-breakers like him can have glory. When you (and your partners) steal the means of survival from others, those others can’t help but notice. That gives the lawless one a great thrill and allows him to imagine that he’s strong, which has become important to him now that he’s modded himself and possesses those values. While Harper talks, cunningly, about Canadians and Canadian values as though nothing perverse is going on, nothing but perversity is going on. And there’s something else terrifying about it all. ‘Generals’ and other officers in the army of darkness don’t just torture and kill, literally, their enemies. They also win them over, increasing their ranks.
I call it mysterious lawlessness. When people without a moral foundation observe their religious, political and other leaders breaking laws and acting perversely, they are mystified more than they are disgusted. And they easily conclude that “Those people are educated and know lots about the world. And they call themselves democrats and Christians and say they believe in the rule of law and in God. Therefore, When they behave wickedly, that must mean that sometimes wickedness is good.” As Jesus said, “If the light that is in you is darkness, then how great that darkness is.” (Matthew 6:22, 23) Leaders who know better and set a bad example for the people are especially wicked.
Harper, and other leaders, like Dianne Feinstein, routinely, reflexively include everyone (of their fellow citizens) in their declarations of innocence and good intentions. Stephen Harper talks a lot about Canadians and Canadian values, implicating me and many other Canadians, in his programs of state terrorism. There’s nothing I can do about it other than blog about it. Dianne Feinstein (who disgusts me), in expressing disgust with a recent report on George W. Bush’s torture and rendition program, said that it revealed a brutality that doesn’t reflect the values of American citizens. Meanwhile, She’s a staunch defender of the lawless National Security Agency and the lawless CIA. The ‘we’ talk can get really silly, as when Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, in his praise for the rightwing judges’ ruling (5-4) in the McCutcheon v. FEC case, in which it was established that individuals can give what they want to candidates during elections, said “What I think this means is that freedom of speech is being upheld. You all have the freedom to write what you want to write. Donors ought to have the freedom to give what they want to give. This was—remember, all this goes back to this bizarre McCain-Feingold bill that was passed that has distorted the political process in ways that no one—no one who voted for it ever believed in. Some of us understood what was going to happen. And when you—it’s pushing all this money outside the party structure into all these other various forms. And I’m all for freedom. Congratulations.” Bernie Sanders responded to that statement with “Well, my response is that Boehner is right, in a sense. He’s talking about freedom for a few hundred of the wealthiest people in this country. If you go up to the average person and say, “Guess what! We’ve given you more freedom. Previously, you could only spend $125,000 in direct contributions to candidates; now you have the freedom to spend $4 or $5 million.” People will look at you like you are crazy. This is freedom for a handful of the wealthiest people in this country to undermine American democracy and to buy elections. That is, to my mind, not what democracy is supposed to be about.”
Public Citizen’s breakdown of the breakdown of democracy: “Historic campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. FEC, to be argued before Supreme Court”
I’m right now reading James Laxer’s “The Perils Of Empire – America And It’s Imperial Predecessors.” I was struck by something he said about the American Empire’s similarity to Athen’s in one respect. It related to legitimacy. “Athens became an imperial power despite the fact that its political culture was intrinsically anti-imperialist in important ways… That said, the twin ideals of citizens’ rights and national self-determination are embedded at the very heart of American political culture. That is why it has been unthinkable in popular American discourse for politicians and most analysts to even accept the notion of an American Empire. An empire in denial about itself as it transmits notions of national self-determination to those that fall under its sway is a highly contradictory beast indeed. The Athenian case would suggest that the American Empire will either have to be short-lived or, as in the case of Rome, have to pass through a period of intense political and cultural crisis and emerge as an imperial state that has banished the anti-imperial ideals on which it was originally based.” -pages 68 & 69. Athens didn’t start out with the intention of becoming an empire, but it became inhuman and undemocratic as time passed. And the city states it annexed resented being forced to belong to the confederacy (of Delos) that became an (Athenian) empire, not least for the reason that the democratic ideals that Athens never formally abandoned started to look really different than the practices which (non Athenian) subjects were observing.
“Banish” anti-imperial ideals? What does that mean? ‘People’ possess ideals and values. Banishing democratic ideals therefore means indoctrinating people so that they now view something evil as good. Imperialism, which means aggression by one nation, or group, toward another, not in self-defense (whatever the language used by leaders to garner support) but for gain, as always, for a minority in the country, or city state, now becomes a positive. With today’s pubic relations industry (propaganda industry), the people can be convinced that any poison is healthy and that any sin is righteous. Let’s hope that climate change and the death of bees through the application of pesticides doesn’t wipe out all food crops, lest we have to witness people eating people; criminals first but we’ll eventually run out of those. What will it look like then? And what will the government statements about that sound like? “If you give birth to criminals, then the state will confiscate them and use them as food.”
Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop and it’s a busy workshop. Stephen Harper and his gang can’t pull together with the rest of us to make a society that works for everyone precisely because they have decided to do the opposite. They are believers in inequality, because they have chosen a path in which one cannot believe in equality. You can’t worship yourself and riches ‘and’ God, nor can you worship yourself and riches and believe in equality. God, where formally religious people like Harper are concerned, is a problem. If he’s real, then ‘they’ can’t be God. If he’s real, then their willingness to take his place has cost them their souls. How has Stephen Harper and his associates come down on that question? We see how and that has involved more than merely hearing their lying words. They ‘use’ God, which is a way of paying attention to God that can’t benefit themselves or anyone. They don’t pay attention to God, in other words, in any positive sense. Jesus said, “For as they were in those days before the Flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they took no note until the Flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matthew chapter 24)
Here’s some writers’ thoughts about Stephen Harper and the American Empire which is he is down with.
“The old ideas that effectively portrayed Canada as a subordinate nation with little or no imperial ambition of its own and dominated first by Britain and then the United States, which have in fact been a mainstay of much of the Canadian left as much as other parts of the Canadian political spectrum, are simply not relevant to understanding its role in the contemporary world order (if they were even relevant in their heyday thirty years ago)… While some left nationalists have occasionally identified some of the problematic actions of the Canadian state and capital in the Third World, they have failed to develop a systematic analysis of Canadian imperialism. Just like other major capitalist powers, Canadian capital is driven by a logic of expansion… Canada’s stature as a sub-superpower nation… does not gainsay the fact that it faces pressures to search out new markets and has the ability to project its power in its own political and economic self-interest, regardless of the cost to indigenous communities at home or to the people of the Third World…
“…Canada actively pursues one-sided trade and investment agreements with poor countries, forcibly liberalizes markets in the South through International Monetary Fund-imposed structural adjustment policies, ignores flagrant human rights violations committed in defence of Canadian investments and is pouring increasingly large sums of money into the development of a military with the capability to project its power abroad…
“There is no bright side to Canadian investment in the South. It is accomplished by displacing indigenous people and poor peasants from their land (to get at mineral and oil deposits, for example), destroying ecosystems and ruthlessly exploiting the sweat labour of typically poor women in the region’s export processing zones, where workers’ rights are minimal if they exist at all. We can also add to this the steep burden of debt obligations Third World governments are forced to pay Canadian banks, money which otherwise could go to social programs for their own citizens.” – from the introductory “Rethinking Canada’s Role in the World,” of Todd Gordon’s book titled “Imperialistic Canada.”
Noam Chomsky, in “Hegemony Or Survival,” has some useful things to say about the definition of ‘terrorism’. Consider:
“Take 9-11. It is widely argued that the terrorist attacks changed everything dramatically as the world entered a new and frightening “age of terror” – the title of a collection of academic essays by Yale University scholars and others. It is also widely held that the term terror is very hard to define.
“We might ask why the concept of terror should be considered particularly obscure. There are official US government definitions that fall well within the range of clarity of other usages that are regarded as unproblematic. A US Army manual defined terrorism as “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature… through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.” The official US Code gave a more elaborate definition, essentially along the same lines. The British government’s definition is similar: “Terrorism is the use, or threat, of action which is violent, damaging or disrupting, and is intended to influence the government or intimidate the public and is for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause.” These definitions seem fairly clear. They are close enough to ordinary usage, and are considered appropriate when discussing the terrorism of enemies.
“The official US definitions are the ones I have been using in writing about the topic since the Reagan administration came into office in 1981, declaring that a war on terror would be a centerpiece of its foreign policy. The reliance on these definitions is particularly appropriate for our purposes because they were formulated when the first war on terror was declared. But almost no one uses them, and they have been rescinded, replaced by nothing sensible. The reasons do not seem obscure: the official definitions of terrorism are virtually the same as the definitions of counterterror (sometimes called “low-intensity conflict,” or “counterinsurgency”). But counterterror is official US policy, and it plainly will not do to say that the US is officially committed to terrorism.
“The US is by no means alone in this practice. It is traditional for states to call their own terrorism “counterterror,” even the worst mass murderers: the Nazis, for example. In occupied Europe they claimed to be defending the population and legitimate governments from the partisans, terrorists supported from abroad. That was not entirely false; even the most egregious propaganda rarely is. The partisans were undoubtedly directed from London, and they did engage in terror. The US military had some appreciation of the Nazi perspective: its counterinsurgency doctrine was modeled on Nazi manuals, which were analyzed sympathetically, with the assistance of Wehrmacht officers.
“It is this common practice that allows for the conventional thesis that terror is a weapon of the weak. That is true, by definition, if terror is restricted to their terrorism. If the doctrinal requirement is lifted, however, we find that, like most weapons, terror is primarily a weapon of the powerful.” pages 188 & 189
From Noam Chomsky’s book titled “Deterring Democracy,” the following:
“The threat of nationalism is recognized in the public record as well. Thus, after the successful CIA-backed coup that overthrew the parliamentary regime of the conservative nationalist Mossadegh in Iran, restoring the Shah and leaving US oil companies with 40 percent of he formerly British concession, the New York Times commented editorially that all of this was “good news indeed”; however costly “to all concerned” (primarily Iranians), “the affair may yet be proved worthwhile if lessons are learned from it.” The primary lesson is spelled out, mincing no words:
Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism. It is perhaps too much to hope that Iran’s experience will prevent the rise of Mossadeghs in other countries, but that experience may at least strengthen the hands of more reasonable and more far-seeing leaders,
who will have a clear-eyed understanding of our overriding priorities.
“It was also recognized that the plans for the targeted countries would be unpopular there, but for their populations, no subtle measures of control are necessary. Under the cover of US government aid programs (USAID), “public safety missions” trained local police forces. The reasoning, as outlined by the State Department, is that the police “first detect discontent among people” and “should serve as one of the major means by which the government assures itself of acceptance by the majority.” An effective police force can often abort unwanted developments that might otherwise require “major surgery” to “redress these threats.” But police operations may not suffice. Accordingly, US planners stressed the need to gain control over the Latin American military, described as “the least anti-American of any political group.” Their task, the Kennedy “action intellectuals” explained, was “to remove government leaders from office whenever, in the judgment of the military, the conduct of these leaders was injurious to the welfare of the nation” – an obligation that they should be equipped to carry out once US training has afforded them “the understanding of, and orientation toward, U.S. objectives.”
“Converting the mission of the military from “hemispheric defense” to “internal security,” the Kennedy Administration and its successors were able to overcome the problem of nationalism (or “ultranationalism,” as it is sometimes termed in the internal planning record) by establishing and backing National Security States on a neo-Nazi model, with consequences that are well known. The purpose – as explained by Lars Schoultz, the foremost US academic specialist on human rights in Latin America – was “to destroy permanently a perceived threat to the existing structure of socio-economic privilege by eliminating the political participation of the numerical majority…,” the “popular classes.” US support for these regimes follows essentially the model of the 1920s and European fascsim, already discussed…
“These policies are givens; their basic thrust is subject to no challenge and no debate. It would be misleading to say that there is near unanimity on these matters in Congress, the media, and the intellectual community. More accurately, the basic doctrines are out of sight, out of mind, like the air we breathe, beyond the possibility of discussion.” pages 50 & 51
Indeed, the (regular) people everywhere – conveniently, for leaders who have already chosen to embrace the paradigm of ‘riches for the strongest’ that requires that there be loser slaves whose resources and labour shall be seized – are the enemy. That was a paradigm shift, at least in doctrine, under the Kennedys, as Chomsky notes in the above excerpt. While the people of the South in the western hemisphere have done a remarkable job of resisting imperialism and the Washington Consensus (neoliberal capitalism), they haven’t succeeded entirely. Colombia and Mexico are lost. Still, Their struggle against the US-imposed Nazi regimes is inspiring. Indeed, the only way you can keep south American people down is with US backed and trained armies and death squads. Unfortunately, Within the American-led corporatocracy, Independence, where a state’s ruling class seeks solidarity not with foreign investors and governments, but with their own citizens, is a no no to the world’s most powerful political rulers and their partners, to be met with increasing hostility until things change for the better – for the fascists. Venezuela’s president can say no to uncle Sam, but uncle Sam just soldiers on in various ways, including through it’s USAID organization, to get it’s way. Look at the situation Cuba finds itself in today. John Perkins explained it well enough. If an economic hit man (which John was before he turned whistleblower) can’t con or enlist a national leader, turning him or her against his own people, then that leader needs to be taken out by the CIA. And if that doesn’t work, the army will be sent in to get at those weapons of mass destruction or for some other nonsense reason.
Stephen Harper knows the score when it comes to how imperialism works today. Todd Gordon notes that Ellen Meiksins Wood has studied imperialism carefully and argues, in her book titled “Empire Of Capital” that “not only is the contemporary global order shaped by imperialism despite the fact that the major powers are not actively pursuing direct territorial conquest, but what we are seeing today is in fact the most fully developed form of capitalist imperialism the world has thus far witnessed.” One can perhaps understand Harper’s excitement and desire to be part of the history books that look back on this time. While imperialism is now market-driven and appears to be less violent, Gordon notes that “Wood herself acknowledges that “more traditional forms of coercive colonization” aren’t necessarily ruled out today.” He adds that “while very insightful for our understanding of the current global order, the stress on the shift from classical to contemporary market-based imperialism, whereby the latter is presented as the most fully developed form of capitalist imperialism, can potentially tempt us into treating the two types of imperialism as mutually exclusive stages rather than as different strategies that, while responding to different material conditions, nevertheless exist on a continuum of imperialist state power.” pages 27 & 35
And the immigrants, and Canadian citizens like Oscar Vigil, who Harper gleefully sends to South America, or for whom he makes it difficult to come to Canada in an effort to escape poverty and terror, are being sent to or confined to a region that Harper and his American co-imperialists regard as good for nothing but resources that can make important people like Harper and his class comfortable and rich. And they will make it so with or without an invading army. And however that comfort for important people is gained, it will be glorious since all victims’ eyes will be on those who, like God, exercise the power to give and take life.
You didn’t hear the words “Big Pharma” on this segment of Democracy Now, but to suppose that big pharma plays no role here is to exercise great ignorance.
Corporatocracy: It’s about power and riches and glory. And it’s about the few who are willing to break rules – written and unwritten – in order to ‘win’. It’s about ‘riches for the strongest’, a game in which there has to be losers, always. Those who embrace that paradigm, or operating principle, ‘must’ believe in inequality. You can’t embrace such a paradigm otherwise. As Jesus said, You cannot slave for God ‘and’ for Riches. There is no argument that can be made that ‘riches for the strongest’ is natural and acceptable. One can choose to go against one’s God-given conscience, to become a manslayer and an exploiter and a thief for example, for we were indeed given free moral agency. But there will be consequences for such a choice. Corporatists put profits – in a money system in which money means life – ahead of human rights, human life and the concerns about right and wrong. For now.
An excerpt from the provided transcript for the April 4th segment of Democracy Now titled “Drugging America’s Veterans: Painkiller Abuse Spreads As VA Becomes Vets’ “Drug Dealer Of Choice”” follows:
This week, The Center for Investigative Reporting won a prestigious Peabody Award for his report that exposes how the Department of Veterans Affairs has become the drug dealer of choice for many veterans who are now addicted to prescription painkillers, which were prescribed to treat a myriad of mental health and other physical injuries. According to the investigation, VA prescriptions for four opiates — hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine — have surged by 270 percent in the past 12 years.
*edit, March 23, 2014 – I added the TED Snowden video further down. Let’s see how long it stays up.
Notice something? “There’s nothing to notice,” you say. Correct.
Common Dreams carried an article about Edward Snowden’s remarkable TED talk, which he gave long distance via a motorized avatar that allowed him to see his audience and move about to change his angle of viewing, so as to face his host or the audience. And everyone could see Edward on the screen that was the robot-like avatar’s ‘head’. Then the article disappeared leaving only the frame, as a placeholder, where it was.
Was it TED (which stands for technology, entertainment and design) who yanked this? I see a link to TED left behind. The article is gone, leaving nothing, such as comments like mine (see below), on the Common Dreams website to suggest that there’s anything negative about TED, which doesn’t change the fact that some of us are not fans, Snowden’s participation notwithstanding. Did the NSA or some government lawyer warn Common Dreams away from carrying the remarkable Edward Snowden interview TED gave him, forcing CD to remove it? Readers: This is quite chilling. And I hope you appreciate the seriousness of it. If I had to guess, I’d say that it was police state crap rather than TED (directly).
Debunking a few TED myths
TED Talks first appeared online in 2006, and within a few years were somehow ubiquitous. As we’ve (as much to our surprise as anyone’s) become part of pop culture, it’s natural that people speculate on who the heck we are, and what we believe, and why we’re even doing this. And sometimes … people speculate incorrectly. Here, a few things you might have heard. Thanks for listening.
TED is elitist
In one sense, this is true — we curate our speaker list and our TED Talks lineup very carefully. And we “curate” our audience at conferences to make sure we have a balanced, diverse group that can support our mission of bringing great ideas to the world for free.
But we also work hard not to be elitist in ways that matter. We actively seek out ideas from all over the world, in multiple languages. We work to diversify both our lineup and our attendee roster, devoting time and budget to seeking out and supporting attendees who couldn’t afford to come on their own, but who’ll be great contributors. We also devote significant time and money to bringing TED Talks to people who lack access to broadband or have other accessibility issues. We hope the proof of the pudding is that our talks are available for free to anyone in the world.
TED is biased
Not every talk given at a TED conference or a TEDx event makes it to the front page of TED.com. Some speakers have suggested that their live talks didn’t become TED Talks because of a bias against their political stance. TED is nonpartisan, and we do our best to post talks that will contribute to a productive conversation. TED is not a place for partisan slams and one-sided arguments (unless followed directly by an argument from the other side and a debate).
TED bans discussion of GMOs and food
In 2013, another website created this meme in order to draw page views (and sell vitamin supplements). The story went viral because it seemed simply too awful to believe. And indeed it was not true. TED does not ban discussion of GMOs and food. Our formal response includes a long list of TED Talks about food, GMOs, food science and the sustainability and health of our food supply.
TED is full of pseudoscience
As the global TEDx movement grows, some local events have been targeted by speakers who make unsupported claims about science and health — from perpetual motion to psychic healing. TEDx’s science guidelines clearly state that science and health information shared from stage must be supported by peer-reviewed research. If you have concerns about the content of a TEDx talk, please write to email@example.com and let us know.
TED bans [any topic]
TED has no formal bans on any topic. If you notice we have not covered a topic of interest to you, please suggest a speaker who can do it justice, and feel free to let us know we’ve been missing out! We are always looking for new ideas, topics and speakers.
TED is rich
TED is owned by a nonprofit. Our North American conference itself makes money, as do partnerships with companies and foundations — but we spend it as soon as we get it, supporting big, expensive projects like making TED Talks available for free, and supporting the independent TEDx community around the world. We pay fair salaries to our workers and we pay our interns. No one at TED HQ is getting rich; every dime we make goes right back into supporting our work.
Here’s some screen captures, in 3 parts (final part at 67%), of the Common Dreams article re Edward Snowden and his TED talk. You’ll see nothing. CD is letting us in on it’s disappeared post here. I’m not the only one whose views are not appreciated within the corporatocracy which doesn’t hesitate to take undemocratic actions to make it clear to us that we need to shut up.
There are two types of definition. One is the dictionary definition for a word or term. The other is the operational definition of a word or term. The operational definition is simply the actual activity or situation that attaches to the word or term you’re looking at.
Another view of TED, from Alex Pareene (“Why TED Is a Massive, Money-Soaked Orgy of Self-Congratulatory Futurism” – Alternet), follows. This is an excerpt:
“In case you’re unfamiliar with TED, it is a series of short lectures on a variety of subjects that stream on the Internet, for free. That’s it, really, or at least that is all that TED is to most of the people who have even heard of it. For an elite few, though, TED is something more: a lifestyle, an ethos, a bunch of overpriced networking events featuring live entertainment from smart and occasionally famous people.
“Before streaming video, TED was a conference — it is not named for a person, but stands for “technology, entertainment and design” — organized by celebrated “information architect” (fancy graphic designer) Richard Saul Wurman. Wurman sold the conference, in 2002, to a nonprofit foundation started and run by former publisher and longtime do-gooder Chris Anderson (not the Chris Anderson of Wired). Anderson grew TED from a woolly conference for rich Silicon Valley millionaire nerds to a giant global brand. It has since become a much more exclusive, expensive elite networking experience with a much more prominent public face — the little streaming videos of lectures.
“It’s even franchising — “TEDx” events are licensed third-party TED-style conferences largely unaffiliated with TED proper — and while TED is run by a nonprofit, it brings in a tremendous amount of money from its members and corporate sponsorships. At this point TED is a massive, money-soaked orgy of self-congratulatory futurism, with multiple events worldwide, awards and grants to TED-certified high achievers, and a list of speakers that would cost a fortune if they didn’t agree to do it for free out of public-spiritedness.”
An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows, not that more than the title of this piece of Canadian Press propaganda is needed:
President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser says rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline would be a gift to Vladimir Putin.
James Jones is testifying today at a Senate hearing on whether approving the pipeline is in the U.S. national interest.
He says energy scarcity is a powerful geopolitical weapon — as evidenced now in Ukraine, and at various times in Iran and Venezuela.
Naming the Russian leader personally, he says the world’s bullies are watching the KXL debate, and hoping to see a weaker U.S. that foregoes opportunities for energy independence.
He says he can’t understand why the U.S. would spend billions and risk soldiers’ lives to stabilize oil sources abroad — then reject a piece of vital infrastructure at home.
That excerpt is actually most of the article. It’s really only a blurb, dutifully fired off through dutiful compliant Canadian media. Canadian Press shows it’s true colors here, as does the CBC in disappearing my post. One wonders how many other posts the CBC disappeared in connection with this tripe. I didn’t read many readers’ comments, but they mostly had the same tone as my own.
The above screen capture was when I first attempted to post my comment. The below one is from my account section on the CBC website.
My online response to the above linked-to article follows:
James Jones: Nice try loser. Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept) said it so well: “American invasions and occupations of nations halfway around the world are perfectly noble, but Russian interference in a part of a country right on its border is the supreme act of lawless, imperial aggression. Few things are worse than watching America’s militarists, invasion-and-occupying-justifiers, regime-change enthusiasts, drone-lovers, and supporters of its various “kinetic military actions” self-righteously wrap themselves in the banner of non-intervention, international law and respect for sovereignty. Does anyone take those denunciations seriously outside of the class of western elites who disseminate them?”