It’s Time To Get Crazy

The Article: Time to Get Crazy by Chris Hedges in TruthDig.

The Text: Native Americans’ resistance to the westward expansion of Europeans took two forms. One was violence. The other was accommodation. Neither worked. Their land was stolen, their communities were decimated, their women and children were gunned down and the environment was ravaged. There was no legal recourse. There was no justice. There never is for the oppressed. And as we face similar forces of predatory, unchecked corporate power intent on ruthless exploitation and stripping us of legal and physical protection, we must confront how we will respond.

The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the “expanding” wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries. At the very end, it all will come down like a house of cards.

Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality. Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth. Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism “a machine for demolishing limits.” This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues.

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The “Perils” Of Nosiness

The Article: Don’t Be Nosy by Glenn Greenwald in Salon.

The Text: LZ Granderson is a regular CNN columnist and contributor, and has written a column this week that — no joke — urges Americans to stop being so “nosy” about all the bad things the U.S. Government does. You just have to read it to believe it:

We are a nosy country.

Though to be fair, it’s not entirely our fault. Between the 24/7 news cycle, social media and reality TV, we have been spoon fed other people’s private business for so long we now assume it’s a given to know everything. And if there are people who choose not to disclose, they must be hiding something. Being told that something’s “none of your business” is slowly being characterized as rude, and if such a statement is coming from the government, it seems incriminating.

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Waging War In Iran

The Article: War By Other Means by Hamid Dabashi in Al-Jazeera.

The Text: Mr Nicholas D Kristof of the New York Times has gone to Iran and graced our city’s “Paper of Record” with a column: Pinched and Griping in Iran. Reading this column, one would have been reminded of Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad (1869), minus the splendid humour, were we to ignore the dire circumstances in which we live and the catastrophic implications of such shallow and irresponsible journalism.

This is journalism at the de facto service of a bewildered empire, a journalism that does not only fail to raise very basic and simple questions about dangerous policies of the journalist’s home country but that has in fact become the effective extension of imperial wars by other means.

Kristof’s visit coincides with the latest round of talks between Iran and the “5+1” group on the pending nuclear issue. As Al Jazeera reports, “in Moscow, the six powers – United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – are again expected to push Tehran to address their most pressing concern, its enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent fissile purity … The consequences of failure could be devastating, amid fears that Israel could bomb Iran if no diplomatic solution is found, intensifying regional tensions and pushing oil prices higher”.

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The Faces Of Income Inequality In America

The Article: Amber Waves Of Green by Jon Ronson in GQ.

The Text: How to Live on $625,000 a Week As I drive along the Pacific Coast Highway into Malibu, I catch glimpses of incredible cliff-top mansions discreetly obscured from the road, which is littered with abandoned gas stations and run-down mini-marts. The offlce building I pull up to is quite drab and utilitarian. There are no ornaments on the conference-room shelves—just a bottle of hand sanitizer. An elderly, broad-shouldered man greets me. He’s wearing jogging pants. They don’t look expensive. His name is B. Wayne Hughes.

You almost definitely won’t have heard of him. He hardly ever gives interviews. He only agreed to this one because—as his people explained to me—income disparity is a hugely important topic for him. They didn’t explain how it was important, so I assumed he thought it was bad.

I approached Wayne, as he’s known, for wholly mathematical reasons. I’d worked out that there are six degrees of economic separation between a guy making ten bucks an hour and a Forbes billionaire, if you multiply each person’s income by five. So I decided to journey across America to meet one representative of each multiple. By connecting these income brackets to actual people, I hoped to understand how money shapes their lives—and the life of the country—at a moment when the gap between rich and poor is such a combustible issue. Everyone in this story, then, makes roughly five times more than the last person makes. There’s a dishwasher in Miami with an unbelievably stressful life, some nice middle-class Iowans with quite difflcult lives, me with a perfectly fine if frequently anxiety-inducing life, a millionaire with an annoyingly happy life, a multimillionaire with a stunningly amazing life, and then, finally, at the summit, this great American eagle, Wayne, who tells me he’s “pissed off” right now.

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John Roberts Breaks Up With SCOTUS

The Article: Why Did Roberts Do It? by David L. Franken in Slate.

The Text: Sometimes you just have to take one for the team. A wistful thought of that kind must have flitted through the mind of Chief Justice John Roberts today as he announced that the Supreme Court was upholding the Affordable Care Act by the slimmest of margins.

The lineup was a shocker: Roberts joined the court’s four moderate/liberal justices in upholding the act. Court-watchers knew Roberts would be in the majority, whichever way the case came out, but we expected Justice Anthony Kennedy to be there, too. He wasn’t: Kennedy joined fellow conservative Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito in a vehement (and—departing from court practice—jointly signed) dissent. Indeed, the chief justice was the only justice who cast a vote on the individual mandate that was contrary to the political position of the party of the president who appointed him.

Why did he do it? Quite simply, to save the court. As Jeffrey Rosen has noted, the ACA case was John Roberts’ moment of truth—and today’s opinion proves that Roberts knew it. In the aftermath of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, the percentage of Americans who say they have “quite a lot” or a “great deal” of confidence in the Supreme Court has dipped to the mid-30s. A 5-4 decision to strike down Obamacare along party lines, whatever its reasoning, would have been received by the general public as yet more proof that the court is merely an extension of the nation’s polarized politics. Add the fact that the legal challenges to the individual mandate were at best novel and at worst frivolous, and suddenly a one-vote takedown of the ACA looks like it might undermine the court’s very legitimacy.

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