April 28, 2013 archive

Apr 28

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Apr 28

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: We Aren’t Crazy. Capitalism Is. by Diane Gee

Simple Reasons Capitalism Isn’t Your Friend

I realize our group here in the halls of orange-land are small. I think most dKos readers are truly interested in the general betterment of humankind. Most of the problem is that Capitalism has always sold itself as a merit system.  Its really not.  I am going to try and show you why.

First and foremost, the most basic thing Capitalism is, is an EXTRACTION SYSTEM.  Buy low, sell high.  Make cheap, price at the highest the “market” will bear.  These are the common sense adages we have been taught since birth.  How else can you make a dollar, right?  Without money, how in the world would anything work; buying a place to live, food, clothing, and any amenities we enjoy for leisure time.

Yet, if you think about it – the collapse of the market, and the austerity being imposed on the people while the rich make record profits is no aberration. Its the system doing exactly what it is supposed to do.  What it always does. It extracts from the bottom to fill the top.  What they told you is a lie to make you work against your own interests.

John Kozy © 2010:

The Western commercial system is extractive. It exists to extract more from consumers than it supplies in products and services. Its goal is profit, and profit literally means to make more (pro-ficere). Its goal has never been to improve the human condition but to exploit it. It works like this:

Consider two water tanks, initially each partially full, one above the other. One gallon of water is dumped from the upper tank into the lower one for each two gallons extracted from the lower tank and pumped into the upper tank. Over time, the lower tank ends up empty and the upper tank ends up full. The circulation of water between the tanks ends.

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Extraction Capitalism is real, and it is you they are extracting from.

The Business Insider just reported “Profits Just Hit Another All-Time High, Wages Just Hit Another All-Time Low.

You may, or may not have seen the viral video about income inequality. People generally think they would like to make more.  But somehow they have convinced us the system is fair. Worse?  They have kept it where few of us have any idea what is really going on.

Think too, about this little factoid while you view the below.  Koch Brothers’ Wealth Grew By $33 Billion in 3 Years As America’s Schools Report 1 Million Homeless Kids.

“In one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, the billionaire Koch brothers who habitually rail against government’s unfair burden on the wealthy, have almost doubled their net worth to a combined $64 billion.”

How much do they really need?  They could give every kid a cool Mill, and still be the fattest cats on the block.  But they won’t.  They are Capitalists.

Its not just “broken at the moment.”  It always has been.

Some of you may remember the kinder, gentler Capitalism that Workers demanded after the 1st Depression. But it is also plain to see the cycle began anew.  In history, Empires always fall because people get tired of serving Elites. And every gain made by workers has been violently opposed by the PTB – and won with the blood of the workers.  

Remember too, that while “regulation” may have been highest in the 1970’s and wages the most fair, there was still a broad segment of our society that has always endured poverty.  Urban blacks, Appalachian whites, recent immigrants all have had to live on the most meager of wages because in order for profits to work, somebody has to make next to nothing.  Miners.  Railroad builders.  The people in the fields that pick your food for you. Textile workers.  Sweat shops.

There has never been a time there were not slums in this country.  It is NOT because some people “don’t work hard enough.”  It is not because “some people are inherently less suited to succeed.”

It really is obvious that wealth begets wealth, and poverty begets poverty. The American Dream they sold you is largely myth. It is not only the lower education system being “locally tax based” thus inherently inferior in low income neighborhoods; but higher education is economically slated to be accessible only to those with high incomes, or those who borrow from those with high incomes (bankers) and are willing to enrich them even more in both interest rates paying off that loan, and as lower level lackeys working for them to pay it off.   Its more.  There is a class cronyism involved.  

If perhaps you have ever been, or been privy to the Upper Middle Class’s affairs:  Country Club meetings, high end Golf Outings, perhaps a Gallery Opening… you understand it is who you know more than what you know.  Consider that there is an almost exponentially tighter cronyism in the Millionare’s club, and the Billioniare’s?  You can’t get within a “billion” miles of it.  

They share opportunities among themselves, like builders in the UMC share contracts among themselves.  No matter how good a architect or builder your low income cousin is?  He will never get the city contract to create the new stadium unless he knows someone. Classes really help keep the next layer down, which serves the top just dandy.

This brings up a sub-point to this section. In the US the white middle to lower middle class uses the same cronyism to exclude people of color, except hiring them for the very lowest wage jobs.  For extraction capitalism to work?  Racism (and sexism) is part and parcel of the mechanics of it.  

We have always had a caste system here, the dots are as just as indelible, but painted with the supposedly invisible ink of racism and classism.  The land of opportunity keeps opportunities rare for the poor.

 

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The Myth of Repression.

The myth says we have the “greatest system on Earth” and “no other system can work!”  We hear it all the time:  Look at how repressive Russia was, how evil China is, how it brings dictators and loss of personal freedom.  Those were never truly non-capitalist states, they just became state capitalists with different elites.  I’ll let the scholars argue that one.  This is just you and I here, regular people, considering the sanity of thinking Capitalism sucks.

I’m not going to bore you with why I think they failed. I’ll just plant one idea.  If I started a company in Michigan to give away free electricity, how long do you think I would last before somehow my company imploded by outright sabotage, bad press, failed inspections via payola, if not assassination attempts on me? Nothing happens in a vacuum – and to a whole world of Elites living large?  There was nothing more dangerous than the idea of sharing the wealth. They were up against that.

Now, instead?  Think of the worst human rights violators in recent history.  For me, Saudis come to mind.  Women are stoned for being raped.  The poor have their hands cut off for stealing a loaf of bread.  That place is as Capitalist as they come.  The rich sell the oil and live in Palaces, the poor starve.

Pinochet who killed and tortured bazillions of his own? Not only a Capitalist, but OUR Capitalist!

I’m sure if you think about it – you can think of many more.

You really cannot have a Dictator without Capitalism – because it needs an untouchable Elite with the military might to keep people from rising against it. If people are free enough to control their own destinies, they would never vote for their own oppression.

(until here and now….)

Nothing Else Can WORK!

I know, for most of you, hearing the wisdom of dead guys from a time that is nothing like what we live in now makes your eyes roll back in your head.  I get it.  I’ve been reading some Marx, and if nothing else he was a dry and pedantic fucker who always took a thousand words to say what could be said in few.  Yet, for his time, he was brilliant and comprehensive.

Without getting all economic professor and mathy? Its pretty simple. I figure we ourselves not only create ALL wealth, we ARE wealth. Or value, or both. You get what I mean, even as an average Joe. They haven’t got shit without us.

If you light your grill with a matchstick?  Hours of work went into making it, and chances are only a couple people are getting rich off of it.  But matchsticks don’t grow on trees, they are made from them.  Someone cut the wood, someone else milled it down, someone trucked the raw materials, someone ground the toxic chemicals for the burn tip, someone ran the machine to dip them in, someone boxed it and someone shipped them out.

A lot of hours in that puppy, which lasts only seconds.  POOF! Matches are cheap, but trust me, even with mechanization, all kind of hands are on that match before you touch it. And the companies that make them make a good profit, or they no longer would.

Now the CEO of that company probably takes in 500k a year.  He didn’t invent it.  He didn’t design the machines.  He doesn’t run the machines. He never even touches them. All he does is find ways to pay less to make the matches, and make more off of selling them.  He is rewarded solely for screwing the people who make them, and the consumers into paying more than they are worth.  He doesn’t “work.”  He is paid for being a predator. You see, there are only 2 materials more or less (simplifying for example) so there is little budge room on that – the money is made on the fact matches don’t exist without human labor.  There is no product without us; hence we are really the real producer of all wealth.  All of it.  We just don’t get to keep it.

So, the “greatest system on Earth” is one in which we work our asses off to get a few guys rich, while begging to be paid enough to live on while creating the products that make them rich?  It doesn’t reward by merit and hard work.  Really.  It rewards whoever is the biggest greedhead.

Ponder it for a second:  If every time you had another couple over for dinner, they raced to get the biggest steak, power-slammed your beer, ate all the dessert before your kids could even have a tiny slice… I guarantee you would not invite the assholes over again.  Yet this is who we willingly serve with our work.  Greedheads.  Dig?

But competition is healthy!

Ahhh, the John Wayne theory of rugged individualism and the hardy pioneer.  They competed, the Indians died, and they “deserve” our respect for becoming ranchers and farmers.  Cue the cattle drive rushing to be the 1st to get your cattle to market!  Lets be faster, tougher, smarter, work harder!  Which all sounds fine and dandy until you are hungry and reaching for that biscuit you cooked, and some overstuffed idiot snatches it quicker than you, and you go hungry.  That is what competition is, what Capitalism does.

Actually, deep down, you know this is bullshit.  Sharing is good.  You learned it in kindergarten.  Thats why we donate to charities.  But wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate poverty instead?  We can’t get there by making more greedheads, that is, lifting the world into our aggressive form of industrial competition. To have winners, someone HAS to lose.

Here’s a thought. Maybe work isn’t the sainted ethic you think it is.  Maybe we could work way less and no one would go hungry.  Maybe all this work and consume, make crappy products that wear out so you have to buy more, and work to have the money to buy more is illusion – simply to keep the money pouring upward into that tower of which we spoke above.

We are in an age of extreme pollution, overpopulation and quickly dwindling resources.  The Capitalist model would rather have your local grocery chain throw out half their produce every week than lower prices. Heck, some places have made it illegal to collect rainwater, and certainly Monsanto wants it to be impossible to grow your own food.  Remember Victory Gardens?  They were before my time – but now you couldn’t plant one to feed your kids without paying someone royalties.  Does this seem sane to you?

We have the technology to produce lasting products, to create free renewable energy.  We have the capacity to not only grow, but deliver food to every person on Earth.  Picture buying a car or refrigerator than never broke.  A battery that would last forever.  Less landfills, no payments.  There is a reason we cannot have these things.  There is no profit for the very few in it.

There is a reason in the US, we send jobs to places like Bangledesh and let them toil for pennies in factories that kill them.  More profit for the few.

Here’s a question.  When garments were made in the US by Unions, they were still cheaper than they are now made for pennies.  Where did the “value” of their abuse go?  To you?  Hell no.  To the rich, and we enabled it on their blood.

Socialism means Too Much Government

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The government you have now?  Or the government by and for the People?  I see nothing wrong with using our collective pool of money (and that is what taxes are supposed to be) to serve ourselves the things we could not have alone.  

No one but the insane would want more of their already dwindling money to pay for taxes, right?  Yet, it is true that places with the highest taxes have the highest happiness ratings.  They never worry about illness – they have free healthcare.  They get free education.  They have no homelessness, while we now have more empty foreclosed upon homes than homeless here.

Right now, nearly every Social agreement we have has been PRIVATIZED – and we are doing worse than ever.  How is that “market” working out for you?  Not only that?  The profits – are theirs alone (private gains) while we bail out their losses! (publicize loss)  What a rip off!

You are not getting your money’s worth now for a reason.  The rich not only aren’t paying taxes, they are taking the lion’s share of our collective bank account out in subsidies and overblown contracts, all abetted by the Politicians they have purchased.



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This what Capitalism does.  It funnels to the top, then uses that money and power to codify laws to keep the power and money flowing to the top.

Socialism is DEMOCRATIC.  It does not allow for a system where private, self-interested people can accrue that much power.  Now, it doesn’t make you nationalize your small flower shop. It does create laws where you have to pay fairly and caps profits to a reasonable level.  It does nationalize the things that meet our basic needs:  BANKING, (so it cannot be predatory) utilities, education, health and housing.

To ever get to a more Communist world, Socialism is a necessary step.  People need to feel safe enough and become educated enough to create their own systems of cooperative effort.  I know, I know, the Capitalists are cringing and the pure Marxists are annoyed by that.  This is my opinion.  While the idea of people taking over factories is good, and owning their labor and sharing the fruits of what they create is grand – Marx was working toward Industrialization as a goal.  We need to become post-industrial.  Once we are, there will be less need for a Centralized Goverment.

Once we have a system that is more green, based on stability and sustainability, owning production would be a natural result.  Instead of “making a profit” for town A and competing for the market with town B – the goal should be providing said product A for their area and receiving product B in return for our own.

Still?  Less is more. There is no reason in the world that people need to work more than 20 hours a week – either in a field of their “calling” or as rotating voluntary service to keep infrastructure running.   While no model will ever cover the shoe fetish of some, nor the video-game addiction of others?  These extras could be “paid for” with labor.

I realize this is simplistic – but my goal here is to open eyes to the possibilities of another way, not argue to dust the minutia of implementing it.

But what of the lazy leeches?

“I want to do nothing when I grow up!” ~ said no child ever.

Prior to the industrial age, people had what I lovingly dub “callings.”  Healing, mechanical, building, music, art, a love of animals, or growing things.  I don’t think anyone ever wanted to be a miner.  But think – the need to dig in the earth for fossil fuels would be gone, and the value of rocks for pretty things – gold, diamonds, etc – all symbols of classology – would become far less valuable.  In a better world, who are you and what have you done to improve the world would be the bastion of esteem over what trinkets you own.

Sure, there will always be less desirable jobs.  Garbage removal. Sewer maintenance.  Cleaning. Those should be either paid a premium, or be mandatory volunteer for a short period in everyone’s life to access the benefits of society.  If you think that is ridiculous, the model of restaurant management makes sure that to be hired to that position, you do every job in the place for weeks before you get to manage it.  You have to have hands on empathy and the ability to provide the service to run a restaurant. Mostly done in case someone calls in?  It has created respect for the people they manage.

If you are using the public education system to be a brain surgeon?  Wonderful.  It won’t kill you to have to serve as janitorial staff for a semester part time while starting in your field.  See how that works?  Everyone begins to have mutual respect for the shoes of others.

Most people who do not work would prefer to.  They are just ill-fitted or ill-suited for the dehumanizing, unappreciated work they do.  Marx called this alienation. I call it round peg in square hole syndrome.  I would love to teach teenagers science, but never had the money for college.  I love working as a gardener, though it doesn’t pay well.  I have enjoyed working in inventory management and tool repair for the big three.  I am now too old and sore, but rocked out waitressing.  I hate cubicles and offices – I am entirely unsuited for sedentary work. I prefer to have to move around during my day. I used to love to work on cars, and can fix nearly everything.

Yet?  I cannot find work that will provide for my son and I in any of those fields.  Capitalism made them all too low paying.  Again, it’s what it does.  

Instead, most of us are related to producing or selling crap we don’t need to people who can’t afford it, who in turn have to do the same.  All to never really be SECURE in our homes or food or illness – so some few can be Bazillionaires.

A safety net for the infirm or those with special needs is a wonderful thing.  Is a person born with disabilities less worthy of food than you?

Its Capitalism that is crazy, not we, the Anti-Capitalists.

Consider two water tanks, if you will, sharing an endless cycle of refreshing one another.

Thats what we are about, really.

Its not scary.

Its not rocket science.

Its not un-doable, though those in the top tank would love you to think so.

Its having security, self-worth, cooperation, more free time and a greener planet.

Its about never, ever stamping someone into poverty to get ahead.

We have to end this insane extraction system and unify to “all of us”.

Join the Anti-Capitalist Group.

Here be Sanity!

Apr 28

Cartnoon

Apr 28

On This Day In History April 28

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 28 is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 247 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day, two events occurred involving the South Pacific. Separated by 158 years, one was a mutiny, the other a grand adventure.

Apr 28, 1789: Mutiny on the HMS Bounty Mutiny on the Bounty: The mutiny  was led by Fletcher Christian against the commanding officer, William Bligh. The sailors were attracted to the idyllic life on the Pacific island, and repelled by the alleged cruelty of their captain. Captain Bligh and 18 sailors were set a drift in the South Pacific, near the island of Tonga. Christian along with some of the mutineers and native Tahitians eventually settled on Pitcairn Island an uninhabited volcanic island about 1000 miles south of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained behind on Tahiti were eventually arrested and returned to England where three were hanged. The British never found Christian and the others. Captain Bligh and the 18 others eventually arrived in Timor.

Years later on 1808. am American whaling vessel discovered the colony of women and children led by the sole surviving mutineer, John Adams. The Bounty had been stripped and burned. Christian and the other 8 mutineers were dead. Adams was eventually granted amnesty and remained the patriarch of Pitcairn Island until his death in 1829.

1947 Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. His crew of six fellow Norwegians set sail from Peru on a raft constructed from balsa logs and other materials that were indigenous to the region at the time of the Spanish Conquistadors. After 101 days crossing over 400 miles they crashed into a reef at Raroia  in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. Heyerdahl’s book, “The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas”, became a best seller, the documentary won an Academy Award in 1951. The original raft is on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo. Heyerdahl died April 18, 2002 in Italy.

Apr 28

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Dhaka building collapse: Frantic effort to reach survivors

28 April 2013 Last updated at 07:42 GMT

Rescuers are frantically trying to save about nine people located in the wreckage of a collapsed factory complex in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

The BBC’s Anbarasan Ethirajan at the scene says it is a race against time before officials bring in heavy machinery.

He says the smell of decomposing bodies is making some rescuers ill.

More than 350 people have died since Wednesday’s disaster and hundreds more are missing.

On Sunday, two more people were pulled alive from the rubble of the eight-storey building in the suburb of Savar as the rescue operation entered its fifth day.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Election favourite’s daughter takes to the streets to win the heart of Punjab

Syria and sarin gas: US claims have a very familiar ring

North Korea set to stage major military drill

We are heading to Khartoum: Sudan rebels

U.S. role at a crossroads in Mexico’s intelligence war on the cartels

Apr 28

Pigs on the Wing


YEARS passed. The seasons came and went, the short animal lives fled by. A time came when there was no one who remembered the old days before the Rebellion, except Clover, Benjamin, Moses the raven, and a number of the pigs.

Muriel was dead; Bluebell, Jessie, and Pincher were dead. Jones too was dead-he had died in an inebriates’ home in another part of the country. Snowball was forgotten. Boxer was forgotten, except by the few who had known him. Clover was an old stout mare now, stiff in the joints and with a tendency to rheumy eyes. She was two years past the retiring age, but in fact no animal had ever actually retired. The talk of setting aside a corner of the pasture for superannuated animals had long since been dropped. Napoleon was now a mature boar of twenty-four stone. Squealer was so fat that he could with difficulty see out of his eyes. Only old Benjamin was much the same as ever, except for being a little greyer about the muzzle, and, since Boxer’s death, more morose and taciturn than ever.

There were many more creatures on the farm now, though the increase was not so great as had been expected in earlier years. Many animals had been born to whom the Rebellion was only a dim tradition, passed on by word of mouth, and others had been bought who had never heard mention of such a thing before their arrival. The farm possessed three horses now besides Clover. They were fine upstanding beasts, willing workers and good comrades, but very stupid. None of them proved able to learn the alphabet beyond the letter B. They accepted everything that they were told about the Rebellion and the principles of Animalism, especially from Clover, for whom they had an almost filial respect; but it was doubtful whether they understood very much of it.

The farm was more prosperous now, and better organised: it had even been enlarged by two fields which had been bought from Mr. Pilkington. The windmill had been successfully completed at last, and the farm possessed a threshing machine and a hay elevator of its own, and various new buildings had been added to it. Whymper had bought himself a dogcart. The windmill, however, had not after all been used for generating electrical power. It was used for milling corn, and brought in a handsome money profit. The animals were hard at work building yet another windmill; when that one was finished, so it was said, the dynamos would be installed. But the luxuries of which Snowball had once taught the animals to dream, the stalls with electric light and hot and cold water, and the three-day week, were no longer talked about. Napoleon had denounced such ideas as contrary to the spirit of Animalism. The truest happiness, he said, lay in working hard and living frugally.

Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer-except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs. Perhaps this was partly because there were so many pigs and so many dogs. It was not that these creatures did not work, after their fashion. There was, as Squealer was never tired of explaining, endless work in the supervision and organisation of the farm. Much of this work was of a kind that the other animals were too ignorant to understand. For example, Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called “files,” “reports,” “minutes,” and “memoranda.” These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace. This was of the highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said. But still, neither pigs nor dogs produced any food by their own labour; and there were very many of them, and their appetites were always good.

As for the others, their life, so far as they knew, was as it had always been. They were generally hungry, they slept on straw, they drank from the pool, they laboured in the fields; in winter they were troubled by the cold, and in summer by the flies. Sometimes the older ones among them racked their dim memories and tried to determine whether in the early days of the Rebellion, when Jones’s expulsion was still recent, things had been better or worse than now. They could not remember. There was nothing with which they could compare their present lives: they had nothing to go upon except Squealer’s lists of figures, which invariably demonstrated that everything was getting better and better. The animals found the problem insoluble; in any case, they had little time for speculating on such things now. Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse-hunger, hardship, and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life.

And yet the animals never gave up hope. More, they never lost, even for an instant, their sense of honour and privilege in being members of Animal Farm. They were still the only farm in the whole county-in all England!-owned and operated by animals. Not one of them, not even the youngest, not even the newcomers who had been brought from farms ten or twenty miles away, ever ceased to marvel at that. And when they heard the gun booming and saw the green flag fluttering at the masthead, their hearts swelled with imperishable pride, and the talk turned always towards the old heroic days, the expulsion of Jones, the writing of the Seven Commandments, the great battles in which the human invaders had been defeated. None of the old dreams had been abandoned. The Republic of the Animals which Major had foretold, when the green fields of England should be untrodden by human feet, was still believed in. Some day it was coming: it might not be soon, it might not be with in the lifetime of any animal now living, but still it was coming. Even the tune of Beasts of England was perhaps hummed secretly here and there: at any rate, it was a fact that every animal on the farm knew it, though no one would have dared to sing it aloud. It might be that their lives were hard and that not all of their hopes had been fulfilled; but they were conscious that they were not as other animals. If they went hungry, it was not from feeding tyrannical human beings; if they worked hard, at least they worked for themselves. No creature among them went upon two legs. No creature called any other creature “Master.” All animals were equal.

One day in early summer Squealer ordered the sheep to follow him, and led them out to a piece of waste ground at the other end of the farm, which had become overgrown with birch saplings. The sheep spent the whole day there browsing at the leaves under Squealer’s supervision. In the evening he returned to the farmhouse himself, but, as it was warm weather, told the sheep to stay where they were. It ended by their remaining there for a whole week, during which time the other animals saw nothing of them. Squealer was with them for the greater part of every day. He was, he said, teaching them to sing a new song, for which privacy was needed.

It was just after the sheep had returned, on a pleasant evening when the animals had finished work and were making their way back to the farm buildings, that the terrified neighing of a horse sounded from the yard. Startled, the animals stopped in their tracks. It was Clover’s voice. She neighed again, and all the animals broke into a gallop and rushed into the yard. Then they saw what Clover had seen.

It was a pig walking on his hind legs.

Yes, it was Squealer. A little awkwardly, as though not quite used to supporting his considerable bulk in that position, but with perfect balance, he was strolling across the yard. And a moment later, out from the door of the farmhouse came a long file of pigs, all walking on their hind legs. Some did it better than others, one or two were even a trifle unsteady and looked as though they would have liked the support of a stick, but every one of them made his way right round the yard successfully. And finally there was a tremendous baying of dogs and a shrill crowing from the black cockerel, and out came Napoleon himself, majestically upright, casting haughty glances from side to side, and with his dogs gambolling round him.

He carried a whip in his trotter.

There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything-in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened-they might have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of-

“Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!”

It went on for five minutes without stopping. And by the time the sheep had quieted down, the chance to utter any protest had passed, for the pigs had marched back into the farmhouse.



For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL

BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

After that it did not seem strange when next day the pigs who were supervising the work of the farm all carried whips in their trotters. It did not seem strange to learn that the pigs had bought themselves a wireless set, were arranging to install a telephone, and had taken out subscriptions to John Bull, TitBits, and the Daily Mirror. It did not seem strange when Napoleon was seen strolling in the farmhouse garden with a pipe in his mouth-no, not even when the pigs took Mr. Jones’s clothes out of the wardrobes and put them on, Napoleon himself appearing in a black coat, ratcatcher breeches, and leather leggings, while his favourite sow appeared in the watered silk dress which Mrs. Jones had been used to wear on Sundays.



An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Apr 28

CISPA IS Dead, For Now

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

CISPA Kitty photo blog_cispacat_zps96b502e5.jpgThe Senate will not vote on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, CISPA, that was passed by the House last week.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, “believes that information sharing is a key component of cybersecurity legislation, but the Senate will not take up CISPA,” a committee staffer told HuffPost.

A staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee said the committee also is working on an information-sharing bill and will not take up CISPA.

“We are currently drafting a bipartisan information sharing bill and will proceed as soon as we come to an agreement,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

CISPA Is ‘Dead for Now,’ Thanks to a Left-Right Coalition for Online Privacy

by John Nichols, The Nation

What brings the most seriously libertarian Republican in the US House, Michigan’s Justin Amash, together with Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota?

What unites long-time Ronald Reagan aide Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, with liberal firebrand Alan Grayson, D-Florida?

What gets steadily conservative former House Judiciary Committee chair James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, together with progressive former House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan?

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which has for 222 years promised that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

That’s an old commitment that members of Congress swear an oath to uphold. [..]

CISPA actually won 288 “yes” votes in the House, but the 127 “no” votes-coming from principled members on both sides of the aisle-sent a strong message to the more deliberative Senate. In combination with a grassroots campaign spearheaded by tech-savvy privacy activists and a threatened veto by President Obama, the bipartisan House opposition appears to have convinced Senate leaders have signaled that they plan to put the legislation on hold. The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday suggestion that CISPA looks to be “dead for now.”

ACLU: CISPA Is Dead (For Now)

By Jason Koebler, US News

The Senate will not take up the controversial cybersecurity bill, is drafting separate legislation

“I think it’s dead for now,” says Michelle Richardson, legislative council with the ACLU. “CISPA is too controversial, it’s too expansive, it’s just not the same sort of program contemplated by the Senate last year. We’re pleased to hear the Senate will probably pick up where it left off last year.”

That’s not to say Congress won’t pass any cybersecurity legislation this year. Both Rockefeller and President Obama want to give American companies additional tools to fight back against cyberattacks from domestic and foreign hackers.

But cybersecurity legislation in the Senate, such as the Cybersecurity and American Cyber Competitiveness Act of 2013, has greater privacy protections than CISPA does. Richardson says that bill makes it clear that companies would have to “pull out sensitive data [about citizens]” before companies send it to the government and also puts the program under “unequivocal civilian control,” something CISPA author Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., was unwilling to do.

Even if the Senate gets something done, Rogers and other CISPA supporters will likely have to compromise more than they’ve been willing to over the past year as Obama has made it clear he will veto legislation that doesn’t have more privacy protections.

CISPA Is Dead. Now Let’s Do a Cybersecurity Bill Right

by Julian Sanchez, Wired

Americans have grown so accustomed to hearing about the problem of “balancing privacy and security” that it sometimes feels as though the two are always and forever in conflict – that an initiative to improve security can’t possibly be very effective unless it’s invading privacy. Yet the conflict is often illusory: A cybersecurity law could easily be drafted that would accomplish all the goals of both tech companies and privacy groups without raising any serious civil liberties problems.

Few object to what technology companies and the government say they want to do in practice: pool data about the activity patterns of hacker-controlled “botnets,” or the digital signatures of new viruses and other malware. This information poses few risks to the privacy of ordinary users. Yet CISPA didn’t authorize only this kind of narrowly limited information sharing. Instead, it gave companies blanket immunity for feeding the government vaguely-defined “threat indicators” – anything from users’ online habits to the contents of private e-mails – creating a broad loophole in all federal and state privacy laws and even in private contracts and user agreements.

Given that recent experience has shown companies shielded by secrecy often err on the side of oversharing with the government, that loophole was a key concern. So why the gap between what the law permits and its supporters’ aims?

It’s a principle wonks call tech neutrality. Nobody wants to write a bill that refers too specifically to the information needed to protect current networks (like “Internet Protocol addresses” or “Netflow logs”) since technological evolution would render such language obsolete over time.

Apr 28

What We Now Know

In this week’s segment of “What We Know Now,” Up’s new host Steve Kornacki the human element in how our clothes are made and the collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh that killed 340 people. His guest Starlee Kine, contributor to “This American Life;” Ed Cox, chairman of the NY Republican State Comittee; former Rep. Nan Hayworth, (R-NY); and Timothy Naftali, former Director of the Nixon Presidential Library discuss what they have learned this week

Bangladesh factory collapse: police detain owners, as death toll exceeds 350

by Syed Zain Al-Mahmood in Dhaka for The Guardian

Reports of workers being ordered to Rana Plaza building on day before collapse despite cracks appearing and jolts being felt

Police in Bangladesh have detained two factory owners for criminal negligence over the deaths of at least 352 workers at an eight-storey building that collapsed on Wednesday – a day after warnings had been given that it was unsafe.

Two engineers who had been involved in issuing building permits for the Rana Plaza complex in Savar, just north of Dhaka, were also being held. The owner of the building was being sought by police, who have put border authorities on alert and arrested his wife in an attempt to bring him out of hiding.

On Saturday around 30 survivors were found and police say that as many as 900 people remain missing, trapped dead and alive under the twisted steel and concrete, through which rescue teams were still searching last night using electric drills, shovels, crowbars and their bare hands. Anger at the collapse has sparked days of protests and clashes, with police on Saturday using teargas, water cannon and rubber bullets on demonstrators who burned cars.

French Gay Marriage Bill Approved By France’s Parliament

from Huffington Post

Gay marriage has been legalised by the French parliament on Tuesday after weeks of divisive national debate on the issue.

The Socialist-majority assembly passed the measure by a large margin of 331-225.

Despite large and vocal public protests against same-sex marriage, polls suggest 55-60% of the public are in favour, reports the BBC.

And Then There Were Ten

by Dorothy J. Samuels, The New York Times

Rhode Island’s Senate – including all five Republican members – voted 26-12 on Wednesday in favor of legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry. Once Gov. Lincoln Chafee signs the bill, which is expected to happen next week, marriage equality will be the law in every New England state (Rhode Island plus Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine) – a meaningful victory for civil rights and a proud distinction for the region.

Apr 28

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