Ask me how I know.
The sequester, the big process now imposing austerity measures across the federal government, is also having an impact on ricin trials in the US, a few of which are waiting to go forward.
Sequester has hit federal public defender offices, closing some of them one day a week, across the country, to keep the books balanced.
This includes public defenders tasked with defending the few number of Americans arrested and accused of making ricin.
Ricin cases have never moved quickly. Austerity makes the wheels of justice turn even more slowly.
And this slightly related news from AP:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Wednesday that the Pentagon may have to mothball up to three Navy aircraft carriers and order additional sharp reductions in the size of the Army and Marine Corps if Congress doesn’t act to avoid massive budget cuts beginning in 2014.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters, and indirectly to Congress, Hagel said that the full result of the sweeping budget cuts over the next 10 years could leave the nation with an ill-prepared, under-equipped military doomed to face more technologically advanced enemies.
More technologically advanced enemies. How do you even say or write this kind of horseshit with a straight face.
Who are these enemies and where might they be? Alpha Centauri?
Somehow, we’re still here. There are a few exceptions — Baja Ranch markets, being one. If you don’t bring your own bag, you can pay a dime for a paper one. At BR, it’s a plastic bag. Not sure how that got worked.
I hadn’t really kept track of the opposition to plastic bag bans because it’s government tyranny movement, but — of course — it exists.
Banning plastic bags, you see, is not only stupid but increases shoplifting. And illness.
The sharing economy: American tech industry euphemism for the creation of an economy in which the top 1 percent gets all the share.
From the web, statistics on the sharing economy and Pandora’s royalty payment schedule:
David Lowery, of bands like Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, is an outspoken critic of Pandora and other services that use so-called compulsory licenses to broadcast music over the Internet.
The idea of compulsory licenses is set out in U.S. copyright law, and it basically allows Pandora and similar services to stream just about any song they want so long as they pay a fixed royalty on each song. Pandora has argued that it is losing money because these royalties are too high, while songwriters like Lowery say they are only making a pittance from the royalties.
In an effort to demonstrate his side of the argument, Lowery has revealed his recent royalty payments for the 1994 Cracker hit “Low.”
Records show that in the last quarter, the song was streamed around 1.16 million times on Pandora, for which the band splits $42.25 in songwriting royalties. Lowery’s share is $16.89. So he earned about $.000015 per play of the song on Pandora.
The article goes on to mention that while one million plays is a lot, it is not similar to the model of traditional radio — which pays much higher royalties — where a single play can reach many, even millions, of listeners.
This is true. But virtually zero percent of any number, large or small, is still virtually zero. And this business model, at its rate of payment, constitutes theft.
Lowery argues that it’s not the artists’ fault that Pandora is not a profitable business.
Last week, here, I mentioned that Spotify, another streaming music service, pays half a cent a tune.
The repeated lesson from the sharing economy is now crystal clear:
The owners of capital make all the swag from the tools of digital distribution … The magic of the corporate technological revolution is that it does not result in progress. The software applications merely make the collection of monopoly rents on content production globally efficient. Simply by holding the distribution networks and applications, remuneration can be reduced to record low levels …
Google is already in the music-streaming business and Apple will follow.
None of these giant globe-spanning companies engage in artist discovery or development. That risk is pushed onto all those dragooned into furnishing musical content for them.
I share David Lowery’s contempt for the Internet economy of digital music. It’s one of the worst examples of how digital progress, used the wrong way, has made a winner-take-all society. I would applaud if Pandora (as well as Spotify et al) were destroyed.
The sound of someone’s brain crumbling, plus friends, you don’t have to listen to all 100 minutes.
Chief Kessler: “I don’t run with the mainstream … I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon shoved in my ass.”
Terry from Ohio: “Our mayor is in league with the Muslims, the Turks … they’re all over the place, they’re coming in like hordes.”
Chief Kessler: “I started a national movement nullifying all gun control laws.”
A couple select quotes from national security megaplex 1-percenters at the Aspen Security Forum:
NSA director Keith Alexander: “Make no mistake about it: These are great people who we’re slamming and tarnishing and it’s wrong. They’re the heroes, not this other and these leakers!”
“The bad guys…hide amongst us to kill our people. Our job is to stop them without impacting your civil liberties and privacy and these programs are set up to do that … The reason we use secrecy is not to hide it from the American people, but to hide it from the people who walk among you and are trying to kill you …”
Mike Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCC) and lawyer for Palantir, tech spying software contractor for the NSA: “Just seeing us here …that inspires confidence, because we’re not a bunch of ogres.”
When you’re protesting you’re “not a bunch of ogres,” it’s a tacit admission of self-consciousness over moral standing in the national security megaplex.
Army general and NSA director Keith Alexander is a special case. As someone who publicly tries to pass off the fiction that Chinese cyber-espionage is the “greatest transfer of wealth in history” at a time of great personal hardship for millions of Americans he is easy to portray as socially tone deaf on a grand scale, someone at the top of the national security pyramid pursuing and building things which are only of importance to the mandarins, corporate and government.
Alexander cannot even capitalize on the normal faux reverence Americans show for all things military. Despite the chest of decorations, he is colorless even in a corps of military men characterized by their appearance as government technocrats serving time until their tickets are punched in the private sector.
And he’s going to rightly have the “greatest transfer of wealth in history” quote hung on him until he’s retired.
As a refresher, from just this morning on the salient problems facing this country in 2013:
46.2 million people in poverty
“Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.”
“Marriage rates are in decline across all races, and the number of white mother-headed households living in poverty has risen to the level of black ones.”
From the census: “[People] ages 35-45 had a 17 percent risk of encountering poverty during the 1969-1989 time period; that risk increased to 23 percent during the 1989-2009 period. For those ages 45-55, the risk of poverty jumped from 11.8 percent to 17.7 percent.”
Comparative statistics, Keith Alexander’s salary: somewhere between 230,000 and 290,000/year.
Amount spent on the military and homeland security during the war on terror: $8 trillion.
The annual Aspen Security Forum, make no mistake, is for the privileged in American society, those who work as the peddlers and crafters of the national security megaplex. It has more in common with a summer festival for wealth in Monaco than anything the American citizenry might experience.
And therein lies a central dilemma in any attempt to restore prosperity, genuine security and fairness in the country. They’re a big part of the problem.
The A-list at the Aspen Security Rent-Seeker Forum — from Cryptome.
PARIAH: “To steal from the poors to give to the rich.”
By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.
By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity …
“There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front,” said some expert to the news agency.
White alienation. Geez. That’s what it will take to start the food riots, eh?
Big version. Do statistics belong in modern folk art?
The Pariah collection.
PARIAH: “Dedicated to bringing it all down on your heads.”
More in the fine satirical art series.
From NY Mag:
The Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, but one of the novel developments of the Obama years is its embrace of procedural extremism. The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all. In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses—partisanship, obstruction, gridlock—don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists.
And the worst is not behind us.
“The reign of the Republican House has not yet inflicted any deep or permanent disaster on the country, but it looks like it is just a matter of time,” it concludes.
Hat tip to Frank and Pine View Farm.
Full size Pariah magazine.
Mick Farren, UK rocker, author and troublemaker, passed away while performing onstage with his old band, the Deviants.
As a young man I bought Deviants albums, along with his later solo releases, Screwed Up and Vampires Stole My Lunch Money, the latter of which featured charming titles “Half Price Drinks,” “I Want a Drink,” and “Drunk in the Morning,” a trilogy that communicated a certain amount of personal biography.
When I first moved to southern California, Farren was living in LA and writing a weekly column for the long since gone Los Angeles Reader, an alternative newsweekly.
Here’s a bit from the David Frost show, with Farren explaining how he injected a bit of craziness into the Isle of Wight rock festival in 1969.
And here is an excerpt from one of Farren’s book, one which I bought, entitled The Black Leather Jacket:
“It was all too obvious that (the black leather jacket) was my provisional membership card to the Bad Boys … I’m sure my normally level-headed mother saw it as the first rash step down the slippery slope that led all the way to drugs, degradation and cheap women. So, for that matter, did I.
“… I struggled into what was going to be my first cool leather garment. The leather creaked with newness and smelled like the interior of a factory fresh car … My legs seemed longer, my shoulders broader … I looked so damn cool. Mother of God, I was a cross between Elvis and Lord Byron!”
I see it everyday crossing the el Molino bridge. (You have to live here.)
Anyway, from the LA Times:
In a new critique of how minorities are treated in the Antelope Valley, a judge has ruled that Palmdale violated state voting laws by maintaining an election system that stymied Latinos and blacks from winning office.
The judge’s findings come a month after the U.S. Justice Department accused Palmdale, Lancaster and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department of a systematic effort to discriminate against minorities who received low-income subsidized housing.
Federal officials said deputies conducted widespread unlawful searches of homes, improper detentions and used unreasonable force that specifically targeted blacks and Latinos …
Judge Mark V. Mooney, in an opinion released this week, concluded that Palmdale’s at-large voting system for its city council violated state law because the city has “racially polarized voting” and minority voters are unable to influence the outcome of elections.
The judge agreed with plaintiff Juan Jauregui, who argued that Palmdale had not adequately followed the California Voting Rights Act, which requires district rather than citywide elections if there is any evidence of racially polarized voting, and if it can be shown that a minority district can be drawn. Palmdale is 54.4% Latino and nearly 15% black yet has only elected one Latino city council member and never a black council member in its history, said Jauregui’s attorney, R. Rex Parris. Parris is also the mayor of Lancaster.
“The current absence of any Latinos or African Americans on the Palmdale City Council reveals a lack of access to the political process” …
This Los Angeles Times map of how LA County voted shows the voting polarization. LA County went heavily for Obama.
But in the high desert, which is where Palmdale and the neighboring
town of Lancaster sit, the black and Hispanic voters are in roughly
two distinct areas, surrounded by red. The blue areas tend to urban and are more densely populated.
A link to the map which is zoom-able and and searchable by city
is here. Once you’ve zoomed in, you can mouse over various precincts to see the voting results.
The Republican Party works voter suppression wherever it can get it, even at the most local level.
From the wires, news of yet another tv series on the Culture of Lickspittle phenomenon known as bigfoot:
“When I saw this, it truly blew my mind,” [the creator of a new bigfoot reality show] told Yahoo! TV. “It’s not my world, but there’s all different kinds of DNA, obviously, like hair, fur, saliva, stuff that maybe scraped off onto branches … scat is obviously a very big piece [of evidence] in the woods. And for the scat, it’s so crazy that it can be determined, within several hours, what animal it has come from, very specifically, through the DNA sequencing. And even when samples are found, our experts have this knowledge … and in the lab, there’s a textbook that is just filled with pictures of various kinds of scat, from every animal. It shows the picture of the animal, the shape of the scat … it’s all really crazy, but hearing all these folks talk about it is fascinating.”
Basing your show on a hunt for bigfoot dung. Science! For Idiots! Who Enjoy Video of Seeing Other People Stepping into Cow Patties & Other Places Where People Took a Dump in the Woods!
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