“In other words: Political money and hence influence at the top levels is disproportionately white, male, and with almost no social context that includes significant numbers of African Americans and other people of color. This is why money isn’t speech. Freedom of speech as a functional element in democratic life assumes that such freedom can be meaningfully deployed. But the unleashing of yet more money into politics allows a very limited class of people to drown out the money “speech” of everyone else—but especially those with a deep, overwhelmingly well documented history of being denied voice and presence in American political life.”
— Ta-Nehisi Coates, on John Roberts and the color of money
2:24 pm • 17 April 2014 • 541 notes
Warren warns against civilian deaths in warfare — but no mention of drones
While Warren’s rhetoric against civilian casualties was strong, she avoided the topic of drones completely — an omission that seemed calculated to avoid a conflict with the White House over a signature policy.
“The real point now is to take that lesson on up the chain of command,” Warren said. “This has to be something in my view that has to be absorbed into the military and into our leadership. We need to have this as part of our national conversation. That’s true for all of us, so I see this as a question of responsibility borne not just by those in the field, but responsibility borne by all of us”
2:24 pm • 16 April 2014
“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all—by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians—be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us. How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.”
— Wendell Berry
11:12 am • 2 April 2014 • 95 notes
"What I wish Americans knew about Morocco"
A few months ago, I received an email from an old friend asking how I am and where in the world I am these days. When I replied that I live in Morocco, he said: “Holy crap, I can’t believe you live alone in Muslim-land, you’re much braver than I would be.”
I didn’t reply to that email. I was too upset. […]
This is my chance to explain.
2:25 pm • 31 March 2014 • 2 notes
“As I watched the white mobs in green on Saturday night, I was struck by the lack of law enforcement. I can personally recall several family cookouts, block parties, birthday parties and informal gatherings of black and brown family members and friends in which multiple men and women in uniform and police cars and even police dogs showed up. How over one hundred drunk people could be loitering on a major street and not one police officer be noticeably present was astonishing. It was also a reminder of the kind of society that we live in. To most of America, more than one Black/Latino standing next to each other wearing the same color equals gang, threat, flash mob. Not drink specials, themed parties, and excused belligerence. You call it St. Patrick’s Day; I call it white privilege — or being white in Philadelphia and America.”
— J.N. Salters on being white in Philly on St. Patrick’s Day weekend
10:08 pm • 18 March 2014 • 1 note
“The enmity between the American government and the peoples of the world is an old case. Why is the United States always trying to use force to implement its agendas?”
— Libyan militia leader Abu Khattala says on the anti-Western sentiment, specifically directed to the United States, across the world
9:07 pm • 3 January 2014 • 26 notes
“It’s a major metropolitan area run by armed teenagers with no access to jobs or healthy food, and not long ago, while the rest of America was ranting about debt ceilings and Obamacares, Camden quietly got pushed off the map. That was three years ago, when new governor and presumptive future presidential candidate Chris Christie abruptly cut back on the state subsidies that kept Camden on life support. The move left the city almost completely ungoverned – a graphic preview of what might lie ahead for communities that don’t generate enough of their own tax revenue to keep their lights on. Over three years, fires raged, violent crime spiked and the murder rate soared so high that on a per-capita basis, it ‘put us somewhere between Honduras and Somalia,’ says Police Chief J. Scott Thomson”
— Rolling Stone publishes a piece on Camden, New Jersey, a town they call “America’s most desperate town.”
8:30 am • 16 December 2013 • 243 notes
Public universities should be free
A better way to compare public and private would be to consider the difference between public roads and toll roads. Some toll roads are owned and operated by state governments, and some by the private sector. But does the driver care who owns the road? I doubt it; the important thing is whether the road is free and open to all, or whether it can be used only by those who can afford to drive on it. The same is true of public and private universities: a university is “public” only if those who need to use it can do so.
In this sense, it seems to me that the malaise that afflicts our public universities is not really about about dollars and cents. If this country can build the world’s largest military and fight open-ended wars in multiple theaters across the globe, it can find a way to pay for public education, as it once did, in living memory. But doing so has ceased being a real priority. Affordable “public education” is no longer something we expect, demand or take for granted; to argue that public education should be free makes you sound like an absurd and unrealistic utopian. Meanwhile, we take it for granted that roads should be free to drive on, a toll-road here or there not withstanding. You provide the car and the gas; the state provides the road.
This used to be how we thought about our public universities, before they became exorbitant toll roads: if you had the grades and the ambition, there was a classroom open to you. But if every road was a toll road, no one would expect to drive for free. If every road was a toll road, the very idea that the government would build and maintain a massive system of roads and highways — and then let anyone use it (for free!) — would seem fantastical, ridiculous, even perverse. Anyone expecting the right to drive anywhere they pleased, for free, would be branded a utopian, a socialist, a deluded and soft-hearted liberal demanding a free lunch. That’s the world we live in when it comes to highways: when the roads that drive our economy and make modern life possible get too crowded or too congested, we expect the state to build new roads. When the old roads wear out, they are re-paved; when a tree or a landslide obstructs a thoroughfare, the state clears the way. When there are not enough classrooms, on the other hand, the state no longer builds new universities; it simply charges more.
2:24 pm • 13 December 2013 • 3 notes
“My personal opinion is that they executed Bin Laden. If you strip it down, what you had is an unarmed elderly man, in his bedroom, shot in the face by the most elite force in the world. Almost everything that the White House officials told us that happened in the compound that night turned out to be a total fabrication. I would have loved to have seen Bin Laden put on trial for his crimes. He had been indicted, in the 1990s, and was a reprehensible criminal, but I don’t believe for one second they were given orders to capture him, I think the whole point was to kill him. I wasn’t like, boo hoo, Bin Laden’s dead, but I wasn’t jumping. America’s a very nationalistic country, and in episodes like that of his death, it becomes jingoism. People are drinking, dancing in the street, chanting USA like they’re at the World Cup, like they won it… It’s sick that we turned it into a sporting event.”
— Jeremy Scahill
8:48 pm • 12 December 2013 • 2 notes
“I cast another absentee ballot for Obama. And this time, when he won, I felt my hope a little more absent as well.”
— I’m a Millennial and I’m disappointed in Obama
8:48 pm • 11 December 2013 • 1 note
Xbox Live among game services targeted by US and UK spy agencies
NSA and GCHQ collect gamers’ chats and deploy real-life agents into World of Warcraft and Second Life
The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which boasts more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games’ tech-friendly users.
Online gaming is big business, attracting tens of millions of users world wide who inhabit their digital worlds as make-believe characters, living and competing with the avatars of other players. What the intelligence agencies feared, however, was that among these clans of innocent elves and goblins, terrorists were lurking.
The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a “target-rich communications network” where intelligence targets could “hide in plain sight.”
Games, the analyst wrote “are an opportunity!”
Spying on video games. Spying on virtual worlds.
2:24 pm • 10 December 2013 • 1 note
Intel chair warns of 'huge malevolence'
Americans are in more danger of terrorist attacks than ever before, the leaders of congressional intelligence panels said on Sunday.
“The threat level has never been more diverse than it is today,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.”
“The more efforts [extremists] try, the more perfect you have to be in trying to stop something, and that’s a challenge,” he said.
“There are more groups than ever and there is huge malevolence out there,” Feinstein said. “The fatalities are way up, the numbers [of attacks] are way up.”
New updates in the intelligence field say America is under grave danger of different kinds of terrorist attacks, the U.S. intelligence committee shares. Feinstein also adds, “There is a real displaced aggression within this fundamentalist, jihadist Islamic community. And that is, the West is responsible for all the things that are going wrong.”
And I don’t know about the whole blaming the Islamic community; aren’t there jihads that aren’t Islamist? Rather bad on her part.
5:36 pm • 3 December 2013 • 37 notes