It is incredibly disturbing to hear the Obama White House brand Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as “criminals” when they haven’t even been CHARGED with a crime, let alone convicted of one. Once again Obama and his corrupt crew demonstrate their hostility to whistle-blowers.
To get the record straight, the guy who’s been identified has been charged. (Assange has also been charged with some pretty serious crimes, though this isn’t relevant to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks itself has probably not done anything criminal. It is simply publishing and passing on information it received. There have been efforts to make this sort of thing illegal—but they haven’t survived First Amendment challenges. Unless WikiLeaks bribed somebody to release information, they’re probably fine. After all, most of us got our information from the leak through mainstream news outlets. If WikiLeaks is “criminal,” what separates their behavior from that of the New York Times. (Aside from the obvious fact that Gibbs can call WikiLeaks “criminal” with relative impunity.)
I don’t fault the State Department for its anger at WikiLeaks. Calling WikiLeaks names is a reasonable way to distract from the real embarrassment. The State Department couldn’t keep its secret stuff secret. This time WikiLeaks told the world about the leak. The next time it could be a foreign government. Or, more likely, the last time it was a foreign government.
Legal eagles correct me if necessary, but wasn’t this pretty much settled with the Pentagon Papers case?
Look, the claim that this leak harms national security is a red herring. Period. I can understand state secrets when they concern lives at stake, such as Geraldo Rivera revealing troop locations (on air! on Fox!), or government officials outing undercover CIA agents (wait, who did that again?). But publishing papers leaked by officials that detail malfeasance on a massive scale? That’s not about state secrets, or at least it shouldn’t be. No, that’s about a free press holding our government accountable. In other words, doing it’s job.
Fiji Water announced today that it will close its operations in Fiji in response to a water extraction tax hike proposed by the Fijian government, to take effect in 2011. The abrupt shutdown comes just three days after the government announced the 2011 budget, which proposes increasing Fiji Water’s “extraction tax” to 15 cents a liter up from one-third of a cent.
Nowhere in Fiji Water’s glossy marketing materials will you find reference to the typhoid outbreaks that plague Fijians because of the island’s faulty water supplies; the corporate entities that Fiji Water has—despite the owners’ talk of financial transparency—set up in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg; or the fact that its signature bottle is made from Chinese plastic in a diesel-fueled plant and hauled thousands of miles to its ecoconscious consumers. And, of course, you won’t find mention of the military junta for which Fiji Water is a major source of global recognition and legitimacy.
I quit drinking bottled water over 2 years ago. If you don’t like the tap water where you live, use a filter like Brita. Save money, plastic, and of course stop these corporations from profiting on what should be free: water.
“You would think the rich might care, if not from empathy, then from reading history. Ultimately gross inequality can be fatal to civilization. In his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, the Pulitzer Prize-winning anthropologist Jared Diamond writes about how governing elites throughout history isolate and delude themselves until it is too late. He reminds us that the change people inflict on their environment is one of the main factors in the decline of earlier societies. For example: the Mayan natives on the Yucatan peninsula who suffered as their forest disappeared, their soil eroded, and their water supply deteriorated. Chronic warfare further exhausted dwindling resources. Although Mayan kings could see their forests vanishing and their hills eroding, they were able to insulate themselves from the rest of society. By extracting wealth from commoners, they could remain well-fed while everyone else was slowly starving. Realizing too late that they could not reverse their deteriorating environment, they became casualties of their own privilege. Any society contains a built-in blueprint for failure, Diamond warns, if elites insulate themselves from the consequences of their decisions, separated from the common life of the country.”—
I think about bringing Jared Diamond’s work up every time a conservative tries to defend the growing income inequality but then I realize that the level of nuance couldn’t possibly be communicated to someone that’s already got a reflexively combative attitude toward anyone that doesn’t have the Fox seal of approval.
Last Sunday’s New York Times had a front-page article on the horrible negative effects that technology has on kids’ brains. The central character in the piece, Vishal, is a high school student from California who can’t manage to get through his summer reading assignment (Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle) because he’s addicted to the constant pinging and flashing of YouTube and Facebook.
“I click and something happens,” he says, explaining that, by comparison, reading a book or doing homework is less exciting. “I guess it goes back to the immediate gratification thing.”
His grades have suffered noticeably, he’s opted for fewer advanced classes this year (but he still isn’t succeeding, we learn), and he probably won’t be able to get into any of the colleges he hopes to attend. But he’s getting really, really good at making YouTube videos.
It would be easy, of course, to say that technology is to blame here, especially since scientists have studied the developing brains of young people and concluded that their constant switching from one electronic device or application to another is having a noticeable impact on their attention spans.
But, of course, we shouldn’t be so hasty to simply put the problem squarely on the shoulders of our computers, cell phones, and video game consoles. The piece, if read carefully, isn’t really about technology doing bad things to your child’s brain, but that would be the easiest way to read it. It’s also, or perhaps mostly, about being a parent who takes an active role in your child’s life and makes the unpopular decision that, no, you can’t spend four hours playing video games after school, even if that decision makes you a Grumpy Gus.
The $2,000 computer Vishal is using is state of the art and only a week old. It represents a concession by his parents. They allowed him to buy it, despite their continuing concerns about his technology habits, because they wanted to support his filmmaking dream. “If we put roadblocks in his way, he’s just going to get depressed,” his mother says. Besides, she adds, “he’s been making an effort to do his homework.”
Now maybe I’m being dense.
But, really, the problem isn’t that the student would rather be making videos on his computer than reading (though, admittedly, as someone who loves to read, that seems like an intrinsic problem). A lot of young people (and even some old people) would rather play video games or scroll through friends’ pictures on Facebook than read Vonnegut.
To my mind, the problem is that the parents haven’t said something to the effect of: “First, you do your school work and then you can use the computer for a certain, limited amount of time. And if you don’t like that arrangement, you can do your school work and then not use your computer at all.”
Instead, they say things like this:
“If you’re not on top of technology, you’re not going to be on top of the world,” said John McMullen, 56, a retired criminal investigator whose son, Sean, is one of five friends in the group Vishal joins for lunch each day.
Sean’s favorite medium is video games; he plays for four hours after school and twice that on weekends. He was playing more but found his habit pulling his grade point average below 3.2, the point at which he felt comfortable. He says he sometimes wishes that his parents would force him to quit playing and study, because he finds it hard to quit when given the choice.
I submit that Vishal’s parents probably shouldn’t have rewarded his poor academic performance with a $2,000 computer. And that it’s possible for Sean to be “on top of technology” without playing video games thirty-six hours a week. And that it’s desperately sad that these kids actually want their parents to step in and provide some rules, and that their parents are unwilling to do so. But maybe Sean’s dad will get the hint now that his son has told him about the problem on the front page of the New York Times.
If you HAD to fly for some emergency, how would you go about it?
I'm going to see my family (who I haven't seen in months) for Christmas, and the only way I can get there is flying. Of course, I have to either permit myself to the scan or the touchy-touchy (which is the route I'm going to choose... I GUESS).
What would you do? :)
I would go through the scan I suppose, since us little people can’t afford to charter or purchase our own planes.
ummm I dunno, depends on one’s point of view, I suppose. I was a bit of a troublemaker when I was younger, so I’ve done some things I would definitely not do now, and that I’m not proud of. But I don’t really want to reveal them here, as many of them were hrrmm illegal.
Suffice to say, I have done some stupid shit in my day, but not for almost 20 years.
Since you're crying about it, I'll throw you a bone.
If you're not happy with the job you're working at the moment, what else have you considered doing? What field do you think you'd be most at home in, or could help out the most? Get deep, motherfucker. I'm expecting revelations here.
Well I plan on returning to school in the spring and majoring in either economics or political science, but with the way things are going here in the states I may change things up to make it easier to emigrate, perhaps to Japan or who knows where. So if I decide on that, I may stick with the computer stuff to make myself more marketable.
Have you ever come to the conclusion that while your job isn't necessarily bad, and it may actually help some people...
In the end, it’s still unimportant and no one would really notice whether you were doing it or not?
Well I’m at that point right now. I guess it’s a step up, from doing a job that made me feel like I needed to wash my soul off when I got home everyday. And before that, I was basically an automaton, loading trailers and shit. But still, I have always felt like I should be doing something more important. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m definitely in a rut. Having to participate in the rat race just to keep food on the table and a roof over your head can turn even the most avid thinker/humanitarian/activist into a slave.