Sunday, March 12, 2017

Turkey Massacres Its Kurds

Thomas Riggins

Reading this could give you a sense of déjà vu as the UN is describing exactly the same type of behavior by the Turks as is described as being done by the Syrian government and what the US and its allies do in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan with drone strikes and bombings. Kudos to the NYT for reporting this. The US government will not make this a major issue, as with Syria, because Turkey is a NATO ally and in any case the US only pretends to care about "human rights" and only makes a major issue about them with governments it doesn't support. One of the reasons we gave for going into Iraq was that Saddam Hussein was "killing his own people" (the Kurds)-- I don't think the Turks need to worry about killing their own people (the Kurds) as they lack one thing that Saddam had -- oil.

Turkish security forces also caused 500,000 people to be displaced in a campaign of torture, rape and destruction, a new report says.

Saturday, March 04, 2017



I make no judgements. 
I only ask "why?"
Why does Russia have to give back the Crimea?
Why does Israel get to keep the West Bank and Golan Heights?
Why can Turkey keep its puppet government in Cyprus?
Why is it ok for the US to arm rebel groups in Syria?
Why are the Russians bad for arming rebel groups in Ukraine?
Why do Russian bombs deliberately kill civilians?
Why do American bombs only accidentally kill civilians?
Why were Islamists freedom fighters against the Russians in Afghanistan?
Why are Islamists terrorist fighters against the Americans in Afghanistan?
Why are Russia and China always wrong to veto US proposals in the UN?
Why is the US always right to veto Russian and Chinese proposals in the UN?
Why are US and NATO invasions of other countries peace keeping missions?
Why are Russian invasions or interferences in other countries acts of aggression? 
Why is it ok for the US to hack and spy on the whole world?
Why is it outrageous for Russia to hack and spy on the US?
Why is the US a democracy when most of the voters voted against Trump?
Why is Russia a dictatorship when most of the voters voted for Putin?
Why is Saudi Arabia part of the "free world" and Iran isn't.
Why are US naval ships off the coasts of Russia defending freedom of navigation?
Why are Russian naval ships off the coasts of the US provocations?
Why is it ok for Israel to develop nuclear weapons on its own?
Why is it not ok for North Korea to develop nuclear weapons on its own?
Why is the US the greatest country in the world instead of the Netherlands?

Why can't we agree on the answers to these questions?

Friday, March 03, 2017

The Bee Brain is not a Pea Brain

Thomas Riggins

Insects have memory and they can learn. They may have consciousness and self awareness i.e., they may be little persons in their own right. The moral implications of this may be worrisome but only if morals are important. If our species is any indication that does not seem to be the case. We will continue to kill and slaughter other life forms as merrily as we do each other: hunting (it's fun to kill), for food (we have a taste for blood), war ( we want other people's stuff ), murder (no respect or some genetic flaw), causing famines, extinctions and climate change (profits before people and the environment). On top of all this is an irrational rejection based on ignorance and greed of the only possible moral system that could be constructed in the real world that might end all this; humanistic socialism based on Marxism-Leninism and this has the inevitable drawback of having to use many of the very methods it wants to extirpate in order to eventuate.
Scientists trained bumblebees to move a ball to the center of a platform to gain a sugary treat.
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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Trump, Fake News, and the Press

Thomas Riggins

Donald Trump is absolutely correct when he says the main stream news media lies, purveys fake news, and is the enemy of the American people. The organizations he banned from the White House informal "gaggle" -- The New York Times, L.A. Times,  CNN, etc., are all guilty as charged. But the organizations not banned by Trump, CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, One America News Network, The Wall Street Journal, McClatchy, Breitbart and Washington Times are equally guilty.

The problem with Trump's denunciations of the lies and fake news spread by the corporate media is not that they are false, but that he has given the wrong reasons.
His accusations are based on their criticisms of him and his policies. All they would have to do is give him some flattering coverage and all would be well.

There is a more honest politician who also shows that the corporate media are liars, purveyors of fake news, and the enemy of the American people, although he does not use the intemperate (though accurate) language of Trump. That politician is Senator Bernie Sanders and his charges are detailed in his recent book Our Revolution.

He opens his chapter on the Media ("Corporate Media and the Threat to Our Democracy" with a quote from A.J. Liebling (1904-1963: a famous journalist at The New Yorker from 1935 to 1963): "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

The basic point of this chapter is this. Almost all the "news" and information the American people read, hear or see comes from the corporate media which is run in the interest of profit making and not with any overly solicitous concern with the truth or in being objective. The news is filtered to support the interests of the rich and powerful and the interests of the vast majority of the American people are ignored and the issues that concern them are either not reported or under reported, or falsely reported. The media also shapes the way people think, and the values they believe they have arrived at on their own are actually implanted in them from a life time of media  propaganda from the corporate Establishment [reinforced by the education system and religion]. 

In other words the corporate media lies to us to get us to accept the world outlook of the 1%, publishes fake news to make itself and its system look good (especially it's class controlled political system and elections) and since the corporate media manipulates the "news" to further its own interests, the interests of Wall Street and corporate America at the expense of the American people who are kept in ignorance of what is really going on, they are, indeed, the enemy of the American people.

All this can be summed up by another quote from A.J. Liebling -- one not used by Sanders but one I am sure he would also like: "People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news."

I will now append some quotes from Sanders' chapter to substantiate my summation of his views above and then draw some conclusions concerning the veracity of Trump's statements with respect to the media. The numbered sentences are all direct quotes.

1. Media shapes our political consciousness, and informs us as to the scope of  what is “realistic” and “possible.”
2. In other words, it is time for the American people to understand that corporate media in America is not some kind of “objective” entity that sees its function as providing, as best it can,”truth” to its viewers, listeners, and readers”
3. Today as a result of massive mergers and takeovers, six corporations control 90 percent of what we see, hear, or read. [Comcast, News Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS: And they tell you what they want you to know and believe: the “truth” is what they say it is —tr]
4. The current media situation in America, where a handful of giant corporations controls the flow of information, is a very serious threat to our democracy.

To be clear: those who threaten the democracy of the American people are the enemies of the American people. These 6 corporations, the Sinful 6, are the ones flooding us with fake news, alternate facts, and propaganda designed to further their profits and the interests of the 1%.  They want us to believe the threats to our democracy come from the Russians and Putin, the Chinese, the Iranians, the North Koreans, immigrants, anti-capitalists, radical Islam, Palestinian and other terrorists, and all the time it’s the Sinful 6 themselves who are the greatest threat because they distort and warp all the information about these other groups, and our domestic problems as well, so that 90 percent of us don’t understand what they are really like and whether they are real or imaginary  problems and threats. The Sinful 6 are responsible for Trump being the president, for Clinton not Bernie being the Democratic candidate, for Bush’s wars in the Middle East, and for the abysmal ignorance of the American people about the world outside of the U.S. and of the history of their own country.

So reality is even worse than portrayed in Our Revolution (though that reality logically follows from the book’s conclusions) and Trump is not completely wrong when he attacks the corporate press. His error is thinking they only lie about him  and his views and that one of the Sinful 6 is in fact not sinful at all — News Corp when in fact it is the most sinful of all. He also paints smaller independent news organizations and local media outlets with the same brush as he does the corporate media he dislikes. In other words, his criticism is self serving and phony.

So, who are more or less independent? Here are some that Bernie mentions (there are many others, including People's World, Countercurrents, The Intercept, OpEd News, The London Progressive Journal, Mother Jones, The Independent in NYC)  Media Matters for America (Blog), The Nation, The Young Turks, Democracy Now, In These Times, The Progressive. 

You take pot luck with the mass media. If you don’t believe me, read Bernie Sanders’ book.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Bias in Job Promotions in Professional Education

This is an example of structural racism within the system. Bias has to be eliminated by education but bias prevents proper education from taking place. What to do? This requires State intervention and a quota system until the bias is eliminated as biased structures are perpetually perpetrated. There is no doubt, based on the Trump administration appointments, that no effort to eliminate structural racism is to be expected and, in fact, Trumpism is structural racism incarn...
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Race and sex still matter when public school teachers seek to become principals, a new study has found.