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General Interest

Items of interest to all.

The Door

This is in Russian, but it's subtitled, and the visuals are pretty self explanatory. If you have 16 minutes, it's worth it. Plus, there's a subtle reference to Schrödinger's cat

THE DOOR - Short Film from Octagon Films on Vimeo.

Science Friday: How big is a Blue Whale's heart? | Hamlet - Act 1, scene 3, line 80 | The Black Hole in your sink

How Big is a Blue Whales heart?

The heart in the picture above is obviously a replica, but a real blue whale heart weighs roughly 1,300 pounds; its heartbeat can be detected from two miles away and a human can fit in its arteries.

Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

American Realpolitik: “US Interests” Do Not Include Human Welfare

Listening to Morally Myopic Obama tonight on the NewsHour giving the old "razzle dazzle," now talking about wanting to send a CLEAR message about the violence and potential further violence in Libya, I felt nauseous. Clear message? Maybe pseudo-clear message to America’s ostrich citizenry. Certainly not to the Arab world that has seen the craven and massive violence that US, Israel, and western power interference entails and has entailed. The cost of millions in death, maiming and/or displacement. Obama's concern about a “bloody” situation? Drone-happy Obama is concerned about blood being shed? Okay. Maybe he does care about the sight of blood, and that is why he prefers horrifying weapons of instant incineration? That is my bitter take.

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, can not honor the needs and will of the citizenry of its own country. Why on earth would it heed the welfare of the courageous and endangered peoples in other countries? HYPOCRISY on steroids.

Why, destabilization, according to Rahm’s theory if you remember, is one further OPPORTUNITY for plunder. I think of Westmoreland’s justification in Viet Nam, “We had to bomb the village in order to save it.” Yeah, that is rich. “Collateral damage” to the amoral gamesmen and gameswomen lost to the war addiction and the greed addiction is a small price to pay for their imperialist agenda.

So re the Arab world, we -- the US and its friendly, fellow imperialist bullies -- had to and have to destroy massive numbers of a country’s citizenry and its country’s infrastructure in order to rape that country’s natural resources, especially oil, for the oligarchy, the same way the American political elite has raped its own middle, working and non-working class citizenry of their rights to health care, employment, security, etc., with more massive destruction to come. We are becoming fast one of the third world countries paralleling the countries the US has profoundly damaged through the decades. The gated community opportunism of the super rich uber alles.

Robert Fisk talks with Cindy Sheehan about the Middle East

From September 26, 2010, Cindy interviews British journalist, Robert Fisk, who has been living in the Middle East and reporting from there for decades. He is an English writer and journalist and has primarily been based in Beirut for more than 30 years. Fisk holds more British and International Journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent. Fisk has said that journalism must, "challenge authority, all authority, especially so when governments and politicians take us to war."
Source: Audio Archives of Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

Scott Horton Interviews Scott Horton, the international human rights lawyer on October 26, 2010

The other Scott Horton is also a professor and contributing editor at Harper's magazine.  They discuss the maintenance of order and civility in Kyrgyzstan despite a rather chaotic election result, and the already infamous Frago 242 order (revealed by WikiLeaks) issued from high up the chain of command that demanded U.S. soldiers ignore the torture and human rights violations perpetrated by their Iraqi allies.  They touch on Donald Rumsfeld's ignorance of the obligation of soldiers to prevent inhumane treatment.
Source: Scott Horton Interviews The Other Scott Horton

Ray McGovern Calls Out Robert Gates as a "Consummate [Political] Windsock"

Retired CIA analyst and peace activist Ray McGovern in a recent article entitled “How to Read Gates’s Shift on the Wars” explains his strong and angry reaction to a statement made by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in a West Point address last Friday. Gates:

“But in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”


... those of us who have known Gates for many years, including some of us old colleagues from his CIA days, couldn’t help but wonder what he was up to, what was the ulterior motive behind his decision to put distance between himself and these two misbegotten wars.

The Bob Gates we knew was a bright and brightly ambitious careerist whose greatest skill might have been to sense quickly where the prevailing winds of power were blowing and position himself accordingly. He was the consummate windsock.

So, having overseen the two wars for more than four years now, was Gates signaling that he knew the conflicts would come to no good end and thus was he creating a public record for himself as something of a war skeptic

McGovern does acknowledge a possibility, a miniscule one, that Gates may have become a wiser but sadder military leader, having humanely considered the lives lost in both wars. But McGovern finds it far more likely Gates is responding to the unpopularity of the wars, heeding the polls which, according to McGovern, reveal 86% of Democrats and 61% of Republicans want a speedier U.S. pullout from Afghanistan.

David Swanson and Susan B. Thistlethwaite on war and torture

Super peace activist and author David Swanson talks about his latest book, War Is a Lie. They talk about bi-partisan war crimes.

After that Rev. Susan B. Thistlethwaite on her new book, "Dreaming of Eden: American Religion and Politics in a Wired World." She is ordained minister of the United Church of Christ since 1974 and a deep thinker. They discuss the morals of war and torture. This is from December 10, 2010.

We are Wisconsin

Science Friday: Animals, animals, animals | Turtle GPS | Jogging geese | Fish out of water | And Charlie's pets

Turtles use the Earth’s magnetic field as a global GPS

    In 1996, a loggerhead turtle called Adelita swam across 9,000 miles from Mexico to Japan, crossing the entire Pacific on her way. Wallace J. Nichols tracked this epic journey with a satellite tag. But Adelita herself had no such technology at her disposal. How did she steer a route across two oceans to find her destination?

    Nathan Putman has the answer. By testing hatchling turtles in a special tank, he has found that they can use the Earth’s magnetic field as their own Global Positioning System (GPS). By sensing the field, they can work out both their latitude and longitude and head in the right direction.

    Putman works in the lab of Ken Lohmann, who has been studying the magnetic abilities of loggerheads for over 20 years. In his lab at the University of North Carolina, he places hatchlings in a large water tank surrounded by a large grid of electromagnetic coils. In 1991, he found that the babies started swimming in the opposite direction if he used the coils to reverse the direction of the magnetic field around them. They could use the field as a compass to get their bearing.

Freeze & Starve, Citizens! Monster $719 Billion Military Budget from Political Soft on Terror Paranoia & Violent Imperialism

Sherwood Ross in an article entitled “US Endless-War Budget Rolls On” cites the Chalmers Johnson observation that the Pentagon is “close to being beyond civilian control.” I think it is time to remove the word “close” from that chilling conclusion. Ross certainly makes the case, as he parallels the insanely burgeoning and politically uncontested military budget to the horrifying economic quicksand into which the majority of citizens are sinking:

While the number of Americans suffering in poverty increased to 36 million – and as more families lose their homes and lines lengthen at soup kitchens – President Obama has dollars galore to build 67 new warships at a cost of nearly $25 billion, according to a new analysis of his budget by the National Priorities Project of Northampton, Massachusetts.

Yet, according to Wikipedia, “The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined” and it operates 11 super carriers as part of a 286-active ship fleet with 3,700 aircraft able to radiate power on all continents. This is but one example from the Pentagon's Department of Wretched Excess.


So, in fiscal year 2012, which begins next Oct. 1, the Pentagon will just have to struggle along with $719 billion while the president calls for a five-year freeze on “non-security” discretionary spending such as, in the words of former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, “programs the poor and working class depend on – assistance with home heating, community services, college loans, and the like.”

Green's Hawkins: NY Gov. Cuomo Solves $9 Billion Deficit: 1) Slash Jobs, 2) Starve Children, 3) $5 Billion Tax Breaks for Rich

Hunger Action Alert - Save the Welfare Grant, Stop Full Family Sanctions

Gov. Cuomo's proposed state budget cuts funding for a variety of anti-poverty and human service programs to help solve the state's $9 billion deficit, while proposing to spend $5 billion annually to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthiest New Yorkers. Lawmakers are telling us that they haven't heard much protest about the cuts to human services.

We need the Assembly to say no to these cuts. We want to target Assembly member Michele Titus (518-455-5668), the new chair of the Assembly Social Services Committee, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (518 455-3791) We also want to contact Sen. Dean Skelos, the Senate Majority leader. (518) 455-3171


Please help low-income New Yorkers. Say no to any delay in the welfare grant hike and to full family sanctions. Don't give a huge tax cut to the rich by ending the personal income tax surcharge. We want money for jobs for low-income New Yorkers.

You could also add a message re funding for emergency food. The Governor proposed keeping HPNAP at $29.7 million. Advocates are seeking $33.6 million. Service levels as the state food pantries and soup kitchens have increased 60% in the last three years.

We are also asking for $100 million for jobs for welfare participants. 2 years ago we got $70 million. This year the Governor is proposing zero funding.

Shameless Obama Savages Poor & Working Classes With A Reagan Budget -- More Nightmarish Consistency c/o Inside Man for Oligarchs

I want to share the optimism lifting so many for the Egyptians and of the Egyptians, but I keep picturing the euphoria of millions of Americans after the Obama election and I want to warn the Egyptians to stay vigilant and wary of charismatic, say-anything inside men for the oligarchs. Can the Egyptians possibly begin to institute the kind of democracy we Americans seem to have lost?

Obama has hit a new low with the present budget. I keep thinking I am beyond astonishment at him, but alas, he keeps on delivering the hits, farther and farther below the belt.

Glen Ford, who, incidentally, coined the "inside man for oligarchs" reference to Obama, reminds us of the time when Obama stunned so many of us progressives by heralding Reagan as a great president. That was surely a big tip off that he was not what he was being packaged as by the political progressives, but not really progressives, more accurately, soul-less, pragmatic gamesmen and gameswomen enthralled to their shadow corporate overlords hawking him to win an election. I don’t know if I am getting more traditionally religious or not. I find myself praying there is a ferocious hell for all those who played and benefited from the biggest con perpetrated on a citizenry, the faux-answer to the Bush Insanity, Barack Obama. After the trauma of Bush, we deserved a break, not a Trojan Horse shamelessly ready to continue and worsen human suffering both home and abroad.

Ford writes of the new budget:

The First Black President just gave birth to an unmistakably Republican budget – and everybody knows who that ugly baby’s daddy is. For the past two years, Barack Obama has been making out quite publicly with George Bush’s corporate friends. But that shouldn’t be a scandal; after all, Obama has always told everyone in range of his voice that his main goal in life is to forge a grand consensus with the GOP, a bipartisan understanding between the Right and the Center Right.

Science Friday: Chevron ruled guilty; fined $8B | 1 human brain = world's total cpu power | The moment Britain became an island

Chevron is Guilty: Ecuadoreans Prevail in Historic Environmental Lawsuit

    After a long and often bitter 18-year struggle, the Indigenous and rural Ecuadoreans suing Chevron to force the company to clean up its oil contamination in the Amazon have prevailed. Earlier today, in a historic ruling, the court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador found Chevron guilty and ordered the company to pay $8 billion to clean up its mess in Ecuador.

    Write to Chevron CEO John Watson right now and urge him to finally see that justice is done in Ecuador by cleaning up his company’s oil pollution immediately.

    Chevron of course immediately fired off a statement claiming that the judgment was fraudulent and the company would appeal the decision. Enough is enough. The plaintiffs have withstood the impacts of Chevron’s oil pollution on their health and the local environment at the same time that they had to contend with Chevron’s bullying and abusive legal tactics. For nearly two decades, they’ve been living with Chevron’s attempts to deny them basic human rights and a clean and healthy environment. It’s time for Chevron to take responsibility for its oily mess.

    Chevron waged an unprecedented PR and legal campaign, but in the end the evidence overwhelmingly proved the company’s guilt. This is a historic moment. It’s one of the largest judgment against Big Oil ever awarded. The battle is won, but the war is far from over. ...

World's total CPU power: one human brain

Don’t Turn Your Back on Hillary Clinton or How Ray McGovern Evoked Hypocrisy in Real Time

71-year old peace advocate Ray McGovern, wearing a Veterans for Peace T-shirt, stood in the audience with his back toward Hillary Clinton as she gave a speech at Washington University on February 15th. McGovern’s stance, what he calls “silent witness”, was a protest of Mrs. Clinton’s support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was not long before McGovern was assaulted and dragged out of the audience by two security men. “So this is America!” McGovern declared. “This is America!”

Mrs. Clinton may not have missed a beat in her speech but apparently missed the enormous irony of the moment. She was speaking in praise of the nobility and effectiveness of peaceful protest and the wrongness of aggressive governmental repression in the Middle East, all while Mr. McGovern was being roughed up before her and the audience’s eyes.

Mr. McGovern as quoted by Rob Kall:

"When Clinton started talking about how people beat up and arrested people in Iran, it gave some poetic justice, a great irony, to my standing there and what happened to me then, when she's talking about what happened in other countries and there I am being handled in a vicious way...God knows what would happen next. ..."


"They grabbed me and the shock wore off. There was a real struggle. I shouted, 'This is America.' Then I said, 'Who are you?' This is a mystery to me. Who were they? The guy in the suit was the one who did the damage. He was brutal."

Critical Arab-US Moment Betrayed: Obama & Cong. Won’t Do Right Thing Re Jewish Settlements; Fear 2012 AIPAC Election Punishment

So, let’s get this straight. The United States officially -- at least rhetorically -- disapproves of illegal Jewish settlement expansion. Yet to do ANYTHING to support this position would mean substantial political blowback from AIPAC.

We all know to what degree the President and Congress will sell out the welfare of human beings, its own citizens, and, hell, the rest of the world’s, to protect their own jobs and power no matter what the depth of the sell out.

Even with the incredible wave of Arab individualism flooding forth now you would think the American President and Congress would be astute and responsible enough to give a reach out. I mean Cash for Clunkers and a hypocritical Cairo speech were Obama’s golden moments. That speech, in spite of its hypocrisy, probably planted some seeds of empowering hope and may even be in part responsible for the profound Arab movement right now.

WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY for the United States to endorse the spirit of democracy, even though democracy has left the building in terms of the United States, now run by a plutocracy, but still, the Arab world is fighting for the real deal democracy it assumes America still has.

What a shame that according to MJ Rosenberg the US intends to veto Thursday, today, a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by 122 nations, condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee: "We have made very clear that we do not think the Security Council is the right place to engage on these issues."

The UN Security Council is not the right place? What bullshit.

National Green Party: Congrats to Egypt and What About Mubarak’s US $70 Billion Stash? (C’mon, Asset-Freezing Time!)

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party of the United States congratulated the Egyptian people and called President Hosni Mubarak's resignation a huge step towards democracy, human rights, and stability for their country.

"The Egyptian revolution is a victory for the people of Egypt, and also the victory for an idea -- the idea that violent regimes can be overthrown through nonviolent means," said Romi Elnagar, member of the Green Party of Louisiana and wife and mother of Egyptian-Americans. "While police and rampaging pro-Mubarak thugs killed 350 and injured thousands more, the protesters themselves remained overwhelmingly peaceful."

US Greens hoped for an end to the 30-year-old 'emergency decree' and for a broad-based transitional government that embraced opposition parties, to begin the work of dismantling the brutally oppressive Mubarak regime. The next step will take place when the military relinquishes power and Egyptians establish a civil government with a constitution, free and fair elections, democratic institutions, and the means to solve problems like unemployment and poverty.

Greens also urged the Obama Administration to cooperate in an investigation of the alleged $70 billion that Mr. Mubarak's accumulated during his corrupt regime and to freeze any of his assets that are held in the US.

"We call on the US government to avoid meddling and respect the right of Egyptians to rule themselves. Aid for Egypt must be for humanitarian purposes, not military, and without strings attached. If the Obama Administration tries to press the new Egypt into subordination, to satisfy the US's strategic military and economic interests in the region, we will betray the Egyptian people and their right to democratic sovereignty," said Laura Wells, 2010 Green Party candidate for Governor of California.