Saturday, February 11, 2012

Firefighters vs Cops: Striking fire officers soak PM office in Brussels


Several hundred firefighters have broken through police lines and hosed down the prime minister's office in Brussels to protest the government's tougher retirement plans. Firefighters demand to keep their early retirement age at 58, arguing their arduous job does not allow them to work into their sixties.

Nick Cohen: Bound & Gagged

From the Literary Review

To maintain the illusion that they are part of some kind of radical underground, intellectuals must practise a deceit. They can never admit to their audience that fear of violent reprisals, ostracism or crippling financial penalties keeps them away from subjects that ought to concern them - and their fellow citizens.

[ ... ]

In Britain's case, any writer who had tried to research a book on the rapacious and authoritarian managers at the Royal Bank of Scotland or HBOS, for instance, or on the insanely reckless derivative swap and insurance markets in the London-based subsidiaries of Wall Street banks, would have run into the libel law. It is some barrier to overcome. The cost of a libel action in England and Wales is 140 times the European average. Contrary to common law and natural justice, the burden of proof is on the defendant. Even the few remaining wealthy newspapers, which have business models that have not yet been destroyed by the Internet, find it hard to afford a court case. For the publisher of a serious book, which would do well if it sold 50,000 copies, the idea of risking £1 million or more in a legal fight to defend it is close to unthinkable.

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CIA website hacked, taken offline by ‘Anonymous’

Hackers from the notorious group “Anonymous Operations” claim to have taken down the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s website shortly after 3:00 p.m. EST on Friday. “CIA TANGO DOWN: cia.gov,” a member of Anonymous posted to one of the group’s Twitter accounts.

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Everyone Is an Immigrant

Eliza Griswold writes in Poetry magazine:

The island of Lampedusa is overrun with law enforcement types and immigration agents. Along with relief workers and journalists, leery policemen fill the tourist hotels, restaurants, and beaches. The town is a town of well-muscled men, impeccably tanned. They aren’t my type, frankly. Clad in their tiny white spandex banana hangers, some even brought their girlfriends along on this phony business trip. Their job is supposed to be to police the thirty-seven thousand African refugees who’ve arrived on this island of five thousand. Later, that number will spike to fifty thousand. This massive diaspora is just one side effect of the Arab Spring; it’s also a business. To keep this refugee crisis under control—and to monitor who heads north—Italy collects money from the rest of the European Union. It’s a spectacular show when the open, wooden boats come in, people huddled against the gunwales. In this human drama, the police are the supporting actors. So are the journalists like me, struggling against the cordon to talk to arrivals. So are the paramedics. We are all waiting for refugees.

For thousands of years, Lampedusa has served as a garrison for empires—including, for a time during the 1980s, America’s. On this island, the Romans made garum, a rancid fish sauce. Third-century Christians left a cemetery here. Thanks to other old bones, it’s possible to trace the island’s passage between Christian and Muslim hands until the 1840s, when Tomasi di Lampedusa—ancestor to Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, who wrote The Leopard—sold the island to the Kingdom of Naples.

The island is politically Europe, but geographically Africa. This is the problem.

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What Remains: Conversations With America's Funeral Directors By Max Rivlin-Nadler

From The Awl

The message attached to all these services seems to be: cremation is green, and if you choose something else, you're a polluter, even in death. Funeral homes employ a host of chemicals, chief among them formaldehyde, to embalm a body. Some funeral homes either don’t have a correct method of disposal, or, if they are in a rural area without a sewage system, dispose of the carcinogenic—formaldehyde being intended for use on things that are already dead—right down the drain. In 2007, an EPA report found dangerously high levels of formaldehyde and phenol in drinking water in locations near funeral homes throughout New York state. The burial of a corpse in a metal coffin, with the embalmed body inside, deposits other chemicals in groundwater. The coffin's metals leach into the ground, followed eventually by the chemicals used to preserve the corpses. Every graveyard may be lush and green, but when you look at its chemical makeup it starts to look like a mini-Brownfield. (Distressingly, higher rates of cancer have been found among embalmers who have to breathe in this stuff every day.)

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John Horgan on erasing war from the human condition

From the interview by David Green in Ha'aretz:

I don’t think it’s religious belief per se that leads to intolerance and violence. It think it is certitude and ideological rigidity. If you look at the 20th century, by far the most destructive ideas were fascism and communism. These were secular, not religious, ideologies. But what they share with fundamentalist religion is believers’ fierce conviction that this is the right way to view reality.

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DIY science: should you try this at home?

Jon Ronson writes for the Guardian:

I wanted to meet Richard because I keep seeing reports of home science experimenters clashing with the authorities. There's been a spate of them this past year or two.

I glance into Richard's kitchen and recognise his cooker from the news. It was horrendously, alarmingly blackened then, but it's clean now.

"So, you aren't currently doing any experiments?" I ask him.

"I'm banned," he says.

"By whom?" I ask.

"My landlord," he says. "And the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority."

Then we sit on the sofa and he tells me his story.

When Richard was a teenager, everything, he says, was fine. "I had friends. We'd go partying. I have Asperger's, so I was a bit of a nerd, a geek. My interests were chemical experiments. I'd make solutions that changed colour. When I was 13, I made some explosives in the garden, using gunpowder, stuff I got from a paint store and from my father's pharmacy. He had sulphuric acid, nitric acid. Visiting my father in his pharmacy was very exciting."

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'How the communion wafer arrived in the capitalist marketplace'

From Buying the Body of Christ by Rowan Moore Gerety

...Canon Miller, who oversees the liturgy at St. John the Divine, also voiced preferences that straddle the line between commerce and theology:

From a practical as well as a theological standpoint—since we do believe in the real presence of Christ in what we distribute and what we receive…I always marvel at churches where people use crumbly bread and leave the altar and there’s nothing but crumbs…I think it’s sloppy. I think wafers are cleaner and more respectful.

Here, then, is a theological rationale for Cavanagh’s patented sealed-edge wafers over the more homemade wafers of religious communities. And the evolution continues: another producer, Communion Source, has patented and trademarked their combination Communion wafer and wine (grape juice) product with the name “Chasid Cup.” The online promotions for the Chasid Cup show the hermetically sealed container with a shot of grape juice and an individually wrapped Communion wafer against a purple background with slick font and a tantalizing picture of grapes reminiscent of juice advertisements...

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One World March 6 -15 2012 Int'l Human Rights Documentary Film Festival

http://www.oneworld.cz/2012/

Iran cuts off Internet access

Iran has cut off access to the Internet, leaving millions of people without access to e-mail and social networks.

An individual inside the country confirmed this morning that Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo email are no longer available. Ditto for Facebook. So far, the government has not made any announcement about the service interruption.

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FENTON THE UNSTOPPABLE (RISE OF THE SAUSAGE)


intro......FENTON THE DOG
music....STAMINA - DREAM TEAM
video....ANONYMOUS THE RIOT DOG
editing..KEY PRODUCTIONS

People rise up to the latest round of austerity measures; 48 hour General Strike; full Occupied London coverage

From The Greek Streets:

For our latest updates, continue checking this post or follow the February 10-11 General Strike tag.

Photos from Athens General Strike, day 1 | “So it’s final now” | New memorandum agreement to come to parliament on Sunday or Monday | Mental Health workers occupying Ministry of Health issue statement | Videos from tonight’s General Strike, Athens | Updates from the General Strike demo, Athens, Feb 10 | Building occupations as of Feb 10 (AM)

As the announcement was made of yet another “bailout” loan issued at the expense of a full-scale war against the people, reactions on the ground in greece have been swift (full text of the agreement). A 48-hour General Strike has been called by mainstream unions for February 10-11. In Athens, the Law School has been occupied by anarchists who have already issued a statement.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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