TED Censored

Here’s a TED talk that was censored.  It seems the idea that everyone does not owe their jobs to a few rich people struck quite a nerve and couldn’t be published:


The above TED talk, by Richard Wilkinson, is from October 2011, and it’s all about economic inequality. There’s quite a lot of buzz today about another talk on economic inequality which was recorded, then quashed by TED officials. You can check out the full transcript here, from National Journal.

At first glance, this is quite a strange discrepancy. Both talks are on economic inequality, and they do differ a bit, but if anything the Wilkinson talk is more radical. The gist of his is that once a country has reached “developed” status, wealth doesn’t much matter for the health of that society, broadly speaking (including things like longevity, mental illness, crime, prison population, poverty, etc). Instead equality is what matters. More equal societies are better.

The censored talk, given by venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, makes a fairly banal point that starting a successful business depends entirely on having a population of people with the ability to buy your product:

I have started or helped start, dozens of businesses and initially hired lots of people. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would all have failed and all those jobs would have evaporated.

That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.

See the rest of the story at the above link.  Note after the web storm of protest they did eventually decide to release the talk.  But why should it take a protest?

TED Censored

New Puzzling Doctrine of the Two Classes of the Unborn

The new doctrine implied by recent public statements of Catholics criticizing President Obama are indeed curious, though they are regrettably not unprecedented. Under this doctrine there seem to be two categories of  the unborn, and they deserve completely different accounting in the moral sphere.

One class of the unborn deserves very little recognition, and therefore their suffering is of very small concern.  Into this first class fall, for example, the unborn victims of the several wars we are now fighting, those unborn killed by pollution, or directly by hunger, or those unborn poor who need quality healthcare, among other groups too numerous to mention here. Lest we forget, there are many of the born in similar groups who are perishing each and every day.  These very real deaths now also include the first deaths caused by global warming, whose toll shall, with near certainty, dramatically increase every year.

The other class of unborn is so especially deserving of our protection, however, that even though the President has no direct legal authority to protect them, the mere announcement of a candidate of his opposition to a legal precedent enjoins us to put all of our concerns for the first class of the unborn out of our minds, and cast our votes, as unthinking automatons, to continue the wholesale slaughter of those unborn in the first class, while making very slight progress helping those unborn in the second class.

Therefore I, being uneducated by only 2 degrees from Jesuit Universities, must ask those who promulgate this new doctrine of the two unequal classes of the unborn to clarify, with some precision, what are those characteristics of the first class of the unborn that make them so undeserving of our protection and conversely makes those in the second class so especially deserving of our protection?

This question deeply vexes me.

New Puzzling Doctrine of the Two Classes of the Unborn

Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply

Or: The U.S. Government’s curious definition of ‘Free

There is a website called Free Application for Federal Student Aid run by the U.S. Government which you have to use if you want to make an application for federal student financial aid.  But you have to run a proprietary operating system, either some version of windows or a version of Mac OSX, to access the site.  It is especially ironic because the compatible browser page says:

Your Web browser is not supported by our Web site. You must use a Compliant Web Browser – Standard* to view our site properly. We recommend you upgrade to the latest version of your browser according to your Operating System….

[….List of many browsers follows, none running on GNU/Linux.…]

*Compliant Web Browser – Standard
For the past few years, every major Web browser released has been built around a set of open standards designated by the World Wide Web Consortium, a non-profit organization charged with overseeing the continuing development of the Web. What this means is that one piece of code now looks the same on every modern browser, whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or others. The majority of our users are using these modern browsers, so we can present content which is optimized for them.

Here is the https://fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/errors?page=incompatibleBrowser incompatible browser page and below the fold find a copyclip of what that page says today, January 06 2011:

Continue reading “Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply”

Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply

On the rape charges against Julian Assange (I accuse the New York Times edition)

Or why o why can’t we have a better press corps?

The rape charges against Julian Assange need to be remarked upon. Given the obvious motivations of those in power to falsify the charges, the near absence of any concrete exploration of these charges in the mainstream press is both curious and remarkable. There have been no examinations of these charges in the popular press; further it cannot be denied, given what is at stake here, that those charges are a matter of public interest. If those charges can be shown to be fabricated, that, in itself, would be newsworthy. Finding out who is responsible, we will perhaps be able to connect those involved in the fabrication of these charges with those who have the strong motivation to silence wikileaks.  Connecting the dots here could lead to a really excellent piece of investigative journalism, the equal to Watergate.

Some discussion of why these charges seem to be fabricated is in order now.

Continue reading “On the rape charges against Julian Assange (I accuse the New York Times edition)”

On the rape charges against Julian Assange (I accuse the New York Times edition)

This is the land I live in (Mark Ruffalo is a terrorist edition)

Yes, opposing mineral extraction that harms the environment makes you a terrorist.  This isn’t an accident, that is how those in power really think.   I would  not agree that this was some kind of mix-up: it is very deliberate.   If you oppose mineral extraction that harms the environment you can be killed and it won’t even make the news in the USA.   That is justice if you can trick yourself into believing that those who oppose mining are terrorists.

Zodiac actor placed on terror list for opposing oil drilling method

By Daniel Tencer
Friday, November 26th, 2010 — 4:09 pm

Indie actor Mark Ruffalo says he found himself on the Pennsylvania Homeland Security office’s terror watch list for organizing screening of an oil-drilling documentary.

According to the World Entertainment News Network, Ruffalo — who has starred in such films as The Kids Are All Right, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Zodiac — told GQ magazine he found it “pretty f–cking funny” that he would be suspected of terrorism for raising the alarm about what many say is an environmentally harmful way of drilling for oil and gas.

Ruffalo has been promoting GasLand, a documentary that focuses on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” It’s a process of drilling for oil and gas that involves pumping large amounts of water into a well to crack the rock under the ground, releasing the oil or gas. As energy prices rise and fossil fuels become scarcer, the practice has been growing in popularity.

The trailer for GasLand states that at least six states have documented some 1,000 incidents of groundwater pollution related to fracking. The documentary interviews people who say they suffered from neurological diseases and other conditions as a result of contaminated water.

The Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security appears to be at least as heavily focused on anti-oil and gas documentaries as it is on international terrorism. In October, it was revealed that the department had declared the documentary Coal Country to be a “potential catalyst for inspiring ‘direct action’ protests or even sabotage against facilities, machinery, and/or corporate headquarters.”

A Pennsylvania activist Web site reported earlier this month that the department has been monitoring the Twitter feeds of known anti-war activists.

The following trailer for GasLand was uploaded to YouTube on May 5, 2010.

This is the land I live in (Mark Ruffalo is a terrorist edition)

The usual suspects get harrassed by the FBI (again, or is it still?)

Not surprised, but wasn’t this kind of stuff one of the reasons I voted for Obama? Wasn’t he supposed to stop this kind of abuse of power?

Raids on Activists May Indicate FBI Abuse of Power

Friday 08 October 2010

by: Yana Kunichoff, t r u t h o u t | Report

On the heels of a series of FBI raids on anti-war activists, an FBI whistleblower and constitutional rights groups are calling out the agency for overstepping its bounds, fearing that its increased powers could infringe on First Amendment rights and silence dissent.

Agents searched the homes of anti-war activists in Chicago, Minneapolis, Michigan and Durham, North Carolina in the last two weeks of September, along with the offices of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee, confiscating computers, cell phones, large amounts of paper and financial records, according to the activists and their attorneys.

Just days before the raids of activists in the Midwest and North Carolina, the Department of Justice released a report finding that between 2001 and 2006, the FBI kept tabs on activists affiliated with Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), Catholic Workers and Quakers. According to the report, the agency improperly placed these individuals on terrorist watch lists, and gave inaccurate and misleading information to Congress and the public about its activities.

“The Bureau’s standard for undercover activities is known neither by the public nor Congress,” Buttar wrote in an op-ed in Truthout earlier this year. “Intelligence agencies may justifiably pursue clandestine activities, but should not operate according to secret rules – at least not in countries that claim to lead the free world.”

The usual suspects get harrassed by the FBI (again, or is it still?)

If you see something, say something (Jeff Luers answers Bill McKibben)

The question posed over at Truthout is a good question; the problem is that the answer has been provided and is in plain sight. :

We Need Your Ideas: A Call for Direct Action in the Climate Movement

Wednesday 08 September 2010

by: Bill McKibben, Phil Radford, Becky Tarbotton

Dear Friends,

God, what a summer. Federal scientists have concluded that we’ve just come through the warmest six months, the warmest year, and the warmest decade in human history. Nineteen nations have set new all-time temperature records; the mercury in Pakistan reached 129 degrees, the hottest temperature ever seen in Asia. And there’s nothing abstract about those numbers, not with Moscow choking on smoke from its epic heat wave and fires, not with Pakistan half washed away from its unprecedented flooding.

But that’s just the half of it. It’s also the summer when the U.S. Senate decided to keep intact its 20-year bipartisan record of doing nothing about global warming. Global warming is no act of God. We’re up against the most profitable and powerful industries on earth: the companies racking up record profits from fossil fuels. And we’re not going to beat them by asking nicely. We’re going to have to build a movement, a movement much bigger than anything we’ve built before, a movement that can push back against the financial power of Big Oil and Big Coal. That movement is our only real hope, and we need your help to plot its future.

But necessary as such efforts are, they’re not sufficient. We’re making progress, but not as fast as the physical situation is deteriorating. Time is not on our side, so we’ve concluded that going forward mass direct action must play a bigger role in this movement, as it eventually did in the suffrage movement, the civil-rights movement, and the fight against corporate globalization.

The answer has been provided:

Continue reading “If you see something, say something (Jeff Luers answers Bill McKibben)”

If you see something, say something (Jeff Luers answers Bill McKibben)