Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 27 Sep 2020
The World for People who Think

Society's Child
Map

USA

How Not to Attract Tourists

Image
© Joe Spix
As Americans, we like to imagine our country as we think of ourselves: open-hearted and welcoming; efficient and practical; easygoing, above all. These values are the foundation of our culture, of an open economy fueled by ideas and immigration, and of our soft power - America's ability to change the world simply because it is admired.

Whatever foreigners think of the American experiment, though, it's unlikely the experience of crossing our border has made them think better of it.

Imagine that you're the citizen of a prosperous, democratic ally like Britain, Spain or Japan, and you'd like to visit America. Before traveling, you must pay $14 to complete an online United States government form called ESTA, short for Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

ESTA asks for basic personal data, like your name and birth date. It also asks whether you are guilty of "moral turpitude," whether you're planning crimes or "immoral activities" and whether you suffer from "lymphogranuloma venereum" (don't ask). If you're involved in terrorism or genocide - and for some reason you've decided to take this opportunity to inform the United States government - there's a box for that. And if you're a spy - a particularly artless one - please let us know.

Naturally, no one with anything to hide will answer honestly. Such purposeless questions recall Thoreau - "I saw that the State was half-witted" - and should astonish Americans, who know better than their government how to welcome guests.

Cell Phone

'This American Life' Retracts Apple Story

Image
© unknown
Employees work at the Foxconn factory in China. 'This American Life' is having difficulty with an episode on working conditions at Foxconn, spurring a full, aired retraction.
"This American Life" -- a higher-end radio magazine show -- will "separate fact from fiction" and retract a recent episode that detailed what life is supposedly like at Apple's Foxconn manufacturing plant in China.

The show's website has added this note to the story:
NOTE: This American Life has retracted this story because we learned that many of Mike Daisey's experiences in China were fabricated. We have removed the audio from our site, and have left this transcript up only for reference. We produced an entire new episode about the retraction, featuring Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz, who interviewed Mike's translator Cathy and discovered discrepancies between her account and Mike's, and New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, who has reported extensively on Apple. Ira also re-interviewed Mike Daisey to learn why he misled us.
Host Ira Glass penned a statement to subscribers articulating that parts of the story were fabricated, adding, "I've never had to write an email like this."

"Like all our friends and colleagues in public radio, I and my co-workers at This American LIfe work hard every day to make sure that what you hear on WBEZ is factually correct. We will continue to do that, and hope you can forgive this." (Glass' entire statement is at the bottom of this article.)

The show will air an explanation on Sunday, claiming that the episode's narrator, Mike Daisey, misled the show during the fact-checking process, according to Silicon Alley Insider.

Bizarro Earth

Angelica Huston: US Returning to 'Dark Ages'


Filling in for Piers Morgan who's on assignment in England, the comedian, actress, and television personality welcomes Anjelica Huston for an honest and revealing discussion on politics and women's issues in the 21st century.

"What has happened, that we are fighting again for reproductive rights?" wonders O'Donnell.

"And how did guys, get to be the ones to solely discuss it?" responds Huston. "It's absolutely astonishing to me, it's the Dark Ages."

Vader

Accused G.I. 'Snapped' Under Strain, Official Says

Afghanistan, murders
© Gawker

Washington - The American staff sergeant suspected of killing 16 Afghan villagers had been drinking alcohol - a violation of military rules in combat zones - and suffering from the stress related to his fourth combat tour and tensions with his wife about the deployments on the night of the massacre, a senior American official said Thursday.

"When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues - he just snapped," said the official, who has been briefed on the investigation and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the soldier has not yet been formally charged. His comments drew from accounts of the sergeant's state of mind from two other soldiers with whom he illicitly drank alcohol on the night of the shootings, the official said, and those soldiers face disciplinary action.

As new details emerged about possible reasons behind the shootings, a lawyer who said he had been retained by the sergeant's family told CNN on Friday that the suspect was being flown to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., from the detention site in Kuwait he was moved to on Wednesday.

Handcuffs

Invisible Children Co-Founder Detained

Jason Russell

Jason Russell is shown in this NBCSanDiego interview after he launched the KONY 2012 campaign.

A co-founder for Invisible Children was detained in Pacific Beach on Thursday for being drunk in public and masturbating, according to the San Diego Police Department.
Jason Russell, 33, was allegedly found masturbating in public, vandalizing cars and possibly under the influence of something, according to the SDPD. He was detained at the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Road.

An SDPD spokesperson said the man detained was acting very strange, some may say bizarre. Video: SDPD statement

"Due to the nature of the detention, he was not arrested," Lt. Andra Brown said. "During the evaluation we learned we probably needed to take him to a medical facility because of statements he was saying."

Police said they received several calls Thursday at 11:30 a.m. of a man in various stages of undress, running through traffic and screaming.

People

Lost Principles And Social Destruction

no peace

...we are here dealing with a totalitarian state of which the philosophy included an utter contempt for the individual... any freedom of thought or action was inconceivable in the Aztec world... dependence and instability were absolute, fear reigned. Death lurked ceaselessly everywhere, and constituted the cement of the building in which the individual Aztec was prisoner... Clearly the spirituality of some aspects of Aztec life must have sprung from an old pre-Aztec tradition, later betrayed... -- Laurette Sejourne ('Burning Water')

The life of a nation, of a culture, is sustained by very few but very critical social circumstances. These pillars must stand strong, maintained with the utmost care and caution; as one would fight to maintain the beat of his own heart. If these vital foundations are dissolved or destroyed, the nation and the people contained within are subject to the most heinous of generational afflictions. The citizenry and all that nurtures their progress begins to die. Slowly suffocating in a corrosive atmosphere of dishonor, men turn toward pure self interest at the expense of their greater selves, giving rise to hatred, desperation, and an environment of disturbed malleability that is easily exploited by those who seek power.

Eventually, the entire edifice comes crashing down, sometimes so far into the pits of black and terrible times that it is all but lost, even to memory....

As I look out past the near horizon of this time, and this nation, I see considerable potential for a revitalization of that which is best in humanity. I see a population that strives for independence. I see a return to the entrepreneurial spirit of discovery. I see unhindered freedom of thought and action feeding a fire of creativity that inspires us to unimaginable heights. I see new expression given license not just by the masses, but by structures of a government which truly follows the will of the common man, and not the will of an elite few. I see America breathing full, eyes wide open and alive.

However, this potential future would have to come at a considerable cost.

Attention

Vatican Opens Rare Criminal Probe Into Leaks

Pope
© Reuters/Tony Gentile
Pope Benedict XVI waves during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican March 14, 2012.

The Vatican has opened an extremely rare criminal investigation into embarrassing leaks of top-level sensitive documents alleging corruption and mismanagement in several of its departments.

The investigation, announced in the Vatican newspaper on Friday, will be carried out by an internal tribunal in a bid to find out who leaked the material.

A separate, administrative investigation will be conducted by the Secretariat of State, which manages Vatican bureaucracy. Pope Benedict had also ordered a "high-level commission" to shed light on the affair, the newspaper said.

The scandal, which has come to be known as "Vatileaks," involves the leaking of a string of sensitive documents to Italian media in January and February, including personal letters to the pope.

The two investigations and the establishment of the papal commission were announced in an interview with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the deputy secretary of state.

Becciu denounced the leakers as cowardly and disloyal people who took advantage of their privileged position to leak documents "whose privacy they had an obligation to respect". The archbishop said the pope was very "hurt" by the leaks.

Becciu also rejected media portrayals of the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, as being populated by ambitious clerics more interested in advancing their careers than serving the Church.

Criminal investigations are very rare in the Vatican.

One of the most sensational was opened after Cedric Tornay, a 23-year-old Swiss Guard who had been turned down for a promotion, killed his commander and the commander's wife before committing suicide.

The Vatican investigator determined that Tornay had acted in a "fit of madness".

Heart

An ex-bullfighter tells why he became an animal rights activist

Álvaro Múnera
Alvaro Munera - Make the Connection

"And suddenly, I looked at the bull. He had this innocence that all animals have in their eyes, and he looked at me with this pleading. It was like a cry for justice, deep down inside of me. I describe it as being like a prayer - because if one confesses, it is hoped, that one is forgiven. I felt like the worst shit on earth."

This photo shows the collapse of Torrero Alvaro Munera, as he realized in the middle of the his fight the injustice to the animal. From that day forward he became an opponent of bullfights.

Múnera became a hardcore animal rights defender and nothing less than the Antichrist for tauromachy [the art of bullfighting] aficionados. He currently works in the Council of the City of Medellín, using his position to defend the rights of disabled people and to promote anti-bullfighting campaigns.

Green Light

Greece develops cashless, Euro-free currency in tight economy

greek,cafe

In recent weeks, Theodoros Mavridis has bought fresh eggs, tsipourou (the local brandy: beware), fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, and soap. He has also had some legal advice, and enjoyed the services of an accountant to help fill in his tax return.

None of it has cost him a euro, because he had previously done a spot of electrical work - repairing a TV, sorting out a dodgy light - for some of the 800-odd members of a fast-growing exchange network in the port town of Volos, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki.

In return for his expert labour, Mavridis received a number of Local Alternative Units (known as tems in Greek) in his online network account. In return for the eggs, olive oil, tax advice and the rest, he transferred tems into other people's accounts.

Heart - Black

Hunger: The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools

Image
© unk
"Wear green on St. Patrick's Day or get pinched." That pretty much sums up the Irish American "curriculum" that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.

Sadly, today's high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Yet there is no shortage of material that can bring these dramatic events to life in the classroom. In my own high school social studies classes, I begin with Sinead O'Connor's haunting rendition of "Skibbereen," which includes the verse:
... Oh it's well I do remember, that bleak

December day,

The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive

Us all away

They set my roof on fire, with their cursed

English spleen

And that's another reason why I left old

Skibbereen.