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Fri, 07 Aug 2020
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Don't Look on the Bright Side: Pessimism, Not Magical Thinking, Is What Will Save Us

It would take a miracle for our intractable problems to become tractable. Being in denial about that doesn't help anyone.

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© Unknown
It gets worse. If you pay attention to the news, the prospects for the future look grim. The new normal of high unemployment and stagnant wages will likely not turn out to be just a phase. The next generations may indeed do worse than the ones before them. Thanks to the Supreme Court, big money will keep tightening its stranglehold on elections and lawmaking. Financial reform and consumer protection will never survive the onslaught of lobbyists. Reckless bankers will go on making out like bandits, and the public will always be forced to rescue them. The Internet, along with cable and wireless, will be controlled by fewer and more-powerful companies. The world will keep staggering from one economic crisis to another. We will not have the leadership and citizenship we need to kick our dependence on oil. We will not even keep up with the Kardashians.

Add your own items to the list. Whatever global threats scare you -- climate change, the Middle East, loose nukes, pandemics -- and whatever domestic issues haunt you -- failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, rising poverty, obesity -- the odds are that the honesty, discipline, resources and burden-sharing required for a happy ending will not, like Elijah, show up at our door.

Comment: One of the ways you can combat the overwhelming feelings of these troubling times is to start Éiriú Eolas (EE). EE helps to relieve stress while healing, detoxifying and rejuvenating so that you can remain calm yet alert in difficult situations.


Alarm Clock

Japan - Radiation Expert Predicts More Threats

Tokyo - A former nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted the government's handling of the crisis, and predicted more revelations of radiation threats to the public in the coming months.

In his first media interview since resigning his post in protest in April, Toshiso Kosako, one of the country's leading experts on radiation safety, said Mr. Kan's government has been slow to test for dangers in the sea and to fish, and has understated certain radiation threats to minimize clean-up costs. In his post, Mr. Kosako's role was to advise the prime minister on radiation safety.

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© STR Agency France Presse/Getty Images
Toshiso Kosako, who resigned in April as a senior nuclear adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, says the government is still failing at radiation protection.
And while there have been scattered reports of food contamination - of tea leaves and spinach, for example - Mr. Kosako predicted there will be broader discoveries later this year, especially as rice, Japan's staple, is harvested.

"Come the harvest season in the fall, there will be a chaos," Mr. Kosako said. "Among the rice harvested, there will certainly be some radiation contamination - though I don't know at what levels - setting off a scandal. If people stop buying rice from Tohoku ... we'll have a tricky problem."

Mr. Kosako also said that the way the government has handled the Fukushima Daiichi situation since the March 11 tsunami crippled the reactors has exposed basic flaws in Japanese policy making.

"The government's decision-making mechanism is opaque," he said. "It's never clear what reasons are driving what decisions. This doesn't look like a democratic society. Japan is increasingly looking like a developing nation in East Asia."

Bizarro Earth

US - A Fourth of July Without Fireworks?

Counties Across South Impose Bans Amid Persistent Drought and Record Blazes

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© Associated Press
A fireworks store near Santa Fe, N.M., was closed Wednesday.
This July Fourth holiday could be dimmer than usual across the South after officials imposed bans on the sale and use of fireworks amid persistent drought and some of the worst wildfires in recorded history.

Officials from Florida to Arizona have prohibited the use of fireworks to reduce the risk of more wildfires. They are also asking counties and residents where bans aren't in place to give up holiday displays.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday ordered state police officers to help enforce bans and restrictions put in place across parts of the state. "The conditions in New Mexico are simply too dangerous for anyone to buy, sell or use fireworks this summer," she said in a statement.

Bad Guys

US - Cities on High Alert as July Fourth Nears: "Threat is Very Real"

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© Thinkstock/Comstock Images
New York - Although no specific plot has been identified, revelers this Fourth of July can expect extraordinary security -- from expanded patrols and SWAT units to biological weapon response teams and undercover officers mingling with celebratory crowds.

"It's absolutely not a joke," said New York police Sgt. Thomas Horvath, who took ABC News on patrol around New York City's waterways. "The threat is very real. On the day of the [July 4] event, we're going to put out basically every asset we have."

And those assets will likely include a boat designed for the NYPD that detects radiation from a nuclear bomb or radiological "dirty" bomb.

The Chicago Police Department says they will have an "elevated presence throughout the downtown area and other critical locations throyghout the weekend" including both uniformed and "cover" officers.

Its sophisticated equipment monitors all radiation readings in the area. Any suspicious readings can be instantly sent to the Brookhaven laboratory in Washington D.C. for analysis by nuclear physicists. There are only two such boats in the world.

This year, police are especially concerned because evidence from Osama bin Laden's compound revealed that he wanted to kill Americans on July Fourth or by the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

"We all know that the Fourth of July is a signature holiday," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Friday. "Some of our enemies abroad would like to exploit that."

Comment: An actual threat based on facts or more fear mongering?


Briefcase

Minnesota government shutdown begins after talks fail

Minneapolis - Minnesota's state government began a broad shut down on Friday going into the July 4 holiday after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders failed to reach a budget deal.

Parts of the government had already begun to shut down on Thursday ahead of the midnight budget deadline, including some websites and dozens of highway rest stops on one of the biggest travel days of the year.

The budget impasse means that some 23,000 of the roughly 36,000 Minnesota state employees will be furloughed and state parks and campgrounds closed ahead of what is usually their busiest stretch of the year for the July 4 holiday.

Binoculars

US: Washington State Closes Tourism Office Over Budget Woes

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© Reuters
Tourists walk by as street musicians Slimpickins play in front of the first Starbucks store located at historic Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington.
The state of Washington formally shuttered its tourism office on Friday, a move that helps close deep budget deficits but makes it the only U.S. state no longer spending money to attract visitors.

The remaining $2 million expected to fund the tourism office over the next year was cut by a vote of the Washington state legislature in May as part of the budget that Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law on June 15.

Gregoire first proposed ending tourism funding in December, as the state faced a $5.2 billion budget gap.

"It would be incredibly difficult to use taxpayer dollars to support our tourism office, while at the same time make significant cuts to education and health care," Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren said.

"(The governor) is working closely with the private sector to ensure potential visitors continue to know about the attractions and the beautiful natural wonders found in Washington state," Shagren said.

People

US: Anonymous, Food Not Bombs to test Orlando police Monday by feeding homeless

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Hacker activists with the protest group "Anonymous" have in recent weeks taken down over a half-dozen major Orlando, Florida-based websites and spammed tens of thousands of unsolicited faxes all over the city as a response to an ordinance that prohibits feeding homeless people in public parks.

In a release Friday on the progress of what they called "Operation Orlando," the group insisted that its efforts were in no way connected to the activists with Food Not Bombs (FNB), who've been arrested for feeding the homeless in a city park.

Keith McHenry, who helped found the group 30 years ago, was arrested last week and is still imprisoned. McHenry's view is that food is a right, not a privilege, so he and the group refused to abide by the law.

Eye 1

DA has evidence Strauss-Kahn bruised maid's vagina

The attorney for the maid allegedly raped by Dominique Strauss-Kahn surprised experts with a half-hour press conference Friday after The New York Times reported that his client had lied to prosecutors.

Kenneth Thompson said that the New York County District Attorney had an "obligation" to prosecute Strauss-Kahn because the physical evidence of a violent attack was irrefutable.

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn came out running out of one of those rooms naked, towards her and he grabbed her breasts first and started to attack her," Thompson explained. "He then grabbed her vagina with so much force that he hurt her. He grabbed her vagina with so much force that he bruised her vagina."

Light Saber

Fresh protests break out in Egypt

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Strikes and protests are breaking out again in Egypt, with over a thousand people being injured in violent clashes on Friday, amid fears that the achievements of last winter's revolution could be lost.

The protesters are concerned that the interim military government seems to be increasing its control, possibly with the encouragement of the United States. Reforms are not being put through, many of former President Hosni Mubarak's cronies still hold power, and even the trial of the hated former interior minister has been adjourned.

"People are not getting what they thought they were getting [but] we're not hearing anything about it in the corporate news," journalist Afshin Rattansi told Russia Today. "It's as if that revolution's done and dusted and the Egyption people are fine."

Card - VISA

WikiLeaks prepares to sue Visa and MasterCard

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WikiLeaks announced on Friday evening that it and service provider Datacell intend to sue Visa and MasterCard in Europe "for engaging in an unlawful, U.S. influenced, financial blockade."

The two credit card services blocked all payments to WikiLeaks last December, claiming that their "rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal." They have maintained this claim, even though it is has never been determined that WikiLeaks is guilty of any crime.

According to the WikiLeaks press release, the credit card companies were told on June 9 that if their blockade against payments to WikiLeaks is not removed, suit will be filed against them with the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court and a request for prosecution will also be filed with the European Union.