Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday Science Guy


It seems that my posts today have made this Monday, Science Day.

See:

Science

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Just Right Ice

Another example of the Goldilocks Enigma....the X-rays were 'just right'....

Splitting Water Creates Alloy

"At first, we saw these unexpected H2 and O2 peaks in our X-ray Raman spectra," Wendy Mao tells C&EN. "Then we released pressure from the diamond anvil cell, and we actually saw gas bubbling out."

Upon further investigation, they determined that at high pressure the X-rays dissociate H2O and the resulting atoms recombine into a previously unknown solid of H2 and O2. This new "alloy" is spectroscopically distinct from a simple H2-O2 mix.

X-rays are known to create free radicals and instigate reactions at ambient pressure, but examples of similar transformations at high pressure are rare. "We managed to hit on just the right level of X-ray energy input," Hemley explains. "Any higher, and the radiation tends to pass right through the sample. Any lower, and the radiation is largely absorbed by the diamonds in our pressure apparatus."



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Elephants Cogitate

End the Ivory Trade! And the incarceration of elephants.

Elephants possess self-awareness
Happy the elephant recognises herself in a mirror.
Image: Diana Reiss/Wildlife Conservation Society.

Elephants possess self-awareness

SYDNEY: Elephants can recognise themselves in mirrors, an ability which gains them membership of the cognitive elite, U.S. researchers say.

"We report a successful MSR [mirror self-recognition] elephant study and report striking parallels in the progress of responses to mirrors among apes, dolphins and elephants," said the researchers. They report their findings today in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mirror self-recognition is considered a sign of self-awareness which, until now, has been observed only in humans, apes and dolphins. These animals - as well as elephants - all have large brains, complex social systems and high intelligence levels.



"When CITES first banned the ivory trade in 1989, Africa's elephant population was 609,000 (down from 1.3 million in 1979). Now the most optimistic estimates are around 400,000 elephants. Losing elephants is an ecological disaster. Elephants are not just ornaments or tourist attractions; they disperse seeds, prune the trees and shape the land wherever they live, naturally." Ian Redmond, Born Free Wildlife Consultant and elephant expert



By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

Dead elephant   WWF-Canon/Martin Harvey
Poachers' victim in central Africa
A lively illegal trade in ivory is now flourishing in three populous states in West Africa, conservation groups say.

They found more ivory in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal than the countries' own elephant populations could produce.

The wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic and the global conservation group WWF say West Africa's vibrant ivory markets spur the poachers on.

They believe much of the ivory their teams found will have come from animals slaughtered by gangs in central Africa.

Any international ivory trade must be sanctioned by Cites, the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.


The image “http://www.elephant.se/logos/logo.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Elephant News


SEE:


Dialectics of Extinction






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Dialectics of Extinction

"We came up with the idea that humans themselves act as both press and a pulse," said West. "Humans began manipulating the environment - the press - from the advent of agriculture. However, that alone did not trigger the current mass extinction. That seems to have been triggered by the pulse of industrialisation and the demands for energy and resources that came with it."

New theory for mass extinctions



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Pay Now Or Pay Later

Global warming could soon cost trillions

According to the Observer, the Stern report says unchecked climate change would cost up to US$6.98 trillion (A$9 trillion) - more than World Wars I and II and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

It also warns that the world needs to spend about one per cent of global gross domestic product - equivalent to about US$349 billion (A$454 billion) - on the issue now or face a bill up to 20 times higher than that in future, the paper says.

Stern also calls for a successor to the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gases to be signed next year, not in 2010 or 2011 as planned, because the problem is so urgent, according to the paper.

He reportedly says that failure to act quickly would trigger a global recession and calls for an international framework to tackle the issue.

The Observer says his report is the first heavyweight contribution to the debate on climate change by an economist rather than a scientist.


See:

Ambrose

Environment



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Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Am Not A Number


I am a free man. So said the Prisoner. Now it turns out that strange white ball that chased him all over the island when he tried to escape actually exists.

Scientists Stumped: Underwater Photographer Captures Picture of Mysterious Gelatinous Ball; 'A Bit of Science Fiction'

The Prisoner was the British paranoid Sci Fi TV series created by the first TV spy guy; Patrick McGoohan. Who starred in Danger Man/Secret Agent






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Why The Democrats Will Sweep


Because they have no spokesperson, no identifiable leader, no one for Bush to thrash or attack, and because they are all over the map on issues.

All these would be a negative in politics, but come November 7 they will sweep the Congress and the Senate.

And they will do it without having launched an orchestrated campaign like the Republicans did in 1994.

What is seen as weakness is actually to their advantage.

That and of course the daily news from Iraq.




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Zaccardelli Gets The Boot?

Will the Conservatives turf RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardali, looks like they are planning to. Not over his mishandling of the Arar Affair, oh no the Harpocrites love the idea of the Security State. Nope they are dragging up an old sexual abuse case to use as an excuse to turf him. That of course is far more heinious a crime for the Tories than rendition, torture and falsifying information about Maher Arar.

RCMP whistleblowers get Day's protection

Goldring said the officers have information on a case dating back to the 1990s that the RCMP did not adequately investigate alleged sexual abuse by an ex-Mountie at a school in New Brunswick. RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli was in charge of that criminal division at the time.

MP flags concerns over Zaccardelli

See:

RCMP

Arar



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Tories Can't Stop Crime

The New Conservative Government of Stephen Harper prides itself on being our new Law and Order government. Nine months in power and Edmonton remains the Murder Capital of Canada despite the fact that every single Federal MP is a Tory.

So much for their get tough on crime message. It doesn't appear to be getting through. 3 dead in Edmonton nightclub shooting

Alberta is a Tory province. So ask yourself how successful the Conservatives will be federally when they can't stop crime where they governed for thiry five years.


Of course with their new three strikes law the criminals will only get more desperate and fight to the death,rather than go to jail, just as they do in the U.S.

See:

Murder



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The Vampire State

I loved this definition of the State. Just in time for Halloween. Of course Vampirism historically has been the lot of the aristorcacy who sucked the blood out of the peasants.After all the historical vampire Elizabeth Bathory was a Countess, and Vlad Dracul was a Prince. And when the aristocracy gave way to the bourgoise it became the nature of capitalism.

Mr. Ayittey says aid to Africa should bypass governments entirely and flow into the hands of organizations that empower people. In a PBS interview last year, he said, "Africans see government as the problem. In fact, we call them vampire states because they suck the vitality out of the people. A vampire state is a government which has been captured or hijacked by a phalanx of bandits and crooks who use instruments of the state to enrich themselves, their cronies and tribesmen and exclude everybody else …

"Now, if you want to understand why America is rich and Africa is poor, ask yourself, ‘How do the rich in each area make their money?’ Take the U.S., for example. The richest person is Bill Gates. He’s worth something like $64 billion. How did he make his money? He made his money in the private sector, by selling something, Microsoft computer software. He has something to show for his wealth.

"Now, let’s go to Africa. Who are the richest in Africa? The richest in Africa are African heads of state and ministers. How did they make their money? They made their money by raking it off the backs of their suffering people. That is not wealth creation. It is wealth redistribution."

See:

Vampire

Gothic Capitalism



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Mobile Capitalism


In 1998 the World Bank sponsored an email conference on technology and globalization, that I was involved in. At that time, eight years ago, Africa suffered a lack of infrastructure for basic phones services, let alone available service for computers. In fact most of the developing world lacked phone access.

Many email discussions on Labour Net for instance were conducted by someone with a computer forwarding email to faxes and getting faxed responses back.

Today globalization of technology has proved that infrastructure such as telephone does not have to be land based, poles, wires, interchanges, but can now be accessed by satillite and cell phones. Computers which are still unaffordable are being replaced by cell phones.

Africa's 'Lord of the Ringtones'

Computer science students at the University of Nairobi are learning how to design their own "value-added services" in a nine-week course entitled "Mobile Phone Programming for Entrepreneurs."

The class is taught by Nathan Eagle, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who says the traditional focus on computer programming has become increasingly misplaced.

He said: "A lot of people here don't have access to computers. Mobile phones are the way they're getting connected."




The irony is that Africa is the source for a rare metal used in cellphones which comes from the Congo and is found in the areas where endangered Gorilla's live.

The phenomena is sweeping the developing world.
Allowing people in distant villages who never communicated with each other to do so. And of course it has increased the spread of capitalism replacing the barter based economies of the localized free markets. Which means the market becomes dominated by capitalist monopolies.
Cellphones Catapult Rural Africa to 21st Century - New York Times

Phoney finance

Mobile banking is just one example of a wider phenomenon in South Africa. With its odd mix of advanced capitalism and developing-world economics, the country is successfully luring people who hitherto dealt only in cash or barter to the world of formal finance. A simplified kind of account called Mzansi was launched in 2004 to reach the unbanked, and portable banks and ATMs have been rolled out in townships and in the countryside. To this fast-changing scene, mobile-phone banking looks to be a promising addition. Millions of South Africans send money to their relatives in other parts of the country. And most of these sums, which add up to about 12 billion rand ($1.5 billion) each year, still move informally.

No cheap call for cellular network acquisitions

RAMPANT acquisitions in the cellular network industry have seen four players grow to dominate Africa by serving 40% of all subscribers.

Yet there are still 115 operators on the continent, providing plenty of fuel for the acquisition frenzy. The largest operators are MTN, Vodacom and the Middle East’s MTC and Orascom.

But the price tag for acquisitions is reaching a point where even the richest Africans may have to bow out and let the oil rich Arabs muscle in instead.

Recent takeovers have cost more than $1000 for each subscriber — an anomaly when Africans are among the poorest, lowest-spending users in the world. Africa has 165-million users and an average penetration of 18%. That means the potential for growth is still there, analysts agreed at the GSM Africa forum in Cape Town last week.

Of 472-million new users expected to join networks around the world this year, 48-million would be in Africa, said Devine Kofiloto, a principal analyst for Informa Telecoms. Yet the growth potential cannot be gauged purely by Africa’s population, as the majority are too poor to afford cellphone services and penetration would stabilise at about 32%, he said. The payback for acquisitions is also taking longer, as the average revenue per user is plunging as cellphones reach the poorer echelons of society.




See:

The New Market States

Free Market Economics=Cooperatives

Free Trade; Hong Kong & Somalia

Marx Was Right





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Assassination In Mexico

No not Trotsky, but Indymedia reporter Brad Will, reporting from Insurgent Mexico.

Brad Will, Indymedia Reporter, Murdered While Reporting on Mexico Demonstration

Brad was murdered while the phoney el Presidente elect of Mexico was having lunch with el capo Harper in Ottawa.

Of course because Brad was working as freelancer with Indymedia his death has been underreported unlike those MSM journalists killed in Iraq or other war zones . His death was unnessacary as were the deaths of the people of Oaxaca with whom he was covering. This was an assisination by the corrupt Mexican Federal State.

A tip o' the blog to Greenman's Occasional Organ for this.

See:

Oaxaca Mexican Revolution Continues

Dual Power In Mexico




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Dem Crazy Democrats


Who said this;

"I am a Jesus loving, gun toting, fiscal conservative."

Harold Ford the Democratic Candidate for Senator from Tennesse on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

He is running as the 'values' candidate.

As they say Tweedledee Tweedledum.


See:

Democrats Divided On Chavez Speech




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Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's Natures Way


Gay animals exhibit generates heat

A Norwegian museum exhibit of homosexual behaviour in the animal world has sparked consternation among conservative Christians. A Lutheran priest said he hoped the organisers would "burn in hell," and a Pentecostal priest lashed out at the exhibition saying tax payers' money used for it would have been better spent helping the animals correct "their perversions and deviances".

Help the animals correct their deviances and perversions how ya gonna do that? Shock Therapy like they used on gays back thirty years ago?

So drop the false moral indignation, which says heterosexuality is Natural and homosexuality isn't. Freud already proved that was untrue. Now get over it.

Breaking what is taboo for some, the Natural History Museum in Oslo is currently showing an exhibition on homosexuality in the animal kingdom which organisers say is the first of its kind in the world.

"As homosexual people are often confronted with the argument that their way of living is against the principles of nature, we thought that ... as a scientific institution, we could at least show that this is not true," said exhibition organiser Geir Soeli.

"You can think whatever you want about homosexuals but you cannot use that argument because it is very natural, it's very common in animal kingdom," Soeli added.


Oh yes and marriage is a property relationship it isn't 'sacred' either.

Of course the Christian Conservatives loved their favorite family film; March of the Penquins. They thought it great that Emperor Penquins mated for life proving family values are natural. But as it turns out the Emperor Penguins are also homosexual as well.

Of course as a fallback the Christian Conservatives raise the fear of Islam....Conservative activist Mike Baker said, "Nevermind Christian condemnation. This exhibit won't endear the museum with many Muslims."

Of course all patriarchical religions and sects fear homosexuality as they do women. And poor Mike Baker is confusing Norway with Denmark.

animal species practice homosexuality

Homosexuality is quite common in the animal kingdom, especially among herding animals. Many animals solve conflicts by practicing same gender sex.

From the middle of October until next summer the Norwegian Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo will host the first exhibition that focuses on homosexuality in the animal kingdom.

"One fundamental premise in social debates has been that homosexuality is unnatural. This premise is wrong. Homosexuality is both common and highly essential in the lives of a number of species," explains Petter Boeckman, who is the academic advisor for the "Against Nature's Order?" exhibition.

The most well-known homosexual animal is the dwarf chimpanzee, one of humanity's closes relatives. The entire species is bisexual. Sex plays an conspicuous roll in all their activities and takes the focus away from violence, which is the most typical method of solving conflicts among primates and many other animals.



Biological Exuberance: Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name - Homosexuality in animals... (gay animals and a strange bat)

See:

Morality not from animals

Polygamy is NOT Polyamoury

Homosexual

Metrosexual

Same Sex Marriage


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Friday, October 27, 2006

The Cost of Fitness

The Tories tax credit for fitness is a joke. First it will be based on fitness programs that can prove they improve kids "cardio-respiratory fitness" Next it ain't $500 its only $78.50. For every $500 you spend on Hockey Equipment or joining a sports fitness centre you will get a tax credit for $78.50.

The federal government let parents claim up to $500, but give them an annual maximum of $78.50 per child.During the campaign before the Jan. 23 parliamentary election, Stephen Harper proposed that parents with children under 16 be able to claim $500 in registration fees per child participating in organized sports.

Dr. Kellie Leitch suggests that means activities such as archery and lawn bowling wouldn't qualify. Eligible programs would have to include at least 30 minutes of physical activity for kids under 10, and an hour for those 10 and over, for parents to qualify for the maximum tax credit of $78.50 per child.



Of course if your kids join a dance group like Shumka or go to a Drama Music Dance School like Fame you get nada. Despite these programs being just as effective at improving cardio-respiratory fitness in your kids as sports programs. Call it another tax credit for the suburban class, call it the Harpers Kids benefit, cause his son plays hockey and would qualify.

Call it another false promise, $500 suddenly becomes $78.50. And there are restrictions on who qualifies. Just like their Family Allowance payments aren't a Universal Daycare program.


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Patriarchy Hates Women


Two blogs at opposite political polls make the point that patriarchy hates women. April Reign reports on the right wing Catholic attacks on womens right to choose in Nicaragua and Poland, and the sexist comments of a Mulsim Cleric in Australia admonishing women to avoid dressing provocatively or they invite rape.

At the other end of the political spectrum Big Blue Wave complains that people, men, are sexist in believing that social conservative women are dumb. Well they aren't dumb, but they are agents of patriarchy. Which is worse. Because they are women they think they can speak for all women, while denouncing feminists for doing the same thing.

In reality they are the womens voice FOR patriarchy, which is anti-women always has been always will be.


Unfortunately the pews, temples, and synagogues are filled with women. Without women the patriarchical religions would collapse. Like Hegels 'slaves'; whose existence is justfied through their bondage, conservative women act against their own best interests for the interests of their masters. Thus the right wing can justify their attack on individual rights by saying not all women support feminism.

The war on women is the inherent misogyny of patriarchy, the battle for womens rights which is the battle for individual rights means that patriarchy needs to be abolished. Since all monotheist religions are patriarchical and conduct their moral war against human rights and individual rights means that we must abolish religious institutions and their political power.

This has always been the core of anarchist anti-theism.

See:

Radical Feminism

Whose Family Values?

The Sanctity of Marriage Debate

Feminism



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Rona Wrong On Kyoto


Conservative Environment Minister Rona Ambrose likes to denounce the Kyoto accord because it would mean Canada would pay foreign countries to reduce their greenhouse gases. Of course she has made it sound like that would be a bad thing. Too bad the World Bank disagrees with her. As do the investment bankers Morgan Stanely. So even the scions of capitalism say the Tories have it wrong. Time for her to resign.

Rich should pay for forests: World Bank

Global warming caused by rapid deforestation could be curbed if developing countries were paid the proper rewards for maintaining their forests, according to a World Bank report.

The report released this week noted that the world's forests are disappearing at a rate of five percent a decade as woodland is cleared for timber and production of in-demand commodities like beef, coffee and soybeans.

But the land would have far more value if developing countries were paid to preserve their forests on global carbon markets, the report said. Such markets are an offshoot of the Kyoto agreement, and allow countries that struggle to meet targets for industrial emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) to pay other countries that keep their emissions down.

Global push to cut greenhouse emissions

The drive to tackle climate change gathered pace on Thursday as Morgan Stanley, the investment bank, announced a $3bn plan to invest in the carbon trading market amid mounting evidence that some US states are growing more sympathetic to international action.

The moves come just days before a UK government report is expected to propose a huge expansion of the global market in trading permits for carbon dioxide emissions. It will also propose extending existing mechanisms for western companies to benefit from promoting cleaner energy in poor countries.

A bigger market could offer substantial business opportunities. One recent calculation suggests that global expenditure on curbing the effects of climate change could be worth about $1,000bn (£529bn) within five years of action being agreed.


See:

Ambrose

Environment

Kyoto



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Open Skies

Gee I made this point the other day Make Robert Milton Happy and no sooner do I point it out then the Tories oblige in bringing it up......Ottawa hints it's ready to open Canadian skies to competition


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Public Pension Parnerships


David Dodge , Governor of the Bank of Canada has a new definition for P3's, Public Private Partnerships, well actually he has said this many times before. His definition of P3's for investment purposes is Public Pension Partnerships. That is he wants to see government access workers pension funds to pay for infrastructure.


On the long-term structural issues facing Ontario, Dodge said it was critical the province improve efficiency and productivity by investing in infrastructure and human capital.

He threw his support behind public-private partnerships as way for Ontario to dig its way out of an infrastructure crunch.

''There is evidence from other countries that public-private partnerships can both increase the efficiency of investments and support their financing,'' Dodge said.

''Now is the right time to encourage partnerships between the government of Ontario and private providers, given the climate of low nominal interest rates and the presence of large pension funds that searching for these kinds of investment opportunities.''


As I have said here before the liquidity of institutional pension funds, such as the Canada Pension Plan, Ontario Teachers Fund, the largest such source of capital in Canada, and OMERS, as well as the building trades pension funds are not private but actually another form of public funding. In otherwords Public Private is a misnomer, it should be called Public Pension Partnerships. The working class again funds itself, through low wages, taxes and then finally with our pensions.

Private capital on the other hand wants to make its profits faster so it will not invest in infrastructure. Instead it turns to creating tax shelters such as Income Trusts. So the State turns to social capital for its financing instead, as do businesses that are in need of restructuring but want to avoid a hedge fund takeover, which inevitabley ends when they are cannibalized and sold off.

CPP to assume active role with $5-billion fund

The relationship portfolio will eventually consist of about a half-dozen companies and be part of the $57-billion in stocks run by Donald Raymond, CPP's senior vice-president for public market investments. Mr. Raymond is a former Canadian air force pilot who joined the money manager in 2001 from Goldman Sachs & Co. The new head of relationship investing is expected to receive a pay package similar to the $864,000 that Mr. Raymond was awarded last year.

The move to activism — CPP executives prefer to call it “pro-active engagement” — takes the CPP fund down a path blazed by many U.S. public sector funds and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. The $96-billion Teachers fund has been making such investments for the past 15 years, using in-house expertise to earn superior long-term returns.

Teachers now has between $3-billion and $4-billion of its money committed to this area, said Brian Gibson, a senior vice-president at the pension fund.

Value investors typically target companies they feel are undervalued, and wait for the price to appreciate. Activist investors target much the same companies, but once they understand what they believe to be reason for the underperformance, they work on a plan to correct it.

Pension funds that currently are complaining that they have no shareholder say in companies they invest in turn deny their own investors, you and me, any say in their internal affairs and investment policies. Pot, kettle, black.

The powerful Ontario Teachers Pension Plan is asking Goldcorp Inc. to give shareholders a vote on its $6.7-billion (U.S.) takeover of Glamis Gold Ltd., giving credence to a court challenge by the company's founder and largest shareholder.

As Robert McEwen's request for a court order imposing a Goldcorp shareholder vote was being heard in Ontario Superior Court, Teachers executives were meeting with the company's chief executive officer, Ian Telfer, just a few blocks away.

The pension plan, which owned about 2.3 million Goldcorp shares or about half a per cent of the company's outstanding float at year end, said the transaction's significant share dilution is well beyond the level where shareholder input should be sought. “It's hard to imagine how you can issue 67 per cent of your shares and say nothing has changed,” said Teachers senior vice-president, Brian Gibson, in an interview. “That's pretty significant and we believe shareholders should be consulted,” he added.

What we need is a socail policy on public pensions that allows those of us who are the investors and owners of these funds to have a say in how and where they invest.

Capital and Social Europe
Robin Blackburn, NLR 34, July-August 2005, pp. 87-112
The social funds would also be as much about producing wealth as distributing it. In a continent where stock exchanges are already of greatly increased importance, the social funds could help to protect productive enterprises from ‘financialization’, promote socially responsible business objectives and assert a degree of popular control over the accumulation process. The network of pension funds would have significant power in corporate affairs, both because of its shares and its investment policies. The fund network could develop its own cadre of financial specialists and would have reason to assist the tax authorities in monitoring and enforcing fiscal regulations.


See:

Social Insecurity The Phony Pension Crisis

Pension Plunder

Is Delphi the Oracle of things to come?

Labour Is Capital

Pension Free China

Kids Are Commodities

Workers vs Worker

Air Canada Profits From Bankruptcy




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Star Wars


Forget BMD, move over George Lucas, here comes the real Star Wars; The United States of Space.

A Dangerous Step toward Space Warfare

The release of the U.S. National Space Policy (NSP) on October 6 has worried many experts, who say the policy marks a strategic shift toward a more military-oriented, unilateral approach to space for the United States. They fear that the policy, if followed, could begin an arms race leading to catastrophic space warfare.

The NSP reads, in part, "The United States considers space capabilities… vital to its national interests. Consistent with this policy, the United States will: preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space; dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so; take those actions necessary to protect its space capabilities; respond to interference; and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests;

See:

Space



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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lumpenproletariat

In Marx's time they were called the Lumpenproletariat......

How Globalization Is Creating a New European Underclass

Rather, what stand out are the symptoms of intellectual neglect. The poor of today watch television for half the day. These days, television producers even refer to what they call "Underclass TV." The new proletariat eats a lot of fatty foods and he enjoys smoking and drinking -- a lot. About 8 percent of Germans consume 40 percent of all the alcohol sold in the country. While he may be a family man, his families are often broken. And on Election Day, he casts a protest vote for the extreme left or right wing party, sometimes switching quickly from one to the other.

But the main thing that sets the modern poor apart from the industrial age pauper is a sheer lack of interest in education. Today's proletariat has little education and no interest in obtaining more. Back in the early days of industrialization, the poor joined worker associations that often doubled as educational associations. The modern member of the underclass, by contrast, has completely shunned personal betterment.

He likewise makes little effort to open the door to the future for his own children. Their language skills are as bad as their ability to concentrate. The rising rate of illiteracy is matched by the shrinking opportunities to integrate the under class. The Americans, not ones to mince words, call them "white trash."


And the old debate on whether they are revolutionary or reactionary returns.
The Philosophical Roots of the Marx-Bakunin Conflict

The Revolutionary Agent

Another strategical disagreement dividing Marx and Bakunin centered around the question of who would lead the revolution. Both agreed that the proletariat would play a key role, but for Marx the proletariat was the exclusive, leading revolutionary agent while Bakunin entertained the possibility that the peasants and even the lumpenproletariat (the unemployed, common criminals, etc.) could rise to the occasion. Bakunin argued, for example, that the peasants were a revolutionary class for three reasons: (1) They have retained “the simple, robust temperament and the energy germane to the folk nature.” (2) They work with their hands and despise privilege. And (3) as toilers they have common interests with workers

In other words, being close to nature, the peasants are less alienated from their true, natural essence since they have suffered less corruption by the evils of society. Bakunin adopted a similar argument in relation to the lumpenproletariat:

“By flower of the proletariat, I mean precisely that eternal ‘meat’, ... that great rabble of the people (underdogs, ‘dregs of society’) ordinarily designated by Marx and Engels in the picturesque and contemptuous phrase lumpenproletariat. I have in mind the ‘riffraff’, that ‘rabble’ almost unpolluted by bourgeois civilization, which carries in its inner being and in its aspirations ... all the seeds of the socialism of the future....”

In both cases, Bakunin’s conclusions flow directly from his conviction that inherent in humanity is a natural essence which can be suppressed but never entirely extinguished. Those in society who are more distant from the State apparatus (the peasants are scattered throughout the countryside, the lumpenproletariat simply refuses to obey the laws) are accordingly natural leaders.

In contrast, Marx consistently argued that the proletariat alone was the revolutionary agent: “Of all classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product.”Here again their different philosophical frameworks led these revolutionaries in opposed directions. Because Marx believed human nature was shaped by the economy, he analyzed the possible revolutionary agents by analyzing how the economy would influence their development. And economic considerations led him to conclude that the peasants could not play a leading revolutionary role. For example, they do not constitute a cohesive class. Some are large landowners and hire other peasants to work for them while the latter are often landless and destitute. Moreover, the desire for land by a majority of the peasants could serve as an anchor, holding them back from a truly revolutionary perspective. Rather than rallying for a thoroughgoing, socialist revolution where private ownership of land is abolished, they often veer in the direction of seeking to augment their own modest, private property land holdings at the expense of the large landowners. But aside from these economic considerations, Marx also believed that the situation of the peasants, not only prohibited them from attaining class consciousness, but from becoming a truly revolutionary class:

“The small holding peasants form a vast mass, the members of which live in similar conditions but without entering into manifold relations with one another. Their mode of production isolates them from one another instead of bringing them into mutual intercourse.... Their field of production, the small holding, admits of no division of labor in its cultivation, no application of science and, therefore, no diversity of development, no variety of talent, no wealth of social relationships. Each individual peasant family is almost self-sufficient; it itself directly produces the major part of its consumption and thus acquires its means of life more through exchange with nature than in intercourse with society. A small holding, a peasant and his family; alongside them another small holding, another peasant and another family.... In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions of existence that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of other classes, and put them in hostile opposition to the latter, they form a class. In so far as there is a merely local interconnection among these small-holding peasants, and the identity of their interests begets no community, no national bond and no political organization among them, they do not form a class.”

Marx was even less enthusiastic about the lumpenproletariat because it was not directly related to the production process at all, being comprised of the permanently unemployed, criminals, etc.





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