goings on in the world

Michael Klare writing in Motherjones about a tripolar great game analysis of Iran:

As the crisis over Iran unfolds, most of the news commentary will continue to focus on the war of words between Washington and Tehran. Political insiders understand, however, that the most significant struggle is the one that remains just out of sight, pitting Washington against Moscow and Beijing in the battle for global influence and energy domination.

It’s a pretty fascinating piece, and well worth a look.

Given what is at stake, it is easy to see why the United States, Russia, and China all have such an abiding interest in the outcome of the Iranian crisis. For Washington, the replacement of the clerical government in Tehran with a U.S.-friendly regime would represent a colossal, threefold accomplishment: It would eliminate a major threat to America’s continued dominance of the Persian Gulf, open up the world’s number two oil-and-gas supplier to American energy firms, and greatly diminish Chinese and Russian influence in the greater Gulf region.

(Sort of relatedly, this is another article about the USA’s rejection of Iran’s 2003 offer to put dismantling nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and removal of support for Palestinian militias and a host of other issues on the table (I mentioned this in the comments of the Ahmadinejad interview, but this article is fuller, and plays differently in the wider context above))

Other than that, in the context of a so-called clash of civilisations, check out this article analysing the compatibility or otherwise of Islam and capitalism. While I’m not sure I agree with all of it, it is a useful insight.

When you look at anti-capitalist rhetoric in Muslim circles, you will see that it is focused on sexual laxity, prostitution, drugs, crime, or the general selfishness in Western societies. Yet these are not the inherent elements of capitalism, they would be better explained by the term “cultural materialism” — the idea that material things are the only things that matter. Most Muslims who abhor capitalism simply confuse it with materialism.

Finally, here is an article on Iraq which gets into the gruesome of life on the ground in a chunkily graphic kind of way.

Each corpse tells a different story about the terrors of Iraq. Some bodies are pocked with holes inflicted by torturers with power drills. Some show signs of strangulation; others, with hands tied behind the back, bear bullet wounds. Many are charred and dismembered.

chunk

“We do not want their bodies cleared from the streets,” he said. “We leave them there for the dogs to eat, just as they dump Sunni bodies in rubbish heaps to be devoured by animals.”

chunk

“We’re always having to invent new methods of torturing people to death,” said a 32-year-old airport worker who also claims to command the interrogation section of a militia cell loyal to Sheikh Moqtada al-Sadr, the rebel Shi’ite cleric.

chunky.

What else is going on?

sorry, you go blind so we can get rich

A major drug company is blocking access to a medicine that is cheaply and effectively saving thousands of people from going blind because it wants to launch a more expensive product on the market.

Like, aiming at a product that will cost £1,000 a dose, instead of less than £10.

A nice awful example of how our motives need to change to put human needs ahead of corporate needs.

We’re getting a collection of these sort of posts.

what do we mean by consciousness change, anyway?

There’s a certain amount of burbling about consciousness change that goes on, myself included in this, and generally not a great deal of specificity; it seems to be more of a feeling, man.

I find this an incredibly succinct summation.

“I have been involved for over 40 years in research on non-ordinary states of consciousness induced by psychedelics and by powerful experiential forms of psychotherapy, as well as those occurring spontaneously. During this time, I have seen many instances of profound transformation of individuals. These changes included a significant reduction of aggression and a general increase of compassion and tolerance. As the capacity to enjoy life was enhanced, one could see a significant diminishing of the insatiable drive to pursue linear goals that seem to exert such a magic spell on individuals in the Western industrial world and our entire society – of the belief that more is better, that unlimited growth and doubling or tripling of the gross national product is going to make us all happy. Another significant aspect of this transformation was emergence of spirituality of a universal and nondenominational nature characterized by the awareness of unity underlying all of creation and a deep connection to other people, other species, nature, and the entire cosmos.

I have therefore no doubts that a profound transformation of consciousness is possible in individuals and that it would increase our chances for survival if it would occur on a significantly large scale. Naturally, it remains an open question whether a transformation of this kind will occur in a large enough segment of the population in a short enough time to make a difference. The practical question is, whether such a change can be facilitated and by what means, and what would be the problems associated with such a strategy. But in the human personality itself there exist mechanisms that could mediate a profound and desirable transformation.”

– Stanislav Grof.

england set to abolish parliamentary oversight

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill has survived three readings in the UK parliament, and is now before the House of Lords.

It sounds dull but it’s impressively freaky, granting any minister the ability to amend or repeal almost any piece of legislation without putting it before parliament- basically removing the democratic bit from democracy by massively increasing unchecked executive power.

The bill has been fast-tracked, with little discussion or debate in parliament, questions about the potential for misuse swiftly dismissed, and little media coverage.

POEE article.
SaveParliament site. (site design a little amateur but the content seems solid)

soccer = sex

Thoughts while watching the World Cup.

Isn’t soccer, on some blatant subliminal level, all about sex? Specifically, the male orgasm?

All this protracted effort, heaving and sweating to get this tiny white seed into the net vagina. And the sheer exultation on succeeding; I mean, really, what else makes someone that happy every time?

The fan angle is a reflection/projection of their own sexual prowess onto the players of their team through the ritualised act of sex-play.

The total frustration of being scoreless is a kind of impotence.

And the way everyone admires the virility of the latin american studs, clearly the best lovers.

Discuss. 🙂

the future is behind you

If you think like an Aymara.

New analysis of the language and gesture of South America’s indigenous Aymara people indicates a reverse concept of time.

Contrary to what had been thought a cognitive universal among humans – a spatial metaphor for chronology, based partly on our bodies’ orientation and locomotion, that places the future ahead of oneself and the past behind – the Amerindian group locates this imaginary abstraction the other way around: with the past ahead and the future behind.

I should blog a review of Physics as Metaphor by Dr RogerJones at some point, which has a lot to say about the way the imaginary abstractions which are the cardinal metaphors underlying physics (space, time, matter and number) and our experience of the world are created by the mind rather than existing independently.

“These findings suggest that cognition of such everyday abstractions as time is at least partly a cultural phenomenon,” Nunez said. “That we construe time on a front-back axis, treating future and past as though they were locations ahead and behind, is strongly influenced by the way we move, by our dorsoventral morphology, by our frontal binocular vision, etc. Ultimately, had we been blob-ish amoeba-like creatures, we wouldn’t have had the means to create and bring forth these concepts.

“But the Aymara counter-example makes plain that there is room for cultural variation. With the same bodies – the same neuroanatomy, neurotransmitters and all – here we have a basic concept that is utterly different,” he said.

monday music (on a tuesday)

So, what song or piece of music is doing it for you, right now?

Tell me, that I may download it.

Lately, for me, it has been Guns’n’Roses cover of Human Being by the New York Dolls;

Well if you don’t like it go ahead and find yourself a date
find yourself a boy who’s gonna be what I ain’t
What you need is a plastic doll with a fresh coat of paint
Who’ll sit still through all the madness and always act so quaint

New Noise by Refused;

Great words won’t cover ugly actions
Good frames won’t save bad paintings

We lack the motion to move to the new beat

How can we expect anyone to listen
If we’re using the same old voice?
We need new noise
New art for the real people

We dance to all the wrong songs
We enjoy all the wrong moves
We dance to all the wrong songs
We’re not, we’re not, we’re not, we’re not, we’re not
we’re not, we’re not… leading

and Waking Hour by The Gathering.

The eyes are made to see
They see the paths of our lives

The heart is there to feel
It feels the energy of our time

I can see it
I can feel it

This is my waking hour
This is my place
I can hear it
I feel the power in my heart
And it’s my moment
It is right there
And it’s staring me in the face

At the moment it seems to be Decay 2 [Nihils Maw] by Sunn O))).

I don’t know what the words are. It is some guy growling 5000 year old sanskrit texts.

the surrealist war on terror

In quite possibly the most grotesque piece of spin ever, suicides at Guantanamo are being spun as “acts of asymetrical warfare” against the US by the US military.

This despite the dozens of unsuccessful suicide attempts at Guantanamo where prisoners have been held for four years, generally without trial or charge or any hope of salvation, in famously punitive conditions.

Meanwhile, it turns out the US could have killed Zarqawi several years ago, but didn’t because they feared destroying his terrorist training camp in Iraq could undercut the case for war with Iraq.

Death by medicine

Death by medicine is a really eye opening study suggesting that prescribed drugs, unnecessary procedures, and other iaotrogenic factors (getting sick when you think you will because the doctor has indicated you will – sort of the shadow of the placebo effect) account for more deaths each year in America than cancer or heart attacks. Further, those numbers are probably lower than fact, because iatrogenic cases are underreported – perhaps as few as 20% of cases are reported. While their angle is certainly pro-natural products, the study claims to be an independent review of statistical evidence. Really worth a look.

One reason to perhaps consider this sort of information is having an awareness of the nature and extent of the PR barrage to make people accept and purchase proprietary pharmaceuticals. Earlier we blogged about links and possible collusion between those who make psychiatric medicines and those who define what medicine is prescribed for certain conditions.

But in terms of the lengths that the pharmaceutical industry will go to get us buying what they want, check out this twisted article. It claims that a pharmaceutical lobby group, PHRMA, hired writers to write a novel they’d plotted, involving terrorists (oooh!) altering prescription drugs in Canada to kill Americans buying them cheaply over the internet or by crossing the border. The writers were instructed to “dumb it down” so that women, the main buyers of prescription medicines, would be able to understand it. The point seems to be scare people off buying drugs outside of America.

Why would anyone do anything this, well, freakish? Well, from PHRMA’s website, their members invested $39.4 billion in drug research and development in 2005. So that’d be why.

This moose is happy to have been to a doctor once in the past twelve years.

see Iraq spin

Zarqawi is dead.

U.S. President George W. Bush said Zarqawi’s death “is a severe blow to Al Qaeda and it is a significant victory in the war on terror.”

vs

Field Commanders tell Pentagon Iraq war “is lost”

Military commanders in the field in Iraq admit in private reports to the Pentagon the war “is lost” and that the U.S. military is unable to stem the mounting violence killing 1,000 Iraqi civilians a month.

Even worse, they report the massacre of Iraqi civilians at Haditha is “just the tip of the iceberg” with overstressed, out-of-control Americans soldiers pushed beyond the breaking point both physically and mentally.

Spin, Iraq, spin!

Zarqawi is dead.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the killing of Zarqawi was “enormously important” for the fight against terror in Iraq and around the world.

“Let there be no doubt the fact that he is dead is a significant victory in the battle against terrorism in that country and I would say worldwide,” Rumsfeld said from Brussels where he was attending a NATO meeting

vs

Field Commanders tell Pentagon Iraq war “is lost”

Similar reports emerge from military units throughout Iraq and even the Iraqi prime minister describes American soldiers as trigger happy goons with little regard for the lives of civilians.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki says the murder of Iraqi civilians has become a “daily phenomenon” by American troops who “do not respect the Iraqi people.”

“They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable,” Maliki said. The White House tried to play down Maliki’s comments, saying the prime minister was “misquoted” although Maliki himself has yet to made such a public claim.

The two articles quoted were published three days apart.

Oh, and as a research flag for me, they were tracked via cellphone monitoring.

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