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"Medical Errors Should Not Be Our 3rd Leading Cause of Death." KILLER CARE in Huffington Post

September 27, 2016
Suppose two jumbo jets crashed every day, killing a total of about 365,000 people in a year. Remarkably enough that’s about the level of carnage caused every year in our country by avoidable medical mistakes. We would never tolerate such an incredible loss of life were it caused by recurring plane crashes (or most anything else). The Federal Aviation Authority would be given immediate and unlimited funding to figure out exactly why the planes were crashing and to do whatever it takes to make them safe again. In fact, complete reporting of mistakes, and constantly correcting them, has made flying in a commercial plane about the safest thing a person can ever do. In contrast, and inexplicably, we tolerate an equivalent loss of life caused by medical mistakes, despite the fact that they have become the third leading cause of death in the US. There is no public fear and rage, no sustained and coordinated effort to identify the major sources of error and eliminate them.


Read the full story here.

"They were scattered everywhere, all drowning." OPTICIAN OF LAMPEDUSA in The Telegraph

September 26, 2016
“It was so intense to hold a stranger’s hand in mine,” he explained. “I have never felt anything more intimate. When I pulled that first young man from the water it felt like….” Rosaria, who had been nervously fiddling with the strands of her silver necklace, finished his sentence for him. “It felt something like love,” she said simply and I held her hand under the table.


Read the full story here.

Robert Guffey blogs on Cryptoscatology

September 23, 2016
"The most recent issue of New Dawn Magazine (No. 158, September/October 2016) includes Part One of my epic three-part series entitled "What's At the End of Main Street?: The Struggle Between the Artificial and the Real in Recent Gnostic Cinema," in which I analyze key examples of "Gnostic Cinema" (i.e., films that explore the illusory nature of reality within a fictional framework) ranging from Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. in 1924 to Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook in 2014." Read the full post, and many more, here.

In Other News interviews Robert Guffey, author of CHAMELEO on the idea of "gangstalking".

September 23, 2016

In Other News interviews Robert Guffey, author of Chameleo: A Strange but true story of invisible spies, heroin addiction, and homeland security on the idea of "gangstalking".


"Gangstalking refers to the intense, long-term, unconstitutional surveillance and harassment of a person who has been designated as a target by someone often associated with America’s security industry. The topic of electronic harassment has bubbled up in to mainstream attention this year, yet electronic harassment cases can also be traced back . . . In January 1988, news of a secret nationwide FBI campaign against domestic opponents of the U.S. policy in Central America are some of the earliest reports made public."


The full interview can be found on In Other News here.

"You don't have anything set in stone": Read about the so-called "sharing economy"

September 22, 2016

The Indypendent discusses the problems with the so-called "Sharing Economy" and how its lack of permanence and costs are exploiting its workers.


"The thing is though with Taskrabbit you don’t have anything set in stone. You’re constantly looking for jobs, looking for work and, sometimes, nobody’s hiring you. It’s like, 'Why doesn’t anybody want to hire me?'"


Read the full article on the Indypendent here, and for more gig economy reading, check out Tom Slee's "What's Yours is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy" here.

"All the benefits . . . without any of the responsibilities": Tom Slee, author of WHAT'S YOURS IS MINE shares his thoughts on the so-called sharing economy

September 22, 2016

"All the benefits . . . without any of the responsibilities"


Tom Slee, author of What's Yours is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy, chats to the Indypendent about the trials and tribulations of the "gig economy."


"Uber is taking 30, 35 percent of the amount of any fare. Airbnb takes about 13 to 15 percent of any rental. They’re involved in every transaction. They take a significant amount of money from every transaction. Yet when push comes to shove, they want to say, ‘This is not our responsibility and we want nothing to do with it if anything goes wrong.’ A well-presented platform can be quite useful to people who have skills to promote, but these current ones end up being [based on] a largely exploitative model."


Read the full article on the Indypendent here.

Rising Up with Sonali interviews Mara Einstein about BLACK OPS ADVERTISING

September 22, 2016

A discussion with Mara Einstein, author of Black Ops Advertising, about the new wave of hidden advertising.


"Now, in the new and unregulated world of the Internet, ads are increasingly becoming less visible and companies are blurring the lines between content and advertising so much so that corporations looking to sell products are simply creating their own content. If that content is compelling enough, we consume it, we share it, and we may buy products based on our exposure."


The full interview can be found on Rising Up with Sonali here.

"Glittering prose": Publishers Weekly reviews ROSSET

September 15, 2016

Publishers Weekly reviews Rosset: My Life in Publishing and How I Fought Censorship.


"Rosset’s life and career are essential parts of American literary history, and being able to read the story in his own glittering prose is invaluable.."


Read the full review on Publishers Weekly here.

Remembering Akbar: A discussion with Behrooz Ghamari on being inside the Iranian Revolution on Rising Up with Sonali

September 15, 2016

A discussion with Behrooz Ghamari, author of Remembering Akbar: Inside the Iranian Revolution, on Rising Up with Sonali.


"Nearly 40 years ago, a major revolution took place in Iran to overthrow the Western backed-Shah. The Iranian revolution was a pivotal moment in world history that continues to have repercussions today. A legacy of the late 1970s that remains intact in today’s Iran, is the imprisonment of dissidents. Iran’s infamous practice of incarcerating people for political reasons forms the basis of a beautifully written story called Remembering Akbar: Inside the Iranian Revolution."


The full feature can be found on Rising Up with Sonali here.

"A New Vision for the Internet": A discussion featuring OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN co-editor, Nathan Schneider, on Rising Up with Sonali

September 15, 2016

"A New Vision for the Internet": A discussion featuring co-editor of OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN, Nathan Schneider, on Rising Up with Sonali.


"We live in a world where increasingly we are all giving up personal information and autonomy to fewer and fewer online companies. Google and Facebook facilitate so much global communication now that they effectively control and shape it. Within such a landscape, the utopian vision of the Internet as a great equalizer has not panned out, in spite of pronouncements of benevolent sounding phrases like “the sharing economy” of the Internet. How can ordinary people take control of the system on which so many of us rely that digital access is now considered a right? How can we take back that which was invented as a result of public investment in the first place?"


The full feature can be found on Rising Up with Sonali here.

"It's very hard for people . . . to understand what it takes to be a revolutionary": An interview with Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, author of REMEMBERING AKBAR

September 15, 2016

"It's very hard for people . . . to understand what it takes to be a revolutionary"


Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi is interviewed by Illinois News Bureau about the publication of his latest book, REMEMBERING AKBAR: INSIDE THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION


"Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi has written plenty about the Iranian Revolution and its aftermath, including two scholarly books. But the University of Illinois professor also lived that history as an activist and then political prisoner, and now has his own evocative story to tell. In a new autobiographic novel or “novelistic memoir,” Ghamari (the last name he uses with this book) contemplates on three years he spent on death row in the early 1980s in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison – years of torture, deprivation and indignities, during which he saw many cellmates marched off to executions, and thought more than once that his own time was near."


Read the full interview on Illinois News Bureau here.

"To this day, there is no clarity about the role of the Saudi Arabian government in the 9/11 attacks" KINGDOM OF THE UNJUST excerpted in TruthDig

September 15, 2016

"To this day, there is no clarity about the role of the Saudi Arabian government in the 9/11 attacks"


An excerpt from KINGDOM OF THE UNJUST:


"We know that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. We know that the bin Laden family had close ties to the family of George W. Bush. We know that right after the attack, wealthy Saudis living in the United States frantically contacted the Saudi Embassy in Washington asking to leave because they feared a backlash. Just days after the attack, some 140 Saudis, including about two dozen members of the bin Laden family, were mysteriously spirited out of the country with little questioning by the FBI."


Read the full excerpt from KINGDOM OF THE UNJUST: BEHIND THE U.S.-CONNECTION here.

"A source of wonder and insight" SKETCHES OF SPAIN receives a glowing review in The Morning Star

September 15, 2016
Nicholas Lalaguna reviews Federico Garcia Lorca's Sketches of Spain, written when Lorca was just nineteen, for The Morning Star: "Sketches of Spain lets you bear witness to the 18-year-old folk musician Lorca discovering the poet inside. In his prologue he tells us that every book is a garden and how “lucky the man who can plant it out and blessed the man who cuts its roses and feeds his soul.” He begs the reader to look beyond the set horizons, to dream and “experience in myriad shades” the garden he is planting out before us. For many this book will be an ongoing source of wonder and insight into the development of a beautiful mind. For those who don’t have the opportunity to read Lorca in his own language, trust in Bush’s unpretentious and welcoming translation not to sully the melodic metaphors, along with Bell’s illustrations which act as a visual echo of the world the musician describes. Sketches of Spain is a welcome addition to any library, doubly so for those who wish to see Spain’s past and all of our future a little differently." Read the full review here. sketchesofspain

With Monsanto sold, revisiting Ashley Dawson on biocapitalism in EXTINCTION: A RADICAL HISTORY

September 14, 2016

Biocapitalism and the age of agribusiness

Ashley Dawson explores the consequences of capital accumulation through the commodification of nature—and what that means for firms like Monsanto, the seed giant who today accepted a $66 billion takeover from German crop chemical company Bayer.



An excerpt from Extinction:

De-extinction offers a seductive but dangerously deluding techno-fix for an environmental crisis generated by the systemic contradictions of capitalism. It is not simply that de-extinction draws attention—and economic resources—away from other efforts to conserve biodiversity as it currently exists. The fundamental problem with de-extinction is that it relies on the thoroughgoing manipulation and commodification of nature, and as such dovetails perfectly with biocapitalism. US lawyers have already begun arguing that revived species such as the mammoth would be "products of human ingenuity," and should therefore be eligible for patenting. Species revival thus slots seamlessly into the neoliberal paradigms of research established by the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which legalized the patenting of scientific inquiry, as well as with the intellectual property agreements foisted on teh world since the establishment of the World Trade Organization in the mid-1990s.

De-extinction thus provides a mouth-watering opportunity for a new round of capital accumulation based on generating and acquiring intellectual property rights over living organisms. It is perhaps the most tangible and fully realized example of a shift that has been taking place since the 1980s, in which US petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries have reinvented themselves as purveyors of new, clean life sciences. Instead of generating (declining) profits through the mass-produced chemical fertilizers and pesticides of the Fordist era, agribusiness corporations like Monsanto have repositioned themselves to generate life itself by buying up biotech start-up companies. Capital is shifting, as Melinda Cooper observes, into "a new space of production—molecular biology—and into a new regime of accumulation, one that relies on financial investment to a much greater extent." In this new post-mechanical age of production, the biological patent allows a company to own an organism's principle of generation, its genetic code, rather than owning the organism itself. Biological production is thereby transformed into capital's primary means for generating surplus value. Under this new regime of biocapitalism, living organisms are increasingly viewed, in the words of George Church and Ed Regis, as "programmable manufacturing systems."

Biocapitalism is generated by and is deeply embedded in US imperialism. The massive investments in the life sciences that characterize this regime of accumulation are a product of the monetarist counterrevolution of 1979-1982, when the US introduced interest rate policies that channeled global financial flows into the dollar and US markets. Since then, the US has financed its perpetually spiraling budget deficits through continuous inflows of capital. The result has been a form of capitalist delirium, which enables the US to operate—for a time—in utter disregard of economic and ecological limits. Yet US debt imperialism is based on the extraction of capital from vassal nations through the imposition of crippling structural adjustment policies by organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Prostrated by debt, developing nations have been forced to sell of public assets and to open their economies to external capital penetration in a series of global enclosures of the commons. Ignoring these conditions of accumulation by dispossession, however, the ideologues of biocapitalism draw on the work of scientists such as Ilya Prigogine, whose Order Out of Chaos challenged the notion of limits inherent in the second law of thermodynamics by arguing that all of nature obeys the laws of self-organization and increasing complexity that characterize biological processes and systems. Like life itself, the economy, neoliberals under the sway of this biocapitalist paradigm came to argue, is characterized by a process of continuous, self-regulating autopoiesis or self-engendering. And again, like life, capitalism is said to be characterized by a series of catastrophic crises that ultimately generate new forms of complexity, as do mass extinction events in evolutionary history.

Further Reading

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extinction cover the gulf cover

"Riveting" JOEL WHITNEY receives a starred review from Kirkus Reviews

September 7, 2016

"If the story of the CIA’s involvement in the publication of Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago is already well-known, many other incidents in Whitney’s narrative will come as surprises, few of them entirely agreeable. But in the end, the plan seems to have backfired inasmuch as many of the principals, Matthiessen included, drifted leftward and became fierce critics of their sponsors and the government behind them."

To read more, visit Kirkus Reviews.

"For Silicon Valley, it is a disadvantage to be seen as a tool of the US government." SCOTT MALCOMSON in The Financial Times

September 6, 2016

“The programmes [Snowden] exposed showed that the US government was spying and it was using American companies whether they knew it or not and whether they liked it or not. For Silicon Valley, it is a disadvantage to be seen as a tool of the US government.”

To read more, visit Financial Times.

"Trump’s approach is violent isolationism" JOHN K WILSON on Daily Kos

September 6, 2016

"Trump’s approach is violent isolationism, which is likely to cause numerous wars. It’s well known among Trump’s critics that he’s lying when he says that he opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and pretends that he was a leader of the anti-war movement. What’s less publicized is the fact that Trump had consistently supported, from 1991 to 2003, invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein—the very thing that he now says was a horrible idea and a key reason why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be elected president."

To read more, visit Daily Kos.

"It's a postmortem of democracy in America" JOHN K WILSON on This is Hell!

September 6, 2016

“He's always wanted to be a celebrity"

To read more, visit This Is Hell!.

"They were all drowning. I thought: how do I save them all?" EMMA JANE KIRBY in CultureStrike

September 6, 2016

“I can still feel the fingers of that first hand I seized. How they cemented into mine, bone grinding against bone, how they clamped down with such a grip that I saw the sinuous veins of the wrist pounding. The force of the hold! My hand in a stranger’s hand, in a bond stronger and more intimate than an umbilical cord. And my whole body shook with the force of that hold as I pulled upward and dragged the naked torso from the waves. There were too many of them. Too many of them and I didn’t know what to do. I’m an Optician; I’m not a lifesaver. I’m an Optician and I was on vacation and I didn’t know what to do. I threw the rubber ring but there were people strewn like wreckage over a five-hundred-meter strewn like wreckage over a five-hundred-meter radius and they were all crying out for us. I reached over the stern step again and again but there were so many hands shooting out from beneath the waves, so many hands snatching at the air. My fingers locked on to fingers and I pulled. Were we sinking? The boat was so low in the water. Someone shouted at me but I couldn’t stop to listen. There were too many hands. The deck was crammed with black bodies vomiting and defecating all over each other. I could feel the boat pro-testing under the weight, rolling, ready to flip over. I knew the boat was out of control. Over there! Another hand!I never wanted to tell you this story. I promised myself I would never tell this story again because it’s not a fairy tale. There were just too many of them. I wanted to go back for them. I wanted to go back. Do you understand what I’m trying to say to you? Maybe it’s not possible for you to understand because you weren’t in that boat. But I was there and I saw them. I still see them. Because it’s still happening.”

To read more, visit CultureStrike.

"For decades, the United States has supported Saudi Arabia despite the latter country's record of human rights abuses" MEDEA BENJAMIN in TruthOut

September 1, 2016

“While there have been major gains for Saudi women in the past decades due to campaigns by women themselves and reforms implemented by the late King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia remains the most gender-segregated nation in the world. The discriminatory male guardianship system persists despite government pledges to abolish it. Under this system, a woman, no matter her age, is treated as a minor and must live under the supervision of a wali, or guardian. This is a legally recognized male -- her father, husband, uncle, or some other male relative (even her son) -- who must grant formal permission for most of the significant issues affecting her life. Some refer to this system as a form of gender apartheid.”

To hear more, visit Truthout.