Brahms’s dark setting of Goethe’s “Gesang der Parzen” from Iphigenia auf Tauris. The text is itself dark, and Brahms paid close attention, especially via scoring, to bring that out. Lots of moments with bassoon, low strings, and a division of alto and bass parts to keep the weight of the sound in the bottom. Translation here.
By Paul Buchheit
The following are all relevant, fact-based issues, the “hard news” stories that the media has a responsibility to report. But the business-oriented press generally avoids them.
1. U.S. Wealth Is Up $34 Trillion Since The Recession. 93 Percent Of You Got Almost None Of It.
That’s an average of $100,000 for every American. But the people who already own most of the stocks took almost all of it. For them, the average gain was well over a million dollars — tax-free as long as they don’t cash it in. Details available here.
2. Eight Rich Americans Made More Than 3.6 Million Minimum Wage Workers
A recent report stated that no full-time minimum wage worker in the U.S. can afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental at fair market rent. There are 3.6 million such workers, and their total (combined) 2013 earnings is less than the 2013 stock market gains of just eight Americans, all of whom take more than their share from society: the four Waltons, the two Kochs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.
3. News Sources Speak For The 5 Percent
It would be refreshing to read an honest editorial: “We dearly value the 5 to 7 percent of our readers who make a lot of money and believe that their growing riches are helping everyone else.”
Instead, the business media seems unable to differentiate between the top 5 percent and the rest of society. The Wall Street Journal exclaimed, “Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before,” and then went on to sputter: “What recession? … The economy has bounced back from recession, unemployment has declined.”
The Chicago Tribune may be even further out of touch with its less privileged readers, asking them: “What’s so terrible about the infusion of so much money into the presidential campaign?”
4. TV News Is Dumbed Down For American Viewers
A 2009 survey by the European Journal of Communication compared the U.S. to Denmark, Finland, and the UK in the awareness and reporting of domestic vs. international news, and of ‘hard’ news (politics, public administration, the economy, science, technology) vs. ‘soft’ news (celebrities, human interest, sport and entertainment). The results:
— Americans [are] especially uninformed about international public affairs.
— American respondents also underperformed in relation to domestic-related hard news stories.
— American television reports much less international news than Finnish, Danish and British television;
— American television network newscasts also report much less hard news than Finnish and Danish television.
Surprisingly, the report states that “our sample of American newspapers was more oriented towards hard news than their counterparts in the European countries.” Too bad Americans are reading less newspapers.
5. There Is No Self-Made Man
The hype about the “self-made man” is fantasy. In the early 1970s, we privileged white males were spirited out of college to waiting jobs in management and finance, technology was inventing new ways for us to make money, tax rates were about to tumble, and visions of bonuses and capital gains danced in our heads.
While we were in school the Defense Department had been preparing the Internet for Microsoft and Apple, the National Science Foundation was funding the Digital Library Initiative research that would be adopted as the Google model, and the National Institute of Health was doing the early laboratory testing for companies like Merck and Pfizer. Government research labs and public universities trained thousands of chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production line workers, market analysts, testers, troubleshooters, etc., etc.
All we created on our own was a disdainful attitude, like that of Steve Jobs: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
6. Funding Plummets For Schools And Pensions As Corporations Stop Paying Taxes
Three separate studies have shown that corporations pay less than half of their required state taxes, which are the main source of K-12 educational funding and a significant part of pension funding. Most recently, the report ”The Disappearing Corporate Tax Base” found that the percentage of corporate profits paid as state income taxes has dropped from 7 percent in 1980 to about 3 percent today.
7. Companies Based In The U.S. Pay Most Of Their Taxes Overseas
Citigroup had 42 percent of its 2011-13 revenue in North America (almost all U.S.) and made $32 billion in profits, but received a U.S. current income tax benefit all three years.
Pfizer had 40 percent of its 2011-13 revenues and nearly half of its physical assets in the U.S., but declared almost $10 billion in U.S. losses to go along with nearly $50 billion in foreign profits.
In 2013 Exxon had about 43 percent of management, 36 percent of sales, 40 percent of long-lived assets, and 70-90 percent of its productive oil and gas wells in the U.S., yet only paid about 2 percent of its total income in U.S. income taxes, and most of that was something called a “theoretical” tax.
8. Restaurant Servers Have Gone Without A Raise For 30 Years
An evaluation by Michelle Chen showed that the minimum wage for tipped workers has been approximately $2 an hour since the 1980s. She also notes that about 40 percent of these workers are people of color, and about two-thirds are women.
This made me so angry I’m shaking. I disagree with the assertion that these issues haven’t gotten any media coverage - I’ve certainly heard about them before. They definitely haven’t gotten the coverage they deserve, and outlets like the Wall Street Journal are unabashed corporate shills, but there are definitely places out there doing great journalism.
(Note: I made some capitalization and grammar changes to the original post.)
According to Sy Hersh, Turkey supplied rebels in Syria w/ sarin gas & Obama ignored the fact to make the case for war http://t.co/idECfcd0hO— Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin)April 8, 2014
Was Turkey behind last year’s Syrian chemical weapons attack? That is the question raised in a new exposé by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh on the intelligence debate over the deaths of hundreds of Syrians in Ghouta last year.
related: The Red Line and the Rat Line
Chinese, US defense officials begin talks
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan on Tuesday morning began talks with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on bilateral ties and issues of common concern.
Chang, also a state councilor, told Hagel that China attaches great importance to his visit and believes it will deepen Hagel’s understanding of China and the Chinese armed forces.
As guest of Chang, Hagel arrived in Qingdao City of east China’s Shandong Province on Monday for a four-day visit. He visited aircraft carrier Liaoning on Monday afternoon and arrived in Beijing later in the evening.
It is Hagel’s first visit to China as defense secretary.
On this day in history In the spring of 1963, activists in Birmingham, Alabama launched one of the most influential campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement: Project C, better known as The Birmingham Campaign.
"What I’d tell people is it’s very important to us that nothing we actually did directly contradicted the Genesis story. There are some places where people think we did, and I’d just say, “We didn’t.” It was all grounded somewhere. It wasn’t just the Genesis story the way you expected it. But it’s grounded. Anything we did that isn’t explicitly there isn’t arbitrary. There are themes in the Genesis story that we wanted to dramatize and make people empathize with. It’s there for a reason. I hope people go into it open-minded. When they see things they don’t expect, roll with it a little bit. And see how you feel about the film [Noah] afterward. What we want the film to make you think about is the core question of Genesis: The nature of goodness and wickedness in men’s heart, and whether that should be responded to with justice or mercy, the relationship between mankind and the world around him to the sacred. Those are the questions we grappled with."
One of the most widely used explanations for why the United States had to be involved in Vietnam during the 1960s/70s was that communism had to be stopped in its tracks, that if communists were allowed to “take over” Vietnam the rest of South East Asia would quickly follow. It was called the Domino Theory to suggest the image of how a row of domino tiles, placed on their edges and near to each other, could all be made to topple over by simply knocking the first one over onto the second. It was a pretty effective analogy and was widely used by most of the western media in the 1960s and 1970s to conjure up the horrors of jackbooted Russian soldiers invading our bedrooms – the so-called “Reds under the beds” image that was widely suggested at the time.
The Dynamics of Debt in Young Adulthood
In any newspaper or blog these days, you’re bound to find human interest stories of fresh-faced young adults, newly independent from their parents, and saddled by a mountain of debt they can’t even dream of repaying. The media narrative–think the white college student plagued by $120,000 of student loan and credit card debt—often borders on hyperbole. It skews the reality of how much debt the typical young adult owes.
And while youth indebtedness has received rampant media coverage, there’s been very little solid research tackling this emerging social problem. Evidence from a small group of researchers examining how youth debt has changed over time, how youth indebtedness is linked to social stratification and inequality, and the consequences of debt for young people as they advance through their adult lives can give us a glimpse. The research in this area is nascent, and some of it is contradictory, in large part because access to credit and debt carries an array of costs and benefits, and is influenced by social and structural factors, such as race, class, and education. Debt can surely open doors and create access, but it can also close doors by imposing a long-term burden for debtors and their families.
Three Genderations of Debt
Over the past fifty years, the period known as the “transition to adulthood” has changed dramatically. In the 1960s and ‘70s, young people left the parental home, completed education, got married, and had children, in a relatively quick and orderly fashion. Today’s transition to adulthood is much more complex. Young people are extending their education, delaying marriage and childbearing, and some return to live with relatives. They enter and exit college, cohabitate rather than marry, and take longer periods for “self-discovery” if they are able. While youth must now navigate this increasingly complex transition, they also take on unprecedented financial risk. Whether in the pursuit of a college degree, getting married, buying a home, or simply paying bills and making ends meet, young adults often assume great deal of debt as they leave the nest and set out on their own.
The rise of debt in young adulthood has been driven by a potent mix of policy changes, rising costs, and stagnating incomes. On the supply side, young adults have come of age in an era of easy access to credit. Financial deregulation in the 1970s and ‘80s increased the supply of credit and made debt an extremely profitable business for banks. It was aggressively marketed toward consumers—particularly young adults—which led to a massive increase in household debt and problems with repayment. On the demand side, rising costs—such as the skyrocketing price of college—make credit an appealing option. Since their parents already have debt, young people must take on debt of their own.
In a recent study for Social Problems, I used data from the National Longitudinal Surveys to show how debt has changed across three generations (what we demographers refer to as “cohorts”) of young adults. I focused on people in their mid-twenties—The Early Baby Boomers, who were young adults in the late 1970s; The Late Baby Boomers, who were young adults in the late 1980s; and Generation Y, who are currently in their twenties.
The [graphs] confirm what most laypersons and media reports have suggested—debt has risen. I show mean and median total debt across three cohorts of young adults, adjusted for inflation and basic sociodemographic factors such as socioeconomic status, race, and age. Total debt is the sum of everything from home mortgages, credit cards, and student loans to automobiles and personal loans. Comparing mean and median debt across cohorts, we notice the mean has increased much faster than the median. While the median gives us a good sense of debt in the middle of the distribution, the mean is far more sensitive to extremely high and extremely low debt loads. What this reveals is that much of the growth in debt across cohorts is being driven by an increase in the number of severely indebted young adults. In some ways, it seems the media imagery of the young person beleaguered by extremely high levels of debt is more commonplace today than it was thirty years ago.
What causes inequality? Individual and systemic frames for racism in media.
Who or what is to blame for racial inequality? Individual frames blame racial minorities or the actions of racist people. Systemic frames target the system by which we distribute wealth and power.
A new study “measured the degree to which news and TV coverage of issues were systemically aware (discussing policies or practices that lead or have led to inequality) or systemically unaware (fails to discuss such policies, explicitly denies them, or refuses to acknowledge racism of any kind).
…they found that news outlets varied in their systemic awareness [and] that systemic awareness varied strongly by the topic of the coverage, with the economy and criminal justice most likely to receive systemically aware coverage.”
More detail at Sociological Images.
"It’s absurd to think that the only possible form of oppression comes from government, but a billionaire born to a millionaire would likely think that. He’s [Charles Koch] never had to work for anyone. He’s never been subjected to the tyranny of the workplace or the shackles of poverty. That experience tends to give you a different perspective on what “freedom” actually means."
The Conscience of Chelsea Manning
April 5, 2014
Four years have passed since WikiLeaks’ sensational release of the classified US military video titled Collateral Murder. On April 5 2010, the raw footage was published depicting airstrikes by a US Army helicopter gunship in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. The soldiers attacked Iraqis, killing about a dozen men wandering down a street, including two Reuters staffers, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh in the first of three reckless attacks involving civilians. The video opened with a quote from George Orwell: “Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind”. It gained global attention, with viewers reaching millions and shattered the euphemism of ‘collateral damage’, revealing the true state of modern warfare behind the warping shield of propaganda.
Much focus in the media at the time was given to analyzing whether some of the Iraqi people in the video were carrying rocket propelled grenades or AK-47s and arguments ensued about this scene and the rules of engagement. The unfolding of these scenes calls for re-cognition, for us to take a look at these wars from a fuller perspective than the narrow view offered by the establishment media lens.
Before anyone talks about the laws of armed conflict and whether the rules of engagement were broken or not, we need to ask why these armed crews were even there in the first place. We should be examining the legality of the Iraq War itself. Speaking in defense of the disclosure of classified US military documents on the Iraq War, Assange pointed out how, “Most wars that are started by democracies involve lying” and noted how “The start of the Iraq war involved very serious lies that were repeated and amplified by some parts of the press”. Iraq has never been shown to have threatened the United States and it is common knowledge that the premise of this war was based on blatant lies; Colin Powell’s fabrication at the UN Security Council about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction was a particular low point for the US in its base war propaganda. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg designated the term ‘war of aggression’, as an attack on another nation or people without any justification of self-defense and is listed as a major international war crime.
In a report given at a New York Commission Hearing in May 11, 1991, attorney and President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner seriously questioned the conduct of United States against Iraq:
“As people living in the United States we have an obligation not to close our eyes, cover our ears and remain silent. We must not and cannot be ‘good Germans.’ We must be, as Bertrand Russell said about the crimes committed by the U.S. in Vietnam, ‘Against the Crime of Silence.’ We must bear witness to the tens of thousands of deaths for whom our government and its leaders bear responsibility and ask the question – Has the United States committed war crimes with regard to its initiation and conduct of the war against Iraq?”
The questions raised by the graphic video-game turkey-shoot nature of this video needs to be placed within its larger context along with examining the justification or potential war crimes of each incident in the video.
The moving imagery in the video revealed a particular mindset displayed by these US military trained soldiers. It is the consciousness behind the gun-sight. The mind is generally blind to biases behind a perception that is trained to look at the world through the crosshairs of a gun-sight. From a broader historical perspective, one could say it is a colonial mind that controls an inception point, setting its own rules of engagement and defining the course of events and destiny of those caught in it.
“Lets shoot. Light ‘em all up. Come on, fire!…” In a series of air to ground attacks, a team of Army excitedly found a target. One man said, “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards” and the other man responded saying “Nice”. When they found one wounded individual trying to crawl away, another man said “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon” expressing his wish to shoot him. After finding that kids were in the minivan that they had engaged, who were simply on their way to school, one solider said “It’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle”. Seized in their eyes, everything that moves is fixated in this perspective. These civilians are no longer seen as victims and the permission to engage is manufactured through the aggressors attacking their targets who are just trying to defend themselves.
In the original 38 minute video recording the scenes in New Baghdad on July 12, 2007, the past century has lingered to haunt our post-modern global society. The dark shadow of colonization is carried over into the military-industrial age of the 20th century with its outward thrusting brutality. The cynical naming of the ‘Apache’ helicopter evokes a memory of the genocide of American natives long ago. Native American activist Winona LaDuke once spoke of how it is common military-speak when you leave a base in a foreign country to say that you are heading ‘out into Indian Country’. The brutal projection of US power into the oil-rich Middle East contains echos of these historical ‘Indian Wars’. The unfolding scenes appear as if the US is almost glorifying and continuing these crimes against humanity from the past.
Colonial mentality and injustice never atoned for, is now expanding into a global web of military forces that more and more serve hidden corporate goals and agendas. French poet and author, Aimé Césaire (1972/2000) in Discourse on Colonialism wrote how colonization brutalizes and decivilizes the colonizer himself:
“… colonization … dehumanizes even the most civilized man; that colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt, inevitably tends to change him who undertakes it; that the colonizer, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and tends objectively to transform himself into an animal”. (p. 41)
The real scenes of modern war on the ground stand like a mirror. Reflected in the graphic WikiLeaks video, we begin to see something about each one of us that has long escaped consciousness. In the raw image of this cruel scene, we can see a part of our culture’s collective shadow, as the barbarian degraded in the effort of ‘civilizing’ those ‘others’. Descending into torture, drone attacks on wedding parties and other acts of collateral murder, this barbarism is clothed in the rhetoric of civility and self-defense, yet reveals the unredeemed colonizer within.
What is it that is shattering the armament around the hearts of so many? The conscience of Chelsea Manning, the source behind the leak of Collateral Murder was the spark for this awakening. Her act of conscience shattered the abstraction and opened the gate that guarded this inception point where the public could now see uncensored images of modern war and decide for themselves how to see it. In the unfolding images, we were able to see what Chelsea Manning saw.
At the pretrial hearing in Manning’s prosecution for leaking the largest trove of secret documents in US history, she read aloud a personal statement to the court in Fort Meade, Maryland, describing how she came to download hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos from military database and submit them to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. She spoke about facts regarding the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team – that video depicting the incident in New Baghdad.
Manning began by saying how at first she didn’t think the video was very special, as she saw countless similar combat scenes. Yet, she came to be troubled by “the recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck”. Then she spoke of the attitudes of the soldiers in the helicopter. “The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have”. She continued:
“They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote ‘dead bastards’ unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.”
Manning spoke about the specific moment where the father driving his kids to school in a van stopped and attempted to assist the wounded:
“While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew – as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.”
She further pointed to the attitude of the aerial weapons team when they learned about the injured children in the van. She noted how their actions showed no remorse or sympathy for those they killed or injured and they even exhibited pleasure when a vehicle drove over one of the bodies.
Manning had come to see this everyday reality in Iraq from the perspective of those who have been conjured into the designation of ‘enemy’. In that moment, she began to see these unfolding human events more from the point of view of those she was trained to see as others and methodically demonized by a corporate war of terror.
In elucidating the etymology of the word conscience, Jungian psychoanalyst Edward Edinger (1984) related it to the concept of consciousness:
“Conscious derives from con or cum, meaning ‘with’ or ‘together,’ and scire, ‘to know’ or ‘to see’. It has the same derivation as conscience. Thus the root meaning of both consciousness and conscience is ‘knowing with’ or ‘seeing with’ an ‘other’. In contrast, the word science, which also derives from scire, means simply knowing, i.e., knowing without ‘withness.’ (p. 36) … The experience of knowing with can be understood to mean the ability to participate in a knowing process simultaneously as subject and object, as knower and known. This is only possible within a relationship to an object that can also be a subject”. (p. 53)
Conscience first engages the empathic imagination, breaking down walls of separation. One can begin to feel another person’s pain as if it is ones own. In that moment when Manning saw other human beings who she had been trained to see as an ‘enemy combatant’ in the gunsight, she freed them from perception enslaved by the subject position of US supremacy that had made them into a lifeless object. Here the other perspective that was denied was brought back to consciousness. She saw another human being whose life was as precious as hers; not an enemy, but a victim of an oppressive vision of the corporatized military industrial complex.
In the famous chat log with hacker Adrian Lamo that led to her arrest, Manning spoke of how she wants “people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public…”. The truth she referred was what she saw in the unfolded images in the video, articulated in her words in a chat “We’re human… and we’re killing ourselves…”.
At the providence inquiry, she elaborated her wish:
“I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare”.
Watch the Collateral Murder video here.