The Weekly Watch

Happy Day Earth!

Like George Carlin, I find it ironic to hear pleas to save the planet. What they are really saying is save our species. St. George suggests the Earth may have created us because it wanted plastic. It sure succeeded if that's the case. But the microbes may have the last word. The idea of plastic eating microbes (well really it is a mutant bacterial enzyme, PETase) is appealing, but it seems every time we meddle it comes out bad. The story of rabbits in Australia comes to mind. George's dream of our final fate is also worth considering. None the less, I suspect we would be better off to minimize the manufacture, use, and dispersal of plastic. https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/

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A leading expert on microplastics (those small bits of plastic that are seemingly everywhere) Marcus Eriksen discusses his work around the world to research plastic marine pollution. (video or text) https://www.democracynow.org/2018/4/20/earth_day_2018_ending_plastic_pol...

There is a plastics recycling crisis as China declines any more of these materials. It is a worldwide problem as this Australian report makes clear. (8 min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItWt5KEfrcM

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Oceans are critical for the ecosystem. The warming of the fluid atmosphere is absorbed in our fluid oceans (which currently covers about two thirds of the planet's surface). A new study shows that the Atlantic's currents have weakened due to global warming and are closer to catastrophic collapse than any time in the last 1,600 years, which could cause rapid sea level rise on the East Coast of North America. One of the study's lead authors explains.
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21606:Global-Warming%27s-Impact-on-Ocean... (10 min or text)

Screenshot-2018-4-20 James Hutton - Biography, Facts and Pictures (2).png

Our planet is in a constant state of evolution. James Hutton helped us begin to understand the process. Darwin of course is credited with the theory of evolution, but the concept of evolution itself evolved. Mendel provides the genetic mechanism about a decade after Darwin and Wallace present their paper on natural selection.

Lewis Thomas book “Lives of the Cell” has an essay that compares Earth to a cell...with the atmosphere as the membrane, and oceans as protoplasm, and so on. The Gaia Theory carries the concept farther. The Gaia theory regards the Earth as, in essence, a single organism, and everything on the planet as a part of that organism. This does not merely mean all living things, or even all organic matter, but postulates that the planet, with its rocks, plants, animals and atmosphere, is a single, living, self-regulating system. http://www.indiana.edu/~geol105b/1425chap9.htm

This view of the Earth acting as a system has stayed with me throughout my adult life. This is why I feel strongly about our actions burning fuels and using nuclear materials for energy and war. We sit on the brink of two great possible collapses of the biosphere – climate chaos and nuclear war. The Earth's layer of life is about as thick as the layer of varnish on a globe. All the parts interact. The human species is just one (destructive) part of the system. Carlin suggests we are like a case of fleas on the planet. I think we're more like a virus, and are causing the Earth to have a fever.

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It is more than CO2 and methane. We're dumping a soup of toxins into our air. It is not an answer, my friend, it is a problem blowing in the wind. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/17/more-than-95-of-worl...

Once we talked about getting off fossil fuels. As fracking (in the US) proved profitable, all such talk has vanished in the corporate media. Like a meth addict we will do what it takes to wring the last bit of profit out of an industry driving us to extinction. Quick make that last dollar! https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/04/gaius-publius-fracking-brought-w...

We have to switch off of coal, oil, and gas, and on to 100% wind, water, and sun energy sources. And though this drive for a conversion to clean energy started in northern Europe and northern California, it’s a call that’s gaining traction outside the obvious green enclaves. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/04/20/100-renewable-energy-withi...

Look at the power of the industry. Consider the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Canada's Obomber, Trudeau. He plans to use federal law to ram through a pipeline across BC. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sees the Kinder Morgan threat to abandon its pipeline project as a threat to the country's national interest and is now mobilizing local governments to maintain the project. (9 min or text) http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21600:Justin-Trudeau-Vows-to-Bail-Out-Pr...

Looks like trouble is brewing in Canada as first nations people draw the line.
http://therealnews.com/t2/component/content/article/772-richard-fidler-s...

Do you think denial would be a good strategy? TPTB do.
https://theintercept.com/2018/04/17/climate-change-denial-trump-germany/

Like it or not, deny it or not, the climate is in flux...America’s arid West invades fertile eastern US
https://climatenewsnetwork.net/24113-2/

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Some communities are trying to address the problem. They are bringing suit.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/04/18/facing-fires-and-floods-col...

Despite the suits, we're not doing well recognizing nor acting to reduce climate change, but there is some good news on the nuclear war front...
Korean Peninsula in Historic Peace Talks - Thanks to Activists, Not Trump. South and North Korea are considering a peace treaty after six decades of war. Simone Chun says this is the result of years of grassroots organizing and protests. (13 min or text)
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21613:Korean-Peninsula-in-Historic-Peace...

This Korean unification has Japan concerned. They are looking to China. Dr. Gerald Horne says that Trump's trade policies and disregard for Japanese interests might push Japan into closer relations with China, which would change the global balance of power.
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21621:Leaders-of-China-and-Japan-to-Meet... (10 min or text)

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The Middle East Mess

Israel is still killing peaceful protesters with no outcry in the west. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip continue to demonstrate even though they know they put their lives at risk because life in the "cage" that is Gaza is intolerable, says Ali Abunimah of The Electronic Intifada
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21627:Israeli-Forces-Kill-4-Palestinians...

The US can afford to ignore the death, disease, destruction, and depravity they spread with endless war cause they are making so much money. Defense company stocks, such as those of Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing, rose to unprecedented levels since the beginning of the year because of Tomahawk strikes on Syria and massive arms sales to the Middle East and to the Pentagon. Bill Black talks about the the companies and their profits (13 min or text)
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21599:Defense-Stocks-Soar-as-Trump-Wages...

It is about money. You would have to be blind not to see. In his first year Trump approved $82 billion in arms offers, versus $76 billion in the last year of Obama, so not that much more. And Obama set a record of $102 billion during his administration. So, actually, to outdo Obama, Trump is going to have to hustle. And, of course, that is what he’s doing.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-arms-insight/arming-the-wor...
https://www.democracynow.org/2018/4/18/americas_1_weapons_salesman_trump...
(interview with author with video or text)

...and hey let's just hire mercenaries to do the bidding of the corporations. Trump is asking Middle Eastern governments to build a military force to replace US troops in northeast Syria, and notorious war profiteer Erik Prince has been asked for help. Medea Benjamin says the plan is scandalous.
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21626:Infamous-Mercenary-Erik-Prince-Bei... (12 min or text)

Chris Hedges argues that violence isn't the answer to overthrowing the empire.
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-cult-of-violence-always-kills-the-...

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Trusted Media?

There's been a good bit of conversation this week on c99 about trusted sources of media...rightfully so. We are being misled by the corporate media megaphones, and even once trusted journalists are seemingly being influenced (or pressured?). My thought in all this is we have to find rational voices where we can. For example, take Ron Paul (Rand's Dad). His domestic policy of everyone help themselves, government has no role, I find contrary to my socialists views. However, he is one of the few voices calling foul on the Syria bombings. So I support his foreign policy views, but not his domestic agenda. It is okay. I believe in building alliances with those who support my positions...but they don't have to support all of my positions. For example, here are two conversations about Syria that I wish were heard by more people.
Here's Ron with Former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbHHVdrDG_k (23 min)
and earlier in the week he spoke with Vannesa Beeley
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6VzBfkQh5A (24 min)

I would also like to mention Amy G. and Glenn G. Many of you now dismiss their work. Democracy Now! is over the top on Russiagate and blindly supportive of the White Helmets...I'm with you...I get it. But they also feature people like the plastics researcher at the top of this column, and ousted elected president Dilma Rouseff and provide those stories as video, text, or audio. That is worth something.
https://www.democracynow.org/2018/4/20/dilma_rousseff_lulas_imprisonment...
https://www.democracynow.org/2018/4/20/dilma_rousseff_the_rise_of_brazils

(While we're in the Americas, Cuba has a new president. (7 min or text)
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21628:Cuba-has-a-New-President%3A-Is-he-... )

Similarly Glenn is not skeptical enough on the Assad /Syria stories in my view, but he still speaks rationally on most topics. Here he is calling out the DNC lawsuit and speaking out for Assange.
https://theintercept.com/2018/04/20/the-dncs-lawsuit-against-wikileaks-p...
https://theintercept.com/2018/04/20/how-fake-news-and-western-propaganda...
(others like Jake Johnson at Common Dreams agree with Glenn)
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/04/20/blaming-russia-and-wikileak...

I think we better evaluate story by story regardless of the journalist or the publication in which we find the story. Look at the evidence. Look at actions.

What US media are interested in doing is singling out Official Enemies and using them as a bludgeon to marginalize the already-marginalized, to sully those who make substantive critiques of US society and empire without apology. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/04/20/public-radios-mccarthyite-...

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I was trained as a scientist. I want evidence to support a hypothesis and theory. What makes thinking people skeptical about the media is the lack of and contradiction of evidence. How about the Russian double agent poisoning? Countries around the world expel Russian diplomats. The evidence strongly suggest it was a ruse -
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-14/independent-swiss-lab-says-bz-...
https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/17/an-alternative-explantion-to-the-s...

How about the chemical attacks in Syria? The evidence is growing that there was no chemical attack.
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-rob...
A correspondent from the Russia 24 TV channel claims to have found a Syrian boy seen in the White Helmets' footage, said to show the aftermath of an alleged chemical attack. Their story is interesting.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPFaEG9vJT4 (4 min)

Glen Ford wasn't persuaded...
https://blackagendareport.com/white-lies-and-black-disbelief-fading-empire

So we bomb on the basis of lies, and then lie about how good our bombs are (you know trying to boost sales) http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/04/syria-pentagon-hides-attack-failure...
http://eng.mil.ru/en/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12171611@egNews

Jimmy Dore and Judah Friedlander discuss how they use lies to lead us to war...again and again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FE8-HkXlOs

We know they are liars. Did you hear Ed Schulz describe how he was canned from MSNBC for covering Bernie? Jimmy, Ron, and Stef explain.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18YMTWFpKmo (24 min)

Jimmy analysis of Jeffery Sachs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Sachs comments on MSNBC and their reactions...a voice of sanity on Morning Joeball?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O2TRzA2ezk (19 min)
Joe S. suggest Jeffery is atoning for his neoliberalism... but I'll take more comments like these on the MSM any day.

This week Jeremy Corbyn provides an excellent example of how media works. The leader of Britain's Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn said the US-UK-France missile strike on Syria was "legally questionable," and its rationale could be used to justify bombing Saudi Arabia over its devastating war on Yemen. (4 min or text)
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21617:Corbyn%3A-Does-Strike-on-Syria-Jus...
Now if you can stomach it, watch how the BBC attacks him in this 17 min interview...talk about spin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmjaT_T_Bzs

Jeremy is correct not only is Yemen a crime, so is Gaza. It is an IFUKUS coalition.
http://therealnews.com/t2/component/content/article/170-more-blog-posts-...

It isn't just foreign policy that is misreported or ignored domestic issues are dismissed as well...
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/04/20/recognizing-working-class-p...
The easiest way to control the story is not to tell anyone about it. Did you know Clinton could be prosecuted? https://www.truthdig.com/articles/will-media-suppress-criminal-referrals...

And finally winding up today's media discussion is this excellent conversation about the fate of independent media between Chris Hedges and journalism prof Mark Miller (28 min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec9uRsku4oA

education and hope.jpg

If there is hope it is with the young people...
Education

Joe featured this insightful piece in the EB this week. It is worth the read. Schools are the way we indoctrinate children and shape our society. I've been in the school reform movement for decades, and I recall the head of the Eagle Forum stating education reform was social engineering. Are not all schools agents of social engineering? The question is really how do we want to socially engineer our young people? What do we want them to be?
https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/the-corporate-plan-to-gr...
I've always fought for more democracy in schools for students, teachers, and parents to create learning environments that compliment their unique communities. If young people mature in a democratic environment I think they would be better, more responsible citizens. In nearby Trion, GA, they are discussing moving the police station into the school, or placing officers at the entrance and exit. I guess they want to train the next generation of inmates. We just don't think very far ahead. Is it the human condition that we can't see ahead nor behind?

Teacher strikes continue to spread: from West Virginia, to Kentucky, to Arizona, to Oklahoma, and now to Colorado. However, they are not just about pay - they are a result of systematic tax cuts designed to decimate public education, says Negin Owliaei of the Institute for Policy Studies (8 min or text)
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:21620:Teacher-Strikes-Continue-to-Spread...
https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/04/11/600832090/walkouts-and-teache...

And so we evolve to the conclusion of this column...

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"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Charles Darwin

“The survival value of human intelligence has yet to be satisfactorily demonstrated."

Jeremy Stone (1935 – 2017) was president of the Federation of American Scientists from 1970 to 2000, where he led that organization's advocacy initiatives in arms control, human rights, and foreign policy

The idea of long-term civilization is probably a dream.
https://climatenewsnetwork.net/long-lived-civilisation-may-be-a-dream/

“[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” https://news.stanford.edu/2015/06/19/mass-extinction-ehrlich-061915/

... a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research.... They blame human overpopulation and over-consumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilization, with just a short window of time in which to act. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/10/earths-sixth-mass-ex...

There's a story (perhaps an urban myth?) that tells of a lecture by Edward Teller, who was learning about fusion and the nature of stars. He explained that our main sequence star was turning hydrogen into helium and eventually would run out of fuel causing the sun to collapse and explode into a red giant engulfing the Earth in about 3 billion years. A scientist in the back of the room quickly rose and asked, “Did you say 3 million or 3 billion?”. Teller responded, “3 billion with a B.” The questioning scientist said “Whew, you had me worried.”

Millions or billions of years, the planet's fate is as certain as ours. We are a self important egocentric species. It is about us...viral strands on a speck in space. Most species that ever lived have gone extinct. Just as death is our individual fate, extinction is our collective fate. The trick is enjoying life while we have it and appreciating the natural systems around us before their degradation or inevitable change. I hope both you and the Earth have a good day. I look forward to your stories and comments below.

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Lookout's picture

...is this year's Earth day theme -

As part of this year’s Earth Day celebrations, #breakfreefromplastic, a global movement backed up by more than 1,100 organizations, is urging governments worldwide to restrict or eliminate the use of single-use plastics (SUPs), stressing that the unrestrained production and consumption of disposable plastics is bringing on a plastic flood of crisis proportions.

https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/2018/04/20/global-movement-demands-...

It took awhile to get in the habit of keeping my reusable bags in my vehicle and then remembering to take them into the store. However, it only takes 30 days to develop a new habit. First thing when I arrive at the store, I grab a bag or two from behind the seat without a thought...it's a habit now.

Of course half the stuff you buy is wrapped in throw away plastic. Many items which used to be in glass are now in plastic - peanut butter, mayo, and so on. Sometimes there is a glass container option. My point is no matter how hard you try you can't escape the plastic monster we have become.

All we can do is what we can do...and we can all minimize our use.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I will catch up later.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

Lookout's picture

@dkmich

Three studies in 2015—one from Sweden, another from France and a third that combined data from 13 countries—suggest a connection between heavy cell phone use and gliomas, brain tumors that are often fatal. One of those studies also hinted at a link between cell phones and acoustic neuromas (tumors of the inner ear that are often non-cancerous).
https://www.consumerreports.org/cell-phones/government-to-announce-resul...

The studies recommendations:
Try to keep the cell phone away from your head and body. Keeping it an arm’s distance away significantly reduces exposure to the low-level radiation it emits. This is particularly important when the cellular signal is weak—when your phone has only one bar, for example—because phones may increase their power then to compensate.

Text or video call when possible, because this allows you to hold the phone farther from your body.

When speaking, use the speakerphone on your device or a hands-free headset.

Don’t stow your phone in your pants or shirt pocket. Instead, carry it in a bag or use a belt clip.

Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation’s environment correspondent and investigative editor, co-authored with Mark Dowie, a report “How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe.”
https://www.thenation.com/article/how-big-wireless-made-us-think-that-ce...

Take care and all the best!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Trump brings out the worst on the people who hang out with him.

Trump brings out the worst in our government

But, Trump a symptom of the many things in this article that are linked today

I am going to send to a historian friend this link to show what citizen journalism can do with what is available on the web and all the new voices that are speaking up.

Long article in the Guardian that sovereign nations can no longer offer protection so the solution is to build more walls. And fight more wars.

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Lookout's picture

@DonMidwest

T-rump is a reflection of the cesspool we have become.

Feel free to use this column in any way you think helpful.

All the best...have a good day Don (It is a cool rainy one here, but we've been having a beautiful spring. I hope your midwestern spring is unfolding nicely.)

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@DonMidwest Trump has only been president a mere what, a year and 1/2? And before he became president, he did not have the wealth or use his wealth to buy everyone (politicians) off, like Koch, Soros, etc.

Has he ever even donated to ALEC or conservative think tanks? Has he ever established PACS with his money to further Koch-like causes?

The birth of our problems happened decades ago.

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dfarrah

Lookout's picture

@dfarrah

..did not suddenly become intolerable.

I suspect tiny hands is in bed with the Kochs
http://prospect.org/article/make-no-mistake-koch-brothers-are-helping-do...

and Pompeo is a Koch tool
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=767&...

but you're spot on this has been decades in the coming.

Thanks for coming by!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout that the Kochs get involved in as much as they can rather than Trump actually supporting and believing in the Koch agenda. Trump is all over the place with his policies and the beliefs he espouses.

Even the article you cite mentions that the Kochs didn't care for Trump, but after all, they have bottom to top influence in the political system (local to national), and that influence is not going away just because a person they didn't like became president.

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dfarrah

Azazello's picture

I got some stuff this week.
This is very good on Russia, h/t to snoopydawg who linked it in the Evening Blues last week:
The Rape of Russia, originally at The Saker Blog, audio only at YouTube, (1hr. 14 min.)
RT's Crosstalk on US foreign policy: YouTube, (25 min.)
Max & Stacy on Wage Growth & Tax Cuts: YouTube, (25 min.)
Hope you like them, have a nice day.

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It didn't have to be this way.

Lookout's picture

@Azazello

I always appreciate your recommendations. The only one I caught earlier was Max and Stacy. I enjoy their playful analysis.

I'll give the others a listen. Thanks again.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

smiley7's picture

wouldn't they eat anything?

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Lookout's picture

@smiley7

...but unintended consequences seem our stock and trade.

Always good to "see" you.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout
I'm sure when they introduce this new, genetically engineered species into the ocean everything will be completely under control.

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Beware the bullshit factories.

Lookout's picture

@Timmethy2.0

The engineered enzyme has the added benefit of being able to degrade polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF), a PET alternative that has been floated as a replacement for glass beer bottles. The team is now working to continue refining the engineered enzyme to make it even more effective.

"The engineering process is much the same as for enzymes currently being used in bio-washing detergents and in the manufacture of biofuels – the technology exists and it's well within the possibility that in the coming years we will see an industrially viable process to turn PET and potentially other substrates like PEF, PLA, and PBS, back into their original building blocks so that they can be sustainably recycled," says McGeehan.

https://newatlas.com/plastic-eating-enzyme-portsmouth/54232/

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout
Maybe we can innovate our way to a clean environment.

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Beware the bullshit factories.

Lookout's picture

More on new media and coercion (15 min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU-0PTsAPoI

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Meteor Man's picture

@Lookout
Also this one. Watch the whole video, but definitely check out a five minute draft Bernie rant by Jimmy that starts at about 12:45.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

snoopydawg's picture

@Lookout

for what they wrote about him. Defamation of character is what I thought he said.

Great round up this morning, lookout. Thanks. I also read that Twitter, U tube and Google are in some need of censorship too. This is a round about way for the government to do it. The WSWS wasn't able to place their article on the teachers strike because FB said it was fake news. This is just starting ... how long until people start getting thrown in jail for not towing the party line?

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“You know me. Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” - Joe Biden 8/31/2020

Lookout's picture

@snoopydawg

Jimmy says it isn't over yet...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYM7Ju-YXmE (30 min)

4 min claim that jimmy plans to sue...he just said there's more to come.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NXbZpA2oJs

It isn't as if censorship and spin are something new, but the online platforms require some adaption in order to control the narrative.

It is interesting times. Glad to "see" you!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

strollingone's picture

why should we leave ourselves out? We MUST not discriminate! Perhaps it is the only chance the planet really has. (Rabbits in Orstralia...mongeese in Hawaii...nutria in Texas. Whatdya mean don't actively support the proliferation of the species?)

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Lookout's picture

@strollingone

but we won't last in the long run. Best enjoy what we have left of time and the environment.

All the best!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”