Crowd Swarm in Atlanta, Georgia Over Section 8 Housing

August 20th, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in politics, propaganda | No Comments »

Last week, in East Point, Georgia over thirty thousand people arrived to file an application for section 8 housing. This is a subsidy for their housing expense. The problem? Only 13,000 applications were available. These weren’t applications for the actual subsidy, but applications to get on a waiting list to get the subsidy.

Well, given the fact that many in the line waited over two days to get the application and the late summer heat, trouble started brewing. Over 200 riot police arrived on the to provide crowd control. In the end, 62 were injured. This is, I think to be expected, when unemployment is high, bankruptcies are endemic and people are just plain busted these days.

See here for more detail:

There is no need, at this point, to detail the commentary taking place on forums like this one at or this one at Free Republic. As a result of this near riot, forums and blogs all over the internet are filling up with charges of “SOCIALISM!” and acknowledgements that all of the applicants in the news videos are african-american (what must that mean, hmmm?!). It does no good to point out that right wingers are often racist. We know that. They know that about themselves. They will never admit it publicly, even as they display it.

Commenters in both of the aforementioned fora chose to post this 26 second video, which really has nothing whatsoever to do with the events in East Point, Georgia:

What does deserve comment however is the way Newsweek chose to articulate this story. Named “Home Improvement”, the tag line reads “Federal aid for renters sparked a near riot in Atlanta because it is so successful. How Section 8 is helping spur the housing market.” The article notes that

Atlanta will become the first U.S. city to demolish all of its public housing projects, which a decade ago housed more than 14,000 families.

and goes on to say that

Section 8 tenants get to choose where they live. Rather than isolating the poor in segregated high-rise towers, it disperses them, many throughout mixed-income communities with lower crime, better schools, and all the other amenities that middle-class Americans take for granted. Recipients don’t have to live in the city that issued the voucher.

That means that Section 8 is more than a gateway to an affordable home—it can be a ticket to live anywhere in the country. This is especially potent at a time when many cities, particularly in the Sun Belt, are filled with fancy new homes that were built in the boom and that have gone unsold in the bust. As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, Las Vegas landlords have been renting out brand-new luxury condos to voucher holders who have relocated from points east and who pay a few hundred dollars a month out of pocket for condos that were formerly on the market for several hundred thousand.

So by implication, we need not feel bad for these folks because they are going to be better off. That seems like self-soothing happy talk to me and reminds me vaguely of Barbara Bush during Hurrican Katrina.

Conclusions and Predictions
What do I think this event has to teach us? Well, I call it a crowd swarm and not a riot because I remember the LA riots. I remember the riots of the sixties and seventies, too. Riots involve buildings being burned, mass looting, clashes between police and armed protesters, like at the WTO in seattle. This does not rise to that level. I think it is a portent of things to come if the economy does not improve. As Damien Hoffman points out, bankruptcy filings have hit an all time high despite legislation passed on 2005 to make it nearly impossible to do so. Food stamps usage has doubled since 2007. This may not have been a full blown riot but I suspect there are many, many, more in the offing.

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Migrant Workers Riot at Malaysian Factory

August 19th, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in Corporatism | No Comments »

Over 5,000 migrant workers rioted at a Malaysian factory in the city of Johor Bahru on Tuesday. Last Sunday, a twenty year old Nepalese man had a high fever. His bosses at the factory allegedly would not let him go to the hospital. He died by morning the next day. The workers faced off against 200 riot police. Toward the end of the conflict, managers agreed to meet with a staff representative to discuss issues at the work site.

It would have been just as well if they had let the factory burn to the ground. Nevertheless, I hope their demands are met.

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Vibram Fivefingers Running Shoes

August 19th, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in Culture | No Comments »

Barefoot running shoes…A sign of the apocalypse?

First impressions: Upon learning of the advent of barefoot running shoes, my first thoughts were “what’s next, tipless condoms?”

Upon further consideration, Vibram may not have such a crazy idea. The shoes are not exactly barefoot. The rubber which forms the bottom of the shoe curves to support the ball of your foot and the joint of the big toe. This is a shoe with “Toes”, sort of like a glove for your foot. They retail between $75-120 a pair

Hype, Hype, Hype. For that kind of money, I would rather cut off the front end of a pair of payless walking shoes.

I wonder what barefoot purists would have to say about all of this.

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Shirley Sherrod

July 21st, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in propaganda | 1 Comment »

Life is a grindstone; whether it polishes you up or grinds you down is up to you” Shirley Sherrod

That almost sounds like a libertarian, conservative statement, doesn’t it? Like pull yourself up from your own boot straps.

It was said at the end of a video of a speech given by Shirley Sherrod, an African-american woman, who works for the US dept. of Agriculture, at a NAACP event. During this event, Shirley talked about her father who was killed by a white man who was never even charged with murder. Her father’s assailant was charged with curtailing his civil rights in a suit that was ultimately thrown out by the US Supreme Court. She talked about her work for the government and how she felt conflicted helping a white farmer to save his farm and how this experience helped her to see that injustice in modern society is not just about race; it is about money. And how her reaction to the needs of this white farmer helped her understand that race should not matter when helping the poor.

A highly edited version of this video has been playing on cable news stations, most notably faux news. Choruses of “Racism!” have arisen from conservatives all across this land. The NAACP, upon seeing the 2:30 minute version of a video of one of their own events, decried her.

“Fear is the road to ruin” Russel Simmons

Tom Vilsack, her boss, has fired her, in response to all of the controversy. If this speech is racism, then it is the most boring racism ever inflicted on anyone. Tom Vile-sack needs to up his thorazine and crack open a history book.

If Barrack Obama does not rehire her immediatley, he has testacles whose girth can only be measured in negative integers.

For decades now, white conservatives have whined about reverse racism. Conservative media outlets constantly tout stories which purport to prove the existence of a legitimate grievance amongst white males for their non-mel gibson lot in life. As a white male, this makes me embarrassed.

Shirley Sherrod should get her job back and Tom Vilsack should be fired. Russel Simmons of Def Poetry thinks so. Even Glen Beck has gotten this one right. Will Barrack Obama?

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Thomas Drake, Whistleblower

July 15th, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in politics, propaganda, The Pentagon, War | 1 Comment »

I smell a scandal brewin’ baby….

To wit, Thomas Drake, former NSA executive, has leaked a number of classified NSA documents about the administrations use of spyware from 2006-2009.

Drakes concern, was that NSA had scuttled the use of a software program called ThinThread in favor of one called Trailblazer. The difference between the two? Well, Thinthread had privacy “protections”. Specifically, the software was automated to alert agents to when and where they would need to obtain a retroactive FISA warrant. Trailblaizer, could analyze a far larger volume of data without these restrictions.

Sir Thomas did not approve of this. He, and several others objected through official channels before approaching the Baltimore Sun with scanned classified documents (in 2006). Drake is now working at a DC area Apple store while awaiting trial. He faces thirty five years in prison.

President Barrack “Hopey Changey” Obama is now officially more fascist than George W. Bush. Here is why I say that. He promised the most transparent White House in history. I did not believe him at the time. He was, during the campaign, lukewarm in his support of the FISA court which requires retroactive search warrants be obtained for domestic spying. Nevermind that, according to the constitution, domestic spying is not supposed to occur AT ALL. But, during the campaign, he was limp wristed in his support of even nominal privacy protections. FUCK THAT! The same automation which allows programs like Thinthread and Trailblazer to sift through massive amounts of data could be put into the service of recovering large amounts of data. What I mean by that is, “they” datamine us. Aren’t we allowed to datamine them too? If a person’s e-mails and phone conversations are spied on, so to speak, in error, doesn’t the person from whom these communications originate entitled to know that?

In closing, I hereby nominate Sir Thomas Drake for knighthood.

P.S. To Barrack Obama and his minions…Character is Destiny


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RFID and Mythbusters

July 10th, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in propaganda | 1 Comment »

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and involves tracking radio waves remotely from a strategically placed source.
With the general increase in the number of credit cards, businesses, and farmers that make use of RFID, has come an increase in the amount of paranoia associated with them. We’re all about to get chipped man! This seems to be the general concern. And I agree. There is something very creepy about the working masses having their property (cellphones, credit cards, etc.) tagged like cattle. It is frequently suggested that these chips will eventually be implanted in us. Orwellian implications abound.

Once the technology is described by most media outlets the discussion seems to bounce back and forth between two narrow poles. On the one hand, there are business leaders, police, bankers and government representatives who laud the potential of this technology to make our lives more orderly. On the other hand, there are the civil libertarians, counterculture folk, and paranoid cranks (like myself…nyuk, nyuk, nyuk) who decry the intrusion of authoritarians into our personal liberty.

However, I think this actually misses the point. Both sides presume that someone, or something is ultimately in control. What if no one is in Control? How hackable is RFID anyway?

That is why I found the video below so interesting. It seems to imply that credit card companies are highly vigilant about RFID hackability as a potential problem.

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Russian Spies Plead Guilty

July 8th, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in politics | No Comments »

All ten accused Russian spies plead guilty in a hearing in Manhattan Thursday. They are going to be swapped for American spies currently being held in Moscow.

The defendants will get time served.

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Michael Steele on the War in Afghanistan

July 2nd, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in politics | 1 Comment »

“If he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right? Because everyone who’s tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed and there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.”

Michael Steele, being right for once in his life. He went on to say that

“This was a war of Obama’s choosing. This is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”

Conservatives, including Bill Krystol, immediately called for his resignation.

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Anne Chapman

June 30th, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in propaganda | No Comments »

On Monday, Anne Chapman, who had lived for ten years in America, was arrested along with ten people and accused of being a deep cover spy. Anne, who has a master’s degree in economics and a two million dollar on line real estate business, allegedly passed information back to Moscow via laptop and notes written with invisible ink.

As “deep cover” spies go, Anne certainly seems to have had a very high profile public image, with a video on Youtube and a facebook page. As far as the video (which has had it’s embed capability disabled, naturally) goes, Anne comes off like a second rate Yakov Smirnoff. Forgive me, but her act seems a little canned. I mean, it has been how many years since the Soviet Union disintegrated? And here she is talking about her home country as though it were still under iron fisted totalitarian rule.

The other thing about this event is the timing. With the Obama administration attempting to “reset” its relations with Russia, the revelation of spies within the US furthers more than one agenda. Could it be that, in the light of a diplomatic relationship that is at best lukewarm, and in light of Medvedev’s desire to create a russian Silicon Valley, that the US intelligence community is, in effect, firing off a warning shot?

Whatever the motives behind all of this coming to light, it is revealing that both the US and Russia still apparently view each other as enemies. Maybe there are deeper reasons why our nuclear arsenal is still pointed in their direction?

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June 30th, 2010 Paul Peterson Posted in Art, quote | No Comments »

"Simpleton" by Fransisco de Goya
“Better the witty fool than the foolish wit”


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