A few years ago in an Indonesian forest, a crested macaque monkey named Naruto picked up an unattended camera and took several photos of himself. The resulting monkey selfies have become the center of a debate concerning the overlap of intellectual property law and animal rights.
The owner of the camera, photographer David J. Slater, has been selling copies of the pictures for profit. He and his company, Wildlife Personalities, both claim copyright ownership of the photos, even though Slater admits that Naruto took the photos himself in 2011. PETA has filed a lawsuit on Naruto’s behalf, asking the courts to recognize Naruto as the owner of the copyright to the photos…
Research supports PETA’s claim that Naruto satisfies the basic requirements for authorship. Macaques are distinctive—even among monkeys—in their high degree of intelligence and complex sociality. They are particularly characterized by an extremely well-developed capacity for object manipulation, and a strong tendency to engage in tactile behavior. They understand the correlation between cause and effect, such as that by hitting a snail shell with a rock, they can crack it open and retrieve the snail. They also have individual personalities, and their unique characteristics lead to their capacity for idiosyncratic, self-oriented, highly intentional social behavior.
Obama realizes he overestimated the American people and has readjusted his priorities accordingly.
As a former spokesperson myself I stand humbled before Sam Biederman, quoted here by The Gothamist:
Update 4:29 p.m.: Parks Department spokesperson Sam Biederman provided us with the following statement regarding the Trump statue:
NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.
I have just discovered, probably later than many of you, a blog called Fred On Everything from which the following comes. In nearly every post Fred Reed makes you rethink your preconceptions, which is something you don’t come across every day. Actually hardly ever.
So bookmark him, okay?
A good reason to vote for Trump, a very good reason whatever his other intentions, is that he does not want a war with Russia. Hillary and her elite ventriloquists threaten just that. Note the anti-Russian hysteria coming from her and her remoras…
It is easy to regard countries as suprahuman beings that think and take decisions and do things. Practically speaking, countries consist of a small number of people, usually men, who make decisions for reasons often selfish, pathologically aggressive, pecuniary, delusional, misinformed, or actually psychopathic in the psychiatric sense. For example, the invasion of Iraq, a disaster, was pushed by the petroleum lobbies to get the oil, the arms lobbies to get contracts, the Jewish lobbies to get bombs dropped on Israel’s enemies, the imperialists for empire, and the congenitally combative because that is how they think. Do you see anything in the foregoing that would matter to a normal American? These do not add up to a well-conceived policy. Considerations no better drive the desire to fight Russia or to force it to back down.
I note, pointlessly, that probably none of America’s recent martial catastrophes would have occurred if we still had constitutional government. How many congressmen do you think would vote for a declaration of war if they had to tell their voters that they had just launched, for no reason of importance to Americans, an attack on the homeland of a nuclear power?
There are lots of reasons not to vote for Clinton and the suppurating corruption she represents. Not letting her owners play with matches rates high among them.
I laughed. I cried…
Okay, I hope the participants in this focus group are actors. But I’m terribly afraid they aren’t. Tell me I’m wrong. Please.
…corporations are people, too. From Naked Capitalism:
Their paper closes by examining the notion that right wing politics in America has been driven by donations piling up from eccentric entrepreneurs like investor and conservative mega-donor Foster Friess — the sort of people who are widely imagined to populate the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans — rather than mainline big business corporations, such as those on the Fortune 500 list.
On the contrary, the researchers find that “a simple count of firms and investors on Forbes show that the largest American corporations support Tea Party Congressional candidates and organizations supporting the movement, such as Freedom Works, at much higher rates than Forbes 400 members. Even making due allowances for Dark Money, the difference is substantial.”
Evidently American big business firms are not centrist, as many pundits would have it. As Ferguson and his colleagues put it:
Stories that the steady rightward drift of the American political universe is somehow the work of exceptionally ideological individual entrepreneurs are huge over-simplifications. If the center is not holding in American society — and it rather plainly is not — America’s largest companies are as implicated as anyone else; indeed, perhaps more so.
I read the most boring headline today: “Trump’s Comment Sparks Outrage.” Yawn. Another day, another ridiculous Trump comment. At what point do we cease to be outraged by this buffoon? At what point does he suffer the fate of all reality TV stars — obscurity. I'm thoroughly sick of Trump and all of his bullshit. He’s a tiresome boor and I just want him to go away. He’s become less interesting than the Olympics, which is saying a lot.
…to post something like this:
Federal prisoners are provided with a trust fund upon their incarceration, into which they can put any money they have. Friends and family can make deposits as well. If a prisoner obtains a job while behind bars, any money they make is placed into the account. When they are released, any money they had in their trust fund is placed on a non-reloadable Chase debit card.
Plaintiff Jesse Krimes, who was released from the Federal Correctional Institution at Fairton in New Jersey in September 2013, was given a Chase debit card containing the balance of his trust fund. It came with a one-page sheet explaining how to activate the card, as well as a “card fee schedule.” The words “NON-RELOADABLE” were stamped on the back.
Former prisoners like Krimes were charged 45 cents for balance inquiries and 10 dollars to withdraw money at a bank teller window. They were charged two dollars for using a non-network ATM.
Chase told cardholders the ATM fee would be waived once for each deposit they made, however, the cards were non-reloadable, rendering the fee-waiver moot. If a releasee didn’t use their card, they incurred an “inactivity” fee of $1.50 each month. As the lawsuit notes, these fees bore no relation to any costs incurred by Chase.
This footage was put together by The New York Times. It’s bad enough to read about Trump’s mobs. To see them and hear them is far more disturbing. Nothing new, though, to anyone old enough to remember the vicious desegregation struggles of the Fifties and Sixties. We’ve come a long way since then. Or not.
From The Los Angeles Times:
A school-age child at a Donald Trump rally on Tuesday stood up and yelled “Take the bitch down” after the candidate mentioned Hillary Clinton…
The child, who looked no more than 10, was sitting next to his mother in the media section. The mother identified herself in a brief interview with a small group of reporters as Pam Kohler of Mount Vernon, Va., but she would not name her son or say how old he is … Asked where he learned to speak that way, she answered, “Democratic schools.”
The late Andrew Kopkind nailed the essence of Clintonism way back in 1992, when it was brand new under the American sun, sort of. Reading this filled me with deja vu and deja entendu, malaise and despair. Nothing has changed.
It’s difficult to convey the feel of the Clinton culture. Like the Kennedy culture thirty years ago, it is a stir-fry of blatant self-promotion, unexamined idealism, cynical sophistication, suspect intellectual certainty and an arrogant race and class snobbery that can be oppressive to those without the necessary credentials. It comes off as hip and liberal, but it panders to the right and abhors any person or movement to its left. It is suffused with a gestural sentimentality about racial harmony, but its commitment is to white power and privilege.And it is “ever-willing” he continues, to sell out any principle for the sake of achieving “political viability within the system.”
And here we are, forced to choose between these calculating yuppy slicksters and Donald Trump. What a world. Does this rise to the level of a crisis of democracy yet, or are we to take this as politics as usual in a country that’s become thoroughly corrupt and mediocre?
Last week’s pep rally was a big success. It showed that the Democrats are fundamentally decent people who won’t blow up the world or throw Muslims into concentration camps, and they did a fine job highlighting the contrast between themselves and the bigoted cave trolls in the Republican party. This is a good thing and Hillary’s surrogates should continue to do it.
But we already knew all of this. We already knew that Democrats aren’t racist and won’t mock the disabled. We already knew they’re nicer people, listen to better music and are more fun to be around than Republicans. And we already knew that Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are, in contradistinction to Donald Trump, sane, level-headed professionals who won’t rock the boat and spook the markets. Believe me, we know this. We know this all too well. It is as familiar to us as that first stabbing pain in the bowel that unmistakably signals an attack of diarrhea. But it won’t be enough.
“We’re nice people and Donald Trump is an evil racist” just won’t get the job done. After the warm and fuzzies from last week’s multicultural love fest wear off, we’re left with the unsettling fact that Republicans control Congress and a majority of state houses, and they’ll probably continue to do so after the election. The ugly truth is that the racist, xenophobic, fear-mongering, Bible-thumping, modernity-hating, knuckle-dragging troglodytes who goose step in Trump’s torchlight parades are, as far as the election goes, half the country. Hillary needs to attract the fence sitters, and demonizing Trump while offering nothing but business-as-usual probably won’t do it.
Frank Bruni discusses this problem today, and mentions some interesting poll results:
In a Gallup poll two weeks ago, just 17 percent of respondents said that the country was on the right track, while 82 percent said it was on the wrong track. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shortly before that, the corresponding figures were 18 percent and 73 percent.A poll is a poll is a poll, it’s true, but I think these results accurately reflect the mood of the country. Things are not good and they’re going to get worse. I bring this up, yet again, because it’s exactly the kind of thing that the smug neoliberals in Hillary’s pampered inner circle will completely misunderstand or ignore. They’ll view it as a mere messaging problem and combat it with spin, double-talk, and statistics. They won’t acknowledge the reality of the problem or address it in a substantive way.
My hunch is that there are a lot of closet Trump supporters out there, a lot. I think there are a great many people who won’t admit in polite society that they support him but will, in the secrecy of the voting booth, pull the lever for him just to shout “fuck you” to an establishment that is so corrupt, so unresponsive, so utterly worm-eaten and foul, that they’re willing to watch Trump dynamite it all to hell regardless of the consequences. These people aren’t going to be reached by calling Trump a racist meanie.
…may be suicide bombing. Obvious once you think about it, which I hadn’t. From The Intercept:
Only the few Syrians who appear in the film speak at length about their grievances over the crimes of the Syrian government. In contrast, the foreign volunteers appear largely driven by personal motivations. Liberating the local people from oppression appears at best a secondary concern. Perishing in the conflict and reaping the existential rewards of such an end takes precedence. Both Abu Qaswara and Abu Basir gave up comfortable lives to come to Syria, knowing that certain death would be the outcome of that decision. But rather than deterring them, the prospect of a rewarding death was a primary factor motivating their decision to fight.
This impulse toward self-destruction is actually seen as selfish by some fellow insurgents. In his co-authored 2014 memoir The Arabs at War in Afghanistan, Mustafa Hamid, a former high-ranking Egyptian volunteer with the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, described his own frustration with many of the later waves of volunteers arriving to that conflict. “One of the negatives that emerged from the jihad, and which continues to have severe consequences today, was the tendency for the youth to focus not on success and achieving victory and liberating Afghanistan, but on their desire for martyrdom and to enter paradise,” Hamid wrote. This overriding preoccupation with becoming a martyr meant that participation in the conflict, “became individual instead of for the benefit of the group or the country where the fight for liberation is taking place.”
Tony Piel summarizes the environmental policies in the Democrat and Republic platforms, to save you the trouble:Now that the exuberant Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Cincinnati and Philadelphia are over, with their flag-waving appeals to patriotic fervor, and their affirmations of the virtues of favored candidates for high office, the time has come for more sober reflection on the policies which the two Parties represent, and which the candidates “up and down the ballot,” once elected, will be called on to realize.
This, of course, presumes that we know what the overall policy issues and specific positions actually are. A good way to get an overview of this is to compare line-by-line pronouncements of the two Party platforms actually adopted during their respective Conventions. What does the Democratic Party platform say, and what does the Republican Party Platform say, about major policy issues of concern to you? For most of us in the Northwest corner of Connecticut, a major issue is the environment. Both Parties promise “Environmental Progress,” writ large, but let’s review their respective proposals in a bit more detail… …Read on
Sister Pat sends along this 1920 prediction from H.L. Mencken, who would have been not even a little bit surprised by last week’s GOP convention:
When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost … All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
I’ve been worried that if Clinton loses the general election her supporters would have a ready-made scapegoat: the Bernie Bros. This meme has been transparently taking shape throughout the primaries, and I thought it reflected the deep and well-earned insecurities of the Clinton campaign. The primaries weren’t even half over and you could already see Bernie being set up to be the new Nader.
This would conveniently shift blame from their nominees own gargantuan flaws while giving the Dems an excuse to move even further right, which is what they want anyway: See, progressives always cost us the general election. America is a center-right country!
(Don’t let last night’s Potemkin Populism fool you. The “most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic party” will be luxuriously shat upon and rejected bell, book and candle the second Hillary Clinton is sworn in. The Clintons simply do not agree with it. It is not who they are.)
Anyway, somebody phone up the DNC with the latest: Ninety-percent of “consistent” Sanders supporters “favor Clinton over Trump.” It’s all hers to lose from now on, and I’ve no doubt her insular, lead-footed political team will find plenty of ways to do so between now and November.
Of course, if Clinton loses we’ll have much more important things to do than bicker over who was to blame, like scrambling to find which countries will accept a flood of desperate American refugees (as opposed to those who are going to slam their doors in our faces and throw a great big schadenfreude party).
Paul Krugman took a jog through the Upper West Side and concluded America’s just peachy again:
If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park. There are people of all ages, and, yes, all races exercising, strolling hand in hand, playing with their dogs, kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees. There are a few homeless people, but the overall atmosphere is friendly – New Yorkers tend to be rushed, but they’re not nasty – and, well, nice.
Yes, the Upper West Side is affluent. But still, I’ve seen New York over the decades, and it has never been as pleasant, as safe in feel, as it is now. And this is the big bad city!
He took a jog through a rich part of Manhattan and it was, well, nice! There were happy couples holding hands and strolling in leafy glades, and people playing Frisbee and soccer. Some of these people were even brown, and yet they didn’t mug or assault a rich white academic as he was out getting his cardio!
There were a few homeless people, to be sure, but not enough to change the overall picture. You might say they were statistically insignificant and hence easy to disregard. Of course, economists make a living disregarding variables that don’t fit their models. That’s how they win Nobel Prizes and earn enough money to live on the Upper West Side, where they can deplore the evils of inequality without ever having to actually smell a poor person.
But there is a problem. If things are so good, why do so many people think they’re terrible? Why do so many people drink Trump’s Kool-Aid and agree with his dark description of America? The professor gives us his answer:
A lot of Republican-leaning voters apparently believe that the economy is terrible in the teeth of their own experience – that the pretty good job market they see is a local aberration. And “crime” may not really mean “crime” – it may just be code for “brown people.”
In other words, they’re just dumb racists who don’t know how good they’ve got it. They are willfully ignoring good economic news —presumably all those new jobs at Wal-Mart — and insisting things are rotten in the teeth of their own experience. Thus saith the rich man to the proles.
I think it’s true that many, if not most, of Trump’s supporters are ignorant racists, but Trump’s appeal goes much deeper than that. Many of these people are driven to racism and xenophobia because of genuine economic despair. Krugman does not acknowledge this. Instead, he paints a misleadingly rosy picture of the economy that enables him to ignore their legitimate grievances and characterize them as mere bigots.
It’s impossible not to notice that this is the same tactic Krugman used against Sanders and his supporters. Sanders — a demagogic narcissist by definition — pitched a falsely dystopian view of the American economy that his followers mindlessly lapped up, because his followers were, as all the grown-ups knew, just dupes, fanatics and possibly sexist “Bernie Bros.”
This condescending dismissal of people with real problems and legitimate complaints will lead to electoral defeat. If policy makers and influential thinkers maintain this attitude in the face of growing discontent it will lead to much worse.
Krugman was one of the few bright lights during the Bush dark age, and it’s disheartening to see an intellectual of his stature stoop to this kind of partisan hackery. More importantly, he’s displaying precisely the kind of elitist liberal arrogance that bolsters Trump’s appeal (and will also drive independents away from Hillary). When influential public intellectuals engage in this kind behavior, it lends credence to the notion that our elites are corrupt, dishonest, and completely out-of-touch.
Stop telling part-time Walmart workers with no prospects for a better life that the economy is pretty good and they have nothing to be angry about. Stop telling retail clerks and baristas who pay more than two-thirds of their income towards rent and student loans that they should be doing cartwheels because the unemployment rate dropped one percent. Stop pissing statistics down people’s back and calling it rain!
But if you must, don’t do it from the Upper West Side, for God’s sake. Are you bloody daft, man? This is let them eat cake territory. This is an attitude that will catapult Donald Trump straight into the White House.
You always knew this, of course, but still it’s nice to see it confirmed by an expert. From Harper’s Magazine, by Dan Baum:
In 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Watergate co-conspirator, unlocked for me one of the great mysteries of modern American history: How did the United States entangle itself in a policy of drug prohibition that has yielded so much misery and so few good results? Americans have been criminalizing psychoactive substances since San Francisco’s anti-opium law of 1875, but it was Ehrlichman’s boss, Richard Nixon, who declared the first “war on drugs” and set the country on the wildly punitive and counterproductive path it still pursues. I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. I barely recognized him. He was much heavier than he’d been at the time of the Watergate scandal two decades earlier, and he wore a mountain-man beard that extended to the middle of his chest.
At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Both Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were serial draft dodgers. Go to the links. Neither is a patriot. Both are cowards. I use the word patriot here not in its larger sense, but in the narrower one which they themselves so simplemindedly employ. Coward I use in its customary sense.
It may be that both men are aware of their own cowardice, and that this explains their constant fawning (on full and fulsome display at the convention) over big, strong military men. But this is almost certainly not the case. Sociopaths, by definition, are incapable of self-examination.
…I wrote speeches for two presidential campaigns and a president and I never thought of this:
In case you missed this yesterday:
Hello Republicans! I’m Pastor Mark Burns from the great state of South Carolina! I’m going to pray and I’m going to give the benediction. And you know why? Because we are electing a man in Donald Trump who believes in the name of Jesus Christ. And Republicans, we got to be united because our enemy is not other Republicans — but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
Let’s pray together. Father God, in the name of Jesus, Lord we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump. We’re thankful that you are guiding him, the you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united. Because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God.
To defeat every attack that comes against us, to protect the life of Donald Trump, give him the words, give him the space, give him the power and the authority to be the next President of the United States of America, in Jesus’ name — if you believe it, shout Amen!
It becomes plainer by the day that the Trump team — Manafort’s babblings below stand out for incompetence even in this crowd — couldn’t manage a two-car funeral. And this certainly includes Little Donnie himself. We know from which end a fish rots.
Trump communications adviser Jason Miller, in a response early Tuesday, acknowledged that Melania Trump plagiarized “fragments” of her speech and referred to a “team of writers,” essentially refuting her claim that she wrote the speech.
“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” Miller said in a statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Tuesday tried to shift blame for the plagiarism issue to Hillary Clinton supporters. “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” “These were common words and values that she cares about — her family, things like that.”
“I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night,” Mr. Manafort said. “She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”
“I mean, this is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” he said. “It’s not going to work.”
Michael Folk, a republican for the West Virginia House of Delegates representing District 63, is in hot water after a tweet he posted Friday night. The tweet, quoted as saying, “Hillary Clinton, you should be tried for treason, murder, and crimes against the US Constitution... then hung on the Mall in Washington, DC.”Michael, Michael. It’s “hanged,” not “hung.” Hung is what Little Donnie wishes he was.
…beneath the Republicans’ regular one. And so the GOP groped around down there until it managed to fish up a candidate so debased that he makes Tricky Dick Nixon look classy. From History News Network:
Critics of Pres. Richard M. Nixon regarded him as a politician who not only wanted to defeat his enemy, but to destroy him. Yet, in his presidential re-election bid in 1972 when he ran against Sen. George McGovern (D-SD), Nixon showed restraint by keeping a secret that could have wrecked McGovern’s career. This information concerned the fact that McGovern had fathered an out-of-wedlock child in 1941 when he was an 18 year-old college student.
Full grown adults are wandering into traffic and getting killed playing Pokemon. They also pay twelve bucks to see superhero movies and think Batman versus Superman is a worthy topic of debate. Donald Trump might become president.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the way a species goes extinct.
Downward into the void, my friends.
Just for the hell of it, here’s a poem by James Joyce called “Nightpiece.”
Gaunt in gloom,
The pale stars their torches,
Ghostfires from heaven's far verges faint illume,
Arches on soaring arches,
Night's sindark nave.
The lost hosts awaken
To service till
In moonless gloom each lapses muted, dim,
Raised when she has and shaken
And long and loud,
To night's nave upsoaring,
A starknell tolls
As the bleak incense surges, cloud on cloud,
Voidward from the adoring
Waste of souls.
…with butt a single theme:
No, not in Cleveland. In Karachi.This just in from Gulf News Pakistan:
Islamabad: Around 100 snakes have been ruthlessly killed as part of a so-called magic show at the Karachi zoo, it was reported on Tuesday.
Titled “The snake-eating man”, the stunt has been attracting hundreds of visitors since the first day of Eid and is likely to continue for a few more days, the Dawn reported.
The snakes are killed by a performer who breaks their necks with his teeth before skinning them, and tasting their blood dripping from their mutilated bodies…
“The show is being held only for a few days and in no way damages the public image of the zoo,” director Fahim Khan said.