The World Cup Spilleth Over: As the Soccer Games End, Political Ones Begin

July 15, 2014 at 1:40 am (Uncategorized)

The World Cup has spilleth over. With the FIFA spectacle about to pack up its goodies—most of their lucre has already been wired out of Brazil—it’s time for hype for the next global spectacle, as the “host” country now tries to cope with its financial losses, intensified social conflicts and humiliating defeat at the hands of the Germans after earlier losing their star player to a nasty collision on the field, and their valiant captain to a suspension.

Brazil 2014 Blue green yellow football Background FREE VECTOR

On s symbolic level, Brazil’s bashing at the feet of Germany using bum rush tactics compared to the Nazi “Blitzgrieg” brought smiles to Old Europe, and pain to a nation struggling with massive poverty and inequality.

In a way, it underscored the dependence and anger that so many Brazilians felt, even as the issues they have raising and marching to call attention to, have all been but ignored by the sportscasters who know game scores but not the scores of life—the great gaps that events like the World Cup paper over.

We saw this movie before, just 4 years ago, in South Africa where warnings of corrupt practices and unreasonable demands by FIFA—to have companies they pick build unwanted and unneeded stadiums, and control all TV rights, among other “requirements”” insuring they controlled the events and made the most money—were lost in well orchestrated patriotic fervor to bring the games to Africa for the first time.

South Africans were persuaded after years of struggling for freedom that they had finally arrived in the big time

In the end, FIFA made more money off the games in South Africa than in any earlier World Cup. There were plenty of photo ops and mutual congratulations, but, afterwards, the county was left with a large debt and white elephant stadiums, like the one in Cape Town which some critics want to turn into a low income housing project in a “Mother City” known for its shacks and packed slum-like townships

At the time, South African media turned down a powerful documentary forecasting these problems. To the ANC, the ruling party, the FIFA party was the one to embrace even as fans brought their own invention, to the games—wailing horns that expressed both joy and disquiet. Called the vuvuzela/vuːvuːˈzɛlə/, it produces a traditional loud monotone note that was barely tolerated by FIFA officialdom because it was seen as disruptive, interfering with their marketing and all the selling that was going on.

South Africa’s two week mother of all parties soon gave way to a reality sandwich in the form of a debt that may take decades to pay.

They didn’t expect to win the cup—the Brazilians did. It would have been their sixth. Thus, the loss had profound psychological repercussions, as Doug Foster reported in The Atlantic:

“…the loss had been treated as a national catastrophe akin to defeat in war. The writer Nelson Rodrigues even claimed that it was a kind of psychological cataclysm, creating an inferiority complex, one infused with racial stigma, in the population. Since Uruguay had fielded a largely white team, he noted, while Brazil had been represented by seven Afro-Brazilians, including the goalkeeper, the loss provoked a color-coded experience of shame. He called it “complexo de vira-lata”—the mongrel complex.”

In many ways, reaction there to the Cup became an expression of a deep class tension that annoyed/inconvenienced the tourists, with is as much conflict in the streets, however downplayed by the world media, as competition on the field.

Just as the TV coverage reduced everything to numbers, so did sports writer Dave Zirin of The Nation:

“Here are some other numbers that will have much more bearing on both Brazil’s present and future. These are the numbers that animate far more debate and discussion inside of Brazil than the US media, with their view from Copacabana beach, have portrayed.

$11-14 billion. That is how much the World Cup is going to end up costing the country. No one in government, when asked, is actually even sure as to what the final bill is going to be. This is not unique to Brazil by any means. Mega-events produce this kind of economic uncertainty and graft wherever they nest. But in a country where health and education are pressing issues, it stings.

250,000. That is the number of people—overwhelmingly poor—who may be displaced by the time all the confetti has been swept away. Many of those losing their homes live in Brazil’s favelas.

These communities, under constant attack by real estate speculators and the military police, have formed the backbone of Brazil’s urban culture for over a century. Several of these communities have been under military occupation during the Cup leading to brave, albeit uncovered, protests far from the public eye.”

Carl Gibson, a co-founder of US Uncut, a nonviolent grassroots movement, writes:

“When Brazilians tried to exercise their right to nonviolently protest the outright corruption behind the World Cup, they were met with riot police and tear gas canisters. On the eve of the World Cup’s first round, Brazil’s transportation workers went on strike in Sao Paulo, essentially shutting the city down. Unions were hit with a $27,000 fine for each day of the strike, which was called off a day later. City officials marked homes for demolition to make way for tourist accommodations without even contacting homeowners. …

All of these injustices were inflicted with the intent of an anticipated World Cup win overshadowing the inequities. The Brazilian government was banking on the forgiveness of the people for their corruption and scandals surrounding the World Cup in exchange for a 6th title. Instead of the trophy, all the Brazilian people have is a demolished, dispirited national team.”

As politics increasingly becomes spectacle with the media all too happy to cash in by sucking up the advertising dollars that comes with big sporting events, these issue are buried with distracting images of beauties in bathing suits. TV directors now go for what they call the “honey shot” to showcase pretty girls in the stands.

There’s plenty of intercutting done to create a sense of tension—and nail-biting by fans, with a continuing focus on gladiatorial physical contact on the field, the more hurtful, the better.

It all goes back to the Wide World Of Sports format invented by Roone Arledge for ABC that turned sports into shows adorned with these stirring words: “The thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition…”

Soon ABC killed that format as sports rights became more expensive to buy and created an advertiser-supported specialized sports channels, ESPN when cable bested broradcast.

Today, that network offers Apps to give fans more digital choices and reruns. As license fees escalated so has the cost of advertising. ESPN is now a brand to sell brands in the increasingly commercialized sports world that started as amateur events where athletes competed for fun and glory, not obscene salaries.

Forget the impressive ideals of global harmony. Ratings and revenues are the driver with minimum attention paid to celebrating diverse cultures or teaching the world about the world. No wonder there is so much unreported corruption on all sides. The World Cup does not belong to the world.

by Danny Schechter on July 11, 2014 in NewsBrazil_2014_Blue_green_yellow_football_Background_FREE_VECTOR

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Greenpeace ‘Save the Arctic’ Lego Movie Pulled from YouTube

July 15, 2014 at 1:32 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

It looks like LEGO and its corporate pals are more offended by a video than by the idea of Shell’s plan to drill for Arctic oil. Despite the real risk of a terrible and unstoppable oil spill in icy, pristine waters, Shell is determined to plunder every last drop of oil it can.

Just like it’s not OK for a tobacco company to market to children, an oil company has no place promoting its brand on kids’ toys. So that’s why we’re asking LEGO to show the world – and our children – that an ethical company won’t work with Shell.

LEGO said last week that it’s “determined to leave a positive impact on society and the planet”. So are we! That’s why we’re working together to protect our oceans, rainforests and the Arctic.

—-

The Warner Bros. corporation, the film production company behind the “The Lego Movie” based on the famous toy brand, has forced YouTube to remove an online video created by environmental campaigners at Greenpeace designed to expose the troublesome relationship between the company that makes the popular building blocks and a dangerous push for Arctic drilling by Shell oil.

Greenpeace had taken issue with Lego’s ‘offshore drilling’ themed toy set, created in conjunction with Shell and featuring its logo, and last month—as part of a larger campaign to ‘Save the Arctic‘ from offshore oil and gas drilling—initiated an effort designed to expose and end the relationship.

As part of the campaign, Greenpeace created an animated online video which used the Shell-themed Lego pieces as a set to show a devastating offshore oil spill in the Arctic. According to the group, “The film depicts an Arctic made entirely of LEGO, and imagines an oil spill in this beautiful and pristine part of the world. In real life, big oil company Shell plan to drill in the Arctic, with the very real risk of a huge oil spill that would destroy this unique ecosystem.”

After receiving nearly 3 millions hits in less than a week, however, the video was pulled from YouTube sometime on Thursday. According to Greenpeace, it was Warner Bros. specifically that pushed for its removal.

And the note on YouTube page where the video was states: “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Warner Bros. Entertainment.”

by Good German on July 11, 2014 in News
500px-LEGO_logo.svgCopyright or censorship? Or both?

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How To Bring the Dead Back to Life

July 15, 2014 at 1:30 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

A radical procedure that involves replacing a patient’s blood with cold salt water could retrieve people from the brink of death, says David Robson.

“When you are at 10C, with no brain activity, no heartbeat, no blood – everyone would agree that you’re dead,” says Peter Rhee at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “But we can still bring you back.”

Rhee isn’t exaggerating. With Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland, College Park, he has shown that it’s possible to keep bodies in ‘suspended animation’ for hours at a time. The procedure, so far tested on animals, is about as radical as any medical procedure comes: it involves draining the body of its blood and cooling it more than 20C below normal body temperature.

Once the injury is fixed, blood is pumped once again through the veins, and the body is slowly warmed back up. “As the blood is pumped in, the body turns pink right away,” says Rhee. At a certain temperature, the heart flickers into life of its own accord. “It’s quite curious, at 30C the heart will beat once, as if out of nowhere, then again – then as it gets even warmer it picks up all by itself.” Astonishingly, the animals in their experiments show very few ill-effects once they’ve woken up. “They’d be groggy for a little bit but back to normal the day after,” says Tisherman.

Tisherman created headlines around the world earlier this year, when he announced that they were ready to begin human trials of the technique on gunshot victims in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first patients will have been so badly wounded that their hearts have stopped beating, meaning that this is their last hope. “Cheating death with ‘suspended animation’” is how CNN put it; “Killing a patient to save his life” was the New York Times’ take.

Hyped up

The news coverage has sometimes offended Tisherman’s cautious sensibility. During our conversation, he comes across as a thoughtful, measured man, who is careful not to oversell his research. He is particularly wary of using the term ‘suspended animation’. “My concern isn’t that it’s inaccurate – it’s that when people think of the term, they think about space travellers being frozen and woken up on Jupiter, or Han Solo in Star Wars,” he says. “That doesn’t help, because it’s important for the public to know it’s not science fiction – it’s based on experimental work and is being studied in a disciplined manner, before we use it to stop people dying.” Rhee, who came to global attention after treating congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after a shooting in 2011, tends to be bolder: he says he wouldn’t rule out longer-term suspended animation, in the distant future. “What we’re doing is beginning part of that experiment.”…

- See more at: http://disinfo.com/2014/07/bring-dead-back-life/#sthash.u1DMUpua.dpuf

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Hormones Affect Voting Behavior, Researchers Find

July 2, 2014 at 10:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

voting1

Researchers from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Rice University have released a study that shows hormone levels can affect voter turnout.

As witnessed by recent voter turnout in primary elections, participation in U.S. national elections is low, relative to other western democracies. In fact, voter turnout in biennial national elections ranges includes only 40 to 60 percent of eligible voters.

The study, published June 22 in Physiology and Behavior, reports that while participation in electoral politics is affected by a host of social and demographic variables, there are also biological factors that may play a role, as well. Specifically, the paper points to low levels of the stress hormone cortisol as a strong predictor of actual voting behavior, determined via voting records maintained by the Secretary of State.

“Politics and political participation is an inherently stressful activity,” explained the paper’s lead author, Jeff French, Varner Professor of Psychology and Biology and director of UNO’s neuroscience program. “It would logically follow that those individuals with low thresholds for stress might avoid engaging in that activity and our study confirmed that hypothesis.”

Additional authors on the paper are Adam Guck and Andrew K. Birnie from UNO’s Department of Psychology; Kevin B. Smith and John R. Hibbing from UNL’s Department of Political Science; and John R. Alford from the Department of Political Science at Rice University.

The study is part of a larger body of research exploring connections between biology and political orientation, led by Smith and Hibbing. Previous studies have involved twins, eye-tracking equipment and skin conductance in their efforts to identify physical and genetic links to political beliefs.

“It’s one more piece of solid evidence that there are biological markers for political attitudes and behavior,” said Smith. “It’s long been known that cortisol levels are associated with your willingness to interact socially — that’s something fairly well established in the research literature. The big contribution here is that nobody really looked at politics and voting behaviors before.”

“This research shows that cortisol is related to a willingness to participate in politics,” he said.

To reach their conclusion, researchers collected the saliva of over 100 participants who identified themselves as highly conservative, highly liberal or disinterested in politics altogether and analyzed the levels of cortisol found.

Cortisol was measured in saliva collected from the participants before and during activities designed to raise and lower stress. These data were then compared against the participants’ earlier responses regarding involvement in political activities (voting and nonvoting) and religious participation.

“Not only did the study show, expectedly, that high-stress activities led to higher levels of cortisol production, but that political participation was significantly correlated with low baseline levels of cortisol,” French explained. “Participation in another group-oriented activity, specifically religious participation, was not as strongly associated with cortisol levels. Involvement in nonvoting political activities, such as volunteering for a campaign, financial political contributions, or correspondence with elected officials, was not predicted by levels of stress hormones.”

According to the study, the only other factor that was predictive of voting behavior was age; older adults were likely to have voted more often than younger adults. Research from other groups has also pointed to education, income, and race as important predictors of voting behavior.

In explaining why elevated cortisol could be linked with lower rates of participation in elections, French cited previous experiments in which high levels of afternoon cortisol are linked to major depressive disorder, social withdrawal, separation anxiety and enhanced memory for fearful stimuli.

“High afternoon cortisol is reflective of a variety of social, cognitive, and emotional processes, and may also influence a trait as complex as voting behavior,” French suggested.

“The key takeaway from this research, I believe, is that while social scientists have spent decades trying to predict voting behavior based on demographic information, there is much to be learned from looking at biological differences as well,” he said. “Many factors influence the decision to participate in the most important political activity in our democracy, and our study demonstrates that stress physiology is an important biological factor in this decision. Our experiment helps to more fully explain why some people engage in electoral politics and others do not.”

 

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All the World’s Oceans Have Plastic Debris on Their Surface

July 2, 2014 at 10:34 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

1271349466-plastic_patch

The Malaspina Expedition, led by the Spanish National Research Council, has demonstrated that there are five large accumulations of plastic debris in the open ocean that match with the five major twists of oceanic surface water circulation. In addition to the known accumulation of plastic waste in the North Pacific, there are similar accumulations in the central North Atlantic, the South Pacific, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

However, central surface waters of the oceans may not be the final destination of plastic debris since, as indicated by the study performed by the Malaspina Expedition, large amounts of microplastics could be passing to the marine food chain and the ocean floor. Results of the study, led by the University of Cadiz (Spain), have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Andrés Cózar, researcher from the University of Cadiz, explains: “Ocean currents carry plastic objects which split into smaller and smaller fragments due to solar radiation. Those little pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, can last hundreds of years and were detected in 88% of the ocean surface sampled during the Malaspina Expedition 2010.”

According to the study authors, the results obtained by the Malaspina Expedition show that the problem of plastic waste pollution has a global character. The major residues found are polyethylene and polypropylene, polymers used in the manufacture of everyday products like bags, food and beverage containers, kitchen utensils and toys, among others.

Cózar adds: “These microplastics have an influence on the behavior and the food chain of marine organisms. On one hand, the tiny plastic fragments often accumulate contaminants that, if swallowed, can be passed to organisms during digestion; without forgetting the gastrointestinal obstructions, which are another of the most common problems with this type of waste. On the other hand, the abundance of floating plastic fragments allows many small organisms to sail on them and colonize places they could not access to previously. But probably, most of the impacts taking place due to plastic pollution in the oceans are not yet known.”

CSIC researcher Carlos Duarte, coordinator of the Malaspina Expedition, states: “Our results show that the high concentration of plastic is not a unique feature of the Nort Pacific, but occurs in each of the subtropical gyres.” Duarte concludes: “Only a global expedition, such as the Malaspina Expedition, could achieve these results and evaluate the overall abundance of plastic pollution. The good news is that abundance is much lower than expected, but the pending challenge is to figure out where the rest of plastics entering the ocean is.”

The Malaspina Expedition

The Malaspina Circumnavigation Expedition 2010, a project led by CSIC that includes more than 400 researchers from around the world, started in December 15th 2010 with the departure of the Hespérides oceanographic research vessel from the port of Cadiz. On board of this ship belonging to the Spanish Armada, and the Sarmiento de Gamboa ship belonging to the CSIC, researchers studied for nine months (seven aboard the Hespérides and two aboard the Sarmiento) the impact of the global change on the ocean ecosystem and explored its biodiversity.

Scientists took nearly 200,000 water, plankton, atmosphere particles and gases samples in 313 points of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans at depths of up to 6,000 meters. On board, they measured the temperature and salinity, the surface properties, the acoustics of the marine currents, the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the ocean and in the atmosphere, and the scope of the sunlight, among other parameters.

- See more at: http://disinfo.com/2014/07/worlds-oceans-plastic-debris-surface/#sthash.09KueniJ.dpuf

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19-Year-Old Rutgers Student Accidentally Elected to County Republican Committee

July 2, 2014 at 5:33 am (Uncategorized) (, )

PIC: Newly-elected Republican Committee member Asad Asif. (Facebook)

Apparently, he did it for a goof: a “Mickey Mouse vote”.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers University Junior Asad Asif was inaugurated earlier this month as a member of the Middlesex County Republican Committee, a position to which he was unanimously elected with one vote, his own.

Asif, age 19, did not go into the June 3 primary election with any expectation of taking office three days later, nor did he vote for himself for selfish reasons.

Asif explained to New Brunswick Today, “It was kind of like the ‘Mickey Mouse vote,’ where people write in stupid names when they vote for president. I wanted to do the same thing, and since there was no real candidate in the slot, I decided to write myself in.”

But Asif’s ballot was the only one that included a vote for the Committeeman position for Old Bridge’s Ward 6, District 7.

- See more at: http://disinfo.com/2014/06/19-year-old-rutgers-student-accidentally-elected-county-republican-committee/#sthash.NhijTx1S.dpuf

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Drunk Midwesterners Make Up the Majority Of UFO Witnesses

July 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Cloud? Or UFO?? (Cloud.) / Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday is the 67th anniversary of the rumored alien crash-landing in Roswell, New Mexico. But extraterrestrial aviators have been rather busy in the last few decades.

The National UFO Reporting Center has received about 90,000 reported sightings of UFOs in the last 40 years, according to the Economist. That’s about six per day—with the majority happening on Fridays, in the West, and during, um, drinking hours.


When and Where Americans See Aliens

Economist/National UFO Reporting Center

The fact that this graph is going viral online today suggests many are persuaded by the correlation. It would irresponsible for me, as a statistical analyst, to not point out the problems with it. And so, for the Roswell fans out there, I present three veins of countervailing interpretation:

1. The correlation is weaker than it appears. Utah, the state with the lowest beer consumption by far, has a higher share of UFO sitings than North Carolina, the state with the highest beer consumption. Washington, the state where you’re most likely to report a UFO, drinks less alcohol than all but six states. There is more to the story than alcohol, sheeple.

2. We have several omitted variables, including direct line-of-sight to the sky and light contrast. It’s plausible that people don’t see UFOs while they’re working or sleeping because … they’re working in-doors and completely unconscious. What the Economist calls “drinking hours” are also the hours we’re most likely to be outside looking at anything bright contrasting with the dark sky.

 

 

 

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Zuccotti Park Retaken By NYPD

November 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Zuccotti Park, pre-Occupation. Photo: Tony (CC)Zuccotti Park, pre-Occupation. Photo: Tony (CC)

So it’s finally happened. Breaking news (and so likely to change as the day goes on), reported by the New York Times:

Hundreds of police officers early Tuesday cleared the park in Lower Manhattan that had been the nexus of the Occupy Wall Street movement, arresting dozens of people there after warning that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” but that demonstrators who did not leave would face arrest.

The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, initially resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!”

The massive operation in and around Zuccotti Park was intended to empty the birthplace of a protest movement that has inspired hundreds of tent cities from coast to coast. On Monday in Oakland, Calif., hundreds of police officers raided the main encampment there, arresting 33 people. Protesters returned later in the day. But the Oakland police said no one would be allowed to sleep there anymore, and promised to clear a second camp nearby.

The police action was quickly challenged as lawyers for the protesters obtained a temporary restraining order barring the city and the park’s private landlord from evicting protesters or removing their belongings. It was not immediately clear how the city would respond. The judge, Justice Lucy Billings of State Supreme Court Judge in Manhattan, scheduled a hearing for later Tuesday.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning, had issued a statement explaining the reasoning behind the sweep. “The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” the mayor said in the statement. “Every since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with” because the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”…

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Mystery Lines In Chinese Desert

November 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Gobi LinesThe interwebs are buzzing with conspiracy theories regarding mysterious lines in China’s Gobi Desert seen from space. Ted Thornhill reports for the Daily Mail:

A Google Maps satellite has spotted a series of bizarre structures during a sweep of the Gobi desert in China.

The internet is buzzing with theories about what their purpose is, with suggestions ranging from giant QR readers to practise targets for military satellites.

To add to the intrigue, they are located on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang in northwestern China – an area that the superpower uses to build military, space and nuclear equipment.

In fact, some of the sites are less than 100 miles from Jiuquan, where China’s space programme headquarters and launch pads can be found.

Some internet users have been trying to overlay one of the strange structures on to various U.S. city maps, worried that there may be a sinister military purpose behind them.

Others have pointed out that if China wanted to attack a U.S. city, it doesn’t need a practise map in the desert.

However, upon zooming in, planes and burnt-out trucks can be seen on some of the photographs, which hints that they may indeed be targets of some kind…

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Check out music from Illuminus

February 3, 2011 at 10:56 pm (Uncategorized)

[reverbnation widget=pro_player artist_id=1211275 bgcolor=EEEEEE shuffle=false autoplay=false bordercolor=000000 skin_id=PWAS1006 width=262 height=200] fontcolor=333333

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