Sunday, August 31, 2014

California sex consent law a positive step

Why shouldn’t a man be certain that a woman he is about to have sex with is ready and willing? California’s consent law is a good step forward.
And a woman, or a man, should also be able to say “no” after saying “yes.” 
California Gov. Jerry Brown should sign the new state legislation requiring stated consent. 
It remains a widely held belief in the United States that many rape victims are faking it. Statistics by the FBI and psychologists say fake rape allegations are in fact very rare.
Even the legendary Sidmund Freud had to back off from his “seduction theory” because society did not want to know that fathers might molest their daughters. More recent reviews of Freud’s letters show that whether molestations occurred or not, there was no doubt that trauma occurred during the early years of young women. 
Having covered numerous rape cases for Associated Press, including at the Air Force Academy, I came away with the impression that no one was likely to go through the hell of filing a rape charge unless there was a violation of the victim’s rights. 
Cases involving celebrities may, or may not, be more complicated. For those who wonder how this can be done all it takes is a smart phone. And yes, there is an app, annuo.
The huge toll in the American military, which includes women trained to defend themselves, shows that men are getting away sexual assault. 
In fact, women are just as likely to not report a rape as they are to file charges. They know how it will be received. They may wonder whether their conduct contributed to the incident.
Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), told the Los Angeles Times: "It is incumbent on men, in particular, to step up and to stand up and to do everything possible to change that culture -- a culture that's quite pervasive on our college campus. That is a rape culture." 
Perhaps it is overreaching, but existing laws and law enforcement have failed to protect women.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Griswolds Gun Range Vacation

Having already been to Disneyland and Europe, the Griswolds decided to try a real Wild West vacation.

What better way than to learn how go use guns, Django style. Plus they could gamble in nearby Las Vegas and swim in Lake Mead.

But Clark had decided first things first. So he and Ellen, and their two children, Rusty and Audrey, stopped at an Arizona-Nevada amusement park/diner.

It included a shop called “Blow the Jihadi's Arab Head Off.”

Any child over eight years ago could learn how to use an Israeli UZI, including in automatic mode.

Rusty tried it out first with no problems filing single shot or automatic rounds.

The instructor paid special attention to the smaller Audrey. He had her file some single shots, and all went well.

He was holding her all the time.

But it wasn’t clear whether he was grasping her after he put the gun on automatic.

She pulled the trigger, the gun recoiled, fired up into the air randomly, and killed the instructor.

The Griswolds, having had previous experience with death on a vacation, strapped the dead man on the roof of their station wagon and rushed to a hospital.

Unfortunately he died in Las Vegas.

The gun range had argued it was perfectly safe.

This turns out to the second time an Uzi claimed a life at a U.S. gun range. The first case was in 2008 in Massassachusetts.

The gun range advertises: “Our guests have the opportunity to fire a wide range of fully automatic machine guns and specialty weapons,” the website states. “At our range, you can shoot FULL auto on our machine guns.

“Let ‘em Rip!”

An autopsy will be performed on the body of Charles Vacca, of Lake Havasu City.

Ronald Scott, a Phoenix-based firearms safety expert, told Associated Press most instructors have their hands on guns when children are firing high-powered weapons. "You can't give a 9-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it," Scott said.

Nevada law enforcement officials said no charges were planned.

The family made a video of some of the incident.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Putin uses his army to manipulate oil prices

Making him among perhaps the most cynical, if short-sighted, world leaders in history, Russia’s president is attacking and then withdrawing from Ukraine to drive oil prices up.

Ukraine has become his punching bag.The price of Brent Crude needs to be $117 for Russia’s balance to balance.

On Monday it was at $100.It has dropped to $35 during previous oil gluts.William Browder of Hermitage Capital says Vladimir Putin’s real face can be seen as he tries to raise oil prices."All it will take is a fall in the price of oil to $60 a barrel and Putin will be gone within a year. You'd be surprised how brittle the system really is," Browder told the Daily Telegraph at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The 1980s’ oil glut was a major factor in the fall of the Berlin Wall. Moscow had experienced a windfall in oil profits then too.If anything, Putin’s headlong rush into the Arctic will create more oil, and push environmentalists to force their governments to find alternative energy — also known as disruptive technologies — sources while this glut exists.I

Ironically, Putin’s hijinks could result in the more rapid discovery of alternative energy sources.Saudi oil minister Sheik Yamani once said the stone age didn’t end because of a lack of stone, and there will still be plenty of fossil fuels when the human race moves on to safer and cleaner energy sources.

Putin apparently believes he can promise to back off in the Ukraine and oil prices will go up. But in the next day or two there is another incursion.NATO says his promises are not even true the day he issues them.

The BBC said Ukrainian government forces clashed with rebel armored vehicles that had crossed from Russia headed for the south-eastern port of Mariupol.The Russian proxies might be trying to open up a new southern front. Russia did not comment on the incursion.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hitler outpolled Putin

Much has been reported recently about Russian President Vladimir Putin doing better in polls than President Barack Obama. But Hitler did far better than either.

Both dictators had much to offer their populaces in terms of taking land that belonged to others, there their popularity was not surprising.

Hitler got 90 percent in a plebiscite on his rule in 1934 that drew 95 percent to the polls.

In early August, Putin had 87 percent support, though a poll is not a vote like the 1934 plebiscite which made Hitler both president and chancellor. And Putin’s toll came from adding up several favorable categories.

Eleven years later Hitler shot himself in his bunker. Putin has already been effective rule for 15 years, will he have another 15.

Not if the economy keeps heading south, west, or east if you are talking about Europe.

It needs to be understood that China was way ahead of Russia in introducing market reforms, ordered by Deng Xiaoping following the “Beijing Spring” in 1977.

Add to that the fact that China had had a strong market economy in the previous century.

Putin appears to think the market economy he can use as a toy, rewarding his fellow kleptocrats and following the rules only when it suits him.

He can bar food imports from the most efficient food-producing companies, and even bar Wi-Fi in cabarets. Recalls Moscow trying to top the Beach Boys and Beatles from reaching across the wall.
American businessman are being advised by their government not to do business with Moscow. Two American businessmen died under mysterious circumstances this weekend in the Russian capital.
These are brutal people. Nikita Krushchev had Imre Nagy, a Hungarian who became a hero in the Russian army,  hung secretly in 1956 for supporting the failed revolution. Hungarians only were able to retrieve his body years later.

No example is clearer than his trying to ride the current oil boom to a glory that escaped Soviet rulers.

He forgots, or didn’t bother to read history, that Russia had a huge oil boom in the 1980s. Moscow’s response was to raise prices to its vassals, guaranteeing countries from Poland to Romania would revolt.

The Berlin Wall fell, not because of a U.S. or NATO invasion, but because Moscow was broke using its oil revenues trying to keep up with US President Ronald Reagan’s mythical “star wars” missile defense.

At the same time, the Arab Oil Embargo resulted in so much drilling and exploration an oil glut developed.

The same thing has happened now, and Putin can drill all he wants in the Arctic. It will only add to the supply.

Fracking has created the new glut. Unpopular with environmentalists because of problems it causes, there is no stopping it now.

“Fracking arrived at an auspicious time. Just when it seemed like we had used all the easy-to-tap fossil fuels, forcing the world to get serious about renewable technologies, an enormous new supply of oil and gas emerged. … America’s energy revolution is even untangling some of the thorniest foreign policy challenges the nation has faced for the past 40 years,” writes Russell Gold in “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World.”

Your move Vladimir.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Putin declares war on the Ukraine and McDonalds

Putin declares war on the Ukraine and McDonalds.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is making the same grave mistake his Soviet predecessors did. He is using the country’s oil exports to finance his bid to restore his country to greatness it never had.

He is old enough to know better. There are two things as certain as death and taxes, you cannot defeat American culture and depending on oil sales will put you on a roller coaster that eventually grinds to a halt.

Meanwhile, in the old Soviet tradition, Putin tried a Crimean-style masquerade ballet to pickup weapons as a humanitarian mission. Half-empty trucks took back weapons from Ukrainian factories, weapons Moscow had sent across the border to help its proxy rebels, and return some of their bodies, the Kiev Post reported.

The oil shale boom, mostly concentrated in the United States but spreading elsewhere, is creating the same kind of gut that helped bring the Berlin Wall down in 1989. The U.S., the biggest energy consumer, and others, were forced to find new sources for fossil fuels and spend some money on alternative fuels after the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. They succeeded and suddenly the price for the oil Russia had developed in the past decade dropped dramatically.

Now, the development of tje little used but long known method of production call fracking, has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer.

In his book, "The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Change the World," Russell Gold writes that "fracking arrives at an auspicious time (and) ... is even untangling some of the thorniest foreign polcy changes the nation has faced for the past 40 years. " That includes not only OPEC but Moscow.

Putin’s response to sanctions for his adventures in the Ukraine has been to adopt sanctions against the U.S. and the West.

He chose food. Not a good idea for a nation where ideas of lines for bread are still a memory for those over the age of 60. Shortages have already appeared, though as usual Putin’s friends not only will be able to get anything they want but can profit from the majority paying more to feed themselves.

It is the latest joke the wildly popular president has played on his people. They are told sanctions will not only hurt the West, but will cause Russia to suddenly become an efficient food producer after centuries of shortages.

Targeting McDonalds, many have been closed, recalls the Cold War when Russians had to hide their radios to listen to Radio Free Europe. No wi-fi is being allowed in bistros, including in the handful of Starbucks that began opening in the past year.

Recalling what sanctions did to Rhodesia it is hard to imagine why anyone would cheer being a pariah. The purple sausages and Algerian wine available in Rhodesia during the Civil War they eventually lost were anything but appetizing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Suicide by cop cropps up more often with short hair

Some would argue it started with people like Socrates, asking the state to kill them. Some believe the desire for vengeance after Sept. 11 made it inevitable cops would not have to be asked to kill.
Reporters who worked for the mainstream media can remember being told to write about "suicide by cop" by editors who had no intention of trying to stop the practice. Short hair cropped up in police forces and the military in the years after America lost the Vietnam War, and it appears likely it was more than simply bonding with those who faced death in their daily jobs.  Now as shown on Comedy Central and cable news, police believe they have the right to be armed as if they were in Iraq. So far, no cop has been decapitated, as appears to have happened to photojournalist James Foley and definitely was the fate of Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal before him.
But what does this have to do with blacks stealing cigarillos in St. Louis? Why are cops armed to the teeth, a term that in this case seems more likely to be appropriate for vampires. Why do police stations in my town of Denver have signs at the police station saying only cops can enter? Even with the Missouri national guard in the area, cops in Metro St. Louis felt obligated to shoot dead a second young black man. This man, unlike Michael Brown, was armed, if a knife can compare with guns. This time the black man was acting erratically, brandishing his blade. "Shoot me, kill me now," the latest victim shouted.  Witnesses said he appeared to be mildly retarded. Perhaps it will be determined that he also had marijuana in his system, especially since it will show up for a month, much longer than whiskey or heroine. Some of America’s best newspapers did not believe it was necessary to challenge a medical examiner’s claim that the first shooting victim, 18-year-old Michael Brown, was high. Cops in St. Louis made it clear they felt no need to avoid killing people, of any color, if it meant they might not be able to go home safe at the end of their shift.  Forget the taser. Just because a cop has a taser doesn’t mean he or she has to use it. As is the custom in St. Louis, and in many other cities, only a minimum of information about the latest death was released. That did not include the man’s name. Atty Gen. Eric Holder released a statement saying he would be in Ferguson on Wednesday and people could count on his Justice Department to find out what happened and why.

Monday, August 18, 2014

St. Louis black killing becomes "Dude, Where's My Car"

Authorities in St. Louis are getting publicity for a report that the 18-year-old black killed by a white cop had marijuana in his system. Once a claim becomes a “scoop,” the rules of fact checking do not apply.
Anonymous sources were used by the Washington Post to reveal that Michael Brown had used marijuana. Reporters and editors who do any research on any story about marijuana will inevitably encounter early the fact that marijuana tests do not have a time stamp on them. Instead,  Post focused on demands by blacks that the cop also be tested. But testing him would reveal the same thing – that marijuana can show up as long as a month after taken.
The failure to develop a test that can show that a driver had used marijuana within even a couple of hours of driving has made it difficult to prosecute. Not mentioning it is especially shameless in stories in which blacks are victims. Federal statistics have shown that blacks are far more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. As Jon Oliver said this weekend in his Comedy Central show, whites pretty much know to be caught they would have to be snorting cocaine on their dashboard in full view. Twitchy had warned that the toxicology report could be a “bombshell.” The site saw the case in the light of “Dude Where’s My Car.” It asked why would a sober, unarmed black man "Bust A Move" on  a white cop. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder is headed to Ferguson, where Brown was killed. Hopefully he will be able to bring some clarity on questions like why was the Missouri national guard deployed. President Barack Obama said on Monday that he believed they should only be used in a limited way, and added that Gov. Jay Nixon told him that was the intention. But that means the situation remains in the hands of local authorities who have failed miserably to let the nation know what happened. These authorities also have incited blacks to riot and loot, by distributing material about Brown suggesting that somehow his possible involvement in the theft of $50 in cigarillos helped explain why he was shot six times. The authorities also roughed up and arrested reporters, and even fired rubber bullets and tear gas at them. Skeptics of national guard involvement point out that when they were called in to deal with student riots at Kent State during the Vietnam War, four students died in a still unjustified action on May 4, 1970.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Who spied first?

Today, most will be too young to know the famous Abbott and Costello routine about baseball and “who” is on first, but most will understand that it is no longer clear which of the NATO allies spied on each other first.
It appears, according to the German media, that Berlin spied on the U.S. before the NSA spied on them. A month ago Der Spiegel was reporting on how concerned Germany was about the U.S. intelligence loop lassoing them. “Officials in Berlin were long in denial that their closest allies were spying on Germany. Now, ministries are undertaking measures to improve security and counterintelligence. They're anticipating frosty relations with the US for some time to come,” Der Spiegel said last month.
On Saturday, the same German publication was reporting that its government had been spying on Hillary Clinton and John Kerry for the past two years. Washington resisted the impulse to say “I told you so.” There was no comment in fact. Germany said it was an accident. Of course, Russia spied on everyone first. President Vladimir Putin appears to be constantly trying to demonstrate his KGB skills, but seems more like Constantin the Frog, the doppelganger for Kermit, in the latest Muppets movie. Constantin is only no. 2 in the movie, second to “the lemur.” Germany kicked the CIA station chief out of the country July 18. At the time word from Washington was that Germany was still full of Russian spies. How much of a threat is Putin? The sanctions so disdained by the media, in the West and East, are grinding the Kremlin down. Agence France Presse reported Russia's largest oil company had asked Putin for a loan of $42 billion because of the sanctions. So far, Moscow balking at buying American chickens and other food from the West had only resulted in lower chicken prices in U.S. stores. Stocks fell a bit in Europe but were up across the pond.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams becomes a douchebag to avoid being loved too much

Robin Williams didn’t even give the world the 90 minutes notice his character got in “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” still on video kiosks.
Thanks to the digital world his admirers, and those curious about why his death caused such pain and drew so much attention, can binge and find out what was going on with this Muse.
It is especially useful for those who shied away from him at times because of his intensity.
Paraphrasing Alexander Pope, you won't be able to drink deep without tasting the Pierian Spring that was sacred to Muses.
It doesn’t matter where you start, this isn’t a Netflix job, no “House of Cards” or HBO “Game of Thrones” that can be watched in two or three nights. It is almost like trying to go through Mozart or Bach’s music. Some may be better than others but all worth hearing.
New to me this week were “House of D” and “World’s Greatest Dad.”
In the former Williams played a Greek-American “retard.” As the movie advances he goes from being a “retard” to being “mentally handicapped” to being “mentally challenged.” As in many movies there is plenty of sadness as well as the standard Williams humor.
The star of the movie, David Duchovny, turns life support off for his mother after she over doses on sedatives. The faces assumed by Williams are worth the price alone. How can laughs be avoided when the retarded “Pappass” first gets him into “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” when he is underage, and then on to a flight for a new life in France.
Duchovny, as “Tom Warshaw,” loses his scholarship to a New York City Catholic school when he takes the blame for Pappass stealing a bike he covets. The priest asks Warshaw what color the bike was, to see if he really knows what occurred. The priest wants to know precisely what color green it was. Warshaw says “Al Green.”
Over and over in the Greatest Dad, Williams character “Lance Clayton” repeats the mantra that suicide “is a permanent answer to a temporary problem.” Of course some problems are not merely temporary. But I digress.
Clayton has just found his son dead from asphyxiation while masturbating. It was not intended to be a suicide but Clayton rearranges the body and writes a suicide note to avoid the community learning what may be the only thing more disturbing than an actual suicide.
Suddenly his “douchebag” son “Kyle” is loved and people want to read the made up diaries his father created. A library is dedicated in Kyle’s name in a ceremony that rings too closely to Columbine for the comfort of anyone with more than a passing memory of it.
It’s no surprise that Clayton cannot go through it without blowing the whistle on himself, becoming instantly a douchebag himself to most who suddenly loved Kyle.
Lance, on the other hand, strips naked, except for his socks, and jumps off the high dive into the school swimming pool and seems born again.
His son’s best, and only friend, “Andrew” becomes his new son, and they eat marijuana brownies with the Claytons next door neighbor, Mitzi McCall.
If Williams needed any help on planning a suicide he only had to re-read this script.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The people vs the NRA armed state

For those who thought social media would bring down the gun-happy government, think again. Twitter took down a site being used by Anonymous.
For the moment Anonymous was back up again with back up Twitter accounts but if Twitter is going to be working for “the man” then it is just a matter of time until they are down again.
The cops were really angry with Anonymous for identifying the killer of Michael Brown, saying the name offered was incorrect. But even if it is wrong isn't that just collateral damage?
The ACLU was trying a more traditional course, trying to get information on the killing of an unarmed black man in St. Louis County through the courts.
That system also has been compromised since 9/11, though it is hard to see what blacks in Missouri have to do with Al-Qaeda.
The lame media mostly seemed to be doing its part for the para-military police. Most major sites were not publishing the name of the man Anonymous said had killed Brown. A story credited to Associated Press and News One, a black news site, said Anonymous had identified the killer as Bryan P. Willman.
President Barack Obama once again appeared off key. He said he was “deeply disturbed” by events in Ferguson and there is “no excuse” for police to use excessive force against demonstrators or for cops to be “arresting journalists for trying to do their jobs," the New York Daily News reported.
Some reporters, including those working for the Washington Post, Huffington Post and Al Jazeera risked their lives. Reporters for both Posts ended up in jail. The Al Jazeera crew had rubber bullets fired t them, and tear gas thrown in their direction.
It was way too early to declare it a victory for police. They are clearly losing the battle to keep marijuana illegal. That drug war has helped justify arming police and training them like special forces.
Money that could be spent on health care, social services, education, bridges, roads etc. is spent on giving these cops the best guns money can buy.
And as the income disparity in the nation grows perhaps people can move into Gaza-style tents and watching their rules on giant football-stadium size screens.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin William dies as he lived, a square peg in a round hole

Authorities in northern California say comedian Robin Williams has died at the age of 63 at his home in Tiburon in Marin County. 
Entertainment Weekly said his agent declined to confirm the death was a suicide. The spokesman said, “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.” The sheriff's coroner's division said it suspects the death was a suicide due to asphyxia, as reported by CBC News. CNN said Williams was in rehab for the third time last month, suffering again from depression. 
Williams' last tweeted an Instagram pic devoted to his daughter Zelda Rae Williams, showing a photo from when she was a baby. Williams had become one of the nation's most beloved actors after first coming to the nation's attention in the silly role of a spaceman living in Boulder, Colorado, named Mork.
"He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit," said President Barack Obama.

 He became such a powerful force, sometimes seeming out of control but always capable of taking over a stage in a live performance or in a movie or comedy recording. He later played many serious roles, and comedy roles that also were serious. The Hollywood Reporter also reported his death. The Washington Post said Marin County authorities suspected suicide. He won an Oscar for his supporting role in Good Will Hunting. He also won laughs playing a disc jockey in Vietnam. Williams even found humor in heart surgery in May 2009, flashing his chest scar to photographers. More recently the Juillard-trained actor played in "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn." which ironically was about a man who had 90 minutes to live. He was scheduled to play Theodore Roosevelt in a third installment of "Night at the Museum" at the year's end. Wikipedia said: "His film career included such acclaimed films as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), and Good Will Hunting (1997), as well as financial successes such as Popeye (1980), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Night at the Museum (2006), and Happy Feet (2006). He also appeared in the video to "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin." He was nominated for best actor three times, and also receivefd two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammies.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Web site tries to make itself forgettable

Even the founder of the citizen journalist site “Allvoices” appears to want to forget what had seemed, at least for awhile, as a noble attempt to empower the analog world.

The site is not only shifting entirely to selected writers instead of a mixture of professional writers, many working in retirement, and people who leaped aboard the passing digital train, it is taking their content down.

People who follow the Web know that taking content down is a term used when someone is forced to remove content because it is deemed to be guilty of copyright infringement.
And a federal court decision in Northern California against Allvoices may have left it in a position where even shutting down the site in two weeks will leave it so vulnerable to suits for copyright infringement that it may not be able to convince investors to fund its continued operation.
Dan Pepper, of the Pepper Law Group, said the Oppenheimer decision has “revealed … the consequences (of failure to observe the rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) can be devastating.” The case file disclosed that Allvoices had made a similar argument unsuccessfully in a different federal court, reporter Stephen Pope confirmed.

In an email, Amra Tareen, founder of Allvoices, said it was obvious to everyone that the site had become polluted by content that did not meet minimum standards.

 Writers who had spent 40 years or more in the mainstream world had already encountered this argument. The question ultimately was narrowed down to whether only accredited writers should be journalists.

Many in the community rejected that argument, after realizing where it led, because it allowed governments and corporations to decide what content users could read or view.

It was a last, desperate attempt to keep the “Banksy” graffiti, street idea of news from holding on to the prominent position it gained during the “Arab Spring” when “Social Media” pushed the Vladimir Putin’s of the world aside, at least for a time.

Imagine a Roman centurion catching such an artist in the darkness, forcing him to correct his grammar, Monty Python style.

Like laws against marijuana smoking, gay marriages and abortions, many in the younger generations ignored these attempts at course corrections.

Older writers objected to the idea of anyone making these corrections outside the community of writers itself.

Compare it to a museum, as one of the power brokers did. They need to be curated.

Most museums have content they do not show because they do not have the space. Paintings, for example, can sit for years in closed areas where only the curators see them.

But throwing them all out, all at once, with only two weeks notice. That is, as they say in the U.S., throwing the baby out with the bath water.
This is especially odd in a world where Google has all the room in the world.

Having written for Allvoices extensively, and served as an editor, this writer objected to it giving prominence to phony writers, who often seemed to have an agenda with no relationship to art.

At one point Allvoices had developed a way to deal with what was effectively crap: send it into electronic limbo.

Later, the company’s executives turned this upside down and put the garbage at the top of their landing page and left it their for two or three days at a time, a lifetime in the electronic world.

Some content involving breaking news was treated as if it had been written by Albert Camus or Mark Twain. It was too important to be bothered with being up to date.

On Aug. 18 the original Allvoices will disappear, reappearing under the same brand but with far fewer voices.
Some sincere writers, who told stories not usually heard, were hitting the social media trying to get help to save their work. Let that be a warning. What electronic media can give it can take away.

It is the same old story. Trying to tell people they must read what editors some place, far from them, decide is good for them.

The riddle remains mostly unsolved. How do you get content users to pay for it. Pay walls may work for some of those willing to spend money to produce a well-researched product.

Hidden pay walls – adds at the side of the screen – also may keep companies in business.

And then of course there is the widespread stealing of data to sell to advertisers.

Writers shouldn’t lose all heart. Their Allvoices columns, essays and stories will survive in dim desk drawers, to be taken out and read from time to time.

As a museum director once said, art has a right to be seen.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Putin launches food fight in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin brings to mind a drunken college fraternity member, always ready for the next road trip to get revenge.
It seemed like what the world should expect from a shirtless tiger.
It was unclear as the weekend approached whether Putin would seek an economic war with the West, which he would inevitably lose, or send tanks into the Ukraine.
No one expected NATO to intervene if Russian forces invade, most likely disguised as a peacekeeping force, but even poorly armed Gazans had made Israel’s invasion a living hell.
After the Kremlin ignored warning after warning, provoking serious sanctions from the US and NATO, Putin appeared to finally stop believing the propaganda thousands of his paid minions had been posting on Web sites.
He reacted by imposing a vague ban on the import of food, vegetables and fruit from the United States and European countries.
Putin’s government said it would identify the goods covered by the ban on Thursday or Friday.
Jokes were circulating in Russia about which foot the government wanted to shoot itself in.
A Russian economist who had fled Moscow said no details were released immediately because as in so many earlier cases Putin had no firm plan.
“They are searching for some way to respond, and so far have not found a way,” said economist Sergei M. Guriev.
What would happen on the border, where Putin had massed thousands of troops, also was up in the air. The Ukrainian military was close to seizing control of the last major eastern city held by Moscow’s proxies.
Many analysts said Putin was living on the edge, and if the conflict escalates Russia would be harmed much faster than Europe.
“Russia’s economy would collapse faster and quicker” than Europe’s, Russian market analyst Chris Weafer told the New Republic.
In fact, the magazine warned that just as the fall of the Berlin Wall caught many by surprise, Putin might fall and his opponents need to be prepared for the chaos that could produce.
The ex-KGB agent has disdained ideology so it is not clear what would take his place, lacking even the 70 years of state communism that held the Soviet Empire together.
Time after time the Soviets lost battles with enemies, such as Germany, who had far fewer weapons and troops. Only the intervention of its capitalist enemies kept it in power and the fear of a nuclear war that would destroy the planet.
Economically the masses suffered as the Soviet belief that capitalism would eventually collapse proved illusory.
As was said by the legendary cartoonist Walt Kelly, Russians needn’t fear, “the shortages will be divided among the peasants.”