Posts tagged US


Adios, America: Renouncing citizenship hits record numbers

Listen for ways the US makes life for expats excessively difficult.

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Le Thi Thu, 42, and her daughter, Nguyen Thi Ly, 11, live in a village south of Da Nang, Vietnam. They are second and third generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. | Drew Brown/MCT
Agent Orange/dioxin in southeast Asia
Read more here:


Le Thi Thu, 42, and her daughter, Nguyen Thi Ly, 11, live in a village south of Da Nang, Vietnam. They are second and third generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. | Drew Brown/MCT

Agent Orange/dioxin in southeast Asia

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The new (non-economic) beggar thy neighbhour AND A SOLUTION

[Turkish Prime Minister] Erdoğan said the forceful methods used by Turkish riot police to quell protests against the demolition of an Istanbul park were little different from those used previously in the US and UK. Source

The problem with this statement is not only it’s inaccuracy (there was mass outcry about the literal ‘crack-down’ methods used by US and UK forces during Occupy, even after the riots I personally witnessed in Manchester in August 2011), but also the collective dumbing-down of standards in response to widespread, massive political and socio-economic demonstrations of free speech and political participation.

By deferring to the authoritative, uber-aggressive responses of the US and UK to mass demonstrations, the Turkish PM has attempted to evade guilt and/or punishment for his brutal response to a demonstration against monocultural economic expansion (destroy the park, built the mall). What he effectively has done is locate a recent benchmark where excessive force was used against demonstrators and said what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

And he’s right in that aspect (whilst still managing to be inaccurate).

The global online community, what we now call global coalitions or international civil society, DID respond vehemently to the forceful methods used by the US and UK. However, no formal agency with jurisprudential legitimacy responded with us, and as such, there was no outcry, no justice, no punishment for a crime - meaning the Turkish PM is correct.

What we have is a classic accountability problem and a problem of enforcement (read: various arguments about the authority of the United Nations).

By using forceful methods in the US and the UK, these countries or mega-states (meaning their authority exceeds their borders) set the benchmark for what is acceptable to use against demonstrations. Let us not forget Kent State and Tienanmen Square - where deadly force was used against demonstrators, justified by ‘self defence’ or ‘the greater good’, and gotten away with.

The point is threefold: 1 - this sort of brutality is in no way new (medieval Europe, anyone?). 2 - furthermore, the point is that two of the most powerful, hegemonic countries in history (three, if we include China) have ‘been there, done that’ and gotten off scot-free. What happened when there was no agency with jurisprudential legitimacy to ‘check’ the authority of these mega-states’ use of force against their citizens was that a critical juncture in history occurred. A path of ‘acceptable’ response behaviour by the state was forged, and once forged this path has proven near-impossible to fork. 3 - the mega-state will not stop using the (non-economic) beggar thy neighbour defence/approach to justify inhumane use of force against its citizenry. In fact that’s (possibly) why the United States’ ‘founding fathers’ included the right to bear arms and to form a militia in the Bill of Rights (first through fifth Amendments, particularly), to defer against the future possibility of allowing this to happen. But it has happened and continues to.

What they did not foresee is the authority of the state being more powerful than the sheer mass of it’s citizenry. And this point was made well this week (source forgotten; it’s me so it was probably on the Guardian) when it was argued Erdoğan had done this to himself by fostering such a large, educated middle class. And now we can remember Marx and Gramsci… the middle class is no good for the mega-state. They are loud, resourceful, active, and resilient, much more dangerous (if you’re trying to maintain coercive ‘order’) than the upper or lower class.   

So as I see it, the solution is simple, and the solution requires forking the path that centuries of state brutality have entrenched. The solution is an international civil jurisprudential body comprised of loud, resourceful, active, and resilient citizens from every state (not in any way intended to be representative). These people are social entrepreneurs, and they are already doing good work in their various NGO/non-profit organisations; but they/we need to organise on the international level, whilst preserving their local, regional, and state composition: concentric circles

We are well aware there is a great wealth in the international middle class, perhaps even wealth comparable, when collectively amassed, to the global financial elite. We are well aware that behind (at least some of) this great wealth is social justice and the relentless desire to preserve our planet, our concept of justice, freedom, empathy, and peace: our global advancement. Without forging our resources, we continue to be the mosquito who occasionally sucks the blood of the mega-state. But by starting to organise NGOs/non-profits/non-affiliated or leaderless movements and such into concentric circles and pooling our resources, we can start to divert the path of oppression that each generation fights and dies in an attempt to dismantle. The time is now; this is our critical juncture. 

I’ve been building my resources (capital, educational, human) for the last 8 years. If you have too, comment here. If you haven’t, it’s time to start. Build your concentric circle, yeah?

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The UN has an app called UN Country Stats where you can select up to 3 countries to compare on one, predetermined variable at a time.
The app, like all things, has its limitations (mostly the variables), but IT DOES PASS THE TIME and provide some interesting info. Just look at this insane comparison I’ve done on the US (where I used to live), the UK (where I currently live), and Switzerland (where I likely will live).
I’ve done LOADS of these on trains. ENJOY!

The UN has an app called UN Country Stats where you can select up to 3 countries to compare on one, predetermined variable at a time.

The app, like all things, has its limitations (mostly the variables), but IT DOES PASS THE TIME and provide some interesting info. Just look at this insane comparison I’ve done on the US (where I used to live), the UK (where I currently live), and Switzerland (where I likely will live).

I’ve done LOADS of these on trains. ENJOY!

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King says it is a “practical necessity and a moral imperative” that “those who have received much must be obligated to pay … in the same proportion”, or the “first real ripples of discontent” seen in the Occupy protests “will just be the beginning”.

Stephen King calling it. Quote from the Guradian, sourced from the Daily Beast.

Anyone else find the url/headline, “Stephen King: Tax me for Fuck’s Sake” dead sexy?

Share. King details how giving $4million to schools, funding for the arts, and emergency services is pocket change to making a sizable difference in improving the state of services in the United States.

…this guy.


Both the US and the UK have suggested they are losing patience with Kofi Annan’s peace initiative amid continuing reports of breaches in the ceasefire. The UK warned of “robust” action … if Annan’s mission failed.

Is everyday for (Hon.) Kofi Annan Groundhog’s Day?

…get it?

The US said it won’t wait 90 days if Syria continues to flout the initiative. Russia urged the international community to stick by Annan’s plan.

Source: Guardian

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The original piece is worth a read.

Bullet-point summary (content exclusively by Jonathan Naughton, the Guardian):

  • Once upon a time, aerial warfare consisted of guys climbing into aircraft and flying bombing missions over enemy territory. Now many, if not most, of the lethal missions mounted by the USAF are carried out by unmanned drones flying high over Afghanistan and Pakistan and piloted by uniformed guys sitting in computerised consoles in New Mexico.
  • More interestingly, it turns out that the stress levels for these pilots are unexpectedly high. A Pentagon study has found, for example, that 29% of them suffer from “burnout”. A co-author of the study says that the air force tries to recruit people who are emotionally well-adjusted, “family people” with “good values”. But “when they have to kill someone, or where they are involved in missions and then they either kill them or watch them killed, it does cause them to rethink aspects of their life”.
  • So maybe Heidegger was wrong [when he argues ‘that technology is, in essence, a way of organising the world so that one doesn’t have to experience it’].
  • But there is one new form of warfare where Heidegger’s insight might turn out to be more relevant. It’s called cyberwarfare. The ability to destroy a country’s infrastructure – to bring down its electricity grid or disrupt water supplies by hacking into the computers that run these systems – offers a nation the prospect of waging war without incurring either physical or psychological risks for the aggressor’s citizens: casualty-free war, if you like…

Content analysis:

  1. As many in the comments section have pointed out, Naughton admits he didn’t really ‘get’ this hardcore philosophic work (nor has he the training to analyse), so continuing, prior to a re-read or clarification report, WAS A MASSIVE ERROR.
  2. The subhead and end commentary suggests that drones produce ‘casualty-free’ wars. You don’t need to be a Mr. Chomsky or Mr. Foucault to realise that NO WAR IS CASUALTY-FREE. Even if one side is casualty free - HISTORY MATTERS. If  infrastructure, stability, resources, systems, etc. are (remotely) destroyed, there will be fallout and likely redistributive violence (general reference: Charlie Wilson’s War, ie: Cold War and post-Cold War US ‘intervention’ in Afghanistan).
  3. The Western-centric idea of reducing casualty and psychological effects of war is just, well, lies. There is no war that will be free of adverse effects. The idea of reducing the adverse effects for the West completely negates the existence, the humanity, of the Rest (see Judith Bulter or Hannah Arendt on the concept of ‘the other’)

Guardian writers… stop having a laugh on Sundays. Academics are bored and don’t want to work.

well, when I am finished with
[the Guardian], you won’t be able to get a
contract for a prepaid mobile phone!
I will tear you down, brick by
perfidious brick!

'Torvald Utne', UN representative, Archer (2009).

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Part 2 of 2: Breaking down thepoliticalnotebook’s ‘This Week In War’

Part 2 is of course (if you follow me), from thepoliticalnotebook’s post on drones.

Here’s what interested me enough to break down the article:

Legislation: ‘H.R. 658, the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012,” which authorizes budget resources for the Federal Aviation Administration through FY 2015 and encourages acceleration of the Next Generation Air Transportation System and air traffic control modernization.’ Signed by President Obama on, awww, Valentines’ Day, 14 February 2012.

The Why: ‘Congress is demanding drones in the air over the United States – without considering the civil liberties issues. Within the span of three days last week, the House and then the Senate passed a law – H.R. 658 – requiring the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to speed up, within 90 days, its current licensing process for government use of drones domestically and to open the national airspace to drone aircraft for commercial and private use by October 2015. While the law requires the FAA to develop guidance on drone safety, the law says absolutely nothing about the privacy or transparency implications of filling the sky with flying robots.’

The Issues:(Source: all quotes below pulled from ‘on drones’ link above)

  • 'The FAA has issued more than 300 temporary licenses - mostly to law enforcement agencies and research institutions.’
  • 'The agreements must allow law enforcement and other public safety agencies to operate drones under certain restrictions (i.e., within the line of sight of the operator, under 400ft., during daylight conditions).’
  • 'The Secretary must determine if certain types of drones (government and non-government) can operate in the national airspace before completion of the comprehensive plan, rulemakings, or guidance required… The Secretary must base this determination on whether the drone can perform without hazard to the public or national security.’
  • The Secretary must issue guidance regarding the operation of government drones. The guidance must include ways to expedite the issuance of FAA authorizations to use drones.
  • The Secretary must develop a “comprehensive plan” to integrate non-government drones into the national airspace system by Sep. 30, 2015. The plan is required to contain several elements, including recommendations on acceptable standards for operation, certification, and licensing of non-government drones. The recommendations in this plan will influence subsequent rulemakings.
  • 'Feb. 14, 2013: Deadline for the comprehensive plan'
  • 'Sep. 30, 2015: Integration of non-government drones'
  • 'Dec. 14, 2015: Final rule to implement the comprehensive plan'

Here is some TERRIBLE guidance for use of non-government drone use (from previous post).

And finally, here is some advice from the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVSA), ‘a trade group that represents the drone industry to the UK government,’ (Source: the Guardian) on how to get civilian populations to accept drones in their daily lives…


*excuse me*

…the thing is, there’s nothing a citizen can do. Private contractors/corporations have been successfully marketing drones to all levels of government.  These things have been in flight for several months. They lobby; they’ve got money; they’ve got the ear… as you and me go… we’re pretty much powerless to voice our concern and dissent against the domestic use of drones. 

In case you didn’t know… other than the whole privacy issue… here’s why drones are bad for your psyche.

That’s about all the linkingiest rantingiest I’ve got in me.

Who needs a drink?

Working Poor by Horse Feathers

*Viva… in response to the US Nation Defense Authorization Act, see Naomi Wolf.

We are young and we are weak
Just as blank as we are bleak
Too fargone in our heads
we all live and work in the red.
We’re cold
We had done all we’ve been told
There’s no court for our case,
What failure gave us suits our taste.

We all bend, we all break
We all forget what we make
Too far gone, in out heads
We all live and work in the red
We’re cold
We had done all we’ve been told.

There’s no court for our case
What failure gave us suits our taste.
There’s no money to our name
Empty pockets to our graves
There’s no court for our case
What failure gave us suits our taste

biGGie ups to the husband for finding this track.

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well, … i called that. can’t find the old post from me that links to this article (related to google search results)


On February 14, 2012, Congress passed into law HR 658, a FAA bill with provisions added to it to allow Drones to be used in the United States of America. Although domestic drones have already being used, as described in this article.
The House and Senate voted for the passage of the FAA bill…

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Scientists at Monsanto Speak Out

this came via anoncentral but their link was busted.*turns out you have to go original source to watch the worthwhile short video trailer, reblogging makes video disappear*

a little non-academic speak for the day - ‘cause brain est muerto.

part of the reason i’ve expatriated (still in progress) is because since i was 9 (1992), eating in the US, i have had unexplainable stomach pain. they ran tests; results inconclusive. so since 1992 (!), i haven’t eaten meat in the US - because not eating meat seemed to result in a whole lot less stomach pain. after 2007, almost every meal caused me pain. in 2009 things got so bad, I survived on vodka and water mostly for about 4 months (i’ve met other people who had similar pain and said vodka helped). the pain got to be too much. another gambit of tests were run *the extent of medical technology* (shout out to CICP - Colorado Indigent Care Program); results inconclusive.

when i visited Britain in October 2009, i finally ate without pain. since i’ve (temporarily) immigrated, i’ve really had no problems - except now i can’t stomach red wine, which is lame.

as an (agricultural) political economist, my research was shunned from US doctoral programs. i wanted to research to what extent do US agricultural subsidies, particularly in corn and cotton, artificially deflate global agricultural markets. not one person would so much as hear my proposal. i’m currently supervised at the University of Manchester.

i’m not saying Britain is this great free, food-Mecca. i’m saying people in the US have it ‘the shittest’ when it comes to how GMO’ed your food is. and its because monsanto controls dominates dictates, permeates US politics, supremely.

check this out:

i’m not arguing a fallacy -false deduction, Dean?- here. i’m simply saying - in a non-academic, brain dead way - … watch out for your food.

tonybaldwin: - Scientists inside MONSANTO speak the truth Video

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Submission: Girl Scout Cookies and Crew Socks

A FANTASTIC submission by a fellow Manchester PhD, expat. All I can say is my thoughts exactly and extremely well written… (don’t know about this mystery 2. though)

  1. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an endorsement of democracy.  I’m not convinced democracy is the best we can do, and I certainly don’t want to pretend that it is good enough to pass around…however, I have a few thoughts about it in this current US election cycle.

    A few weeks (months?  time is not my mistress) ago I read about the girl scout cookie boycott.  I was more tempted than ever to buy Thin Mints in support of an organization that didn’t back down when asked to exclude a CHILD who identifies as transgender.  Because, you know, not fitting gender norms is not enough exclusion.  More recently, I’ve been following Ellen’s endorsement of J.C. Penny and their refusal to bow to pressure from “one million” moms.  I say “one million” in quotes because I’ve yet to find evidence that they have met that significant requirement of democracy of finding support in great numbers.  As far as I can tell, they are not supported by “one million” anything.  My gut reaction to this was to consider clicking on JC Penny just to see what they had.  You know, to support their cause.  Likewise with the Planned Parenthood/ S G K mess.  I feel obligated to avoid buying the pink items I love so dearly lest part of the profits go to support an organization that thinks it is ok to tell women that they must play physical host to an otherwise unsustainable life.  The worst part is the claim that the removal of SGK funding from cancer screening services was not a “political” move.

    Throughout all of this, I’ve been completely non-plussed (in both senses of the word) by the current election lead up.  I don’t know how to engage with a country that seriously thinks it is a viable option to consider electing a woman who doesn’t think other women should work outside the home.  I’m confused by a voting public that is motivated to say that the government should not require us to provide life sustaining medical care to everyone, yet thinks it is absolutely in the government’s remit to tell individual women that they must provide this care with their bodies.  I’m dumbfounded by cries that our constitution is being stepped on because our nation is not a theocracy.  I do not understand how the right to bear arms should trump the right to live free from fear, but I do understand that we need to talk about the conflict between those two. It shocks me that voters think a woman is unqualified to offer an endorsement of J.C. Penny, not because she primarily wears t-shirts and runs a chat show giving her no qualifications, but because she loves someone.  I don’t understand why the name of an ice cream is of more political importance than our nation’s systematic failure to effectively re-distribute wealth.  

    In all of this, I feel like my buying power matters far, far more than my vote.  My overwhelming urge is to follow the wise example of my grandmother when she has baked a tasty cake right before breakfast and says to me: “have at it.”

The image of the self as “transcultural” is also a frequent construction among actors who believe themselves to be changed, as a result of living abroad, often in many countries, and working in multicultural organizations… Many actors find that their thinking and attitudes have changed in ways that make it difficult to imagine returning to live in their native countries or to work in national administrations, where they would lack the stimulus of continual exposure to many different nations and cultures.
FINALLY! Paul E Murray’s chapter in ‘The Place of the Person in Social Life’ NAILS WHY I CAN NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN!

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i couldn’t watch the videos for fear of what they contain. i’m left speechless by this. shaken, chilled, harrowed. i don’t even know what to say except that this needs to be public knowledge.


More disturbing evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by US troops has been published by Wikileaks. The leaked US diplomatic cable tells how US troops handcuffed and brutally executed 11 Iraqi civilians including an infant and a 70 year old woman, then called in…

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