“St. Paul freely improvises his tales as he evangelizes. “‘All things are contained within the single mind of One True God in His three aspects.’ Saint Paul could dispense this sort of smooth bullshit while taking apart and reassembling a Holy Rolodex machine,” Timothy relates as he witnesses St. Paul in action. Paul speaks in “ye olde” when he quotes the voluminous Christ. Timothy remarks that when Saul of Tarsus meets the Christ ghost, he converts to a religion that Saul/Paul himself had not yet founded. People are consistently disappointed to learn that Christ weighed 400 lbs. and spoke with a lisp. “Why doth thou persecute-eth me-th?” There is an interesting plot twist when Judas is mistaken for Christ and almost crucified. It seems that the “real Christ” was a militant Zionist, and Paul’s golden-rule Christianity an improvisation. Paul journeys from town to town raising money and founding churches, adding to his Holy rolodex, and tap-dancing. Cameos from celebrities such as Nero, Petronius, and Shirley MacLaine are interspersed throughout Timothy’s odyssey from CE 33 to CE 96.”
if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you’re the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers the US and Russia still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.
So do the carbon barons. But when we talk about violence, we almost always talk about violence from below, not above.
read more at LINK
What Happened to Canada?
The left has long admired Canada as an enclave of social democracy in North America: for its openly socialist electoral parties, its robust welfare state, and its more moderate policy profile. Recent developments, however, have thrown that reputation into question. The country is helmed by a prime minister, Stephen Harper, known for his brazenly right-wing views and executive unilateralism. Both federal and provincial governments have embraced austerity and eroded public services. And Canada’s newly aggressive exploitation of its natural resources has it trampling on civil liberties and reneging on its international obligations like, as Foreign Policy put it, a “rogue, reckless petrostate.”
These are not changes born in the hearts and minds of the Canadian people, but an agenda designed and implemented from above, articulated in an imported conservative ideology, to abet the interests of private industry. Some of that agenda, like the shocking attack on Canada’s environmental research community, has been implemented so swiftly and unilaterally that the public is just now catching up. Other aspects, like the undermining of the country’s universal health care system, have been imposed more gradually, a death by a thousand cuts combined with a relentless propaganda campaign.
What is happening in Canada is part of a much larger trend: the formidable disciplinary forces of late capitalism are exerting themselves everywhere, including in other western democracies, where governments are scaling back social programs while lavishing tax concessions and subsidies on industry. The European Union and the United States are similarly absorbing market shocks on behalf of business while allowing downturns to undermine the poor and working class. If Canada is becoming indulgent of, even slavish toward, its resource industry (the biggest contributor to GDP), it is arguably no more so than the United States in relation to its banking sector, which was never brought to heel despite causing the 2008 collapse.
Still, the drastic turn in Canadian politics and policy raises some urgent questions. Why hasn’t the population stopped the attack on its public services? Why have left-leaning parties lost ground at the polls while Harper and his ilk continue getting reelected? Why, in a society with a more collectively oriented spirit, has the political discourse taken a sharp turn to the right?
The answers to those questions tell a story to which the left should pay heed, for the hijacking of Canada’s social democracy was made possible in part by the utter failure of its left parties, and the prospects for wresting the country from the current conservative agenda depend on the success of grassroots movements of resistance.
Canada’s public services, including health care and post-secondary education, the post office and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, are generally quite beloved. Unlike in the United States, where the government is viewed with some suspicion, in Canada government-administered and -funded institutions are understood to play an important nation-building role by servicing a population dispersed across a vast terrain. And the fact that all Canadians’ needs are provided for has become a point of pride.
Over the past few decades, however, private business interests and their neoliberal allies in government have led a concerted push to expand the role of the market and shift government expenditure away from social need. The assault on public services hasn’t been conducted by criticizing them on principle, but by manufacturing crises and then suggesting that the only solution is to expand the role of the private sector.
Such is the strategy playing out right now at the post office. Last December, it was announced that Canada Post would have to phase out home delivery within five years, requiring residential customers to retrieve their mail from nearby community boxes. The change would come along with a significant increase in the cost of postage (from 63 cents to one dollar for a single stamp) and the layoff of 8,000 postal workers.
The announcement was shocking, but calculatedly so. The recommendations were prepared by a think tank arguing for privatization. It claimed that the post office is unsustainable and uncompetitive, a burden to taxpayers, and poor at meeting consumers’ needs. In reality, Canada Post has netted a profit for sixteen of the last seventeen years, and, despite occasionally suffering losses, has yet to receive a single dollar in taxpayer bailout. All of the report’s recommendations were part of a larger and often-used strategy to “restructure” services so that user costs increase while services deteriorate, and then, in response to public frustration, suggest market-based solutions.
The same strategy has been exercised repeatedly in health care: crises are brought on by underfunding, and the alleged only solution is to expand the role of private profit. Services are “delisted,” i.e. taken out of universal medicare coverage, but private supplemental insurance becomes available to cover them. Public hospitals are closed but private clinics allowed to open. Wait times for services increase due to budget cuts, but patients are permitted to “jump the queue” and pay out of pocket for their own MRI. The public is thus softened for market-based solutions, although on an ideological level it remains staunchly committed to medicare and vocally resistant to efforts to introduce parallel private health insurance and private hospitals. The CBC, itself constantly menaced with cuts, recently held a months-long contest to select “The Greatest Canadian.” The population chose Tommy Douglas, the architect of Canada’s medicare system, ahead of Wayne Gretzky, Alexander Graham Bell, and Pierre Trudeau.
“The April 6 rally in Cherkasy, a city 100 miles southeast of Kiev, turned violent after six men took off their jackets to reveal T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Beat the Kikes” and “Svoboda,” the name of the Ukrainian ultranationalist movement and the Ukrainian word for “freedom.” ”
– Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 12, 2013
While most of the Western media describe the current crisis in Ukraine as a confrontation between authoritarianism and democracy, many of the shock troops who have manned barricades in Kiev and the western city of Lviv these past months represent a dark page in the country’s history and have little interest in either democracy or the liberalism of Western Europe and the United States.
“You’d never know from most of the reporting that far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings,” reports Seumas Milne of the British Guardian. The most prominent of the groups has been the ultra-right-wing Svoboda or “Freedom” Party.
Jim Widmer’s ‘Spirit of Rural Wisconsin,’ Part III [wisconsinhistory.org]
This is the third in a three-part series featuring the images of Jim Widmer. Widmer grew up in the Dodge County town of Theresa, population 611 in 1978. His photographs capture everyday life in a small town and embody the spirit of rural Wisconsin. Part Three of Widmer’s “Spirit of Rural Wisconsin” focuses on barns in Theresa Township. More about Widmer’s career and image collection is available in the first part of the series.
Barns and Their Owners in Theresa, Dodge County
This gallery consists of more than 300 black-and-white images of barns and their owners selected from 1,191 photographs in Widmer’s “Barns in Theresa Township” collection. Widmer photographed owners with their barns, taking two photographs of each structure, and often including entire farm families. Shirley Widmer took notes on addresses and history given to her by the owners. At the end of the project, Jim commented that the owners had become more interesting subjects than the barns because the stories they told or their peronsalities illustrated the self-sufficiency, creative invention and thrift that characterize Wisconsin rural residents.
Theresa Township is home to several notable barn types, including the Wisconsin porch barn and the Wisconsin dairy barn. The first consists of an overhanging upper floor supported by wooden posts and is related to the German bank barn. The second type is certainly a familiar sight around the state, with its gambrel or round roofs. Some barns consist of both types, having added sections and silos over the years. There are also several examples of rare Pomeranian-style barns in the township of Theresa.
Jim and Shirley Widmer photographed the barns during a deliberate documentation project between April and September 2004. They maintained a single photographic method throughout the project. In the first image, the owners stood five to 10 feet away; the second image consisted of the exterior taken from a different angle or of the interior.
Images of barn interiors have a magical quality to Widmer, who said stepping into the barns is like “stepping into another era.” In the notes associated with the photo albums, he nostalgically recalled the smell of hay and the shafts of light coming through the wooden slats of the walls.