Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for July 21st, 2012

Operation Salvage Murdoch continues

Posted by Charles II on July 21, 2012

Via ceebs, DK, the Beeb:

Mr Murdoch, 81, quit directorships at NI Group Ltd, NewsCorp Investments and Times Newspaper Holdings on Friday.

News Corp plans to split into two firms, separating its newspaper and book publishing interests from its now dominant TV and film enterprises.

This is pretty much old news. The newspapers were to be sold off. But the news at NI is pretty grim, as the phonehacking scandal continues to unfold. That will be aided as middle managers find themselves jobless and in need of gaining some sympathy for their situation.

Posted in crimes, Rupert Murdoch, wiretapping | Comments Off on Operation Salvage Murdoch continues

A look inside what it means to be Mormon

Posted by Charles II on July 21, 2012

Via Barry Ritholtz, a fascinating autobiography of the conversion of a family into Mormonism, its backsliding out of the church, and the conflicted feelings of an ex-Mormon. A sample of Walter Kirn, TNR:

I’d never been a good Mormon, as you’ll soon learn (indeed, I’m not a Mormon at all these days), but the talk of religion spurred by Romney’s run had aroused in me feelings of surprising intensity. Attacks on Mormonism by liberal wits and their unlikely partners in ridicule, conservative evangelical Christians, instantly filled me with resentment, particularly when they made mention of “magic underwear” and other supposedly spooky, cultish aspects of Mormon doctrine and theology. On the other hand, legitimate reminders of the Church hierarchy’s decisive support for Proposition 8, the California gay marriage ban, disgusted me. Deeper, trickier emotions surfaced whenever I came across the media’s favorite visual emblem of the faith: a young male missionary in a shirt and tie with a black plastic name-badge pinned to his vest pocket. The image suggested that Mormons were squares and robots, a naïve, brainwashed army of the out-of-touch. That hurt a bit. It also tugged me back to a sad, frightened moment in my youth when these figures of fun were all my family had.

As for Romney himself, the man, the person, I empathized with him and his predicament. He no more stood for Mormonism than I did, but he was often presumed to stand for it by journalists who knew little about his faith, let alone the culture surrounding it, other than that some Americans distrusted it and certain others despised it outright. When a writer for The New York Times, Charles Blow, urged Romney to “stick that in your magic underwear!” I half hoped that Romney would lose his banker’s cool and tell the bigoted anti-Mormon twits to stick something else somewhere else, until it hurt. I further hoped he’d sit his critics down and thoughtfully explain that Mormonism is more than a ceremonial endeavor; it constitutes our country’s longest experiment with communitarian idealism, promoting an ethic of frontier-era burden-sharing that has been lost in contemporary America, with increasingly dire social consequences. Instead, Romney showed restraint, which disappointed me. I no longer practiced Mormonism, true, but it was still a part of me, apparently, and a bigger part than I’d appreciated.

Sometimes a person doesn’t know what he’s made of until strangers try to tear it down. (emphasis added)

Now, I think that Mormonism is a cult, and one based on a transparently phony sacred history. I think that Kirn’s description of the sacramentalization of lying as part of fundamentalist belief is accurate. Once you accept lying as acceptable to God, it’s almost impossible to turn back. But we would do well to understand why this cult is so successful: it gives people a strong community committed to bailing out members in distress.

There are many fascinating points that Kirn makes: that healing by the laying on of hands does not occur instantly, but through the slow process of understanding that one is cared for by one’s community. The comical tale of sex right up to the brink of intercourse that somehow qualifies as chastity. The moving story of how Mormons talked Kirn’s father down from what sounds like a psychotic break and rescued his family.

But this thing about community is what is most fascinating. We see this on the left in movements like Occupy and, indeed, the old trade union movement. America is suffering from shattered relationships, from the nuclear family on up to the polarized national dialogue. The right wants to solve this by totalitarian methods: a one-party state dominated by a few powerful elders, the imposition of religion by the state, and draconian steps to force families to stay together. But what is the vision of the left? The closest thing I hear is the idea of worker-owned enterprises, ala the Mondragon cooperative. But I do not sense a larger vision that encompasses the family and the nation as a whole.

We often learn the most important things by listening to those with whom we disagree the most vehemently. I recommend this article.

Posted in Mitt Romney, politics masquerading as religion, religion | 10 Comments »

The Myth Of ‘Evil Ecuador’ Debunked By Weisbrot

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 21, 2012

Several groups whose leaders should know better are acting as stooges for the US governmnent’s revenge war on WikiLeaks by buying into the US-pushed smear that Ecuador is hypocritical for protecting journalist Julian Assange because it allegedly routinely attacks and censors all journalism within its own borders. The Guardian‘s Mark Weisbrot sets them, and us all, straight:

Let’s look at one of the major cases that groups like Americas Watch and CPJ have complained most about. Last February, the nation’s highest court upheld a criminal libel conviction against the daily El Universo, with three directors and an opinion editor sentenced to three years in prison, and $40m in damages. President Correa announced a pardon for the convictions 13 days later – so no one was punished.

As noted above, I am against criminal libel laws and would agree with criticism advocating the repeal of such laws. But to say that this case represents a “crackdown” on freedom of expression is more than an exaggeration. These people were convicted of libel because they told very big lies in print, falsely accusing Correa of crimes against humanity. Under Ecuadorian law, he can – like any other citizen – sue them for libel, and the court can and did find them guilty. Just as Le Pen in France was found guilty of having “denied a crime against humanity and was complicit in justifying war crimes.”

Groups like Americas Watch and CPJ are seriously misrepresenting what is going on in Ecuador. Rather than being a heroic battle for freedom of expression against a government that is trying to “silence critics”, it is a struggle between two political actors. One political actor is the major media, whose unelected owners and their allies use their control of information to advance the interests of the wealth and power that used to rule the country; on the other side is a democratic government that is seeking to carry out its reform program, for which it was elected.

As Weisbrot notes, these groups are undermining their own credibility, both by pushing this smear of Ecuador as a way to curry favor with the US government and by refusing to join the Center for Constitutional Rights in defending Assange.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

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