Category Archives: Current Affairs

Robots Writing News Stories?? You Mean You Hadn’t Noticed??

It Had to Happen: the AP Is Using Robots to Write Thousands of Routine Business Stories.
Now all we Need Is Some Robots to READ Them . . .

typing-robot Philana Patterson, an assistant business editor at the AP tasked with implementing the system, tells us there was some skepticism from the staff at first. “I wouldn’t expect a good journalist to not be skeptical,” she said. Patterson tells us that when the program first began in July, every automated story had a human touch, with errors logged and sent to Automated Insights to make the necessary tweaks.

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Teen Murders In Los Angeles Are Way Down

Teen Murders Down –And The BIG Reason Is Quite A Surprise!

Teenage-Murders-in-LA-ChartGeorge Tita, a criminologist at UC Irvine who studies homicide, said the increase in age is consistent with the changing nature of gang violence and the sharp decrease in killings throughout the county.

Others say that the trauma of losing brothers, cousins and fathers to street violence may make gang life less appealing to younger people. “It’s the little brother looking at what happened to the big brother and saying, ‘I don’t want to go that way,’” said Elliott Currie, another UC Irvine criminologist. “It’s something I think we criminologists don’t talk about enough.”

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“Mapping The Left” In Carolina

The image below was abstracted from a new website, “Mapping The [North Carolina] Left”, just unveiled by the folks at our local rightwing “think” tank, the Civitas Institute. It purports to unmask, name and chart the “vast leftwing conspiracy” that it insists has been running the state, notwithstanding the huge rightwing majority in the legislature. Its database names many hundreds of people, groups, and funders.Leftist-Map - Civitas

And despite a lengthy spell of scrolling, I am abashed and embarrassed to report that my name didn’t turn up anywhere on it. Nor did those of the two activist groups I have worked with, one full-time and one part-time, for most of the 13 years I’ve been in Carolina. And dammit, it wasn’t for lack of trying! In fact, I thought they’ve been pretty doggone effective, given that they were devoted to pretty much hopeless causes. But what do I know?? Continue reading “Mapping The Left” In Carolina

Same Sex Marriage Comes to Fayetteville-Fort Bragg, North Carolina

They Vowed It Would NEVER Happen!  But It DID —

Alishia-Shelbie-Before-SMWhile I lived in Fayetteville, as Director of the longtime peace project Quaker House, we worked hard for change and justice, including for LGBT folks.

It was an uphill slog, with many difficult moments. Here’s one, a video we made in response to an ugly campaign to put a ban on same sex marriage in the NC constitution

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Dr. Bronner, Magic Soap & Me

All-One Faith! All-One Soap!
Here’s the man behind it all, live from Escondido.

By Chuck Fager – Summer 1976

On March 9, 1945, a man named Fred Walcher got himself crucified. In Chicago, on the framework under an el station, after dark. When the cops found him and pulled him down, bleeding and semi-conscious, he wouldn’t say who had nailed him up there.

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Progressive Friends vs Wealth Inequality: Many Good Questions, Few Good Answers . . . .

Thomas Garrett -- I haven't a dollar

In 1856, the Pennsylvania Progressive Friends heard a report from a committee “appointed to consider whether any, and if any, what Limitations ought to be put to the Accumulation of Property in the hands of individuals, as well as corporations, and to suggest laws and other expedients, by which the enormous inequalities among the children of men may be gradually lessened, and hereafter prevented.”

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A Plan For World Holocaust Disguised as a “Green” Revolution

cover-deep-green-resistanceDeep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet, by Aric Mcbay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen. Seven Stories Press, 560 pages.

In early August 2012, a large Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California was hit by an explosion and fire, disrupting production of as much as 240,000 barrels a day.

About two weeks later, at the huge Amuay refinery in Venezuela, an explosion and fire killed more than forty people, and shut down the processing of over 600,000 barrels of oil a day.

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A Review of “Zero Dark Thirty”

As “Zero Dark Thirty” winds down, after Osama Bin Laden is dead, a big military transport is shown, parked on some windswept desert runway. As CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) climbs into its open maw, the pilot emerges to tell her she’s the only passenger listed for the flight.

“You must be pretty important,” he says. “Where do you wanna go?”

Maya slowly straps herself into a fold-down seat, alone as the plane’s huge cargo door closes out the world beyond its drab, cavernous fuselage. After a moment, a tear slowly trickles from each of her eyes, though she does not sob or lose her composure. “ZD30″ ends a moment later, with Maya staring shakily ahead, still not answering the pilot’s query.

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Cleaning Up Torture In North Carolina

Aero Contractors in Smithfield NC has been the focus of anti-torture protests.A CIA front company, Aero Contractors, ran “torture taxi” flights out of the Johnston County airport in North Carolina for years. The flights crossed there Atlantic, picked up prisoners from Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, and took them to secret prisons, Guantanamo, and other torture sites overseas. (This is not a rumor; the New York Times among others “outed” the operation years ago.)

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Three Homelands: A Revelation In Ireland

Three Homelands: A Revelation In Ireland

In December 2010, on a bright but cold afternoon, I took a serious blow to the ego, and what’s left of my cultural pride. It probably did me good, but I’m still rubbing the sore spot: it’s like a bruise that just won’t heal.  It started out fine, when I got off a bus not far from Waterford, Ireland, just in time for an interview.


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