Sunday, May 17, 2015

Truest statement of the week

If concluded, the TPP will continue the process of concentrating economic power in the hands of U.S. based transnational corporations and financial institutions. And while the 1% who have no allegiance to any national territory or state will grow richer, the agreement will pit workers in the U.S. – especially Black and Brown workers – into cut-throat competition with exploited workers, this time in Asia, who will be paid slave wages to produce for the U.S. and European markets.

-- Ajamu Baraka, "Stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a “Black Issue”* " (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

Bill Gates is the world’s richest man, with a net worth of £55 billion. In 1998 his company Microsoft was charged with illegal practices, and Gates was condemned as a ruthless monopolist. Four years later, after launching a charitable foundation, Gates was praised as a generous philanthropist.
Not everyone was taken in by this switcheroo. As the saying goes, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. But many workers would be confused — is Bill Gates a class enemy or one of the good guys? Confusion prevents workers from moving decisively against their enemies. Since the 19th century thieving capitalists have used philanthropy to pose as social saints, shape society in their image and create confusion about the nature of capitalism. 

-- Susan Rosenthal, "Philanthropy: the capitalist art of deception" (UK Socialist Review).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.  First, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

What did we come up with?

Ajamu Baraka's first truest.
Susan Rosenthal's first truest. 
Where's that political solution?  Will anyone ask?
Ava and C.I. round out their coverage of Shonda Rhimes with this piece noting that Scandal never did recover in the ratings.
Jimmy Kimmel thinks he's cute calling CBS racist.  Ava and C.I. beg to differ.
Short feature.
Long overdue, yes.  
And we haven't done this feature since February which we still can't believe.
We do cover live albums here and this is the latest one.
Oh, Shonda.

What we listened to this week.

Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.
Repost from IAVA. 
ACLU press release. 

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we came up with.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: It's almost June

And where's that political solution in Iraq, Barack?

It was June 2014 when US President Barack Obama declared publicly that the only solution to Iraq's crises was "a political solution."

Almost a year later, there's still no political solution.

Even worse, the US government has done damn little to help Iraq reach a political solution.

They've been happy to round up other countries to bomb Iraq or to send military 'trainers' into Iraq.

That really hasn't worked out, has it?

Ramadi just fell to the Islamic State, for example.

Eight airstrikes against targets in over recent hours & US support accelerating. spoke w/PM Abadi, readout to follow 2/2
87 retweets 29 favorites

That's Brett McGurk making the usual ass of himself.

He's State Dept.

But thinks he's DoD.

Got a real case of Pentagon envy, that Brett.

And those airstrikes he's so thrilled about?

Didn't do a damn thing, did they?

Didn't stop the takeover of Ramadi.

When is the US government going to use diplomacy to assist the Iraqi government in working towards a political solution?

There is no military answer for Iraq.

The root causes have to be dealt with.

But that's not happening.

Next month is the one year anniversary of Barack's statement that only "a political solution" can bring peace to Iraq.

So, one year later, why hasn't the White House done a damn thing to move Iraq towards that political solution?

TV: Shonda Rhimes' fall from grace

"He's got the biggest heart and the smallest penis in town, everyone knows his wife's cheating on him and now they cancelled his series?"

Yes, it's been a tough two weeks for everyone -- some had it rougher than others.  Like the hot guy with the micro penis that our friend was talking about.

But whether you're a good looking guy hung like a two-year-old or an actress literally working your butt off (one friend swears her ass lost two inches -- "that I couldn't afford to lose" -- doing junkets last fall to promote a now cancelled show), spring 2015 has been all about the suffering.

And the suffering took place on both sides of the screen.


In fact, the audience was punished repeatedly -- by networks eager to shed popular shows, yes, but also by show runners who went off the rail.

Let's focus on one in particular.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital does wonderful work.

And Shonda Rhimes can take comfort in the fact that what she's done on Scandal is resulting in a generous donation to St. Jude's.

Yes, the bet is being paid up finally.

For those just arriving to the crime scene, Shonda killed Scandal.

When the show returned after the winter finale with "Run" (January 29th), 10.48 million viewers tuned in -- the second highest episode of the season.

The show as unbeatable an ABC exec and friend boasted/insisted.

We told him he was crazy.

We told him he was bat s**t insane.

And that so was Shonda.

The episode got ratings, yes.

It also killed the show.

No one watched the show to see Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) being a victim.  Now here she was, kidnapped and terrorized, and with no hints that she would be free anytime soon.

The episode had huge ratings because viewers thought, "Olivia got kidnapped back in November, let's see how she gets out of this!"

And they watched the whole show to see that -- but she didn't get free.

This woman was scared.

And she was being mocked and toyed with.

And she would be auctioned off like a slave -- in the midst of Black History Month, no less.

This wasn't Olivia Pope.

We said back then that Shonda had killed the show and the ratings were about to drop so enjoy that nearly ten and a half million figure since it would never again get those ratings  this season.

And we were told we were wrong.

We were told we didn't know what we were talking about.

We even had that stupid (and meaningless) advertising tagline repeated to us: Shonda knows drama.

We said, "Fine.  Let's put money on it."

And we bet a modest lunch.

But then the next week saw us proven right and the exec still couldn't believe it.

So week after week, he elected to double down and let it ride.

When it got up to ten thousand, we said when he paid up, he could just make it as a donation to St. Jude's.

As the series set one record after another for season low, he just refused to admit reality and took to insisting that the last two episodes -- the lead up to the season finale and the season finale -- is when Shonda would pull it out of the toilet and the viewers would return.

Didn't happen.

Thursday was the season finale.

It was lower than the third season finale and the second season finale.

It was just barely higher than the season one finale -- just barely.

And you may remember, season one's ratings were so mediocre that the renewal of Scandal was something of a question mark during that first seven episode season.

ABC refused to see the writing on the wall but we heard the song streaming in the air.  It was Tina Turner singing "Back Where You Started" (which she won a Grammy for ):

Baby tell me what you're trying to prove
Playing games with my heart
Hey now listen -- I ain't gonna take it one more night
You're the one who broke the rules
I'm the one who played the fool
Now you're trying to tell me it's alright
You should know better than to hurt a friend
You'll never get a chance again
You'll be
Back where you started.

And Shonda is.

Back where she started.

She built a hit show and she tore it down.

Her stupidity, her drive towards self-destruction and, most of all, her disdain for the audience led her to destroy Thursday night's biggest show.

As the audience fled, ABC was convinced it would be back the next week, or the next or right before the season finale or, finally, with the season finale.

It didn't come back.

The season's over and what started with 11.96 million viewers ended with the lowest rated full season of the show's history.

There's a plague infecting ShondaLand and it's Shonda Rhymes herself.

The finale was a major disappointment in terms of the writing -- see Rebecca's "scandal - just stupid," Lindsay Putnam's "It's time for Shonda Rhimes to quit" (New York Post) and Chloe Gilke's "'Scandal' can't escape the prison of its plot" (Michigan Daily).

But Shonda's ratings have been eroding -- across the board.

The highest rating for her new 'hit' How To Get Away With Murder was its winter finale.  As we've noted repeatedly here, the audience began fleeing after Shonda made the killers of the cheating husband a cavalcade of students and not supposed series lead Viola Davis.

Grey's only bright spot in the ratings this season was the episode that killed off Patrick Dempsey's character.

Thursday night is in free fall.

Next fall, look for it to really get bad because this was the season that The Blacklist finally found its footing and NBC's planning to pair it up with the Heroes revival and a floundering ABC Thursday led by a floundering Shonda will have a real struggle to keep up with that.

In fact, instead of bringing viewers yet another new series this fall from Shonda Rhimes, ABC should have told her, "You've spread yourself too thin and that ratings prove it."

The fall from grace of Shonda is the TV story of this season but no one wanted to tell it.

When we started truth telling this story, we assumed our work would be (yet again) immediately pirated and pass off as the original thought and analysis of this or that member of The Water Cooler Set.

But this is how lazy and stupid these alleged 'critics' are -- they've failed to notice that all three of Shonda's current shows have suffered massive erosion, that viewers have fled.

When this does finally get attention from others -- and it will -- expect Shonda's shows to pull in even less viewers because part of her audience has always been faddish -- she was 'talked about' so they watched.

Now that her shows have lost their cachet, now that viewers are fleeing, look for the hangers on to go packing as well.

A lot took place this season but if you followed The Water Cooler Set, all you heard about was hype, copy that read like press releases for their pet favorites.

There wasn't a lot of examination or exploration.

Just a lot of high fives and head butting (when not attacking any show with a female lead -- a 'trend' that never dies for The Water Cooler Set).

A lot of shows got the axe and maybe that wouldn't be the case if The Water Cooler Set had done their job?

Maybe next fall, they can give up trying to look like cool high schoolers and instead actually try to earn their paycheck?

We won't hold our breath.

Jimmy Kimmel plays low and dirty (Ava and C.I.)

At last week's ABC upfront, Jimmy Kimmel attempted to be funny.  He claimed of ABC, "We are so diverse that when CBS drives by us, they lock their doors."



Fall 2014 through spring 2015 saw Maggie Q and Lucy Liu co-star in hour long dramas (Stalker and Elementary) and the main cast of of Elementary also includes Jon Michael Hill while the now cancelled Stalker also had Victor Rasuk in their main cast..

Grace Park, Daniel Dae Kim, Masi Oka, Chi McBride and Jore Garcia all are members of the main cast on Hawaii Five-O -- putting them miles ahead of the token African-American on Scandal (Kerry Washington), for example.  Jadyn Wong is one of the leads on Scorpion. L.L. Cool J co-stars in NICS: Los Angeles. Also in the cast of that show is Adam Jamal Craig and Miguel Ferrer.

CBS latest sitcom, The Odd Couple, includes Yvette Nicole Brown in its cast.  Garrett Morris is in the cast of 2 Broke Girls as is Matthew Moy. The cast of Mike and Molly includes Reno Wilson, Nyambi Nyambi and Cleo King.  The Millers had J.B. Smoove as a series regular.

The cast of Madam Secretary includes Patina Renea Miller, The cast of The Good Wife includes Makenzie Vega and Archie Panjabi (whose last appearance was in the season finale). The main cast of Battle Creek included Kal Penn.  Person of Interest's main female star is Sarah Shahi. NCIS: New Orleans has five people in its main cast, one of which is the legendary CCH Pounder. Rocky Carroll is one of the stars of NCIS.  One of the stars of Criminal Minds is Shemar Moore.  CSI: Cyber's main cast includes Hayley Kiyoko and Shad Moss (better known to music fans as the rapper Bow Wow).

We've ignored reality and news programming.

We've even ignored the summer season which, by the way, in summer 2014 included Halle Berry starring in Extant and will include Extant in this summer's schedule as well.

Jimmy Kimmel wanted to be funny.

One can dream.

But it's never funny to falsely accuse someone of racism.

And, for the record, ABC's tokenism isn't something that's easy to overlook.

They may now have Blackish on Wednesday nights but that doesn't excuse the lack of people of color in the main casts of The Middle or The Goldbergs.

And, let's be honest, the weak-ass attempts to add African-American characters to Modern Family have been as stilted as they were still born.

We could go on and on.

But how about you stop accusing others of racism to get cheap laughs?

Especially when your own network isn't doing that well at anything other than allowing Shonda Rhimes to fire one African-American actor after another.

And, Jimmy Kimmel, maybe  you can grasp how White your own network is when even People magazine is noting that after 19 seasons of the ABC staple The Bacherlor, they still won't make an African-American male the lead in that 'reality' show?

He meets all kinds

dirty whore

US President Barack Obama is fascinated by longtime whore EJ Dionne whose lost his youth but gained several hundred pounds.  Barack seems highly amused to discover that there are fat whores out there.

From The TESR Test Kitchen

We're soda drinkers here.  Even Jess.

And our primary cola of choice is Coca-Cola.  Have a Coke and a smile, or whatever they used to say.

We like a Pepsi every now and then.

In a pinch, we'll even have an RC.

But Coke is our go-to.

Some of us drink the original Coke in the red label.  Others, due to diabetes or weight concerns, go with Diet Coke.

A number of readers have been raising the issue of a new Coke -- Coca-Cola Life --  and, after the notorious New Coke of 1985, we were  bit nervous.


Turns out, we were right to be.

First off, limited number of participants.  Calorie counters were willing to forgo that concern and take part in the test kitchen but this is not a diet drink and those with diabetes did not participate.

Why would anyone drink this crap?

Forget the taste, we'll get to that, the green label boasts "REDUCED CALORIE COLA."  Then in very small letters "35% fewer calories than Coca-Colas."

This being a site aimed at American readers, we figure we'-ll need to help you with that math.

The 20 ounce Coca-Cola Life has 160 calories -- which is more than a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola but less than a 20 ounce bottle of Coca-Cola.

240 calories is the amount in a 20 ounce bottle of Coca-Cola so this green label new cola has 80 calories less.

80 calories less.

That's really not much at all.

So you might as well just drink a Coca-Cola (or Diet Coke, if you're diabetic).

A regular Coca-Cola will taste sweet and refreshing.

This Coca-Cola Life?

"Did they mix Listerine in with this?"

That was the kindest comment as we tasted this brew.

We tried to be fair and we took additional sips.  But no one could finish the bottle.  Ty did it best drinking about ten ounces.

And he then got sick to his stomach.

No one needing a diet drink would drink this due to the huge amount of calories.

And with the  taste being so hideous, we can't see why anyone would ever drink this in the place of regular Coca-Cola.

In the years doing this feature, we have tasted bad -- we have tasted real bad (remember BaconPOP?).

But we didn't know from bad until we tried to drink Coca-Cola Life.

Film Classics of the 20th Century

In this ongoing series on film classics of the last century, we've looked at Your Friends & Neighbors,  Shampoo,  The Player,  Dick Tracy,  How To Marry A Millionaire,  Blow OutYou Only Live TwiceSleeper,  Diamonds Are Forever,  Sleepless In Seattle,  My Little Chickadee,  Tootsie,  After Hours,  Edward ScissorhandsChristmas in Connecticut, Desk Set,  When Harry Met Sally . . .,  Who Done It?,  That Darn Cat!,  Cactus Flower,  Family Plot, House Sitter,  and Outrageous Fortune.   Film classics are the films that grab you, even on repeat viewings, especially on repeat viewings.

A good thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat, yes, but it also throws you off kilter from time to time so that you're never really sure how it's going to end.

Masters of the genre like Alan J. Pakula and Brian De Palma created classics in the genre.

Those who followed (Christopher Nolan, for example) largely relied on tricks.

The Net relied on fear and tension.


The 1995 film was directed and co-produced by Irwin Winkler whose filmography includes many important moments such as They Shoot Horses Don't They?, Raging Bull, Up The Sandbox, S*P*Y*S,  Betrayed, Goodfellas, Music Box, Peeper, Night and the City and last year's The Gambler.

The film revolves around systems analyst Angela Bennett who works from home and suffers from what could be considered a mild form of social agoraphobia -- she rarely ventures out from her home.  When she does, it is usually to visit her mother who suffers from Alzheimer's.

A series of events are taking place around the country that are not what they seem. Angela gets involved in the conspiracy when a friend sends her a disc (remember floppy discs?) with a program on it.

Just having the disc means those in charge of the conspiracy want Angela eliminated.


The conspiracy dispatches assassin Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam) to seduce her, obtain the disc and kill her.

But Angela catches on that Devlin's not all he pretends to be (few straight men who self-describe  as "butch" ever are) and manages to escape.

Still the shadow figures use her Cozumel vacation to destroy her.  They erase her identity and falsify records to make her Ruth Marx, a woman with many prior convictions.

Angela now not only has to figure out what's going on but also to try to reclaim her identity.

She has to fight the conspiracy, she has to fight law enforcement, she's completely alone and the only one who can save Angela is Angela herself.


It's a tight and suspenseful film with Sandra Bullock in the lead role.

Following up on her first blockbuster (Speed with Keanu Reeves), Sandra delivered a one-two punch in 1995 with this thriller as well as the comedy While You Were Sleeping.

It's a difficult role and Bullock pulls it off.


At one point, she attempts to explain to a court-appointed attorney:

Just think about, just think about it, just think about it, our whole world is sitting there in the computer.  It's in the computer, everything. Your DMV records, your-your Social Security, your credit cards, your medical history -- it's all right there. Everyone is stored.  And there's like this little electronic shadow on each and every one of us that's just begging for somebody to screw with.  And you know what?  They've done it to me.  And you know what? They're going to do it with you. 

As Angela attempts to clear her name she finds the conspiracy runs deeper and deeper and Devlin and the real Ruth Marx (Wendy Gazelle) are determined to kill her on behalf of a Bill Gates' like predator who's behind the conspiracy.


Will Angela expose it all?  If she does, will it be her final act?

The Net keeps you guessing and the premise of the film was so powerful that not only did it go on to be a top DVD seller for two decades, it also spawned a sequel and a TV series.

Jack Johnson's En Concert

As our playlists have often registered, we like Jack Johnson.  In fact, Elaine and Jess are huge fans.

Yet somehow, we all missed his 2009 live release until last week, Jack Johnson's En Concert.


In 2008, Jack released his critical and commercial hit Sleep Through The Static.  En Concert is a compilation of 20 tracks from the world tour supporting that album.

Twenty tracks which include 6 tracks that are two-song medleys.

The CD comes with a 20-page booklet of tour photos and details.  There's also a DVD and CD combo, but we went with the CD.

Elaine was the first to find it last week and got a new copy at an independent music store for $9.99.  That was a good price and as we bought up our copies across the nation, we saw reasonable prices but Dallas managed to find copies for $6.99.

And we thought that was the best price until Jess went with streaming.

You can buy an MP3 version at Amazon for $5.99.

The album finds Jack at the beginning of his current phase which can best be described as musical painting where bright notes are splashed throughout to create an oral sunset full of radiance.

Though radiant and vibrant, these aren't necessarily happy paintings as the beauty is often pictured in contrast to loss.

As the album proves with favorites like "Gone," "Banana Pancakes," "Better Together," etc., Jack's always been able to write a song that sticks with you.

But it's the new material -- like "All At Once," for example -- that kicks off the new period of his career and makes you wonder where he'll go with this?

Possibly, he'll play with it a bit the way Sting has, enlivening his approach and updating his sound?  Or maybe he'll be as fearless as Joni Mitchell and follow this muse where ever it leads?

Regardless, En Concert captures the artist at a particularly meaningful and rich moment and is a must have for any music collection.

Out of control monster of the week

Evelyn Diaz (BET) reports:

“Shonda was very unhappy to learn Patrick’s affair with a Grey’s Anatomy staff member had been made public," an insider tells "Suspecting it was individuals from the cast and crew, she sent a stern reminder via email that anyone caught leaking information to the press would be fired immediately. The cast and crew all have signed non-disclosure agreements, prohibiting any details from their employment being discussed publicly.”

The out of control maniac Shonda Rhimes, who's grudged f**ked Katherine Hiegl for years, has people sign non-disclosure agreements?


What kind of monster is this human gorgon?

Who the hell does she think she is?

She's the boss from hell.

She truly is.

She's undermined everything she ever supposedly stood for, she's driven away viewers and she makes her staff sign non-gossip agreements?

It's time for Shonda Land to be condemned and shut it down forever.

And don't even get us started on how the anti-torture stance of Scandal has morphed into a pro-torture stance.

This edition's playlist


1) Jack Johnson's En Concert.

2)  Sam Smith's The Lonely Hour.

3) The Mamas and the Papas' The Papas & the Mamas.

4) Stevie Nicks' Rock A Little.

5) Prince's Parade.
7) Prince's Art Official Age.

8) Diana Ross' The Force Behind The Power.

Citizen Shame—do Rupert Murdoch and the press control what people think?

 This is a repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Citizen Shame—do Rupert Murdoch and the press control what people think?

The election showed that Britain’s ‘free press’ is a farce, but do the papers really control their readers’ minds? Nick Clark looks at the influence and limits of the media

Published Tue 12 May 2015

Issue No. 2453

Montage of election front pages from the British press
The mainstream media seems to wield huge influence over the outcome of elections. Some sections of the media certainly went into overdrive in campaigning for a Tory victory.

Indeed, the Guardian newspaper has pointed out that the Tory-supporting Sun newspaper ran more articles attacking ex Labour leader Ed Miliband than it did attacking then leader Neil Kinnock in 1992.

Then, after a shock Tory victory in 1992, the paper’s front page claimed, “It’s the Sun wot won it”.

It seems the Sun has won it again.

But is media support really the decisive factor in any election?

A relatively small minority of rich people own the mainstream newspapers and broadcasters. They’re part of the minority at the top of society that owns and controls the big businesses, banks and the state.

Their position in society is based on exploiting workers. They clearly have an interest in convincing the rest of us that this setup is natural— and they will use their control of the media to do so.

But they will also use that power to try and secure governments they think will best act in their interests.

Rupert Murdoch is an obvious example.

Murdoch has switched allegiance between the Tories and Labour a number times since he bought the Sun in 1969.

So the Sun was sycophantic in its support for Margaret Thatcher, because Murdoch saw working class militancy and trade unions threatening his interests.

But in 1997 he switched allegiance to Tony Blair’s New Labour. It promised to be much friendlier than the Tories’ Michael Howard, who was threatening to pass a law banning foreign nationals from owning newspapers. Now the Murdoch press supports the Tories again—at least in England and Wales.


Labour supporters point out that this is because Ed Miliband threatened to break up the Murdoch empire.

But it’s also because—despite Labour’s surrender to austerity—anything other than a Tory victory would indicate a mood in society that’s opposed to Murdoch’s interests.

This is why many other newspapers also campaigned for a Tory win.

On the day of the election, the traditionally Tory-supporting Telegraph newspaper emailed every address on its marketing database begging its readers to vote Conservative.

And in an editorial on Tuesday of last week, the London Evening Standard newspaper urged its readers to vote Tory “for London”. It’s owned by the multi-millionaire Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev.

The thrust of their arguments was that a Tory government would be better for businesses and therefore for everybody else.

The underlying message was clear—what is good for those at the top of society is good for those at the bottom.

Of course, not every newspaper backed the Tories. The Daily Mirror and the Guardian both came out for Labour.

But these differences only reflect divisions inside the ruling class.

So the Telegraph’s plea for a Tory vote argued for a continuation of what it called the “open, enterprise-led economic approach that has underpinned our prosperity for nearly 40 years”.

Meanwhile, the Guardian believed a Labour victory would mean a society closer to its Keynesian ideal of “economic efficiency, social justice and individual liberty.”

The difference between the two newspapers reflects two competing visions for how best to run capitalism.

But both agree that capitalism is the only way to run society, and so reflect and promote some of its dominant ideas.

Take the Scottish independence referendum last year. At the heart of the Yes campaign was a mass movement involving tens of thousands of working class people who saw the prospect for real change.

Yet the media presented the referendum as if it was simply a clash between different political parties. On one side, the Scottish National Party (SNP), and on the other the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems.

The thousands of people who filled Glasgow’s George Square were given, at best, a supporting role in the media’s narrative.

This is because the dominant ruling class idea is that change comes from above, through parliament, rather than from below.

The flipside of this is that anyone who dares to suggest that real change comes from outside parliament is either marginalised, ridiculed or demonised.

The media’s reaction to Russell Brand’s call for revolution is a case in point.

At best he’s presented as simply naive or misguided or at worst as hypocritical, egotistical and dangerous.

Yet despite this more than a million people subscribe to Brand’s YouTube channel The Trews. And around 1.5 million people voted Yes in the independence referendum despite the fact that every single newspaper but one—the Sunday Herald—was opposed to it.

Now the Scottish Sun is in the bizarre position of supporting the SNP, while its sister paper south of the border ran a vicious smear campaign against the party.

This shows that while the media can shape and reinforce the dominant ideas in society, they can also reflect them.

Murdoch’s main goal is to sell as many newspapers as he can. So to a certain extent the content of those newspapers will have to relate to the popular mood.

This points to something important. The media have less control over society and the way that we think than some people give it credit for.

The Sun pulled out all the stops in its campaign for a Tory vote in England and Wales. But a recent YouGov poll showed that less than half its readership—just 42 percent—intended to vote Conservative.

The fact is that people’s ideas are not formed by the media, but by the material reality of their everyday lives.

Under capitalism we have very little control over our lives. The ruling class makes all the important decisions about how society is run.

And life under capitalism can also leave us feeling isolated—as if society is just a collection of individuals competing with each other.

So the mainstream media can work to reinforce those ideas—for instance they encourage us to blame migrants for the lack of jobs and for low wages.

But those ideas come from within capitalism itself.

It’s also the case that our lived experience can contradict what we’re told in the mainstream media.

The right wing press relentlessly churns out Islamophobic and anti-migrant articles.

And for over a year Nigel Farage, leader of the racist Ukip party, enjoyed a huge amount of air-time and column inches.

But this doesn’t mean that the majority of people are racist. On 21 March this year more than 10,000 people joined the Stand up to Racism marches in London and Glasgow.

And of course, Farage lost his campaign to become MP for South Thanet.

Building the marches and Farage’s defeat both took a huge amount of campaigning by anti-racist activists.

But they succeeded because people’s experiences of living and working alongside migrants and Muslims undercuts the racist lies.

People can start to question the ideas of the ruling class when their own experience appears to contradict them.

This is particularly true when people find themselves in direct confrontation with the system—such as during a strike.

So the outcome of an election isn’t simply to do with whichever party receives most support in the mainstream media.

It’s also shaped by material factors such as the level of class struggle and workers’ confidence in their ability to change things.

That’s why Socialist Worker is different to other newspapers. It’s not simply about left wing propaganda and exposing the lies of the ruling class, although it does this well.

It’s also a tool for supporting and organising resistance to austerity and racism—and ultimately capitalism.

The new Tory majority government makes that task all the more important.

IAVA Veteran Career Bootcamp: Holistic Approach to Career Transition

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following:

First-ever event a chance to move beyond the standard job fair

NEW YORK (May 12, 2015) – On Monday, May 18, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the only national veterans organization based in New York City, will host its first Veteran Career Bootcamp at Civic Hall. This forward-thinking approach to addressing the full spectrum of veteran employment challenges will feature highly motivated and talented veteran members and top employer partners in the civic, technology and nonprofit worlds.

“As America withdraws from its longest conflicts, our veterans are transitioning back into the civilian world and we have a responsibility to guide them toward successful careers,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “Veterans are an investment, not a charity. Yet, despite their demonstrated leadership capabilities and skills gained in the military, veterans face a higher unemployment rate than their civilian counterparts. Veterans have grown frustrated with traditional job fairs and impersonal employment programs. Additionally, many struggle connecting with individuals and organizations outside of their military networks. That’s why we are moving beyond the standard job fair, creating a unique platform for engaging veterans, mentors and employers on a whole new level.”

IAVA’s Veteran Career Bootcamp will offer approximately 40 veteran candidates highly individualized support from top-level private and nonprofit sector companies, such as LinkedIn, HirePurpose, Idealist,, and Vets in Tech, as well as peer mentors. Veterans will also have access to industry briefings focused on tech and public service careers, as well as career planning and personal branding advice. Experts will provide hard skills support, such as resume writing, networking and interviewing.

Unlike standard job fairs, IAVA’s Bootcamp will continue after the event. IAVA will leverage digital technology to effectively engage participants before, during, and after the event. Each veteran will be paired with a peer mentor, who will check in at least once per month for the next six months.

This highly individualized event is not open to the public. Veterans interested in participating should contact

What: IAVA Veteran Career Bootcamp

When: May 18, 10:00am-7:00pm

Where: Civic Hall, 156 5th Ave, New York, NY
Members of the media wishing to attend should contact

Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA has repeatedly received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

NJ Judge Rules Minors Cannot Receive Life-Long Sentences Without Consideration of Their Youth

The ACLU released the following:


Man sentenced to de facto life sentence without parole will get new sentencing hearing that factors in his maturity at the time

May 11, 2015

NEWARK - In a groundbreaking ruling in an American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey case, a New Jersey judge found that people convicted of crimes as juveniles cannot be sentenced to de facto life without the possibility of parole without carefully considering the role their youth played in their crimes.

The case involved James Comer, who was sentenced at age 17 to serve 75 years in prison, more than 68 without parole. Essex County Superior Court Judge Thomas R. Vena in a ruling Friday, May 8, concurred with the ACLU-NJ that because Comer will be 86 years old when he first becomes eligible for a parole hearing, he  had effectively been serving a life sentence. As a result of the ruling, Comer will be resentenced.

“The judge adopted the Supreme Court’s axiomatic observation that children are not just miniature adults. The unique nature of their brain chemistry requires that they be treated differently than adults,” said ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Alexander Shalom. “This ruling clearly affirms that before a court can condemn a child to die in prison, it must consider the things about youth that make these extreme sentences so ill-suited to juveniles.”

The ACLU-NJ argued that a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions proscribed courts from sentencing minors to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, including de facto life sentences. Consistent with these cases, Comer’s resentencing will take into account the immaturity and impetuousness that accompanies youth; his home environment at the time; the circumstances of the offense, the deficiencies of young people in handling real-world functions, such as dealing with attorneys or police officers; and the possibility of Comer’s rehabilitation.

While the judge did not share the interpretation that the Supreme Court’s rulings amounted to an absolute rejection of life sentences of minors, the judge did rule that Comer’s sentence was unconstitutional because the judge failed to factor in the hallmark factors of youth involved in his crime.

“This ruling gets New Jersey courts one step closer to the reality that it is unconstitutional to sentence children to die in prison,” said Lawrence S. Lustberg of Gibbons P.C., who along with Joseph A. Pace, also of Gibbons P.C., represented Comer on behalf of the ACLU-NJ. “The question isn’t whether Comer deserves to be released – the question is whether Comer and other children charged with serious crimes deserve a meaningful opportunity to obtain release as they mature.”

Mr. Comer, now 31 years old, was sentenced in 2003 for his role in four robberies and a felony murder as a juvenile, with no meaningful consideration given to his youth at the time. Felony murder differs from murder in that if a murder is committed during the commission of a crime, everyone involved in that crime is deemed responsible for the murder, even though they did not actually kill or intend to kill. Although he was not the one who pulled the trigger, Comer received a longer sentence than his two accomplices, one who was charged with the actual killing and the other who was an adult.

The resentencing, which has not yet been scheduled, will take place in Essex County. The State plans to appeal Judge Vena’s decision.  The decision is available at:;%2003-01-0231%20PDF


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Mother Jones: Sexist and pro-war" -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

 "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot" -- All last week, C.I. covered the Brooking's event that Sunnis Atheel al-Nujaifi and Rafe al-Assawi appeared at.

"Arrow season finale,"The Originals,"The Mindy Project,"'revenge' - the good,"Revenge (the echoes),"scandal - just stupid," "State of Affairs (Nick)," "Oh, look, it's the War Hawk Amanpour,"
"Supergirl," "Julia Roberts still thinks she matters," "The truth about Dave," "TV lethargy," "revenge - the worst," "Kalinda is the new Cher," "revenge - questions,"  "Barbara Hershey," "The misteps of TV," "revenge,"  "Cristela," "American Idol," "I can only judge what I've seen," "Stalker" and "Of all the stupidity . . ."  -- Stan, Marcia, Ann, Betty, Ruth, Elaine, Trina, Kat and Mike cover TV.

"Playlists and lists in general" -- Elaine on the issue of lists

"Idiot of the week" -- Mike calls it.

"Sex offenders in the military,"  "Rape and assault in the military" and "Advanced Weapons Technology War Games" -- National Defense Authorization coverage from Ruth, Trina and Kat.

"America's jaw drops open" and "THIS JUST IN! THE COUNTRY IS SHOCKED!" -- who knew she had a soul to save.

"The Idiotic Susan Rice" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Only the poor go to prison" -- Trina calls it.

"Cranky has nothing to say -- not a single word" and "THIS JUST IN! CRANKY COURTS LATINO VOTERS!" -- Cedric and Wally not Cranky's silence.

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