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Public Policy is social agreement written down as a universal guide for social action. We at The Policy ThinkShop share information so others can think and act in the best possible understanding of "The Public Interest."

Mountain of Petroleum Coke From Oil Sands Rises in Detroit – NYTimes.com

There may be no more important singular idea than the notion that corporations are persons.  Indeed, they are.

The Koch brothers continue to be the target of media attention and this time they are not strategizing or paying for it.  They are getting a freebee.  It appears that an environmental secretion from their pursuit of wealth function has piled up higher and deeper in the  eye of the media and in the middle of the “pristine” great lakes region.  Oil… of course.  Texas gold, or US black mud… or whatever earth exploiters and investors call it these days.  Environmentalists and world builders are colliding once again as they accuse one another about tree hugging the world on the one hand and exploiting it for  greed on the other.  In the meantime the real lesson at hand here goes unnoticed.

The key and central problem we see on the horizon today is not piles of environmental waste but the proverbial “free rider problem” which is as old as cave metaphors and necessary untruths.   It is big corporate money (to be sure corporate profits in the hands of ideologues) applied to our political discourse.  The NYTs points it out… but what are we to do?

“Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the …”

via Mountain of Petroleum Coke From Oil Sands Rises in Detroit – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, ideology, lobbying, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, political corruption, Political Economy, profit motive and carcinogens, propaganda and spin, Public Health, Public Policy, regulations, , , , ,

Everything You’ve Been Told About Radicalization Is Wrong – From: Rolling Stone Magazine

Imagine that you live in a bubble and there is only one radio in that bubble which filters all the news and distributes it in the bubble via many mediums and makes it look and sound like many truths–necessary untruths.  Rolling Stone magazine has a very interesting take on the recent media frenzy over American raised terror.

As far back as the times of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane (Timur), ruthless conquerors have struck fear in the hearts of their conquest targets and their progeny.  Much of what passes for news analysis these days is well anointed by ideological and psychological overtones that not be grounded in fact or circumstance. The Policy ThinkShop team invites you to visit the following link to explore a sobering argument addressing recent media handling of the Boston Marathon tragedy and the reasons behind the bombing perpetrators …

Everything You’ve Been Told About Radicalization Is Wrong | Politics News | Rolling Stone.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, Community Tragedy, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Facts and Fiction, Pundits, symbolic uses of politics, symbols as swords, , , ,

The American Dream Hangs in the Balance as Our Sense of Security and Peace is Shattered: Most Expect ‘Occasional Acts of Terrorism’ in the Future | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press

A national study released this week tracks American public opinion, documenting our feelings and fears about violence and terrorism.  We do not feel safe and we are trusting one another less.  Symbolically and physically we want to close the borders.  We can choose to believe that we must all feel this way or we can redefine who we are in a way that makes us stronger.  It depends who “we” are.

“Last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon attracted broad public interest: 63% of Americans say they followed the story very closely, among the highest interest in any news story in the past decade.” The Pew Foundation study reflects the sad truth that our collective American perception of civil society is changing.  Perhaps this time we are not only changing but morphing.   If we learn to accept and assimilate what is different then we can become a new America.  But who is doing the learning and who is becoming remains to be seen in an America that seems to be digressing to Michael’s Harrington’t bifurcated America.  Without a positive vision  of the future there cannot be a collective “we” to embrace it nor a collective image of an America we can all love and want to preserve.

If we are going to survive as a nation some of us will have to loosen our grip on the past so that we can all collectively embrace the future.  But today’s media events and philanthropic facts are not hopeful.

The study sounds an eerie warning that we are fundamentally changing. We seem to be resigned to constant fear and violence.  “We” seem  to be unable to take refuge in “our” symbolic “community psychological blanket” because we have become afraid of one another.  But who is this “we” and who is “the other”? There are so many of us “perceiving” from so many directions and backgrounds that a vision of a common America now seems more distant than ever.  Public opinion seems to be increasingly shaped not by what we see but what we believe.

Who are we?  Who are we becoming?  Who have we been?   What have we become?

How do we take stock of all that is happening around us and start a sensible conversation about what is wrong and how to fix it?  Social media has made a global conversation more possible but, perhaps ironically, local communion now seems more difficult and a sense of “we” or community seems increasingly vapid, vacuous and devoid of anima–tasteless, unintelligible and dispirited.  The roaring 20s, rocking 50s and the tumultuous 60s seem distant now …  We seem to be drifting into this millennium without  a compass.

American identity is changing and the center or the “typical” or “average” America seems to have disappeared.  Not only is our political discourse moved to the extremes, but our American identity seems to have morphed into fragments–dispersed among a cacophony of interests, groups and pervasive xenophobia which feed public reaction and drown out reason.  Immigration, good health and guns strangle our ability to form a consensus and find our way into this new millennium.

America is drifting but no one seems to know the direction which we are moving towards.  The collective and cumulative acts of public violence and the thousands of young Americans coming back from violent, and confusing, foreign wars does not bode well for our present or future…

The baby boom babies are now trading in their infancy diapers and lack of patience for yet another bout of rebelliousness that depends on their increasingly irrelevant 60s ideology undergirded by optimism that is now increasingly undermined by myopia and their incontinent mortality.  The ultimate victory for this now passing generation may be the imminent legalization of marijuana as a palliative reward to sustain their now eminent twilight.  Event in their collective final curtain call they can find solace in their seemingly Pyrrhic victory to medicate once again when confronted with the oncoming abyss we have for generations now called modernity and social change.

The Great Generation of past “moral” wars has left us and the Baby Boomers are now in the drivers seat.  But where are they taking us? They were the flower children and the great protesting worriers who tore down all the sacred cows and left us in a pragmatic and hedonistic middle without manners, caution or respect … Our cultural fabric seems incapable of tying together the many immigrant currents that now makeup the American mosaic.  We are the world  and the newcomers seem as desperate and dislocated as the rural kids who seemingly grow up in happy, stable, homogenous America only to turn against it in our theaters, our elementary schools and our federal buildings.

The middle is gone and shows little evidence of returning…  The 1% seem to have somehow held on to a greater percent of the nation’s wealth, while an increasing number of American families struggle with uncertainty and economic stagnation or, worse, slip back.   This recession, the ongoing local and internationally motivated terrorist and gun violence is also shaking our very foundations.

Civil liberties, political movements, and the American sense of who we are, how well we are doing and where we are going all seem increasingly clouded by an ongoing malaise.   We get nervous by what we see and need to look closer and more often to calm our nerves.  We are afraid at home and seem to need to go oversees to die in wars that have a quiet beginning and seemingly no end.  We cannot get the public spectacle out of our mind’s eye. A malaise that seems to be the product of public violence and media competition.   We live under a perpetual tempest in a proverbial psychological tea pot of public attention cannibalism in an ever hurried frenzy over delivering pictures and impressions.  The relatively few hold onto control of the public megaphone and preach to an increasingly disappearing no longer hegemonic nor numerous “majority”.  With moral certitude and  economic hubris they wield a shiny and expensive, now digital and omnipresent, printing press that constantly showers us with a practical if simply public truth.  They create, perpetuate and feed the seemingly insatiable public consumption we all have for news we need to calm our curiosity and nerves…  The world has become so complex that we need to  be numbed but the glare of the media industry will not let us rest.  The price we pay seems to be pessimism. America is ceasing to be optimistic and welcoming… It is unsettled, perhaps worried and content to close the door on our no longer widely shared dreams of exceptionalism, manifest destiny and international policeman.  Are we trading in our moral courage for a veneer of contentment?

At last we may look to the facts and find refuge in Pew’s enlightenment through facts and figures that may light the way…  What else can we do?  That depends on who we really are …  and who we are is up to all of us to define…  We must confront the ugly facts but we can confront them while grasping a larger and more unifying truth.  What that truth is remains to be seen.  In the meantime, let’s keep on working on it together.

Keep learning and thinking together here at the Policy ThinkShop ….

The Pew article and a link follow:

“Last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon attracted broad public interest: 63% of Americans say they followed the story very closely, among the highest interest in any news story in the past decade. And the bombings drew far more public attention than any terrorist event since Sept. 11, 2001, which 78% reported following very closely in mid-October of that year.”

PP_13.04.22_futureTerrorism-300

“While the Boston bombings riveted most Americans, the incident appeared to confirm the public’s long-held belief that occasional terrorist acts are to be expected. Over the past decade, majorities have consistently said that “occasional acts of terrorism in the U.S. will be part of life in the future.” This sentiment has spiked to 75% in the wake of the Boston bombings from 64% a year ago and now matches the previous high of 74% in 2003.”

via Most Expect ‘Occasional Acts of Terrorism’ in the Future | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Community Tragedy, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Death and Dying, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Violence, Pundits, social protests, symbolic uses of politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Most Muslims in Region Reject Violence Against Civilians – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

The Pew Forum on Religion continues to bring us facts and figures to enlighten our view of the religious world which is often clouded by a sensationalist media and the rose colored lenses of young ambitious journalists trying to move up the career ladder or older ones stuck in yesterday’s phobias and mired in a short and myopic view of a changing modern world where the acts of the few motivate and move the masses through the loud megaphone that is our entertainment driven media establishment…. Read the Pew article and tell us what you think…

“A new Pew Research Center survey report finds high levels of concern about religious extremism among Muslims in the North Caucasus area of Russia and the neighboring Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The survey also finds that few Muslims across the region support the use of violence against civilians in the name of Islam, though there is somewhat more support for suicide bombing and similar violence among Muslims in Kyrgyzstan than in Russia or Kazakhstan.”

via Most Muslims in Region Reject Violence Against Civilians – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, Culture Think, Discrimination, ethnicity in politics, faith-based, ideology, International Relations, Intolerance, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, propaganda and spin, Pundits, Racism, Religion, symbolic uses of politics, WeSeeReason, , , , , , ,

Equating Islam with terrorism – chicagotribune.com

When the media feeds xenophobia, sensationalism, ethnocentrism and religious bigotry, the crazies and the extremists win.  The crazies and the extremists are such a minute minority but their acts are so big and their intentions are to cloud our judgement and make us crazy.  The media’s handling of these acts magnifies them and makes these pitiful bigots super heroes, if evil ones.  They become larger than life and feed our need to catch and conquer the proverbial boogyman.  Read the following article by a Chicago journalist for some clarity and what is happening to us every time we over state the role of religion in violent acts that are perpetrated by people who in the end are not very religious at all…

“Before we knew anything about the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, we knew that he “recently became a devout Muslim who prayed five times a day.” This piece of information was placed in the lead of an Associated Press article published as the police were still on the hunt for Tsarnaev’s younger brother and alleged accomplice, Dzhokhar.

As the day went on with increasing panic and an intensifying sense of terror emanating from television and computer screens across America, and news outlets scrambled to release sound bites and tweetable articles with any information they could scrounge up on …”

More via Equating Islam with terrorism – chicagotribune.com.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, Community Tragedy, consumers, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Death and Dying, Demographic Change, Discrimination, ethnicity in politics, faith-based, ideology, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Violence, propaganda and spin, Pundits, Religion, symbolic uses of politics, symbols as swords, WeSeeReason, , , , , , ,

Wikileaks Was Just a Preview: We’re Headed for an Even Bigger Showdown Over Secrets | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

We are now moving towards and perhaps will be living in “THE INFORMATION CAGE.”  Like a reoccurring nightmare that we explain away only to find out we did not quite explain it away, George Orwell still haunts us…

Wikileaks is just the tip of the iceberg.  And information security could send thousands of people to the Siberia equivalent of going to jail for talking, reading, or sharing information…. The lines are being drawn and stripes could be in your future…. The information age is now washing over us like a waterfall and we don’t remember or fully understand  how it got his way… it is omnipresent, omnipotent, information that is… and at last, it has become dangerous….

The Policy ThinkShop recommends reading Matt Taibbi’s preliminary review and admonition … Listener, reader, sharer, be ware!!!

“I went yesterday to a screening of We Steal Secrets, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney’s brilliant new documentary about Wikileaks. The movie is beautiful and profound, an …”

via Wikileaks Was Just a Preview: We’re Headed for an Even Bigger Showdown Over Secrets | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Paper Media, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, , , ,

No. 2: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan – Philanthropy 50 – The Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the nonprofit world with news, jobs, and ideas

What started as your kids chit chatting and “wasting time on their computer” is now one of the largest money making business in human history and is creating resources that are challenging the wold’s elite in philanthropy…. Such is the new “WWW” world our heads are in with our feet on the ground while we look up at a world that boggles (perhaps “googles”) the mind!

 

Amount donated in 2012: about $498.8-million

Beneficiary: Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Background: Mr. Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook, and Dr. Chan is a pediatrician.

Mark Zuckerberg, 28, and Priscilla Chan, 27, gave 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at about $498.8-million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to support education and health programs.

This is the young billionaire’s second large donation. In 2010, he pledged $100-million to establish Startup: Education, a foundation to support programs working to improve public schools in Newark, N.J.

More via No. 2: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan – Philanthropy 50 – The Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the nonprofit world with news, jobs, and ideas.

Filed under: analytics, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, Culture Think, MashCrunchWired, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Paper Media, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Social Media, Technology and You, Using Social Media, , , , , , , ,

Newspapers Turning Ideas into Dollars | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

“All the news that’s fit to print,” has now become “All the news that’s fit to click.”  According to the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism so called “Print Media” has been struggling with the new media marketing paradigm needed to survive in the online market.

“In America’s embattled newspaper industry, some business innovations are showing clear signs of success, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. While many of these are occurring on the digital side, some papers are generating new print revenue-through circulation gains, niche products and even sales reorganization.

The report follows a year-long effort to identify newspaper successes in the search for new business models. This report analyzes four such dailies whose executives explained, in detail, the motivation and strategy behind their experiments and shared internal data about the results with the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.”

via Newspapers Turning Ideas into Dollars | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ).

Filed under: analytics, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Culture Think, Mass Media and Public Opinion, , ,

Information technology: Has Apple peaked? | The Economist

It can be said that Apple was born of Steve’s exigencies and vision and China’s ability to ruthlessly churn out product in mass and timely form.  This dual reality of visionary and mass maker may not be sustainable in the long term.

It can all be summarized, perhaps over simplified, in a few sentences–Apple’s success in market share, its quick to market technological business model, and the need for seemingly immediate mass production and delivery, forced Apple to turn to the one place that can build and turn out mass production like no other place in the history of mankind, namely “CHINA!”  This move, as if it had any other choice, forced Apple to build a market plan that may be compromised by of necessity choosing China’s ability to produce though perhaps at the cost of product quality…

Apple’s mantra and the late Steve’s DNA contribution was the pursuit of ruthless perfection and un-compromised aesthetics for its products.  This business model may now be in question because of the company’s performance and the quality of its products slowly becoming an ongoing topic and the mass production by the China based infrastructure may not keep up with Western consumer exigencies.  If Apple continues to falter on its production timelines, quality or consumer expectations, the current discussion may prove fatal for a company that can’t change either reality–Steve is gone for ever and China may be the only mass market production vehicle?

The pursuit of perfection and mass production shortcoming facts remain to be final and clear as much as the above Policy ThinkShop analysis may frame the discussion and hold…  The London Economist shares to the discussion as follows:

“TECH blogs are abuzz. Pundits are busy pumping out predictions. The company that makes the new device that is attracting so much attention is teasing reporters by being coy about its innovative features. Apple’s product launches are always like this. But this time the fuss is not about an Apple product: it is about …”

via Information technology: Has Apple peaked? | The Economist.

Filed under: analytics, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Technology and You, , , , , ,

Obama’s Fourth Year in Office Ties as Most Polarized Ever

The Gallup organization shares some survey data to give us perspective on the meaning and impact of the Obama presidency as it departs on a second term.  Although public opinion can be fickle and surveys have traditionally been somewhat suspect as they tend to over sample middle class folks with telephones, stable addresses, speaking “the king’s English,” literacy levels, and a host of other things that make phone, written or even face to face surveys a bit skewed, the Gallup polls do shape public opinion and, if for no other reason than that they are interesting and are a part of the equation that shapes public discourse, they should be looked at and discussed.  Check out what Gallup has to show us and give The Policy ThinkShop your opinion ….  Leave  us your comments below…

“During his fourth year in office, an average of 86% of Democrats and 10% of Republicans approved of the job Barack Obama did as president. That 76-percentage-point gap ties George W. Bush’s fourth year as the most polarized years in Gallup records.”

Most Polarized Presidential Approval Ratings, by Party

 

via Obama’s Fourth Year in Office Ties as Most Polarized Ever.

Filed under: analytics, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Culture Think, Election 2012, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Polls and pollsters, , , , , , ,

Israel and Gaza: Edging closer to war | The Economist

The Obama victory and the Arab spring have ushered in a new era for the Middle East as the extremes write the next chapter …  What’s next?

“IF THE latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamists who run Gaza, were to end this weekend, everyone involved—except for the families of the …”

More via Israel and Gaza: Edging closer to war | The Economist.

Filed under: Arab Spring, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, drone attacks, Election 2012, ethnicity in politics, faith-based, geopolitical, human offal, International Relations, Intolerance, Masacre, Mass Media and Public Opinion, Middle East Freedom, News, political plots, Political Violence, propaganda and spin, symbolic uses of politics, symbols as swords, waging war, WeSeeReason, ,

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