Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Howard Zinn on Activism: 'Don't Give Up'


Howard Zinn speaking on the importance of activism at the University of Chicago in November 2009. Must see for anyone committed to social change.

R. A. Wilson: 'Neither Satan Nor The Rockefellers Have Been Very Eager To Recruit Me'

From Acceleration of Knowledge (part 1 of 10)

Lady Gaga CD Used To Smuggle Top Secret US Government Details

David Renshaw reports for PopDash:

Lady Gaga has found herself at the centre of the much publicised 'Wikileaks Scandal' after it was discovered that thousands of sensitive US government documents were copied onto CD's officers believed contained the 'Bad Romance' stars music.

Amongst the information leaked to the infamous Wikileaks website include claims that the Chinese government regularly hack computers, discussions regarding a US invasion of Iran and allegations of 'innapropriate behaviour' from a member of the British Royal Family.

The documents were allegedly leaked by Bradley Manning, a gay soldier who claimed he wanted to unleash "worldwide anarchy" with the documents.

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And, from WikiLeaks release dumps on diplomacy byTommy Maple by Tommy Maple [The Independent Florida Alligator]:

WikiLeaks spewed out a bunch of classified American diplomatic documents this week, and it was disheartening to learn that what passes for statecraft these days could easily be mistaken for a worldly version of Us Weekly.

That the documents were all stolen and given to WikiLeaks by a young gay dude lip-synching Lady Gaga only ups the ante on the farcical nature of our spy networks.

Bradley Manning, giving plenty of ammunition to those in favor of keeping Lady Gaga fans out of the U.S. military, is quoted in London's Guardian newspaper telling a fellow hacker that he "would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like 'Lady Gaga' … erase the music … then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing ... [I] listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga's 'Telephone' while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history."

It is of vital importance to the future of our country to immediately outlaw the access of critical national security documents to military or non-military personnel while they are listening to music featuring Lady Gaga, with additional punishment written into the law for any sort of fist-pumping or air drums.

The latest document dump by WikiLeaks mainly involves transmissions by our various ambassadors and diplomats that amount to snarky and inane musings about world leaders — most of which are patently obvious to even the most casual observer of geopolitics.

Back in the day, the fight against communism honed our spies in the cutthroat, zero-sum game of international espionage.

Now, in the mushy age of global materialism, we have spies like us.

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An Interview With WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange [Forbes]

From the interview by Andy Greenberg, Forbes

How much of this trove of documents that you're sitting on is related to the private sector?

About fifty percent.

You've been focused on the U.S. military mostly in the last year. Does that mean you have private sector-focused leaks in the works?

Yes. If you think about it, we have a publishing pipeline that's increasing linearly, and an exponential number of leaks, so we're in a position where we have to prioritize our resources so that the biggest impact stuff gets released first.

So do you have very high impact corporate stuff to release then?

Yes, but maybe not as high impact…I mean, it could take down a bank or two.

That sounds like high impact.

But not as big an impact as the history of a whole war. But it depends on how you measure these things.

When will WikiLeaks return to its older model of more frequent leaks of smaller amounts of material?

If you look at the average number of documents we're releasing, we're vastly exceeding what we did last year. These are huge datasets. So it's actually very efficient for us to do that.

If you look at the number of packages, the number of packages has decreased. But if you look at the average number of documents, that's tremendously increased.

So will you return to the model of higher number of targets and sources?

Yes. Though I do actually think…[pauses] These big package releases. There should be a cute name for them.

Megaleaks?

Megaleaks. That's good. These megaleaks…They're an important phenomenon, and they're only going to increase. When there's a tremendous dataset, covering a whole period of history or affecting a whole group of people, that's worth specializing on and doing a unique production for each one, which is what we've done.

We're totally source dependent. We get what we get. As our profile rises in a certain area, we get more in a particular area. People say why don't you release more leaks form the Taliban. So I say hey, help us, tell more Taliban dissidents about us.

These megaleaks, as you call them that, we haven't seen any of those from the private sector.

No, not at the same scale for the military.

Will we?

Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that's a megaleak. It's not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it's either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.

Is it a U.S. bank?

Yes, it's a U.S. bank.

One that still exists?
Yes, a big U.S. bank.

The biggest U.S. bank?

No comment.

When will it happen?

Early next year. I won't say more.

What do you want to be the result of this release?

[Pauses] I'm not sure.

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Grimsson: Iceland Faring Much Better After Permitting Banks To Fail

From Iceland Is No Ireland as State Free of Bank Debt, Grimsson Says by Jonas Bergman and Omar R. Valdimarsson, Bloomberg:

Iceland's President Olafur R. Grimsson said his country is better off than Ireland thanks to the government's decision to allow the banks to fail two years ago and because the krona could be devalued.

"The difference is that in Iceland we allowed the banks to fail," Grimsson said in an interview with Bloomberg Television's Mark Barton today. "These were private banks and we didn't pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks."

Ireland's Prime Minister Brian Cowen said this week his government has discussed an 85 billion-euro ($112 billion) bailout with the European Union and International Monetary Fund after the country's banks threatened to bring the euro member to the brink of bankruptcy. Iceland's banks, which still owe creditors about $85 billion, were split to create domestic units needed to keep the financial system running, while foreign liabilities remained within the failed lenders.

As a consequence, "Iceland is faring much better than anybody expected," Grimsson said. The Icelandic state's liability on foreign depositor claims stemming from Icesave accounts at failed Landsbanki Islands hf should be put to a national referendum, he said.

"How far can we ask ordinary people -- farmers and fishermen and teachers and doctors and nurses -- to shoulder the responsibility of failed private banks," said Grimsson. "That question, which has been at the core of the Icesave issue, will now be the burning issue in many European countries."

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Burroughs Fix For The Day

Words Of Advice For Young People


Ah Pook Is Here (1994)(c)

Directed by
Philip Hunt

Writing credits
William S. Burroughs

Music from the album "William S. Burroughs - Dead City Radio"
Track 4 - "Ah Pook The Destroyer / Brion Gysin's All-Purpose Bedtime Story"
Music By, Performer - John Cale

Dresden Film Festival:
1995 Won Best Animation Film
Philip Hunt

Ottawa International Animation Festival:
1994 Won Media Prize Best Experimental Technique. Philip Hunt
(Tied with Divertimento No. 3: Brush Works (1994))

In Ireland, The Big Banking Names Are The Beneficiaries

From Who's being bailed out? by Michael Burke, Guardian

Some of that justified anger should also be directed at the European Central Bank. As with Greece, the crisis was provoked by the bank. In the case of Ireland it was the ECB's announcement that it would stop providing short-term funding to Ireland's stricken banks. In the case of Greece, it was an announcement that it would no longer accept Greek government bonds as collateral.

The response of financial markets was both swift and brutal, leading to a buyers' strike of government debt and the inevitable bailout. But it is important to be absolutely clear who is being bailed out. In the case of Greece the total amounted to €110bn, while there are fears that in the Irish case the rumoured sum of less than €100bn will not be enough to repay all the creditors.

It is these creditors who are being bailed out. There is not a cent in either package that will be used to stop school or hospital closures or to prevent a single lost job. In fact, the Dublin government has just published its national recovery plan, which will lead to an acceleration of the downward spiral. There is a further round of cuts to welfare entitlements, to public sector pay and jobs, and a 12% reduction in the minimum wage. All these have the effect of depressing the incomes and spending of the middle-income earners and the poor – who spend a much greater portion of their income. So the policy will further depress consumer spending, which will in turn cause job losses and depress tax revenues. Real spending on education will fall by 7.5% over the next four years, while health spending will plunge 12.5%. Given the rising numbers of the elderly, the real fall in spending per patient will be deeper. Expenditure on other programmes will drop by an average of 27.5%.

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Bleeding for Civil Disobedience - Anarchists Against the Wall Tour North America

By Meagan Wohlberg, The Link

There is an old saying which suggests that "good fences make good neighbours."
But you may have a hard time hearing that in the West Bank.

"There are streets you can step on because you are Jewish and Palestinians have to take a different path[…] It's very difficult to see this kind of separation," said Noam Lekach of Israeli direct action group Anarchists Against the Wall.

AATW visited Concordia last Friday as part of the organization's North American speaking and fundraising tour.

The group, which has participated in thousands of demonstrations and other acts of protest against what they call the "Israeli occupation" of Palestine, is in desperate need of money to address rising legal fees created by the constant arrests of its members and others in the movement.

"Activists both Israeli and Palestinian are being arrested all the time and legal expenses are very high," said Lekach. "AATW has decided to pay all legal expenses of any Palestinian arrested. We are $15,000 in debt to our lawyers."

Founded in 2003 after Palestinians invited several Israeli activists to join in the popular struggle against the construction of the wall that divides Palestinians from Israelis, AATW's first action was to protest the fence at a point where it cut Palestinian farmers off from their land. During the action, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition at the demonstrators, injuring some of the Israeli activists. According to Lekach, this had permanent consequences for the popular struggle.

"For the first time the Israeli press was dealing with resistance," said Lekach. "Many asked why the soldiers did not have non-live ammunition. Until then, the IDF didn't think about rubber bullets or tear gas because there were only Palestinians, because according to the Israeli state, my blood is worth more than Palestinian blood."

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Mask-Wearing Protestors in D.C. Can Now Be Arrested

Freeman Klopott reports for The Examiner:

Wearing a mask while protesting outside a residence without telling D.C. police first could now get you arrested.
The D.C. Council has unanimously passed a strongly worded bill to deal with an animal rights group that has been known to wear masks and appear unannounced outside District residents' homes shouting things like "You should die." Residents have been complaining to their council members that they felt "terrorized." Critics of the bill say it's too broad and limits First Amendment rights.

[ ... ]

The animal rights group in question, Defending Animal Rights Today and Tomorrow is the local offshoot of Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty. The international group was set up in 1996 to organize protests against Huntington Life Sciences, a European company that provides animals for corporate science experiments.

According to the group's Web site, they recently protested outside the Dupont Circle home of a Goldman Sachs executive, who the group claims is connected to HLS. It's unclear how, and DARTT didn't respond to requests for comment for this story. Pictures show the protesters wearing masks, and white trench coats with a bloodlike substance on them.

Now, police have the authority to arrest the protesters -- groups of three or more -- on sight if they:

» Fail to inform police before a protest;

» Protest outside a residence between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.;

» Wear masks.

The American Civil Liberties Union came out against the bill.

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A Celebration of Street Photography, as Anti-Terror Backlash Fades

By Pete Brook, Wired

Take a picture, go to jail.

It may seem absurd, but since 2005 that scenario or something like it was playing out with surprising regularity on public streets in Britain, where draconian anti-terror legislation declared photographers "suspicious" merely for carrying camera equipment.

At its height, a tweed-wearing photographer was branded a terrorist by a London Tube worker, police deleted a young Austrian tourist's photos "to prevent terrorism," an Italian student was arrested for filming in London's financial district, and an architectural historian was detained for photographing a building designed by his grandfather.

Now, the tide is turning. The suspicious-photo law was suspended this summer, and September saw the release of Street Photography Now, an anthology of famous and not-so-famous works by street photographers from across the globe, aimed at highlighting the substantial artistic merits of the form.

[ ... ]

The Prevention of Terrorism Act passed into British law in 2000. Section 44 established the authority of police officers to stop and search members of the public. In 2005, the law was revised to declare carrying photography equipment suspicious behavior.

The tension reached a tipping point in 2008, when London's Metropolitan police launched a poster campaign singling out the act of photography as suspicious — a tactic since repeated by the TSA in the United States. The photo community rallied, organizing campaigns such as I'm a Photographer, Not a Terrorist, and educating one another on their rights through bodies such as the National Union of Journalists' London Photographers Branch. Photographers also used flash-mob tactics in acts of civil disobedience in Trafalgar Square and at Scotland Yard, London police headquarters.

Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner John Yates issued a reminder in December 2009 that no laws prevent people from photographing buildings. By January 2010, the stop-and-search powers granted under Section 44 were ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights. Section 44 was finally suspended this summer. British lawmakers are now rewriting it.

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Civil Disobedience as Theater

From Civil disobedience is a tactic not a right by Jana Mills (The Comment Factory):

There is a real sense that protest, and relatively peaceful direct action has been ineffectual up to this point. Many more will no doubt resort, in desperation, to violence over the coming years. One of the choice chants heard on the streets of Westminster on Wednesday was "you say cut back we say fight back". But unless we learn the lessons of previous battles, no amount of protests or chants will make a dent in George Osborne's plans. There must be a fight back, but it must coordinated, imaginative and disciplined if it is to be effective.

The pioneers of civil disobedience had a sense of political theatre. Gandhi held the media in the palm of his hand. He knew what would make good copy on breakfast tables the next morning. As we operate in an altogether different media environment we must learn to present the issues which we care about though creative and illustrative protest in such a way that will look good on the Six O'Clock News. The well meaning men who, nearly naked, dragged their friend, tied to a wooden plan, through the NUS demo on Wednesday were certainly creative but they failed to appreciate that an effective protest must also be illustrative. How did their protest, imaginative as it was, dramatise a complex issue?

From Street theatre: the drama of civil disobedience by Sophie Nield (Guardian):

Demonstrators have often used theatrical devices to make their point, and the fact is that the supposed line between theatre and civil disobedience has never been clear-cut. Many this week have drawn attention to the suffragettes in Edwardian England, who, under the eyes of watching police, took out toffee hammers and smashed in plate-glass windows of the new department stores. Abbie Hoffman and the "yippie" movement in 1960s America deliberately used the tactics of theatrical display and culture jamming to maximise attention to their anti-Vietnam protests. In 1967, as 35,000 demonstrators surged towards the Pentagon, Hoffman (with the assistance of Allen Ginsberg, chanting helpfully), tried to levitate the building, later claiming it rose three feet. In May of the same year, several yippies took a tour of the New York stock exchange: once inside, they threw money over the rail on to the trading floor. Hoffman described what happened: "The big ticker tape stopped and the brokers let out a mighty cheer. The guards started pushing us and the brokers booed. Free speech," he added, "is the right to shout theater in a crowed fire!"

Hoffman's aim was to get the Yippie protests on to the television news, providing colourful material for the wacky five-minute slot after the more serious items. But it wasn't ever about pure theatre: two days after the Pentagon protest, protesters walked into an induction centre in Baltimore and poured a mixture of human and animal blood on files belonging to those facing conscription, while young men made bonfires on courthouse steps of their real draft cards. During reclaim the streets anti-roads protest in the late 1990s, figures danced on stilts wearing carnival costumes under which pneumatic diggers tore up the roads. In Sydney in 2007, the satirical comedy group the Chaser drove a motorcade with fake Canadian credentials through the high-security cordon surrounding a meeting of the Australia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group, and were only stopped when one of them emerged from the car dressed as Osama bin Laden. Their fake security passes were printed with the word "joke". But they were arrested by real police.

Mass Surveillance and State Control: The Total Information Awareness Project

By Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D. (Psychology Today):

Did you know that The Department of Defense has an ongoing research project to remote control soldier's emotions and tolerance for stress?  A soldier who didn't display fear in dangerous situations and didn't experience fatigue, would make a better fighting machine.  And what better way to turn a human being into a mere machine devoid of personal freedom and autonomy.  In a world that is under total surveillance, there is not likely to be much we could call freedom.  Freedom to speak or think would be freedom to speak or think what the authorities permit.

In my new book, Mass Surveillance and State Control: The Total Information Awareness Project, I detail the ways in which our personal privacy has been and continues to be eroded and how we are now heading toward a brave new world of total information awareness and control.  Now afoot is an interconnected web of trends toward greater and greater modes of control, which will predictably advance with the advent of new technologies and the loosening of constitutional safeguards against the abridgment of privacy.  Accordingly, what is needed now more than ever before in the history of humankind is a vigilant, well organized, grass roots effort to stem this malignant tide before it is too late.
 
Steadily escalating is the program of warrantless wiretapping of millions of American's personal, electronic communications, which began under the Bush administration.  This mass dragnet of personal email messages, phone calls, and Internet searches is now being done with a virtual blank check from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FIS) courts, which were originally created in 1978 to assure that, in gathering foreign intelligence, the government would not abridge the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans.

The Obama administration has blocked law suits against telecom companies such as AT&T for assisting the National Security Agency in this mass dragnet of electronic communications; and it has also sealed up the ability of American citizens to seek redress by suing the federal government, even if it can be shown that such wiretaps had been unlawfully conducted.

[ ... ]

Did you know that Thomson Reuters, which controls Reuter's News Service, now also maintains a massive data warehouse consisting of the personal information of millions of Americans?  This includes health, credit card, and banking records, and virtually all other online, personal data.  Military contractors such as Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) supply data mining software to government agencies such as the NSA, which enables these agencies to analyze the information in this massive database, including integrating it with other personal data such as email and phone conversations, web sites you have visited, and Internet searches you have conducted.

Did you consider that the software, which integrates and parses through this massive web of information, is prone to yielding false positives?  In other words, by some fluke, you can end up on a government watch list, or worse, branded an "unprivileged enemy belligerent," taken into custody, and given "enhanced interrogated."  It is no longer a matter of thinking you have nothing to hide when everyone is now considered a terrorist suspect.

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‘Chipped’ Detainees, Iran Mega-Missiles And More in Latest WikiLeaks

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told a senior White House official to consider surgically implanting homing devices under Guantanamo Bay detainees' skin. That's one of the many potentially embarrassing comments from diplomatic back rooms now being made public by WikiLeaks.

During a March 2009 meeting with John Brennan, President Obama's closest counterterrorism adviser, Abdullah proposed shooting electronic chips into the residual Guantanamo population, "allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth." Abdullah appears to have come up with the idea on the fly during their meeting — "I've just thought of something," the cable quotes him saying — and considered forced subcutaneous chip implantation uncontroversial, since it's already "done with horses and falcons."

Brennan appears to have gingerly waved him off: "[H]orses don't have good lawyers," he replied, "but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue that he would review with appropriate officials when he returned to the United States."

~ more... ~

Utah News Reports That Collecting/Using Rainwater is Illegal

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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