The leaked campaign to attack WikiLeaks and its supporters

From Salon:

By Glenn Greenwald

Feb 11, 2011

There’s a very strange episode being widely discussed the past couple of days involving numerous parties, including me, that I now want to comment on.  The story, first reported by The Tech Herald, has been written about in numerous places (see Marcy Wheeler, Forbes, The Huffington Post, BoingBoing, Matt Yglesias, Reason, Tech Dirt, and others), so I’ll provide just the summary.

Last week, Aaron Barr, a top executive at computer security firm HB Gary Federal, boasted to the Financial Times that his firm had infiltrated and begun to expose Anonymous, the group of pro-WikiLeaks hackers that had launched cyber attacks on companies terminating services to the whistleblowing site (such as Paypal, MasterCard, Visa, Amazon and others).  In retaliation, Anonymous hacked into the email accounts of HB Gary, published 50,000 of their emails online, and also hacked Barr’s Twitter and other online accounts.

Among the emails that were published was a report prepared by HB Gary — in conjunction with several other top online security firms, including Palantir Technologies — on how to destroy WikiLeaks.  The emails indicated the report was part of a proposal to be submitted to Bank of America through its outside law firm, Hunton & Williams.  News reports have indicated that WikiLeaks is planning to publish highly incriminating documents showing possible corruption and fraud at that bank, and The New York Times detailed last month how seriously top bank officials are taking that threat.  The NYT article described that the bank’s “counterespionage work” against WikiLeaks entailed constant briefings for top executives on the whistleblowing site, along with the hiring of “several top law firms” and Booz Allen (the long-time firm of former Bush DNI Adm. Michael McConnell and numerous other top intelligence and defense officials).  The report prepared by these firms was designed to be part of the Bank of America’s highly funded anti-WikiLeaks campaign.

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Why Bradley Manning Is a Patriot, Not a Criminal

From Alternet:

Washington is clearly intent on destroying this young Army private and then putting him away until hell freezes over. It should not be this way.

By Chase Madar

February 10, 2011

Editor’s Note: The Obama administration came into office proclaiming “sunshine” policies.  When some of the U.S. government’s dirty laundry was laid out in the bright light of day by WikiLeaks, however, its officials responded in a knee-jerk, punitive manner in the case of Bradley Manning, now in extreme isolation in a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia.  The urge of the Obama administration and the U.S. military to break his will, to crush him, is unsettling, to say the least.  Whatever happens to Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, Washington is clearly intent on destroying this young Army private and then putting him away until hell freezes over.

It should not be this way.

Today, thanks to lawyer and essayist Chase Madar, TomDispatch is making a long-planned gesture towards Manning, whose acts, aimed at revealing the worst this country had to offer in recent years, will someday make him a genuine American hero — but that’s undoubtedly little consolation to him now.  When it comes to America’s recent wars, its torture regimes, black sites, and extraordinary renditions, as well as the death and destruction visited on distant lands, blood is on many official American hands, but not on Manning’s.  Those officials should be held accountable, not him. With that in mind, TomDispatch offers its version of the defense of Bradley Manning. — Tom Engelhardt

An Opening Statement for the Defense of Private Manning

Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old from Crescent, Oklahoma, enlisted in the U.S. military in 2007 to give something back to his country and, he hoped, the world.

For the past seven months, Army Private First Class Manning has been held in solitary confinement in the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. Twenty-five thousand other Americans are also in prolonged solitary confinement, but the conditions of Manning’s pre-trial detention have been sufficiently brutal for the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture to announce an investigation.

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Is transsexualism a medical condition?

From Asia One:

February 12, 2011

MANY studies have been carried out on the subject of transsexuals (TS), but one question remains – is transsexualism a biological occurrence or is it just a matter of cross-dressing?

Professor Dr Teh Yik Koon of National Defence University of Malaysia, who has been studying transsexual issues for more than a decade, believes it is much more than individuals entertaining their alter egos.

She says various research findings have shown that transsexualism is a medical condition.

She cites an article released in 2000 by Frank P.M. Kruijver, Jiang-Ning Zhou, Chris W. Pool, Michel A. Hofman, Louis J.G. Gooren and Dick F. Swaab titled Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus.

The researchers concluded that in TS, sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions and point to a neurobiological basis of gender identity disorder.

Their study revealed that the number of neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc) of male-to-female TS was similar to that of the females (P > 0.83). In contrast, the neuron number of a female-to-male TS was found to be in the male range.

Teh says those who do not want to accept that it is a biological occurrence are those who believe that their religion forbids it and there is no such thing as transsexualism.

Have You Received a “Gender No-Match” Letter? We (NCTE) need to hear from you

Release from The National Center for Transgender Equality:

February 11, 2011

Have you or your employer received a notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that says the gender on your SSA records does not match the gender your employer has recorded for you?  Transgender people know these notifications as “gender no-match letters” that can out transpeople at work and place us at great risk for discrimination or even violence.

NCTE has been working with the Social Security Administration for several years to end these notifications and we have made considerable progress; most of the SSA programs that might cause these letters have been fixed to stop their being issued at all.  Whereas in past years, NCTE heard from many trans people each month who had received these letters, we have heard from only a handful in the past year and a half.  According to our conversations with the SSA, the difficulty seems to be that the agency has many interrelated verification programs that can issue these letters and some of the programs have computer software that is apparently challenging to adjust.

We will continue to advocate with SSA to entirely stop every one of these unfair and dangerous letters from outing people at work.

So that we can accurately understand the extent of the issue and know which SSA programs are still causing the letters, it is very important that we hear from you.

If you have received a “no-match” letter since 2009, please let us know as exactly as possible 1) when you or your employer received the letter, and 2) whether we can have a copy of the letter (with your personal information deleted, of course).  We will protect your privacy and will not contact your employer in any way.

Additionally, if you have received such a notification, please see NCTE’s recommendations HERE with ideas about how to deal with it.  Please contact Harper Jean Tobin in our office if you have questions or concerns. Her email address is

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Naomi Klein: Addicted to Risk

I hope people will go to the You Tube page and read a few dozen of the misogynistic dickwad comments regarding Naomi Klein.

This is a problem for women who dare to speak seriously about general matters in the world rather than limiting their discussions to the “women’s sphere”.  It is also why we wound up stuck with the worthless Obama when we could have had our first Female President, Hilary Clinton.

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When Hollywood booted me out

I am used to the transsexual and transgender complaint about being unemployable.  Interesting I hear this complaint far more often from those who become women than from those who become men.

Yet very few TS/TG people seem willing to factor in the role sexism and gender roles play in this discrimination.  Especially if one’s prior skills are in a male dominated field.  The automatic assumption is transphobia when it might just be straight forward old fashioned misogyny.

One clue might be if there is a 90/10 ratio of men to women in that field.  Perhaps it isn’t transphobia, perhaps you are being treated the same way women are treated.

Also with attitudes like this in Hollywood is it any wonder why movies are mostly dick flicks that treat women like objects rather than like fully realized human beings.

From Salon:

I was at the height of my screenwriting career. Too bad I was nearly fifty — and a woman

By Tracey Jackson

Feb 12, 2011

This article is a condensed excerpt from “Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty,” by Tracey Jackson — out on Feb. 15 from HarperCollins.

At thirty I got my first job working as a screenwriter for Walt Disney Studios; at forty-seven I was hired for my last job adapting a book for Warner Brothers Studios. I have not worked in the film business in any professional capacity since. By “professional,” I mean no one has actually hired me to do anything. And what is really amazing is that as I write this, I have three films in the top thirty-five on iTunes.

There is something about this that is surprising yet com­pletely predictable at the same time. In Hollywood thirty is con­sidered eighty, especially where women are concerned. This attitude tends to affect actresses first, but the second group on its hit list is usually writers, particularly those who write comedy, a genre not very friendly to women to begin with. So, being a female comedy writer, I should not have found it so much of a shock when I suddenly found myself jobless, with few prospects in sight.

The part about my story that is slightly confounding even to this day is that at the time my career came to what I consider a very premature end, I had just come off two big projects, one of which was expected to become a big hit. Every time someone mentioned it, it vibrated big box office, success, stardom for all involved — and that included me.

It was going to be my ticket to sixty, my $100 million baby, the film that was going to keep me on the train past the giant stop sign of fifty. It was the job I had been waiting all my career to land, and I got it just in the nick of time. Through really hard work and single-mindedness, I landed the plum gig to adapt Sophie Kinsella’s international bestseller, “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” for the ultimate producer (in terms of success), Jerry Bruckheimer.

How could this one not succeed? It was as close to a sure thing as you were going to find in a business where sure things don’t exist.

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No Dirty Gold: This Valentine’s Day, Say No to Gold That’s Mined at the Expense of the Environment and Workers

From Alternet:

Communities affected by mining deserve meaningful changes that improve real conditions on the ground.

By Payal Sampat and Scott Cardiff

February 11, 2011

Thinking of giving your sweetheart gold jewelry for Valentine’s Day? You might want to first know what goes into making it. Extracting enough gold for one ring takes an average of two pounds of cyanide (a teaspoon will kill you). Processing the gold in one ring uses over 1,400 gallons of water, enough to meet the daily needs of 100 people. Left behind is a toxic sludge containing heavy metals, cyanide compounds, and arsenic. Each gold ring produces an average of 20 tons of waste – millions of tons over the life of a mine.

Producing gold can also come at great human cost. Mines are often imposed on communities that don’t want them, and cause communities to lose their lands and livelihoods. Human costs also include the use of child labor in mines in Mali, dangerous conditions in mines in Ghana, and armed violence and human rights violations that have been linked to gold mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Seven years ago, the No Dirty Gold campaign called on jewelers to stop using gold produced in irresponsible ways. The campaign focused on jewelry because it is the primary end use of gold, accounting for some 80 percent of the annual mine production. More than 100,000 people have since signed the No Dirty Gold pledge to demand that companies not sell gold produced at the expense of communities, workers, and the environment. Over 70 jewelers have signed on to the Golden Rules for responsible sourcing of gold and precious metals. By signing they have sent a clear message to their suppliers about their desire for more responsibly produced metals. They have committed to seeking out responsible sources and independent verification of sourcing claims, and to increasing their use of recycled gold.

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