By David Ferguson
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Friday night on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Maher’s first guest was Julian Assange, founder of the website Wikileaks and the author of the book Cypherpunks. Assange was appearing by video from the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he is living as a virtual prisoner for fear of extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted on charges of sexual assault.
Assange, said Maher, is afraid that if he gets extradited to Sweden, he will then get turned over to the U.S., where officials are angry with the Wikileaks founder for leaking thousands of secret documents and diplomatic communiques to the world.
Maher asked Assange why the Swedish government is so eager to cooperate with the U.S. government.
Assange replied that the Swedish government has changed, that once it was quite liberal under the leadership of Prime Minister Olaf Palme, who was assassinated in 1986. Sweden has made a dramatic turn to the right since then.
Maher asked how Assange and the Wikileaks team get their information, whether theft or hacking is involved. Assange explained that the technology at Wikileaks is set up so that informants can leave information or documents without ever leaving their name or any means by which they could be traced.
“If you really want to keep sources safe,” he said, “You want to make sure that no one, even inside your organization, can say what’s going on. So even if you were penetrated by intelligence agencies, you can’t ‘out’ your own sources.”
He spoke about an incident in which 8 FBI agents flew to Iceland to illegally interrogate a suspected Wikileaks associate. The Icelandic government found out that the U.S. agency was operating illegally in Iceland and ordered the FBI to leave. This is part, he said, of a massive investigation of Wikileaks by 12 different agencies of the U.S. government, including the FBI, the Department of Justice, a grand jury empaneled in Virginia and more.
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-maines/a-simple-valentines-day-dance_b_2586707.html
Nicole was 10 years old, openly attending school as a transgender girl, and Valentine’s Day was right around the corner. I was working late on a farm safety problem when Dave, the custodian, poked his head into my office to say “hi.” Dave often shares a few words of old Mainer wisdom or a good joke to cheer me up. He was well aware of the bullying and harassment that my daughter was facing at school. This time he told me about his weekend plans with his granddaughter. They were going to attend a Valentine’s Day dance.
He proudly described the small-town Mainer tradition that requires fathers or grandfathers to escort their granddaughters to the local community center or firehouse dance. He told me that he was going to borrow a friend’s Cadillac, buy his granddaughter flowers and a corsage and take her to dinner before the dance. He showed me her picture, and when we’d finished talking, I told him what a beautiful granddaughter he had. He smiled and said, “Thank you, Wayne,” and went back to work.
After he left, it hit me. It was another one of those moments that require me to expand my comfort zone. I began to wonder if Orono had a Valentine’s Day father-daughter dance. Dancing is my last big fear, but I knew that if I was asked, I had to go. I could not let Nicole think I was afraid to do so.
Later that evening Nicole came home, and while we were preparing dinner, she announced that there was going to be a dance at the town recreation building. I am sure I flinched, and I glanced at Kelly, wondering what her reaction would be when I responded. Having already thought about it made it easier for me to respond. Regardless of my fear, I could not break my daughter’s heart. I said, “That is great!” Nicole smiled and gave me a hug, and nothing more was said; it appeared to be a natural event, but for me it was not.
The night of the dance finally arrived. Nicole and Kelly had corsages and new dresses, Jonas had a new shirt and tie, and I put on my best suit. The kids had no idea how stressed and nervous I was, but I think Kelly at least had a clue. When we arrived, all our friends and fellow community members were having fun and waiting to dance. Jonas ran over to his buddies with no worries or cares. I imagined that Kelly and even Nicole were waiting to see what I would do. I could be wrong, but I thought it was a test — and, for Nicole, confirmation that she was my daughter.
Feb. 8, 2013
In late January, Oklahoma state Representative Sally Kern (R) and Oklahoma Congressman James Lankford (R), found solidarity in mutual prejudice in a shared bid to “use the power of humiliation” in the words of Lankford to prevent the government in providing health services for the LGBT community.
Kern, known for her conservative views and controversial statements on matters of women, minorities, and homosexuality, made a complaint to Lankford, who represents Oklahoma’s 5th district. At a constituent meeting held by Lankford, Kern complained about the existence of a substance abuse treatment program geared toward LGBT individuals.
“About two percent of the conference is dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues,” she said. “Ninety-eight percent is doing indoctrination or pushing the homosexual agenda. This is what our president is doing. This is what our president is doing. He has a federal agency doing it. Our state, the Oklahoma Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department, put this conference on and is indoctrinating our citizens who are totally against this.”
Lankford is also notable for his advocacy against anti-discrimination legislation for LGBT employees in the workplace. He said sexual orientation was a choice. In his reassurances to Kern he said, “Some of those things you have the power of humiliation where you can raise it and put in sunlight.” He added that LGBT groups “love functioning in the dark.”
By Peter Schworm
Suffolk County prosecutors Friday dropped the case against more than two dozen protesters arrested during the Occupy Boston demonstrations, but at least five defendants will contest the dismissal in hopes of fighting the accusations on their merits.
“Our clients feel that they deserve a day in court to contest their arrests on constitutional grounds,” said Jeff Feuer, of the National Lawyers Guild, which is defending the demonstrators. “They were using a public park.”
Feuer said the October 2011 arrests, which came as the demonstration swelled beyond its original boundaries in Dewey Square, violated the protesters’ rights of assembly and free speech under the state’s constitution. The five protesters were scheduled to go on trial Monday, but instead will appear in Boston Municipal Court to contest the dismissal, which would end the legal proceedings against the protesters.
A spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said prosecutors decided to resolve the cases because the defendants had abided by certain restrictions imposed by the court for more than a year. Other protesters charged with trespassing and unlawful assembly had agreed to similar conditions in resolving their cases.
“There’s now parity with prior cases arising from the protests,” Jake Wark said. “They’ve served essentially the same sentences.”
The US media, over the last decade (at least), has repeatedly acted to conceal newsworthy information it obtains about the actions of the US government. In each instance, the self-proclaimed adversarial press corps conceals these facts at the behest of the US government, based on patently absurd claims that reporting them will harm US national security. In each instance, what this media concealment actually accomplishes is enabling the dissemination of significant government falsehoods without challenge, and permitting the continuation of government deceit and even illegality.
One of the most notorious examples was in mid-2004 when the New York Times discovered – thanks to a courageous DOJ whistleblower – that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on the electronic communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law. But after George Bush summoned to the Oval Office the paper’s publisher (Arthur Sulzberger) and executive editor (Bill Keller) and directed them to conceal what they had learned, the NYT complied by sitting on the story for a-year-and-a-half: until late December, 2005, long after Bush had been safely re-elected. The “national security” excuse for this concealment was patently ludicrous from the start: everyone knew the US government was trying to eavesdrop on al-Qaida communications and this story merely revealed that they were doing so illegally (without warrants) rather than legally (with warrants). By concealing the story for so long, the New York Times helped the Bush administration illegally spy on Americans.
The Washington Post’s Dana Priest, in a superb act of journalism, reported in 2005 that the CIA was maintaining a network of secret “black sites” where detainees were interrogated and abused beyond the monitoring scrutiny of human rights groups and even Congress. But the Post purposely concealed the identity of the countries serving as the locale of those secret prisons in order to enable the plainly illegal program to continue without bothersome disruptions: “the Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior US officials.”
In 2011, the New York Times along with numerous other US media outlets learned that the American arrested in Pakistan for having shot and killed two Pakistanis, Raymond Davis, was not – as President Obama falsely claimed – “our diplomat”, but was a CIA agent and former Blackwater contractor. Not only did the NYT conceal this fact, but it repeatedly and uncritically printed claims from Obama and other officials about Davis’ status which it knew to be false. It was only once the Guardian published the facts about Davis – that he was a CIA agent – did the Times tell the truth to its readers, admitting that the disclosure “pulled back the curtain on a web of covert American operations inside Pakistan, part of a secret war run by the CIA“.
By Robert Scheer
on Feb 7, 2013
The title, “Globalizing Torture,” says it all. This meticulous accounting of the network of torture chambers that the United States has authorized in more than 54 nations is a damning indictment that should make all of us in this country cringe with shame.
The report is a product of the Open Society Foundations, funded by international financier and philanthropist George Soros, who, as a young Jew, suffered through the Nazi occupation of Hungary and emerged from that experience an uncompromising fighter for human rights. That his lifelong goal to “foster accountability for international crimes,” reflected in his organization’s mission statement, now includes our government is a condemnation as awful as it is deserved.
When it comes to torture in the post 9/11 era, the record of the United States is so appalling that one must question our claimed abhorrence of the barbarism of other nations. In fact, the essence of our rendition program has been to outsource torture to those countries most sadistic in their use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” That is flattery of a most twisted sort.
For example, Syria, now universally condemned for its contempt for human life, was chosen as the site to torture Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen detained by U.S. authorities at John F. Kennedy Airport. The apology and financial compensation he received from Canadian officials is only one of three instances of governments apologizing, and that list does not include the United States.
Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, known for its horrid interrogation tactics condemned in the Arab Spring uprising, was selected by the U.S. to interrogate Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who “under threat of torture at the hands of Egyptian officials, fabricated information relating to Iraq’s provision of chemical and biological weapons training to al-Qaida,” the report states. That is the very misinformation that Colin Powell relied on in his U.N. speech justifying the Iraq invasion. So much for the evil rationalization for torture as a source of reliable information, offered in the propaganda film “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Continue reading at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/americas_global_torture_network_20130207/
What the Confederate lovers fail to get is that claiming to be both a patriotic American and a supporter of Confederate history is oxymoronic. In waging war upon the United States the Confederates became a nation of traitors.
In spite of all the crap the racist Johnny Reb lovers dish out the war was about one thing and one thing only: Slavery.
All this crap about honoring the past is akin to the Germans putting up Hitler statues.
The traitors lost they need to get the fuck over it. They got their asses kicked royally by a bunch of Yankees. We should have national holidays honoring John Brown, Ulysses S. Grant and General Sherman.
There should celebrations of the Emancipation Proclamation that equal the Fourth of July.
By David Edwards
Friday, February 8, 2013
A Ku Klux Klan leader named Edward, who goes by the title “KKK Exalted Cyclops,” is promising the “largest” rally in Memphis history after the city decided to remove Confederate names from three parks.
In an 9-0 vote on Tuesday night, the Memphis City Council approved temporary names for three Confederate-themed parks. Forest Park will become “Health Sciences Park,” Confederate Park will be called “Memphis Park” and Jefferson Davis Park will get the name “Mississippi River Park.”
On Thursday, the KKK Exalted Cyclops told WMC-TV that his group had started planning its response before the City Council even voted.
“You’re going to see the largest rally Memphis, Tennessee has ever seen,” he promised. “It’s not going to be 20 or 30, it’s going to be thousands of Klansmen from the whole United States coming to Memphis, Tennessee.”
The KKK’s rally is expected to be held in the newly-renamed “Health Sciences Park.” Confederate Army lieutenant general Nathan Bedford Forrest, for whom the park was originally named, was elected to the post of KKK grand wizard after returning from the war.
The Memphis City Council acted quickly to change the park names because two state lawmakers have proposed the “Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013,” which would prevent local governments from changing the name of any “statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, historic flag display, school, street, bridge,building, park preserve, or reserve which has been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of, any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization, or military unit.”
From Common Dreams: https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/08-1
With the daily silica-laced blizzard from five million pounds of toxic explosives in the background, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and Rep. Louise Slaughter reintroduced the biggest no-brainer bill of the year for Congress — the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act.
Given its 40-year rap sheet, and 20 peer-reviewed academic studies on the devastating health impacts of mountaintop removal, the job-killing mechanized form of strip mining that only provides 5-7 percent of all U.S. coal production, the ACHE Act simply asks Congress to do what it should have done back in 1971: Place a moratorium on new mountaintop removal mining operations while the first comprehensive federal study of the health dangers is conducted.
Yes, a no-brainer: Especially when Big Coal, like the Patriot Coal Company, now recognizes the health crisis from mountaintop removal and agrees to phase out large-scale operations, and support for the bill comes from big green groups like the Sierra Club and Earthjustice and religious groups like Christians for the Mountains.
Kentucky Rep. Yarmuth kept it simple: “If it can’t be proven that mountaintop removal mining is safe, we shouldn’t allow it to continue.”
If President Obama and the U.S. Congress are committed to keeping the children in the hills of Appalachia — or the coal country on the Navajo Nation, the heartland and West, for that matter — “always safe from harm,” as the president noted in his inaugural address last month, they need to wake up and deal with the daily reality of terrifying birth defect rates, cancer risks, chronic cardiovascular diseases, and even fly rock on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens — kids.
“The U.S. Geological Survey has advised us not to eat the vegetables or fruits from our gardens because toxic fallout from mountaintop removal blasting has contaminated our soil,” said Laura Antrim Caskey, founder of Appalachia Watch, Rock Creek, West Virginia. “We need swift passage of the ACHE Act.”
“I have fought the impacts of mountaintop removal (MTR) on my home and health for 18 years,” added Maria Gunnoe, a West Virginia-based organizer with Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and the 2009 North American Goldman Prize recipient. “Now science is showing that it’s killing me and my community, and Congress needs to listen. Cancer here is as common as the cold. The fact is this is not about who is winning; it is about who is dying from the violent impacts of mountaintop removal.”
Rep. Slaughter, a New Yorker raised in Harlan County, Kentucky and the nation’s only microbiologist serving in the U.S. Congress, spelled it out:
Continue reading at: https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/08-1
By Robert Jensen
Friday, 08 February 2013
If we are rational and consider objective scientific evidence of environmental collapse including groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical contamination, ocean dead zones, species extinction, bio-diversity reduction and climate disruption, we need to be apocalypticists, argues Robert Jensen.
We are all apocalyptic now, or at least we should be, if we are rational.
Because “apocalyptic” is typically associated with religious fanaticism and death cults – things that rational people tend not to take literally or seriously – this claim requires some explanation.
First, a definition: The term is most commonly used in reference to the Book of Revelation, also known as The Apocalypse of John, the final book of the Christian New Testament. The two terms are synonymous in their original meaning – “revelation” from Latin and “apocalypse” from Greek, both mean a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something that had been hidden.
Second, the formulation “we are all (fill in the blank) now” has long been a way to assert that certain ideas have become the norm: “We are all Keynesians now,” said Milton Friedman in 1965, for instance, or to express solidarity: “We are all New Yorkers now,” said many non-New Yorkers after 9/11.
Rather than claiming divine inspiration, we can come to greater clarity about the desperate state of the ecosphere and its human inhabitants through evidence and reason. It is time for a calm, measured apocalypticism that recognizes that the ecosphere sets norms, which we have ignored for too long, and that we need to develop a new sense of solidarity among humans and with the larger living world.
So, speaking apocalyptically need not leave us stuck in a corner with the folks predicting lakes of fire, rivers of blood or bodies lifted up to the heavens. Instead, it can focus our attention on ecological realities and on the unjust and unsustainable human systems that have brought us to this point.
This “revelation” is simple: We’ve built a world based on the assumption that we will have endless energy to subsidize endless economic expansion, which was supposed to magically produce justice. That world is over, both in reality and in dreams. Either we begin to build a different world, or there will be no world capable of sustaining a large-scale human presence.
If that’s not clear: When we take seriously what physics, chemistry and biology tell us about the health of the living world on which we depend, we all should be thinking apocalyptically. Look at any crucial measure of the ecosphere – groundwater depletion; topsoil loss; chemical contamination; increased toxicity in our own bodies; the number and size of “dead zones” in the oceans, accelerating extinction of species and reduction of biodiversity; and the ultimate game-changer of climate disruption – and ask a simple question: Where we are heading? Scientists these days are talking about tipping points and planetary boundaries, about how human activity is pushing the planet beyond its limits.
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/nyregion/northeast-could-be-hit-with-major-snowstorm.html
By MARC SANTORA
Published: February 7, 2013
As snow began falling on Friday morning, local authorities from New York City to Maine were making preparations for what forecasters said could be the biggest blizzard for some cities in the Northeast in a century.
Airlines began announcing the suspension of flights out of New York and Boston airports starting Friday night, as thousands of workers readied their plows, checked their stocks of salt and braced for what will most likely be a cold, wet weekend. Amtrak announced that it would suspend northbound service out of Penn Station in New York and southbound service out of Boston beginning early Friday afternoon.
Gas stations in parts of New York City and New Jersey had long lines Thursday night, according to local residents, a signal, perhaps, that many were taking storm warnings seriously.
More than 2,200 flights for Friday had been canceled, according to the Web site FlightAware, the majority originating or departing from the areas affected by the storm.
By late Thursday night, schools across New York and Connecticut had announced they would close, or dismiss students early.
On Long Island, where some forecasts said there could be more than 18 inches of snow, the power company, which has received heavy criticism for its response to Hurricane Sandy, promised customers that they were prepared.
The city of Boston, where forecasts called for more than two feet of snow to fall by Saturday, announced that it would close all schools on Friday, joining other localities in trying to get ahead of the storm and keep people off the roads.