I must admit I was ready for the worst. I actually expected to wake up today and learn that Scalia and the rest of the Nazi right on the Supreme court had upheld DOMA and Prop 8.
We won a battle, the war continues.
Yesterday Texas Democratic Senator Wendy Davis filibustered a draconian anti-woman/anti-abortion measure for 11 hours running out the clock on the legislative session.
The planet is still being driven over the cliff by those who think it has the ability to grow forever and absorb all the garbage and abuse we are giving it.
We still live in a corporate fascist world where the rich have all the power and the common people are being bled to death by those corporations.
People of color are still being treated like sub-humans.
Women are still second class citizens.
LGB people can join the military to murder people in far away lands for the profits of the corporations.
At home LGBT people can still be fired in most places for being LGBT.
Women and minorities make up the majority of the people who are victims of violence.
Working class people and the poor are seeing the public education system destroyed only to be replaced by the prison industrial complex.
The Beat Goes On…
So Tina and I will lift a toast, a can of non-alcoholic beer and celebrate our right to marry in certain states including California and ponder the logistics of our getting the piece of paper.
A battle won in the long war against the evils of the fascist right.
I’m still digesting the stories and will be putting up more throughout the day.
No offense to Iceland, but Latin America is where the fugitive leaker Edward Snowden should settle.
He apparently has the same idea. News reports suggest that he is in Moscow awaiting transport to Cuba, Venezuela, and/or Ecuador. A Facebook post suggests Bolivia may have granted Snowden asylum. Nothing has been heard from Nicaragua, Peru, Brazil, or Argentina, but any or all might also welcome him.
Any country that grants asylum to Snowden risks retaliation from the United States, including diplomatic isolation and costly trade sanctions. Several don’t seem to care. The fact that Latin America has become the favored refuge for a United States citizen accused of treason and espionage is an eye-popping reminder of how fully the continent has emerged from Washington’s shadow.
“Latin America is not gone, and we want to keep it,” President Richard Nixon told aides as he was pressing the covert operation that brought down the Chilean government in 1973. A decade later, the Reagan administration was fighting proxy wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. In the 1980s the US Army invaded two Caribbean countries, Grenada and Panama, to depose leaders who had defied Washington.
During the 1990s the United States sought to impose the “Washington Consensus” on Latin American governments. It embodied what Latin Americans call “neo-liberal” principles: budget cuts, privatization, deregulation of business, and incentives for foreign companies. This campaign sparked bitter resistance and ultimately collapsed.
In spite of these military, political, and economic assaults – or perhaps because of them – much of Latin America has become profoundly dissatisfied with the made-in-USA model. Some of the continent’s most popular leaders rose to power by denouncing the “Washington Consensus” and pledging to pull their countries out of the United States orbit.
Because President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was the most flamboyant of these defiant leaders, some outsiders may have expected that following his death, the region would return to its traditional state of submission. In fact, not just a handful of leaders but huge populations in Latin America have decided that they wish for more independence from Washington.
By Robert Scheer
on Jun 25, 2013
What a disgrace. The U.S. government, cheered on by much of the media, launches an international manhunt to capture a young American whose crime is that he dared challenge the excess of state power. Read the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and tell me that Edward Snowden is not a hero in the mold of those who founded this republic. Check out the Nuremberg war crime trials and ponder our current contempt for the importance of individual conscience as a civic obligation.
Yes, Snowden has admitted that he violated the terms of his employment at Booz Allen Hamilton, which has the power to grant security clearances as well as profiting mightily from spying on the American taxpayers who pay to be spied on without ever being told that is where their tax dollars are going. Snowden violated the law in the same way that Daniel Ellsberg did when, as a RAND Corporation employee, he leaked the damning Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War that the taxpayers had paid for but were not allowed to read.
In both instances, violating a government order was mandated by the principle that the United States trumpeted before the world in the Nuremberg war crime trials of German officers and officials. As Principle IV of what came to be known as the Nuremberg Code states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
That is a heavy obligation, and the question we should be asking is not why do folks like Ellsberg, Snowden and Bradley Manning do the right thing, but rather why aren’t we bringing charges against the many others with access to such damning data of government malfeasance who remain silent?
Is there an international manhunt being organized to bring to justice Dick Cheney, the then-vice president who seized upon the pain and fear of 9/11 to make lying to the public the bedrock of American foreign policy? This traitor to the central integrity of a representative democracy dares condemn Snowden as a “traitor” and suggest that he is a spy for China because he took temporary refuge in Hong Kong.
Continue reading at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_good_germans_in_government_20130625/
by John Cassidy
June 24, 2013
As I write this, a bunch of reporters are flying from Moscow to Havana on an Aeroflot Airbus 330, but Edward Snowden isn’t sitting among them. His whereabouts are unknown. He might still be in the V.I.P. lounge at Sheremetyevo International Airport. He could have left on another plane. There are even suggestions that he has taken shelter in the Ecuadorian Embassy in Moscow.
What we do know is that, on this side of the Atlantic, efforts are being stepped up to demonize Snowden, and to delegitimize his claim to be a conscientious objector to the huge electronic-spying apparatus operated by the United States and the United Kingdom. “This is an individual who is not acting, in my opinion, with noble intent,” General Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “What Snowden has revealed has caused irreversible and significant damage to our country and to our allies.” Over on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, “I don’t think this man is a whistle-blower… he could have stayed and faced the music. I don’t think running is a noble thought.”
An unnamed senior Administration official joined the Snowden-bashing chorus, telling reporters, “Mr. Snowden’s claim that he is focussed on supporting transparency, freedom of the press, and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen: China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador. His failure to criticize these regimes suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the U.S., not to advance Internet freedom and free speech.”
It is easy to understand, though not to approve of, why Administration officials, who have been embarrassed by Snowden’s revelations, would seek to question his motives and exaggerate the damage he has done to national security. Feinstein, too, has been placed in a tricky spot. Tasked with overseeing the spooks and their spying operations, she appears to have done little more than nod.
By John Pilger
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
In his book, Propaganda, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
The American nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays invented the term “public relations” as a euphemism for state propaganda. He warned that an enduring threat to the invisible government was the truth teller and an enlightened public.
In 1971, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked US government files known as The Pentagon Papers, revealing that the invasion of Vietnam was based on systematic lying. Four years later, Frank Church conducted sensational hearings in the US Senate: one of the last flickers of American democracy. These laid bare the full extent of the invisible government: the domestic spying and subversion and warmongering by intelligence and “security” agencies and the backing they received from big business and the media, both conservative and liberal.
Speaking about the National Security Agency (NSA), Senator Church said: “I know the capacity that there is to make tyranny in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law . . . so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
On 11 June, following the revelations in The Guardian by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg wrote that the US had now entered “that abyss.”
Snowden’s revelation that Washington has used Google, Facebook, Apple and other giants of consumer technology to spy on almost everyone, is further evidence of a modern form of fascism – that is the “abyss.” Having nurtured old-fashioned fascists around the world – from Latin America to Africa and Indonesia – the genie has risen at home. Understanding this is as important as understanding the criminal abuse of technology.
Fred Branfman, the antiwar activist who exposed the “secret” destruction of tiny Laos by the US Air Force in the 1960s and ’70s, provides an answer to those who still wonder how a liberal African-American president, a professor of constitutional law, can command such lawlessness. “Under Mr. Obama,” he wrote, “no president has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police state.” Why? Because Obama, like George W Bush, understands that his role is not to indulge those who voted for him but to expand “the most powerful institution in the history of the world, one that has killed, wounded or made homeless well over 20 million human beings, mostly civilians, since 1962.”
By Nora Eisenberg
June 25, 2013
Once again, the McClatchy company is doing mainstream media’s heavy lifting, exposing the secrets of an increasingly hidden government. In 2003, it was McClatchy alone among the major media groups that questioned the government’s certain claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
On Thursday, the same reporters involved in the Iraq truth-telling a decade ago exposed the existence of the Obama administration’s program that obligates government workers to spy on their colleagues or face punishment, dismissal, and possibly criminal charges. The Insider Threat Program targets not only national security departments and agencies but most federal bureacracies from the Peace Corps to the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture Departments.
And it’s clear that not only the disclosure of classified information constitutes an “internal threat” and act of espionage, but leaks to the media as well. “Leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” according to a June 1 Department of Defense planning document for the program, leaked to McClatchy.
The White House launched the Insider Threat Program’s in October 2011 as it still reeled from the Wikileaks disclosures of hundreds of thousands of documents thought to have been downloaded from classified networks by Private Bradley Manning the year before. The program is evolving, agency to agency, in response to the President’s broad guidelines. Documents provided by the McClatchy investigation show the varied approaches to the executive mandate. At the DoD, McClatchy reports, the policy is “zero tolerance”: “Employees must turn themselves and others in for failing to report breaches.” But it’s the suspicion of potential breaches that must be reported. requiring co-workers to monitor colleagues’ work and lives. Profiling is encouraged: A co-worker facing a divorce or financial problems is to be watched carefully one training memo states, as these are “indicators” of an inclination toward espionage. An extensive Army training document offers hundreds of suspicious behaviors that federal workers must report including working hard and independently: ”repeatedly performing non required work outside of normal duty hours, especially if unaccompanied.”
At the Department of Agriculture, “Treason 101” offers an online tutorial in the basics of spying and the Inside Espionage Threat.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/24-7
In the frenzy over Edward Snowden’s leak of classified information about government data-mining surveillance, public officials and pundits have tried to lock us into a narrowly defined and diversionary discussion that ignores the most important question we face about terrorism.
Their argument goes something like this: No one wants to die in a terrorist attack. This kind of spying is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So, stop whining about how information is being collected, used, and potentially misused—it’s better than dying.
Let me be clear: I do not want to die in a terrorist attack. But before I am bullied into accepting intrusive government surveillance that is open to politicized abuse, I have another question: Are there other ways we could reduce the risk of U.S. citizens, at home or abroad, being targeted by terrorists? Two possibilities come to mind.
First, stop creating new terrorists. Critics of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have long argued that those destructive conflicts have deepened resentment against the United States. People in those countries who previously had no reason to attack U.S. military personnel or civilians are understandably unhappy with aggressive wars that destroy their homes and kill their people.
For example, in the new book and film “Dirty Wars,” reporter Jeremy Scahill and director Rick Rowley have documented how the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command—our so-called secret warriors—have indeed been killing terrorists, along with pregnant women, children, and lots of other non-combatants, deepening many people’s resentment of the United States. Much of the criticism has focused on the use of drones, not only in Afghanistan but also “secretly” in Pakistan, but Scahill and Rowley show how the whole strategy is misguided.
Second, let’s recognize that it is unlikely that the terrorism of Al Qaeda and others would have happened if not for nearly seven decades of a failed U.S. policy in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Muslim world more generally. Since the United States filled the imperial void left by the weakening of Great Britain and France after World War II, our Middle East policy has been primarily aimed at maintaining a flow of oil and—just as important—a flow of oil profits that is advantageous to U.S. economic interests, especially as defined by elites.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/24-7
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/24/gm-crops-the-genetic-colonialists
Given the British government’s approach to protecting the environment by trying to sell forests, culling badgers, and cutting environmental protection, the environment secretary’s enthusiastic embrace of the genetic modification (GM) lobby is rather predictable, but no less of a disappointment for that.
Some of my colleagues are still reeling that, with his views on climate change, Owen Paterson would see fit to lecture anyone about science – but as someone born and raised in Africa, I felt particularly keenly his attempt to portray GM as the solution to world hunger. Most GM is in fact for commodity crops production using chemical-intensive methods. But pressure is constantly applied to African governments, mainly by big US corporations, because Africa and Asia are the only industry hopes for GM expansion.
Global hunger is a complex problem, and is as much a matter of economics and politics as of agriculture itself. Though while we are producing enough food for everyone but failing to distribute it equitably (even in the UK half a million people get food handouts), advances in biotechnology to help us produce more are to be welcomed in a world with an increasingly destabilised climate and a growing population.
Sophisticated plant breeding techniques have brought us blight-resistant potatoes and crops enriched with nutrients; flood-tolerant scuba rice that can survive under water for a fortnight or more; and drought-tolerant maize that increases yields by up to 30%. These crops are being used successfully by thousands of farmers in Africa today.
However, none of these seeds were genetically engineered. They were produced using marker-assisted breeding, genome sequencing and traditional cross-breeding and grafting techniques, allied to a greater understanding of crop biology. And they work.
But we still urgently need reforms to land ownership and trade if all of us are to benefit. In my own country, under the 1913 Natives Land Act South Africa’s black majority was excluded from land ownership in favour of the white minority. The act destroyed traditional farming. A century later, the unequal distribution of land in South Africa is still a big political issue. It’s a pattern that is repeated throughout Africa, and is becoming a bigger problem as land grabbing by foreign enterprises spreads. I fear that GM crops corporations, and Owen Paterson, are using the “feed the world” argument as a Trojan horse for a new form of colonialism.
From The LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ciclavia-20130624,0,5251918.story
Quincy and Monica Jeffries had never seen Wilshire Boulevard so quiet. They smiled up at the blue-green facade of the Wiltern theater.
“You just drive by, and you don’t recognize all the beautiful buildings,” Monica Jeffries, 40, said.
The couple had traveled from Santa Clarita to participate in CicLAvia, which offered a rare opportunity to enjoy a car-free 6.3-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, from downtown to the Miracle Mile area. The Jeffrieses rode Trikkes — three-wheeled, scooter-like vehicles with no motors or pedals.
Sunday marked the seventh CicLAvia, a recurring event that is intended to give Angelenos a different perspective on the city. Wilshire was closed to motorized vehicles between Grand and Fairfax avenues for seven hours, the longest a CicLAvia has lasted.
Under a gray June-gloom sky, some riders had speakers in their bicycle baskets blaring music — one man’s blasted Daft Punk songs — and others sang as they rode.
Some sported Spandex and rode with focus. One man pedaled quickly and stared ahead, while the young girl riding tandem behind him gazed around at the Korean barbecue restaurants they passed.
Les Golan, 57, pedaled her bicycle with her cockatiels — all 19 of them — perched on her shoulders, chest and neck. The music teacher has participated in multiple CicLAvias with her birds, which were all named after popular musicians and singers such as Billie Holiday and Dean Martin.
Continue reading at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ciclavia-20130624,0,5251918.story
From Public Citizen: http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/pressroomredirect.cfm?ID=3924
“A Day Late and a Dollar Short”
Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
June 25, 2013
“While there’s a lot to like in the president’s plan, there is a lot that’s counterproductive, too. On the most important measure, reducing coal-burning plant emissions, we might fairly say the president is a day late and a dollar short. The lack of specificity on the standard eventually to be issued makes it impossible to know how far reaching it will be.
“But there’s a much more important criticism: Catastrophic climate change poses a near-existential threat to humanity. We need a national mobilization – and indeed a worldwide mobilization – to transform rapidly from our fossil fuel-reliant past and present to a clean energy future. We need a sense of urgency – indeed, emergency – massive investments, tough and specific standards and binding rules. Those elements, sadly, are missing from the president’s plan.”
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program
“The President’s plan contains the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good: “The administration is finally using the authority ratified by a conservative Supreme Court to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. The administration will rewrite rules for new plants (the old standard, which just passed its deadline in April, essentially blocked new coal power plants, so there’s a strong chance the rewrite will weaken the original standard) and develop rules over all existing power plants. This is the most important tool the administration has, and if the rules are written the way they should be, it will go a long way toward protecting consumers and our climate. This initiative builds on the successful and strong automobile tailpipe standards that have already been successfully rolled out. The downside is that the late 2015 final rule date is far off in the future, and will be wrought with lengthy legal challenges, lending an awful lot of uncertainty to the outcome.
“The plan also, helpfully, builds on existing programs and plucks some low-hanging fruit to reduce carbon emissions: Increasing renewable targets and efficiency on federal land, in the federal government’s operations, in the Pentagon and in federally-assisted housing.
“The administration set the table recently by rightfully increasing the estimated cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to society, from $23.80/ton to $38.
“Targeting oil industry subsidies, as the administration proposes here, is also commonsense, and much needed policy.
Continue reading at: http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/pressroomredirect.cfm?ID=3924