Blog Flux Directory Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe with Bloglines Blog directory
And, yes, I DO take it personally: 07/25/2010 - 08/01/2010
Mandy: Great blog!
Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
Eric: Nice site....I enjoyed it and will be back.
nora kelly: I enjoy your site. Keep it up! I particularly like your insights on Latin America.
Alison: Loquacious as ever with a touch of elegance -- & right on target as usual!
"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Send tips and other comments to:

And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Kingdom of Survival

a documentary with, among others, joe bageant... sounds interesting...

a bit about the film along with the trailer...

Joe Bageant is featured in a documentary film now in production, titled "The Kingdom of Survival", scheduled for release in November. Others in the film are Noam Chomsky, Mark Mirabello, Ramsey Kanaan, Sasha Lilley, Mike Oehler, Bob Meisenbach, and Will "The Bull" Taylor.

Writer and filmmaker M. A. Littler describes his film as a search for visions that challenge the status quo. "This is an interdisciplinary documentary combining speculative travelogue and investigative journalism in order to trace possible links between survivalism, spirituality, art, radical politics, outlaw culture, alternative media and fringe philosophy," he said.

"Contrary to the popular approach of trying to summon arguments that legitimize a pre-conceived point of view, I sought out contrary opinions ranging from the far left to the far right of the political spectrum, from the spiritual to the strictly secular and from the profound to the profane," Littler said.

"The Kingdom of Survival" circles through themes of utopianism, globalized capitalism, anarchism, intellectual and spiritual self-defense, religion and art in an investigation of physical and psychological survival strategies practiced by groups and individuals in a conflict-ridden and confused post-modern world. The film is a production of Slowboat Films .

-- Ken Smith

Labels: , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

The global aristocracy that lays down the rules for the rest of us

from al jazeera via information clearing house...
A new breed has emerged; they set the global agenda, ride on Gulfstreams and manage the credit crunch in their spare time. They are anything but elected; they are entrepreneurs and entertainers, media moguls and former politicians - the self-made super rich who are using their money to lay down a new set of global rules. So where did this new global aristocracy come from and who is keeping them in check? Is the world suffering from a global governance gap?

i refer to them as our super-rich elite overlords but, hey...! same difference...

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The part of Obama's State of the Union address where he called for DOUBLING arms exports somehow escaped me

jumpin' jeebus on a zwieback...


i have this thing about the u.s. commanding a full thirty percent of the world's weapons market, amounting to a whopping $6.8B in 2009... for one thing, there's a hell of a lot of money being made by a very few people, absolutely none of whom have any incentive whatsoever to see world peace suddenly break out... second, flooding the world with weapons is a sure-fire way to make sure that they get used, not only guaranteeing we won't see peace in our time but also that those "used" weapons have to regularly be replaced with - wait for it - the latest high-tech, super-destructive models fresh from the defense labs of our already super-rich defense contractors...

unaccountably, this obscenity continues year after friggin' year and now our hopey-changey president wants to re-write the regs to make it EASIER to export weaponry and to DOUBLE current export levels by 2015...!

The United States is currently the world biggest weapons supplier — holding 30 per cent of the market — but the Obama administration has begun modifying export control regulations in hopes of enlarging the U.S. market share, according to U.S. officials.

President Barack Obama already has taken the first steps by tucking new language into the Iran sanctions bill signed in early July. His aides are now compiling the "munitions list," which regulates the sale of military items.

The administration's stated reason for the changes is to simplify the sale of weapons to U.S. allies, but potential spinoffs include generating business for the U.S. defense industry, creating jobs and contributing to Obama's drive to double U.S. exports by 2015.

Critics say the reforms are being rushed and warn that the expedited procedures could allow weapons technology to fall into the wrong hands.

India, which currently is seeking 126 fighter-jets worth over $10 billion, 10 large transport aircraft worth $6 billion, and other multi-billion dollar defense sales, could be among the possible beneficiaries. Allies seeking advanced U.S. weaponry and equipment, who now often buy elsewhere due to the cumbersome U.S. approval process, would draw immediate benefit from the reforms, U.S. officials said.

i DID NOT cast my vote for this shit, believe me...!

Labels: , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

It's official: hopey-changey is dead

follow-up to previous post...

from muriel kane at raw story...

From the point of view of civil libertarians, the Obama administration has been an exercise in frustration, with every hopeful sign followed by failures to live up to its own promises.

The ACLU has just issued a report (pdf), titled "Establishing a New Normal: National Security, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights Under the Obama Administration," which focuses on this pattern of inconsistency.

"The administration has displayed a decidedly mixed record," explains ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, "resulting, on a range of issues, in the very real danger that the Obama administration will institutionalize some of the most troublesome policies of the previous administration -- in essence, creating a troubling 'new normal.'"

As summarized in a press release announcing the report, "President Obama has made great strides in some areas, such as his auspicious first steps to categorically prohibit torture, outlaw the CIA's use of secret overseas detention sites and release the Bush administration's torture memos, but he has failed to eliminate some of the worst policies put in place by President Bush, such as military commissions and indefinite detention. He has also expanded the Bush administration's 'targeted killing' program."


The transparency section, for example, emphasizes that the program of "targeted killing" of suspected terrorists has been "shrouded in secrecy," and that despite a FOIA request by the ACLU, "the CIA has refused even to confirm or deny whether it has records about the program."

It also points out that rather than living up to Obama's promise as a candidate that he would make sure whistleblowers got protection, "the administration has been prosecuting them."


"We urge the administration to recommit itself to the ideals that the President himself invoked in his first days in office," the report urges. "Our democracy cannot survive if crucial public policy decisions are made behind closed doors, implemented in secret, and never subjected to meaningful public oversight and debate. It cannot survive if the public does not know what policies have been adopted in its name."

Another striking revelation appears in the section on surveillance: "Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has invested border agents with the authority to engage in suspicionless searches of Americans' laptops and cell phones at the border; Americans who return home from abroad may now [see below *] find themselves confronted with a border agent who, rather than welcoming them home, insists on copying their electronic records -- including emails, address books, photos, and videos -- before allowing them to enter the country. (Through FOIA, the ACLU has learned that in the last 20 months alone, border agents have used this power thousands of times.)"


[I]f the Obama administration does not effect a fundamental break with the Bush administration’s policies on detention, accountability, and other issues, but instead creates a lasting legal architecture in support of those policies, then it will have ratified, rather than rejected, the dangerous notion that America is in a permanent state of emergency and that core liberties must be surrendered forever."

* "now" is a relative term... i had all of my digital devices - laptop, memory stick, cd's, dvd's, camera, camera memory card - seized by customs in san francisco when returning from europe on 1 june 2007 (funny how some dates are embedded in my memory) and not returned for three weeks... reason given: "forensics"... i was appalled but there wasn't a damn thing i could do about it... fortunately, given the multiple times i've returned to the u.s. since then, i've only received a smile and a wave from customs... (quick, where's some wood so i can knock on it...!)

and so it goes...

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Glenn - on vacation but back briefly to comment on Obama making Bush/Cheney radicalism the 'new normal'

hopey changey, hopey changey...


snippets from glenn's post...

  • [A]s was painfully predictable and predicted, the bulk of political discussion in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosures focuses not on our failing, sagging, pointless, civilian-massacring, soon-to-be-decade-old war, but rather on the Treasonous Evil of WikiLeaks for informing the American people about what their war entails. While it's true that WikiLeaks should have been much more careful in redacting the names of Afghan sources, watching Endless War Supporters prance around with righteous concern for Afghan lives being endangered by the leak is really too absurd to bear. You know what endangers innocent Afghan lives? Ten years of bombings, checkpoint shootings, due-process-free hit squads, air attacks, drones, night raids on homes, etc. etc.
  • [T]he Obama administration is now advocating changes to the law that would empower federal law enforcement agents to compel companies to turn over citizens' Internet records without a warrant or any other form of judicial oversight. I wrote previously about the Obama DOJ's extremely dubious (and dangerous) arguments in court that the law already allows them to access such Internet and email records with no warrant, but now they are attempting to have Congress re-write the law to vest them with that power.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jay Rosen's take on the Wikileaks Afghan document dump

some very insightful comments...

1. Ask yourself: Why didn’t Wikileaks just publish the Afghanistan war logs and let journalists ‘round the world have at them? Why hand them over to The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel first? Because as Julien Assange, founder of Wikileaks, explained last October, if a big story is available to everyone equally, journalists will pass on it.

“It’s counterintuitive,” he said then. “You’d think the bigger and more important the document is, the more likely it will be reported on but that’s absolutely not true. It’s about supply and demand. Zero supply equals high demand, it has value. As soon as we release the material, the supply goes to infinity, so the perceived value goes to zero.”

2. The initial response from the White House was extremely unimpressive:

  • This leak will harm national security. (As if those words still had some kind of magical power, after all the abuse they have been party to.)
  • There’s nothing new here. (Then how could the release harm national security?)
  • Wikileaks is irresponsible; they didn’t even try to contact us! (Hold on: you’re hunting the guy down and you’re outraged that he didn’t contact you?)
  • Wikileaks is against the war in Afghanistan; they’re not an objective news source. (So does that mean the documents they published are fake?)
  • “The period of time covered in these documents… is before the President announced his new strategy. Some of the disconcerting things reported are exactly why the President ordered a three month policy review and a change in strategy.” (Okay, so now we too know the basis for the President’s decision: and that’s a bad thing?)

4. If you go to the Wikileaks Twitter profile, next to “location” it says: Everywhere. Which is one of the most striking things about it: the world’s first stateless news organization. I can’t think of any prior examples of that. (Dave Winer in the comments: “The blogosphere is a stateless news organization.”) Wikileaks is organized so that if the crackdown comes in one country, the servers can be switched on in another. This is meant to put it beyond the reach of any government or legal system. That’s what so odd about the White House crying, “They didn’t even contact us!”

Appealing to national traditions of fair play in the conduct of news reporting misunderstands what Wikileaks is about: the release of information without regard for national interest. In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it. But Wikileaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This is new. Just as the Internet has no terrestrial address or central office, neither does Wikileaks.


7. If you’re a whistle blower with explosive documents, to whom would you rather give them? A newspaper with a terrestrial address organized under the laws of a nation that could try to force the reporter you contacted to reveal your name, and that may or may not run the documents you’ve delivered to them online…. or Wikileaks, which has no address, answers no subpoenas and promises to run the full cache if they can be verified as real? (And they’re expert in encryption, too.)

Also, can we agree that a news organization with a paywall wouldn’t even be in contention?

8. I’ve been trying to write about this observation for a while, but haven’t found the means to express it. So I am just going to state it, in what I admit is speculative form. Here’s what I said on Twitter Sunday: “We tend to think: big revelations mean big reactions. But if the story is too big and crashes too many illusions, the exact opposite occurs.” My fear is that this will happen with the Afghanistan logs. Reaction will be unbearably lighter than we have a right to expect— not because the story isn’t sensational or troubling enough, but because it’s too troubling, a mess we cannot fix and therefore prefer to forget.

Last week, it was the Washington Post’s big series, Top Secret America, two years in the making. It reported on the massive security shadowland that has arisen since 09/11. The Post basically showed that there is no accountability, no knowledge at the center of what the system as a whole is doing, and too much “product” to make intelligent use of. We’re wasting billions upon billions of dollars on an intelligence system that does not work. It’s an explosive finding but the explosive reactions haven’t followed, not because the series didn’t do its job, but rather: the job of fixing what is broken would break the system responsible for such fixes.

The mental model on which most investigative journalism is based states that explosive revelations lead to public outcry; elites get the message and reform the system. But what if elites believe that reform is impossible because the problems are too big, the sacrifices too great, the public too distractible? What if cognitive dissonance has been insufficiently accounted for in our theories of how great journalism works… and often fails to work?

seems to me that wikileaks is irretrievably altering the paradigm of the news media both here in the u.s. and around the world... that can't be a bad thing...

Labels: , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments

A major triumph for the free flow of information

i was delighted yesterday afternoon to see that julian assange and wikileaks had hit another one out of the park by releasing over 91,000 documents about the afghanistan war to the nyt, the uk guardian and germany's spiegel... there's already a lot of screaming about how national security has been jeopardized but the vastly more important point is the information contained in those documents, information that reveals the reality of that sad, going on ten year old saga, information we should have been getting all along, information our keepers make sure we don't get so that they can continue to exercise their power and make their all-precious money...


It's not difficult to foresee, as Atrios predicted, that media "coverage of [the] latest [leak] will be about whether or not it should have been published," rather than about what these documents reveal about the war effort and the government and military leaders prosecuting it.

and, according to assange, there's more to come...
Assange told reporters in London that what's been reported so far on the leaked documents has "only scratched the surface" and said some 15,000 files on Afghanistan are still being vetted by his organization.

He said he believed that "thousands" of U.S. attacks in Afghanistan could be investigated for evidence of war crimes, although he acknowledged that such claims would have to be tested in court.

"It is up to a court to decide really if something in the end is a crime," he said.

i hope julian assange is backed by some heavy-duty personal security and isn't planning on sleeping in the same place two nights in a row... it seems to me that the likelihood of an unexplained "accident" befalling him increases by the day...

p.s. i just read the following on the bbc's website...

The United States has condemned as "irresponsible" the leak of 90,000 military records, saying publication could threaten national security.

no surprise that the u.s. would be saying that, of course, but what i do find somewhat alarming is that the wikileaks website won't load... that could be due to high traffic on its servers or... let's hope it's not the "or"...

p.p.s. it's loading just fine now...

Labels: , , , , , ,

Submit To Propeller

[Permalink] 0 comments