Archive for U.S. News

The U.S. Executive Branch Is a Clear and Present Danger to Our Democracy

On the left we have the 1.4 million employees of the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, Department of Homeland Security and FBI, etc., 1,000 other government entities and 2,000 private companies located in 17,000 buildings collecting data on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls and Internet communications a year, and the world’s largest arsenal of weaponry.

On the right we have the handful of Al-Qaeda members whom Mr. Obama on May 23 downgraded to a minor threat, and a few thousand Pakistani, Yemeni and North African tribesmen who would focus entirely on their domestic concerns if our leaders would stop bombing and assassinating them. Can anyone in the right mind claim we need to fund the giant apparatus at the left to protect us from the minuscule group of folks on the right?

Read this entire article on Alternet.

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Why I won’t even respond to people with Gmail accounts

(STEVE KOVACH, Business Insider, MAY 18, 2013)
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Google isn’t just the backbone of the Internet anymore. It’s rapidly becoming the backbone of your entire life, all thanks to data you’re voluntarily giving up to a private company based on your Web searches, photos, Gmail messages, and more. . . . unless millions (billions?) of people suddenly change their mind and start using alternative tech tools, or unless the government steps in waving the anti-trust banner, our lives, our history, and our personal wealth could be managed by one company –– Google. . . . Google Now scans your email and knows when your Amazon package is arriving. It knows what sports scores to show you based on the teams you’ve searched for. It knows what stock prices to show you based on the companies you search for. It scans your calendar and reminds you when to leave to make your appointment on time. And all that data is delivered to you without you having to ask.  . . . Then there are photos, arguably the most personal things you share online. Now, Google scans every single one you upload to Google+. It can learn what your family members look like and group photos of them into albums automatically. It can tell if your subjects are smiling. If they’re not smiling, it can stitch their faces in from other images where they are and create the perfect photo for you. It knows if you’re taking pictures of mountains or puppies or buildings or famous landmarks and group your photo albums together accordingly. . . . It’s creepy and magical at the same time.

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Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks

(Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian, 13 June 2013)
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Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. . . . But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis – or all three. . . . Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance” . . . Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a “systematic effort” by the agency “to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations” linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). . . . Similarly, FBI documents confirmed “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector” designed to produce intelligence on behalf of “the corporate security community.” A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” . . . In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace. Similar trends are at play in the UK, where the case of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy revealed the extent of the state’s involvement in monitoring the environmental direct action movement. . . . A University of Bath study citing the Kennedy case, and based on confidential sources, found that a whole range of corporations – such as McDonald’s, Nestle and the oil major Shell, “use covert methods to gather intelligence on activist groups, counter criticism of their strategies and practices, and evade accountability.” . . . Indeed, Kennedy’s case was just the tip of the iceberg – internal police documents obtained by the Guardian in 2009 revealed that environment activists had been routinely categorised as “domestic extremists” targeting “national infrastructure” as part of a wider strategy tracking protest groups and protestors. . . . The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years. The revelations on the NSA’s global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state.

 

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Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden, Saving Us From the United Stasi of America

(Daniel Ellsberg, Alternet.org, June 10, 2013)
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In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material [3] – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago [4]. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution. . . . Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended. . . . The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requestsAs Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it [5]: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.” . . . For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know. . » Continue reading “Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden, Saving Us From the United Stasi of America”

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Ethan Nadelmann: The Real Drug Czar

The most influential man in the battle for legalization is a wonky intellectual in dad jeans

(TIM DICKINSON, Rolling Stone,
JUNE 06, 2013)

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The driving force for the legalization of marijuana in America – a frenetic, whip-smart son of a rabbi who can barely tell indica from sativa – has just entered enemy territory. Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is here in California’s crucible of conservatism, Orange County, to talk about the failure of the War on Drugs and why the government should leave pot smokers alone. As a grizzled ex-DEA agent glares at him from the audience of a lecture hall on the campus of U.C. Irvine, it’s clear that this crowd has not gathered to celebrate cannabis culture. And that’s just the way Nadelmann likes it.

Today, thanks in large part to Nadelmann’s efforts, pot is fully legal in two states and available medically in 16 others. “He is the single most influential policy entrepreneur on any domestic issue,” says John DiIulio, a longtime drug warrior and tough-on-crime academic who has recently come around to Nadelmann’s side on marijuana policy. “He wore me down,” DiIulio says. “What can I say?”

[COMMENT by Lorenzo] This is a somewhat long article, but very much worth the time to read. Here are some of the topics that are covered:
Too High to Fail: Inside Denver’s weed boom
Conservatives Push Marijuana Reform in Congress
The Top 10 Marijuana Myths and Facts

Also, you can listen to a talk given by Ethan Nadelmann in my Podcast 208 – “It’s Time To End The War on Drugs”

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Don’t ever speak to the FBI without a tape recorder running and a lawyer present

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50 Reasons You Despise George W. Bush

( Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet, April 25, 2103)
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Let’s look at 50 reasons, some large and some small, why W. inspired so much anger.

1. He stole the presidency in 2000.

3. He covered up his past.

4. He loved the death penalty.

8. He ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden.

12. Bush turned to Iraq not Afghanistan.

14. He flat-out lied about Iraq’s weapons.

19. Bush pardoned the Plame affair leaker.

22. The war did not make the U.S. safer.

23. U.S. troops were given unsafe gear.

31. He cut veterans’ healthcare funding.

44. Bush let black New Orleans drown.

48. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld.

49. He’s escaped accountability for his actions.

[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Little Bush is certainly the most simple-minded man to sit in the White House during my lifetime, and most definitely, IMO, one of the worst and most evil of our presidents. But then there was Nixon, who was obviously insane and who had an "enemies list", which was very un-presidential. And now there is Obama with a "KILL LIST", which is very un-American. . . . The Empire is in obvious decline.]

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Gore Vidal 9/11, war, etc.

This first interview was recorded about one year after the 9/11 events . . . well worth the time to watch.

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Beware of the “Progressive Movement” & the Billionaires Funding It

(JOHN STAUBER, Counterpunch, March 15-17, 2013)
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The self-labeled Progressive Movement that has arisen over the past decade is primarily one big propaganda campaign serving the political interests of the the Democratic Party’s richest one-percent who created it. The funders and owners of the Progressive Movement get richer and richer off Wall Street and the corporate system. But they happen to be Democrats, cultural and social liberals who can’t stomach Republican policies, and so after bruising electoral defeats a decade ago they decided to buy a movement, one just like the Republicans, a copy. . . . The liberal elite own the Progressive Movement. Organizing for Action, the “non-partisan” slush fund to train the new leaders of the Progressive Movement is just the latest big money ploy to consolidate their control and keep the feed flowing into the trough. . . . The professional Progressive Movement that we see reflected in the pages of The Nation magazine, in the online marketing and campaigning of MoveOn and in the speeches of Van Jones, is primarily a political public relations creation of America’s richest corporate elite, the so-called 1%, who happen to bleed Blue because they have some degree of social and environmental consciousness, and don’t bleed Red. But they are just as committed as the right to the overall corporate status quo, the maintenance of the American Empire, and the monopoly of the rich over the political process that serves their economic interests. . . . The Progressive Movement we see today was created by a small group including Democratic political operatives and foundations including TIDES (formed in 1976), the millionaires and billionaires of the Democracy Alliance, (formed in 2005) and eventually the Obama machine. » Continue reading “Beware of the “Progressive Movement” & the Billionaires Funding It”

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Nixon Proven Guilty of Intentionally Increasing American Deaths in Viet Nam

(Robert Parry, AlterNet, March 10, 2013)
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Indeed, newly disclosed documents have put old evidence into a sharply different light and suggest that history has substantially miswritten the two scandals by failing to understand that they actually were sequels to earlier scandals that were far worse. Watergate and Iran-Contra were, in part at least, extensions of the original crimes, which involved dirty dealings to secure the immense power of the presidency. . . . Shortly after Nixon took office in 1969, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover informed him of the existence of the file containing national security wiretaps documenting how Nixon’s emissaries had gone behind President Lyndon Johnson’s back to convince the South Vietnamese government to boycott the Paris Peace Talks, which were close to ending the Vietnam War in fall 1968.In the case of Watergate – the foiled Republican break-in at the Democratic National Committee in June 1972 and Richard Nixon’s botched cover-up leading to his resignation in August 1974 – the evidence is now clear that Nixon created the Watergate burglars out of his panic that the Democrats might possess a file on his sabotage of Vietnam peace talks in 1968. . . . The disruption of Johnson’s peace talks then enabled Nixon to hang on for a narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey. However, as the new President was taking steps in 1969 to extend the war another four-plus years, he sensed the threat from the wiretap file and ordered two of his top aides, chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, to locate it. But they couldn’t find the file.  » Continue reading “Nixon Proven Guilty of Intentionally Increasing American Deaths in Viet Nam”

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