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Pussy Riot:
will Vladimir Putin regret taking on Russia's cool women punks?

The feminist collective hit the headlines when three members were arrested after an anti-Putin protest. Now they face up to seven years in jail, a prospect that has shocked and radicalised many Russians. On the eve of their trial, some of the women speak exclusively

Carole Cadwalladr, The Observer, Saturday 28 July 2012, Article Source

Pussy Riot on Putin, 'punk prayers' and superheroes - video: Khristina Narizhnaya

For two very full, very long days in Moscow, I have talked constantly to people about Pussy Riot. About how, back in February, three young women from a feminist punk-rock band sang a song in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. How they were arrested, imprisoned, refused bail, and now face up to seven years in jail. How the orders for this seem to have come right from the very top of the Russian government. And how their trial – starting tomorrow – seems certain to become a defining moment in Putin's political career.

It is, many people say (practically everybody, in fact), a moment when Russia's future is, in some as yet undetermined way, being decided.

At 9pm on Thursday night, I'm at a rally of a couple of thousand anti-government protesters, hearing Pussy Riot's name being chanted in the crowd, and I think I have a grasp of the story. It's an astonishing tale of how three young women have brought Putin his biggest political headache yet. A story about art versus power. Of civil society versus church and state. Or as one film-maker who's documenting it says, "punks versus Putin". (He goes on to say, "It's Crime and Punishment, basically, but there's also a band in jail so it's a bit like The Monkees. Or a really warped Beatles film.")

I think I have it sort-of clear, and then three hours later, I'm led into a basement in an industrial art space and the story untangles. It becomes not just astonishing but absurd. Because here are Pussy Riot: in their balaclavas and brightly coloured dresses and tights, sitting cross-legged on the floor of a tiny, hot, brightly lit rehearsal room.

They're not the three young women in jail: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 – or Nadia, Masha and Katya, as they're known. Nobody has been allowed to see them. Not their husbands, families or friends. But Pussy Riot is not just three women. It's a collective of "more than 10" women, including two others who performed in the cathedral and are still at large. And all of them have vanished since the arrests. They've all gone to ground. This isn't surprising given the danger they're in. They've spent five months in hiding, waiting to see if they'll be arrested too. And this is their first interview for western media.

Although they're not the imprisoned women, they don't have to be. That's the intention of the balaclavas – they're meant to be anonymous, indivisible, representative. It doesn't matter which of them got arrested. That's the point – that they're not individuals, they're an idea. And that's the thing that has gripped Russia and caught the attention of the rest of the world, too: that the Russian government has gone and arrested an idea and is prosecuting through the courts with a vindictiveness the Russian people haven't before seen. An idea perpetrated by three young, educated, middle-class women, or devushki (girls), as the Russians call them.

And it's this that's the shock walking into the room. They're so young. So smiley. So nervous and bashful and embarrassed at the attention and not sure how to sit, or quite what they should and shouldn't say.

Pussy Riot aren't just the coolest revolutionaries you're ever likely to meet. They're also the nicest. They're the daughters that any parent would be proud to have. Smart, funny, sensitive, not afraid to stand up for their beliefs. One of them makes a point of telling me how "kindness" is an important part of their ideology. They have also done more to expose the moral bankruptcy of the Putin regime than probably anybody else. No politician, nor journalist, nor opposition figure, nor public personality has created quite this much fuss. Nor sparked such potentially significant debate. The most amazing thing of all, perhaps – more amazing even than calling themselves feminists in the land women's rights forgot – is that they've done it with art.

How does that feel? "It feels like a unique position to be in, but at the same time it's really scary. Because it's a great responsibility. Because we are not only doing it for us, we're doing it for society," says the one called Squirrel.

Most amazingly of all, perhaps, they've done it with art and rock music. The sledgehammer that they've used to take on the great might of the Russian state? That would be the colourful clothes they dressed up in. The jumping up and down they did. The funny lyrics they wrote. The loud songs they sang. That brilliant, witty, killer name.

The outfits are cartoonish, with bright, primary colours, but the masks aren't just there to shield their faces from recognition – their anonymity is both symbolic and integral to their entire artistic vision. They all have nicknames which, they say, they swap at random: Sparrow, who is 22, Balaclava, who is by some way the eldest at 33, and Squirrel, who is just 20 years old.

"It means that really everybody can be Pussy Riot… we just show people what the people can do," says Sparrow.

"We show the brutal and cruel side of the government," says Squirrel. "We don't do something illegal. It's not illegal, singing and saying what you think."

Sparrow is painfully shy and self-conscious at first. She is worried, especially that her English isn't good enough – that she won't be able to express herself properly – and she explains how she feels when she puts on the balaclava.

"When I'm in a mask I feel a little bit like a superhero and maybe feel more power. I feel really brave, I believe that I can do everything and I believe that I can change the situation."

Balaclava interrupts. "I disagree. We are not superwomen – we are pretty ordinary women and our goal is that all women in Russia can become like this without masks."

The film battery goes at that moment. And as Khristina Narizhnaya, the Moscow-based journalist who's filming the interview, changes the battery, they collapse theatrically on the floor, laughing and breathing heavy sighs of relief. "It's so strange," says Sparrow. "Seeing Pussy Riot in the papers, and on the news and the internet. You have friends saying, 'Did you see the last action?' And you have to say, 'Yes I saw it on TV'."

Do your parents know?

"No!" says Squirrel. "My dad would kill me!"

The details are so brilliant. Do you get a call, I ask, when you're out shopping and you have to dash home and put on your balaclava?

"No," says Sparrow. "It's like Batman: you always have it with you, just in case."

Just before I went to meet Pussy Riot, I'd been listening to an interview I'd do

It's an anxious time, he was saying. "I cannot think about anything else. I am literally thinking about it all the time. It's interesting that in a country that is so full of horrible things – bad and unjust and unfair things – the symbolism of this really stands out.

Russian radical feminist group Pussy Riot stage a protest against Vladimir Putin’s policies at Moscow’s Red Square last January. Photograph: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters
Russian radical feminist group Pussy Riot stage a protest against Vladimir Putin’s
policies at Moscow’s Red Square last January. Photograph: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters

"Because they are so young. Because they have children. Because what they have done is so unimportant and silly and has all of a sudden become so huge because of this disproportionate reaction. Because it touches so strangely on so many things, and this is where it becomes an event of almost historic proportions. It touches everything: the church and the state, believers and non-believers, the judge and the tsar, and this Russian thing that never ever ends."

There's so much history in Moscow. The streets are named after writers, the metro stations revolutionaries. On practically every corner, there's a statue. Earlier in the day, I'd met Pyotr Verzilov, Nadia's husband, at a statue of Engels, near the metro station named after Kropotkin – the anarchist. The day before, the country's most influential art critic, under a bronze Pushkin. Hanging about outside the metro station Kurskaya on the way to meet the women, I glance up and notice its old name still chiselled on the roof: Metropolitan Station VI Lenin. It's a city of ghosts and echoes, where a mummified body of a revolutionary lies in a windowless bunker next to a curlicued palace built by the tsars he had plotted to overthrow. And which is now inhabited by a man who once worked for the KGB.

Russia's leaders have always understood the potency of the visual imagery of power. Of hammers and sickles. Of nuclear warheads and a well-muscled man doing manly, bare-chested outdoor pursuits. And, in the latest instance: of five young women in brightly coloured balaclavas jumping up and down in the symbolic heart of the Russian state: Red Square.

It was this "action" in January – the fourth of the five they've done so far – that first brought them to the world's attention. They formed just after Medvedev had announced that Putin would return once again as president in November. And people realised that Russia was becoming, quite simply, a dictatorship.

Miriam Elder, the Guardian's Moscow correspondent, who has covered the case assiduously, met a group of them shortly afterwards, one of the very few journalists to have interviewed them. "They were just very determined. Very purposeful. Everybody was so angry at that time. But what came across was just how educated they were. How well thought out their ideas were. They quoted everybody from Simone de Beauvoir to the Ramones. It wasn't just a silly prank. There was a real message behind it."

Their concert in Red Square, which happened amid the huge public demonstrations that rocked Moscow last winter in the lead up to the elections, was so brilliant, so visually striking, so blatantly cheeky. But it was carried out at such great personal risk. A risk that became even more acute after they performed inside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. A performance that led to three imprisoned women who could be jailed for up to seven years. Two of them – Nadia and Masha – have young children who they may not see grow up.

Did they have any idea of how much trouble they might get themselves in, I ask Elder.

"No, I don't think so," she says. "Though some of the things that they said slightly haunt me. Almost the last thing I said was something like, 'Aren't you scared of being arrested?' It was at the time when hundreds of people were being arrested. And one of them said, 'No, they're nicer to women, and when they throw you in the police van, you meet really cool people'.

"With hindsight, it seems obvious that something would happen to them." What do you mean? "It wasn't just performance art. It's taken things to a whole different level."

And it's that level that is so scary, that has scared so many people across Russia. "The Khodorkovsky trial [former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky who is now in jail] demonstrated that Putin would go after the oligarchs," says Pyotr Verzilov. It sent a very clear, unmistakable message to the oligarchs. And what the Pussy Riot trial is showing is that they'll go after anybody. Nobody is safe."

He's become the group's de facto spokesman, a slightly difficult position, given that they very carefully choose not "to assign roles" and that a strong feminist (and in Russia, utterly alien) message is at the heart of their work. He's also a key part of the creative team. He told me about the morning that he and Nadia, his wife, were arrested. "These men in suits with guns came running towards us shouting. There were around 25-30 of them shouting 'This is the FSB' and we were thrown to the floor.

"They were all wearing these expensive suits. You never see police officers looking as sophisticated as this. And then they transferred us to an expensive-looking SUV and we were taken to a police station and separated. Eight investigators arrived and we waited hours and then, from around 3-8am, I was interrogated."

Pyotr – or Peter as he calls himself to foreigners – was released. Nadia wasn't. A lot of people have suggested it's because Verzilov, who went to high school in Canada and holds dual Russian-Canadian citizenship, would pose an international problem that the Russian government doesn't want to face. "But I don't think it's that," he says. "It's just 'where do you stop?' If they try the other girls, if they try me, how many people would they try? The camera operator who was there? The AFP journalist? Where do you stop? Once you start arresting innocent people – and the police came to the church right after it happened and found no crime had been committed – where do you draw the line? Do you just start arresting everybody?"

The crime in question occurred on 21 February and took precisely 51 seconds. The five women and a film team, plus various supporters and a couple of journalists, entered the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, jumped over a gold rail, stood on the steps of the pulpit (a place where only men may stand) and performed the opening bars of a punk song. You can watch it on YouTube. It starts out as a religious hymn, then mutates into something Sex Pistols-esque, the women kneeling, genuflecting, crossing themselves, jumping up and down and, after a few seconds, being intercepted by security guards and led away.

It's not hard to see why religious believers would be shocked and offended. There's an elderly startled nun clearly visible in the video, and even if you're not a believer, the lack of respect accorded a place of worship is still pretty shocking.

After being ejected by cathedral guards, "the police came and they didn't even open a case," says Verzilov. "It was only after it appeared on YouTube under the name 'Virgin Mary Chuck Out Putin' and got all this attention – Patriarch Kirill watched it and, so the investigators told us, rang Putin and the head of the Moscow police – that it became this great big deal, that they decided that it was some sort of crime."

In the press, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called it "blasphemous", saying that the church was "under attack" and that "the devil has laughed at us".

The church's spokesman, Vsevolod Chaplin, said: "God condemns what they've done. I'm convinced that this sin will be punished in this life and the next, God revealed this to me just like he revealed the gospels to the church. There's only one way out: repentance."

A warrant was issued for "hooliganism" and, two weeks later, the three women and Verzilov were arrested. Nothing has been usual about the case. Nikolai Polozov, one of their lawyers, says that there's been a blatant disregard for due process: the imprisonment without trial; the refusal of bail; the lack of time they have to prepare the case.

Amnesty International has declared them Prisoners of Conscience. And Polozov says that "several key events point to the fact that the Kremlin is involved", not least blanket coverage on federal TV channels designed "to ruin the reputation of my defendants. Only one person, or people close to him, can do that."

In another extreme step, the trial, which starts tomorrow, will be streamed live on the internet. It's a move designed to give the appearance of transparency, Polozov says, but will actually have the reverse effect, allowing them to exclude press from the very small courtroom, and at contentious moments to simply "lose the feed".

What's not in dispute is that Pussy Riot did cause offence. But that was the point. "The church of Christ the Saviour was chosen for very specific, symbolic reasons," says Verzilov. "It was blown up by Stalin to show his power against the church and in the 60s was turned into a swimming pool."

And then the Soviet Union collapsed. "And Moscow's first post-Soviet mayor, Luzhkov, decided to rebuild the cathedral. At that time, in the early 90s, the most successful commercial enterprise in the country was organised crime, and he said I need $1bn and whoever doesn't pay is going to jail.

"It became a very important governmental symbol. And it's supposed to be the most sacred place in Russia. But it's very commercialised: there's a massive parking garage under it, and banqueting halls you can hire out for $10,000 a day.

"More than this, though, is how the church has started to act as if it is the propaganda wing of the government. Before the election, Patriarch Kirill said that it was 'un-Christian' to demonstrate. And then he said that Putin had been placed at the head of the government 'by God'. No one was talking about this before. And now everybody is."

Everybody is talking about it. Andrei Yerofeyev, one of the most respected curators of modern art in Russia, who in 2010 was himself tried (and found guilty) on charges of inciting religious and ethnic hatred by staging a show called Forbidden Art, compares it to Iran. To Saudi Arabia. He sees it, as many do, as the beginnings of a Christian fundamentalism. "They want to control culture. They want to control everything. People have great respect for the church. They fought the communists. The priests were persecuted. But this trial? It shows that the church is untouchable."

Others have called it Russia's Dreyfus affair. The anti-Pussy Riot propaganda on the main government-run TV channels (ie all of them) has been relentless. The opinion voiced by one of the prosecution lawyers a telling illustration of how they've been portrayed. The women are being controlled by "the global government", they say, who ultimately are themselves controlled "by Satan".

But the tide is turning. It's the severity of the penalty that has shocked most Russians. Even conservative, religious Russians who thought their act was silly or offensive. Very few defendants are imprisoned pre-trial. Certainly not ones with young children accused of non-violent crimes. More than 200 well-known public people signed an open letter condemning the trial, including many Putin supporters, and another 41,000 rank-and-file Russians have added their signatures.

And when I go to take a look around the cathedral and speak to some middle-aged women in headscarves leaving after prayers, they all think it was awful, disrespectful, inappropriate and deserving of punishment. But even the most hardline of them, who thinks they should be punished for their other "crimes" (their previous performances), turns down the corner of her mouth and shakes her head when Khristina translates my question about the possible seven-year sentence. And even I, with my odd scrags of Russian, understand her reply. "Trudna," she keeps on saying. "Ne znayo." It's difficult. I don't know.

The arrested members of Pussy Riot at a district court hearing on 23 July. Photograph: Mudrats Alexandra/Corbis
The arrested members of Pussy Riot at a district court hearing on 23 July. Photograph: Mudrats Alexandra/Corbis

Just a few hours before meeting Pussy Riot, I'd seen a very small example of the Russian state's apparatus of repression. The massed police vans and armoured vehicles that were parked in streets around where the demo was scheduled to take place. The phalanxes of officers marching through a neighbouring square.

Earlier that day, I'd arranged to meet Pyotr Verzilov at a cafe. He doesn't show up. I text. I call. He carries two mobiles with him at all times and is constantly taking calls from TV stations, journalists and campaigners. "We're trying to get Sting to wear a Pussy Riot T-shirt at his concert tonight," he'd told me the day before. (Sting did not wear the T-shirt but he did call for the band's release). Franz Ferdinand and Red Hot Chili Peppers had both already come out in support.

And they were "reaching out to Madonna", who's due to play in Moscow next month. He's engaged in all aspects of a modern political campaign: monitoring Twitter streams, tweeting news, updating the Facebook site. I assume something has come up. Before I arrive in Moscow, I talk at length to two British documentary makers who have been filming the trial, and one of them warns me to "be prepared to do a lot of waiting. They're just under so much pressure".

He'd also told me that Verzilov "will blow your head off. It's phenomenal that he's only 25. It's just the most incredible story. It's just so rock'n'roll. It really is punk. What they did was as shocking as what the Sex Pistols did. Maybe more so. Because it was against this dictator. It's punks against Putin."

It is also so incredibly visual: the women sit in a cage in the middle of the court. They're all attractive, "but Nadia, she looks like she's in a perfume ad or something. They're all so cool, but you should see Nadia walk into court in her handcuffs. It's an incredible sight. She's like Simone de Beauvoir. I'm romanticising a bit, but she's Simone de Beauvoir. And Peter is Russia's Sartre."

And there's a reason Verzilov misses my appointment, it transpires. An hour or so later, I get a text. "Carole! I was suddenly taken today at 8.30am to the investigative committee by a team of officers and they took my phone and all my personal things."

When we finally meet, he shrugs it off, though when I take him to a cafe, he eats like a horse. "You look tired," I say. "Well, you know, four hours of interrogation…" What sort of questions do they ask. "You know. When did you meet with foreign governments?" Do they really believe that? "They try very hard to make the Russian public believe that."

He wants to know what everyone has been saying to me. What did Ekaterina Degot say, he asks? She's probably Russia's most influential art critic. "She said what you were doing was incredible. That it's going to change Russian history. That there is no question that what you are doing is art and that no Russian artist has brought about this much change, ever," I say.

And Artemy Troitsky, Russia's foremost rock critic? "That three girls might be the ones to break the spine of a tyrant." He looks pleased. But then, Pussy Riot are musicians and artists, and some are members of a group called Voina, Russia's most outrageous performance artists, whose work included painting a massive penis on a bridge opposite the FSB headquarters in St Petersburg ("Dick Captured by FSB"), and staging an orgy in a museum on the eve of Medvedev's election in 2008 ("Fuck for the Heir Puppy Bear"), and who captured the imagination of Banksy among others – he sent £80,000 to support them when two of their members were arrested and imprisoned. But they're activists first and foremost.

"How is Peter?" Ekaterina Degot asks me. Worried for Nadia, I say, and their four-year-old daughter, Gera. But not displeased about the situation. "I understand this well. They have the mentality of activists. The more attention they get the better it is. The more effective they are being."

Degot was on the jury that awarded Voina the biggest prize in Russian art. And Katya, one of the imprisoned women, is a student of hers. What will happen next, I ask her? "I don't know. But it can't continue. Putin can't continue. In a year, I am sure we will see a different country, though I'm not sure it will be a better country."

But it's the words of Ilya Oskolkov-Tsentsiper, the co-founder of the Strelka, that echo most in my ears. In Russian history, he says, there's an old tradition of mad, half-witted saints. "This idea that it's only the crazy, half-witted fool who can tell the truth to the nation and to power. There is something that all Russians know even if they're not aware of it. In Russia, you never call it St Basil's Cathedral, it's Vasily Blazhenny, Vassily the Mad. And this is what these girls are. The truth-tellers to the Russian nation."

We're sitting at a table in Strelka while he tells me this, a beautifully designed space right opposite the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, scene of the crime. "I remember swimming in that pool as a child. And sometimes, I have a feeling that in another 70 years the pool will have to be restored. And we will live through this endless cycle of destroying the churches and then rebuilding them."

It's extraordinary what Pussy Riot have done. How they have taken feminism to one of the most macho countries on Earth. How they have revealed the faultlines at the heart of the Russian state, the moral bankruptcy of the Putin regime. It's hard to reconcile that with the women I met, with their skinny shoulders and thin wrists and lack of any weaponry bar guts and wit. The word absurd has been worn thin with use, but there's no other way to describe what is happening in Russia today.

"Putin is scared of us, can you imagine?" says Squirrel. "Scared of girls."

"It was just a prayer. A very special prayer," says Sparrow.

"The most important dictator, Putin, is really afraid of people," says Squirrel. More specifically, he's afraid of Pussy Riot. Afraid of a bunch of young, positive, optimistic women unafraid to speak their minds."

Pussy Riot trial over Putin altar protest begins

Pussy Riot Girls on trial at Moscow Court

Three band members reject charges of hooliganism for performing anti-Putin 'punk prayer' in cathedral

Internet addiction even worries Silicon Valley

Experts warn of the addictive power of technology

Tracy McVeigh, The Observer, Saturday 28 July 2012, Article Source

Kony 2012 film-maker Jason Russell, whose psychotic breakdown was linked to extreme internet exposure. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters
Kony 2012 film-maker Jason Russell, whose psychotic breakdown was linked to extreme
internet exposure. Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

The latest trend on the internet is to step away from the internet, according to a growing band of American technology leaders and psychologists for whom the notion of the addictive power of digital gadgets is gaining sway.

Although the idea of a clinical disorder of internet addiction was first mooted in the 90s and is now regularly treated by doctors on both sides of the Atlantic, attention is shifting from compulsive surfing to the effects of the all-pervasive demands that our phones, laptops, tablets and computers are making on us.

In China, Taiwan and Korea, internet addiction is accepted as a genuine psychiatric problem with dedicated treatment centres for teenagers who are considered to have serious problems with their web use. Next year, America's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the authority on mental illness, could include "internet use disorder" in its official listings.

In February, leaders of the largest social media companies will gather in San Francisco for the Wisdom 2.0 conference. The theme for the \conference, attended by some of Silicon Valley's biggest names, is finding balance in the digital age. Richard Fernandez, Google's development director, has called it "quite possibly the most important gathering of our times".

Fernandez plays a key role in Google's "mindfulness" movement. Aimed at teaching employees the risks of becoming overly engaged with their devices and to improve their concentration levels and ability to focus, he says teaching people to occasionally disconnect is vital. "Consumers need to have an internal compass where they're able to balance the capabilities that technology offers them for work with the qualities of the lives they live offline," he says.

Newsweek recently held up the case of Jason Russell, the film-maker behind the Kony 2012 video. Russell's film went viral, bringing him fame as 70 million people watched it. After spending days online with little sleep, Russell had a psychotic breakdown – all digitally documented via social media on his Twitter and YouTube accounts. His wife said he had been diagnosed as having "reactive psychosis", which doctors had linked to his extreme internet exposure.

It was an illustration, said Newsweek writer Tony Dokoupil, of the proof that was "starting to pile up" that the web was making us more depressed, anxious and prone to attention deficit disorders than ever before. "The first good peer-reviewed research is emerging and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of web utopians have allowed," said Dokoupil.

Psychologists are deeply worried about the effects digital relationships are having on real ones. Facebook is working on plans to curb anonymous "stalking" by allowing users to see who has visited any group of which they are a member – with the possibility in future of extending that to allow people to see who has looked at their page.

"Checking Facebook to see what the ex is doing becomes a drug," according to psychologist Seth Meyers, who said the checking could quickly decline into obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Stuart Crabb, a director at Facebook, said people needed to be aware of the effect that time online has on relationships and performance.

However, some doubt the notion of technology addiction, pointing instead to the rising demands of the workplace, where employees are working longer hours and then going home still tethered to devices pinging them emails and messages. "Are we addicted to gadgets or indentured to work?" asks Alexis Madrigal, a writer for the Atlantic. "Much of our compulsive connectedness… is a symptom of a greater problem, not the problem itself."

Ignorant, Corporatist, Politicians Will Probably Make Internet Illegal Like Marijuana ???

Alerts + Notes from ~@~ Listed Below:

The Ross Sisters - Solid Potato Salad

Sad news: Member Ed Bissell passed away...

Edward T. Bissell

Ed was a member of our group for years, he was a wonderful photographer and an amazing person. We were shocked an saddened to hear the news of his passing. I hate sending emails like this but many if you knew him and I just wanted you to know. Scott and I will be making a contribution from the group to the families choice of charity. And we will be attending the wake on Thursday.

Edward T. Bissell 1963 to Curtis

Edward Bissell Obituary

Edward T. Bissell, 68 WORCESTER - Edward T. Bissell, 68, of Worcester passed away peacefully at home in his sleep Sunday, June 17th 2012. Edward was born in Holyoke, a son of the late Edward and Rena (Kodis) Bissell. As a young man Edward worked alongside his father and family in the family business Bissell's Dairy. He graduated from Holyoke High School, where he was a standout football player. He then attended Central Connecticut and Holyoke Community College and has lived here in Worcester more than 27 years. Edward is survived by his wife of 39 years, Elaine H. (Wagner) Bissell; four children he cherished, Matthew T. Bissell of Worcester, Amy M. Lavoie and her husband Ryan of Stoddard NH, twins, Kate M. and Emily E. Bissell of Worcester; a sister, Joann Sullivan of Pittsford, VT; three grandsons whom he adored, Thomas, Patrick and Noah; nieces, nephews, extended family and many friends and neighbors who loved him. Edward had a passion for Photography all his life. He was employed was as a Photo Lab Technician for EB Luce Corporation and worked for over 25 years. He was a member of the Arts Worcester, and Mystic Arts Center. He had a love for the outdoors especially fly fishing, canoeing, family vacations and camping in New England. Friends and relatives are invited to visit with the family during calling hours Thursday June 21st from 10 am to 12 noon in the MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation St. followed by a service at 12 noon. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in his name may be made to the Trust for Public Land, Massachusetts State Office, 10 Milk St Suite 810, Boston, Mass 02108.

Rainbow Puddle - Stellar Light Shows

Chow Down

UFO Appears Over London Olympics? 2012 HD via Amestizo


Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools

by Cindy Long, May 16, 2012 Posted by twalker, neatoday, Article Source

Pointing finger graphic

Workplace bullying is on the rise. About a third of American workers have been impacted by bullying in the workplace, either as a target or as witness to abusive behavior against a co-worker. Unfortunately, it's even more prevalent in the field of education. In a recent survey of medium-sized school districts, 25 percent of employees reported that they had been bullied.

A teacher from Augusta, Maine, was so traumatized by her principal and superintendent that she didn't want her name or school mentioned, but wanted to share her story because she believes the pervasive problem of workplace bullying has gone on unchecked for too long.

“I am sufficiently frightened enough by my former employers to fear that maybe they could still hurt me,” she says. “I need to get a new job but won't be able to do so if I am unable to receive even one recommendation from an administrator. I know it and so do they.”

After the Augusta educator resisted being transferred to a new school and new grade level, she began to be scrutinized by her administrators. First, they began examining her test scores, her communications with parents, and her relationships with colleagues. Then, with no explanation and no warning, the principal began interrupting her class to pull out students one-by-one to talk to them. When the educator asked the students why they were being pulled out, they told her they were instructed not to tell.

She was accused of not using technology in her class, even though each student had a laptop. She was criticized for relying on a literacy mentor, even though some of her students were struggling with reading. She was put on a behavior modification plan and was told to submit her lesson plans a week in advance for review by administrators. Her peers warned her that she was being targeted, and she began to believe it. Finally, she left her job after her health began to deteriorate.

It's not just administrators bullying teachers, says Carv Wilson, a geography teacher at Legacy Junior High in Layton, Utah. He's been an educator for 18 years, and has seen teachers bullying each other to get their way, as well as aggressive parents who fly off the handle and threaten and intimidate their child's educators. But he says the worst case of ongoing workplace bullying he witnessed was by a principal.

“I was heavily involved in school leadership both as a Davis Education Association Rep and on the school representative counsel, and I heard about or witnessed first-hand the abuse of other teachers, staff, and students by this principal,” he says. “She specifically targeted individual teachers and the only thing that seemed to offer any protection was membership in our local association.”

Wilson says more than 60 percent of the educators were NEA members, and the other 30 percent “suffered dramatically at her hands.” The number of transfers out of the school was higher than 50 percent each year of the eight years that she was principal of the school.

“She seemed to revel in people being driven out of education or to another school,” he says. “The memories of that time still haunt me from time to time, but it solidified my belief that having representation both in school and in the local community through the association is critical. It's the only defense against unfair and even punitive measures that are sometimes solely prompted by personality conflicts.”

Denise Mirandola is a union representative for the Pennsylvania State Education Association who holds trainings for members called “Bullying in the Workplace.”

“I presented it at an Education Support Professionals meeting and was surprised to see so many heads nodding,” she says. “I believe that the phenomenon has been overlooked far too long and should be brought to the surface quickly.”

Like Wilson from Utah, she says association representation is vital if you're being targeted by a workplace bully. The first thing you should do, in fact, is contact your union representative. Then, document, document, document – save emails, letters, memos, notes from conversations, or anything that shows the mistreatment. She also recommends confronting the bully with a supportive ally, like a union rep – and to describe the offensive behavior you're experiencing, and the change in behavior you'd like to see.

According to Dr. Matt Spencer of the Workplace Bullying in Schools Project, “the bully steals the dignity, self-esteem, confidence, joy, happiness, and quality of life of the targeted victim”. And when the target is an educator, it is a great “injustice” because the bully deprives students of a caring adult who is crucial to their education.

Currently there is no law in any state against workplace bullying, unless it involves harassment based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age or disability. Please support the Healthy Workplace Bill in your state. Go to for more information.

Please view Comments - Responses to Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools

Our dad, Joe Strummer, remembered

Ten years after the death of the Clash frontman, his daughters Jazz and Lola remember his freewheeling home life

Lena Corner, The Guardian, Saturday 28 July 2012, Article Source

Joe Strummer's daughters Lola (left) and Jazz, with Jazz's daughter Boudicca. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
Joe Strummer's daughters Lola (left) and Jazz, with Jazz's daughter Boudicca. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Ten years ago, the angry young man of punk and legendary frontman of the Clash, Joe Strummer, died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart defect. Instead of celebrating what would have been his 60th birthday next month, his two daughters Jazz and Lola, will be marking his life and legacy along with 5,000 others in a field in Somerset at a one-off music festival they have helped to create, called Strummer of Love. It is a fitting tribute for a man famed for his love of a good music festival, and who brought up his daughters immersed in the same world.

From the moment they were born, both Jazz and Lola accompanied their father on his annual pilgrimage to Glastonbury. "We grew up going to all sorts of festivals," says Jazz. "Every year at Glastonbury, Dad would create this kind of impromptu camp where people would just gather.

"He was always setting up camps – even with us as kids, it was always I'll make you a camp out of sofa cushions and stuff. He loved that whole idea of creating a vibe and an atmosphere. At Glastonbury he would string up his flags, get loads of hay bales, have a big campfire – there'd be 24-hour music and he'd be DJ-ing. We'd all go as a family, and our friends would be there. It just became this hub of fun and people. He named it Strummer- ville and we were left to do exactly what we wanted. Run wild, run amok."

At the time of Joe's death, a few days before Christmas in 2002, Jazz was 18 and Lola 16. Their father collapsed at his home in Somerset after taking his dogs for a walk.

"I remember I was in Oxford Circus trying to do some Christmas shopping," says Lola. "You always kind of know, I think. I was sort of in distress that day and couldn't figure out why. I got a phone call saying come home. So I got on the tube and I remember sitting there, weighing up the options. I knew it wasn't my mum because I had spoken to her earlier, and so I thought it must be either Jazz or my dad. By the time I got off the tube I rang home and said, 'Dad's dead isn't he?'"

"It was such a shock. It wasn't like he'd been ill. The day before, we'd all had such a great day with him. He had been away on tour and we hadn't seen him for a couple of months. So we all met up – our mum, our grandparents, his second wife Lucinda and her daughter Eliza, and we'd all gone out for a meal and then sat in the Groucho [club] drinking champagne. It was a really, really lovely day."

The girls reacted in very different ways to Joe's death. For Jazz, it took a while to sink in properly, and a few years afterwards she experienced panic attacks. "I think I had a bit of a delayed reaction," she says. "I went to see someone and we talked about it a lot. Now I feel quite resolved."

Lola dealt with it more immediately. "After it happened, I completely let myself deal with it," she says. "I was really miserable and it was a very tough time. Jazz was living away from home and I felt there was no one really around. It changed my life completely. But you do get over it. Death is just a part of life and you have to accept that."

Both girls say that helping to organise Strummer of Love has brought many feelings flooding back. Everyone in the lineup has been chosen because of a special connection with Joe Strummer in some way. So among the performers are Mick Jones, the former Clash guitarist, the Pogues, with whom Strummer also played, Alabama 3, with whom Strummer's stepdaughter Eliza now sings, and Billy Bragg, his long-time friend and political ally.

"It's kind of strange because it has been 10 years," says Lola, "but I feel like a lot of stuff is resurfacing – feelings, almost like grief. It's weird. And it's stronger now than it was just a few years after he died."

Jazz feels the same. In June this year she gave birth to her first child, Boudicca – who would have been Joe's first grandchild. "Having a baby makes you rethink a lot of stuff, and I've been thinking about Dad a lot recently," she says. "He would have been obsessed with her. He was fantastic with kids. He loved them, he really did."

Still, both sisters are acutely aware that their father's heart defect could have cut his life short at any moment, so they are grateful for the time they did have with him. Plus, there is also his musical legacy.

"I'm just grateful for his music because we still have his voice," says Lola. "We are lucky to have that."

Joe also did a series for the BBC World Service called the London Calling broadcasts, to which both girls listen regularly. "I remember he took us to Bush House and let us sit through the recording," says Jazz. "They are great because it's him talking and picking his favourite tracks, which brings a lot of his personality out – which is nice because that's the kind of thing you forget. I like to listen to them when I'm working in the studio, and sometimes when we have parties we put them on. It's comforting."

Neither of the sisters got to see the Clash as the band started disintegrating in the early 1980s, just before Jazz was born in 1983.

At first the family lived in Ladbroke Grove, London. Joe, a diplomat's son, had been sent to boarding school aged nine and tried to give his daughters an upbringing different to his own.

"As kids we were really encouraged to be free," says Jazz. "Dad came from a strong authoritarian background. His father was very academic, and he went to public school, which he found really tough. He hated having that put upon him as a kid, so he tried to encourage us to be as freewheeling as we liked.

"When were growing up there were no rules – we were left to run wild. We were nicknamed the pit-bull kids because we were so mad. At home we were allowed to scribble on the walls because he considered it creative. We'd ransack the place.

"I think our mum might have had a bit of a different view but she kind of went with it."

The upshot of Joe's liberal attitude, however, was that Jazz found herself expelled from nursery school, when she was barely out of nappies. "I had slight behavioural problems," she says. "I'd just throw my clothes off and run around. I was disruptive and unruly. It's really embarrassing, actually. In the end, they couldn't get any school to take me so we moved down to Hampshire where my mum found a nice little private school that would let me in."

Being Joe Strummer's offspring wasn't always plain sailing. When Jazz and Lola were around eight and six, their parents divorced. "We both dealt with it differently," says Lola. "I think I was quite an oblivious child – I didn't really have a clue – but I do remember Jazz cried, so I cried."

"I don't think I dealt with it very well at all," says Jazz. "It was pretty horrific. But by that point Dad was quite vacant – he wasn't really around much anyway. I think he was very unhappy and frustrated creatively."

The years when Joe's career was floundering had a big impact on his family. "There was quite a dark period, when we were a bit older and he couldn't get work, and he was struggling," says Lola. "It was hard for him to move on musically and creatively. He'd be at gigs and people would just be screaming for Clash tunes – but if you listen to his music, his tastes had completely changed. He'd mellowed and softened. When he died, though, his career was starting to take off again. I remember thinking it was such a shame. But in a way it was better that he went out on a high."

Despite the divorce, their parents maintained a good relationship and the two sisters have fond memories of the adult relationships they formed with their dad. Every summer they would go to Spain, to Joe's home in San José, Andalucía, a part of the world he had fallen in love with.

"When we got to a certain age, he'd just take us out drinking with him," says Jazz. "We'd go pub crawling round all the little Spanish bars; he'd invite all our friends, too, and we'd just stay up all night. He was so generous and welcoming. He was a real Pied Piper character."

There was talk about the Clash reforming before he died. "But there had been talk for years and years about them reforming," says Jazz. "They had been offered stupid amounts of money to do it, but they were very good at keeping the moral high ground and saying no.

"But I think if Dad hadn't died, it would have happened. It felt like it was in the air," she adds.

It is clear that Joe Strummer's creativity has rubbed off on his two daughters. In 2004, they started organising club nights in East London, at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, kick-starting the trend for rock'n'roll tea dances. Jazz is also founder of the successful Shoreditch arm of the Women's Institute and last year her book on sewing and baking, Queen of Crafts, was published.

Lola sings in a band called Dark Moon, which is playing at Strummer of Love and Bestival, and designs clothes for her label She Vamps. The two sisters share a studio in east London, near where they live.

"I started the WI because I had got really impassioned about women's issues and women's rights," says Jazz. "I think because the Clash were so political and Dad had such strong opinions about equality and stuff, it affects you. But, equally, he was a great inventor of things – he was always making things happen. So I think more important for me was his passion. He'd have an idea and then do whatever he could to make it happen. I think that's what really rubbed off for me."

At Strummer of Love, Jazz will be looking after her eight-week-old baby at the same time as organising a big DIY tent called the Handmade Hangout, where all manner of craft classes will be taking place. Lola, meanwhile, will be singing from the pop-up stage, and their mother has organised the healing field.

"It's funny looking back, but I always had a feeling he must have known what was going to happen to him," says Lola. "Our stepmum found these lyrics he'd scrawled on a piece of paper a few months before he died, saying, 'I was just somebody, who loved a body then left a body' or something like that. I took them and turned them into a song because I felt it needed to be written. But I do believe he knew."

Either way, as his family roll out the hay bales and gather together round the Strummer of Love campfire, Joe's spirit will still be with them. "I just know he'd love that we are doing this celebration for him," says Jazz. "It would be totally right up his street and such a good expression of who he was. He would have loved it."

£13tn hoard hidden from taxman by global elite

• Study estimates staggering size of offshore economy
• Private banks help wealthiest to move cash into havens

Heather Stewart, business editor,, Saturday 21 July 2012 16.00 EDT, Article Source

The Cayman Islands: a favourite haven from the taxman for the global elite. Photograph: David Doubilet/National Geographic/Getty Images
The Cayman Islands: a favourite haven from the taxman for the global elite. Photograph: David Doubilet/National Geographic/Getty Images

A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.

He shows that at least £13tn – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, "protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy". According to Henry's research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than £4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from £1.5tn five years earlier.

The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources, including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world.

Oil-rich states with an internationally mobile elite have been especially prone to watching their wealth disappear into offshore bank accounts instead of being invested at home, the research suggests. Once the returns on investing the hidden assets is included, almost £500bn has left Russia since the early 1990s when its economy was opened up. Saudi Arabia has seen £197bn flood out since the mid-1970s, and Nigeria £196bn.

"The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments," the report says.

The sheer size of the cash pile sitting out of reach of tax authorities is so great that it suggests standard measures of inequality radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor. According to Henry's calculations, £6.3tn of assets is owned by only 92,000 people, or 0.001% of the world's population – a tiny class of the mega-rich who have more in common with each other than those at the bottom of the income scale in their own societies.

"These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people," said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. "People on the street have no illusions about how unfair the situation has become."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Countries around the world are under intense pressure to reduce their deficits and governments cannot afford to let so much wealth slip past into tax havens.

"Closing down the tax loopholes exploited by multinationals and the super-rich to avoid paying their fair share will reduce the deficit. This way the government can focus on stimulating the economy, rather than squeezing the life out of it with cuts and tax rises for the 99% of people who aren't rich enough to avoid paying their taxes."

Assuming the £13tn mountain of assets earned an average 3% a year for its owners, and governments were able to tax that income at 30%, it would generate a bumper £121bn in revenues – more than rich countries spend on aid to the developing world each year.

Groups such as UK Uncut have focused attention on the paltry tax bills of some highly wealthy individuals, such as Topshop owner Sir Philip Green, with campaigners at one recent protest shouting: "Where did all the money go? He took it off to Monaco!" Much of Green's retail empire is owned by his wife, Tina, who lives in the low-tax principality.

A spokeswoman for UK Uncut said: "People like Philip Green use public services – they need the streets to be cleaned, people need public transport to get to their shops – but they don't want to pay for it."

Leaders of G20 countries have repeatedly pledged to close down tax havens since the financial crisis of 2008, when the secrecy shrouding parts of the banking system was widely seen as exacerbating instability. But many countries still refuse to make details of individuals' financial worth available to the tax authorities in their home countries as a matter of course. Tax Justice Network would like to see this kind of exchange of information become standard practice, to prevent rich individuals playing off one jurisdiction against another.

"The very existence of the global offshore industry, and the tax-free status of the enormous sums invested by their wealthy clients, is predicated on secrecy," said Henry.

Carl Lewis on Mitt Romney: 'some Americans shouldn't leave the country'
Carl Lewis on Mitt Romney: 'some Americans shouldn't leave the country'

Lady Gaga becomes Robert Rodriguez's latest Machete Kills recruit

Pop star draws warm praise from Sin City director after lining up alongside Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson for Machete sequel

Ben Child,, Friday 27 July 2012 13.02 BST, Article Source

Eyes on the prize ... Lady Gaga's turn as La Chameleon in Machete Kills will be her first credited film role. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images
Eyes on the prize ... Lady Gaga's turn as La Chameleon in Machete Kills will be her first
credited film role. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

Pop star Lady Gaga is to take an acting role in Robert Rodriguez's forthcoming action romp Machete Kills, the US film-maker has revealed on Twitter.

"I just finished working with @LadyGaga on @MacheteKills," tweeted Rodriguez. "She kicked SO MUCH ASS! Holy Smokes. Blown away!"

The singer becomes the latest entry in an impressive round of stunt casting by the director of Sin City and From Dusk Til Dawn. He has already cast Charlie Sheen as the president of the United States and Mel Gibson as eccentric billionaire arms dealer Luther Voz.

Gaga will play a woman named La Chameleon; in a new character poster for the film, the sequel to 2010's Machete, she sports a classy wolfskin coat (complete with actual wolf's head), a basque and a stylish shooter. The film will once again star Danny Trejo as the former Mexican federale turned ultimate badass, alongside Amber Heard, Jessica Alba, Zoe Saldana, Sofia Vergara and Damian Bichir.

This time round, Machete is recruited by the US president for a mission that, according to the synopsis, "would be impossible for any mortal man". He must battle his way through Mexico to take down a cartel leader, Mendez the Madman (Bechir), who threatens to fire a missile on the US.

According to IMDB, Gaga does have some previous film experience. She appeared in an uncredited role as "Alien on TV Monitors" in Men in Black 3. This would appear to be her first credited role, however.

Michael Cremo - The Hidden History Of The Human Race via Amestizo

Brain-Altering Psych Drugs and the Batman Shooter

by Gary G. Kohls, Article Source, via Keith Lampe

Recurring mass shootings are a peculiarly American phenomenon, unless you count the carnage in the numerous nation-states recently invaded and destabilized by the American military. Everybody say in unison what we all should be thinking: "thank you National Rifle Association" and we also need to address that thanks to the lamentable weapons manufacturing lobbyist thugs who threaten into silence and inaction most of our elected officials in DC, Republican and Democrat, who can’t resist taking the bribery money.

James Holmes was just another gun-wielding, brain-altered mass murderer who shot into a crowd after making impressively elaborate plans to do so, just like the 1999 Columbine shooters 13 miles as the crow flies from Aurora. And one of the first words out of the mouths of the media and ruling elites who ascended the pulpit are the obfuscating words "senseless violence"; meaning, just don’t speculate about the motives of the shooter; "don’t ask any unwanted questions;" "Trust us, we’re the experts."

Unfortunately, these experts are also likely to be beholden to the powers-that-be that aren’t interested in curing the malady that is the epidemic of gun violence. The powers-that-be want to be sure that they will be held blameless when the final official report is released. Don’t expect to be told everything that you need to know to make sense of mass shootings any time soon.

If there is evidence that will help to make sense out of something that will give us a fighting chance to prevent mass shootings in the future, expect that we won’t be told about it until some courageous investigative journalist does the hard sleuthing work and then is allowed to report his findings. We will certainly be as confused about this one as most of us were about Columbine.

If the real connections explaining the Aurora shootings are suppressed, as expected, the approaching police state agenda of the 1% will be enabled. Prepare for metal detectors and private security firms frisking us as we stand in line to see the next violence-inducing shoot-em-up movie that will give ideas to some copy-cat wannabe avenger about competing for the Guiness Book of World Records for non-combat zone mass murders.

I have been listening and watching the repetitive and sensationalistic news coverage of the Aurora shootings for many hours over the first few days since the deed was officially labeled "senseless". Senseless violence is the mantra, just like the media and ruling elites repeated the lie that three World Trade Center towers, on 9/11/01, (only two having been hit by planes) were exploded, demolished and pulverized, not burned, into fine dust and each then fell into their own footprints at free fall speed, which only could happen if all the floors below the top floors had been disappeared by explosives ahead of time. Anybody who watched the event intuitively knew that these towers came down by controlled demolition but the constant propaganda campaign that followed convinced millions of us to not believe our own eyes but rather believe the provably false, heavily propagandized, Bush White House conspiracy theory. (WTC 7’s obvious controlled demolition, by the way, was censored out of our consciousness by the media’s lack of coverage, and it was not hit by a plane). But I digress.

<<<Who are the potential accessories to the crimes of the Batman Shooter?>>>

One has to wonder who are the "sacred cow" industries that have contributed to America’s recurrent mass shootings. Many of them surely consider themselves too big to fail and therefore too big to expose, question, criticize, or implicate as unintentional accomplices. Any one of us can think of any number of potential culprits. My list includes this TOP 10 LIST plus 3:

01. the violent entertainment industry;
02. the violent, and addictive videogame industry;
03. violent professional contact sports, where bodily injury is applauded;
04. the food industry that is doing so much to malnourish vulnerable brains and bodies;
05. the gun lobby;
06. the ease in getting lethal military style weapons (the Aurora killer reportedly got some of his guns at Gander Mountain);
07. our militarized culture and the media that glorifies the "legal" mass murder by "licensed to kill" soldiers at war and then condemns them when they come home psychologically and spiritually tormented and commit "illegal" murders or suicides as civilians;
08. Congresspersons, Presidents, state governors and Supreme Court judges who apathetically vote against or sit on existing rational harm-reduction legislation that could do so much to prevent these mass homicides;
09. Christian church leaders who fail to teach to their potential mass murderers in their Sunday School and confirmation classes about the nonviolent Golden Rule ethics of Jesus, whom they profess to follow; and
10. etc, etc. There are many potential culprits beyond those that could legally be blamed as being accessories to the crime of shooters like James Holmes.

But in the minds of many, the big culprits, and the ones that the corporate media and their paymasters are scared to death about being exposed, are

01. BigPharma (multinational pharmaceutical companies);
02. the drug advertising industry that so diabolically shapes public attitudes and behaviors; and
03. BigMedicine and us obedient and often enslaved physicians that are in its thrall who have, by and large, not opened our eyes to the data from the medical, forensic and pharmaceutical research community of altruistic researchers that are not beholden to pharmaceutical corporations. Much of this data shows unequivocally that most, if not all, of the five classes of potentially addictive psychiatric drugs are capable of causing drug-induced violence, drug-induced psychoses, drug-induced homicides, drug-induced mania, drug-induced suicidality, drug-induced dementia, drug-induced sleep disorders/sleep deprivation and drug-induced irrational criminal behaviors, especially in unsuspecting adolescents.

<<<He who pays the piper, calls the tune>>>

By ignoring the peer-reviewed complementary-alternative medical literature and only paying attention to what is in the pharmaceutical industry-controlled mainstream medical journals, we physicians and our employees regularly – and often quite cavalierly – prescribe potentially lethal, though entirely legal, brain and mind-altering synthetic chemicals that those wealthy and influential sponsors lie to us about when their sales staff claims that the drugs are safe, curative and non-addicting.

Therefore, considering that there is a massive amount of documented evidence (see below) of a strong connection between American school shootings and the use of (or withdrawal from) mind-altering, brain-numbing, remorselessness-inducing psych drugs, a fair question should be: "Was the Batman Shooter taking or withdrawing from any one of the hundreds of psychiatric drugs so readily prescribed these days?" Keep in mind that the James Holmes had considerable experience in graduate-level experimental neuroscience. That should logically make every criminal investigator "focus like a laser" into the possibility of mind-altering drugs influencing the shooter’s beliefs, behaviors and thinking processes.

But no, we have heard nary a word about the potential of legal psych drug use or drug withdrawal in the case of the Batman Shooter. Every thinking person should smell a rat – a cover-up in the making.

<<<Bad advice: "Don’t waste time trying to figure out what motivated the shooter" >>>

Amazingly, one of the survivors of the Columbine school shooter Eric Harris (who was taking the Prozac-like drug Luvox that was prescribed by his tragically unaware psychiatrist, Dr. K. Albert), contributed to the myth-making of these "mass shooting crimes of the month" when he advised the most recent batch of Colorado shooting victims to not "waste time trying to figure out what motivated the shooter or shooters. It’s a waste of time, and it gives them exactly what they want (sic)." And then later in the interview he complained, "I don’t think I’ll ever understand." Duh.

Psychologically and spiritually, any psychologist or spiritual advisor worth his or her salt when dealing with the consequences of psychological trauma will tell you that that advice is profoundly anti-therapeutic and will certainly lead to delayed healing – probably permanently – of the trauma. One wonders what brain-altering, dependency-inducing psych drug that that victim has been taking for the last 13 years. Perhaps he has already tried to taper off the drug but then found out that he can’t tolerate the disabling withdrawal symptoms, and therefore he has concluded that he truly needs the potentially neurotoxic drug.

But he is just repeating what the "authorities" always seem to tell us as they hide essential but "sensitive" information that might be uncomfortable for Holmes’ doctors or clinics or family members or gun and ammunition suppliers or drug company or legislators or tormentors. Perhaps the authorities are trying to protect the various industries that rightfully need to be exposed for their part in the massacres, however indirect or controversial.

<<<"SSRI Stories: Senseless violence" may be totally understandable if we are just given the inconvenient facts?>>>

James Holmes’ actions would probably not be considered "senseless" if we knew the truth about everything that led up to the Batman shooting. The above-mentioned Columbine victim that is promoting blind ignorance has learned to echo what is already being promoted: keep everybody unaware of what the potential motives are; remain silent about certain painful truths; don’t expose any of the powers-that-be for their part in the long lead-up to the shootings. Attitudes such as these will ensure that there will be many repeats in the future.

Not too long ago I mentioned in this column the remarkable database of serious SSRI ("selective" serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the so-called "second generation ‘antidepressants’") adverse reactions that have been documented in the public domain. That website can be accessed at When researching that important website, keep in mind that the vast majority of media reports on seemingly irrational criminal events usually don’t ask the question in the title above – unless the drugs are illicit. So the thousands of examples documented and reported represent just the tip of what surely is an enormous iceberg.), since even the FDA estimates that up to 99% of adverse events from any given drug is never reported to that agency.

SSRI Stories is a collection of 4,800+ news stories (mainly criminal in nature) that have appeared in the media (newspapers, TV, scientific journals) or that were part of FDA public testimony in either 1991, 2004 or 2006, in which psych drugs are mentioned.

<<<What is the PDR trying to warn us physicians about when we prescribe antidepressants?>>>

The Physicians' Desk Reference lists the following common adverse reactions (side effects) to SSRI antidepressants (among a host of other physical and neuropsychiatric effects). None of these adverse reactions is listed as Rare.

Manic Reaction (Mania, e.g., Kleptomania, Pyromania, Dipsomania, Nymphomania)
Hypomania (e.g., poor judgment, over spending, impulsivity, etc.)
Abnormal Thinking
Personality Disorder
Abnormal Dreams
Emotional Lability
Alcohol Abuse and/or Craving
Paranoid Reactions
Sleep Disorders
Akathisia (Severe Inner Restlessness)
Withdrawal Syndrome

The website emphasizes:

"Adverse reactions are most likely to occur when starting or discontinuing the drug, increasing or lowering the dose or when switching from one SSRI to another. Adverse reactions are often diagnosed as bipolar disorder when the symptoms may be entirely iatrogenic (treatment induced). Withdrawal, especially abrupt withdrawal, from any of these medications can cause severe neuropsychiatric and physical symptoms. It is important to withdraw extremely slowly from these drugs, often over a period of a year or more, under the supervision of a qualified and experienced specialist, if available. Withdrawal is sometimes more severe than the original symptoms or problems."

<<<SSRI adverse reactions are actually predictable, understandable and therefore are usually not unexpected. They are not actually "side effects">>>

So with the list of common adverse effects of these drugs, I present below a "short list" of drug–associated violence over the past decade or two that was perpetrated by mostly young people who were involved in newsworthy shootings and whose psych drugs were identified, published or otherwise somehow reported to the public. Tragically, in the vast majority of psychiatric drug-related suicides, homicides or other types of irrational violence (what the media calls "senseless") prescription drugs are generally not reported in the corporate-controlled and subsidized media, where pharmaceutical companies advertise heavily, certainly exerting influences on how much investigative journalism is allowed. Again, he who calls the piper calls the tune.

The SSRI Stories website has, among its nearly 5000 entries, a list of 66 school shootings that are overwhelmingly and disproportionately American. The school shooter’s list is often accompanied by suicidality caused by either taking or withdrawing from the drugs. There has been an explosion of such incidents since Prozac was introduced onto an unsuspecting market in 1989. Most of the developed world’s drug regulatory agencies, including the FDA, have not tested these psychotropic drugs for safety or efficacy in humans under the age of 18 (either short term or long term) and therefore have not approved their use for that group (with rare exceptions). Therefore we physicians, when we prescribe these untested drugs to that underage group (that has immature brain development) are doing so "off label" and thus we are exposing ourselves to medico-legal risks.

Here is the sobering list.

Eric Harris age 17 (Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 in Colombine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and injured 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.

Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.

Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.

Thirteen-year-old Chris Fetters killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.

Twelve-year-old Christopher Pittman murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.

Thirteen-year-old Mathew Miller hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.

Fifteen-year-old Jarred Viktor stabbed his grandmother 61 times after 5 days on Paxil.

Fifteen-year-old Kip Kinkel (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.

Luke Woodham age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.

A Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.

Michael Carneal (Ritalin) a 14-year-old opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..

Young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.

Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.

TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.

Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.

James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.

Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania

Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California

Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.

Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.

Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic's file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.

Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.

Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.

Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself soon after his prescription of Lexapro had been doubled.

Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.

Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family's Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.

Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara’s parents said ".... the damn doctor wouldn't take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…")

Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,

(Gareth’s father could not accept his son’s death and killed himself)

Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage.

Matthew Miller was 13 saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty and school. The psychiatrist recommended Zoloft for him. Seven days after beginning the Zioloft samples, his mother found him dead… hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.

Kurt Danysh, age 18 and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.

Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.

A ten-year-old boy from Houston shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.

15-year-old Hammad Memon shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and "other drugs for the conditions."

22-year-old culinary student Matti Saari shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.

27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.

18-year-old Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.

14-year-old Asa Coon of Cleveland, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.

16-year-old Jon Romano, taking medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school.

July 25, 2012

Gary Kohls, MD [send him mail] is a founding member of The Community of the Third Way, a Duluth-area affiliate of Every Church A Peace Church. Copyright © 2012 Gary G. Kohls, MD

Keith Lampe
Keith Lampe, Ro-Non-So-Te, Ponderosa Pine, Transition Prez
Happy 81st Birthday Pine! - July 25th

'Day Out of Time' July 25, 2012,
Mayan New Year's Eve brings Reflection as 'Golden Age' dawns

by MichelleDevlin, Jul 24, 2012 at 4:54 AM PDT, Itzicán, Mexico, Article Source

July 25, 2012, is a day of tremendous importance in the Mayan calendar - it is New Year's Eve - also known as the Day Out of Time. This day is the last day of the galactic year, meaning that of the 13 moons per year in a 28 day cycle, and 364 days, this is the extra day, or literally, the day out of time. [Continue?]

Tony Blair denies praying with George Bush

Former PM said he never prayed with Bush before the invasion of Iraq, but he did pray with the Salvation Army

Andrew Brown,, Wednesday 25 July 2012 00.37 BST, Article Source

Former prime minister has denied that he prayed with former president George Bush before the start of the invasion of Iraq. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Former prime minister has denied that he prayed with former president George Bush
before the start of the invasion of Iraq. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Tony Blair never did pray with George Bush before the invasion of Iraq, he said on Tuesday. "It wouldn't have been a wrong thing, but it didn't happen", he told Charles Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph – answering the question he had refused to answer when it was put to him by Jeremy Paxman and he was still prime minster. But he did pray with the Salvation Army, he said, when he was leader of the opposition despite the horror of some of his staff.

At a debate with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, he told the audience of 450 people in Westminster, central London: "I remember the Salvation Army coming to see me when I was leader of the opposition.

"At the end of it, she said: 'We're all going to kneel in prayer'.

"There were two members of my office, who should remain nameless, who looked aghast.

"I said: 'You'll have to get on your knees'. One of them said: 'For God's sake' and I said: 'Exactly'".

Blair, who converted to Catholicism to join the same faith as his wife Cherie, added: "One of the things I loved about meeting such people in office was their unashamed proclamation of their faith."

At the debate Blair was funny, and sometimes self-deprecating: "I once wrote a pamphlet about why a human rights act in Britain would be a thoroughly bad idea – then, as prime minister, I introduced one" .

Even in this politician's afterlife, his religious beliefs had a vagueness about them. He was challenged from the audience about his belief in the resurrection and while he was clear that he believed it, it was not at all clear what he meant. "My father was and remains a militant atheist" he said. "So it's a debate I am well familiar with.

"For me the resurrection in the sense of someone reborn is a very important, indeed essential part of Christian faith. Rather than see this as part of a debate about physiology or biology, I see it was what it tells us about human condition."

The former prime minister was speaking at a debate with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Charles Moore, Lady Thatcher's biographer and, like Blair, a convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism.

Challenged by Moore as to why he called Islam a religion of peace when no one would feel it necessary to call Methodism "a religion of Peace", Blair replied that there were times in Christian history when you would have doubted that Christianity, too, was a religion of peace. Yet he believed that religion and democracy should grow together.

"How do we create a situation in which every religion has its truth claims reconciled with the existence of different ones? I believe there is a simple and obvious way to do this – to recognise it would be very arrogant towards God's purpose for us, not to recognise that others have their own ideas."

Williams rephrased the argument slightly: "A lot of religious people assume that they have to win God's arguments for him. That seems to me a preposterous religious position to be in." Blair suppressed a giggle of recognition.

But when it came to actual practical clashes between religious and political beliefs, the panel talked about gambling rather than sex or even assisted dying. Williams recalled the Lords debate in which the Blair government's plans for supercasinos had been defeated. "The idea that you could regenerate an impoverished corner of Manchester by importing a supercasino seemed to me utterly utterly bizarre."

"We are in danger of assuming that morality is self-evident, that there is a default morality which is secular and that what religious people think is just a decoration."

Blair was unrepentant. Although he was anxious for religious groups to make their voices heard, democracy, for him, meant that elected politicians would listen, and then do what they wanted anyway: "I didn't agree with the Salvation Army position on gambling. If people could already gamble online, so I didn't see why they should be stopped from doing so here. [And] In the end, I as prime minister should decide what was best for the country."

Williams was more thoughtful about the limitations of his power. Talking about women bishops, where his proposals for a compromise to soothe the feelings of the defeated opponents had been rejected by the church's general synod, he said: "The bishops – myself included – have had to learn just how difficult it is for women to hear an all male body pronouncing on their future. I still think myself that we had the right general idea, but that's not going to make much difference."

If Psychopath Bush Lied To GOD, Then He Must Have Lied To U.S.?

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell
- George W. Bush Sitting on GOD's lap saying: Hi! I'm George! Hear GOD Talk Through Me!

God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them. - George W. Bush - [click = HAARETZ.COM to read article]

Steven Leech - Writer/Poet/D.J.

Love Junkie by Snakegrinder and the Shredded Fieldmice, live at the Stone Balloon in Newark, Delaware, December 1976

Keith Lampe - Co-Founder of YIPPIE and Progressive Activist Groups

Rise Like Lions - Occupy Wall Street and the Seeds of Revolution by Scott Noble

The Power Principle - An Interview with Filmmaker Scott Noble - Soldiers for the Cause

Amestizo - BLOG

American Holocaust of Native American Indians

Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power

Sherry L. Smith, Article Source

Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power by Sherry L. Smith


Through much of the 20th century, federal policy toward Indians sought to extinguish all remnants of native life and culture. That policy was dramatically confronted in the late 1960s when a loose coalition of hippies, civil rights advocates, Black Panthers, unions, Mexican-Americans, Quakers and other Christians, celebrities, and others joined with Red Power activists to fight for Indian rights.

In Hippies, Indians and the Fight for Red Power, Sherry Smith offers the first full account of this remarkable story. Hippies were among the first non-Indians of the post-World War II generation to seek contact with Native Americans. The counterculture saw Indians as genuine holdouts against conformity, inherently spiritual, ecological, tribal, communal-the original "long hairs." Searching for authenticity while trying to achieve social and political justice for minorities, progressives of various stripes and colors were soon drawn to the Indian cause. Black Panthers took part in Pacific Northwest fish-ins. Corky Gonzales' Mexican American Crusade for Justice provided supplies and support for the Wounded Knee occupation. Actor Marlon Brando and comedian Dick Gregory spoke about the problems Native Americans faced. For their part, Indians understood they could not achieve political change without help. Non-Indians had to be educated and enlisted. Smith shows how Indians found, among this hodge-podge of dissatisfied Americans, willing recruits to their campaign for recognition of treaty rights; realization of tribal power, sovereignty, and self-determination; and protection of reservations as cultural homelands. The coalition was ephemeral but significant, leading to political reforms that strengthened Indian sovereignty.

Thoroughly researched and vividly written, this book not only illuminates this transformative historical moment but contributes greatly to our understanding about social movements.


First work to investigate the significant non-Indian support behind the Red Power movement.

2012 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Trail of Broken Treaties and occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Building in Washington, D.C. and 2013 will be the 40th anniversary of AIM's occupation of Wounded Knee.

Offers a fresh perspective on well-known events in Native American history, discussing involvement of churches, celebrities, counterculture, and more.


"If ever there was a story difficult to get right, it's the turbulent confluence of hippies and American Indians in the 1960s and 70s. Sherry Smith gets it right." --Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline

"With penetrating analysis, Sherry Smith argues eloquently that the 1960s and 1970s were the defining moment in modern political history for America and American Indians struggling for justice. This book defines this pivotal time; it contextualizes nationwide political activism by putting an odd couple--Indians and hippies together--on the center stage of making history. Absolutely brilliant!" --Donald L. Fixico, author of The Urban Indian Experience in America

"Sherry Smith has done a masterful job of sorting out the braided cultural strains which tangled and interpenetrated during the cultural and political revolutions of the Sixties. I was present at a number of these events, knew many of the players, and am amazed at the way she has clarified 'the fog of war,' which is how history recounted appears to participants. Her book covers an unacknowledged aspect of Native people's struggle for justice and the confusing, often ignorant manner in which counter-culture hipsters, liberals, and well-meaning do-gooders tried to 'help' them. Through it all, 'White' cultural assumptions loom as large as a rude and noisy guest at a prayer breakfast. It's eye-opening, ground-breaking work and deserves to be read." --Peter Coyote, actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall

"Without ever losing sight of the larger tragedy of American Indian history, Sherry Smith writes deftly and often wryly of the 1960s and 1970s when the counterculture and the New Left discovered Indians, and Indians discovered the political possibilities that alienated young white Americans presented. The results were sometimes comic, sometimes painful, occasionally touching, but always revealing of the changing valence of Indian peoples and cultures in American society and American politics. This is an original and absorbing book." --Richard White, Stanford University

Product Details

280 pages; 15 halftones; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4;
ISBN13: 978-0-19-985559-9
ISBN10: 0-19-985559-5

About the Author

Sherry L. Smith is University Distinguished Professor of History and Associate Director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. She is the author of Reimagining Indians: Native Americans through Anglo Eyes, 1880-1940 (OUP, 2000); The View from Officers' Row: Army Perceptions of Western Indians; and Sagebrush Soldier: William Earl Smith's View of the Sioux War of 1876.

30 minutes with ... Damian Marley

The reggae star on the bittersweet pleasure of watching footage of his father, why people have started calling him 'Gong Zilla', and how Jamaica has changed in his lifetime

Dave Simpson,, Thursday 19 July 2012 06.43 EDT, Article Source

'Most people grow up knowing their father. I didn't ... Damian Marley. Photograph: Jim Cooper/AP
'Most people grow up knowing their father. I didn't' ... Damian Marley. Photograph: Jim Cooper/AP

Where are you?

I'm in Miami at the moment. It's about 5pm. I'm just rising. I record all night and sleep all day. It started because you're excited about the music and you want to stay up longer, but over 15 years it's become a habit. In my circle I think a lot of musicians operate like this. When the place is quiet you're more creative. I have plenty of people I can call at 4am and know they'll be up. The Marleys had a family base here even before I was born, but everyone's developed families now and my brothers and sisters live in the surrounding blocks from me. It's become a home away from Jamaica.

Can you be more anonymous in Kingston?

More people would recognise me in Kingston, but it's rare to go on the road and not get recognised by someone. The problem now is everyone has a camera in their pocket, on their cellphone – at the airport it's difficult to get from point A to point B without taking half an hour because there are so many people taking pictures.

DAMIAN MARLEY Welcome To Jam Rock - Reading on mobile? Watch here

Someone's posted a very strange video of you on YouTube. You're putting your hair into a backpack.

Yeaah! I was aware that somebody was filming. I'm about 5' 10", and my hair is the length of my whole body now. We grow our hair because of faith, but it's getting heavy. Most of the rastas [1] know with hair my length are elders, and they keep it tied up, but for a young person who's active and running around the weight is a big thing. So to play sports I put it in a backpack. I might end up with a backpack on stage.

You're playing the Respect Jamaica 50th festival shortly. You've lived through 33 years of the country's independence. Has it changed much?

Technology has changed things, same as everywhere. But the economy has changed drastically. When Jamaica first won independence our dollar was stronger than the US dollar. Now ours is about 90 to one. That's had a big impact on crime and poverty. There's less opportunity, less strength as an island, less things to share. That's been the biggest and most important effect on the lives of the general public, which for the most part is poor.

There were a lot of poor people when I was a child, also. But I think things were easier. When I used to ride to school, my stepfather would tell me about English money, a dime or a shilling or whatever. He'd tell me what these things would buy. It's funny because now I can tell my nephew about when I was going to school and I used to get a dollar for lunch, and that would buy a lot of stuff compared to now where you need $500 or $1,000 for school. In Jamaica, we used to have a one and two dollar bill; they don't exist any more.

Did you used to buy records with your pocket money?

I used to buy records in high school. Mainly dancehall: Super Cat, Buju Banton.

Damian Marley putting hair in backpack to play Calle Street Soccer - Reading on mobile? Watch here

Can you remember the first music you ever made?

I can remember the first time I ever recorded my vocals on to a beat. Cat Coore from Third World – a legendary Jamaican band [2] - had a little demo set up at his house. I'm very good friends with his eldest son, Shiah, who plays with me now. So we were rhyming over a track by the dancehall artist Peter Metro. I've still got it somewhere.

A lot of your music features collaborations. Did that spirit of making music with other people start then?

No, that came more from making music with my brothers. A lot of my first album [3] was collaborations with my brother Stephen. We've always done it together as brothers – there are a lot of professionals in my family, with production and so on.

How did you get to make the Distant Relatives album [4] with Nas?

I'd been a fan for ages, and I invited him to be on Road to Zion on the Welcome to Jamrock album [5]. Since then, we always wanted to do something else. I had a few tracks that didn't make that album. One of them was based around Africa, and my band's manager had the idea of making an EP around Africa with Nas.

Once we started we had so much fun we decided to do a full-length album. The rest is history. I can't think of any show we did together that wasn't well received. Nas would probably be one of the only candidates I could have done that project with.

They call him a "conscious rapper".

Yeah, he doesn't like that title. He doesn't really like any title. He doesn't want to be framed in any way, but he is a conscious person, the way he speaks, the books he reads.

We have crazy conversations: music, world history, African history, all kinds of things.

Have you spent much time in Africa?

No, I want to spend more time there. I've visited the east and west coast and they were very different. Ethiopia was a very spiritual place. You'd wake up in the morning and hear the churches and mosques, and chanting. Lot of poverty there, but it doesn't seem to have the link to crime.

There was a lot of red, gold and green [6], but Ethiopia didn't remind me of Jamaica at all. And the people don't look Jamaican.

I played in Ghana, and a load of people met us at the airport and I thought they'd flown over from Jamaica for the concert. They were even speaking patois! It was only when you start listening to their accent you realise its not quite spot on, but that's west Africa. As Jamaicans, a lot of our ancestors come from those places.

Your albums mix social commentary and love songs. Do you have a preference?

I like singing all songs really, but I find that writing social commentary comes naturally. My father [7] was big on that and then some, but my stepfather is a politician in Jamaica – and one of Jamaica's leading criminal defence lawyers – so I've been exposed to different ways of thinking. He's defended all kinds. He was Jim Brown's lawyer – a notorious Jamaican gangster. Many of the top gangsters! Nas is interested in this stuff. It makes great subject material.

SuperHeavy - Miracle Worker - Reading on mobile? Watch here

You're one of the handful of people on the planet who knows what it's like to be in a band with Mick Jagger. [8] What's that like?

Erm … that was a great learning experience for me. To be in a band with Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, AR Rahman was a great opportunity.Mick Jagger was working with Peter Tosh [9] in Jamaica in 1978, but I'd never met him before. In Jamaica maybe some of the younger people wouldn't know what he looks like, but they know his name. He's Mick Jagger!

That name is already a brand by itself. But when you're in a studio with him you don't feel like you're with Mick Jagger the brand. It's very human-to-human. He was calm and receptive to me, he didn't make me feel like I was being overwhelmed. He liked my hair but he's used to this kind of stuff. I noticed that for his age he's very energetic and fit, more hair than most. He was jumping around in the studio to the songs.

You've always been known as Jr Gong, after Bob Marley who was Tuff Gong, so why have people suddenly started calling you Gong Zilla?

Yeeeah! An engineer who was working on Distant Relatives gave me that name. I walked into the studio one day and he just went "Gong Zilla!". It's kinda catchy, after Godzilla, who was a big lizard!] [10]

Have you seen the film Marley?

Yeah. I think it was kind of cool. Put together well. It wasn't that weird watching it because there's two dozen books, hundreds of songs! But when you look at a man's life there's so many facets and it's so hard to sum it up in an hour and a half. So it's not the full thing. I liked seeing the original footage that everyone has been poring over for years. That was nice. One or two stories I hadn't heard before – places my Dad had been that I didn't know about.

It must be wonderful to have such a vast record of your father's life – the back catalogue, the books, and now that film …

Yeah, but for me it's bittersweet, because most people get to grow up knowing their parents and I didn't. When he passed away I was very young [11]. So for me yeah, OK, I get the chance to see him moving around. The way he ran, and so on. I see a lot of my brothers and myself in him. Physical things, and we operate the way he would have operated.

Does it bother you more as you get older than you never knew him?

I wouldn't say it bothers me, but it's something that I'm more aware of as I get in older and understand more about life. I've got a son now who's about the same age I was when my father passed, so that brings you to that way of thinking. He's called Elijah, and is already playing drums.

Is he Junior Junior Gong?

I guess! Mini Gong.

How old were you when you first smoked ganja? [12]

Whoah. In terms of really smoking probably 13 or 14. It wasn't often. We had to hide it from our parents and things, but every now and then on a weekend I'd get together with friends and someone would smuggle in a pinch of herb from somewhere. We'd spend an hour trying to roll it because we couldn't roll a joint at the time. The first time I giggled the whole night and ate down the whole kitchen. People say it makes music sound different, but in all my years of making music I've been smoking, so I don't know what songs sound like without smoking!

You call yourself a spiritual revolutionary. What does that mean?

A revolution is to bring on change and we're spiritual people trying to bring on spiritual change. It might sound like I'm a dreamer, but economic models have reached their height of evolution. Technology has evolved. What hasn't evolved is mankind's spirituality; everything is from 3,000 years ago. With spirituality comes morals, a better way of thinking.

In Jamaica, the way rasta became popular spread a message of love and one love. But it's a work in progress. I think after a time there won't be anything left to be interesting for mankind. Computers are about to do everything for us. Cellphones are smarter than we are. We'll embrace spirituality because we'll be bored of everything else.

Do you have a favourite Bob Marley song?

No. My favourite one is the one I haven't heard in a long time, and when I listen to it my favourite will become the next one that I haven't heard in a long time.

Damian Marley headlines the Respect Jamaica 50th concert at the O2, London on 26 and 27 July.


[01] The Rastafari movement originated in Jamaica in the 30s. Rastas worship Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia (ruled 1930-1974) as the reincarnation of Jesus, God's chosen king on earth.

[02] Best known in the UK for 1978 top 10 hit Now That We Found Love.

[03] Mr Marley, 1996

[04] Widely acclaimed 2010 concept album about Africa, ancestry and poverty. It reached the US top five

[05] Damian's 2006 Grammy-winning international breakthrough.

[06] The colours of rastafari.

[07] Bob Marley, legendary reggae singer/frontman of Bob Marley and the Wailers.

[08] SuperHeavy, whose eponymous debut was released in 2011.

[09] Founding member of the Wailers, shot dead in 1987.

[10] A movie monster who first appeared in the 1954 Godzilla, and has now featured in 28 films.

[11] Bob Marley died of cancer on 11 May 1981, aged 36, when Damian was two.

[12] Marijuana/cannabis, the spiritual tool of rasta.

When does subtitling risk becoming racially offensive?

The decisions of editors, made in the name of clarity, can sometimes lead to uncomfortable viewing

Posted by Mark Lawson,, Thursday 19 July 2012 07.57 EDT, Article Source

Gold standard … Usain Bolt in the documentary Fastest Man Alive.
Gold standard … Usain Bolt in the documentary Fastest Man Alive.

In the 2011 World Championships, Usain Bolt suffered a bewildering false start and so did this week's documentary about him. Usain Bolt: The Fastest Man Alive (BBC1, Monday) began with a sequence featuring the runner's disqualification from that event, during which the speech of both the sprinter and his relatives was sub-titled. A subsequent interview with Bolt's coach also gave Jamaican-accented English the on-screen translation normally reserved for foreign languages.

The same discourtesy was extended to some black contributors to The Secret History of Our Streets, the BBC2 series revisiting Charles Booth's social maps of London. And, in both cases, I felt shock and unease, as if the iPlayer had accidentally thrown up a show made by the South African Broadcasting Corporation circa 1985.

This is not entirely a black-and-white issue: speakers with Scottish and American regional accents are regularly sub-titled in British programmes and captions are also sometimes employed when the soundtrack is indistinct because, for instance, of surreptitious recording. But due to the history of skin-colour discrimination, the technique is inevitably most sensitive when it appears to be penalising some accented black speakers for failing to deliver their contributions in what used to be called the Queen's or BBC English.

I don't believe that the makers of these programmes had any prejudicial intention, nor is there any suggestion of racism, but there is clearly a risk that offence could be taken by viewers.

So why then might TV speakers have their words underlined in this way? Often during editing, a decision is made that viewers may struggle to understand contributors. But these calculations are inevitably divisive. Bolt's coach was sub-titled but his personal trainer, appearing immediately afterwards, was not, although both men were Jamaicans speaking English. Subliminally, the documentary is sending the message that the second contributor spoke – well, what? Better English? In a manner more acceptable to a mainstream BBC audience?

Confusingly, some speakers judged incomprehensible at the beginning of the film were later permitted to talk without assistance. My guess, from long experience in edit suites, is that a judgment was taken that viewers would have "tuned in" to the accents after the opening exchanges; an argument that I have heard used by producers and technicians. And, in some of the sections, there was the technical defence that the words were being heard over pictures, so that – because we are all to some extent amateur lip-readers – disembodied voices are harder to comprehend. The weakness of that justification, of course, is that Bolt and others hadn't chosen to be heard rather than seen in these sequences: this limitation was imposed on them by the producers.

As an experiment, I looked away from the screen during the sub-titled sections and was able to understand every sentence. There was the occasional dropped or ambiguous word, but that is true of all speakers on TV and radio, with the possible exception of Simon Russell Beale.

The problem with the practice of captioning some accents is that it automatically implies that these speakers are deviating from some commonly agreed standard of comprehensible pronounciation. And it is almost impossible to set that standard without class-based or potentially racist implications and, just as insultingly, assuming a common ear among the audience.

For example, I remember working on a programme in radio – where speech-policing is even more fraught because there is no possibility of sub-titling – with a producer who argued that part of an interview should be dropped because the speaker had a "very strong northern accent". But, as it happens, the producer had pronounced the first word in that phrase as "vair" and lived in a hice from which she sometimes went ite. Would such phonetically-deviant dialect possibly be as incomprehensible in Yorkshire as a dalesman sounded to her? Might some members of the British TV audience find Usain Bolt's relatives easier on the ear than, say, Dr David Starkey?

Except for comprehensibility problems caused by recording conditions, any attempt to define "proper English" on screen is bound to cause offence. But the solution is obvious. Most TV viewers have easy access to the option of sub-titling. In future, producers faced with accents or deliveries they consider tricky should leave the decision to watching individuals.

The Who go back on the road to play Quadrophenia

Peter Townshend and Roger Daltrey mark 40th anniversary of concept album with North American tour

Sean Michaels,, Thursday 19 July 2012 05.27 EDT, Article Source

Back on the road ... Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of the Who to tour Quadrophenia. Photograph: Mark J Terrill/AP
Back on the road ... Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of the Who to tour Quadrophenia. Photograph: Mark J Terrill/AP

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are taking the Who back on the road. The duo have announced a 40th anniversary tour for Quadrophenia, taking the rock opera on a 36-night tour of North America.

"We've been anxious to work together before we drop dead," Townshend said on Wednesday. There have certainly been questions about the Who's future: Townshend has hearing problems, and the guitarist sat out Daltrey's 2011 tour performing the Who's 1969 album Tommy. Still, Townshend said last year that he wanted to bring Quadrophenia back to the stage.

"I really love playing all of [Quadrophenia]," Townshend said. "It's a unique piece for me in that … It flows naturally, and I always feel proud of my achievement as the writer, that I put it all together and gave the band a third wind." This time the band incorporates Daltrey and Townshend, plus long-time accompanists Pino Palladino, Simon Townshend, Zak Starkey and Chris Stainton, plus Loren Gold and Frank Simes who both worked with Daltry on his 2009 tour. While each night will see them perform Quadrophenia in full, the Who will also revisit classics such as Baba O'Reilly and Won't Get Fooled Again.

Townshend also confirmed that he is finishing work on his memoir, due this autumn. In a nod to Keith Richards' book, Life, Townshend cracked a ribald joke about Mick Jagger: "What I remember of the size of Mick Jagger's penis," he told Rolling Stone, "I remember it as being huge and extremely tasty."

Released in 1973, Quadrophenia was the Who's sixth studio album. Telling the story of mods and rockers in 1964 and 1965, it reached No 2 in the UK. It was adapted into a film by Franc Roddam in 1979. The tour begins on 1 November in Florida and finishes on 26 February in Rhode Island. No UK or European dates have yet been announced.

Watch this web space: online art beamed straight to your desktop

From cult movie clips to low-budget YouTube videos, a growing number of artists are showcasing their work online – so take a break from Olympic beach volleyball and visit a virtual exhibition

Oliver Basciano,, Thursday 19 July 2012 07.01 EDT, Article Source

In the loop .. artist Richard Healy used film excerpts from Ferris Bueller's Day Off for a web-only artwork, as part of online project Or-bits. Photograph: Richard Healy
In the loop .. artist Richard Healy used film excerpts from Ferris Bueller's Day Off for
a web-only artwork, as part of online project Or-bits. Photograph: Richard Healy

Matthew Broderick has taken over my desktop. The screen is filling with pop-up windows, each silently playing two-second looped clips from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Entitled Leisure Rules, this work by artist Richard Healy was part of a recent exhibition on the web-only project space Or-bits, curated by Marialaura Ghidini. Healy's clever use of the film excerpts characterises the way pop culture disseminates via the web in a fractured form, as cult movies are shared via YouTube and Facebook, one nostalgic clip at a time.

Like Or-bits, a growing number of online projects are showcasing work which focuses solely on the artistic possibilities of the web. A breakout example is Ryan Trecartin who, since 2006, has been making his grotesque low-budget videos available on YouTube, deliberately placing them among the site's more hysterical vlogs and amateur footage of cute cats. Since Trecartin's uploads were spotted by a curator from the New Museum in New York, the artist has gone on to exhibit at major institutions internationally, including MoMA PS1 in New York and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

For artists and curators yet to receive the sort of financial support Trecartin now commands, a web-based project is often an economically sustainable solution in straitened times. Even established galleries such as London's Institute of Contemporary Arts are embracing the idea of web-only exhibiting – although in the ICA's case, this is a result of being forced to close during the Olympics to make way for the nearby beach volleyball site. It has responded by programming an exhibition of sound works which, during Olympic fortnight, will be available only on its website, featuring contributions from more than 130 artists including Haroon Mirza's recording of four minutes and 33 seconds of feedback, a nod to composer John Cage, and an entertaining history of techno music narrated by Glasgow-based artist Charlotte Prodger.

However, Newcastle-based Ghidini says that, unlike the first wave of "net artists" during the mid-1990s (the term described practitioners who were interested in the fundamental structures of the web, typically incorporating hacking culture and coding expertise) there is now little distinction between creating art on- or off-line. "The online realm is not the radical space it was in the 1990s but this is interesting for me, because now it has a more complex relationship with the offline dimension."

Candice Jacobs, an artist who runs the new online art project Sleeping Upright, similarly refutes any artistic difference in operating online as opposed to off. "It's just another method of display, using something that is so integrated into our everyday life." Both Ghidini and Jacobs say they aren't interested in those who do regard themselves as "net artists", and both their websites feature artists who also make work in more established mediums, to show in traditional gallery venues.

It started with a kiss ... Hannah Perry has looped images of a passionate kiss for her online project for Sleeping Upright. Photograph: Hannah Perry
It started with a kiss ... Hannah Perry has looped images of a passionate kiss for her online
project for Sleeping Upright. Photograph: Hannah Perry

Sleeping Upright recently commissioned works for exhibition both on the web and at the Nottingham Contemporary gallery. The results ranged from the Hannah Perry's uncomfortable looping of a passionate kiss, to Leslie Kulesh's mesmeric relaxation-tape pastiche. The digital works it hosts are offered up for sale, with buyers having the website URL rights transferred to their ownership. This method is also used by more established online operators such as Angelo Plessas – whose oddball, interactive lo-fi animations, currently on show at Cell Projects in London, are both addictive and strangely melancholic – and Rafaël Rozendaal, whose animations tend to be bright and abstract.

Not all of the current web-based art projects are concerned with posterity. hosts a series of solo shows – like the current exhibition of psychedelic digital drawing by Travess Smalley – for a finite time, before leaving only the private view invitation (yes, they host online private views) as proof of the show's earlier existence. Attilia Fattori Franchini and Rhys Coren, the duo behind the site, say they wanted to mimic the setup of a physical space. Miss the show and it's gone forever.

Blink and you'll miss it ... detail from Travess Smalley's psychedelic digital drawing Mercurail at Photograph: Travess Smalley
Blink and you'll miss it ... detail from Travess Smalley's psychedelic digital drawing Mercurail at Photograph: Travess Smalley

Similarly, Field Broadcast, a project by artists Rebecca Birch and Rob Smith, is a series of performances occurring over just one week of the year. These performances – which have featured everything from a text piece typed live from Berlin by 2010 participant Simon Faithfull, to Dan Walwin's exploration in 2011 – pop up directly on your computer desktop via a downloadable piece of software, and appear only for the duration of the broadcast.

Birch says this sense of jeopardy and intrusion is intentional: "As it pings open on the desktop, the viewer might be in the middle of something. The idea is they won't have prepared themselves to be looking at art." As this type of art becomes more plentiful, though, such interventions may prove less of a surprise.

• Soundworks is at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and on until 16 September. Angelo Plessas: The Twilight of the Idols is at Cell Projects until 22 July. Travess Smalley: Intangible Moments of Control is at until 13 August

Apple ordered to run adverts stating Samsung did not copy iPad

Judge rules that Apple must take out newspaper and magazine ads that say Samsung did not copy its iPad, according to Bloomberg

Charles Arthur,, Thursday 19 July 2012 02.44 EDT, Article Source

An Apple iPad, left, and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. Photograph: Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters
An Apple iPad, left, and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. Photograph: Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters

Apple has been ordered to take out advertisements in major newspapers – including the Daily Mail, the Guardian and the Financial Times – pointing to a UK high court ruling that says Samsung did not copy its iPad, the Bloomberg news agency is reporting.

It said the order came from Judge Colin Birss in a ruling on 18 July following his 9 July ruling in which he said that Samsung did not infringe Apple's patents because the American company's device was "cool" but Samsung's "are not as cool" even while they were "very, very similar" viewed from the front.

Birss's order apparently followed comments made by Apple after his first ruling, when in a statement the company said: "It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we've said many times before, we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."

However Bloomberg reports that Birss declined Samsung's requests to block Apple from making such comments: "They are entitled to their opinion," it quoted him saying. Samsung had said that the comments caused real commercial harm, the report said.

Birss said that the notice – the precise content of which does not seem to have been specified – must be posted on Apple UK's website for six months and in newspapers and magazines, including daily newspapers and T3 magazine, according to a draft copy of the order seen by Bloomberg and provided by Samsung's lawyers.

For Apple, complying with the ruling could be embarrassing because it will oblige it to remark directly on a competitor – something that businesses in the highly competitive consumer electronics field are loath to do.

Apple's adverts never mention rivals, and the company has shied away from comparative adverts for more than a decade, preferring instead to focus on its own products.

Though it had a long-running "Mac v PC" advertising series, intended to dig at Microsoft's Windows software, it never mentioned any hardware rival by name.

Samsung, meanwhile, has spoofed the behaviour of Apple customers in adverts, but without mentioning it by name, including adverts shown in the US which depict people queueing for a new phone – as frequently happens for new iPhone releases.

The Birss order, if implemented, would mean that Apple's high-profile and aggressive court attacks against Samsung and other Android vendors has backfired.

While Apple's decision to sue Samsung particularly has earned high-profile media coverage, the company has not mentioned it in adverts – nor is there any record of an Apple advert referencing Samsung directly or indirectly.

A spokeswoman for Samsung said: "Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims based on such generic designs, innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited.

Apple declined to comment on the order.

A lawyer for Apple previously said that the company would appeal against Birss's ruling, which said that Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablets did not infringe Apple's reference design lodged with the European Union.

On social media the new religion is sharing.
Some of that sharing may not be very nice

But maybe a certain level of abuse is the price we pay for free speech

Suzanne Moore,, Wednesday 18 July 2012 14.59 EDT, Article Source

'There is joy to be had, but much online behaviour needs to be questioned.' Photograph: Brand New Images/Getty Images
'There is joy to be had, but much online behaviour needs to be questioned.' Photograph: Brand New Images/Getty Images

One of my birthday presents is a pair of rubber stamps, one with a thumbs up ("Like") and one with a thumbs down ("Dislike"). So I can now rubber-stamp the world to rights. I wish Facebook and Twitter had Dislike buttons but they don't. Disliking someone's dog would, I suppose, ruin a perfectly good virtual friendship.

While we are told that social media makes the world incredibly complicated, much online discussion is very simplistic. I say this as an avid user of the technology that enables my narcissism as much as yours. There is joy to be had, but much online behaviour needs to be questioned.

Around the John Terry case, the default mode was to slag off Terry to prove one's anti-racist credentials. Something about this is nauseating but then in many recent discussions about racism I find myself on the "wrong" side. I don't think the Terry case should ever have gone to court. I don't see why calling someone a cunt is perfectly acceptable when I keep being told off for swearing.

The question of context is missing. Again, I read Mehdi Hasan on being abused for being a Muslim. Of course I don't think it's right but he uses terms that not all of us accept in the first place, such as "Islamophobia", which muddles faith, ethnicity and identity in unhelpful ways. Nor do I think Jonathan Freedland should be abused for being Jewish anymore than I should for being a woman.

How do we stand together against this? For much of this argument splinters back into identity politics. The terms "misogyny", "anti-semitism" and "homophobia" may be useful but too often are used to shut down rather than open up online debate. This is why free speech is so difficult. It may be that a certain level of abuse is the price we pay for it. Do we ban or "moderate" opinions we don't like? And who is going to monitor these anonymous haters? The unknown quantity is the interrelation of online personas with actions in the real world. Thus we defend someone who made a joke about blowing up an airport because we don't think he was really going to do it. Threats of sexual or racial violence we see as a different category.

Lately, though, I am becoming more and more uncomfortable at the nature of online interaction. Not only do I think there is more to being an anti-racist than a retweet, the cases of invasion of privacy that social media cheers on are nasty, petty and curtain-twitching. I am referring to the cases of drunk or ill people racially abusing others on public transport. Then last week we had a comedian live-tweeting a couple having a row on a train. Some people found this hilarious. The couple were named and photographed by this comedian/citizen journalist/spy. Is this funny in real life? As Leveson trundles on, is it now OK to turn oneself into a hacker/paparazzo for everyone else's entertainment?

The problem is that social media has no concept of privacy. If the couple were arguing in public, anyone may record and snigger at it. But this is to confuse public space with social space, for social media makes everything "social". That's how it works. "Social" is, as Biz Stone, founder of Twitter, said, "the killer app of the 21st century". Sharing is the new religion. And some of that sharing may well be not very nice. Much online abuse, for instance, would not occur face to face in public.

Andrew Keen's new book, Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution is Dividing, Diminishing and Disorientating Us, asks some awkward, important questions. If we live online and everything is "social", what is outside it? What is privacy? The move from a platform for data to a platform for real people is huge business. Freedom of expression boosted by entrepreneurial libertarians may have its cost. Keen talks of Michel Foucault's theory of the Panopticon, the late 18th-century model of building prisons so that all inmates are visible in separate rooms but, feeling watched, police themselves; it's "the trap of visibility", as Foucault called it. In the same way, the internet appears transparent, yet is monitored and mined for data; we are all potential consumers.

The internet is not the answer to loneliness or isolation, and many younger and older than me have little use for it. They would rather connect in real life. It is all too easy in the media to underestimate this reality or to understand how inactive many social media users remain.

To truly measure the psychological cost of the free apps of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and so on, would mean understanding the huge shift between public and private which neither the judiciary nor government appear to grasp. The missing element is exactly what may be deemed political because when everything becomes "social", the refiguring of what is public and what is private, what is collective and what is individual, means connecting how we act in real life with how we interact online. The danger is that technology may well make us feel we are doing something when we are not. But therein lies the profit. While we under-share in the real world, online we over-share like crazy. And call it freedom. • This article was amended on 18 July 2012, correcting the spelling of Mehdi Hasan's name.

How to spot war criminals & the best way to arrest them.

George W. Bush & his Administration Murdered Women, Children, and Civilians During A War Based on Lies
These Baby Murdering Politicians Should Be In Jail !!!

Steve Bell on Whitehall holding up the Chilcot inquiry into Iraq
Steve Bellon Whitehall holding up the Chilcot inquiry into Iraq,, Monday 16 July 2012 18.21 EDT, Source
Caption Says: Cabinet is Not A Safe Space to Debate Going to War. I prefer an Informal Meeting with No Record Taken!

Smoke on the water - Deep Purple (LIVE) - Jon Lord obituary

Bob Dylan in row over Newport folk festival electric guitar

Singer disputes claim by historians at US TV channel PBS that they have found the 'holy grail' of rock memorabilia – the Fender Stratocaster he played when he went 'electric' at 1965 festival

Sean Michaels,, Friday 13 July 2012 11.19 BST, Article Source

Electric dreams … Bob Dylan plays a Fender Stratocaster for the first time onstage at the Newport folk festival on 25 July 1965. Photograph: Alice Ochs/Getty Images
Electric dreams … Bob Dylan plays a Fender Stratocaster for the first time onstage
at the Newport folk festival on 25 July 1965. Photograph: Alice Ochs/Getty Images

A New Jersey woman claims to have inherited folk music's most infamous electric guitar, confiscated after Bob Dylan forgot it on an aeroplane. Despite Dylan's denials, American researchers say they have authenticated Dawn Peterson's 1964 sunburst Fender Stratocaster – allegedly the same guitar Dylan used when he "went electric" at the 1965 Newport folk festival.

"This is the Holy Grail," said Elyse Luray, a former Christie's appraiser who now works with the PBS series History Detectives. Luray and the show's producers have spent months researching Peterson's guitar, which was found by her late father, a pilot called Victor Quinto, who worked for Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, in the mid-60s. "After one flight, my father saw there were three guitars left on the plane," Peterson told Rolling Stone magazine. "He contacted the company a few times about picking the guitars up, but nobody ever got back to him."

Working with numerous experts, History Detectives say they have authenticated the guitar's model, finish, stenciled case, and above all its wood grain, matching it to the instrument Dylan played at Newport. The guitar was also accompanied by 13 pages of lyric sheets – typed with handwritten annotations. "The second I looked at them I knew they were real," Jeff Gold, a Dylan expert, told the New York Times. "These are not lyrics to important songs, but they are a real important and extraordinary lens with which to look into [Dylan's] working method."

Representatives for Dylan, however, say it is impossible that Peterson has discovered the songwriter's lost electric guitar. "Bob has possession of the electric guitar he played at the Newport folk festival in 1965," said Orin Snyder, Dylan's lawyer. "He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics."

Part of the dispute seems tied up in the guitar's potential auction value. If believed to be authentic, this slab of rosewood could sell for as much as $1m (£650,000). But if the guitar is found to be stolen, Rolling Stone reported, the original owner could demand a share of the proceeds or prevent the sale. Peterson apparently wrote to Dylan's management in 2005, asking them to waive their claim to the instrument. Dylan refused, asking that the item be returned. "The guitar has been in my family since before I was born – over 47 years," Peterson complained. "I have to discuss it more with my husband … Things have crossed my mind."

Nobody Should Have That Much Power

Politicians spent 55 million of your tax dollars in order to discover if Monica swallowed and impeach a president because of sex.

Politicians spent a little over 3 million tax dollars on the 9/11 cOMMISSION and 3000 people murdered in New York.

What Are Politicians Trying to Hide?
Is It Cheney's Secret Energy Meetings, Which Doubled and Tripled the Cost of Gas???
Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force - Washington Post
Dick Cheney's Last Laugh - Mother Jones
Time For A Corporate Death Penalty - ???


Psychologists Agree that 9/11 was an inside Job & Offer help to Deniers


On September 11 Ask Yourself When History Repeats... Do We Notice? - February 27, 1933 Berlin Reichstag Fire and September 11, 2011 WTC/Pentagon Attacks = Hitler and George W. Bush's Administration
On September 11 Ask Yourself When History Repeats...
Do We Notice?

Amestizo - BLOG

Time to Get Crazy:
What We Can Learn from Native American Resistance to Colonists' Greed

The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite.

By Chris Hedges, AlterNet, July 8, 2012, Article Source

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Native Americans' resistance to the westward expansion of Europeans took two forms. One was violence. The other was accommodation. Neither worked. Their land was stolen, their communities were decimated, their women and children were gunned down and the environment was ravaged. There was no legal recourse. There was no justice. There never is for the oppressed. And as we face similar forces of predatory, unchecked corporate power intent on ruthless exploitation and stripping us of legal and physical protection, we must confront how we will respond.

The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the "expanding" wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries. At the very end, it all will come down like a house of cards.

Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality. Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth. Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism "a machine for demolishing limits." This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues.

ExxonMobil, BP and the coal and natural gas companies—like the colonial buffalo hunters who left thousands of carcasses rotting in the sun after stripping away the hides, and in some cases carrying away only the tongues—will never impose rational limits on themselves. They will exploit, like the hustlers before them who eliminated the animals that sustained the native peoples of the Great Plains, until there is nothing left to exploit. Collective suicide is never factored into quarterly profit reports. Forget all those virtuous words they taught you in school about our system of government. The real words to describe American power are "plunder," "fraud," "criminality," "deceit," "murder" and "repression." 

Those native communities that were most accommodating to the European colonists, such as the peaceful California tribes—the Chilulas, Chimarikos, Urebures, Nipewais and Alonas, along with a hundred other bands—were the first to be destroyed. And while I do not advocate violence, indeed will seek every way to avoid it, I have no intention of accommodating corporate power whether it hides behind the mask of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that resistance may ultimately be in vain. Yet to resist is to say something about us as human beings. It keeps alive the possibility of hope, even as all empirical evidence points to inevitable destruction. It makes victory, however remote, possible. And it makes life a little more difficult for the ruling class, which satisfies the very human emotion of vengeance.   

"Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power," wrote the philosopher John Locke, "they put themselves into a state of war with the people who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience."

The European colonists signed, and ignored, some 400 treaties with native tribes. They enticed the native leaders into accords, always to seize land, and then repeated the betrayal again and again and again until there was nothing left to steal. Chiefs such as Black Kettle who believed the white men did not fare much better than those who did not. Black Kettle, who outside his lodge often flew a huge American flag given to him in Washington as a sign of friendship, was shot dead by soldiers of George Armstrong Custer in November 1868 along with his wife and more than 100 other Cheyenne in his encampment on the Washita River.

The white men "made us many promises, more than I can remember," Chief Red Cloud said in old age, "but they kept but one. They promised to take our land, and they took it."

Native societies, in which people redistributed wealth to gain respect, and in which those who hoarded were detested, upheld a communal ethic that had to be obliterated and replaced with the greed, ceaseless exploitation and cult of the self that fuel capitalist expansion. Lewis Henry Morgan in his book "League of the Iroquois," written in 1851 after he lived among them, noted that the Iroquois' "whole civil policy was averse to the concentration of power in the hands of any single individual, but inclined to the opposite principle of division among a number of equals. …" This was a way of relating to each other, as well as to the natural world, that was an anathema to the European colonizers. 

Those who exploit do so through layers of deceit. They hire charming and eloquent interlocutors. How many more times do you want to be lied to by Barack Obama? What is this penchant for self-delusion that makes us unable to see that we are being sold into bondage? Why do we trust those who do not deserve our trust? Why are we repeatedly seduced? The promised closure of Guantanamo. The public option in health care. Reforming the Patriot Act. Environmental protection. Restoring habeas corpus. Regulating Wall Street. Ending the wars. Jobs. Defending labor rights. I could go on.

There are few resistance figures in American history as noble as Crazy Horse. He led, long after he knew that ultimate defeat was inevitable, the most effective revolt on the plains, wiping out Custer and his men on the Little BigHorn. "Even the most basic outline of his life shows how great he was," Ian Frazier writes in his book "Great Plains," "because he remained himself from the moment of his birth to the moment he died; because he knew exactly where he wanted to live, and never left; because he may have surrendered, but he was never defeated in battle; because, although he was killed, even the Army admitted he was never captured; because he was so free that he didn't know what a jail looked like." His "dislike of the oncoming civilization was prophetic," Frazier writes. "He never met the President" and "never rode on a train, slept in a boarding house, ate at a table." And "unlike many people all over the world, when he met white men he was not diminished by the encounter."

Crazy Horse was bayoneted to death on Sept. 5, 1877, after being tricked into walking toward the jail at Fort Robinson in Nebraska. The moment he understood the trap he pulled out a knife and fought back. Gen. Phil Sheridan had intended to ship Crazy Horse to the Dry Tortugas, a group of small islands in the Gulf of Mexico, where a U.S. Army garrison ran a prison with cells dug out of the coral. Crazy Horse, even when dying, refused to lie on the white man's cot. He insisted on being placed on the floor. Armed soldiers stood by until he died. And when he breathed his last, Touch the Clouds, Crazy Horse's seven-foot-tall Miniconjou friend, pointed to the blanket that covered the chief's body and said, "This is the lodge of Crazy Horse." His grieving parents buried Crazy Horse in an undisclosed location. Legend says that his bones turned to rocks and his joints to flint. His ferocity of spirit remains a guiding light for all who seek lives of defiance.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, is a senior fellow at the Nation Institute. He writes a regular column for TruthDig every Monday. His latest book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Chic: Le Freak 1978

Politicians Who Took Big Tobacco Money Should Go To Jail for Involuntary Manslaughter
Nobody Never Used Corporate Money To Kill U.S. Taxpayers !!!
None of the Above Should Be On Voter Ballots
Nobody for President

Alerts + Notes from ~@~ Listed Below:

The Grateful Dead - 1970 - Hard To Handle - Festival Express, Calgary

Resonant Chamber by via Larry

Russian Wikipedia in shutdown protest over internet censorship

Proposed law could boost government control over the internet amid a crackdown on those opposed to President Vladimir Putin

Miriam Elder in Moscow,, Tuesday 10 July 2012 12.11 BST, Article Source

Users who opened the site saw the Wikipedia logo crossed out with a stark black rectangle. Photograph: Wikipedia
Users who opened the site saw the Wikipedia logo crossed out with a stark black rectangle. Photograph: Wikipedia

Wikipedia shut down its Russian-language page on Tuesday to protest at a new bill that would boost government control over the internet amid a crackdown on those opposed to the regime of President Vladimir Putin.

Users who opened the site saw the Wikipedia logo crossed out with a stark black rectangle, the words "imagine a world without free knowledge" written in block letters underneath.

The bill, due to be considered by parliament on Wednesday, "will lead to the creation of a Russian analogue to China's Great Firewall" the website warned in a statement. The bill calls for the creation of a federal website "no" list and would have to be signed into law by Putin before coming into effect. Internet providers and site owners would be forced to shut down websites put on the list.

The bill's backers, from Putin's United Russia party, argue that the amendments to the country's information legislation would target child pornography and sites that promote drug use and teen suicide. But critics, including Russian-language Wikipedia, warned that it could be used to boost government censorship over the internet.

The Russian justice ministry already maintains a register of more than one thousand sites that have been deemed "extremist" and ordered to be shut down. The new bill appears to realise opposition activists' biggest fear – that a platform that has remained relatively free has become the target of Kremlin ire.

"For the last 12 years, I've lived in happy confidence that the Russian authorities would be smart enough not to censor the internet," Anton Nossik, a leading Russian internet expert, wrote in his blog on Tuesday. "But the situation, unfortunately, is changing."

With Russia's main state television channels under the control of the government, and its few free newspapers unable to be distributed across a vast country with poor infrastructure, the internet has become a growing source of free information. Until now, the Kremlin has limited its attempt to control the internet to paying commenters affiliated with youth group Nashi to leave pro-government comments on critical websites, according to thousands of emails leaked by the Russian arm of Anonymous earlier this year.

Blogs and social networks have been key to organising the mass street protests that have swept Moscow since Putin announced he was returning to the presidency late last year. Alexey Navalny, a leading opposition figure, was relatively unknown until he launched a popular anti-corruption blog.

"The Kremlin swindlers have understood that paid commenters and an army of bots can't help them in any way with their 'ideological struggle for the internet,'" Navalny wrote in his blog on Tuesday.

He issued his support for Wikipedia's day-long shutdown, which echoes a similar move by English-language Wikipedia in January to protest the US Congress' consideration of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Congress subsequently put off consideration of the bill amid a global uproar.

Later on Tuesday, LiveJournal, Russia's blogging platform of choice, joined the protest against the bill. The Russian parliament's consideration of the controversial internet bill comes amid a host of other initiatives that activists say is the biggest attempt since the Soviet era to shut down government critics.

MPs are rushing through votes before entering the summer recess at the end of the week. They are due to consider a bill that would oblige nongovernmental organisations that receive foreign funding to brand themselves "foreign agents". They are also likely to consider new amendments that would boost fines for defamation. Earlier this year, fines for protesting were drastically increased.

Leningrad Cowboys Rockin In The Free World

Paul Krassner - The Realist/Writer/Comic/Investigative Satirist

From: Paul Krassner
Subject: Perspective Poster
Date: July 8, 2012 1:40:30 PM PDT


If All The Presidents Got High via Amestizo

Five reasons DNSChanger victims deserve to lose the internet

Summary: The FBI's shut-down of temporary DNS servers will rid the internet of those infected by DNSChanger, and it will be a better place because of it.

By Michael Lee, July 6, 2012, ZDNet -- Updated 06:40 GMT (23:40 PDT), Article Source

commentary Six thousand Australians infected with DNSChanger malware are set to be cut off from the internet on Monday, when the FBI shuts down the temporary servers that are keeping them online. In my opinion, they deserve to lose the privilege to connect to the internet.

DNSChanger tricks computers into connecting to rogue DNS servers, which point certain domain names to IP addresses of their choosing. For instance, these rogue DNS servers could point to a malicious site without the user knowing. Those infected with the malware rely on these servers for their connection. Although the FBI commandeered the rogue servers and corrected the DNS records, it isn't fair to expect it to do this forever, and at 2pm AEST on 9 July, it will rightfully shut them down. According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), this will leave around 6000 infected Australians in the dark.

And you know what? These users probably deserve it. I'll give you five reasons why.

1. Users have been given fair warning

We've known about this issue for ages now, and the amount of groups that are warning users is absolutely staggering. The FBI has obviously made some noise, but in Australia, the ACMA has chimed in, and technology sites like ZDNet have been canvassing the issue for months.

You also can't say that only the technologically savvy have heard of DNSChanger. Both of Australia's own mainstream media outlets have published articles on DNSChanger in the past, and, internationally, there has been action by Google and Facebook to warn users.

If they've never used Google or Facebook on the internet before, I doubt they'll miss it much when it's seemingly gone.

2. There are free tools for DIY detection

It's not difficult to detect. ACMA, the Computer Emergency Response Team Australia and Stay Smart Online have created a DNSChanger diagnostic site that tells you (with a certain margin of error) whether you're infected in a single click. Need another language? Fine. How about the same thing in German, Finnish, Swedish, double Dutch or French?

And when it comes to removal, just about every antivirus firm has a free, automated tool to fix the problem.

3. The deadline has been extended

There's no excuse for not being prepared. The original date for the plug to be pulled on the commandeered DNS servers was 8 March, but this was extended by four months. Four months is more than enough time for someone to download a free patch.

It's not a complicated problem; it doesn't actually require any working knowledge of how DNS works, or even what DNSChanger is to fix it, and it certainly doesn't take ages to implement.

4. DNSChanger victims are dangerous

So far, we know this: DNSChanger victims either don't use the internet themselves, or they ignore warnings that they're infected. They've ignored the huge number of free tools for detecting it, and in all likelihood don't run a good antivirus application. Had the deadline not been extended, they wouldn't have done anything about it in the first place.

This means that they're the sort to not know they're part of a hacktivist-controlled denial-of-service botnet, an email-spamming scheme, a host to malware that can be passed to other users or a combination of all of the above. In short, they're a danger to others on the internet. On the highway, they're the owner of that unmaintained vehicle that has parts falling off, oil leaking everywhere, broken signal lights and high beams on all the time.

Everyone has a right to access the internet, certainly, but when they become a danger to everyone else and refuse to take action to ensure the safety of those around them, they deserve to lose their licence.

5. This is a wake-up call

At the end of the day, no one will be "banned" from the internet. Almost everyone has an alternative method of connecting to the internet, or, at the very least, knows someone else who does. So all this really does is send a lesson to an entire group of people who think that the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to security is acceptable with few repercussions.

Like the vehicle in my earlier example, these users need a huge disruption that interrupts their normal routine before they do anything. There's nothing like fines from the state government for operating an un-internet-worthy computer or mandatory annual inspections, but there is the equivalent of a breakdown from malware. The removal of the commandeered DNS servers is just that breakdown.

What I hope happens on Monday afternoon is that the DNSChanger victims sit in their internet darkness and start to wonder whether that darkness has anything to do with those warnings they've been seeing for months on end. And if that's enough for even a few to change their ways and become more responsible when they do come back online, I'd say it's worth it.

Google disputes Android botnet spam claim

Google has disputed claims that many Android phones have been infected with a virus that makes them churn out spam.

BBC Source, 6 July 2012 Last updated at 09:20

On 4 July, Microsoft researcher Terry Zink claimed to have discovered evidence of Android phones being enrolled into a botnet.

Botnets typically use infected PCs as spam generators but Mr Zink said he found evidence that Android smartphones were being used in the same way.

In a statement, Google said there was no evidence to support Mr Zink's claim.

The search giant's investigation suggested the junk messages originated on PCs but the spammers sending them formatted them to look like they came from Android smartphones.

"Our analysis suggests that spammers are using infected computers and a fake mobile signature to try to bypass anti-spam mechanisms in the email platform they're using," said Google.

By taking this step, said Google, the junk mail would have a better chance of defeating spam filters and ensure that messages reached inboxes.

If the spam were coming from a botnet made up of Android phones, it would be the first ever.

Mobile security specialist Lookout also questioned Mr Zink's initial claim. In a blogpost, head of the firm Kevin Mahaffey said it was possible that the spam was originating from lots of Android phones infected with a malicious program.

However, he said, Lookout's investigation had also uncovered some serious issues with the Yahoo mail app for Android that suggested it was a risk for all users of it. Lookout had told Yahoo about the problems which were now being worked on.

Address origin

In a follow-up to his original post, Mr Zink agreed that it was not proven that Android phones had been compromised.

He added that it was "entirely possible" that the spammers had faked the message formatting to make it look like it originated on a phone.

However, he added, there was no doubt that the number of malicious programs written for Android was on the increase. Given that he said: "The reason these messages appear to come from Android devices is because they did come from Android devices."

Graham Cluley, senior security advisor at Sophos, also posted more information about the case. He said that although Sophos did not have a sample of the spam in question there was evidence to suggest it came from smartphones.

Sophos could find no hint that the formatting on the messages was faked, he said, and some elements of what it had seen would be impossible to spoof.

In addition, he said, much of the spam was coming from net addresses owned by mobile operators.

How Anonymous Picks Targets, Launches Attacks, and Takes Powerful Organizations Down

By Quinn Norton, July 3, 2012, 6:30 am, Wired Article Source

Image Design: Giles Revell
Image Design: Giles Revell

No one but Hector Xavier Monsegur can know why or when he became Sabu, joining the strange and chaotic Internet collective known as Anonymous. But we know the moment he gave Sabu up. On June 7, 2011, federal agents came to his apartment on New York’s Lower East Side and threatened the 28-year-old with an array of charges that could add up to 124 years in prison. So Hector Monsegur, who as Sabu had become a mentor and icon to fellow members of Anonymous, surrendered his online identity to a new, equally faceless and secretive master: the FBI.

For the next eight months, Sabu continued to rage across the Internet as a core member of AntiSec, a blackhat hacking group within Anonymous. He helped to deface government and corporate websites and even helped bring down the private intelligence firm Stratfor—all, apparently, with the FBI’s blessing as it quietly gathered logs on Monsegur’s fellow “anons.” Law enforcement officials later told Fox News that Monsegur was working out of the FBI offices “almost daily” in the weeks after he pleaded guilty in August and then from his own home thereafter, with an agent watching his activity 24 hours a day. Sometimes agents were even posing as Sabu directly. On Christmas, just after the Stratfor hack, Sabu and I happened to be logged into the same channel on IRC, the chatting protocol that serves as the medium through which most Anonymous members planned large-scale operations. I asked the AntiSec members if they were worried about a law enforcement response to Stratfor. Sabu shot back:

we're used to that heat

we survived the first rounds of the raids

He was referring to a series of arrests that past summer that had scooped up, worldwide, at least 80 alleged participants in the group. At the time, it was hard to fault his reasoning, since those arrests seemed to have done nothing to slow the group’s terrifying onslaught in 2011. It was a year in which Anonymous burst into the geopolitical consciousness of the world, assisting Arab Spring activists and attacking the security industry, bedeviling law enforcement and intelligence agencies, carrying out countless hacks against Sony and other large corporations. As protest movements spread to the West, Anonymous provided them with crucial logistics (not to mention a great deal of media attention), from the BART protests in San Francisco to the Occupy actions across the US and overseas. Anonymous had figured out how to infiltrate anything, how to mobilize not just machines but physical bodies, all around the globe.

But Sabu hadn’t survived the first rounds of the raids, and thanks to the evidence he helped the Feds gather, more anons wouldn’t survive the next round. In February, Interpol rounded up 25 more alleged participants worldwide, and a few days later the FBI revealed Monsegur’s cooperation to the news media. Soon five more arrests were made, one from AntiSec and four from LulzSec, another hacker arm of the collective. The mood on the IRC channels, which at Christmas had been cocky and defiant, modulated to a genuine sadness. One anon wrote plaintively about getting programming advice from Sabu. Another summed up the general feeling among the anons about Sabu’s cooperation with the FBI:

Painting: Chrissy Angliker
Painting: Chrissy Angliker

In 2011, Anonymous figured out how to infiltrate anything, to mobilize not just machines but bodies. It was merely a speed bump for the collective but a massive emotional bitchslap for individuals

Was it really just a speed bump? It was impossible to say for sure, because Sabu’s arrest cut to the heart of what Anonymous claimed to be, of how it claimed to organize itself. Or, more accurately: its claim that it did not organize itself, that it had no leaders and yet boasted participants so innumerable (“We are Legion,” as one of its popular slogans blares) that no ten or hundred or thousand arrests could ever stop it. But in Sabu the FBI had nabbed an anon who was not easy to replace. No one could deny he had served as a crucial force in many of 2011′s most spectacular hacking campaigns. Presumably the anons arrested on the evidence he helped gather were talented hackers, too. For years, when anyone tried to claim they had uncovered the leader, or leaders, of Anonymous, the group’s members would belittle them online and then sometimes hack them for good measure. Now, with these arrests, Anonymous’ whole self-conception was being put to the test.

The possibility that Anonymous might be telling the truth—that it couldn’t be shut down by jailing or flipping or bribing key participants—was why it became such a terrifying force to powerful institutions worldwide, from governments to corporations to nonprofits. Its wild string of brilliant hacks and protests seemed impossible in the absence of some kind of defined organization. To hear the group and its defenders talk, the leaderless nature of Anonymous makes it a mystical, almost supernatural force, impossible not just to stop but to even comprehend. Anons were, they liked to claim, united as one and divided by zero—undefined and indefinable.

In fact, the success of Anonymous without leaders is pretty easy to understand—if you forget everything you think you know about how organizations work. Anonymous is a classic “do-ocracy,” to use a phrase that’s popular in the open source movement. As the term implies, that means rule by sheer doing: Individuals propose actions, others join in (or not), and then the Anonymous flag is flown over the result. There’s no one to grant permission, no promise of praise or credit, so every action must be its own reward.

What’s harder to comprehend—but just as important, if you want to grasp the future of Anonymous after the arrests—is the radical political consciousness that seized this innumerable throng of Internet misfits. Anonymous became dangerous to governments and corporations not just because of its skills (lots of hackers have those) or its scale but because of the fury of its convictions. In the beginning, Anonymous was just about self-amusement, the “lulz,” but somehow, over the course of the past few years, it grew up to become a sort of self-appointed immune system for the Internet, striking back at anyone the hive mind perceived as an enemy of freedom, online or offline. It started as a gang of nihilists but somehow evolved into a fervent group of believers. To understand that unlikely transformation, and Anonymous’ peculiar method of (non)organization, it is necessary to start at the very beginning.

A March 2008 protest at a Scientology facility in LA. The anti-Scientology campaign was Anonymous' crucial first step toward political advocacy. Photo: Chris Weeks/AP
A March 2008 protest at a Scientology facility in LA. The anti-Scientology campaign was
Anonymous' crucial first step toward political advocacy. Photo: Chris Weeks/AP

The story of Anonymous starts on 4chan, an enormously popular site for sharing images and talking about them. In particular, the group rose up out of 4chan’s /b/ board, the one reserved for “random” discussions. On /b/, posts have no named authors, and nothing is ever archived. To be noticed, you have to be as shocking as possible, and with the notable exception of child porn, anything goes. “/b/tards,” as denizens of the board call themselves, create incest porn and fantasize about beating women even as they also discuss data visualization strategies and trade coding tips. Nearly any appetite is acceptable, and nearly any weakness, technical or human, is exploited. Terms like nigger and faggot are common, but not because of racism and bigotry—though racism and bigotry are easily found on the /b/ board. The language is there to keep out the straights. Those words are heads on pikes, warning you that deeper in it gets much worse.

The driving force behind it all, the raison d’être of /b/,was the lulz. Lulz (a corruption of LOL, online shorthand for “laugh out loud”) are about bemusement, belittlement, schadenfreude, anything it takes to make you laugh. They’re sweet release from the obligations of modern life’s Serious Business. Lulz can be witty or puerile, but what makes them so important to the story of Anonymous is that the lulz are, above all, free in every sense. The lulz can be had by all, they cost nothing, they don’t stop at borders, they don’t respect social conventions. In pursuit of lulz, the early anons conducted “raids” in which they developed all the tools of “ultra-coordinated motherfuckery” that Anonymous practices today. They employed massively choreographed pranks, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and straight-up hacks. The Anonymous do-ocracy was already in place, but it was radically different from the other do-ocracies of the Internet era (think Wikipedia or Linux). The lack of consistent handles—anons often would drop one user name and take up another—and the absence of a revision trail meant that there was no long-term accountability. Instead, Anonymous’ chaotic style of action flowed naturally from the structure of /b/. Because there were no names and no archives, the only cultural currency was whatever you could hack or joke about or make right now, onscreen, with the rest of the hive watching.

One frequent prank was D0xing, which involves posting the personal information (usually in the form of digital documents, hence “D0x”) of the target as publicly and in as many places as possible. Other common raids were mostly just puerile fun: ordering pizzas on someone’s behalf, say, or signing them up for stupid junk mail. The infamous Rickroll—duping a victim into watching a video of Rick Astley—began as a tool of the /b/tard/ raid before spreading so far into the culture that even US representative Nancy Pelosi, while speaker of the house, used the prank in an official video.

What first pushed Anonymous in a political direction was the only thing that could have: an attempt to interfere with their lulz. In January 2008, a video leaked out of the Church of Scientology. In it, over the thrum of an action-movie-style soundtrack, Tom Cruise enthused about his total devotion to the doctrines of Scientology. The video flew around the Internet, spawning parodies and commentary. It was epically lulzy, in just the sort of way that made perfect fodder for /b/. But the legendarily litigious church acted to stop the spread of the video, sending legal nastygrams to anyone hosting or sharing it.

The church’s effort to expunge the video so enraged some anons that they set out to destroy the church itself. It’s crucial, though, to understand the oddly contradictory spirit in which this campaign was conducted. Was Anonymous serious about destroying the church? Or was it all a joke? The answer to both questions is yes. The anons took on Project Chanology (as they called their Internet fatwa against Scientology) for the lulz, but they also wanted those lulz to have a real-world effect. And in dedicating themselves to that latter goal, Anonymous began to develop a real political consciousness—along with some new and ingenious methods for taking mass action.

On February 10, 2008, the “moralfags” (as some anons called the activists within the group, in contrast to the “lulzfags”) took the whole thing to a new level. For one day, a movement that had existed in the online shadows suddenly became visible in the real world, coalescing for the first time on the streets. Anons set up meeting times and places in cities around the world. They bought masks—the now-iconic Guy Fawkes masks, official merchandise for the Hollywood film V for Vendetta—and made signs. They showed up by the thousands in front of church locations and Scientology centers. They played music and walked around with signs, accusing Scientology of crimes and referencing obscure Internet memes. They partied with their own in front of aghast Scientologists in more than 90 cities. A viral image from the day summed up the overwhelming feeling: “OH FUCK,” read the text overlaid on a photo of one anti-Scientology protest. “The Internet is here.”

For a group that had rarely lingered on one target, joke, or meme for more than a few days, Project Chanology has galvanized Anonymous for the better part of four years. In January 2009, one anon was arrested for running into a Scientology center covered in Vaseline, pubic hair, and toenail clippings. (Online, it was called Operation Slickpubes. For more on that and Chanology, consult “The Assclown Offensive” in Wired issue 17.10.) Two days later, another global protest was organized, and sporadic protests continued throughout the rest of the year. At the same time, in an effort to bring down Scientology’s web servers, Anonymous was honing what was to become its most infamous tool: the Low Orbit Ion Cannon. The LOIC was an application for sending test traffic to servers, much as a programmer will do to make sure a website can keep functioning under heavy use. A single firing of LOIC from a single computer sends just a small burst of meaningless requests to a server. But when enough people download LOIC and point it at the same target, they create what is in essence a voluntary botnet, capable of taking down a server.

An anti-BART protest in San Francisco, July 2011. The rage of Anonymous would turn the local protest into a national cause célèbre in August. Photo: Eric Risberg/AP
An anti-BART protest in San Francisco, July 2011. The rage of Anonymous would turn
the local protest into a national cause célèbre in August. Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

So, toward the end of 2010, Anonymous was primed both politically and technologically to take on more ideological actions. In September of that year, a new cause presented itself: An Indian company called Aiplex announced that it had been contracted to send legal threats to sites that illegally shared copyrighted films. More controversially, the firm claimed it was authorized to carry out denial-of-service attacks on any pirate sites that failed to comply with its notices.

Anons collectively howled. After pushing through copyright laws that stamped on online freedom, the outraged complaints went, Hollywood studios were authorizing a blackhat technique that routinely landed hackers in jail. (In fact, Aiplex had been hired by Bollywood, a distinction that seemed to get lost in the fracas.) In an operation called “Payback (Is a Bitch),” soon to be shortened to OpPayback, Anonymous loaded up the LOIC and pointed it at the websites of Aiplex, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Recording Industry Association of America.

In the process, thousands of people who had never considered themselves Anonymous and perhaps didn’t even know much about the collective joined in and swelled the ranks of activist anons, the so-called moralfags. Whether these new members knew or cared about 4chan’s brand of shenanigans, they shared one important quality with their raiding /b/tard forebears. They saw acting as Anonymous—taking up the iconography, joining the op—as a path to empowerment. They could finally do something more than just sign an online petition or give money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They could aim at a target and help take it down.

All this energy found a new outlet just a few months later, when MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal blocked payments to Wikileaks for alleged terms-of-service violations. The action struck many anons as a transparent attempt to hobble Julian Assange’s whistle-blowing organization, which had released enormous caches of sensitive memos related to governments worldwide. OpPayback sparked to life again, this time as Operation Avenge Assange. Anonymous powered up the LOIC, and with IRC channels brimming with more participants than even OpPayback had seen, they took down the websites of MasterCard and Visa (which made for good publicity but only barely grazed their payment networks) and briefly slowed PayPal to a crawl. When the whole world power structure seemed to be turning on Wikileaks, Anonymous swarmed in to defend it.

It was support for Wikileaks, in the end, that led the collective into its most fateful alliance, the campaign that did more than any other to influence its startling course in 2011. The previous December, during the early days of the Arab Spring, Tunisian dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali began blocking web access to Wikileaks cables that pertained to his and other Arab nations. A few anons formed a new channel called #optunisia on IRC and started talking about what they could do. It was the least lulzy, most earnest political project that Anonymous had ever seriously contemplated. Tellingly, the OpTunisia group was composed mostly of new, more activist anons, people who had joined around the time of OpPayback. The transition in the makeup of Anonymous was nearly complete, with a radical new generation of members that eschewed pure lulz in favor of focused, disruptive action. Among their handles were a few that would later make news in more controversial ways: Kayla, Topiary, tflow, and even Sabu, well before his fall.

Over the next couple of weeks the small group brought down the website of the Tunisian stock exchange and defaced various sites of the Tunisian government. It also passed media and news reports about the Tunisian uprising in and out of the country. It distributed a “care package” containing details about how to work around privacy restrictions in Tunisia, including a Firefox script to help locals avoid government spying while they used Facebook.

Some who supported #optunisia were themselves Tunisians, including Slim Amamou, an outspoken blogger. After Amamou was arrested on January 6, 2011, the anons on the #optunisia IRC channel barely slept as they waited for word. But eight days later, the regime fell, and Amamou was appointed a minister in the new government.

We’ll never know how important Anonymous was for Tunisia, but Tunisia changed everything for Anonymous. OpTunisia was the first of what became the Freedom Ops, which focused largely on other Middle Eastern countries during the Arab Spring but spread much farther. For the first time, Anonymous had gotten on the winning side of a real fight, and it liked the feeling.

Back in the hacking realm, Anonymous was also flexing its muscles. On February 5, 2011, the Financial Times quoted Aaron Barr, CEO of a security company called HBGary Federal, as saying that he had uncovered the leadership of Anonymous. He claimed the group had around 30 active members, including 10 senior hackers who made all the decisions, and he purportedly had linked their IRC handles to real names using social-network analysis. He was planning to announce all this, he said, during a presentation at an upcoming security conference.

Anonymous responded with inhuman severity and swiftness. Within 48 hours, all the data on the email servers of HBGary Federal and its former parent company, HBGary, had been stolen and then released in full on the Pirate Bay. Anons further humiliated Barr by seizing his Twitter account and (they allege, though this has never been confirmed) even erasing his iPad remotely. Barr’s Anonymous presentation was posted on the net and laughed at for its supposed inaccuracies. The notice on HBGary Federal’s site read, “This domain has been seized by Anonymous under section #14 of the rules of the Internet.” (Rule 14 is a real thing, from a “Rules of the Internet” list that often made the rounds on /b/. It reads as follows: “Do not argue with trolls—it means that they win.”)

Slim Amamou in Tunisia, February 2011. The Freedom Ops in support of the Arab Spring galvanized Anonymous and sparked a year of intense activism. Photo:Johann Rousselot/Redux
Slim Amamou in Tunisia, February 2011. The Freedom Ops in support of the Arab Spring
galvanized Anonymous and sparked a year of intense activism. Photo:Johann Rousselot/Redux

Barr (under the handle of CogAnon, the same one he’d used to infiltrate Anonymous) came onto IRC to speak with the hive mind. Sabu confronted him:

You intended of battling anonymous in the media for media gain and attention
well let me ask you
you got the media attention now
how does it feel ?

Barr’s beat-down left the hardcore hackers within Anonymous bolder than ever. A faction of them, including Sabu, broke off in May (a good month before Sabu was arrested) to form a splinter group called Lulz Security, or LulzSec. No one knows for sure how many they were—or exactly who they were—because they created a closed channel on IRC where they decided whom to hack and how. Sabu acted as a sort of dean; Topiary served as the spokesperson and brilliantly funny tweeter; Kayla and others found and exploited vulnerabilities.

Together they carried out a flamboyant 50-day hacking spree that hit scores of targets: private companies, government sites, everything. LulzSec hacked Sony six times, the US Senate website twice, and an FBI affiliate once, getting account data and releasing it onto the web. They hit Minecraft, Eve Online, and Nintendo. They released account data, logins, and passwords from a porn site and an Arizona law enforcement agency. They lit up the media in May and June as no hacker group ever had. True to its name, of course, LulzSec also had a taste for the absurd and anarchic. At one point, LulzSec claimed to have taken down Magnets .com after a customer service representative failed to tell them (per the popular Insane Clown Posse song) how magnets worked. But on the very same day, they were also allegedly behind an attack on the website of the CIA. LulzSec retained all the nihilistic fury of the /b/ raids of old but had married it to the nascent political sensibility forged in #optunisia.

On June 19, LulzSec called it quits, announcing that they were rejoining Anonymous to create AntiSec—a similarly closed group, but designed to be explicitly political, in support of the wider collective’s increasingly activist mission. Over the remainder of 2011, AntiSec would go on to hack Monsanto and the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, police associations in Arizona and Texas, the governments of Australia and Zimbabwe, and many more. What most of AntiSec didn’t know, though, was that in the waning days of LulzSec, the FBI had knocked on Sabu’s door and taken control of his identity. Not only had the FBI joined Anonymous; it was the new dean of AntiSec.

Who are all these people, really? If you look at the list of those arrested on Sabu’s watch, they fit the standard stereotype of a hacker—young, male, mostly white. If we’re to believe the FBI, “Kayla” and “Topiary” were both young Britons, aged 23 and 19 respectively, and the rest of the arrests have roughly followed suit: They’ve nabbed mostly men whose ages range from the teens to the mid- to late 30s, collaborating with one another from cities around the Americas and Europe.

But it’s a mistake to identify Anonymous entirely with these arrestees, some of whom were blackhats and others who were guilty of just using the LOIC. The hacks draw their power from the support of the wider collective, not the other way around. The majority of Anonymous operations are conceived and planned in a chaotic and open fashion. At any given time, a few thousand people are congregating on the Anonymous IRC channels, figuring out for themselves what it means to be an anon. And together they embody whatever Anonymous is going to be that day.

Most of the time, in most of the channels, there’s little more than conversation; sometimes a whole channel will consist of lurkers, with no one contributing a thing. But when some offense to the net is detected, anons will converge on one or more of these “chans,” with hundreds or thousands arriving within hours—many of them new to Anonymous and yet all primed and eager to respond. What looks in one moment like a sad, empty chat room can quickly become the staging ground for a major multipronged assault.

Consider OpBART, which flared up in August 2011 and dealt with an unlikely issue for Anonymous: the messy offline world of race relations and police violence. Ever since 2009, when a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man named Oscar Grant, protests against abuse of authority by transit police had grown. On August 11, anti-BART activists were planning a rally at several of San Francisco’s underground transit stops to protest another shooting by a BART officer, this one of a homeless man named Charles Hill. It was an unremarkable story by the standards of the national media, but the response from BART to the planned protest did catch the interest of the local press: To thwart protesters from coordinating via mobile devices, BART cut cell service at its downtown stations.

When that news came out, Anonymous turned on BART with a frenzy. In the climate of the Arab Spring, the move reminded many anons of the deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, who had shut off the Internet in order to suppress dissent. An IRC channel called #opbart was formed immediately, and it quickly grew to more than 400 people, suggesting and debating ways to retaliate against BART. On YouTube (a popular medium for Anonymous manifestos), announcements of various anti-BART ops began pouring onto Anonymous accounts; anti-BART anon handles appeared on Twitter. Subgroups formed to weigh the various options: hacking, D0xing, denial-of-service attacks, real-world protests. And over the next few weeks, nearly every tactic discussed would be attempted against BART. Over the month, anon hackers attacked the ill-defended BART and myBART websites and did data dumps; in a low moment, they posted stolen nude pictures of BART’s spokesman, Linton Johnson, who had bragged that the cell phone shutdown was his idea. Street protests snarled traffic on and off for weeks.

OpBart was classic do-ocracy in action. No one had commanded anything, no action had been carried out alone. That’s not to say that anyone in Anonymous knows what everyone else is doing: One group may be digitally bombarding a server that another group is trying to use or even hack. But that August, a riot of online and offline activity—some of it successful and some not, all of it flying the Anonymous flag—coalesced into what felt like a unified campaign. OpBart took off like a flock of birds, each participant adjusting their own actions in concert with the group through an ambient understanding of how the whole was moving.

After OpBart, it was natural that Anonymous would segue to support Occupy Wall Street—but here again, the surprise was how passionately it did so. Occupy was not an Anonymous plan, and anons were far from a majority of the movement. But Anonymous declared support for it very early, well before the September 17 start date, and thereby helped to bring far more media attention to the project than it would have gotten otherwise. Moreover, Anonymous’ support helped to lend a sense of power that US protest movements in recent decades have lacked: namely, the implication that Occupy was capable of serious retaliation if authorities crossed a line.

Photo: Pari Dukovic
Photo: Pari Dukovic

Just as with OpTunisia, Occupy changed Anonymous irrevocably. Its transformation into a political movement, begun four years earlier with Project Chanology, was now complete. Not all anons supported Occupy, but it’s startling how many of them, when asked about the connection between Anonymous and OWS, bluntly reply: “Same thing.” It was as if Occupy had emerged to serve, finally, as a body to house the peripatetic spirit of Anonymous. Occupy wasn’t like Tahrir Square, which attracted the young heroes, the educated forward thinkers of Egypt; it wasn’t like the summer demonstrations in Spain, which brought out the full spectrum of society. Smaller and more distributed than the uprisings elsewhere, Occupy welcomed society’s rejects. The people who found their way to the parks around America, set up tent cities in September, and stayed through the fall included a lot of fuck-ups, people who had fallen for debt scams and had gotten in over their heads with student loans or meth. The hard core of Occupy was a misfit army, unarmed but unwilling to remain silent and invisible. In this they were a perfect match for Anonymous. Both collectives were bound together by being the kinds of people who never found a comfortable place in society.

When cities began to evict the occupiers in the fall, anons watched the violent images with outrage. The same occupiers they’d encouraged, provided technical help to, even stood beside, were beaten and jailed in front of their eyes. A dark mood seized the collective and never really let go.

That perhaps explains why the next AntiSec target—Stratfor, the private intelligence firm—was attacked with such a strange and intense fury. The hackers of AntiSec, including the now-compromised Sabu, worked Stratfor harder than any target since HBGary. They hacked their way through the company’s systems for weeks. Sabu eagerly provided a new server (given to him by the FBI) for the mammoth cache of pilfered documents, which comprised more than 5 million emails. A week later they turned the trove over to Wikileaks after a tense and secretive negotiation with the leaking site. It was the largest public D0xing Anonymous had ever accomplished. AntiSec hackers also charged around $700,000 to the credit cards of Stratfor subscribers, donating much of it to charities.

In January, Anonymous helped lead the online protests against SOPA and PIPA, the despised congressional antipiracy bills. Soon thereafter, they declared their hatred of the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and promised to fight it. Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of Poland, roughly 15,000 in Krakow alone, to protest ACTA, many of them sporting Guy Fawkes masks. After the first round of protests, with anons still taking down Polish government websites, the opposing legislators donned Guy Fawkes masks on cue. Later, when hundreds of thousands of protesters came out in cities all over the European Union to decry ACTA, many of them wore the masks, some plastic, some drawn on cardboard, and some painted directly onto faces.

Were they all anons? Were the Polish parliamentarians? Can anyone even say for sure? Especially now that Anonymous has broken the bounds of the digital and pushed its way out onto the streets, it has become a radical movement unlike any other. It doesn’t have a founding philosopher or a manifesto; there’s no pledge or creed. It’s true that Anonymous does have a politics, but it’s hardly a specific platform—just a support for online freedom and a rage at anyone who tries to curtail it. No, what Anonymous has become, in reality, is a culture, one with its own distinctive iconography (the Fawkes masks, the headless man in the business suit), its own self-referential memes, its own coarse sense of humor. And as Anonymous campaigns have spread around the world, so too has its culture, bringing its peculiar brand of cyber-rebellion to tech-savvy activists in Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Like a plastic Fawkes mask, Anonymous is an identity that anyone can put on, whenever they want to join up with the invisible online horde.

No one but Hector Xavier Monsegur can know why or when he became Sabu, but it was the morning of March 6, 2012, when the FBI revealed what Sabu had become—and what he had allowed the FBI to do. Most anons never knew Sabu, but he had left a mark, and now a scar, on the collective’s psyche. For days the banter on IRC moved from planning ops to discussing how to keep safe, how to spot Feds and snitches. An angry collective had become even angrier. In the immediate aftermath of the news, one associate of Sabu’s, wrote:

we need to pick our lives back up and go on I’ll keep on doing what I have always done for Anonymous ... anonymous goes on

And by all accounts, Anonymous has gone on. True, it won’t ever be the same, but that’s because from year to year—from day to day, even—Anonymous has never been the same. It’s in the nature of do-ocracies: Remove certain doers and different things get done. With the rise of the moralfags, some lulzfags drifted away. With the turn to Freedom Ops and Occupy, some less political anons stopped caring. And now that many of its blackhat hackers have been arrested, Anonymous is beginning to plot a course without them, doubling down on its political mission.

The arrests deprived Anonymous, at least temporarily, of a well of talent and social inspiration. But even as the small group of hackers who originally comprised AntiSec has all but vanished from the net, the name has now taken on a life of its own. What used to be a traditional hacker group, a structured and elite club of talent within the otherwise chaotic collective, has now—like Anonymous itself—become a banner.

“AntiSec” attacked Florida’s Lake County Sheriff’s Office, with several gigabytes of sensitive data leaked on April 27. In late May, “AntiSec” attacked the website of the Chicago police in retaliation for what anons perceived as harsh treatment of anti-NATO protestors. Around the same time, “AntiSec” also hacked into the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, releasing a sizable cache of internal data. But as far as anyone could tell, these attacks weren’t connected to the fragmented group Sabu had played dean to—and they weren’t even connected to one another. It was as if the destruction of AntiSec had allowed the idea of AntiSec to escape into the Internet’s social ether.

After the arrests, it seemed that Anonymous would never terrify governments and corporations in quite the same way again. But that’s the sort of underestimation that led Aaron Barr to count 10 senior members of Anonymous, right before a mob ruined his life. It’s the type of judgment that led the Stratfor analyst Sean Noonan, on reading a description of Anonymous as “ultra-coordinated motherfuckery,” to write that the group was “completely uncoordinated and couldn’t fuck anything”—in a personal email that we can read, of course, thanks to some truly coordinated fucking of his employer.

Anonymous is not unanimous, but somehow they still succeed in speaking with a single voice, demanding freedom for the network that is their home. And so the headless suits still appear uninvited on the websites of governments and corporations, and the Guy Fawkes masks periodically fill our city streets.

Oh fuck: The Internet is still here.

This piece was originally published on June 22, 2012. Update: A caption in the story misidentified a July BART protest as part of Opbart, which was inspired by protests like the one in the photo

Stormy Monday, Mike Wilhelm & Hired Guns

Corporate Profits at All-Time High; Wages at All-Time Low:
Can We Call it Class War Yet?

The middle class is being hollowed out; increasingly, there are the super-super-rich, and there are the rest of us.

By Sarah Jaffe, AlterNet, June 29, 2012, Article Source

This week, David Segal at the New York Times broke the news to America that not only was Apple -- the computer and gadget manufacturer formerly seen as a symbol of good old American ingenuity -- making its profits on the backs of abused factory workers in China, but also on poorly paid store employees here in the US.

Apple store workers, he wrote, make up a large majority of Apple's US workforce--30,000 out of 43,000 employees in this country--and they make about $25,000 a year, or about $12 an hour.

Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute notes that that's just a dollar above the federal poverty level. This for a company that paid nine of its top executives a total of $441 million in 2011.

"The discrepancy between Apple's profits/executive pay and its compensation to its workers is a particularly glaring example of what is occurring in the wider economy," Mishel writes.

And he's right. Also this week, Henry Blodget at Business Insider posted three charts that show just how out of whack our economic system really is. Corporate profits are now at an all-time high, while wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low, and fewer Americans are employed than at any time in the previous three decades.

Companies like Apple are squeezing their workers, leaving them to live on less, while lavishing pay and benefits on their executives. The death of lionized Apple chief Steve Jobs seems to have opened a floodgate of reporting and criticism of the company's labor practices, but all this really proves is that Jobs and his empire are no better than, and no different from the rest of the US business elite. Just like everyone else, they're taking their profits directly out of workers' pockets.

"One reason companies are so profitable is that they're paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those 'wages' are other companies' revenue," Blodget points out. And high unemployment makes workers willing to accept those poverty wages. When you're desperate for a job, any job is better than nothing.

Right-wingers from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul have used high unemployment as an opportunity to call for eliminating the minimum wage entirely, letting companies decide just how little they think their workers are worth. Companies love to claim that if they're forced to pay more, they'll have to eliminate jobs, but these numbers show that actually, they're able to keep wages low and refuse to hire; available cheap labor supposedly leads to more job creation, but it's the hollow, gnawing fear created by ongoing high unemployment that keeps wages low and workers passive. And the rich are getting ever richer.

The "recession" is over--officially it ended in 2009, but for most people the pain was just beginning. Real incomes have continued to fall, governments continue to slash budgets while corporate profits just keep going up. This is the new normal.

And it's only going to get worse.

The rhetoric of austerity, sounded loudest from Republicans but often echoed by far too many Democrats, is a language of belt-tightening, of shared sacrifice, of somber speeches by pompous politicians who proclaim that they feel your pain while announcing budget cuts that freeze salaries, lay off workers and force more work onto those who remain. And CEOs use that same language when sorrowfully explaining why they simply can't create jobs. Morgan Stanley's CEO, James Gorman, beset by New Yorkers at his bank's shareholder meeting, blamed the lousy economy when asked why he hadn't created the jobs his company had promised the city in exchange for massive tax breaks.

Because that's what rich corporations are able to buy with their record profits; politicians who turn around and hand them even more money, often in the form of tax breaks that hollow out city and state budgets and force even more austerity, even more social service cuts that fall on the backs of the same underpaid workers. (Remember FreshDirect, handed $129 million in tax subsidies to create $8-an-hour jobs?)

Corporate taxes, too--at least the ones corporations actually pay--are at a 40-year low, with an effective tax rate paid of 12.1 percent. They've fallen from about 6 percent of GDP to less than 2 percent, according to ThinkProgress's Pat Garofalo. Once again, that's what you can buy when you'd rather pay politicians than your workers.

Chris Hayes, in his new book Twilight of the Elites, notes that the ultra-wealthy have spawned a whole "income defense" industry dedicated to preserving their wealth and power, an industry that works tirelessly to push policies that favor the rich. He writes:

Over the last decade, the political arm of the income defense industry has been wildly successful. The tax cuts passed by Bush and extended by Obama represent a total of $81.5 billion transferred from the state into the hands of the richest 1 percent. Meanwhile, hedge fund managers and their surrogates have deployed millions of dollars to lobbyists to maintain the so-called carried interest loophole, a provision of tax law that allows fund managers to classify much of their income drawn from investing gains as "carried interest" so that it is taxed at the low capital gains rate of 15 percent, rather than the marginal income rate, which would in most cases be more than twice that. It was this wrinkle in the law that helped Mitt Romney, a man worth an estimated quarter of a billion dollars, pay an effective tax rate of just under 14 percent in 2010. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, the House of Representatives passed a bill closing the loophole, only to see it beaten back by an intense wave of lobbying in the Senate.

With Citizens United, the Supreme Court gave the ultra-rich yet another weapon in the class war, another tool by which to control our politics. MIT economist Daren Acemoglu told ThinkProgress, "We already had a very serious problem. Instead of trying to stem that tide [of money in politics], we've done the opposite and we've now opened the sluice gate and said you can use that money with no restrictions whatsoever."

It's bad enough when the rich use their money to buy themselves tax breaks that help them get even richer. But millionaires and billionaires from Bill Gates to Betsy DeVos to Mark Zuckerberg are also putting money into pet political ideas; on education, for example, where their money buys them outsized influence over policy. Politics has become a playground for the ultra-rich, where they get to test their pet theories on the rest of us and we're expected to smile and thank them for their charity.

It's not just tax breaks and subsidies that have created massive inequality--it's also full-on war on the only means of organized power that working people ever had: unions. Private-sector union density hovers around 7 percent right now, after years of concerted attacks, and for the last couple of years public sector unions have been in the 1 percent's crosshairs.

From the Supreme Court, where Samuel Alito wrote a majority decision attacking unions' ability to collect money from workers they represent for political activity, to the reelection of Scott Walker in Wisconsin, public-sector unions are under pressure. Politicians keep slashing public-sector jobs, keeping unemployment high and tax revenues low, and stalling the recovery, but they're also part of the attack on the one part of the economy that still has a strong union culture.

As unions declined, so have wages for most people. The Center for American Progress found in a study that as union membership decreases, so does the so-called middle class's share of national income. The middle class long served as a buffer between those at the top and those at the bottom. As long as the majority of Americans were comfortable, had decent jobs and pensions, and could send their kids to school, the wealthy could stay wealthy and the poor were pretty much just ignored. And that middle class was built through decades of union agitation, not just for higher wages and healthcare benefits, but for the eight-hour day, for the weekend, for safety in the workplace and some job security.

But now the middle class has been hollowed out. Increasingly, there are the super-super-rich, and there are the rest of us.

As Hayes writes, we're ruled by an ever-smaller group of elites who not only control all the resources, but all the power. The same people who are pushing wages downward are the ones paying for politicians' campaigns, and they're the same people on the boards of directors and trustees of our universities, our institutions--like JP Morgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, the Harvard Business School, Catalyst, as well as on the Board of Trustees of New York University School of Medicine.

Meanwhile, for the vast majority of us, the recession that supposedly ended in 2009 looks more like a depression each day, and as long as low wages and high unemployment remain the order of the day, there's no recovery in sight. 

Monica Dupont 1985: Hurricane Betsy

Blind Spot Band
Blind Spot is scheduled to play at Hidden Valley Lake,
Big Beach, Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. FREE

Mike Wilhelm - Charlatans, Flamin' Groovies, Loose Gravel, and more

Bay Area Blues Greats honored by Blues Hall of Fame

By Alex Johns

SAUSALITO - A very special event will happen at Presidio Yacht Club on Thursday, July 5 when the National Blues Hall Of Fame's San Francisco Ambassador Monica Dupont presents certificates inducting several great blues artists into the National Blues Hall of Fame. Musicians being inducted are Alice Stuart, Mike Wilhelm, Ron Thompson, Volker Strifler, Addie, Mitch Woods and Stompy Jones. Legendary blues artists from the Bay Area will be posthumously honored as well. In her personal invitation to participants Dupont writes, "Many talented people will be there, sitting in and showing their love and support. This will be a great evening!!!" A door prize raffle drawing will be held to award autographed CDs from artists in attendance.

The house band for this historic event is Mike Wilhelm & Hired Guns augmented by special guest stars including NBHOF Ambassador Monica Dupont, multi-instrumentalists Gary Novak and Buzzy Linhart, guitarist/vocalist Volker Strifler, Stompy Jones vocalist Christopher Binnings, vocalist Warren Cushenberry, trombonist/vocalist Ed Earley, vocalist Lisa Kindred, drummer Bill Baron, the Ravines, vocalist/guitarist Rev. Rabia and many more outstanding players. The event will be recorded on video for the NBHOF archives. [click to continue reading]

Steven Leech - Writer/Poet/D.J.

Powmia Among the Dragonflies

Powmia Among the Dragonflies a Vietnam War novel by Steven Leech
a Vietnam War novel by Steven Leech
CLICK TO READ PDF NOVEL - Click to visit Steven's Broken Turtle Blog

Missing BBS Files - Some of the first Bulletin Board Systems in the United States

C. Spangler - Photograph: FlyingSnail
Curtis Spangler - The CommuniTree's First Fairwitness

Let's look at some of the earliest electronic virtual communities. This kinship chart shows the origins of the first computer bulletin boards (BBSs) that supported social interaction. Prior to this moment, BBSs messages were organized by alphabetical order, or by date. BBSs were metaphors for physical bulletin boards... objects for the exchange of simple messages, not conversations. Now, in 1978 a group of people in Northern California designed a BBS that used message attachment protocols that facilitated conversations. As a metaphor for this structure they used a tree, firstly because it was based on a principle of computer science called binary tree protocol, and secondly because Northern California near Silicon Valley was a land of hot tubs, Eastern mysticism, and computer hackers, and the organicity that the word "tree" suggested was important to those hackers' worldview.

The story of the life and death of the first CommuniTree tells us how and why the later virtual community systems were designed. The original CommuniTree was designed with the idea that the community it facilitated would be completely free. Anyone could enter any sort of message. In fact, censorship was completely prohibited at the level of the code, of the Tree's program. It worked this way: First, the system operator was prevented from reading messages as they arrived. Second, messages were hard to remove once they were entered. Third, anything could be entered into the system, including so-called control characters, which are not part of the standard alphanumeric set and which can be used to control the operation of the host computer. Lastly, to make sure that no system operator could tamper with the system, the code was written in language called Forth, and not documented. Now Forth is a religion unto itself, and if you know anything about Forth you recognize that this makes the system a total black box -- it's impossible to know anything about how the code works.

CommuniTree went online in 1978. The kinds of conversations they had in there were of a high intellectual and spiritual character. They talked about new philosophies and new religions for post-Enlightenment humanity, the first time such conversations had taken place online.

Now, at the same moment Apple Computer had reached an agreement with the U. S. Government that in return for a tax break, Apple put computers into primary and secondary schools in the U.S., and some of those computers had modems. This meant that quite suddenly a lot of kids could get online. At first both boys and girls had access, but the boys quickly elbowed the girls out of the way -- high tech was men's work. The boys quickly found out CommuniTree's phone number and logged on. They were clearly unimpressed with the high intellectual level of the discourse on CommuniTree, and they expressed their dissatisfaction in ways that were appropriate to their age and linguistic abilities. Now, the hardware of the Tree was the best that Apple had to offer in 1978, it had two floppy disk drives with a combined total of 300 kilobytes of storage. At the time, the folks who designed the Tree said "300K -- we can go on forever. We'll never fill this up." A common BBS today would have at least 100 megabytes of storage, many orders of magnitude greater than the Tree. So it didn't take long for the kids to fill every byte of disk space with every word they could think of that meant shitting or fucking, and then they'd add control characters on top of that, characters that could mess with the program or stop the floppy drives. The sysops couldn't see the messages arriving and couldn't remove them afterward. The Tree was doomed.

One of the participants in the Tree discourse said "Well, the barbarian hordes mowed us down." And the people who were on the Tree ran away, just like the population of a village during a sack. It was a kind of scattering of the tribes. Some of those people went off and designed BBSs of their own that had built into them the elements of control and surveillance that appeared to be necessary to ensure the BBS's survival in a real world that included roaming barbarians. That kind of surveillance and control continues to the present day, built right into the software; we don't think about it much any more. And that's how, back at the beginning of virtual time, the first virtual community left the Magic Garden and entered the "real" virtual world in which good had to find ways to coexist with evil.


World Health Organization has classified Smart Meter Radiation
as "possibly carcinogenic to humans."

PG&E Smart Meters via prez @ usa-exile

Devo - Beautiful World

Bruce Springsteen & Tom Morello - The ghost of Tom Joad (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 2009)

George Carlin - The Owners of America

Nobody for President 2012 - None of the Above on Voter Ballots
Nobody Brought Peace To Our Times

"None of the Above" Should Be On Voter Ballots

Oh, I hope that I see you again I never even caught your name As you looked through my window pane -- So I'm writing this message today I'm thinking that you'll have a way Of hearing the notes in my tune -- Where are you going? Where have you been? I can imagine other worlds you have seen -- Beautiful faces and music so serene -- So I do hope I see you again My universal citizen You went as quickly as you came -- You know the power Your love is right You have good reason To stay out of sight -- But break our illusions and help us Be the light -- Message by Michael Pinder

Social Bookmarking

Freedom of expression and freedom of speech aren't really important unless they're heard...It's hard for me to stay silent when I keep hearing that peace is only attainable through war. And there's nothing more scary than watching ignorance in action. So I dedicated this Emmy to all the people who feel compelled to speak out and not afraid to speak to power and won't shut up and refuse to be silenced. - Tommy Smothers

Artist, John Flores

The man whispered, "God, speak to me" and a meadowlark sang. But the man did not hear. So the man yelled "God, speak to me" and the thunder rolled across the sky. But the man did not listen. The man looked around and said, "God let me see you" and a star shined brightly. But the man did not notice. And the man shouted, "God show me a miracle" and a life was born. But the man did not know. So the man cried out in despair, "Touch me God, and let me know you are there" Whereupon God reached down and touched the man. But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.

Somebody is looking at whatever you do, so always present your most charming you
Don't miss out on a blessing because it isn't packaged the way you expect.