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Privacy and surveillance:
Jacob Applebaum, Caspar Bowden and more

LIVE ~ All-day conference in Lausanne, Switzerland will discuss topic of privacy and surveillance in the light of the Snowden disclosures highlighted by the Guardian - and we're on the spot to liveblog it

Charles Arthur,, Monday 30 September 2013 06.49 EDT, Article Source

Protests in Berlin against US surveillance, after the Edward Snowden case. Photograph: Lars Dickhoff/Corbis
Protests in Berlin against US surveillance, after the Edward Snowden case. Photograph: Lars Dickhoff/Corbis

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1.29pm BST Schneier: Moore's Law is the friend of intrusion

"It's good we're having this debate now, because I think it might fade into the distance. In the US you get ID checks all the time, where 30-40 years ago it would have been abhorrent. In ten years' time the cameras will be everywhere and they'll know who you are based on the devices you're wearing, your facc, everything about you."

1.28pm BST Schneier: ask someone what their privacy policy is...

"...and they'll look at you like you're weird. But you know that they have one." (We think of what we regard as private and what we share.) "It's only because of computer mediation that we have to write it down and make it explicit." Same with our backup policy, he suggests.

Survey found that if you put a big paragraph about privacy policies in front of people when they first log on to a site, they disclose less.

The more you think people are sharing, the more you will share. Privacy levels are set locally. If you start asking public questions to much more personal ones, people block off answering sooner than if you go in the opposite direction (start with a very personal question, make it more general).

"This is because people have conflicting privacy policies.. and companies play on this. Sites are designed so that you will share more. It's not breaking the law, it's basic psychological manipulation."

1.20pm BST Schneier: Google has great customer service...

"...but you, Gmail account holder, aren't a customer. You're a product. Google doesn't have great product service." In other words, its customers (advertisers) get great service - dedicated customer agents. However, products (you, the people) don't get so well treated.

"We're moving towards a world where we can't forget. A world where nothing is ever ephemeral is going to be different in all sorts of ways. There's no such thing as a throwaway conversation. Maybe the world will be like a giant airport security zone where nobody can ever make a joke."

Corporations use government rules to protect themselves, and vice-versa. Eg US companies not releasing information because they claim there's a national security interest - eg about pollution records (detailing pollution might give clues to a Sikrit Plant).

"Metadata = surveillance. If you hired a private detective to put someone under surveillance, they'd see who they spoke to, where they went, what they bought. That's metadata. When the president says 'it's just metadata', he's saying "it's surveillance".

1.14pm BST Schneier: we're leaving digital footprints wherever we go

"This isn't malice.. it's just what happens. And cloud computing exacerbates this. We're leaving this on someone else's computer, that's what cloud computing is - your data on someone else's hard drive. And cloud is probably the endpoint - access from wherever you are, so likely this is the end - we're going to have our data where it makes commercial sense, and that's on someone else's machine because it's too expensive to maintain myself."

Now looking at the legal side.

"There's been a libertarian bent to the internet.. laws shouldn't mess with the internet.. that data belongs to the people who have it. Gmail with email, data brokers, phone records with carriers... there's not much protection in the US. Different in Europe,which I like. But national intelligence operates in a grey area."

He says that technology "grows the box" of legal regulation - rather like a gas expanding, keeping ahed of the laws holding them back."Legal can't keep up."

Schneier says that he still uses POP (Post Office Protocol) for his email - for many techies that went out in around 2003.

"Apple has much tighter control of what's allowed on the iPhone than on its desktop, or is on Windows. And Windows 8 is heading in that direction. There are good business and consumer reasons why that's happening. But we are losing control of our data."

1.07pm BST Bruce Schneier: what are the threats to privacy?

Audience is fed and watered, and Bruce Schneier, longtime security and privacy advocate, is speaking.

"Audio surveillance.. phone calls... video surveillance from CCTV or even Google Glass... Wi-Fi surveillance, Bluetooth surveillance.. there's a lot going on."

Automatic face recognition; voice recognition (Spanish telecoms company uses voice recognition - which meant that Jacob Applebaum won't call you if you're in Spain.)

"In the US we have Infinity cards... [loyalty cards].. tie you to what you've purchased.. I think the trends are important because they point to what's happening. Data is a byproduct of the information society. Everything done on a computer creates a transaction record. Your mobile phone creates records - location, call.. that new iPhone with the motion sensor will know when you're holding it, asleep... any kind of commerce, EZPass in the US for paying for tolls, everything produces that data. Data is a byproduct of almost all our socialisation now because it's mediated by computers, except for incidents when we're in the same room.

"When I talk to my wife, we talk by email. Even if we're in the same house. Because we're in different rooms." (Intriguing insight into the Schneier home life..)

11.49am BST On another note.. European Council on privacy and internet on Tuesday

European Council having hearings on privacy and internet tomorrow - Duncan (Zircon) Campbell is going there.

Person running the day: "Can everyone who does not have a Facebook account raise their hand?" (Quite a lot do - at least a third of the audience?) "You can have lunch."

11.46am BST Arnbak: Q+A

Q: this is like environmental protection, isn't it?

A: understanding the problem is vital... in the debate.. what are the incentives? Why is this happening? It's not counterterrorism, or cyberattack prevention... it's something else. We're still trying to figure out why this is happening.

Q: (Jacob Applebaum): NSA isn't passive - Belgacom - GCHQ has broken into the telco and exploited them. Isn't that illegal? It seems illegal. Are we living in post-democratic times? It seems that way in the US.

A: I would have to say that national security exceptionalism is big.. Belgacom, should challenge before the courts. Maybe these revelations will annoy judges. It's vital not to give up on legal solutions. It's good that [Liberty and Privacy International] have taken this action.

11.31am BST Arnbak: Liberty v UK most relevant

UK has some big getouts in its law: "information could be listened to or read if the secretary of state considered this was required for national security… or the protection of the UK economy".

It's unclear whether there's a moral or legal obligation under the ECHR (Human Rights act).

(Basically, we seem to be concluding that there's no clear case law, but that ECHR lets you leak.)

11.24am BST Arnbak: "who's going to bring the case?"

"Everybody is complicit.. who's going to bring the case? Is the UK going to sue the US?" Arnbak doesn't see that happening.

But Liberty has launched a case... and in Europe the existence of a law which allows you to be surveilled can be argued as indicating that you've been harmed. And it's not just personal data, but all data on a server that's protected under European law - at least, that's the argument.

11.17am BST Arnbak: do 15m of the US workforce do something in intelligence?

5 million people have security clearances, each has two staff - that suggests 15m of 136 million in the US workforce are in it. Though you can't get the numbers. Classified.

"Dubious role of academia". Possibly 10 years behind the NSA.

So can law and policy stop it? In Netherlands found that the Dutch medical records were being built by a US company; they raised question about whether that could be shared with the US. Dutch minister said that "we have medical secrecy!" Arnbak suspects that the NSA probably knows all the details it needs.

Hardly any chance of reform of US laws, especially relating to foreigners. "No chance".

11.12am BST Arnbak: SSL certificates are a strange market

Three certificate authorities sell 75% of all certificates, and five sell 95%. "Markets tend towards concentration which makes access to data very easy." (Implication is that cert authorities have been subverted.)

Intelligence sharing means that you get a race to the bottom. Like cycling - if all but one stops doping, then that one will keep winning. The race to the bottom in intelligence is to collect everything so you have more to share so you can get more in a sharing arrangement with other nations.

But: nobody gets fired. (A good point. Not a single head has rolled - that we know of - over this whole affair.)

11.07am BST Arnbak: it's all being collected

Points to the NYT/ NSA / social connections article (mentioned below). "Able to take in 20bn record events daily and make them available to NSA analysts within 60 minutes." And that data is collected about US persons for up to five years online, and an additional 10 years offline for 'hostorical searches'." So that's 15 years - "US citizens aren't that much better off."

Total Information Awareness - was given up as too expensive in 2003, but it's back in 2013, even if not under that name.

$600m - Amazon and the CIA signed a deal where the CIA would lease cloud computing capacity. Points back to Vogels in October 2012 talking of "fearmongering" - and suggesting that Vogels "already knew" about the CIA deal coming down the track when he made that statement.

10.59am BST Meanwhile, Phil Zimmermann says email can't be made safe

Elsewhere on the Guardian site, Phil Zimmermann - inventor of PGP - says that email just can't be made safe, because of its use of headers, which can be scooped up. (See earlier linking to the New York Times.)

10.54am BST Next: Axel Arnbak on the law v total international surveillance

Arnbak says the question is: can law address total international surveillance?

(Wearing a t-shirt saying "Yo, where are my bits at?" which could be the slogan for the entire conference.)

Points to Werner Vogels, Amazon cloud CEO, saying that questions about cloud security and privacy was "fearmongering".

Wrote a paper about threats of clouds and decided on a Pink Floyd album name - "Obscured by Clouds". And on the day they published, the Snowden disclosures began. "So we should have called it 'Dark Side Of The Moon'." (The audience liked that.)

10.45am BST Forgo: Q+A:

Q: how different is eg Facebook privacy from any consent form eg for an operation? And which are the best countries for data privacy?

A: European concept of data protection differs from medical consent.. but some of the ideas from clinical trials can be used for better implementation. And we don't know which laws work best - that would need empirical analysis which we don't have because of lack of transparency- you can't ask secret services what they're doing; they're called 'secret' for a reason.

And ideas of computer security differs in law between eg UK and Spain - one is precise, one is abstract.

10.39am BST Forgo: rounding up.. it's the economy..

Points to Euro Commission which shows that top five sites viewed in EU member states: Google, Facebook, YouTube, eBay... very rarely do you get a European company in them.

Quoting EU digital agenda data: economy means it's about infrastructure. (His argument seems to be that Europe needs to design its own cloud infrastructure.) Points to article about "Google knows nearly every Wi-Fi password in the world".

(The implication being that Europeans need to roll their own. Points to "made in Germany" email services. Quotes the suggestion that NSA fallout could cost Silicon Valley up to $35bn in annual revenues in lost overseas business.)

Points to survey of EU police authorities and various hacking strategies (eg man-in-middle, DNS poisoning) - where many refused to say if they were using particular tactics at all.

10.32am BST Forgo: not just Britain trying to impede law

Mentions Guardian article from last Friday on data protection law changes.

He isn't particularly hopeful that EU changes to data protection will be much of an improvement. Hedged around with phrases like "having regard to the state of the art and the cost of implementation".

"Right to be forgotten": Stanford Law Review was scathing about it, saying "Europeans have a long track record of declaring abstract rights which they then don't enforce."

10.25am BST Caspa Bowden: link to new report

Mentioned previously, the full report is here.

Caspar Bowden report located at this link.

10.21am BST NYTimes: NSA gathers data on US citizens' social connections

Just a reminder that this is about real people and topics: the New York Times on Saturday said that the NSA is gathering data on social connections of US citizens.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and email logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after NSA officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J Snowden, the former NSA contractor.

Updated at 11.02am BST

10.11am BST Forgo: what does 'processing of data' mean?

Forgo goes into article 8 of EU privacy law - covering data: "It's a very general and broad clause."

But he points to article 2: that data needs to be processed fairly for "specified purposes"' He points out that this goes against some big data uses. (At least, if you do it without permission.) It is illegal if you don't have informed consent, or some other legitimate use.

Updated at 10.28am BST

10.08am BST Forgo: why does Facebook want real names?

Facebook conditions says "We require everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who you're connecting with. This helps us keep our community safe." (Not that it does, but he pointed out that this isn't helpful for dissidents.)

Cites the Randi Zuckerberg photo (private photo posted on FB which then escaped to Twitter): "You reposting it to Twitter is way uncool," Ms Zuckerberg says.

Forgo: "In Europe we'd probably say 'illegal' not 'uncool'." And points out that the picture appeared in the Twitter-passer's FB feed – so, she said, "I thought it was public."

Updated at 10.27am BST

9.58am BST Forgo: how gamers literally sold their souls

Cites an April Fools Joke where Gamestation changed its Ts+Cs so that it could claim the souls of anyone who signed up - though if you read it and objected then they would send a £10 voucher. 7,500 sold their souls; about 10 claimed the voucher. (That's remarkable that as many as 10 actually got that far.)

Facebook's full use data policy is scrolling past quite quickly: "it takes about a minute".

Europeans would say that "including" - which is in the first sentence in the FB terms - isn't sufficient: that you need to specify what you're actually going to collect and what you're going to do with it. Points out that this stuff is all too vague: "Sometimes we get data... an advertiser may tell us information about you including... We also put together data from the information we already have about you and your friends... We may access, preserve and share your information in response to a legal request.... if we have a good faith belief that the law requires us to do so." Emphasis added by Forgo: he points out that they're not saying that there actually is a legal requirement, only that they believe there's one.

"Facebook use reminds me of people who smoke - they know it's not healthy, but they do it anyway."

9.52am BST Next up: Nikolaus Forgo: no harm in law if you agree... but what's that?

Forgo is head of the Belgian Center for Data Protection.

Says that we're living in "interesting times" (which isn't actually a Chinese curse, but serves well enough). Reminds us that "if the product is for free, you are the product". And Zuckerberg's assertion that "privacy is a social norm of the post"; and Eric Schmidt that "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." (Such as buying a penthouse in New York, Mr Schmidt?)

And "volenti non fit iniuria" - if you agree to something, there's no harm in law. Cites Facebook: "did you read the privacy policy? And did you understand it?" Very rarely do people read what they agree with.

9.17am BST Bowden: free software isn't a panacea

Questioner says that free software has been subverted too - so what do you do?

Bowden: at least it's the least worst. (Bruce Schneier agrees.)

General agreement from the front row (the speakers) that free software is the best place to start if you're trying to escape surveillance.

(There's a break now before the next session.)

Updated at 9.39am BST

9.12am BST Bowden: Q+A

Bowden: "Snowden probably only had basic access to NSA details ... CIA is building its own $600m data centre ... and gets its own copy of data which can be analysed under its own missions and authorities. And we don't know anything about that – we need to pay attention to that."

Duncan "Echelon" Campbell asking about intra-EU threats - eg GCHQ tapping into fibre networks, other EU countries including Sweden and others in "Five Eyes" (US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada intelligence sharing). Bowden: report coming out next month. Update: here's the link to his report.

Updated at 10.28am BST

9.04am BST Bowden: Europe dropped anti-FISA clause under US lobbying

EU was doing to have a "political" warning - but article 42 of the data regulation was dropped.

Says we need an "EU cloud" - an Airbus to match the US's Boeing.

He's put up a report (link to come). Thinks that "there should be a warning when you log on to US services that 'you're putting your data within the surveillance range of a foreign government. Do you agree?'"

(Audience laughs and applauds that one.)

"If you want information security buy an exercise book and a biro. Because we don't know what's being collected. If you put your data online it's like putting it in a privacy Guantanamo Bay."

(Quite a flourish to end.)

9.00am BST Bowden: 'it's not PRISM that's controversial in the US, it's the PATRIOT Act' - metadata

The US political debate has all been around Americans and their rights; the rights of non-Americans just don't exist in this context. Ex-NSA director Hayden says that "the Fourth Amendment [guaranteeing privacy] is not an international treaty" and that there's a "home field advantage" having data go across the US.

8.56am BST Bowden: are there more PRISM-style programmes?

It's a big question: might there be other s.702 programmes - for business cloud computing?

The cookie that Facebook drops on your to watch you might be used for surveillance -there's no difference between business and government surveillance.

Mentions XKeyscore and Bullrun. And the James Clapper agreement that Prism was about s.702 of the FISA. "I thought, 'wow'."

Mentions Guardian publication on 20 June of how NSA targets non-US citizens: confirms zero substantive privacy protection outside the US.

8.51am BST Bowden: 'abracadabra!'

Points to contracts with odd clauses from Microsoft/Google/etc, which the data protection adviser [DPA] must accept - and where "questions of mass surveillance disappear in a puff of audit".

He point out that "lawful" access for national security is not part of auditors' threat model. And that the contracts and laws allow for "mandatory requirement under national laws that conflicts [with DPAs' roles of auditing threats to the data integrity]."

(Side note: Bowden is doing his presentation with LibreOffice 3.6, not PowerPoint. As he said earlier, he's using free software now.)

8.43am BST Bowden: cloud computing leaves you with no privacy protection

Bowden describes efforts to get people interested in the European parliament report about how privacy for EU citizens doesn't apply in the cloud. Ryan Gallagher at Slate wrote about it: EU annoyed; US reaction "well, who's going to stop us?"

Then there was "Cloudwsh", where US organisations attempted to suggest that there was "no problem" with US cloud computing. Describes Business Software Alliance as "US organisation which has been trying to do down European privacy regulations for 15 years."

Slide shows "NSA surveillance octopus" - how stuff is acquired.

But cloud computing is too useful to be disinvented. Unlike Echelon, though, which was only interception, potentially all EU data is at risk. FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) can grab data after it's stored, and decrypted.

Updated at 9.41am BST

8.31am BST Like the conference logo? It's here

You can find the full image here.

IC Congress on Privacy and Surveillance Logo

IC Congress on Privacy and Surveillance

8.27am BST Bowden: cloud sneaked into FISA in 2008

"2008 FISA Amendment Act: authorised for a year, is meant to minimise access on US persons after collection, provides all facilities and information in secret, and has punishment for non-compliance."

(That "after" is quite telling. Means NSA can grab all sorts of stuff.)

FISA 2008 also quietly added "remote computing services" - meaning any data sent to the US for processing lawfully could also be brought into NSA. "Designed for mass surveillance."

But it's also "completely unlawful" under the EC's Human Rights Act.

8.21am BST Bowden: I left Microsoft two years ago...

"Approached many of the European authorities with my concerns and they shrugged. Then we had Edward Snowden and ever since then I've been busy.

"I didn't know about Prism when I was at Microsoft and I don't trust Microsoft now. I'm completely free software now."

Telling story of AT&T's deep packet inspection and Room 641A; New York Times didn't write story until 2005, despite being told before 2004 election. In 2007 "Protect America Act" gave retrospective protection to US telcos for cooperating with US government in wiretapping without proper warrants.

"This law started a new paradigm of trying to collect all the data all the time from US citizens." Before this US law had strong guarantees for privacy of citizens; now Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) shifts towards authorisation for broad scanning of traffic.

This all goes back to 1978. (Bowden is digging into roots of NSA spying, which comes from Richard Nixon and his desire to spy on Americans, without reference to the US Constitution's 4th Amendment - which protects privacy.)

8.14am BST Caspar Bowden: the industry turned on a dime in 2009 to cloud computing

(Bowden was director of FIPR from 1998 to 2002, and chief privacy adviser for Microsoft in 40 countries (though not the US) from 2002 to 2011.

"In about 2009 the whole industry turned on a dime and turned to cloud computing - massively parallel computation sold as a commodity at a distance."

Updated at 9.42am BST

8.10am BST Today's programme is online

The schedule for today's event is available online - note that the times are all CET (Central European Time), so subtract an hour if you're on UK BST (and subtract six if you're on the US East Coast).

First is Caspar Bowden, ex-Microsoft; then Nikolas Forgo; and then Axel Arnbak. Then we have the break for lunch, so we'll look at the other speakers after that.

7.57am BST Congress on Privacy and Surveillance: welcome

The University of Lausanne is the venue for this all-day conference, and we're here - with an audience of a few hundred people. The speakers include Caspar Bowden, formerly of Microsoft, and Jacob Applebaum. The conference starts at 9am Swiss time (8am UK).

Updated at 9.42am BST

Cartoon, 28 Sep 2013: The milky way… by Joe Berger and Pascal Wyse	The Guardian
Cartoon, 28 Sep 2013: The milky way... by Joe Berger and Pascal Wyse, The Guardian, Source

Seymour Hersh
on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media

Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should 'fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can't control'

Posted by Lisa O'Carroll, Friday 27 September 2013 09.54 EDT,, Article Source

Seymour Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. Photograph: Wally McNamee/Corbis
Seymour Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize.
Photograph: Wally McNamee/Corbis

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn't take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist".

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don't even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends "so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would" – or the death of Osama bin Laden. "Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true," he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an "independent" Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. "The Pakistanis put out a report, don't get me going on it. Let's put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It's a bullshit report," he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

"It's pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]," he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

"It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn't happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn't even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

Snowden changed the debate on surveillance

He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden "changed the whole nature of the debate" about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government's policy.

"Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we've all written the notion there's constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it's real now," Hersh says.

"Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn't touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game," he adds, before qualifying his remarks.

"But I don't know if it's going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters 'al-Qaida, al-Qaida' and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic," he says.

Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London's summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.

Hope of redemption

Despite his concern about the timidity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.

"I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it's not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity."

His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.

Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: "Sergeant, I want Calley out now."

Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. "I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000."

He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Put in the hours

For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been "despoiled".

"I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there's nothing there, it doesn't go anywhere."

Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.

"Do you think Obama's been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What's going on [with journalists]?" he asks.

He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.

"Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It's journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize," he adds. "It's a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don't mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that's a serious issue but there are other issues too.

"Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren't we doing more? How does he justify it? What's the intelligence? Why don't we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don't we do our own work?

"Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here's a debate' our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who's right and who's wrong about issues. That doesn't happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it's like you don't dare be an outsider any more."

He says in some ways President George Bush's administration was easier to write about. "The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era," he said.

Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.

"I'll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can't control," he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don't get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say 'I don't care what you say'.

Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.

If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn't stop with newspapers.

"I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let's start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won't like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that's what we're supposed to be doing," he says.

Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.

"The republic's in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple." And he implores journalists to do something about it.

It's another bad week to be gay

Between Barilla pasta's anti-gay jab, the IOC ignoring reality and a Russian activist's death, times aren't rosy for LGBT community

Nancy Goldstein,, Friday 27 September 2013 15.19 EDT, Article Source

Gay rights activists hold a banner reading Homophobia - the religion of bullies in Red Square, Moscow Photograph: Evgeny Feldman/AP
Gay rights activists hold a banner reading "Homophobia - the religion of bullies" in Red Square, Moscow
Photograph: Evgeny Feldman/AP

Sometimes it really does suck to be gay. In addition to the usual hard work – the recruiting of innocents, the destruction of the institution of marriage, compulsory brunch – there's been an unusually high volume of international bigotry and bad news to put up with this week.

Take the recent diss from Guido Barilla, the chairman of his family's famous pasta company. He announced on air that he would never feature a gay family in one of Barilla's ads. Clearly unaware that gay people can actually hear what he says on the radio, Barilla added that he had "no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose." He then encouraged those of us who found his statements offensive to eat another brand.

Within hours, Italian activists and politicians obliged by calling for a boycott. The hashtag "#boycottbarrilla!" began trending on Twitter and popping up all over Facebook, along with a trove of brilliant satiric images. American blogger John Aravosis, who speaks Italian, nailed the lid on by providing a helpful translation of Barilla's remarks on his Americablog site, plus regular updates of Barilla's frantic attempts to backtrack. At last count, he and the company had issued three separate statements, including one non-sequiturial rambling from Barilla about women's central role in the family, plus an awful "I'm-sorry-if-anyone-was-offended" pseudo-apology that only made him sound like a bigger jerk than ever.

Surpassing even Barilla's unique blend of homophobia and cynicism, the International Olympic Committee issued a statement that it is "fully convinced that Russia will respect the Olympic charter, which prohibits discrimination of any kind". There are two major obstacles to understanding how the IOC reached this conclusion. The first is the extensive documentation, via every imaginable form of media, of Russia's persecution of LGBT people under the country's new, virulently homophobic laws. The second is the IOC charter itself, which states – as this helpful image from Boycott Sochi 2014 reminds us – "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement". It also compels the IOC to "fight against" and "take action against" what the charter calls "discrimination of any kind".

Anyone who wants to know what's responsible for the IOC's strange blindness to the purpose of its own charter – its conviction that none of the anti-gay witch hunt now in full swing in Russia counts as "discrimination" so long as a mob doesn't actually disrupt the figure skating – need look no further than the bottles of Coca-Cola artfully placed in front of the IOC members at their press conference. It's clear that the Olympics – under the auspices of the IOC and the Olympics' top sponsors, including Coke, Visa, General Electric, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble – are no longer about integrity or even sport. The occasional glimpse of skiing or snowboarding is just a brief interruption between commercials.

One can only hope that their same deep focus on market forces, along with a wave of protests urging action, will continue to rattle these corporations, possibly even to the point of actually doing something. They would do well to contemplate the effect on their brand of being linked to everything that happens under their logos in Sochi and the damage of winding up on the wrong side of history.

The Metropolitan Opera ignored pleas to dedicate its opening night to Russia's LGBT population as a protest against the country's draconian anti-gay laws. This, despite featuring a production of "Eugene Onegin" written by the closeted gay Russian composer Tchaikovsky, directed by two lesbians (Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw), and featuring two Putin enthusiasts – the conductor Valery Gergiev and the soprano Anna Netrebko. Ultimately, LGBT activists carried the day by bringing so much attention, through outside pickets and an inside action, that every newspaper review devoted half of their coverage to the plight of Russian gays. But it's disturbing to see the Met deploy the IOC's same twisted arguments – that somehow holding the Olympics in Russia, or featuring two major Putin supporters in one's cast isn't a political statement, but protesting either of those actions is.

Finally, in a huge loss to all human rights supporters, Russian LGBT activist Alexei Davydov died at the age of 36. He was the first to challenge Russia's new "gay propaganda law" by standing on the steps of the Children's Library in Moscow with a sign reading "Gay is normal." Millions of people around the world watched the TV footage of him being hauled off by the police. The police also broke his arm in 2011, after arresting him at a protest defending freedom of assembly for all Russians. Being a gay activist in Russia, and therefore, unemployable, Davydov died poor. His friends are now scrambling to raise funds for his funeral.

Perhaps Putin, who boasted earlier this month that gay people suffer no discrimination in Russia, could step in to insure a hero's funeral for this "valued citizen of the Russian Federation"?

Don't hold your breath.

NSA employee spied on nine women
without detection, internal file shows

Twelve cases of unauthorised surveillance documented in letter from NSA's inspector general to senator Chuck Grassley

Paul Lewis in Washington,, Friday 27 September 2013 17.08 EDT, Article Source

General Keith Alexander said abuse of the NSA's powerful monitoring tools were 'with very rare exception' unintentional mistakes. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
General Keith Alexander said abuse of the NSA's powerful monitoring tools were
'with very rare exception' unintentional mistakes. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A National Security Agency employee was able to secretly intercept the phone calls of nine foreign women for six years without ever being detected by his managers, the agency's internal watchdog has revealed.

The unauthorised abuse of the NSA's surveillance tools only came to light after one of the women, who happened to be a US government employee, told a colleague that she suspected the man – with whom she was having a sexual relationship – was listening to her calls.

The case is among 12 documented in a letter from the NSA's inspector general to a leading member of Congress, who asked for a breakdown of cases in which the agency's powerful surveillance apparatus was deliberately abused by staff. One relates to a member of the US military who, on the first day he gained access to the surveillance system, used it to spy on six email addresses belonging to former girlfriends.

The letter, from Dr George Ellard, only lists cases that were investigated and later "substantiated" by his office. But it raises the possibility that there are many more cases that go undetected. In a quarter of the cases, the NSA only found out about the misconduct after the employee confessed.

It also reveals limited disciplinary action taken against NSA staff found to have abused the system. In seven cases, individuals guilty of abusing their powers resigned or retired before disciplinary action could be taken. Two civilian employees kept their jobs – and, it appears, their security clearance – and escaped with only a written warning after they were found to have conducted unauthorised interceptions.

The abuses – technically breaches of the law – did not result in a single prosecution, even though more than half of the cases were referred to the Department of Justice. The DoJ did not respond to a request for information about why no charges were brought.

The NSA's director, Gen Keith Alexander, referred to the 12 cases in testimony to a congressional hearing on Thursday. He told senators on the intelligence committee that abuse of the NSA's powerful monitoring tools were "with very rare exception" unintentional mistakes.

"The press claimed evidence of thousands of privacy violations. This is false and misleading," he said.

"According to NSA's independent inspector general, there have been only 12 substantiated case of willful violation over 10 years. Essentially, one per year."

He added: "Today, NSA has a privacy compliance program any leader of a large, complex organization would be proud of."

However, the small number cases depicted in the inspector general's letter, which was published by Republican senator Chuck Grassley, could betray a far larger number that NSA managers never uncovered.

One of the cases emerged in 2011 ,when an NSA employee based abroad admitted during a lie-detector case that he had obtained details about his girlfriend's telephone calls "out of curiosity". He retired last year.

In a similar case, from 2005, an NSA employee admitted to obtaining his partner's phone data to determine whether she was "involved" with any foreign government officials. In a third, a female NSA employee said she listened to calls on an unknown foreign telephone number she discovered stored on his cell phone, suspecting he "had been unfaithful".

In another case, from two years ago, which was only discovered during an investigation another matter, a woman employee of the agency confessed that she had obtained information about the phone of "her foreign-national boyfriend and other foreign nationals". She later told investigators she often used the NSA's surveillance tools to investigate the phone numbers of people she met socially, to ensure they were "not shady characters".

The case of the male NSA employee who spied on nine women occurred between 1998 and 2003. The letter states that the member of staff twice collected communications of an American, and "tasked nine telephone numbers of female foreign nationals, without a valid foreign intelligence purpose, and listened to collected phone conversations".

Why iOS 7 is making some users sick

The introduction of fake zooms, parallax, sliding and other changes in Apple's new iPhone and iPad software has a very real effect on people with vestibular disorders

Craig Grannell,, Friday 27 September 2013 13.23 EDT, Article Source

iOS 7: zooms, transitions and other changes in the new version of Apple's mobile operating system are making some people feel sick
iOS 7: zooms, transitions and other changes in the new version of Apple's mobile
operating system are making some people feel sick

Apple's new mobile operating system for the iPhone and iPad, iOS 7, is stark and minimal, yet dynamic. It makes frequent use of zoom and slide animations; the home screen boasts parallax, with icons apparently floating above subtly animating wallpaper. And it's making people sick.

Triggers and symptoms vary, but TidePool mobile app developer Jenni Leder's experience is not uncommon. A self-professed power-user, she frequently switches apps; but on iOS 7, this has caused headaches and feelings associated with motion sickness. "I now have to close my eyes or cover the screen during transitions, which is ridiculous," she told The Guardian, adding that there's nowhere to hide: "It's not apps that affect me, but accessing them. Tap a folder and the view zooms in. Tap an app and it's like flying through the icon and landing in that app's micro world — and I'm getting dizzy on the journey there."

This wasn't the case under iOS 6. That system wasn't devoid of triggers (full-screen slide transitions being fairly common), but zooming was minimal and parallax was absent, as were gamified animation effects such as subtly shifting and sliding balloons in Messages.

The same minimal effect is true of stock Android and Windows Phone, which lack triggering animations and effects as dynamic and aggressive as those in iOS 7.

Jump up

The severity of the jump from iOS 6 to iOS 7 means some organisations dealing with such motion-sickness problems are recommending that people with such conditions don't upgrade their iOS devices. A number of affected users have reportedly switched iPhones that had already been upgraded to iOS 7 for models running iOS 6.

Reactions to screen-based systems — especially those utilising 3D effects — aren't new. Cynthia Ryan, executive director of the Vestibular Disorders Association, says 3D effects can cause "intense nausea, dizziness and vertigo", sometimes from general vision problems, but also from visual-vestibular conflict. She added symptoms "manifest more severely if a viewer already has a disorder of the vestibular system".

The vestibular system is what gives us our sense of balance and sense of spatial awareness; it's dependent on three mutually orthogonal fluid-filled canals in the inner ear. But when the vestibular system and visual system come into conflict, the effect can be distressing.

John Golding, professor of applied psychology at the University of Westminster, says visually-induced motion-sickness often arises from "the induction of perceived self-motion while at the same time the vestibular system and somatosensory systems signal that the body is in fact static".

Dizzying change

Similar symptoms can also arise from neurological conditions that cause central dizziness. Matt Gemmell, an independent iOS developer, thought it made sense that those with such conditions "would find some parts of the new iOS 7 interface uncomfortable or disorienting," because it "makes more extensive use of animations — and those animations are more pronounced".

The problem for those suffering is twofold: first, many other people refuse to believe a problem exists; secondly, there's no fix. "We're often contacted by people affected by moving images on screens, but people are affected in different ways — what's a problem for one person may not be for another," explained Natasha Harrington-Benton, director of the Ménière's Society, a UK charity for peopel with disorders causing dizziness or balance disorders. "But these disorders can be extremely debilitating, despite there being no visible symptoms".

Marissa Christina, a podcaster and writer about hidden disabilities, suggests there was a "lack of awareness" about such issues: "The words 'dizziness' and 'vertigo' don't strike fear into people, but those living with severe cases are in ongoing angst awaiting the next unwarranted attack".

The lack of a solution is the bigger problem. Apple provides a "Reduce Motion" option within the iOS 7 Settings app, but it is poorly labelled; it merely disables the parallax effect, but doesn't stop zooming or sliding. Apple did not respond to requests for comment for this article. Which for now, leaves affected people on their own.

Golding's suggestions to those affected include to "rest often", avoid situations which reduce peripheral visual clues which give the correct information the person is static (in other words, don't hold your iPad to your nose), or "just not use the device". Those might suit some, but aren't practical if you're reliant on mobile devices.

Blind spot

What's surprising is Apple's apparent blind spot regarding balance and related concerns. Gemmell said: "Apple is more committed to accessibility than any other platform provider I know of." This is borne out by the software's otherwise plentiful aids for people with vision, hearing and motor-control issues.

However, technology writer Kirk McElhearn quesions whether Apple is ignoring people with vision and balance problems. He told the Guardian: "If Apple wants to truly cater to users with disabilities, it must look more closely at which features cause difficulties, make more effort to listen to users who find them hard to use, and enable them to be more comfortable".

Christina said Apple should start by acknowledging the issue and "initiating an open dialog with those affected, developers, and Apple's own accessibility team". The company must, she said, "narrow in on what's adversely affecting people and ensure features can be disabled".

Gemmell says he is "sure suitable options to more comprehensively disable motion will be forthcoming". In the meantime, he recommended those affected send an email to, succinctly stating which animations are problematic and requesting the means to disable them.

Playing a part

In the meantime, developers can also do their part. With app creators often following Apple's lead, it's perhaps inevitable the short-term will see yet more animation in iOS 7. Gemmell urges developers to "consider all categories and ability levels of user, and design interfaces judiciously"; they should enable users to disable anything that "could be annoying or intrusive", and UI effects should "have a useful function, such as showing context, hinting about functionality, or demonstrating transition, rather than being purely decorative".

With the latest update to the popular calculator app PCalc, developer James Thomson has recognised the accessibility concerns, and provided the option to "remove full-screen transitions throughout the app".

But he says= he'd sooner see Apple add this at system level, :so individual developers don't have to". Gemmell hopes Apple and developers alike would react accordingly regarding animations and transitions, simply because it's the right thing to do: "Accessibility affects everyone, and devices should be usable in all situations, by as many people as possible. Designing for accessibility levels the playing field, and increases the utility of devices for everybody."

Notes from ~@~

The VW camper:
farewell to a van so laidback it forces you to unwind

The news that Volkswagen will stop producing campervans on 31 December has made one dedicated owner think about the joys – and inconveniences – of owning one

Posted by Vicky Frost, Tuesday 24 September 2013 09.45 EDT, The Guardian, Article Source

'A vehicle that needs a little rest if the temperature rises much above 25C.' Photograph: Alamy
'A vehicle that needs a little rest if the temperature rises much above 25C.' Photograph: Alamy

A man on a tiny tractor is talking to me and my husband in Swedish. We are staring at our Type 2 VW camper, marooned in the Malmö mud, and praying that the rusty underside of the vehicle does not give way during attempts to pull her clear of her overnight resting place. Not for the first time on this rain-soaked Scandinavian summer tour, we wonder whether a trip to a nice hot beach might have been a more sensible option.

Our bus is named after Ethelred the Unready for reasons that will be only too familiar to VW owners without pockets filled with gold. (And yes, we are aware she's had a sex change, but I've yet to meet a camper that's referred to as a "he".) If you have a pot of money you'd like to exchange for a vehicle that needs a little rest and its boot opening if the temperature rises much above 25C or if you go on a motorway for too long, you can't do better than a vintage camper.

It's not a holiday if you don't sit on a camp chair by the side of the road, freshly brewed cup of tea in hand, while your transport takes a breather.

There's no joy like clambering into the driver's seat, where a spring pops up and rips the back pocket of your jeans – but that's a small price to pay for a trip in the old girl. She grumbles into action, making a fearsome noise, before floating down the road. You don't drive her so much as ride her, moving a steering wheel that's as big as a bin lid in the vague direction of travel.

Campers don't go anywhere fast. (Although we did once get flashed for speeding in the Netherlands. We didn't know whether to curse our bad luck or celebrate it as a victory.) But the journey is part of the treat: you trundle along, peering out of the window with no bonnet in front of you, a draught around your knees, people waving and other VWs beeping as they pass. Just so long as you don't need to be anywhere at a certain time – from experience, I wouldn't recommend ferry dashes, for instance – you're practically forced to unwind by the time you've reached the end of your street.

Then there's the arrival. Up pops the roof, on goes the kettle, out comes the dinner stuff. No need to unpack. Definitely no need to pitch a tent. And next morning you're ready to roll off whenever the whim takes you.

Well, not quite whenever. Which is why we're standing on a Swedish campsite in the sheeting rain hoping that a miniature tractor driven by a grown man doesn't break Ethelred's undercarriage. Around us, massive motorhomes seem unbothered by the quagmire, despite their on-board loos, showers and possibly, based on their sheer size, ballrooms. But why would you want that when you have a rock'n'roll bed, a couple of hammocks in the roof and a fold-down table? Why indeed?

An Ode to Morse Code

By Julie Caine, KALW Radio, Article Source

Morse Code key and coder ~ Credit Julie Caine
Morse Code key and coder ~ Credit Julie Caine

Click to Listen (in new tab, page, or player)

For nearly a hundred years, Morse Code was the official language of international communication for ships in distress. Then, at the end of the twentieth century, it officially went silent on the world’s oceans, replaced by more modern technologies.

On July 12, 1999—the day Morse officially stopped being used on the seas—the Morse operators who had tapped out these signals gathered to say goodbye. Richard Dillman, Chief Operator of the Maritime Radio Historical Society, recalls that “those of us who were there found it to be a very emotional scene. Some very tough looking old buzzards, radio pioneers, had tears in their eyes.”

Richard Dillman transmits from KPH ~ Credit Julie Caine
Richard Dillman transmits from KPH ~ Credit Julie Caine

There’s one lonely spot in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore where dots and dashes still make the hearts of tough old buzzards go pitter pat. Down an unmarked, tree-lined lane in far West Marin, just beyond a field punctuated with antennas, the sounds of the past bubble up into the present.

“This is KPH San Francisco radio,” says Jack Martini. “It was alive! There was so much going on all of the time! It was a hum of a place, you walk in here it was humming. People were doing moving around copying code, moving, screaming all of that stuff which made it more than just a job. It was a way of life is exactly what it was for us. Absolutely loved it.

Jack Martini at KPH Marine Radio ~ Credit Julie Caine
Jack Martini at KPH Marine Radio ~ Credit Julie Caine

Martini is 75 years old. He was the last manager of KPH. “This station was originally founded in San Francisco at the Palace Hotel,” he says. “The initials PH are the Palace Hotel.”

In 1905, the station was set up as a way for merchants and ship owners to communicate with ships out at sea, and as a way for wealthy cruise ship passengers to check on their stocks and investments back home.

But the station was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Eventually, in 1946, it relocated to this remote corner of Pt. Reyes—after stops in San Francisco, Daly City, and Tomales Bay. Except for a few years during WWII, KPH stayed on the air. It was a money-maker: sending messages cost 50 cents a word, which even now isn’t cheap.

Martini started working at KPH in 1961. And he stayed until the very end. He was the one who closed the door and turned out the lights when the station went dark.

“It was like a death in the family when they closed it,” he says. “It's still here though, isn't it?”

Bringing KPH alive

KPH Marine Radio's console ~ Credit Julie Caine
KPH Marine Radio's console ~ Credit Julie Caine

In a room filled with buttons and switches, dials and consoles, people are happily tapping away on gadgets called ‘bugs’ and ‘keys.’ A manual typewriter sits at the ready--loaded with a fresh sheet of clean white paper.

A crowd of excited onlookers gathers around. Richard Dillman is getting ready to send a Morse Code message out to ships, HAM radio operators, and other normally-defunct marine radio stations like KPH, all of whom have turned on their old sets and tuned in for this special broadcast.

“People around the world will be listening to us,” says Dillman. “Have been waiting for this all year. Tubes warming up, earphones going on, coffee getting hot, ready to hear these transmissions.”

It’s the Night of Nights—an annual celebration of the very last commercial radio message sent in Morse Code.

Only a handful of people are still truly fluent in Morse Code. Dave Wolf is one of them. Dillman describes him as an ace commercial operator from KPH’s sister station WCC on Cape Cod. “He was also a shipboard radio operator—the genuine article right here,” Dillman explains.

All eyes are on a big clock. Wolf and Dillman will start their transmission at precisely 5:01pm—the moment back in 1999 when Morse Code use officially ended on the world’s oceans.

Finally it begins, a series of beeps. Wolf translates: “To all. Ships. And. Stations. Break. On. This. 14th. Anniversary. Night of Nights. The. Maritime. Radio. Historical. Society. Extends. Warm. Greetings. To. All. Listeners. Ashore. And. Afloat.”

Beep beep beep.

Dave Wolf at KPH Marine Radio ~ Credit Julie Caine
Dave Wolf at KPH Marine Radio ~ Credit Julie Caine

This is only the beginning of what will be a long night. Dillman and his crew send and receive messages until midnight. And some of the time, they’ll just be listening.

“The signal that we were hearing is on the most hallowed, may I say sacred, frequency of all time,” said Dillman. “It's the frequency that the Titanic used to call for distress. It's the frequency on which every SOS was sent forward: 500 kilocycles—just below the AM broadcast band.”

After the Titanic, they wanted people to hear lifeboats, which are always weak -- just 10 watts. So they set up these two periods an hour. During those times, nobody says a word. All ships and stations stop talking and just….listen.

A weird static sound comes over the air.

“That's the sound of whatever crap is on there that isn't being radiated by us, but by God himself in heaven,” says Wolf.

Before leaving Dave Wolf is asked one more question: Can you do KALW in Morse Code?

Listen to find out what that sounds like. ~> [Click Here]

Senators Should Wear Uniforms like Nascar Drivers so we could Identify their Corporate Sponsors
Senators Should Wear Uniforms like Nascar Drivers so we could Identify their Corporate Sponsors ~ imgur

Why is Apple so shifty about how it makes the iPhone?

The paragon of modern tech risks losing its shine by dodging queries about Indonesia, and an orgy of unregulated tin mining

George Monbiot, The Guardian, Monday 23 September 2013 15.30 EDT, Article Source

‘When asked where it obtains its minerals, Apple looks arrogant, lumbering and unaccountable.' Photograph: Eduardo Barraza/Demotix/Corbis
‘When asked where it obtains its minerals, Apple looks arrogant, lumbering and
unaccountable.' Photograph: Eduardo Barraza/Demotix/Corbis

Are you excited about the launch of Apple's new iPhones? Have you decided to get one? Do you have any idea what you're buying? If so, you are on your own. When asked where it obtains its minerals, Apple, which has done so much to persuade us that it is deft, cool and responsive, looks arrogant, lumbering and unaccountable.

The question was straightforward: does Apple buy tin from Bangka Island? The wriggling is almost comical.

Nearly half of global tin supplies are used to make solder for electronics. About 30% of the world's tin comes from Bangka and Belitung islands in Indonesia, where an orgy of unregulated mining is reducing a rich and complex system of rainforests and gardens to a post-holocaust landscape of sand and acid subsoil. Tin dredgers in the coastal waters are also wiping out the coral, the giant clams, the local fisheries, the endangered Napoleon wrasse, the mangrove forests and the beaches used by breeding turtles.

Children are employed in shocking conditions. On average, one miner dies in an accident every week. Clean water is disappearing, malaria is spreading as mosquitoes breed in abandoned workings, and small farmers are being driven from their land. Those paragons of modernity – electronics manufacturers – rely for their supplies on some distinctly old-fashioned practices.

Friends of the Earth and its Indonesian counterpart, Walhi, which have documented this catastrophe, are not calling for an end to tin-mining on Bangka and Belitung: they recognise that it supports many people who would not find work elsewhere. What they want is transparency on the part of the companies buying the tin extracted there, leading to an agreement to reduce the impacts and protect the people and the wildlife. Without transparency there's no accountability; without accountability there's no prospect of improvement.

So they approached the world's biggest smartphone manufacturers, asking whether they are using tin from Bangka. All but one of the big brands fessed up. Samsung, Philips, Nokia, Sony, BlackBerry, Motorola and LG admit to buying (or probably buying) tin from the island through intermediaries, and have pledged to help address the mess. One company refuses to talk.

Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive officer, claimed last year: "we want to be as innovative with supply responsibility as we are with our products. That's a high bar. The more transparent we are, the more it's in the public space. The more it's in the public space, the more other companies will decide to do something similar". Which would be fine, if Apple did not appear to be pursuing the opposite policy.

Mobilised by Friends of the Earth, 25,000 people have now written to the company to ask whether it is buying tin from the ecological disaster zone in Indonesia. The answer has been a resounding "we're not telling you".

I approached Apple last week, and it felt like the kind of interview you might conduct with someone selling televisions out of the back of a lorry. The director of corporate public relations refused to let me record our conversation. He insisted that it should be off the record and for background only, whereupon he told me ... nothing at all. All he would do was direct me back to the webpage I was asking him about.

This states, with baffling ambiguity, that "Bangka Island, Indonesia, is one of the world's principal tin-producing regions. Recent concerns about the illegal mining of tin from this region prompted Apple to lead a fact-finding visit to learn more." Why conduct a fact-finding visit if you're not using the island's tin? And if you are using it, why not say so? Answer comes there none.

Today I asked him a different set of questions. In a previous article, in March, I praised Apple for mapping its supply chain and discovering that it uses metals processed by 211 smelters around the world. But, in view of its farcical response to my questions about Bangka, I began to wonder how valuable that effort might be. Apple has still not named any of the companies on the list, or provided any useful information about its suppliers.

So I asked the PR director whether I could see the list, and whether it has been audited: in other words, whether there's any reason to believe that this is a step towards genuine transparency. His response? To direct me back to the same sodding webpage. Strange to relate, on reading it for the fourth time I found it just as uninformative as I had the first time.

While I was tearing out my hair over Apple's evasions, Fairphone was launching its first handset at the London Design Festival. This company, formed not just to build a genuine ethical smartphone but also to try to change the way in which supply chains and commercial strategies work, looks like everything that Apple should be but isn't. Though its first phone won't be delivered until December, it has already sold 15,000 sets: to people who want 21st-century technology without 19th-century ethics.

The Restart Project, which helps people to repair their own phones (something that Apple's products often seem designed to frustrate) was at the same show, pointing out that the most ethical phone is the one you have in your pocket, maintained to overcome its inbuilt obsolescence.

This isn't the only way in which Apple looks out of date. Last week, 59 organisations launched their campaign for a tough European law obliging companies to investigate their supply chains and publish reports on their social and environmental impacts. Why should a company be able to choose whether or not to leave its customers and shareholders in the dark? Why shouldn't we know as much about its impacts as we do about its financial position?

Until Apple answers the questions those 25,000 people have asked, until it displays the transparency that Tim Cook has promised but failed to deliver, don't buy its products. Made by a company which looks shifty, unaccountable and frankly ridiculous, they are the epitome of uncool.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at

NSA surveillance goes beyond Orwell's imagination
-- Alan Rusbridger

Guardian editor says depth of NSA surveillance programs greatly exceed anything the 1984 author could have imagined

Dominic Rushe in New York, ,, Monday 23 September 2013 17.08 EDT, Article Source

'All sorts of people around the world are questioning what America is doing,' Alan Rusbridger told an audience in New York. Photograph: Sarah Lee
'All sorts of people around the world are questioning what America is doing,'
Alan Rusbridger told an audience in New York. Photograph: Sarah Lee

The potential of the surveillance state goes way beyond anything in George Orwell's 1984, Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian's editor-in-chief, told an audience in New York on Monday.

Speaking in the wake of a series of revelations in the Guardian about the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance operations, Rusbridger said: "Orwell could never have imagined anything as complete as this, this concept of scooping up everything all the time.

"This is something potentially astonishing about how life could be lived and the limitations on human freedom," he said.

Rusbridger said the NSA stories were "clearly" not a story about totalitarianism, but that an infrastructure had been created that could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands.

"Obama is a nice guy. David Cameron is a nice social Democrat. About three hours from London in Greece there are some very nasty political parties. What there is is the infrastructure for total surveillance. In history, all the precedents are unhappy," said Rusbridger, speaking at the Advertising Week conference.

He said that whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked the documents, had been saying: "Look, wake up. You are building something that is potentially quite alarming."

Rusbridger said that people bring their own perspectives to the NSA revelations. People who have read Kafka or Orwell found the level of surveillance scary, he said, and that those who had lived or worked in the communist eastern bloc were also concerned.

"If you are Mark Zuckerberg and you are trying to build an international business, this is dismaying to you," Rusbridger said.

Zuckerberg recently criticised the Obama administration's surveillance apparatus. "Frankly I think the government blew it," he told TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

The Facebook founder was particularly damning of government claims that they were only spying on "foreigners".

"Oh, wonderful: that's really helpful to companies trying to serve people around the world, and that's really going to inspire confidence in American internet companies," said Zuckerberg.

"All sorts of people around the world are questioning what America is doing," said Rusbridger. "The president keeps saying: well we don't spy on our people. [But] that's not much comfort if you are German."

Rusbridger said the world of spying had changed incomparably in the last 15 years. "The ability of these big agencies, on an international basis, to keep entire populations under some form of surveillance, and their ability to use engineering and algorithms to erect a system of monitoring and surveillance, is astonishing," he said.

He said that as the NSA revelations had gone on, the "integrity of the internet" had been questioned. "These are big, big issues about balancing various rights in society. About how business is done. And about how safe individuals are, living their digital lives."

The Guardian editor rebuffed criticism from the Obama administration that the newspaper was drip-feeding the stories in order to get the most from them. "Well, the president has never worked in a newsroom," he said.

"If there are people out there who think we have digested all this material, and [that] we have all these stories that we are going to feed out in dribs and drabs, then I think that misunderstands the nature of news. What is happening is there is a lot of material. It's very complex material.

"These are not stories that sit up and beg to be told."

Rusbridger said the Guardian and its partners at the New York Times and ProPublica were working through the material. "It's a slow and patient business. If I were the president, I would welcome that."

Stephen Fry joins demand to end NSA
and GCHQ mass surveillance

Whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations lead to petition signed by free speech groups and high-profile writers

Nick Hopkins, The Guardian, Monday 23 September 2013, Article Source

“Privacy and freedom from state intrusion are important for everyone. You can’t just scream ‘terrorism’ and use it as an excuse for Orwellian snooping,” says British actor Stephen Fry Photograph: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
“Privacy and freedom from state intrusion are important for everyone. You can’t just
scream ‘terrorism’ and use it as an excuse for Orwellian snooping,” says British actor
Stephen Fry Photograph: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Stephen Fry will join 40 free speech groups and other high-profile authors and artists on Tuesday to demand an end to the mass surveillance revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. They will urge European leaders to take a stand against industrial-scale spying by US and British intelligence agencies.

Author AL Kennedy, artist Anish Kapoor and blogger Cory Doctorow are also among those who have signed a petition asking government heads to discuss the issues raised by Snowden when they meet at the European Council in October.

Fry said Snowden's disclosures raised fundamental issues for Europeans: "Privacy and freedom from state intrusion are important for everyone. You can't just scream 'terrorism' and use it as an excuse for Orwellian snooping."

Started by London-based group Index on Censorship, the petition urges government leaders to "clearly and unambiguously state their opposition to all systems of mass surveillance including the Prism system." The petition says such surveillance techniques are "an attack on our freedom of speech and an invasion of our privacy."

Files leaked by Snowden show the British eavesdropping centre GCHQ and its American counterpart the National Security Agency have developed capabilities to undertake mass surveillance of the web and mobile phone networks.

This is done by trawling the servers of internet companies and collecting raw data from the undersea cables that carry web traffic.

Two of the programmes, Prism and Tempora, can sweep up vast amounts of personal data, which is shared between the two countries.

The Guardian recently revealed how GCHQ and the NSA have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect their privacy.

Index will announce that 40 free speech groups have also joined the campaign, including Amnesty International, Liberty, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Russian PEN Centre. Free speech organisations from Canada, Bahrain, Malaysia, Poland and Finland have also signed the petition.

Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said: "Snooping and surveillance on this scale is not only an invasion of privacy, it also undermines the basis of democracy and free speech." Mass surveillance was a tool used by authoritarian countries and should not be tolerated, she said.

Index believes the public have yet to grasp the implications of what had been revealed. "They don't feel an immediate threat, they don't think that someone is watching them as they are writing their emails," said Hughes.

"Somehow the implications have not been appreciated. But if you told people 'we are going to put a policeman at the end of every street and we are going to put listening devices in your home' then that would cause obvious alarm."

The petition comes as a briefing paper for the European Parliament said recent disclosures by the Guardian and other media groups had revealed "an unprecedented scale and depth in intelligence gathering" by western agencies that had involved "numerous breaches of fundamental rights."

The 36-page analysis, to be presented in Brussels on Tuesday, has called on all US websites offering services within the EU to carry prominent warnings saying personal data could be subject to surveillance by US spies. It also warns that EU citizens will become "the first victims" of US surveillance programmes.

As part of its response to the Snowden revelations, the EU commissioned a report on the impact mass surveillance programmes have on fundamental rights.

Officially launched on Tuesday, it will say that people across Europe are particularly vulnerable to NSA snooping because they are not protected by US privacy laws. "It is clear that if EU citizens do not have the same level of protections as US citizens, because of the practices of the US intelligence services and the lack of effective protections, they will become the first victims of these systems."

The report, written by Caspar Bowden, an independent researcher and former privacy adviser at Microsoft, said US programmes were sweeping up massive amounts of data on lifestyles, political attitudes and economic choices.

"Prism seems to have allowed an unprecedented scale and depth in intelligence gathering, which goes beyond counter-terrorism and beyond espionage activities carried out by liberal regimes in the past. This may lead towards an illegal form of total information awareness where data of millions of people are subject to collection and manipulation by the NSA," the report says.

The report notes "there are no privacy rights for non-Americans under Prism and related programmes" and says the US probably places "no limitations on exploiting or intruding a non-US person's privacy."

Bowden concludes "EU institutions have the right and duty to examine this emergence of cyber mass-surveillance and how it affects the fundamental rights of the EU citizen abroad and at home."

The readers' editor on...
the Guardian's coverage of government surveillance

Readers have raised concerns about these stories, based on tens of thousands of secret documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, but few are critical of the decision to publish

Chris Elliott, The Guardian, Sunday 22 September 2013 14.41 EDT, Article Source

An entry in former Labour MP Chris Mullin's diary for 6 August 1999 describes one of his first days as a new minister. Two men visited him in his office to talk about security. He was one of five ministers in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions whose responsibilities, in his case water and aviation, entitled them to see "STRAP 2 (Top Secret)" information.

Mullin reports the details of his conversation with the two men, one of whom he dubbed the Undertaker. He writes: "The Undertaker said, 'Some of the people we have to negotiate with are pretty uncivilised.' He added, 'Mind, we also deal with some very civilised people – and we spy on them, too.' The only people we don't spy on are the Americans, the New Zealanders, Australians and Canadians, who are all part of a little club that has agreed to share the products of their bugging, burglary and bribery."

It's now more than three months since the Guardian began publishing stories about the hidden extent of the US and UK governments' surveillance of their peoples. These stories have been based on tens of thousands of secret documents disclosed by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. We now know, because of him, quite a lot more about the two senior members of the "little club" of five, which includes the UK and is known as the "Five Eyes". These documents have revealed the scale and nature of the mass surveillance carried out through the NSA and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

It is a complex and evolving story that has led to Snowden, currently receiving temporary asylum in Russia, being charged under the 1917 Espionage Act in the US; it has also led to a criminal investigation into the disclosures being mounted in the UK.

The public learned about the UK investigation from a high court hearing in which Home Office and Metropolitan police lawyers were fighting for the right to continue to examine material seized from David Miranda. He is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who brought the Snowden material to the paper and who has been at the heart of its coverage.

Miranda was on his way from Berlin – the home of film-maker Laura Poitras, his collaborator in the disclosures – to Brazil, where he and Greenwald live, when he was detained under an anti-terrorism law on 18 August. A computer and other equipment he was carrying were seized during his detention, which lasted nine hours.

The Snowden disclosures have been a major story for the Guardian and have provoked fierce debate in the US and many parts of the world. I would have expected to have written about it before for an Open Door column, but have waited for a number of reasons. First, it is a guiding principle that most such columns are based on readers' complaints and queries.

More than 300 articles have been published since the first, on 6 June 2013, which revealed that a top-secret court had ordered a US telephone company, Verizon, to hand over data on millions of calls. However, since then, the readers' editor's office has received only 108 emails in relation to the series, of which just 13 were critical. Of the 13, only two specifically criticised the Guardian for publishing the disclosures, which is unusual for such a high-profile story.

Of the rest, 48 were supportive of the Guardian's reporting, 27 offered further information or further case studies, and seven wanted to know how they could help Snowden, with some of them offering money, advice on visas, or even places to stay. A further 13 wanted to know more about what this kind of surveillance means for them personally.

Below the line there are thousands of comments but outright criticism of the Guardian for publishing is relatively rare. I asked the Guardian's moderators, who monitor all the comments, what their impressions are of the balance of views. One, in a fair reflection of the general view among his colleagues, said the commenters had "angrily debated the issues, but very few took any issue with us revealing them".

The second reason is that the readers' editor is given a chance not afforded to most journalists – time to step back and wait for the dust to settle before discussing whether the Guardian and its staff did the right or the wrong thing. There is not much sign of the dust settling just yet. The stories based on the documents keep coming, not just from the Guardian but from news organisations around the world.

First there was the Guardian and the Washington Post. Now, the Guardian, the New York Times and the investigative journalism website ProPublica are co-operating in the publication of the latest tranche of stories. In addition Der Spiegel, TV Globo in Brazil and others are all producing stories based on the Snowden material.

So, this column is a snapshot of the significant issues that have emerged from readers' questions and concerns.

First I spoke to Greenwald about the arguments, which come more often from rival newspapers and the intelligence agencies, that it was wrong to publish in the first place.

He said: "There are two strains of criticism about what the Guardian is doing. i) That we are endangering national security. ii) We are actually publishing too little, publishing too slowly, which I think is a more interesting critique.

"We have been extremely careful and cautious the whole time, probably careful to a fault. We have been determined not to unilaterally destroy programmes or put people in danger. Snowden was adamant that we engage in this very careful process. If we didn't it could render the debate ineffective. If anything, people have been concerned that we have been too much of a gatekeeper.

"I think you have to remember that you can always publish something that is unpublished but you can't unpublish something once it's published."

Concern that the Guardian is being too careful in its reporting is widely expressed online. One largely supportive reader from the US technical community wrote complaining to Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian's editor-in-chief, that there was too little specific technical information, too much redacted.

He wrote: "I understand the desire to contextualise and report things responsibly. However, I worry that you've been a bit too cautious. Without details about what is compromised and how (algorithms, companies/products, methodologies), people are left to wildly speculate without being able to effectively react.

"Please continue your excellent reporting; the detail given is adequate for a majority of the population. But the engineers and researchers who build and defend these systems could do a world of good with more information to work with."

I put this to James Ball, a member of the reporting team. He said: "We've withheld much less than people think we have. Many appear to have the impression we have the details of which chipsets, manufacturers, software products or encryption standards have been compromised, or how. We don't: as we said in the story, such details are held incredibly tightly, at a security level Snowden did not possess.

"The small number of redactions of the published documents don't relate to specific manufacturers, standards, or protocols, but some were made to address specific concerns of the NSA in the interest of responsible journalism.

"A huge amount of reporting effort, over several weeks, went into verifying and corroborating what is in the published story. There's a lot that's tantalising in particular slides, which can turn out to mean much less than it first appears. On Prism [the NSA's electronic surveillance programme], Tempora [a similar programme run by GCHQ], crypto [both agencies' efforts to defeat internet encryption], and more, we've been at pains to make sure we're as certain as we can be on what we're saying."

One reader criticised the Guardian for destroying computer equipment on which the details of the GCHQ files were stored; the hard drives and memory chips were deliberately wrecked after threats from senior UK government officials.

They wrote: "Not only [have] the UK proven themselves to be on the same level of being pathetic and despised the world over like their American friends, you as a news organisation have gone a step further. Your actions of destroying your own equipment due to pressure from your own pathetic government show what a true spineless coward you truly are."

Alan Rusbridger has explained elsewhere the Guardian's reasoning for doing this. It was a unique situation – the paper could either carry out what was anyway only a symbolic destruction (as there were other copies of the material in America and Brazil) to reach an accommodation with the authorities, or risk legal action that could have shut down coverage altogether and led to an expensive, uncertain court case. It's a fine judgment, but I can see why it was done.

One clear lesson of the affair is that if you are going to take, and release, a photograph of some of the debris left by the application of angle grinders to computer equipment, you should get someone who knows something about the innards of a MacBook Pro to write the caption. We said the bits pictured included a hard drive, but they didn't. That was still in a box, and a conspiracy theory was born that these weren't the real parts and the computers hadn't been smashed. They had.

One significant difference between the UK on the one hand and the US and Europe on the other is the lack of traction some of the Snowden-related stories have achieved among politicians and the public in Britain, which can be only partially explained by newspaper rivalry supported by a nudge from the DA-notice committee. Greenwald said: "I think part of it is that it is the product of the focus of the early stories: it was about the NSA and the US. That's the way it was defined. The NSA is where the focus was and the US where the reporting happened. Laura Poitras was reporting from Berlin and I was in Brazil. The UK got left out in the first couple of stages.

"The first story about the UK was about spying on the G20, and that was government on government, which has less impact and tends to interest people less. So as a first entry in the UK it was not ideal to engage.

"The second piece was about tapping into fibre optic cables under the sea and that was more successful. And then of course the Guardian had lots of problems with the UK government, plus lots of people in the UK who are pro-surveillance such as CCTV. It's just the way the reporting played out."

What gave the story fresh impetus in the UK was when Miranda was detained by the Metropolitan police at Heathrow. I asked Greenwald whether, in hindsight, he would have made different arrangements for that flight. On the face of it – given that six weeks earlier the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, had been forced to land in Vienna, apparently because it was believed that he may have been smuggling Snowden out of Russia – the decision to return via Heathrow seems risky.

"The idea that David was going to be stopped? I never thought it was going to happen. Guardian journalists much closer to the story had been going through Heathrow all the time. Laura Poitras had come to London to make a film and then returned to Berlin. The fact that someone so much more peripheral would be stopped didn't occur to us. The arrangements were made by the Guardian's travel agent normally. Obviously a mistake to go through London, sure, I wish he hadn't. They had so many more opportunities to detain people who were so much more involved.

"I was concerned when I didn't know what had happened. [But] I think the people most damaged by this are the UK and US governments because it has highlighted their behaviour. In a way I think it turned into a helpful episode because it highlights the willingness of these governments to abuse their power and attack press freedoms."

The investigation into the Snowden disclosures, involving dozens of journalists around the world, is an expensive one. What is it achieving?

Janine Gibson, the Guardian's US editor, said: "I think we went into this believing that there is a line between surveillance and privacy, and a necessary debate to be had about where that line should be drawn. It is clear that debate is best had in public, and public opinion, slow to shift in the US, has responded.

"A new poll published on the anniversary of 9/11 revealed that although 60% of Americans are still frightened of terrorism, nearly half think the government is doing a bad job of maintaining their freedoms. Nearly 60% oppose the NSA's collection of data on telephone and internet usage. Similar numbers oppose the secret Fisa court process that we have disclosed."

Greenwald is also convinced that a fire has been lit. He said: "I honestly think it has been so much better than I anticipated even. I have been writing about surveillance and the NSA for a long time, I started writing about this [in] 2005 when I began writing about politics.

"Surveillance doesn't always resonate with the public, it's too remote and too abstract. Even in the earliest discussions with Snowden he said, 'I have no fears other than I am going to unravel my life to talk about this [surveillance] and people won't care all that much.'

"Obviously it has been completely the opposite. There has been a sustained anger not just in the USA but around the world. There is a proper debate about the value of privacy and internet freedom and the dangers of state secrecy. This is exactly the issue I would wish to promote as a journalist, it is beyond my wildest dreams."

Some of the best stories in the Guardian's history – Suez, telling the public about British concentration camps during the Boer war – have been about campaigning journalism. Often that's telling people what they don't know they need to know.

Greenwald said: "I think it is the role of journalism to tell people what they should know and are not allowed to know. In this case, how vast a surveillance system is out there. Would it be better if the world remained ignorant of that?"

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

How Corporations Co-opted the "Flash Mob"

Many companies are now producing flash-mob happenings.

AlterNet / By Paul Krassner, September 21, 2013

And God said, “Let there be co-option.” Corporations are currently hiring flash mobs for marketing purposes. It was inevitable. Those rehearsed gatherings of fake spontaneity in public places were fun for the sake of fun -- mostly featuring musical instruments, singing, and dancing –- that served as magnets for inadvertent audiences with smartphone cameras, helping to push such heartwarming events into viral cyberspace.

Trending is the new fad. What were once free flash mobs have been blossoming into an industry. Many companies are now producing flash-mob happenings, charging from $2,000 to $4,000, even as much $10,000. In fact, last year at a conference of pharmaceutical executives in Las Vegas, Flash Mob America was paid $35,000, in the hope, said Elizabeth Marshall -- vice president of marketing for Decision Resources Group, which organized the confab -- that such a happening would “get our clients excited so that they would tweet or discuss it on LinkedIn.” Ask your doctor if flash mobs are right for you.

Flash Mob America was launched in 2009 after a non-commercial group of friends choreographed a memorial tribute to Michael Jackson that resulted in a plethora of requests to actually hire flash mobs. Co-founder Staci Lawrence admitted, “We never intended to set up a business, but we weren’t going to deny the demand for it.” The participants’ enthusiasm was enhanced because suddenly they had jobs, performing for the Red Cross, GLAAD, and Oscar Mayer. Upcoming gigs include a bar mitzvah and a marriage proposal.

Another firm, Big Hit Flash Mobs, have had clients ranging from JP Morgan Chase to Redbook to Nashville’s Opryland Hotel. “By provide (sic) such a spectacle,” they promise, “you’re activating your audience and creating a sensation that will spread beyond those in the attendance.” Their promo video is the IBM World Leadership Conference flash mob, all wearing orange T-shirts and dancing to a rap soundtrack. Incidentally, while one of the women does a solo dance, one of the men in the background clearly makes momentary masturbatory motions.

Among their FAQ and answers: “How long? 2-5 minutes, with most being in the 3-4 minute range. If it is longer than that, you lose the ‘flash’ part of a flash mob.” “How big? 15-30 people, with most being 20-25. If it any smaller than that, you lose the ‘mob’ part of a flash mob.” And a warning: “While we’ve got a rebellious streak, on the extremely rare occasion law enforcement authorities interrupt a flash mob, Big Hit will always follows (sic) their instructions.”

Corporations are using the charm of a flash mob to “get a halo effect by being associated with it,” says Bill Wasik, who is credited with creating the first flash mob in 2003. However, there are predecessors from decades ago who acted in the spirit of the flash-mob phenomenon-to-be, but without that label, and not coordinated via cellphones and social media. Two particular forerunners were each an all-night, free-form radio personality on a station in New York City.

One was the late Jean Shepherd on WOR-AM. If you woke up one night at 3 a.m., and your radio was still on, he might well have been talking about how you would try to explain the function of an amusement park to visitors from Venus. He was on air from 1 a.m. to 5:30 every night, mixing childhood reminiscence with contemporary critiques, peppered with characters such as the man who could taste an ice cube and tell you the brand name of the refrigerator it came from and the year of its manufacture.

Shepherd would orchestrate his colorful tales and stream-of-conscious ramblings with music ranging from “The Stars and Stripes Forever” to Bessie Smith singing “Empty Bed Blues.” He shared philosophical insights like “Life is a series of resolutions and relapses. One of his regular features was “hurling invectives.” He would instruct listeners to put the radio on a windowsill. Then he would whisper, “Now turn the volume all the way up,” and then he’d yell something that soundedominous -- “Shut up, you filthy pragmatist” -- for the rest of the neighborhood to wonder whose family was quarreling with such unusual profanity.

Although Shepherd’s ideas were often stolen by comedians, sitcoms and movies, screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky asked him for permission –- granted -- to use a variation of hurling invectives for his 1976 classic film, Network,in a pivotal scene where a TV newscaster, having a nervous breakdown, tells his audience, “Get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more.’” Which is exactly what his viewers proceeded to do.

In August 1956, WOR station manager Bob Leder complained that Shepherd didn’t play enough music and therefore was “not commercial.” Leder walked into the studio in the middle of Shepherd’s show and insisted, “You’ll play music tonight or you’re gonna leave.” Shepherd refused to obey that ultimatum, and he was fired -- yanked right off the air – but he was soon re-hired, and it was agreed that he wasn’t a disc jockey after all.

But he was about to be fired again because he lacked sponsors. Moreover, he urged his listeners to buy Sweetheart Soap, which wasn’t a sponsor. He also requested his listeners to partake in a “mill-in” to protest his dismissal. All they had to do was mill around at an empty lot in downtown Manhattan where a burned-out Wanamaker department-store building used to be.

Police arrived at the gathering and asked what was going on. “Just milling around” was a common response. It wasn’t against the law. Someone admitted that they were all “waiting for Shepherd.” Then, if a newcomer looked puzzled, the cops would ask, “Are you waiting for Shepherd?” If the reply was “Yes,” the newcomer would be directed toward the crowd. Eventually, four hundred individuals showed up.

Shepherd himself finally appeared. After he delivered a critique of commercialism, the crowd calmly dispersed, and the New York Times described the mill-in as a “passive protest.” It had taken place on a Sunday afternoon, and the next day was supposed to be Shepherd’s last show, but he was re-hired again when Sweetheart Soap volunteered to sponsor his show.

The other pre-flash-mob broadcaster was Bob Fass. Like Shepherd, he is extemporaneous and mischievous. Unlike Shepherd, he has guests, converses with listeners and presents live music on his show, Radio Unnamable (also the title of a prize-winning documentary about Fass and WBAI).

In February 1967, instead of a mill-in, Fass wanted to arrange a Fly-in –- a huge party at Kennedy International Airport. (These days, Big Hit Flash Mobs must inform clients, “We can’t do events at airports unless you have special access to the TSA, airline or airport operator.”)

Fass recalls, “The Fly-in was definitely comparable to a flash mob, but it wasn’t that secret. We announced it on the air every day for a week. People called up and were told flowers and guitars and things of that sort. We played a lot of songs about airplanes and flying, with people calling and saying that they would be there.

“And suddenly at midnight -- then the temperature was below zero, really a cold night – all these people showed up, they came like six to a car, just showed up, and there they were. It was something quite energizing about all these people seeing all these other people, because they knew it hadn’t been announced any place but the radio program that they were all listening to. And somehow the cultural community and community of interests were intent on recognizing themselves.”

The police estimated that seven thousand people were there, including many whose flights had been canceled; all of the Southwest flights were canceled due to a computer glitch. At one point, an undercover cop passed a joint to a teenager and then arrested her for being entrapped without a license. Fass tried in vain to convince the police to let her go. The Fly-in lasted for a few hours, but it had turned into a bummer because of the bust. Ultimately, she was given a suspended sentence.

Let us conclude with a pair of political flash mobs.

A November 2008 dispatch from Global Voices was headlined “Brazil: Flash mob protest against Digital Crimes Bill.” The article stated that “Brazilian bloggers and netizens took to the streets of Sao Paulo to protest against the Digital Crimes Bill, which typifies the cyber-crimes punishable by law and stipulates penalties accordingly. They claim the law has so many flaws that, instead of punishing real criminals, it might end up deeming as crime trivial conduct when searching the Internet.”

And an August 2013 report from WTF: Before It’s News was headlined “Flash Mob of Protests: 'No War With Syria' Rallies Planned in Over 70 Cities for Saturday, 8/31.” The article stated that “A new campaign has been started to help coordinate worldwide protests against the acceleration of the war in Syria by the corporate military-industrial complex. Protests are already planned in over 70 cities worldwide for Saturday, August 31. It’s almost like the flash mob version of a global anti-war protest.”

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova:
Why I have gone on hunger strike

In an open letter, the imprisoned Pussy Riot member explains why the brutal conditions at Penal Colony No 14 have led her to undertake a hunger strike in protest

Read all our Pussy Riot coverage here

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova,, Monday 23 September 2013 07.05 EDT, Article Source

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova attends court in 2012. Photograph: Aleshkovsky Mitya/ Aleshkovsky Mitya/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis
Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova attends court in 2012. Photograph:
Aleshkovsky Mitya/ Aleshkovsky Mitya/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis

Beginning Monday, 23 September, I am going on hunger strike. This is an extreme method, but I am convinced that it is my only way out of my current situation.

The penal colony administration refuses to hear me. But I, in turn, refuse to back down from my demands. I will not remain silent, resigned to watch as my fellow prisoners collapse under the strain of slavery-like conditions. I demand that the colony administration respect human rights; I demand that the Mordovia camp function in accordance with the law. I demand that we be treated like human beings, not slaves.

It has been a year since I arrived at Penal Colony No 14 in the Mordovian village of Parts. As the prisoner saying goes: "Those who never did time in Mordovia never did time at all." I started hearing about Mordovian prison colonies while I was still being held at Pre-Trial Detention Centre No 6 in Moscow. They have the highest levels of security, the longest workdays, and the most flagrant rights violation. When they send you off to Mordovia, it is as though you're headed to the scaffold. Until the very last moment, they keep hoping: "Perhaps they won't send you to Mordovia after all? Maybe it will blow over?" Nothing blew over, and in the autumn of 2012, I arrived at the camp on the banks of the Partsa River.

Mordovia greeted me with the words of the deputy chief of the penal colony, Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov, who is the de facto head administrator of our colony. "You should know that when it comes to politics, I am a Stalinist." Colonel Kulagin, the other head administrator — the colony is run in tandem — called me in for a conversation on my first day here with the objective to force me to confess my guilt. "A misfortune has befallen you. Isn't that so? You've been sentenced to two years in the colony. People usually change their minds when bad things happen to them. If you want to be paroled as soon as possible, you have to confess your guilt. If you don't, you won't get parole." I told him right away that I would only work the 8 hours a day required by the labour code. "The code is one thing — what really matters is fulfilling your quota. If you don't, you work overtime. You should know that we have broken stronger wills than yours!" was Kulagin's response.

My brigade in the sewing shop works 16 to 17 hours a day. From 7.30am to 12.30am. At best, we get four hours of sleep a night. We have a day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday. Prisoners submit petitions to work on weekends "out of [their] own desire". In actuality, there is, of course, no desire to speak of. These petitions are written on the orders of the administration and under pressure from the prisoners that help enforce it.

No one dares to disobey these orders and not submit such petitions regarding entering the work zone on Sunday, which means working until 1 am. Once, a 50-year-old woman asked to go back to the residential zone at 8pm instead of 12.30am so she could go to bed at 10 pm and get eight hours of sleep just once a week. She was feeling ill; she had high blood pressure. In response, they held a unit meeting in order to take the woman down, insult and humiliate her, branding her a parasite. "What, do you think you're the only one who wants more sleep? You need to work harder, you cow!" When someone from the brigade doesn't come to work on doctor's orders, they're bullied as well. "I worked when I had a fever of 40C and it was fine. What are you thinking —w ho is going to pick up the slack for you?"

My residential unit in the camp greeted me with the words of a fellow prisoner finishing off her nine-year term. "The pigs are scared to touch you themselves. They want to do it with the hands of the inmates." In the colony, the inmates in charge of the brigades as well as their senior members are the ones tasked with depriving fellow inmates' rights, terrorising them, and turning them into speechless slaves — all on the orders of the administration.

For the maintenance of discipline and obedience, there is a widely implemented system of unofficial punishments. Prisoners are forced to "stay in the lokalka [a fenced-off passageway between two areas in the camp] until lights out" (the prisoner is forbidden to go into the barracks — whether it be autumnl or winter. In the second brigade, consisting of the disabled and elderly, there was a woman who ended up getting such bad frostbite after a day in the lokalka they had to amputate her fingers and one of her feet); "lose hygiene privileges" (the prisoner is forbidden to wash themselves or use the bathroom); "lose commissary and tea-room privileges" (the prisoner is forbidden to eat their own food, or drink beverages). It's both funny and frightening when a 40-year-old woman tells you: "Looks like we're being punished today! I wonder whether we're going to be punished tomorrow, too." She can't leave the sewing workshop to pee or get a piece of candy from her purse. It's forbidden.

Thinking only of sleep and a sip of tea, the harassed and dirty prisoner becomes obedient putty in the hands of the administration, which sees us solely as free slave labor. Thus, in June 2013, my salary was 29 (29!) rubles [57p] for the month. Our brigade sews 150 police uniforms per day. Where does the money they get for them go?

The camp has been allocated funding to buy completely new equipment a number of times. However, the administration has limited itself to repainting the sewing machines with the hands of its labourers. We sew using physically and morally exhausted machinery. According to the labour code, when equipment does not correspond with current industry standards, quotas must be lowered in relation to typical trade conventions. But the quotas only rise, and suddenly and miraculously at that. "If you let them see that you can deliver 100 uniforms, they'll raise the minimum to 120!" say veteran machine-runners. And you can't fail to deliver, either, or else your whole unit will be punished, the entire brigade. The punishment will be, for instance, that all of you will be forced to stand in the quad for hours. Without permission to use the bathroom. Without permission to take a sip of water.

Two weeks ago, the production quotas for all colony brigades was arbitrarily increased by 50 units. If previously the minimum had been 100 uniforms per day, now it is 150. According to the labour code, workers must be notified of a change in the production quota no less than two months before it is enforced. At PC-14, we just woke up one day to find we had a new quota because the idea happened to have popped into the heads of the administrators of our "sweatshop" (that's what the prisoners call the colony). The number of people in the brigade decreases (they are released or transferred), but the quota grows. As a result, those left behind have to work harder and harder. The mechanics say that they don't have the parts necessary to repair the machinery and that they will not be getting them. "There are no parts! When will they come? Are you kidding? This is Russia. Why even ask that question?" During my first few months in the work zone, I practically became a mechanic. I taught myself out of necessity. I threw myself at my machine, screwdriver in hand, desperate to fix it. Your hands are pierced with needle-marks and covered in scratches, your blood is all over the work table, but still, you keep sewing. You are a part of the assembly line, and you have to complete your task as well as the experienced sewers. Meanwhile, the damn machine keeps breaking down. Because you're new and there's a deficit, you end up with the worst equipment — the weakest motor on the line. And now it's broken down again, and once again, you run to find the mechanic, who is impossible to find. They yell at you, they berate you for slowing down production. There are no sewing classes at the colony, either. Newbies are unceremoniously sat down in front of their machines and given their assignments.

"If you weren't Tolokonnikova, you would have had the shit kicked out of you a long time ago," say fellow prisoners with close ties to the administration. It's true: others are beaten up. For not being able to keep up. They hit them in the kidneys, in the face. Prisoners themselves deliver these beatings and not a single one of them is done without the approval and full knowledge of the administration. A year ago, before I came here, a gypsy woman in the third unit was beaten to death (the third is the pressure unit where they put prisoners that need to undergo daily beatings). She died in the medical unit of PC-14. The administration was able to cover it up: the official cause of death was a stroke. In another unit, new seamstresses who couldn't keep up were undressed and forced to sew naked. No one dares complain to the administration because all they will do is smile and send the prisoner back into the unit, where the "snitch" will be beaten on the orders of that same administration. For the colony administration, controlled hazing is a convenient method for forcing prisoners into total submission to their systemic abuse of human rights.

A threatening, anxious atmosphere pervades the work zone. Eternally sleep-deprived, overwhelmed by the endless race to fulfill inhumanly large quotas, prisoners are always on the verge of breaking down, screaming at each other, fighting over the smallest things. Just recently, a young woman got stabbed in the head with a pair of scissors because she didn't turn in a pair of pants on time. Another tried to cut her own stomach open with a hacksaw. They stopped her.

Those who found themselves in PC-14 in 2010, the year of smoke and fire, said that while the wildfires were approaching the colony walls, prisoners continued to go to the work zone and fulfill their quotas. Due to the smoke, you couldn't see two metres in front of you, but, covering their faces in wet handkerchiefs, they all went to work nonetheless. Because of the emergency conditions, prisoners weren't taken to the cafeteria for meals. Several women told me that they were so horribly hungry they started writing diaries in order to document the horror of what was happening to them. When the fires were finally put out, camp security thoroughly rooted these diaries out so that none of them would make it to the outside.

The hygienic and residential conditions of the camp are calculated to make the prisoner feel like a filthy animal without any rights. Although there are "hygiene rooms" in the dormitories, there is also "general hygiene room" with a corrective and punitive purpose. This room has a capacity of five; however, all 800 colony prisoners are sent there to wash themselves. We do not have to wash ourselves in the hygiene rooms in our barracks — that would be too easy. In the "general hygiene room", in the eternal press, women with little tubs attempt to wash their "nursemaids" (as they call them in Mordovia) as fast as they can, heaped onto one another. We are allowed to wash our hair once a week. However, even this bathing day gets cancelled. A pump will break or the plumbing will be stopped up. At times, my unit was unable to bathe for two to three weeks.

When the plumbing breaks down, urine splashes and clumps of faeces fly out of the hygiene rooms. We've learned to unclog the pipes ourselves, but our successes are short-lived — they soon get stopped up again. The colony does not have a snake for cleaning out the pipes. We get to do laundry once a week. The laundry is a small room with three faucets pouring weak streams of cold water.

It must also be a corrective measure to only give prisoners stale bread, heavily watered-down milk, exclusively rusted millet and rotten potatoes. This summer, they brought in sacks of slimy, black potatoes in bulk. Then they fed them to us.

The living and working-condition violations at PC-14 are endless. However, my main and most important grievance is bigger than any one of these. It is that the colony administration prevents any complaints or claims regarding conditions at PC-14 from leaving colony walls by the harshest means available. The administration forces people to remain silent. It does not scorn stooping to the very lowest and cruelest means to this end. All of the other problems come from this one — the increased quotas, the 16-hour work day, and so on. The administration feels untouchable; it heedlessly oppresses prisoners with growing severity. I couldn't understand why everyone kept silent until I found myself faced with the avalanche of obstacles that falls on the prisoner who decides to speak out. Complaints simply do not leave the prison. The only chance is to complain through a lawyer or relatives. The administration, petty and vengeful, will meanwhile use all of its mechanisms for putting pressure on the prisoner so she will see that her complaints will not help anyone, but only make thing worse. They use collective punishment: you complain there's no hot water, and they turn it off entirely.

In May 2013, my lawyer Dmitry Dinze filed a complaint about the conditions at PC-14 with the prosecutor's office. The deputy head of the colony, Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov, instantly made conditions at the camp unbearable. There was search after search, a flood of reports on all of my acquaintances, the seizure of warm clothes, and threats of seizure of warm footwear. At work, they get revenge with complicated sewing assignments, increased quotas, and fabricated malfunctions. The leaders of the unit next to mine, Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov's right hands, openly requested that prisoners interfere with my work output so that I could be sent to the punishment cell for "damaging government property." They also ordered prisoners to provoke a fight with me.

It is possible to tolerate anything as long as it only affects you. But the method of collective punishment is bigger than that. It means that your unit, or even the entire colony, is required to endure your punishment along with you. This includes, worst of all, people you've come to care about. One of my friends was denied parole, for which she had been awaiting seven years, working hard to exceed her work quotas. She was reprimanded for drinking tea with me. That day, Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov transferred her to another unit. Another close acquaintance of mine, a very well-educated woman, was thrown into the "stress unit" for daily beatings because she was reading and discussing a Justice Department document with me, entitled: "Regulations for the code of conduct at correctional facilities." They filed reports on everyone who talked to me. It hurt me that people I cared about were forced to suffer. Grinning, Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov told me then, "You probably don't have any friends left!" He explained that everything was happening because of Dinze's complaint.

Now I see that I should have gone on hunger strike in May when I was first found myself in this situation. However, the tremendous pressure that the administration had put on my fellow prisoners due to my actions led me to stop the process of filing complaints about the conditions in the colony.

Three weeks ago, on 30 August, I asked Lieutenant Colonel Kupriyanov to grant the prisoners in my work brigade eight hours of sleep. We were discussing decreasing the workday from 16 to 12 hours. "Fine, starting Monday, the brigade will only work for eight hours at a time," he replied. I knew this was another trap because it is physically impossible to fulfill the increased quota in 8 hours. Thus, the brigade will not have time and subsequently face punishment. "If anyone finds out that you're the one behind this, you'll never complain again," the Lieutenant Colonel continued. "After all, there's nothing to complain about in the afterlife." Kupriyanov paused. "And finally, never request things for other people. Only ask for things for yourself. I've been working in the camps for many years, and those who come to me asking for things for other people go directly from my office to the punishment cell. You're the first person this won't happen to."

Over the course of the following weeks, life in my unit and work brigade became impossible. Prisoners with close ties to the administration began egging on the others to get revenge. "You're forbidden to have tea and food, from taking bathroom breaks, and smoking for a week. Now you're always going to be punished unless you start behaving differently with the newbies and especially with Tolokonnikova. Treat them like the old-timers used to treat you. Were you beaten? Of course you were. Did they rip your mouths? They did. Fuck them up. You won't get punished."

Over and over, they attempt to get me to fight one of them, but what's the point of fighting with people who aren't in charge of themselves, who are only acting on the orders of the administration?

Mordovian prisoners are afraid of their own shadows. They are completely terrified. If only yesterday they were well-disposed toward you and begging, "Do something about the 16 hour work day!" after the administration started going after me, they're afraid to even speak to me.

I turned to the administration with a proposal for dealing with the conflict. I asked that they release me from the pressure manufactured by them and enacted by the prisoners they control; that they abolish slave labour at the colony by cutting the length of the workday and decreasing the quotas so that they correspond with the law. The pressure has only increased. Therefore, beginning 23 September, I am going on hunger strike and refusing to participate in colony slave labor. I will do this until the administration starts obeying the law and stops treating incarcerated women like cattle ejected from the realm of justice for the purpose of stoking the production of the sewing industry; until they start treating us like humans.

Translation: Bela Shayevich of n+1 magazine, which has covered the Pussy Riot case extensively

Israel's Masada myth:
Doubts cast over ancient symbol of heroism and sacrifice

Story of Jewish rebels taking their own lives while under siege in desert fortress was either exaggerated or untrue, say experts

Harriet Sherwood,, Sunday 22 September 2013 08.04 EDT, Article Source

Masada, near the Dead Sea, was excavated 50 years ago. Photograph: Duby Tal/Albatross/Alamy
Masada, near the Dead Sea, was excavated 50 years ago. Photograph: Duby Tal/Albatross/Alamy

Herod the Great's fortified complex at Masada was a winter retreat but also an insurance against a feared rebellion of his Jewish subjects or an attack from Rome. Luxurious palaces, barracks, well-stocked storerooms, bathhouses, water cisterns sat on a plateau 400m above the Dead Sea and desert floor. Herod's personal quarters in the Northern Palace contained lavish mosaics and frescoes.

But by the time the Jews revolted against the Romans, Herod had been dead for seven decades. After the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the surviving rebels fled to Masada, under the command of Eleazer Ben Yair. Around 960 men, women and children holed up in the desert fortress as 8,000 Roman legionnaires laid siege from below.

Using Jewish slave labour, the Romans built a gigantic ramp with which they could reach the fortress and capture the rebels. On 15 April in the year 73CE, Ben Yair gathered his people and told them the time had come to "prefer death before slavery". Using a lottery system, the men killed their wives and children, then each other, until the last survivor killed himself, according to historian Flavius Josephus's account.

The Romans advanced but found only "an awful solitude, and flames within and silence, they were at a loss to conjecture what had happened Here encountering the mass of slain, instead of exulting as over enemies, they admired the nobility of their resolve". Josephus recorded that two women and three children survived to tell the tale.

After the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948, Masada took on a new significance, symbolising heroism and sacrifice. "It is a place of ancient doom which time has turned into a symbol of the pride of a new nation," wrote Ronald Harker in the Observer book on Masada, published in 1966.

Newly enlisted soldiers were taken to the desert fortress to swear their oath of allegiance, including the shout: "Masada will not fall again!"

But some have cast doubt on the "myth of Masada", saying it was either exaggerated or the suicide story was simply wrong.

Guy Stiebel, professor of archaeology at Jerusalem's Hebrew University and Masada expert, said the evolution of myth is common in young nations or societies. "In Israel it's very typical to speak in terms of black and white, but looking at Masada I see a spectrum of grey.

The left regard Masada as a symbol of the destructive potential of nationalism. The right regard the people of Masada as heroes of our nation. For me, both are wrong.

"If you put me in a corner and ask do you think they committed suicide, I will say yes. But this was not a symbolic act, it was a typical thing to do back then. Their state of mind was utterly different to ours.

"The myth evolved. All the ingredients were there. At the end of the day, it's an excellent story and setting, you can't ask for more."

Yadin Roman, the editor of Eretz magazine, who is compiling a commemorative book on the Masada excavation, said some archaeologists had posited alternative theories, involving escape, although in the absence of evidence many were now returning to the suicide theory.

"Masada became an Israeli myth," he said. For a nation still reeling from the revelations of the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, "brave Jewish warriors standing up to the might of the Roman army was a much-needed antidote. But some people challenged the merits of the story – you stand alone on a hill to fight your enemies and then commit suicide? This is the 'Masada complex'? This is the model for Israel?"

David Stacey, a veteran of the excavation 50 years ago, dismissed the story of mass suicide. "It was completely made up, there was no evidence for it," he said. "Did Yadin pursue this story because he was an ardent nationalist, or because he needed to raise money for his excavation? Yadin was a smart enough operator to know that to succeed, you've got to sell a story. He succeeded."

Hedge funds and private equity are thriving
... thanks to pension funds

Five years ago, it looked like the end for many of these funds. Now they are back and, in many cases, as strong as ever

Timothy Spangler,, Monday 23 September 2013 07.30 EDT, Article Source

Richard Rouse and Brad Moreland of HSBC pose ahead of their Hedge Fund Fight Nite white collar charity boxing event in Hong Kong in 2012. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters
Richard Rouse and Brad Moreland of HSBC pose ahead of their Hedge Fund Fight Nite
white collar charity boxing event in Hong Kong in 2012. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and two years after the Occupy Wall Street protests erupted in Zuccotti Square, hedge funds and private equity funds are alive and well.

This was not a foregone conclusion during the darkest days of fall 2008. Many critics were more than eager to write their obituaries, dismissing these alternative funds as simply a byproduct of the excesses that plagued an era now clearly drawing to an end. In the cold light of day, hedge funds and private equity funds would be revealed as the financial flim-flam artists that many doubters assumed them to be.

Except, instead of being relegated to the dustbin of history, alternative funds have survived and thrived over the past five years. Despite intense focus on them in the aftermath of the financial crisis and then again during the most recent US presidential election, hedge funds and private equity funds are still active participants in the modern financial markets. Even the extensive regulations introduced by Dodd-Frank reforms, which was one of the few key legislative successes of President Obama's first term, did not succeed in preventing their return to form. They are, indeed, now global phenomenon.

As has been well reported, although many hedge funds perished on the rocks of the market volatility and the liquidity crisis that followed on from the Lehman bankruptcy, several funds profited from the ensuing chaos. Similarly, although much hand-wringing occurred when the credit crunch shut down the flow of leveraged finance that was a mainstay of private equity buyouts for two decades, many funds continued to engage in successful investments and divestments as buying opportunities presented themselves in the economic wreckage that ensued. Even America's beloved Twinkies and Ding Dongs were ultimately saved by private equity.

The reason for the continued success of hedge funds and private equity funds is actually quite simple – investors love them!

Of course, there were doubts and recriminations that surfaced again and again at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. Of course, there were investors that suffered eye-watering losses on their fund investments who would require some coaxing (and a little TLC) before their would allocate money again.

But when fund after fund continued to post high investment returns, and the rest of the financial markets seemed to oscillate between pessimism and indifference, investors began writing checks again. With replenished war chests, hedge funds and private equity funds were back in business.

So long as these funds can credibly promise high returns, there will be a steady flow of investors willing to back them. Once accumulated, the money is deployed wherever the men and women running them feel there is an opportunity to profit. This industry is driven, first and foremost, by the confidence level of these investors.

Despite the vitriol that is on occasion directed and the mangers that profit from their funds successes, surprisingly little attention is given to those institutions that are their lifeblood.

Critics expecting to see money flowing from the trust funds and the personal estates of the 1% are often surprised to learn that most of the money in private equity funds and most of the new money going into hedge funds actually comes from US public pension plans, both big and small, that provide retirement benefits to teachers, firemen, police and other government workers across the country, as well as the generous endowments of many leading colleges and universities. Not wealthy plutocrats dressed like the man from the Monopoly board game, with a cane and top hat the accessorize his formal morning suit.

So long as these pension plans offer their beneficiaries gold-plated retirement benefits, money will need to earn high rates of return in order to fund these payments. And despite the ample criticism that has been lobbed at hedge funds and private equity funds since 2008, there has been little traction in attacks on the premise that the best funds really don't deliver high returns. Certainly not all funds are able to deliver the jaw-dropping returns, but enough are to maintain the momentum of investor allocations necessary to keep the industry afloat.

If there is to be a day of reckoning for hedge funds and private equity funds, it will necessarily only spring from a crisis in confidence in the minds of those individuals in California, New York, Texas and many other states who have as their main priority ensuring that retirement checks get sent to former public workers when there are due.

Until then, checks will continue to be written by investors eager to earn 20-30% on their money, and managers of alternative funds will still eagerly cash those checks and then promptly look for opportunities in the market that they can pounce on to quickly double and triple their money.

RIP, the middle class: 1946-2013

The 1 percent hollowed out the middle class and our industrial base. And Washington just let it happen.

By Edward McClelland,, Friday, Sep 20, 2013 04:45 AM PDT, Article Source

Credit: sturti via iStock

I know I’m dating myself by writing this, but I remember the middle class.

I grew up in an automaking town in the 1970s, when it was still possible for a high school graduate — or even a high school dropout — to get a job on an assembly line and earn more money than a high school teacher.

“I had this student,” my history teacher once told me, “a real chucklehead. Just refused to study. Dropped out of school, a year or so later, he came back to see me. He pointed out the window at a brand-new Camaro and said, ‘That’s my car.’ Meanwhile, I was driving a beat-up station wagon. I think he was an electrician’s assistant or something. He handed light bulbs to an electrician.”

In our neighbors’ driveways, in their living rooms, in their backyards, I saw the evidence of prosperity distributed equally among the social classes: speedboats, Corvette Stingrays, waterbeds, snowmobiles, motorcycles, hunting rifles, RVs, CB radios. I’ve always believed that the ’70s are remembered as the Decade That Taste Forgot because they were a time when people without culture or education had the money to not only indulge their passions, but flaunt them in front of the entire nation. It was an era, to use the title of a 1975 sociological study of a Wisconsin tavern, of blue-collar aristocrats.

That all began to change in the 1980s. The recession at the beginning of that decade – America’s first Great Recession – was the beginning of the end for the bourgeois proletariat. Steelworkers showed up for first shift to find padlocks on mill gates. Autoworkers were laid off for years. The lucky ones were transferred to plants far from home. The unlucky never built another car.

When I was growing up, it was assumed that America’s shared prosperity was the natural endpoint of our economy’s development, that capitalism had produced the workers paradise to which Communism unsuccessfully aspired. Now, with the perspective of 40 years, it’s obvious that the nonstop economic expansion that lasted from the end of World War II to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 was a historical fluke, made possible by the fact that the United States was the only country to emerge from that war with its industrial capacity intact. Unfortunately, the middle class – especially the blue-collar middle class – is also starting to look like a fluke, an interlude between Gilded Ages that more closely reflects the way most societies structure themselves economically. For the majority of human history – and in the majority of countries today – there have been only two classes: aristocracy and peasantry. It’s an order in which the many toil for subsistence wages to provide luxuries for the few. Twentieth century America temporarily escaped this stratification, but now, as statistics on economic inequality demonstrate, we’re slipping back in that direction. Between 1970 and today, the share of the nation’s income that went to the middle class – households earning two-thirds to double the national median – fell from 62 percent to 45 percent. Last year, the wealthiest 1 percent took in 19 percent of America’s income – their highest share since 1928. It’s as though the New Deal and the modern labor movement never happened.

Here’s the story of a couple whose working lives began during the Golden Age of middle-class employment, and are ending in this current age of inequality. Gary Galipeau was born in Syracuse, N.Y., in the baby boom sweet spot of 1948. At age 19, he hired in at his hometown’s flagship business, the Carrier Corp., which gave Syracuse the title “Air-Conditioning Capital of the World.” Starting at $2.37 an hour, Galipeau worked his way into the skilled trades, eventually becoming a metal fabricator earning 10 times his original wage.

“Understand,” he said, “in the mid-’60s, you could figuratively roll out of bed and find a manufacturing job.”

Voss joined Carrier after dropping out of Syracuse University, and getting laid off from an industrial laundry.

“It was 1978,” she said. “You could still go from factory to factory. One day, a friend and I were looking for a job. We saw this big building. We said, ‘Must be jobs in there.’ In those days, you could fill out an application and get an interview the same day. I was offered a job within three or four days, making window units. I sprayed glue on fiberglass insulation, stuck it inside units – 400 a day, nearly one a minute. I was told, ‘After five years, you’ll have a job for life. You’ll be golden.’”

Galipeau and Voss, who met working at Carrier, lost their jobs in 2004, when the company moved the last of its Syracuse manufacturing operations to Singapore. There, even the most skilled workers were paid half the $27 an hour Galipeau had earned as a metalworker. The corporation they’d expected to spend their careers with divorced them in middle age, and now they had to bridge the years until Social Security and Medicare. Eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance, because her job had moved overseas, Voss earned a two-year degree in health information technology – “a fancy way of saying medical records.”

Even with the degree, Voss couldn’t find decent-paying work in healthcare, so she took a job with a sump pump manufacturer, for $12.47 an hour — a substantial drop from Carrier, but decent money for Central New York in the A.D. of A/C. (The No. 1 employer of ex-Carrier workers is an Iroquois casino.) Less than two weeks into the new job, a thread on Voss’ work glove wrapped itself around a drill press, taking Voss’ finger with it. The digit was torn off at the first knuckle. When Voss returned to work, two months later, she found the factory so distressing that she soon took a medical records job in a hospital, paying $2.50 an hour less.

After earning a degree in human resources management, Galipeau found that 56 was too old to start a new career. Fortunate enough to draw a full pension from Carrier, Galipeau took a part-time job at a supermarket meat counter, for the health insurance. Syracuse’s leading vocations are now education and medicine – the training of the young and the preservation of the old. Where nothing is left for the middle-aged, or the middle class, it’s difficult to be both.

The shrinking of the middle class is not a failure of capitalism. It’s a failure of government. Capitalism has been doing exactly what it was designed to do: concentrating wealth in the ownership class, while providing the mass of workers with just enough wages to feed, house and clothe themselves. Young people who graduate from college to $9.80 an hour jobs as sales clerks or data processors are giving up on the concept of employment as a vehicle for improving their financial fortunes: In a recent survey, 24 percent defined the American dream as “not being in debt.” They’re not trying to get ahead. They’re just trying to get to zero.

That’s the natural drift of the relationship between capital and labor, and it can only be arrested by an activist government that chooses to step in as a referee. The organizing victories that founded the modern union movement were made possible by the National Labor Relations Act, a piece of New Deal legislation guaranteeing workers the right to bargain collectively. The plotters of the 1936-37 Flint Sit Down Strike, which gave birth to the United Auto Workers, tried to time their action to coincide with the inauguration of Frank Murphy, Michigan’s newly elected New Deal governor. Murphy dispatched the National Guard to Flint, but instead of ordering his guardsmen to throw the workers out of the plants, as he legally could have done, he ordered them to ensure the workers remained safely inside. The strike resulted in a nickel an hour raise and an end to arbitrary firings. It guaranteed the success of the UAW, whose high wages and benefits set the standard for American workers for the next 45 years. (I know a Sit Down Striker who died on Sept. 17, at 98 years old, an age he might not have attained without the lifetime health benefits won by the UAW.)

The United States will never again be as wealthy as it was in the 1950s and ’60s. Never again will 18-year-olds graduate directly from high school to jobs that pay well enough to buy a house and support a family. (Even the auto plants now demand a few years in junior college.) That was inevitable, due to the recovery of our World War II enemies, and automation that enables 5,000 workers to build the same number of cars that once required 25,000 hands. What was not inevitable was the federal government withdrawing its supervision of the economy at the precise moment Americans began to need it more than at any time since the Great Depression.

The last president who had a plan for protecting American workers from the vicissitudes of the global economy was Richard Nixon, who was in office when foreign steel and foreign cars began seriously competing with domestic products. The most farsighted politician of his generation, Nixon realized that America’s economic hegemony was coming to an end, and was determined to cushion the decline by a) preventing foreign manufacturers from overrunning our markets and b) teaching Americans to live within their new limits. When the United States began running a trade deficit, Nixon tried to reverse the trend with a 10 percent tariff on imported products. After the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo suddenly increased the price of gasoline from 36 cents to 53 cents a gallon (and just as suddenly increased the demand for fuel-efficient German and Japanese cars), Nixon lowered the speed limit to 55 miles an hour and introduced the Corporate Average Fuel Economy law, which gave automakers until 1985 to double their fleetwide fuel efficiency to 27.5 miles per gallon.

Had Nixon survived Watergate, he might have set the nation on a course that emphasized government regulation of the economy, and trade protection as a response to globalism. We might also have preserved more of the manufacturing base necessary for a strong middle class. But his successors dismantled that vision, beginning with Jimmy Carter, an economically conservative Southern planter. Nixon’s answer to inflation had been wage and price controls, an intrusion into the free market that would be unimaginable today. Carter deregulated the airline, rail and trucking industries, hoping that competition would result in lower prices. It didn’t, but it gave the newly liberated companies more leverage against their unions. When inflation nonetheless reached 14 percent, Carter’s hand-picked Federal Reserve Board chairman, Paul Volcker, responded by tightening the money supply, raising interest rates so high that Americans could not afford loans for cars or houses. Ronald Reagan also chose low prices over employment, refusing to free up money until inflation declined. Car sales hit a 20-year low. In the fall of 1982, the national unemployment rate was 10.8 percent, the highest since the Great Depression. Walter Mondale accused Reagan of turning the Midwest into “a rust bowl” – a term reformulated to Rust Belt. Buffalo, Cleveland, Flint and Detroit still haven’t recovered. Neither has the middle class.

“You can’t grow an economy, grow a middle class, without making things, producing stuff,” says Mike Stout, a steelworker who lost his job when Pennsylvania’s Homestead Works closed in 1986. “It’s just impossible. I haven’t seen it anywhere.”

Reagan also fired the striking members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. He argued that he was simply trying to end an illegal strike by public employees, but his action encouraged private employers to use the same tactic. Once workers realized they could lose their jobs by joining a picket line, the number of strikes dropped tenfold, from 300 a year before 1981, to 30 a year today.

Pre-PATCO, 21 percent of workers belonged to unions (still down from the all-time high of 30 percent). Now, fewer than 12 percent do. Union membership is at 14.7 million, the lowest total since just before World War II. There’s a well-known graph that shows middle-class income share declining along the same axis as unionization.

Bill Clinton continued down the same deregulatory path, signing the North American Free Trade Agreement and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from owning investment firms.

NAFTA, which resulted in hundreds of small manufacturers moving to Mexico, was passed over the vehement objections of labor.

In 1994, Rep. Glenn Poshard of Illinois tried to persuade the Labor Department to intervene in a lockout at the A.E. Staley Mfg. Co., a Decatur corn starch manufacturer that had been bought by Tate and Lyle, a London-based food conglomerate. Poshard considered the dispute the “flashpoint” for the new economic globalism of the 1990s, but when he took a group of workers to meet Labor Secretary Robert Reich, the secretary gave no indication the federal government would try to settle the matter.

After two-and-a-half years, the union capitulated, settling for a third of its pre-lockout jobs.

Only in 2008, after the bubble of false prosperity created by easy credit and inflated housing values blew up, did two presidents finally take an active role in the economy. George W. Bush decided he didn’t want to be remembered as the president who allowed American automakers to fall apart, and sent them $17.4 billion of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout money. Barack Obama finished the job, setting up an auto task force to guide General Motors and Chrysler through bankruptcy. (He did so over the objections of his house Clintonite, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel’s response to the prospect of tens of thousands of autoworkers losing their jobs: “Fuck the UAW”). Even so, new autoworkers now start at $14 an hour – hardly a middle-class wage.

Obama also passed the Affordable Care Act, the most significant piece of social welfare legislation since the Great Society, but author Peter Beinart still thinks Obama belongs to the modern tradition of small government presidents, calling his politics “pro-capitalist, anti-bureaucratic, Reaganized liberalism.”

The lesson of the last 40 years is that we can’t depend on the free market to sustain a middle class. It’s not going to happen without government intervention. Even when American industry dominated the world, one reason workers prospered was that the economy operated on New Deal underpinnings, which included legal protections for labor unions, government regulation of industry and high marginal income tax rates.

It’s time to declare an end to the deregulatory experiment that has resulted in the greatest disparity between the top earners and the middle earners in nearly a century. Now that the New Deal has been vanquished – a goal conservatives have cherished since before Robert Taft went extinct – we need a Newer Deal that will raise the minimum wage, reduce obstacles to union organizing, levy higher taxes on passive wealth such as investments and inheritances, and provide benefits for workers unable to obtain it at their jobs, perhaps by lowering Medicaid eligibility or instituting a single-payer health system. The demand for such reforms is brewing. We heard from the middle class during the Occupy movement of 2011, and from the lower class in this year’s fast food strikes.

Not long ago, I was in Flint, Mich., to meet with its new congressman, Dan Kildee. No American city has suffered more during the Age of Deregulation than Flint. In 1978, Flint had 80,000 automaking jobs, and the highest per capita income in the nation. Today, it has 6,000 automaking jobs, and the highest murder rate in the English-speaking world. Instead of Corvettes and speedboats, the yards are filled with mean dogs, “This Property Protected by Smith & Wesson” signs, and weeds. So far, Kildee’s biggest achievement has been securing federal funding to tear down 2,000 abandoned houses. In Flint, where the average home sale price is $15,000, eliminating blight increases property values. Having seen the consequences of government indifference, Kildee wants to return to the days of government activism. As county treasurer, he founded a public land bank that helped revive downtown Flint by purchasing and renovating a hotel that had sat empty since 1973.

“It is a myth that there is any market that is not supported or affected by the structure of government in one way or another,” he said. “We’re picking winners and losers right now, and we’re picking the wrong ones. We’re making matters worse by not intervening in these communities. It’s not fine for Flint to be one of the losers, as far as I’m concerned.”

As far as I’m concerned, it’s not fine for the middle class to be one of the losers, either.

Edward McClelland is the author of "Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President" and "Nothin' But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland." Follow him on Twitter at @tedmcclelland.

I Really Don't Care ~ Now shut the fug up

The tendency to move from order to disorder increases as time progresses
S=K LOG W ~ The tendency to move from order to disorder increases as time progresses

Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users

Marijuana Policy Project ~ We Change Laws ~

Marijuana Policy Project ~ We Change Laws

Thank you for checking out MPP's second annual "Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users" list! There has been quite a bit of variation since last year, including several additions and a number of people dropping in rank or off the list entirely.

In order to have qualified for the list, each individual must (1) have tried marijuana at least once, (2) be alive, and (3) be living in the U.S. or be a U.S. citizen. To create the list, we adopted the criteria used by Out Magazine to select their “Power 50” list of LGBT Americans. That means our choices are based on “power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and a person’s media profile” – not just on popularity or support for marijuana policy reform. Fortunately, many of them have expressed support, but there are some “bad guys” on there, too.

In sum, we're not concerned with an individual's popularity, or even whether he or she supports marijuana policy reform. Rather, the 2013 "Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users" list is meant to identify people who have used marijuana and achieved high levels of success or influence.

President Barack Obama 01
President Barack Obama ~ 01

When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point." ~ (Source: YouTube)

Oprah Winfrey 02
Oprah Winfrey ~ 02

"To kick things off, [television show host Andy Cohen] asked the last time Winfrey had smoked marijuana. 'Uh … 1982,' Winfrey replied. 'Let's hang out after the show,' Cohen joked. 'Okay,' Winfrey laughed. 'I hear it's gotten better.'" (Source: Bravo)

President Bill Clinton 03
President Bill Clinton ~ 03

"I experimented with marijuana a time or two." (Source: YouTube)

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas 04
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas ~ 04

"The White House said today that Judge Clarence Thomas, President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, had smoked marijuana while in college." (Source: New York Times)

Stephen Colbert 05
Stephen Colbert ~ 05

"First, [in high school], I smoked a lot of pot...and that’s how I got to know the people ‘half in’ the society of my high school and we waved at each other over the bong. Then I got to know people by making jokes.” (Source: San Francisco Chronicle Interview (January 2006))

Jon Stewart 06
Jon Stewart ~ 06

“Do you know how many movies I wrote when I was high?” (Source: The Daily Show)

Jay-Z 07
Jay-Z ~ 07

"I smoked some weed, and that’s how I finished ‘Izzo.’" (Source: XXL Magazine)

John Kerry 08
John Kerry ~ 08

"Yes." [In response to the question: "Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?"] (Source: On The Issues)

George Soros 09
George Soros ~ 09

"He said he had tried marijuana, enjoyed it, 'but it did not become a habit and I have not tasted it in many years.'" (Source: Reuters, 2/6/97)

Click to view remaining Pot Heads: Bill Maer 10, Bill Gates 11, President George W. Bush 12, Gov. Andrew Cuomo 13, Sen. Rand Paul 14, Sanjay Gupta 15, LeBron James 16, Rush Limbaugh 17, George Clooney 18, Mayor Michael Bloomberg 19, Lady Gaga 20, Brad Pitt 21, Ted Turner 22, Tom Brokaw 23, Michael Phelps 24, Jennifer Aniston 25, David Letterman 26, Morgan Freeman 27, Angelina Jolie 28, Martha Stewart 29, Seth MacFarlane 30, Gov. John Hickenlooper 31, Andrew Sullivan 32, Susan Sarandon 33, Conan O'Brien 34, Matt Damon 35, Gov. Lincoln Chafee 36, Maya Angelou 37, Justin Bieber 38, Gov. Sarah Palin 39, Phil Jackson 40, Johnny Depp 41, Madonna 42, Robert Downey Jr. 43, Bryan Cranston 44, Miley Cyrus 45, Hugh Hefner 46, Rihanna 47, Oliver Stone 48, Rick Steves 49, Snoop Lion (Snoop Dogg) 50 = “It makes me feel the way I need to feel.”

Will Eric Holder guarantee NSA
reporters' first amendment rights?

The US attorney general vows not to prosecute journalists, but his criminalisation of whistleblowers undermines that assurance

John Cusack,, Wednesday 18 September 2013 08.30 EDT, Article Source

Supporters of Edward Snowden at a congressional hearing in Brazil on the NSA's surveillance programmes. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
Supporters of Edward Snowden at a congressional hearing in Brazil on the NSA's
surveillance programmes. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Another week and another wave of stories on the NSA and the unconstitutional out-of-control surveillance state hit the digital newsstands, showing once again why the tide is turning. Some revelations are so surreal, it's hard not to assume they're satire. NSA chief Keith Alexander seems to be modeling his ambitions and visions for international spying after General Curtis LeMay's views on nuclear war.

Meanwhile, despite the massive smear campaign against Edward Snowden, opinion polls stand clearly with the truth-tellers. People know they have a right to know what the government is doing in their names. State secrecy is on the run, while American privacy, long rumored dead, is alive and kicking and wants the fight out in the open – in the sunlight and in the public square.

Last month, though, Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow airport for almost nine hours, while on a journalistic mission paid for by the Guardian. His electronics were seized, and he was forced to hand over his social media passwords under the threat of imprisonment. He was detained under the UK Terrorism Act – for an act of journalism. This was an assault on press freedom that should make every reporter shudder no matter their opinion on the NSA.

The message was sent. It gave a whole new meaning to "Miranda rights". A Miranda warning, in effect.

Perhaps worse, we learned a few days later that the United States had been given a "heads up" by their British counterparts that they were planning on detaining Miranda. The US government didn't lift a finger to stop this blatant attack on journalism and press freedom – even as it has been moving heaven and earth to bring Edward Snowden back to the US. That should be a scandal in its own right.

Now, the US owes its citizens and the international community another "heads up": on whether the United States will do the same to journalists working on NSA stories who are entering the United States. Put simply, will Attorney General Eric Holder, the US State Department, and the FBI promise safe passage to journalists, their spouses and loved ones, and vow not to interfere with their reporting on these NSA stories?

So far, the answer has been far from clear.

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the two American journalists at the center of these stories, have been doing their reporting from Brazil and Germany respectively. The US government has not, so far, stated publicly whether they can enter the country without receiving the same outrageous treatment that Miranda received. Or worse.

Can they practice journalism in the United States, without their hard drives being confiscated, without an unconstitutional search-and-seizure taking place at the border? Are they free to enter the United States without being served a subpoena, or even jailed? Unlike the UK, the United States is supposed to be bound by the first amendment of the constitution, which exists to bar such treatment of journalists.

Poitras, a filmmaker and journalist universally respected in her field, has already been a victim of the ever-expanding surveillance state: since her widely praised film My Country, My Country debuted in 2006, she has been detained while crossing the US border over 40 times. She is editing her upcoming film on whistleblowers in Berlin, because of fears her footage will be seized in the United States

She's not alone. Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher, a Tor developer and journalist in his own right, has been harassed while going over the border for years, simply by virtue of his association with WikiLeaks, whose "crime", apparently, is publishing government secrets in the public interest – something we know established newspapers do all the time.

I should note that I consider both Glenn and Laura friends, as we all sit on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) together. But the reason this should concern not only me and the FPF, but everyone in the US, is not because of any specific people; we must look at these assaults from a broader perspective.

We care about the individual journalists under attack – Greenwald, Poitras, Appelbaum, Miranda, Julian Assange, James Risen – and the whistleblowers themselves – Snowden, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning, Julia Davis, Russ Tice – in all these fights. But it's not just the risk and courage of the individuals that inspire and call us to action.

We recognize that when the individual rights are being violated, that means my rights, our rights, are being violated too. What happens to individuals in the US happens to the first amendment. Our politicians must have forgotten the basics we all learned in high school civics class.

That's what the FPF was founded for: we needed a movement protecting the first amendment in its broadest reach.

As FPF co-founder and iconic whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told me last week:

I've been waiting 40 years for Edward Snowden, and his revelations are the most important in US history, including the Pentagon Papers.

Despite the importance of his revelations, the US purposefully stranded Snowden in Russia by canceling his passport while he was in transit from Hong Kong to Russia, essentially forcing him into exile.

We already know the government will attempt to intimidate and crush whistleblowers who challenge national security state orthodoxy. Genuflect and get in line – or pay the heavy cost. Look no further than Thomas Drake, Bill Binney, and J Kirk Wiebe, three NSA whistleblowers whose homes were raided and lives were destroyed for the cardinal sin of informing the American public about crimes committed by their government.

It's hard to blame Snowden for not wanting to come back and rot in a US jail. Chelsea Manning spent three years in jail awaiting trial, nearly a year of it in torturous conditions. She has now been sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaks exposing war crimes, which have been almost universally acknowledged as having caused no real harm to the US, while those recorded in the "Collateral Murder" video have gone uncharged.

Mr Snowden may have the faint suspicion that his rights would not be protected – given that a prosecution under the Espionage Act would leave him no way to mount a public interest defense if he came back to stand trial. Often, we export our US ideals, sometimes rightfully, sometimes tragically. Now, our action is drenched in irony: Russia is providing safe haven to our American whistleblower, and East Berlin, where the Stasi once roamed, is now where journalists and privacy rights advocates feel safe to work.

Not so in the US these days, it seems. Whether whistleblower, source or journalist: expose crimes, become the hunted. What must students think when they see some of the brightest minds – and the fiercest watchdogs – of a generation unable to practice journalism in America?

Hunter S Thompson once said:

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody understands at the time– and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

He spoke of the end of something – a great wave and the attendant forces and counterforces at play. Now one can feel the rising tide and a see a new wave forming on the edge of the break. Perhaps, soon we can paraphrase the Good Doctor: and with the right kind of eyes almost see the high-water mark of the surveillance state… that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

If we want that moment, we need to stand with those brave enough to confront the crimes of our current national security state. Just two months before the UK gave the US its absurd "heads up" about David Miranda's detention, Eric Holder vowed not to prosecute journalists, saying:

The Department [of Justice] has not prosecuted, and as long as I'm attorney general, will not prosecute any reporter for doing his or her job.

That begs the question: will the attorney general, as chief law enforcement officer of the country, now go on record that he will guarantee the safe return and safe passage of journalists who have exercised their rights under the first amendment?

Or would we accept the creation of a generation of exiled watchdogs, who are trying to hold their government accountable from afar?

• This article received some minor editorial amendments at the request of the author, at 1pm (ET) on 18 September

Phone companies remain silent
over legality of NSA data collection

Leading phone firms refuse to say why they have not challenged Fisa court orders that compel them to hand over customers' data

Ed Pilkington in New York,, Wednesday 18 September 2013 16.23 EDT, Article Source

Verizon was one of the companies that declined to answer Guardian questions over the legality of the NSA data collection. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters
Verizon was one of the companies that declined to answer Guardian questions over
the legality of the NSA data collection. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

America's top telecommunications companies are refusing to say whether they accept that the bulk collection of their customers' phone records by the National Security Agency is lawful.

The phone companies are continuing to guard their silence over the controversial gathering of metadata by the NSA, despite the increasingly open approach by those at the center of the bulk surveillance programme. On Tuesday the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court declassified its legal reasoning for approving the NSA telephone metadata program periodically over the past six years.

Verizon, the telecoms giant that was revealed in June to be under a secret Fisa court order to hand over details of the phone records of millions of its US customers, was one of the firms that declined to answer Guardian questions relating to the legality of the scheme. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile US also declined to comment.

CenturyLink, a multinational company based in Monroe, Louisiana said: "At CenturyLink, we respect and protect the privacy of our customers and only provide information to the government when required or permitted by law. We do not comment on matters of national security or specific government requests for information."

In its declassified opinion, the Fisa court revealed that no telecoms company has ever challenged the court's order for the bulk collection of phone records. The opinion, written by Judge Claire V Eagan, implied that by failing to challenge the legality of the programme, the phone companies were passively accepting it its constitutional status.

Seeking clarification, the Guardian asked five of the top US telecoms firms whether their lack of resistance to the collection of their phone records was indeed an implicit acceptance of its legality.

The Guardian also asked how the phone companies could justify to their own customers the decision not to challenge the court orders, in stark contrast to some internet companies such as Yahoo, which have contested the legality of NSA collection of their customers' data.

The phone companies were asked by the Guardian to make clear whether they felt their compliance with Fisa court orders relating to NSA data collection was voluntary, or whether they felt pressured by any party into conceding without legal protest.

The companies' decision not to comment on any aspect of the NSA dragnet puts them in a increasingly peculiar position. By withholding their internal views from the public, they are setting themselves apart from equivalent internet firms that are taking a more bullish stance, and are shrouding themselves in more secrecy than even the Fisa court, one of the most tight-lipped institutions in the country.

Fisa court: no telecoms company has
ever challenged phone records orders

Judge says requests for mass customer data have not been challenged 'despite the mechanism for doing so'

Spencer Ackerman in Washington,, Tuesday 17 September 2013 18.29 EDT, Article Source

The Fisa court makes orders for bulk phone records under the Patriot Act. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP
The Fisa court makes orders for bulk phone records under the Patriot Act. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

No telecommunications company has ever challenged the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court's orders for bulk phone records under the Patriot Act, the court revealed on Tuesday.

The secretive Fisa court's disclosure came inside a declassification of its legal reasoning justifying the National Security Agency's ongoing bulk collection of Americans' phone records.

Citing the "unprecedented disclosures" and the "ongoing public interest in this program", Judge Claire V Eagan on 29 August not only approved the Obama administration's request for the bulk collection of data from an unidentified telecommunications firm, but ordered it declassified. Eagan wrote that despite the "lower threshold" for government bulk surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act compared to other laws, the telephone companies who have received Fisa court orders for mass customer data have not challenged the law.

"To date, no holder of records who has received an Order to produce bulk telephony metadata has challenged the legality of such an Order," Eagan wrote. "Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 Order has challenged the legality of such an order, despite the mechanism for doing so."

That complicity has not been total. Before the Bush administration moved the bulk phone records collection under the authority of the Fisa court, around 2006, Qwest Communications refused to participate in the effort.

Telecommunications company acquiescence to the bulk phone records collection orders also contrasts with the protestations of some internet companies regarding their relationship with the NSA. Yahoo is petitioning the Fisa court to disclose a 2008 incident in which it refused to comply with bulk NSA surveillance until the court demanded it turn over customer data.

While the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in July declassified a Fisa court order underpinning the bulk phone records collection, the order declassified on Tuesday delved far deeper into the reasoning used by the court to justify the mass collection under Section 215, allowing the government to access data "relevant" to an "ongoing" terrorism investigation.

The disclosure is the third major court disclosure about bulk surveillance in a week. On Friday, the Fisa court – citing the public interest in surveillance generated by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowdenordered the government to review for potential declassification post-2011 court opinions related to the phone records database.

Tuesday's ruling presented one such opinion – one that found the court in substantial agreement with the government's interpretation of its powers under the Patriot Act.

Citing a supreme court precedent, Eagan found that there are no Fourth Amendment protections around so-called "metadata", the records of phone numbers dialed and received or the times and durations of phone calls. While the precedent, Smith v Maryland, had to do with an individual case, Eagan wrote that the collection of metadata from millions of people does not, en masse, create a constitutional problem.

That contention is the subject of court challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups.

Eagan's August 2013 order also shed light on how the court considers mass phone records from Americans not under suspicion of wrongdoing "relevant" to an "ongoing" terrorism investigation.

"The government's burden under Section 215 is not to prove that the records sought are, in fact, relevant to an ongoing investigation," Eagan wrote; merely that the government must have "reasonable grounds to believe that the information sought to be produced has some bearing on its investigations of the identified international terrorist organizations."

The judge assented to the government's argument that the necessity underpinning the bulk phone records collection was "to create a historical repository of metadata that enables NSA to find or identify known or unknown operatives", including inside the United States.

But Eagan recognized that "the concept of relevance here is in fact broad and amounts to a relatively low standard".

Civil libertarians found the Fisa court judge's reasoning alarming.

"It's problematic because it means the government is allowed to collect records merely in anticipation of investigations," said Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the ACLU.

Kurt Opsahl, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: "There's not much daylight between what the government asserts and what the court determines."

While Opsahl hailed the court for disclosing more information about its inner workings, he said the ruling "shows the trouble with having a one-sided court process, where the court is only seeing arguments from one side and seems to adopt those arguments. It seems like a failure of the adversarial process."

The Fisa court does not hear from any petitioner aside from the government. Bills currently before Congress would create a privacy advocate to push back against the government's arguments before the Fisa court.

Sheldon Snook, a spokesman for the Fisa court, said Tuesday's disclosure marked the first time the secret court had decided on its own to reveal information related to the NSA's phone records database.

In a statement on Tuesday, Clapper said the August court opinion "affirms that the bulk telephony metadata collection is both lawful and constitutional".

"The release of this opinion is consistent with the president's call for more transparency on these valuable intelligence programs," Clapper said.

...and You probably don't want to read what
Telecom executives did to your Mother

Radio Control Models ~ Aviation

Radio Control Foamie Workstation

FEMA threatens to arrest volunteer
drone operators during Colo. flood relief

Josh Peterson, Tech Editor, Article Source

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) threatened to arrest anyone flying drones over the Colorado flood damage over the weekend, even those volunteering with the relief effort.

On Saturday, FEMA grounded Colorado company Falcon UAV — a drone manufacturer that had been helping local authorities map the disaster area in near-real time — and threatened to arrest anyone flying a drone over the disaster area, IEEE Spectrum reports.

Drone industry representatives, plagued by the negative stigma drones have earned from their service in war, have been eager to promote the non-lethal uses of unmanned aerial systems.

Falcon UAV had been volunteering its services with the Boulder County Emergency Operations Center’s (EOC) relief efforts for several days prior; the company’s drone, called the Falcon, uses GPS and cameras to create detailed maps of the ground it flies over.

Falcon UAV is cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in some parts of Colorado.

The company said in a blog post that when they were heading up to Lyons, Colo. early Saturday morning to conduct damage assessment they were notified by the Boulder EOC that FEMA had taken over the relief operations, denied Falcon UAV’s request to fly a drone, and said “that anyone flying drones would be arrested.”

Falcon UAV also noted that while Civil Air Patrol and private aircraft were authorized to fly over the damaged town, the mountainous landscape made it difficult to see and help provide visual support for the recovery efforts.

“Meanwhile we were grounded on the Lyons high school football field with two Falcons that could have mapped the entire town in less than 30 minutes with another few hours to process the data providing a near real time map of the entire town,” said Falcon UAV.

FEMA did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment by the time of publication.

Ed. Note:

Volunteer emergency disaster service no longer needed?
Does FEMA Have Its Head Up Its Association?

Where FEMA's head is located

I guess voluntary community service is now frowned on by FEMA, so the following aid will no longer be necessary to help people during emergencies?

[Page Source] Another reason why I liked Amateur Radio was because most operators provided free Community Service communications for their area emergency services ... and beyond. The following are a few of the many things I have participated in:

N6ECT - ARRL Emergency Coordinator, Data Communications


This certifies that CURTIS SPANGLER, N6ECT

has been appointed a leadership official in the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service


and agrees to abide by the rules of the ARRL Field Organization. This appointment

shall remain in effect for a term of two years from the last date indicated hereon unless

sooner terminated by the authorized ARRL official.

June, 18, 1984, David Summer, K1ZZ, General Manager, ARRL, Preston Spruance, KE6LF, Authorizing Official

[Note: I served as Data Communications coordinator for ten (10) years.]

During the 1970s, Fred Bray, KE6CD (San Francisco Emergency Coordinator Radio Communications) and I (San Francisco Emergency Coordinator Data Communications) provided the Mayor's Office and Emergency Services a complete FREE Emergency Disaster & Evacuation plan for the City of San Francisco, as a service of the Amateur Radio community and San Francisco Radio Club

Commendation from Red Cross
American Red Cross


Curtis Spangler

For service to the American Red Cross and the community

in providing assistance to families

living in Northern California and Nevada

affected by the floods of February, 1986

Allen Whear
Director, DR 290

Thank You Letter from Red Cross

Western Field Office
1870 Ogden Drive
P.O. Box 909
Burlingame, California 94010
(415) 692-5201

American Red Cross

May 20, 1986

Dear Curtis,

What a pleasure it was to work with you during the disaster! I learned so much, and was able to relay it in a coherent manor to the DWI [Department of Welfare Inquiry] Task Force. It helped so much when we wrote our proposal to National Headquarters and they bought it all. I'm sure the little chart you drew was a big help -- Stan Sneed came to our final planning meeting and gave a good deal of computer type input too. Now we begin the search for funds!

You were so terrific to hang in and do so much to make the DWI operation work -- and we appreciated it so very much.

Helen R. Smith

[Attention FEMA]: Now, that you have been shown, some of, what Amateur Radio Operators have done to help people during emergency disasters ... It is your turn to explain this:

The Nazis had concentration camps which were used to annihilate (Gay, Special, & Jewish) people during WWII.

Who Are Your Concentration Camps For?
The American People?

Photo of FEMA Concentration Camp
Image Source: ~ Click below to read page:

Indonesia evacuates 6,000 people after
volcano erupts in North Sumatra

Second eruption since 2010 of Mount Sinabung sends clouds of ash into the sky and pelts nearby villages with rocks

Associated Press in Medan, Indonesia,, Monday 16 September 2013 16.10 EDT, Article Source

An Indonesian girl sweeps volcanic ash from outside a classroom as Mount Sinabung spews steam and ash behind her. Photograph: Kharisma Tarigan/AFP/Getty
An Indonesian girl sweeps volcanic ash from outside a classroom as Mount Sinabung
spews steam and ash behind her. Photograph: Kharisma Tarigan/AFP/Getty

Nearly 6,000 people were evacuated from their villages following the eruption of Mount Sinabung in western Indonesia, an official said on Monday.

The 2,600-metre (8,530ft) volcano in North Sumatra province erupted early on Sunday after being dormant for three years, sending thick ash into the sky with small rocks pelting nearby villages, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

He said almost 6,000 people had been evacuated and were being sheltered in seven locations. No injuries or damage was reported.

Most of the displaced were from six villages within 3 kilometres of the mountain in Karo district, Nugroho said.

Local authorities prepared 2,000 blankets and distributed masks to displaced people. They had also set up a health command post, Nugroho said.

On Monday grey smoke still billowed from the peak of North Sumatra's tallest volcano, carrying ash eastwards. The authorities asked residents to remain alert for more potential eruptions.

Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the transport ministry, said on Monday that the eruption had delayed six flights at Kualanamu airport in the provincial capital of Medan on Sunday, but operations had returned to normal.

Mount Sinabung's last eruption in August 2010 killed two people and forced some 30,000 people to flee. It caught many scientists off guard because they had failed to monitor the volcano, which had remained quiet for four centuries.

There are more than 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation. It is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called "ring of fire" – a series of faultlines stretching from the western hemisphere through Japan and south-east Asia.

Ed. Note:

Mount Sinabung ~ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mount Sinabung ~ From Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program

The following was posted September 15, 2013:

ARPSN ~ Amateur Radio Public Seismic Network

Seismology/Volcanology Heads Up

Also known as "Going-Out-On-A-Limb" or "Risk Taking"

by C. Spangler, Sunday, September 15, 2013, 16:00 UTC


Normally there is a small group I share seismic information with, but this time, since I am unable to 'pin-point' a location, am going to expand it.


Today (201309.15) at around 15:10 UTC I started to detect hum on my East/West seismic sensors; similar to what I described on March 04, 2010, that lead to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano.


Here are references to the 2010 Iceland story and a comment from that time:

March 04, 2010 - Eyjafjallajökull - Earthquake Swarms and Possible Volcanic Activity

March 21, 2010 - Iceland volcano eruption triggers fears for glacier

March 22, 2010 - The steam-and-ash plume from Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland

March 25, 2010 - Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Web cam image

April 02, 2010 - Eyjafjallajökull Web cam images

April 07, 2010 - Eyjafjallajökull Web cam images

April 14, 2010 - Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland, Erupts

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano activity was an observation that had nothing to do with prediction!

My main interest is, 'early detection' of earthquakes, and my secondary interest is Swarms related to volcanic activity; more specifically, [what I call] "Floating Swarms," that have nothing to do with volcanic activity. My other interests are, currently, teleseismic events and HUM.

Floating Swarms suggest a possible path to 'early detection' based on 'specific sets' of eigenmode frequencies appearing in 'specific patterns' and this link will provide 'some' information, regarding research, on this project.

Related information can be found here:

Seismic Events Recorded by ARPSN, 2008 [Click to View]

Seismic Events Recorded by ARPSN, 2009 [Click to View]

Seismic Events Recorded by ARPSN, 2010 [Click to View]

Current Conclusion

The odd thing about this hum is, unlike Iceland, I have no clue, at the moment, where it is coming from and ultimately it may turn out to be nothing.

As stated in the beginning of this note, this is a 'heads up' for awareness.

Sweet Condi & (her) Asspirate Neocon Band Murdered
Innocent Humans, Sodomized Children, & Belong in Jail.

Martin Rowson cartoon showing Condi saying, "as I was saying Isn't Democracy Wonderful with Iraq and Iran in the background
Martin Rowson

According to a Senate Intelligence Committee Memo, George Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was the first person to verbally approve torture during July 2002 and have young children sodomized in front of their parents at Abu Ghraib.

Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib

By Geraldine Sealey, Salon, Article Source

After Donald Rumsfeld testified on the Hill about Abu Ghraib in May, there was talk of more photos and video in the Pentagon’s custody more horrific than anything made public so far. "If these are released to the public, obviously it’s going to make matters worse," Rumsfeld said. Since then, the Washington Post has disclosed some new details and images of abuse at the prison. But if Seymour Hersh is right, it all gets much worse.

Hersh gave a speech last week to the ACLU making the charge that children were sodomized in front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon has tape of it. The speech was first reported in a New York Sun story last week, which was in turn posted on Jim Romenesko’s media blog, and now and other blogs are linking to the video. We transcribed the critical section here (it starts at about 1:31:00 into the ACLU video.) At the start of the transcript here, you can see how Hersh was struggling over what he should say:

"Debating about it, ummm … Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out."

"It’s impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there? When I did My Lai I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened. I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had, I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we’re dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher, and we have to get to it and we will. We will. You know there’s enough out there, they can’t (Applause). …. So it’s going to be an interesting election year."

Notes from a similar speech Hersh gave in Chicago in June were posted on Brad DeLong’s blog. Rick Pearlstein, who watched the speech, wrote: "[Hersh] said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff. He said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, ‘You haven’t begun to see evil…’ then trailed off. He said, ‘horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.’ He looked frightened."

So, there are several questions here: Has Hersh actually seen the video he described to the ACLU, and why hasn’t he written about it yet? Will he be forced to elaborate in more public venues now that these two speeches are getting so much attention, at least in the blogosphere? And who else has seen the video, if it exists — will journalists see and report on it? did senators see these images when they had their closed-door sessions with the Abu Ghraib evidence? — and what is being done about it?

(Update: A reader brought to our attention that the rape of boys at Abu Ghraib has been mentioned in some news accounts of the prisoner abuse evidence. The Telegraph and other news organizations described "a videotape, apparently made by US personnel, is said to show Iraqi guards raping young boys." The Guardian reported "formal statements by inmates published yesterday describe horrific treatment at the hands of guards, including the rape of a teenage Iraqi boy by an army translator.")

US torture of prisoners is 'indisputable', independent report finds
Report on US rendition programme by non-partisan thinktank finds highest officials were responsible for torture

US torture 'indisputable', CNN's humiliation, and Iran sanctions
Two separate bipartisan reports with surprising pronouncements, and a cable news debacle, highlight similar themes

... and then there was
this from March 2004:

BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 [2001] PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States [using planes]."

What to Do with G.W. Bush?

Exclusive: A major bipartisan study confirms that George W. Bush’s administration tortured detainees behind a facade of legal excuses. The report recommends truth-telling and reforms. But the failure to hold Bush and his advisers accountable invites a replay of their criminal acts, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry, April 21, 2013, Article Source

Now that a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel has reached the conclusion that President George W. Bush and his top advisers bear “ultimate responsibility” for authorizing torture in violation of domestic and international law, the question becomes what should the American people and their government do.

The logical answer would seem to be: prosecute Bush and his cronies (or turn them over to an international tribunal if the U.S. legal system can’t do the job). After all, everyone, including President Barack Obama and possibly even Bush himself, would agree with the principle that “no man is above the law.”

At least that is what they profess in public, but they then apply this principle selectively, proving that they don’t really mean it at all. The real-world standard seems to be: you are above the law if you have the political or economic clout to make prosecution difficult or painful. Then, more flexible rules apply.

For instance, we’re told that Pvt. Bradley Manning may have had good intentions in exposing U.S. government wrongdoing to WikiLeaks, but he still must be punished for taking the law into his own hands. The only question seems to be whether he should be imprisoned for 20 years or life.

Even the U.S. soldiers at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison who imitated the abusive techniques that Bush and his advisers authorized in more limited situations had to face justice. Eleven were convicted at court martial, and two enlisted personnel – Charles Graner and Lynndie England – were sentenced to ten and three years in prison, respectively. A few higher-level officers had their military careers derailed.

But the buck pretty much stopped there. It surely didn’t extend up to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, Vice President Dick Cheney and President Bush. They simply engaged in a game of circular excuse-making, claiming that they had relied on Justice Department legal guidance and thus their own criminal actions really weren’t criminal at all.

Yet, along with its judgments about torture, the 577-page report from the Constitution Project obliterated that line of defense by detailing how the Bush administration’s lawyers offered up “acrobatic” legal opinions to justify the brutal interrogations, which included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress position, forced nudity and other acts constituting torture.

Lawyers from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, particularly John Yoo and Jay Bybee, collaborated closely with senior administration officials in choreographing these legal gymnastics. Then, when other government lawyers later challenged the Yoo-Bybee rationalizations, those lawyers faced career reprisals from the White House. They were essentially forced out of government, the report found.

In other words, Bush’s team had arranged its own legal opinions that empowered the President do whatever he wanted. Indeed, the Yoo-Bybee legal opinions gave the President carte blanche by citing his supposed “plenary powers,” meaning that he could do literally anything he wished during “wartime,” even a war as nebulously defined as the “war on terror.”

Establishment Blessing

While the new torture report mostly covers old ground about how the Bush administration moved into the “dark side,” the report’s primary significance is that its 11-member panel represents a bipartisan mix of Establishment figures.

The task force was headed by two former members of Congress who have worked in the Executive Branch – James R. Jones, D-Oklahoma, an ex-ambassador to Mexico, and Asa Hutchinson, R-Arkansas, who served as an under-secretary of Homeland Security during the Bush administration. Other members were prominent Americans from the fields of military, academia, law, ethics and diplomacy – including former FBI Director William Sessions and longtime senior diplomat Thomas Pickering.

The report didn’t mince words in its principal conclusions: “Perhaps the most important or notable finding of this panel is that it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture. This finding, offered without reservation, is not based on any impressionistic approach to the issue. …

“Instead, this conclusion is grounded in a thorough and detailed examination of what constitutes torture in many contexts, notably historical and legal [including] instances in which the United States has leveled the charge of torture against other governments. The United States may not declare a nation guilty of engaging in torture and then exempt itself from being so labeled for similar if not identical conduct.”

The report also noted that the behavior of the Bush administration deviated from the most honorable traditions of U.S. history, dating back to the Revolutionary War and General George Washington’s instructions to his troops not to respond to British cruelty in kind but to treat prisoners of war humanely.

In contrast to those traditions, after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration approved specific techniques of torture while formulating legal rationalizations for these violations of law. Never before, the report found, had there been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.”

Beyond the illegality and immorality of torture, the report found “no firm or persuasive evidence” that the harsh interrogations extracted information that could not have been obtained by legal means. The report also challenged the legality of “enforced disappearances,” renditions and secret detentions.

No Accountability

Yet, the panel demanded no meaningful accountability from Bush and his top aides, as former Ambassador Pickering made clear in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday.

In underscoring the report’s findings, Pickering lamented how the Bush administration’s use of torture had imperiled efforts to persuade other countries not to resort to cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners. “Democracy and torture cannot peacefully coexist in the same body politic,” Pickering wrote.

He proposed several steps “to mitigate the damage and set this country on a better course.” This list included finally confronting the harsh truth about torture; releasing relevant evidence that the Obama administration is still keeping secret; enacting new legislation to close “loopholes” that were exploited to justify torture; and insisting on verifiable protections of prisoners transferred to other countries (rather than relying on “diplomatic assurances”).

However, neither the report nor Pickering’s op-ed addressed the significant point that laws against torture and mistreatment of prisoners already existed and that Bush and his team simply had ignored or evaded them. If Bush and Yoo could concoct an excuse giving the President the “plenary” power to do whatever he wants in wartime, why couldn’t some future President and legal adviser do the same?

What good does it do to tighten “loopholes” if a President and his aides can flout the law and escape accountability? The only rational (and legal) response to Bush’s use of torture is to arrest him and his key advisers and put them on trial.

Yet, in this case, the rational and legal remedy is considered unthinkable. If President Obama’s Justice Department were to move against Bush and other ex-officials, the Washington Establishment – from the Republican Party to the mainstream news media to much of the Democratic Party – would react in apoplexy and outrage.

There would be fears about Washington’s intense partisanship growing even worse. There would be warnings about the terrible precedent being set that could mean that each time the White House changes hands the new administration would then “go after” the former occupants. There would howls about the United States taking on the appearance of a “banana republic.”

However, there also are profound dangers for a democratic Republic when it doesn’t hold public officials accountable for serious crimes, like torture and aggressive war. Indeed, one could argue that such a country is no longer a democratic Republic, if one person can operate with complete impunity amid declarations of “plenary powers” – which is what the Bush administration claimed in its memos justifying torture.

The report from the Constitution Project can declare that torture is incompatible with democracy, but it is equally true that if the President can torture anyone he chooses and then walk away – free to attend baseball games, celebrate his presidential library and pose for the cover of “Parade” magazine – then you are not living in a real democracy.

REDPILLED on April 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm said:

We are NOT living in a real democracy, and have not been for more than 100 years, as expanding its Empire has become the way of every U.S. government since at least the genocide against indigenous people on this continent.

The members of the Bush administration are war criminals who should be tried, convicted, and imprisoned for life. Obomber, for refusing to prosecute the Bush administration torturers, as required by the U.N. Convention Against Torture, and, therefore, part of his oath of office, should be impeached.

The fact that none of these legal actions will ever take place says all we need to know about the false “democracy” we pretend we live in.

Manipulation Accomplished by War Criminals Cheney and Bush
We're Not In Jail ...
Manipulation Accomplished!

Legal cannabis market 'would be worth
£1.25bn a year to government'

Report sets out potential cost savings and tax take from a regulated cannabis market in England and Wales

Jamie Doward, The Observer, Sunday 15 September 2013, Article Source

A legal, regulated cannabis market in England and Wales could save £300m a year in law enforcement costs, and raise far more than that in tax. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA
A legal, regulated cannabis market in England and Wales could save £300m a year in law
enforcement costs, and raise far more than that in tax. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

Legalising and taxing cannabis could be worth as much as £1.25bn a year to the government, a study suggests.

The report, by the Institute for Social and Economic Research, quantifies for the first time the revenue to be gained from the regulation and taxation of the cannabis market in England and Wales.

It estimates that reduced enforcement costs, such as police, court and prison time and community sentences, could save £300m or more alone, with the remaining three-quarters of the net benefit come from tax revenue.

The paper, co-authored by Stephen Pudney, professor of economics at the University of Essex, balances revenue against potential costs, such as regulatory costs and increased health promotion initiatives.

Pudney said the report was not a definitive attempt to put a price on the cannabis market, but tried to set out what factors needed to be considered if such a policy were to be introduced.

Commissioned by the Beckley Foundation, a thinktank which calls for scientifically-based drug policy reform, the report states: "It is likely that consumption in overall volume terms will rise significantly as a consequence of the switch to legal status and the lower price that results."

Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation, which campaigns for scientifically based reform of drugs policy and commissioned the report said:"In these times of economic crisis, it is essential to examine the possibilities of more cost-effective drug policy. Our present policies based on prohibition have proved to be a failure at every level. Users are not protected, it puts one of the biggest industries in the world in the hands of criminal cartels, it criminalises millions of users, casting a shadow over their future, and it creates violence and instability, particularly in producer and transit countries."

Professor David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College, London, and former chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said the report provided strong evidence "that the costs of the current punitive approaches to cannabis control are massively disproportionate to the harms of the drug, and shows that more sensible approaches would provide significant financial benefits to the UK as well as reducing social exclusion and injustice".

Notes from ~@~

Amy Winehouse: For You I Was A Flame

Amy Winehouse, In Manhattan, New York, in January 2007 Photograph: © Bruce Gilbert/Proud Camden
Amy Winehouse, In Manhattan, New York, in January 2007 Photograph: © Bruce Gilbert/Proud Camden

- in pictures -
Click to view album

Had she lived, Amy Winehouse would have turned 30 on 14 September this year. To honour that date, a photography exhibition curated by the Amy Winehouse Foundation kicks off a month of events celebrating her legacy in Camden, north London. These famous images can be seen at Proud Camden until 6 October 2013 or viewed at by Sarah Gilbert,, Friday 13 September 2013

Group Art Show at Cafe International

Cafe International
508 Haight Street, San Francisco, California
Saturday, September 7 through Thursday, October 11, 2013
Paintings, Prints, Photography and Assemblage, Featuring Artists:
Cat Bell, Cyd Burk, Jennifer Glee, Michael A. Levin, & Susan Trubow

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with

• Secret deal places no legal limits on use of data by Israelis
• Only official US government communications protected
• Agency insists it complies with rules governing privacy
Read the NSA and Israel's 'memorandum of understanding'

Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, Wednesday 11 September 2013 10.40 EDT, Article Source

The agreement for the US to provide raw intelligence data to Israel was reached in principle in March 2009, the document shows. Photograph: James Emery
The agreement for the US to provide raw intelligence data to Israel was reached in
principle in March 2009, the document shows. Photograph: James Emery

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process "minimization", but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.

The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing.

The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the US and Israeli intelligence agencies "pertaining to the protection of US persons", repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights.

But this is undermined by the disclosure that Israel is allowed to receive "raw Sigint" – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: "Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content."

According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. "NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection", it says.

Although the memorandum is explicit in saying the material had to be handled in accordance with US law, and that the Israelis agreed not to deliberately target Americans identified in the data, these rules are not backed up by legal obligations.

"This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law," the document says.

In a statement to the Guardian, an NSA spokesperson did not deny that personal data about Americans was included in raw intelligence data shared with the Israelis. But the agency insisted that the shared intelligence complied with all rules governing privacy.

"Any US person information that is acquired as a result of NSA's surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights," the spokesperson said.

The NSA declined to answer specific questions about the agreement, including whether permission had been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court for handing over such material.

The memorandum of understanding, which the Guardian is publishing in full, allows Israel to retain "any files containing the identities of US persons" for up to a year. The agreement requests only that the Israelis should consult the NSA's special liaison adviser when such data is found.

Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to "destroy upon recognition" any communication "that is either to or from an official of the US government". Such communications included those of "officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)".

It is not clear whether any communications involving members of US Congress or the federal courts have been included in the raw data provided by the NSA, nor is it clear how or why the NSA would be in possession of such communications. In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on "the agency's attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip".

The NSA is required by law to target only non-US persons without an individual warrant, but it can collect the content and metadata of Americans' emails and calls without a warrant when such communication is with a foreign target. US persons are defined in surveillance legislation as US citizens, permanent residents and anyone located on US soil at the time of the interception, unless it has been positively established that they are not a citizen or permanent resident.

Moreover, with much of the world's internet traffic passing through US networks, large numbers of purely domestic communications also get scooped up incidentally by the agency's surveillance programs.

The document mentions only one check carried out by the NSA on the raw intelligence, saying the agency will "regularly review a sample of files transferred to ISNU to validate the absence of US persons' identities". It also requests that the Israelis limit access only to personnel with a "strict need to know".

Israeli intelligence is allowed "to disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning US persons derived from raw Sigint by NSA" on condition that it does so "in a manner that does not identify the US person". The agreement also allows Israel to release US person identities to "outside parties, including all INSU customers" with the NSA's written permission.

Although Israel is one of America's closest allies, it is not one of the inner core of countries involved in surveillance sharing with the US - Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. This group is collectively known as Five Eyes.

The relationship between the US and Israel has been strained at times, both diplomatically and in terms of intelligence. In the top-secret 2013 intelligence community budget request, details of which were disclosed by the Washington Post, Israel is identified alongside Iran and China as a target for US cyberattacks.

While NSA documents tout the mutually beneficial relationship of Sigint sharing, another report, marked top secret and dated September 2007, states that the relationship, while central to US strategy, has become overwhelmingly one-sided in favor of Israel.

"Balancing the Sigint exchange equally between US and Israeli needs has been a constant challenge," states the report, titled 'History of the US – Israel Sigint Relationship, Post-1992'. "In the last decade, it arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns. 9/11 came, and went, with NSA's only true Third Party [counter-terrorism] relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner."


In another top-secret document seen by the Guardian, dated 2008, a senior NSA official points out that Israel aggressively spies on the US. "On the one hand, the Israelis are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems," the official says. "A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US."

Later in the document, the official is quoted as saying: "One of NSA's biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended."


The memorandum of understanding also contains hints that there had been tensions in the intelligence-sharing relationship with Israel. At a meeting in March 2009 between the two agencies, according to the document, it was agreed that the sharing of raw data required a new framework and further training for Israeli personnel to protect US person information.

It is not clear whether or not this was because there had been problems up to that point in the handling of intelligence that was found to contain Americans' data.

However, an earlier US document obtained by Snowden, which discusses co-operating on a military intelligence program, bluntly lists under the cons: "Trust issues which revolve around previous ISR [Israel] operations."


The Guardian asked the Obama administration how many times US data had been found in the raw intelligence, either by the Israelis or when the NSA reviewed a sample of the files, but officials declined to provide this information. Nor would they disclose how many other countries the NSA shared raw data with, or whether the Fisa court, which is meant to oversee NSA surveillance programs and the procedures to handle US information, had signed off the agreement with Israel.

In its statement, the NSA said: "We are not going to comment on any specific information sharing arrangements, or the authority under which any such information is collected. The fact that intelligence services work together under specific and regulated conditions mutually strengthens the security of both nations.

"NSA cannot, however, use these relationships to circumvent US legal restrictions. Whenever we share intelligence information, we comply with all applicable rules, including the rules to protect US person information."

[Ed. Note: Why would anyone share U.S. citizen data with a country who murdered and maimed U. S. Naval Personnel? == Attention US Military == The Assault on the USS Liberty has been covered up since June 8, 1967 by scumbag Republican and Democrat politicians (who falsely claim they support you and your efforts in Military service!!!)]

Cover Up: Attack on the USS Liberty ~

Security officer charged with Los Angeles airport threats

Nna Alpha Onuoha sent package to LAX and warned police to evacuate terminals after resigning on eve of 9/11 anniversary

Reuters in Los Angeles,, Wednesday 11 September 2013 21.44 EDT, Article Source

A police mobile command centre outside the Los Angeles veterans' home where airport hoax suspect Nna Alpha Onuoha lives. Photograph: Reed Saxon/AP
A police mobile command centre outside the Los Angeles veterans' home where
airport hoax suspect Nna Alpha Onuoha lives. Photograph: Reed Saxon/AP

A former federal airport security agent suspended earlier this year after he was accused of telling a teenage girl to cover herself has been charged with making threats against Los Angeles international airport.

Nna Alpha Onuoha, a Nigerian-born US military veteran, was arrested shortly before midnight on Tuesday in connection with written and telephone threats made hours after his resignation from the Transportation Security Administration and on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Onuoha, 29, was charged in US district court in Los Angeles with making threats affecting interstate commerce and staging a hoax. He did not enter a plea during a brief court appearance on Wednesday and was ordered back to court next week for a detention hearing.

According to an affidavit filed by FBI agent David Gates, Onuoha was suspended from his job as a TSA screener for a week in July after being accused of making inappropriate comments to a 15-year-old girl in his security line. The girl's father, Mark Frauenfelder, founder of the website Boing Boing, made headlines in June when he blogged about the incident, writing that a TSA screener had "humiliated and shamed" his daughter.

In the blogpost Frauenfelder wrote that the TSA agent had glared at his daughter and mumbled to himself before telling her in a hostile tone: "You're only 15, cover yourself!"

Frauenfelder did not identify the TSA screener but described his daughter as "shaken up" and said he subsequently complained to the TSA and airport officials.

According to Gates's affidavit Onuoha returned to the TSA's headquarters at the Los Angeles airport on Tuesday afternoon, four hours after resigning, and left a sealed express-mail envelope addressed to a manager there.

Gates said Onuoha called TSA officers twice and airport police once that afternoon, advising that they should begin evacuating the airport. The FBI said he told an airport police officer that he was "going to deliver a message to America and the whole world".

Law enforcement officers cleared several terminals following the phone calls but no threat was found.

The package Onuoha left was found to contain an eight-page document headed "The End of America, the End of Satan, we were not defeated", which expressed his thoughts on the episode involving Frauenfelder's daughter, the affidavit said.

Following the alleged threats, joint terrorism law enforcement agents went to Onuoha's apartment in a suburban Los Angeles veterans' housing complex and found it empty, Gates said, except for a handwritten note taped to a closet door that read: "09/11/2013 THERE WILL BE FIRE! FEAR! FEAR! FEAR!"

Onuoha was arrested in Riverside, about 65 miles (105km) from his home. The church parking lot where his minivan was parked was cleared and a bomb squad robot conducted a search in and around the vehicle. Nothing dangerous was found.

Gates wrote in the affidavit that when Onuoha was interviewed following his arrest, he told FBI agents he did not intend the statements in his calls as threats and that he had no plan to engage in violent conduct.

Police on Wednesday evacuated part of the apartment building where Onuoha lived as a precaution after finding a suspicious package there, but said later that nothing dangerous was found.

Onuoha, if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

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
When History Repeats... Do We Notice?

February 27, 1933 Berlin Reichstag Fire ~ Hitler
September 11, 2011 WTC/Pentagon Attacks ~ George W. Bush's Republican Administration

Someone is looking at whatever you do, so always present your most charming you ~ Mrs. Rose 4th Grade Teacher ~ image location:

Call For New Corporate Top-level domain:

Examples of Possible Second-level domain names:

google.nsa | apple.nsa | microsoft.nsa | facebook.nsa | aol.nsa | at&t.nsa | yahoo.nsa | sunmicrosystems.nsa | verizon.nsa | paltalk.nsa | skype.nsa | youtube.nsa | gnu/linux.nsa | freeBSD.nsa | solaris.nsa | apple/darwin.nsa | etc.

Why? = Because Loyal Users Should Know Who Sold Them Out

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants [who sold out their users?].

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under [Republican] President Bush and renewed under [Democrat] Obama in December 2012. ~ via Dahbud Mensch

Who Is Alien ~ US Out of North America ~ Nobody for President

Should Be A Choice On Voter Ballots

Science Faction

An example of science faction would reference literary works by Jules Verne like "From the Earth to the Moon" and point out NASA's "Apollo 11."

With that in mind, the following is from here and good for a humorous listen?

While participating with an amateur radio network during 1974 I heard a high speed Morse code message that repeated three times, without identification, and went silent.

The message stated a time, date, frequency, and requested the broadcast be recorded.

The broadcast was on high frequency radio, starts off with poor sound, and gets better a few minutes after the start.

Even though some of the information is 'off', it is important to remember this was 1974 and that some things mentioned, in some cases, pertain to today. Of interest are claims the government is being taken over, references to oil crisis, and a disaster on the 'Gulf Coast'.

UFO-1974 ~ Click to listen

One night, 30 plus years ago, a tape was shoved through my mail slot with no identification, or label, and was wrapped in a small, torn, brown paper bag.

Although somewhat outdated, I find similarities, suggested in the audio, leading up to 1984 amusing.

Rebirth of Evil ~ Click to listen

Dear Citizens of the World ~ Click to read

Rhetorical Question: Is it okay for somebody to give somebody a special key that allows for all of one's personal digital photographs to be collected, no matter where they were stored? Would it upset you if they have already been collected?

Remembering what concentration camps are about, Who Are These For? ~ Click to read


Karl Cohen ~ Association International du Film d'Animation-SF Newsletter

Association International du Film d'Animation
(International Animated Film Association)

September 2013


HENRY SELICK SPEAKS OUT ABOUT THE CURRENT STATE OF ANIMATION AND ITS FUTURE Selick, who lives in Marin County, expressed his concerns about the future of theatrical animation in Hollywood at a SIGGRAPH press conference and as a member of the conference's keynote panel. Even though the animation industry in the US is experiencing its most successful time in its history, he believes all is not well. Read about his criticism of Hollywood in our SIGGRAPH article in this issue of the newsletter. What I didn't say in that article is Henry knows firsthand how conservative Disney can be about allowing directors to be creative.


This is a feature length article that was based on dozens of reports, videos and articles on the Internet and by asking friends who attended the conference for comments. The most important parts of this article to me are Henry Selick's critical comments about the current state of animated features KC

AN ICONOCLAST'S LOOKS AT TODAY'S ANIMATION INDUSTRY IN THE US by Dan Bessie who is retired and now lives in France

THE 3RD BEIRUT ANIMATION FESTIVAL ~ A report By Nancy Denney-Phelps, Beirut, Lebanon, 14-18 June 2013

One More Thing ...

A note from he who was once known as: | |
| |
| | ... etc.

In response to this June 2013 post:

Last Day to Submit New eMail Address
eMail Block Gets Implemented Monday

which included the following:

Integrity ~ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one's actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy, in that integrity regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.

Hypocrisy ~ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie.

Judas Iscariot ~ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Judas Iscariot is infamously known for his kiss and betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief Sanhedrin priests in exchange for a payment of thirty silver coins. His name [Judas] is often used to accuse someone [or a corporation] of betrayal.

and related issues.

Here are some of your answers:

Yandex email
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== Yandex

Click if one wants to browser search 'in general'
== Duck Duck Go


Personally, (imo) I have done more than the NSA or average computer user to provide YOU (the reader) with this medium known as INTERNET and object to low-life, Johnny-Come-Lately, computer based, corporations who sold out their users in "profits not people" fashion !!!

Some Personal History
[Click to View Alternative Fun Pages]

**** Wrote Coding/Communication/Control & Conversion/Merger Systems

During the 1960s I wrote the coding, communication, control and conversion, merger systems for the IBM 360/20 computer. My boss, at that time, and most of the people who worked with me are still alive.

**** Editor of first scientific microcomputer users publication

By the end of 1975 my interest in computers was growing because of wanting a talking computer like the one presented in the television series, "Star Trek." [(fwiw) During the mid 1990s, while beta testing for Digital Equipment Corporation, I finally built a similar computer using a DEC Alpha.]

I bought an IMSAI 8080 and was dismayed at the number of errors in the schematics (one example: having a +16 volt line connect to negative (-) ground).

Although I still have my S-100 systems, I did not take many pictures during those days and the only one I could find has Andy Ross, one of the previous owners of Cody's Books in Berkeley, sitting in front of it, in our front living room. [(fwiw) I met Fred & Pat Cody during 1964 when Mario Savio was working for them.]

Andy Ross, previous owner of Cody's Bookstore , sitting in front of my IMSAI 8080 S-100 computer
Andy Ross

During the 1978 computer fair, I went to the IMSAI booth and let them know what I thought about their schematics which caught the ear of Seymour Rubinstein, who offered me a job as editor of their first scientific computer users publication called the "IMSAIDER," which I accepted.

**** Co-Sysop of some first Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) in the United States

MIT-ITS - Tourist Policy and Rules for Tourist Use of ITS Machines ~ [text/pictures]

8BBS - Susan Thunder vs. Curtis Spangler ~ [text/pictures]

DFM-BBS - SYSOP Jordan Hubbard (freeBSD) ~ [text/pictures]

PCNet-ABBS - SYSOP John Gilmore (Sun Microsystems) CO-SYSOP Curtis Spangler ~ [pictures]

CommuniTree - SYSOP Dean Gengle FAIRWITNESS Curtis Spangler ~ [text/pictures]

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

Dia (CommuniTree genealogical chart)

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.

**** Helped co-found Dr. Hank Magnuski's "PPRS" and introduce first Wireless Data Communication to the United States [something most people now call "WiFi"].

Pacific Packet Radio Society ~ gateway | history | photos | papers | links | packet audio | video

**** Performed first working wireless Quadrature Amplitude Modulation experiments at Stanford

The Stanford Packet Radio Network

Gateway, the ARRL packet-radio newsletter

These experiments provided a foundation for sophisticated remote control of various devices on the planet and in outer space (for example: Mars Rover).

**** Posted following to a USENET Group on April 11, 1989

RISKS-LIST: RISKS-FORUM Digest Tuesday 11 April 1989 Volume 8 : Issue 54

FORUM ON RISKS TO THE PUBLIC IN COMPUTERS AND RELATED SYSTEMS ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

Date: Tue, 11 Apr 89 08:12:04 PDT
From: (Curtis Spangler)

Subject: NSA and Not Secure Agencies

San Francisco Chronicle, Chronicle Wire Services, April 11, 1989:

Computer Group Wary of Security Agency

A public interest group said yesterday that the National Security Agency, the nation's biggest intelligence agency, could exert excessive control over a program to strengthen the security of computer systems throughout the federal government.

The group, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility - based in Palo Alto - urged key members of Congress to focus "particularly close scrutiny" on the agency's role in helping to implement legislation aimed at safeguarding sensitive but unclassified information in federal computers.

"There is a constant risk that the federal agencies, under the guise of enhancing computer security, may find their programs - to the extent that they rely upon computer systems - increasingly under the supervision of the largest and most secretive intelligence organization in the country," it said.

**** Was absolutely shocked when it was discovered the following had been implemented on or before December 22, 2000

Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) is a GNU/Linux feature that provides the mechanism for supporting access control security policies, including United States Department of Defense-style mandatory access controls, through the use of GNU/Linux Security Modules (LSM) in the GNU/Linux kernel. It is not a GNU/Linux distribution, but rather a set of kernel modifications and user-space tools that can be added to various GNU/Linux distributions. Its architecture strives to separate enforcement of security decisions from the security policy itself and streamlines the volume of software charged with security policy enforcement. The key concepts underlying SELinux can be traced to several earlier projects by the United States National Security Agency. It has been integrated into the mainline GNU/Linux kernel since version 2.6, on 8 August 2003.


SELinux Background ~ Researchers in the National Information Assurance Research Laboratory of the National Security Agency (NSA) worked with Secure Computing Corporation (SCC) to develop a strong, flexible mandatory access control architecture based on Type Enforcement, a mechanism first developed for the LOCK system. The NSA and SCC developed two Mach-based prototypes of the architecture: DTMach and DTOS. The NSA and SCC then worked with the University of Utah's Flux research group to transfer the architecture to the Fluke research operating system. During this transfer, the architecture was enhanced to provide better support for dynamic security policies. This enhanced architecture was named Flask. The NSA integrated the Flask architecture into the GNU/Linux® operating system to transfer the technology to a larger developer and user community. The architecture has been subsequently mainstreamed into GNU/Linux® and ported to several other systems, including the Solaris(Sun Microsystems/Oracle) operating system, the freeBSD® operating system, and the Darwin (Apple) kernel, spawning a wide range of related work.

GovernmentspacerspacerEqualsGNU/LinuxSolarisFreeBSDApple DarwinApple
Images Via Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

**** and asked if it was Time For A Corporate Death Penalty?

In Conclusion

Places I've Pooped?
Click to view a private message

intended for those corporations and individuals who sold out loyal users
... as spoken by an ex Vice President

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. ~ Tom Smothers

Cree Prophecy

Only after the last tree has been cut down,

Only after the last river has been poisoned,

Only after the last fish has been caught,

Only then will you find money cannot be eaten.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

blue flowers pink flamingos
Reflections on the Spirit and Legacy of the Sixties
by Fritjof Capra ~ December 1, 2002 ~ Local Source

The 1960s were the period of my life during which I experienced the most profound and most radical personal transformation. For those of us who identify with the cultural and political movements of the sixties, that period represents not so much a decade as a state of consciousness, characterized by "transpersonal" expansion, the questioning of authority, a sense of empowerment, and the experience of sensuous beauty and community.

This state of consciousness reached well into the seventies. In fact, one could say that the sixties came to an end only in December 1980, with the shot that killed John Lennon. The immense sense of loss felt by so many of us was, to a great extent, about the loss of an era. For a few days after the fatal shooting we relived the magic of the sixties. We did so in sadness and with tears, but the same feeling of enchantment and of community was once again alive. Wherever you went during those few days - in every neighborhood, every city, every country around the world - you heard John Lennon's music, and the intense idealism that had carried us through the sixties manifested itself once again:

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope some day you'll join us and the world will live as one.

In this essay, I shall try to evoke the spirit of that remarkable period, identify its defining characteristics, and provide an answer to some questions that are often asked nowadays: What happened to the cultural movements of the sixties? What did they achieve, and what, if any, is their legacy?

expansion of consciousness

The era of the sixties was dominated by an expansion of consciousness in two directions. One movement, in reaction to the increasing materialism and secularism of Western society, embraced a new kind of spirituality akin to the mystical traditions of the East. This involved an expansion of consciousness toward experiences involving nonordinary modes of awareness, which are traditionally achieved through meditation but may also occur in various other contexts, and which psychologists at the time began to call "transpersonal." Psychedelic drugs played a significant role in that movement, as did the human potential movement's promotion of expanded sensory awareness, expressed in its exhortation, "Get out of your head and into your senses!"

The first expansion of consciousness, then, was a movement beyond materialism and toward a new spirituality, beyond ordinary reality via meditative and psychedelic experiences, and beyond rationality through expanded sensory awareness. The combined effect was a continual sense of magic, awe, and wonder that for many of us will forever be associated with the sixties.

questioning of authority

The other movement was an expansion of social consciousness, triggered by a radical questioning of authority. This happened independently in several areas. While the American civil rights movement demanded that Black citizens be included in the political process, the free speech movement at Berkeley and student movements at other universities throughout the United States and Europe demanded the same for students.

In Europe, these movements culminated in the memorable revolt of French university students that is still known simply as "May '68." During that time, all research and teaching activities came to a complete halt at most French universities when the students, led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, extended their critique to society as a whole and sought the solidarity of the French labor movement to change the entire social order. For three weeks, the administrations of Paris and other French cities, public transport, and businesses of every kind were paralyzed by a general strike. In Paris, people spent most of their time discussing politics in the streets, while the students held strategic discussions at the Sorbonne and other universities. In addition, they occupied the Odéon, the spacious theater of the Comédie Française, and transformed it into a twenty-four-hour "people's parliament," where they discussed their stimulating, albeit highly idealistic, visions of of a future social order.

1968 was also the year of the celebrated "Prague Spring," during which Czech citizens, led by Alexander Dubcek, questioned the authority of the Soviet regime, which alarmed the Soviet Communist party to such an extent that, a few months later, it crushed the democratization processes initiated in Prague in its brutal invasion of Czechoslovakia.

In the United States, opposition to the Vietnam war became a political rallying point for the student movement and the counterculture. It sparked a huge anti-war movement, which exerted a major influence on the American political scene and led to many memorable events, including the decision by President Johnson not to seek reelection, the turbulent 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the Watergate scandal, and the resignation of President Nixon.

a new sense of community

While the civil rights movement questioned the authority of white society and the student movements questioned the authority of their universities on political issues, the women's movement began to question patriarchal authority; humanistic psychologists undermined the authority of doctors and therapists; and the sexual revolution, triggered by the availability of birth control pills, broke down the puritan attitudes toward sexuality that were typical of American culture.

The radical questioning of authority and the expansion of social and transpersonal consciousness gave rise to a whole new culture - a "counterculture" - that defined itself in opposition to the dominant "straight" culture by embracing a different set of values. The members of this alternative culture, who were called "hippies" by outsiders but rarely used that term themselves, were held together by a strong sense of community. To distinguish ourselves from the crew cuts and polyester suits of that era's business executives, we wore long hair, colorful and individualistic clothes, flowers, beads, and other jewelry. Many of us were vegetarians who often baked our own bread, practiced yoga or some other form of meditation, and learned to work with our hands in various crafts.

Our subculture was immediately identifiable and tightly bound together. It had its own rituals, music, poetry, and literature; a common fascination with spirituality and the occult; and the shared vision of a peaceful and beautiful society. Rock music and psychedelic drugs were powerful bonds that strongly influenced the art and lifestyle of the hippie culture. In addition, the closeness, peacefulness, and trust of the hippie communities were expressed in casual communal nudity and freely shared sexuality. In our homes we would frequently burn incense and keep little altars with eclectic collections of statues of Indian gods and goddesses, meditating Buddhas, yarrow stalks or coins for consulting "sacred" objects.

Although different branches of the sixties movement arose independently and often remained distinct movements with little overlap for several years, they eventually became aware of one another, expressed mutual solidarity, and, during the 1970s, merged more or less into a single subculture. By that time, psychedelic drugs, rock music, and the hippie fashion had transcended national boundaries and had forged strong ties among the international counterculture. Multinational hippie tribes gathered in several countercultural centers - London, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Greenwich Village - as well as in more remote and exotic cities like Marrakech and Katmandu. These frequent cross-cultural exchanges gave rise to an "alternative global awareness" long before the onset of economic globalization.

the sixties' music

The zeitgeist of the sixties found expression in many art forms that often involved radical innovations, absorbed various facets of the counterculture, and strengthened the multiple relationships among the international alternative community.

Rock music was the strongest among these artistic bonds. The Beatles broke down the authority of studios and songwriters by writing their own music and lyrics, creating new musical genres, and setting up their own production company. While doing so, they incorporated many facets of the period's characteristic expansion of consciousness into their songs and lifestyles.

Bob Dylan expressed the spirit of the political protests in powerful poetry and music that became anthems of the sixties. The Rolling Stones represented the counterculture's irreverence, exuberance, and sexual energy, while San Francisco's "acid rock" scene gave expression to its psychedelic experiences.

At the same time, the "free jazz" of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, and others shattered conventional forms of jazz improvisation and gave expression to spirituality, radical political poetry, street theater, and other elements of the counterculture. Like the jazz musicians, classical composers, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany and John Cage in the United States, broke down conventional musical forms and incorporated much of the sixties' spontaneity and expanded awareness into their music.

The fascination of the hippies with Indian religious philosophies, art, and culture led to a great popularity of Indian music. Most record collections in those days contained albums of Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, and other masters of classical Indian music along with rock and folk music, jazz and blues.

The rock and drug culture of the sixties found its visual expressions in the psychedelic posters of the era's legendary rock concerts, especially in San Francisco, and in album covers of ever increasing sophistication, which became lasting icons of the sixties' subculture. Many rock concerts also featured "light shows" - a novel form of psychedelic art in which images of multicolored, pulsating, and ever changing shapes were projected onto walls and ceilings. Together with the loud rock music, these visual images created highly effective simulations of psychedelic experiences.

new literary forms

The main expressions of sixties' poetry were in the lyrics of rock and folk music. In addition, the "beat poetry" of Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, and others, which had originated a decade earlier and shared many characteristics with the sixties' art forms, remained popular in the counterculture.

One of the major new literary forms was the "magical realism" of Latin American literature. In their short stories and novels, writers like Jorges Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez blended descriptions of realistic scenes with fantastic and dreamlike elements, metaphysical allegories, and mythical images. This was a perfect genre for the counterculture's fascination with altered states of consciousness and pervasive sense of magic.

In addition to the Latin American magical realism, science fiction, especially the complex series of Dune novels by Frank Herbert, exerted great fascination on the sixties' youth, as did the fantasy writings of J. R. R. Tolkien and Kurt Vonnegut. Many of us also turned to literary works of the past, such as the romantic novels of Hermann Hesse, in which we saw reflections of our own experiences.

Of equal, if not greater, popularity were the semi-fictional shamanistic writings of Carlos Castaneda, which satisfied the hippies' yearning for spirituality and "separate realities" mediated by psychedelic drugs. In addition, the dramatic encounters between Carlos and the Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan symbolized in a powerful way the clashes between the rational approach of modern industrial societies and the wisdom of traditional cultures.

film and the performing arts

In the sixties, the performing arts experienced radical innovations that broke every imaginable tradition of theater and dance. In fact, in companies like the Living Theater, the Judson Dance Theater, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, theater and dance were often fused and combined with other forms of art. The performances involved trained actors and dancers as well as visual artists, musicians, poets, filmmakers, and even members of the audience.

Men and women often enjoyed equal status; nudity was frequent. Performances, often with strong political content, took place not only in theaters but also in museums, churches, parks, and in the streets. All these elements combined to create the dramatic expansion of experience and strong sense of community that was typical of the counterculture.

Film, too, was an important medium for expressing the zeitgeist of the sixties. Like the performing artists, the sixties' filmmakers, beginning with the pioneers of the French New Wave cinema, broke with the traditional techniques of their art, introducing multi-media approaches, often abandoning narratives altogether, and using their films to give a powerful voice to social critique.

With their innovative styles, these filmmakers expressed many key characteristics of the counterculture. For example, we can find the sixties' irreverence and political protest in the films of Godard; the questioning of materialism and a pervasive sense of alienation in Antonioni; questioning of the social order and transcendence of ordinary reality in Fellini; the exposure of class hypocrisy in Buñuel; social critique and utopian visions in Kubrik; the breaking down of sexual and gender stereotypes in Warhol; and the portrayal of altered states of consciousness in the works of experimental filmmakers like Kenneth Anger and John Whitney. In addition, the films of these directors are characterized by a strong sense of magical realism.

the legacy of the sixties

Many of the cultural expressions that were radical and subversive in the sixties have been accepted by broad segments of mainstream culture during the subsequent three decades. Examples would be the long hair and sixties fashion, the practice of Eastern forms of meditation and spirituality, recreational use of marijuana, increased sexual freedom, rejection of sexual and gender stereotypes, and the use of rock (and more recently rap) music to express alternative cultural values. All of these were once expressions of the counterculture that were ridiculed, suppressed, and even persecuted by the dominant mainstream society.

Beyond these contemporary expressions of values and esthetics that were shared by the sixties' counterculture, the most important and enduring legacy of that era has been the creation and subsequent flourishing of a global alternative culture that shares a set of core values. Although many of these values - e.g. environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, global justice - were shaped by cultural movements in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, their essential core was first expressed by the sixties' counterculture. In addition, many of today's senior progressive political activists, writers, and community leaders trace the roots of their original inspiration back to the sixties.

Green politics

In the sixties we questioned the dominant society and lived according to different values, but we did not formulate our critique in a coherent, systematic way. We did have concrete criticisms on single issues, such as the Vietnam war, but we did not develop any comprehensive alternative system of values and ideas. Our critique was based on intuitive feeling; we lived and embodied our protest rather than verbalizing and systematizing it.

The seventies brought consolidation of our views. As the magic of the sixties gradually faded, the initial excitement gave way to a period of focusing, digesting, and integrating. Two new cultural movements, the ecology movement and the feminist movement, emerged during the seventies and together provided the much-needed broad framework for our critique and alternative ideas.

The European student movement, which was largely Marxist oriented, was not able to turn its idealistic visions into realities during the sixties. But it kept its social concerns alive during the subsequent decade, while many of its members went through profound personal transformations. Influenced by the two major political themes of the seventies, feminism and ecology, these members of the "new left" broadened their horizons without losing their social consciousness. At the end of the decade, many of them became the leaders of transformed socialist parties. In Germany, these "young socialists" formed coalitions with ecologists, feminists, and peace activists, out of which emerged the Green Party - a new political party whose members confidently "We are neither left nor right; we are in front."

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Green movement became a permanent feature of the European political landscape, and Greens now hold seats in numerous national and regional parliaments around the world. They are the political embodiment of the core values of the sixties.

the end of the Cold War

During the 1970s and 1980s, the American anti-war movement expanded into the anti-nuclear and peace movements, in solidarity with corresponding movements in Europe, especially those in the UK and West Germany. This, in turn, sparked a powerful peace movement in East Germany, led by the Protestant churches, which maintained regular contacts with the West German peace movement, and in particular with Petra Kelly, the charismatic leader of the German Greens.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, he was well aware of the strength of the Western peace movement and accepted our argument that a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought. This realization played an important part in Gorbachev's "new thinking" and his restructuring (perestroika) of the Soviet regime, which would lead, eventually, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, and the end of Soviet Communism.

All social and political systems are highly nonlinear and do not lend themselves to being analyzed in terms of linear chains of cause and effect. Nevertheless, careful study of our recent history shows that the key ingredient in creating the climate that led to the end of the Cold War was not the hard-line strategy of the Reagan administration, as the conservative mythology would have it, but the international peace movement. This movement clearly had its political and cultural roots in the student movements and counterculture of the sixties.

the information technology revolution

The last decade of the twentieth century brought a global phenomenon that took most cultural observers by surprise. A new world emerged, shaped by new technologies, new social structures, a new economy, and a new culture. "Globalization" became the term used to summarize the extraordinary changes and the seemingly irresistible momentum that were now felt by millions of people.

A common characteristic of the multiple aspects of globalization is a global information and communications network based on revolutionary new technologies. The information technology revolution is the result of a complex dynamic of technological and human interactions, which produced synergistic effects in three major areas of electronics - computers, microelectronics, and telecommunications. The key innovations that created the radically new electronic environment of the 1990s all took place 20 years earlier, during the 1970s.

It may be surprising to many that, like so many other recent cultural movements, the information technology revolution has important roots in the sixties' counterculture. It was triggered by a dramatic technological development - a shift from data storage and processing in large, isolated machines to the interactive use of microcomputers and the sharing of computer power in electronic networks. This shift was spearheaded by young technology enthusiasts who embraced many aspects of the counterculture, which was still very much alive at that time.

The first commercially successful microcomputer was built in 1976 by two college dropouts, Steve Wosniak and Steve Jobs, in their now legendary garage in Silicon Valley. These young innovators and others like them brought the irreverent attitudes, freewheeling lifestyles, and strong sense of community they had adopted in the counterculture to their working environments. In doing so, they created the relatively informal, open, decentralized, and cooperative working styles that became characteristic of the new information technologies.

global capitalism

However, the ideals of the young technology pioneers of the seventies were not reflected in the new global economy that emerged from the information technology revolution 20 years later. On the contrary, what emerged was a new materialism, excessive corporate greed, and a dramatic rise of unethical behavior among our corporate and political leaders. These harmful and destructive attitudes are direct consequences of a new form of global capitalism, structured largely around electronic networks of financial and informational flows. The so-called "global market" is a network of machines programmed according to the fundamental principle that money-making should take precedence over human rights, democracy,

Since the new economy is organized according to this quintessential capitalist principle, it is not surprising that it has produced a multitude of interconnected harmful consequences that are in sharp contradiction to the ideals of the global Green movement: rising social inequality and social exclusion, a breakdown of democracy, more rapid and extensive deterioration of the natural environment, and increasing poverty and alienation. The new global capitalism has threatened and destroyed local communities around the world; and with the pursuit of an ill-conceived biotechnology, it has invaded the sanctity of life by attempting to turn diversity into monoculture, ecology into engineering, and life itself into a commodity.

It has become increasingly clear that global capitalism in its present form is unsustainable and needs to be fundamentally redesigned. Indeed, scholars, community leaders, and grassroots activists around the world are now raising their voices, demanding that we must "change "and suggesting concrete ways of doing so.

the global civil society

At the turn of this century, an impressive global coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), many of them led by men and women with deep personal roots in the sixties, formed around the core values of human dignity and ecological sustainability. In 1999, hundreds of these grassroots organizations interlinked electronically for several months to prepare for joint protest actions at the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle. The "Seattle Coalition," as it is now called, was extremely successful in derailing the WTO meeting and in making its views known to the world. Its concerted actions have permanently changed the political climate around the issue of economic globalization.

Since that time, the Seattle Coalition, or "global justice movement," has not only organized further protests but has also held several World Social Forum meetings in Porto Alegre, Brazil. At the second of these meetings, the NGOs proposed a whole set of alternative trade policies, including concrete and radical proposals for restructuring global financial institutions, which would profoundly change the nature of globalization.

The global justice movement exemplifies a new kind of political movement that is typical of our Information Age. Because of their skillful use of the Internet, the NGOs in the coalition are able to network with each other, share information, and mobilize their members with unprecedented speed. As a result, the new global NGOs have emerged as effective political actors who are independent of traditional national or international institutions. They constitute a new kind of global civil society.

This new form of alternative global community, sharing core values and making extensive use of electronic networks in addition to frequent human contacts, is one of the most important legacies of the sixties. If it succeeds in reshaping economic globalization so as to make it compatible with the values of human dignity and ecological sustainability, "sixties revolution" will have been realized:

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world...You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.I hope some day you'll join us and the world will live as one.

Give Peace a Chance

Wars happen when intolerance reaches epic proportions, when the reasons for war become greater than the sanctity of peace. Wars happen when we fail to realize the value of being alive. World leaders try to bring peace, but it is not an issue of institutions. It is human beings who start wars. Before a war begins outside, it starts inside.

The war on the inside is more dangerous because it is a fire that may never be put out. Wars are being fought because peace is not being found within, because it is not being allowed to unfold. We are all searching for something, we may call it success, peace, love, or tranquility. It is the same thing. What we are looking for has many names because we do not know what we need. To find what we need, we look around us. To know where to find what we are looking for, we first need to ask ourselves where we can find it. Have we considered looking within?

Living is not an easy task, especially if we want the best of it. We have to mine for it. Mining is not easy. We have to take out what we need and leave the rest. If we want to mine for peace, then we have to seek what is precious and discard what is not. The thing that we are searching for is not outside of us. It is within us. It always has been and always will be. Contentment feels good, and it is not an accident. It is not an accident that peace feels good. Peace is already here, and it resides in the hearts of all human beings.

Peace is something that has to be felt. One of the most incredible powers we have is that we can feel. When we place peace in front of that power to feel, we feel peace. We are here to be filled with gratitude, love and understanding. We carry a lamp within so bright that even in the darkest night, it can fill our world with light. This light is waiting to be found. Peace makes no distinctions. It does not care if we are rich, if we are poor, or what religion we belong to. It does not care which country we live in.

Peace is waiting to be found. Waiting to once again feel whole, not separated by all the issues that divide our lives. Peace is when the heart is no longer in duality, when the struggle within has been resolved. When peace comes to the heart, serenity follows. Love comes flooding in, uncontrolled. Joy cannot be held back. It bursts through because it is right. That is peace. Peace needs to be felt, love needs to be felt, truth needs to be felt. As long as we are alive, the yearning to feel good, to feel joy, will always be there, and as long as it is there, there will be a need for it to be discovered.

Life is a journey. We are passengers in a train called life, and we are alive in the moment called now. The journey of life is so beautiful that it needs no destination. On this journey, we have been given a compass. The compass is the thirst to be fulfilled. The true journey of life begins the day we begin to seek to quench our thirst. This quest is the most noble one. For many centuries, a voice has been calling out: "What you are looking for is within you. Your truth is within you, your peace is within you, your joy is within you." In our hearts, peace is like a seed waiting in the desert to grow, to blossom. When we allow this seed to blossom inside, then peace is possible outside. We have to give peace a chance.

Will we give peace a chance? ~ Prem Rawat, India Times 2/25/2000, Local Source

Closing Argument

[Ed. Note: The video keeps vanishing, so here are the words]

Boston Legal, "Stick It" ~ Season 2, Episode 19 ~ Broadcast: March 14, 2006
James Spader as Alan Shore, Shelley Berman as Judge Robert Sanders, and Scott Paulin as U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro

Alan Shore: When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out to be not true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't.

Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.

Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorists suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.

And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't.

In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretapping's, prison without a fair trial - or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended.

There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people seem to notice.

Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think, instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old fashioned way. Made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest.

Stop for a second and try to fathom that.

At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you are wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed.

This, in the United States of America. This in the United States of America. Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed?

*Alan sits down abruptly in the witness chair next to the judge*

Judge Robert Sanders: Mr. Shore. That's a chair for witnesses only.

Alan: Really long speeches make me so tired sometimes.

Judge Robert Sanders: Please get out of the chair.

Alan: Actually, I'm sick and tired.

Judge Robert Sanders: Get out of the chair!

Alan: And what I'm most sick and tired of is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled un American.

U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Evidentially, it's speech time.

Alan: And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you. Free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say "Stick it"!

U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Objection!

Alan: I object to government abusing its power to squash the constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And, God forbid, anybody challenge it. They're smeared as being a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!

Judge Robert Sanders: Mr. Shore. Unless you have anything new and fresh to say, please sit down. You've breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.

Alan: Last night, I went to bed with a book. Not as much fun as a 29 year old, but the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said, "The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live and fear breeds repression. Too often, sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-Communism."

Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism. Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them."

I know we are all afraid, but the Bill of Rights - we have to live up to that. We simply must. That's all Melissa Hughes was trying to say. She was speaking for you. I would ask you now to go back to that room and speak for her.

A copy of this video can be found here: Speech on America

One Can Lead A Horse To Water, But...

Until there is a solution for this, where one solution has been provided, Nobody will bring Peace to Our Times, feed the hungry, care for the sick, and bake apple pie better than Mom. (otoh) If None of the Above was a choice on voter ballots, it would be a huge step towards recovering U.S. political control, and Nobody gets it.

None of the Above
should be a choice on Voter Ballots

George Carlin, The American Dream ~

Nobody for President 2016 = NONE OF THE ABOVE on Voter Ballots
Nobody for President

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

Without love in the dream, it will never come true. ~ Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter

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. ~ Artist: Curtis
Don't miss out on a blessing because it isn't packaged the way you expect.