“Emails from Fred Burton reveal that the US Government employs the same counterterrorism strategy against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as against Al Qaeda: ‘Take down the money. Go after his infrastructure. The tools we are using to nail and de-construct Wiki are the same tools used to dismantle and track aQ [Al Qaeda]. Thank Cheney & 43 [former US President George W. Bush]. Big Brother owns his liberal terrorist arse.’”—
This report documents serious due process violations in high-profile trials before Bahrain’s special military courts in 2011 – including one trial of 21 prominent political activists and another of 20 doctors and other medical personnel – and in politically motivated trials before ordinary criminal courts since 2010. Serious abuses included denying defendants the right to counsel and to present a defense, and failure to investigate credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment during interrogation.
"The possibility of a bomb in La Paz was raised in December 2011 by [US Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen, co-star of a non-factual documentary entitled “La amenaza iraní” (“The Iranian Threat”), in which she insinuates that the US should attack Iran in order to avert bomb explosions in various Latin American capitals. The film was released by Univision, the prominent US broadcast network, which is owned by someone who hosts galas in honour of the Israeli military.”
When, after several days in La Paz, Iranian penetration into the Western hemisphere was still not glaringly apparent, I set out for the epicentre of penetrating operations: the embassy of Iran,said to be guarded by the elite Quds Force. Unable to find the address on the internet, I walked to the office of the Shia Bolivian Islamic Cultural Foundation on Landaeta Street. It was closed for Carnival, however, and I had to extricate myself from the grasp of missionaries in an adjacent office belonging to another entity to which Latin America has shown itself increasingly penetrable: the nutrition and weight-management cult Herbalife.
In the end, I found the embassy thanks to a meeting with a former Bolivian official, during which he happened to mention Evo Morales’ hypocritical authorisation of GMOs in Bolivia after having disapproved of Iranian GMO projects. I took advantage of the opportunity to enquire after the coordinates of Tehran’s mother ship in La Paz; he directed me to the website of the Bolivian Foreign Ministry, which did indeed contain an address - albeit an incorrect one. My visit to the embassy, located in a house with a yard, revealed that the Quds Force had succeeded in disguising itself as a single Bolivian policeman.
The problem with [Hollande’s] moralizing approach to capitalism was put succinctly in a comment to The Current Moment: an ethical critique of capitalism leaves the system itself untouched and in fact only goes to legitimize the status quo further. It does this by attacking the present for being dominated by a materialistic, vulgar and anti-egalitarian culture, encapsulated in the figure of the bankster and the celebrity lifestyle of its political class. In its place, it proposes a deeply conservative alternative: austere, responsible, more egalitarian and less showy in its attitude to wealth and consumption. This is exactly François Hollande’s argument: he justified his new tax measure not on the grounds of how much money it can raise but in terms of morality and national patriotism. France’s rich elite, by paying more into the national coffers, will be doing its patriotic duty.
Instead of being asked to choose between different economic programmes, what Hollande is proposing is a different style of rule. In place of the crass materialism of Sarkozy, with his rich friends and rich wife, we are presented with François Hollande, a more ordinary and serious individual, with tastes that are less extravagant than those of Sarkozy. Here we can see very strong echoes between the campaign in France and developments in Italy. What Monti brings to Italian politics is more than anything a change of style: far removed from the glamour and glitz of Berlusconi, Monti represents the austere alternative, suited to times of generalized national austerity. When asked about the cost of his end-of-year celebrations, Monti replied by publishing a detailed list of his end of 2011 dinner party at the Chigi palace: 10 guests, all family members, a traditional New Year’s Eve menu, and a list of where Elsa Monti went shopping and how much it all cost.
This is in fact the key: this cultural shift proposed by Hollande and others such as Monti is what is required to legitimize the present age of austerity. Hollande’s moralizing critique of capitalism thus preserves the system in two ways: by proposing a set of conservative values, such as patriotism, duty and national responsibility: and by providing a closer fit between the downturn in France’s economy and the values and conduct of its political class. So far this is working for Italy, as Italians welcome an end to the Berlusconian orgy. Hollande’s bet is that it will work for him in the forthcoming elections. It may do, especially if the wealthy in France catch-on that Hollande isn’t out to get them, he is their saviour.
“The federal minimum wage of $7.25, adjusted for inflation, is $2.75 lower than it was in 1968 when worker productivity was about half of what it is today. There has been a steady decline in real wages for low-income workers. Meanwhile, corporations such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, whose workforce earns the minimum wage or slightly above it, have enjoyed massive profits. Executive salaries, along with prices, have soared even as worker salaries have stagnated or declined. But the call to raise the minimum wage is not only a matter of economic justice. The infusion of tens of billions of dollars into the hands of the working class would increase tax revenue, open up new jobs and lift consumer spending.”—Chris Hedges (via azspot)
“It’s not just the president who would be spared from protesters, either. Covered under the bill is any person protected by the Secret Service. Although such protection isn’t extended to just everybody, making it a federal offense to even accidently disrupt an event attended by a person with such status essentially crushes whatever currently remains of the right to assemble and peacefully protest. Hours after the act passed, presidential candidate Rick Santorum was granted Secret Service protection. For the American protester, this indeed means that glitter-bombing the former Pennsylvania senator is officially a very big no-no, but it doesn’t stop with just him. Santorum’s coverage under the Secret Service began on Tuesday, but fellow GOP hopeful Mitt Romney has already been receiving such security.”—
In 2009, The New York Times‘ David Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize for his two-part series on the use by television networks of retired Generals posing as objective “analysts” at exactly the same time they were participating — unbeknownst to viewers — in a Pentagon propaganda program. Many were also plagued by undisclosed conflicts of interest whereby they had financial stakes in many of the policies they were pushing on-air. One of the prime offenders was Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was not only a member of the Pentagon’s propaganda program, but also, according to Barstow’s second stand-alone article, had his own “Military-Industrial-Media Complex,” deeply invested in many of the very war policies he pushed and advocated while posing as an NBC “analyst”. […]
Apparently, not only does NBC continue to present McCaffrey to its viewers as some sort of objective analyst, but NBC News executives use him as some kind of private consultant and briefer on the news. On January 12, 2012, McCaffrey presented a seminar to roughly 20 NBC executives and producers — including NBC News President Steve Capus — entitled “Iran, Nukes & Oil: The Gulf Confrontation.” We’ve obtained the Power Point document McCaffrey prepared and distributed for his presentation, and in it, he all but predicts war with Iran within the next 90 days: one that is likely to be started by them. The first page of the breathlessly hawkish document is entitled “Iran & the Gulf: Creeping Toward War.” […]
Lauren Kapp, an NBC News spokeswoman, confirmed the existence of this meeting. She said: “We regularly host editorial board meetings with our editorial board staff,” and besides McCaffrey: “we have heard from top ranking current and former US Government officials” [and not] just current and former U.S. government officials and Generals, but also members of the “Council for foreign relations”: the diversity of viewpoints is staggering.
It is interesting to see the sources on whom NBC News executives rely to develop their understanding of the world, and it’s even more interesting to learn what they’re being told about that. The reason Barstow won a Pulitzer Prize for his two stories is because it revealed the merger between the the American media and the military establishment, many of whose members have all sorts of vested interests in Endless War. This meeting and document provides a nice glimpse for how this process continues to function.
“Among the more shocking events in the wake of the Koran burnings was the discovery in a room in the heavily guarded Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul of the bodies of an American lieutenant colonel and major, each evidently executed with a shot in the back of the head while at work. The killer, who worked in the ministry, was evidently angered by the Koran burnings and possibly by the way the two Americans mocked Afghan protesters and the Koran itself. He escaped. The Taliban (as in all such incidents) quickly took responsibility, though it may not have been involved at all.”—Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse
Suppose the town or city where you live had a bunch of heavily-armed foreign soldiers living nearby. As part of their normal duties, they sent patrols down your street with some frequency, bristling with guns and other instruments of war. Imagine that these soldiers were from a very different culture and nearly all of them did not speak your native language, although they could occasionally use a local translator to order you around. You have been told repeatedly that they are there to protect you, but sometimes these protective activities involve entering your neighbors’ houses, arresting people, and even shooting up the place. Of course, these well-armed foreign troops have access to lots of sophisticated airpower, including helicopters, fighter-bombers, and drones, and these sophisticated gadgets fire missiles and drop bombs on suspected bad guys in your city, town, or village. Most of the time it appears that the foreign occupiers get who they were aiming at, but sometimes they make mistakes and kill your friends and neighbors. Maybe even one of your close relatives.
The question I’d ask you is this: If you had been living in such circumstances for five or ten years, do you think you and your neighbors might become resentful of those well-intentioned but heavy-handed foreigners? Do you think you might even begin to hate their intrusive interference, even if it were done with the best of intentions? If you then discovered that some of them were burning Bibles, Torahs, or the American flag, might you leave your house and join an angry demonstration, or may even try to do something worse?
If the answer to those questions is “yes,” then you can probably understand why the United States and its allies are in such deep water in Afghanistan.
You see, the outburst of public rage at the idiotic burning of a bunch of Qurans actually tells you something very important about our Afghan campaign. It’s not as if the news about this act suddenly swung lots of Afghans from being really fond of the United States to being really mad at us. Rather, news of the Quran burning was just a catalyst-the proverbial straw on the camel’s back-that ignited resentments that have been building up for a long time.
“The growing support for the OWS movement has expanded the protests’ impact and increased the potential for violence. While the peaceful nature of the protests has served so far to mitigate their impact, larger numbers and support from groups such as Anonymous substantially increase the risk for potential incidents and enhance the potential security risk to critical infrastructure (CI). The continued expansion of these protests also places an increasingly heavy burden on law enforcement and movement organizers to control protesters. As the primary target of the demonstrations, financial services stands the sector most impacted by the OWS protests. Due to the location of the protests in major metropolitan areas, heightened and continuous situational awareness for security personnel across all CI sectors is encouraged.”—From a report on the Occupy movement by the Department of Homeland Security, released by Wikileaks. For more on this, read Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone. (via bostonreview)
Christmas came on Leap Day for anti-coal activists. On Wednesday, two Midwestern utilities announced the closure of a total of ten aging coal plants, including two intercity Chicago plants that have long been a focal point for environmental groups.
Midwest Generation announced that it will close Chicago’s Fisk Power Plant in 2012 and the Crawford Plant in 2014. Local and national activists have been targeting those two plants for their impacts on poorer city neighborhoods, and new mayor Rahm Emanuel also recently threatened to shut them down.
Feel free to skim or peruse the text and make your own judgements on what this might mean for protests at conventions this year as well as for Occupy in the months ahead. - TAB
One Hundred Twelfth Congress of the United States of America AT THE SECOND SESSION
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday, the third day of January, two thousand and twelve
To correct and simplify the drafting of section 1752 (relating to restricted buildings or grounds) of title 18, United States Code.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011’.
SEC. 2. RESTRICTED BUILDING OR GROUNDS.
Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
-`Sec. 1752. Restricted building or grounds
`(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
`(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
`(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or
`(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds; or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
`(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is—
`(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if—
`(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
`(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
`(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
`(c) In this section—
`(1) the term `restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area—
`(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds;
`(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or
`(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and
`(2) the term `other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.’.
“I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition; as it is now the capitalists use your heads and your hands.”
- E. V. Debs, Debs: His Life, Writings and Speeches, 1908
Michael Geist sez, “The Canadian music industry is scheduled to appear before a Parliamentary committee today with some of the most radical demands to date that would effectively create liability for social networking sites, search engines, blogging platforms, and video sites such as Google, Facebook and Reddit. As if that were not enough, the industry is also calling for a new iPod tax, an extension in the term of copyright, a removal of protections for user generated content, parody, and satire, as well as an increase in statutory damage awards. Taken together, the Canadian music industry demands make SOPA look like minor tinkering with the law.”
“One might expect to read some hand-wringing over public safety concerns in a government document, and yet the DHS document appears to be more concerned with protecting the mechanisms of the financial sector than in ensuring the safety of citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights.”—Allison Kilkenny | Wikileaks Exposes DHS Spying on Occupy Movement
As many as 21 US military strikes in Somalia since 2007 have killed up to 169 people, new research by the Bureau indicates. Of those killed, between 11 and 59 people are reported to be civilians.
US military intervention in war-torn Somalia is shown to be on a far lower scale than in Yemen or Pakistan. However, US attacks escalated sharply against al Shabaab targets in 2011.
The Bureau has carried out a detailed examination of reports of western military activity in Somalia spanning over more than a decade. These are drawn from credible media, from academic research, from US and UK military and diplomatic records and from other reputable sources.
Not out, not banned, not unconstitutional - just “waived”. I promise not to abuse this power…
WASHINGTON — The White House released rules Tuesday evening waiving the most controversial piece of the new military detention law, and exempting U.S. citizens, as well as other broad categories of suspected terrorists.
Indefinite military detention of Americans and others was granted in the defense authorization bill President Barack Obama signed just before Christmas, sparking a storm of anger from civil libertarians on the left and right. […]
Advocates for liberties will likely find the new rules for implementing reassuring, at least while President Obama is in office. But one of their big complaints with his signing of the law is that his policies only last so long as he is in office, and they will likely step up attempts to repeal it.
How ironic. In his first budget, Walker slashed public education funding by $800 million to $900 million. Walker and his administration have also sought to cut Medicaid funding, in effect booting more than 50,000 low-income families from the program, better known as BadgerCare Plus. The $9 million price tag for his recall election pales in comparison to the cost-cutting now pinching some of Wisconsin’s students and some of its most vulnerable citizens.
“[Not] in Iraq, nor during the Vietnam War, nor the Korean conflict, nor even during the Philippine Insurrection at the turn of the twentieth century were there similar examples of what once would have been called “native troops” turning on those training, paying for, and employing them. You would perhaps have to go back to the Sepoy Rebellion, a revolt by Indian troops against their British officers in 1857, for anything comparable.”—Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse | The End in Afghanistan?
Is it all over but the (anti-American) shouting — and the killing? Are the exits finally coming into view?
Sometimes, in a moment, the fog lifts, the clouds shift, and you can finally see the landscape ahead with startling clarity. In Afghanistan, Washington may be reaching that moment in a state of panic, horror, and confusion. Even as an anxious U.S. commander withdrew American and NATO advisors from Afghan ministries around Kabul last weekend — approximately 300, military spokesman James Williams tells TomDispatch — the ability of American soldiers to remain on giant fortified bases eating pizza and fried chicken into the distant future is not in doubt.
No set of Taliban guerrillas, suicide bombers, or armed Afghan “allies” turning their guns on their American “brothers” can alter that — not as long as Washington is ready to bring the necessary supplies into semi-blockaded Afghanistan at staggering cost. But sometimes that’s the least of the matter, not the essence of it. So if you’re in a mood to mark your calendars, late February 2012 may be the moment when the end game for America’s second Afghan War, launched in October 2001, was initially glimpsed.
"The nest they are fouling is still our nest, but no longer theirs."
Thanks to three decades of corporate sponsored globalization – supported by both center right and center left parties — giant corporations are now free to (1) locate production wherever wages, labor standards, environmental standards, and corporate taxes are lowest, (2) sell products produced elsewhere in the high income markets of the North Atlantic region, (3) collect royalties on “intellectual properties” from every corner of the globe, (4) leverage their global lending business through the roof with a guaranteed taxpayer bailout in their back pocket whenever a financial crisis threatens, and last, but not least, (5) rely on an overwhelming military force paid for by the American taxpayer to squash any who dare to threaten to take any of these “freedoms” away from them. So what if the North Atlantic region declines in relative economic power? So what if the middle classes in Europe and North America shrink to the size of middle classes in the rest of the world? So what if the dream that one’s children will have better economic lives dies for the 99%?
The future for the 1% and their children looks very bright indeed. They pay less in taxes than ever before. Because their fortunes no longer depend on one region alone, their income and wealth continue to rise spectacularly even while the North American region stagnates. The educational and healthcare systems that are falling apart are not services they and their children use. The jobs that are no longer there for many in the 99% are of no concern to those whose only “work” is to manage their own assets. The 1% now enjoys the loyal political services not only of right wing and center-right political parties, but of formerly center-left parties as well. With military drafts a distant memory, they need not fear that any hostility that proves “necessary” might inadvertently claim the life of one of their own children. In short, they are not fouling their own nest at all. Their nest never looked better.
“The pro-choice movement opposes forced ultrasounds because they override the doctor’s discretion and the doctor-patient relationship, in a manner that is not only condescending to the woman’s preferred course of action, but also often requires a greater outlay of time, sometimes an entire extra day, as well as money. Not only do they not change anyone’s mind, ultrasounds stigmatize and intimidate women who are already under stress.”—The ultrasound fallacy (via iamdrtiller)
Predictably, it’s not just intel and government officials (both current and former) that have displayed their distaste for Assange. After WikiLeaks announced on Sunday that they would begin publishing the Stratfor emails, the derision rained down from the usual suspects in the Beltway media. A typical response: one editor at The Atlantic called WikiLeaks “a joke,” dismissing the Strafor emails out of hand.
This perplexes me: To advertise a complete lack of interest in the inner workings of a major private intelligence firm, whose corporate clients (who pay up to $40,000 for Stratfor’s services) include companies like Lockheed Martin, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America – seems, to say the least, rather un-journalistic. If Stratfor is a joke, what does that say about the government agencies like the C.I.A. and other intel shops that supply Stratfor with employees. And if WikiLeaks – an organization that ‘s pulled off a few of the biggest coups in the history of journalism – is a joke, whom, exactly, is the joke on?
Already, via these emails, we’ve seen a company, Stratfor, getting paid by large corporations to spy on activists around the world, scheme with Goldman Sachs, and pontificate about money laundering soccer teams. Whatever angle you look at it from, this is news. Though it’s unlikely the Stratfor emails will have the impact that Cablegate or the Iraq Diaries and the Afghan War Logs, it does provide for another fascinating exposé of the types of organizations that are becoming ever more profitable and powerful: intelligence firms that blur the lines between private and government work. Remember, when Burton said “we” have an indictment against Assange, he didn’t mean Stratfor – he meant the U.S. government, our government.
“Unfolding events have visibly overwhelmed and even intimidated the Americans in charge. However, as religious as the country may be and holy as the Koran may be considered, what’s happened cannot be fully explained by the book burning. It is, in truth, an explosion a decade in coming. […] Years of pent up frustration, despair, loathing, and desperation are erupting in the present protests. That this was long on its way can’t be doubted.”—The End in Afghanistan? | Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse
On January 26, 2011, Fred Burton, the vice president of Stratfor, a leading private intelligence firm which bills itself as a kind of shadow CIA, sent an excited email to his colleagues. “Text Not for Pub,” he wrote. “We” – meaning the U.S. government – “have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”
The news, if true, was a bombshell. At the time, the Justice Department was ramping up its investigation of Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which over the past few years has released hundreds of thousands of sensitive government documents. An indictment under the 1917 Espionage Act would be the most serious action taken to date against Assange, possibly paving the way for his extradition to the U.S. (Assange is currently under house arrest in Britain fighting extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges.)
Assange, who reacts to the indictment revelation in a statement here, has become an obsession for U.S. intelligence and government officials, and the Stratfor staff is no exception. The WikiLeaks founder’s name appears 2102 times in their emails over the past two years. The venom reserved for Assange (and Bradley Manning, too) in the internal email traffic is intense: “astonishing douchebaggery,” says one analyst in relation to Assange. Writes another, referring to the sexual misconduct allegations against Assange, as well as his family background: “getting a rapist off the street is getting a rapist off the street. Also, his mom owns a puppet theater.” The same analyst continues in another email: “I look forward to Manning and Assange facing a bajillion-thousand counts of espionage.” A final note from yet another Sratfor analyst, sent after the arrest of 16 Anonymous hacktivists last July: “These assholes should get the death sentence, along with their hero Julian=Assange.”
“[That] is basically the story of the general civil liberties assault and the accompanying demonization of Muslims in America since 9/11. The Government spies on whomever it wants in total secrecy and with no checks or oversight. In those rare instances where it is revealed, those responsible immediately screech Terrorists! to keep fear levels high, while politicians in both parties, with rare exception, line up to support these assaults. The bigoted equation of Muslims with Terrorism is incrementally bolstered each time. And all of this becomes more and more normalized — not an aberration but the norm in American political life.”—Glenn Greenwald
[It] is important to remember that 95 to 97 percent of the missions the U.S. forces embark on in Afghanistan, they do so with their Afghan partners. We’re talking about thousands and thousands of operations that proceed successfully with Afghan partners without anything like this happening.
These are isolated incidents — which does not, of course, mean they are not terrible […]
"Anyone who believes they can weaken our resolve through these cowardly attacks is severely mistaken,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said at a news conference. “There is much at stake in Afghanistan, and our commitment to our mission and our strategy will not waver."
If there weren’t so many lives and so much of the US economy at stake, these statements by our government’s spokesmen would be comic. But with the losses that are being sustained, the public statements and policies that underlie them are nothing short of morally repugnant sacrifices of lives and treasure for short term political gain. As the Reuters article points out, both sides in the US political scene will try to score points on Afghanistan:
The path ahead will not be an easy one for Obama, who is running for re-election in November. He is likely to face mounting pressure from some within his own party to accelerate the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, while Republicans are likely to seize on any indication of an accelerated departure as proof the president is neglecting a key security priority.
From what we saw in Monday’s response from the Obama administration, look for cynical political calculation to continue to trump reality and concern for lives and treasure when it comes to policy in Afghanistan.
In recent remarks, Santorum praises home schooling, claiming that with the rise of factories, Americans had to go to formal schools that were like factories. Public school is an anachronism, he says. But formal schooling is about as American a virtue as there is. Has Santorum read any American history?
In selling federal land to farmers, Thomas Jefferson and others insisted that some be set aside for a school house. In the Northeast, free and mandatory public schooling in the primary years was a singular and early achievement, and it occurred before the age of big factories. Perhaps nothing is as singular in American history is its development of a free primary school system that exceeded even Prussia’s in terms of the proportion of school age attendance by roughly the mid-1800s. The U.S. rate of enrollment was well ahead of France and England by then.
In a world in which computation and literacy were requirements for a modern economy — I am talking about the 19th century economy here — America was a leader. Santorum prefers some romantic view of farmers educating their children. But if homeschooling had dominated into the 20th century, America would not have become the world’s leading nation.
“Thatcher and Reagan launched the neoliberal counter revolution against regulated, mildly egalitarian capitalism in the early 1980s. But not until the political center-left had been turned into a willing center-right did the economic policies of the traditional political parties become barely distinguishable…What has changed over the past decades is the extent to which only rhetoric, but not policies, change when center-left governments replace center-right governments. Now, even when we vote overwhelmingly for ‘change you can believe in,’ what we get instead are the same policies enriching the 1% at the expense of the 99% — during good times as well as bad. The bottom line is poor and middle class people no longer have a major political party who even attempts to act in their interest anywhere in the North Atlantic region. Center-left political parties now behave as center-right parties used to behave, no matter what kind of populist rhetoric they resort to during election season.”—Understanding Economic Suicide
“Anonymous can get the goods for WikiLeaks because, cloaked by anonymity, it is willing and able to operate outside the law. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks provides Anonymous with a powerful P.R. channel. The media trusts WikiLeaks. It has a mailing address and an official spokesman. It’s able to add a layer of credibility to any leak it publishes because it employs a paid staff. WikiLeaks and Anonymous could prove to be powerful allies in their shared war against government and corporate corruption. WikiLeaks is desperately dependent on new leaks, and Anonymous is happy to oblige, with a new commitment to regularly scheduled hacks. A newly energized WikiLeaks is positioned to provide analytical resources to the leaks Anonymous uncovers so that they can be parsed in a thoughtful way for easy media consumption.”—WikiLeaks 2.0: How Julian Assange’s Partnership with Anonymous Could Change the Landscape of Hacktivism (via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity)
The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it won’t hear a case brought by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage challenging a Maine law requiring the organization to reveal its donors.
The high court posted a notice on its website indicating it wouldn’t hear the case, known as National Organization for Marriage v. McKee, without providing comment. The decision means NOM no longer has any avenue of appeal in the case.
NOM, among the most high-profile organizations opposing same-sex marriage, asked the Supreme Court to take the case after the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the Maine disclosure laws.
In 2009, NOM contributed a total of $1.8 million to Stand for Marriage Maine and was one of the top fundraisers for the political action committee, which funded efforts for a Maine referendum that nullified the same-sex marriage law in the state.
According to Maine law, any organization that makes expenditures of more than $5,000 to influence a ballot question must register and file reports with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics & Election Practices.
The anti-gay group contested this law on the basis that NOM shouldn’t be defined as a political action committee and because the statutory scheme of the law was unconstitutionally vague, but the First Circuit denied these arguments. The high court decision on Monday not to take up the case means the appellate court ruling will stand.
“It’s true that Romney and Santorum are more radically right-wing than George W. Bush in some ways. For example, they support assassinating American citizens without due process on the president’s say so. Unfortunately, few Democrats are going to attack them on those grounds this election season, because doing so would implicate their own standard bearer. Such criticism is therefore left to right-wing ideologue Ron Paul and his immoderate supporters. It makes for an interesting spectacle: Democrats earnestly retain the idea that Bush was an ideological extremist and are alarmed at the notion of a GOP that is less moderate than it was during his term, but forget many of the particulars that made Bush a radical are now supported across partisan lines.”—Conor Friedersdorf (via azspot)