Archive for August, 2007

they don’t care about you

August 31, 2007

Dollar Day (Katrina Klap)

Greg Palast’s Big Easy to Big Empty 






FBI surveillance

August 31, 2007

from Democracy Now!

New FBI Network Allows Instant Wiretaps on Any Communication Device
Wired Magazine is reporting the FBI has quietly built a sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any private communications device. The network allows an FBI agent in New York to remotely set up a wiretap on a cell phone based in Sacramento, California. This would allow the FBI agent to immediately learn the phone’s location, then begin receiving conversations, text messages and voicemail pass codes in New York. The surveillance system is called the Digital Collection System Network. It connects FBI wiretapping rooms to switches controlled by traditional land-line operators, internet providers and cellular companies. Experts say the system is far more intricately woven into the nation’s telecom infrastructure than previously suspected.

Max Roach RIP

August 20, 2007

Jazz Pioneer Max Roach Dead at 83
And the pioneering jazz drummer, composer and activist Max Roach has died at the age of 83. He helped reinvent the role of the drummer in jazz and played alongside such greats as Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Cecil Taylor. Max Roach was also a prominent supporter of the civil rights movement. In 1960 he released the record “We Insist: Freedom Now Suite” featuring the vocals of his future wife Abbey Lincoln. The cover of the record showed a photograph of SNCC students participating in a sit-in at a lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. At the time Roach said: “I will never again play anything that does not have social significance. We American jazz musicians of African descent have proved beyond all doubt that we are master musicians of our instruments. Now what we have to do is employ our skill to tell the dramatic story of our people and what we’ve been through.’ Roach later became a leading jazz educator and was the first jazz musician to win a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grant.

national identity card

August 18, 2007

The RealID Act goes into effect in May 2008. It was slipped into a 2005 war funding and tsunami relief bill, bypassing actual democratic processes. This is the same way so much of these new police state programs have been enacted.

Here is one of the many worrisome issues with Real ID, go to the ACLU’s site for more details.

How is Real ID a true national identity card system?

Although individual states’ driver’s licenses may continue to exhibit cosmetic differences, under Real ID they would contain a standardized set of information collected by all 50 states, in standard format, encoded on a standardized “machine-readable” zone. And although individual states would still maintain their own databases, by requiring them to be interlinked, Real ID would bring into being what is, for all practical purposes, a single distributed database. In short, underneath each state’s pretty designs they are really a single standardized national card. Local DMV offices may continue to appear to be state offices, but under Real ID they would become agents acting on behalf of the federal government, charged with administering what amounts to an internal passport without which no one will be able to function in America.

What’s wrong with a national identity card?

The true problem is not the piece of plastic itself, but the construction of a larger network of identity papers, databases, status and identity checks and access control points – in short, what has been called an “internal passport.” If the old driver’s license represented a license to drive – the government’s very specific permission to operate a vehicle on the public roadways – the fear is that the new documents will become tantamount to a license to leave your house.

National IDs would violate privacy by helping to consolidate data. There is an enormous and ever-increasing amount of data being collected about Americans today. One’s grocery store, for example, might use a “loyalty card” to keep detailed records of what you buy, while Amazon keeps records of what you read, the airlines keep track of where you fly, and so on. This can be an invasion of privacy, but our privacy has actually been protected by the fact that all this information still remains scattered across many different databases. But once the government, landlords, employers, or other powerful forces gain the ability to draw together all this information, our privacy will really be destroyed. And that is exactly what a national identity system would facilitate.

A national ID like Real ID would also facilitate tracking. When a police officer or security guard scans your ID card with his pocket bar-code reader, for example, it will likely create a permanent record of that check, including the time and your location. How long before office buildings, doctors’ offices, gas stations, highway tolls, subways and buses incorporate the ID card into their security or payment systems for greater efficiency? The end result could be a situation where citizens’ movements inside their own country are monitored and recorded through these “internal passports.”

Diane di Prima

August 17, 2007




August 17, 2007

Admin Expands Spy Tools for Domestic Use
The Bush administration has approved measures that will greatly expand the spying capabilities of domestic law enforcement and other agencies. A new program will allow state and local officials to view data from satellite and aircraft sensors that can penetrate cloud cover, buildings, and underground facilities. Most of the surveillance technology has previously been limited to foreign surveillance. Civil liberties groups are raising concerns. Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies called the program: “Big Brother in the Sky.” She added: “They are laying the bricks one at a time for a police state.”

Army Suicides at 26-Year High
In military news, a new Pentagon report shows Army suicides are at their highest rate in twenty-six years. At least ninety-nine service members took their own lives last year. More than a quarter did so while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Anti-War Group Faces $10,000 Fine for D.C. Posters
In Washington D.C., city officials have threatened a ten thousand dollar fine to the anti-war group ANSWER unless it removes posters promoting an upcoming peace march. Several hundred yellow posters have been posted around the city announcing the September 15th event. The protest is timed to coincide with the release of a Pentagon report on the so-called troop surge in Iraq. D.C. officials say the posters are illegal because they don’t meet city standards on adhesive use. ANSWER calls the fine threat a political move aimed at silencing the march.

passionate intensity & the washington concensus

August 17, 2007

A recent talk by Naomi Klein entitled “Lost Worlds” about the supression of populist alternatives to global capitalism and the struggle to realize them. The whole speach can be found at DemocracyNow!

NAOMI KLEIN: As we think about reaching this other possible world, I want to be very clear that I don’t believe the problem is a lack of ideas. I think we’re swimming in ideas: universal healthcare; living wages; cooperatives; participatory democracy; public services that are accountable to the people who use them; food, medicine and shelter as a human right. These aren’t new ideas. They’re enshrined in the UN Charter. And I think most of us still believe in them.

I don’t think our problem is money, lack of resources to act on these basic ideas. Now, at the risk of being accused of economic populism, I would just point out that in this city, the employees of Goldman Sachs received more than $16 billion in Christmas bonuses last year, and ExxonMobil earned $40 billion in annual profits, a world record. It seems to me that there’s clearly enough money sloshing around to pay for our modest dreams. We can tax the polluters and the casino capitalists to pay for alternative energy development and a global social safety net. We don’t lack ideas. Neither are we short on cash.

And unlike Jeffrey Sachs, I actually don’t believe that what is lacking is political will at the highest levels, cooperation between world leaders. I don’t think that if we could just present our elites with the right graphs and PowerPoint presentations — no offense — that we would finally convince them to make poverty history. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe we could do it, even if that PowerPoint presentation was being delivered Angelina Jolie wearing a (Product) Red TM Gap tank top and carrying a (Product) Red cell phone. Even if she had a (Product) Red iPhone, I still don’t think they would listen. That’s because elites don’t make justice because we ask them to nicely and appealingly. They do it when the alternative to justice is worse. And that is what happened all those years ago when the income gap began to close. That was the motivation behind the New Deal and the Marshall Plan. Communism spreading around the world, that was the fear. Capitalism needed to embellish itself. It needed to soften its edges. It was in a competition. So ideas aren’t the problem, and money is not the problem, and I don’t think political will is ever the problem.

The real problem, I want to argue today, is confidence, our confidence, the confidence of people who gather at events like this under the banner of building another world, a kinder more sustainable world. I think we lack the strength of our convictions, the guts to back up our ideas with enough muscle to scare our elites. We are missing movement power. That’s what we’re missing. “The best lacked all convictions,” Yeats wrote, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Think about it. Do you want to tackle climate change as much as Dick Cheney wants Kazakhstan’s oil? Do you? Do you want universal healthcare as much as Paris Hilton wants to be the next new face of Estee Lauder? If not, why not? What is wrong with us? Where is our passionate intensity? (more…)

breaking the silence

August 8, 2007

This powerful documentary by John Pilger includes first hand reporting from Afghanistan and some astounding interviews with major neocons practicing their orwellian doublespeak magic.


the great silence

August 8, 2007

Journalist John Pilger recently gave a powerful speach on the collusion of the media (and the democrats) with the coming of corporate dictatorship. Check out Democracy Now! for the full speach and more on John Pilger.

Harold Pinter’s subversive truth, I believe, was that he made the connection between imperialism and fascism, and described a battle for history that’s almost never reported. This is the great silence of the media age. And this is the secret heart of propaganda today. A propaganda so vast in scope that I’m always astonished that so many Americans know and understand as much as they do. We are talking about a system, of course, not personalities. And yet, a great many people today think that the problem is George W. Bush and his gang. And yes, the Bush gang are extreme. But my experience is that they are no more than an extreme version of what has gone on before. In my lifetime, more wars have been started by liberal Democrats than by Republicans. Ignoring this truth is a guarantee that the propaganda system and the war-making system will continue. We’ve had a branch of the Democratic party running Britain for the last 10 years. Blair, apparently a liberal, has taken Britain to war more times than any prime minister in the modern era. Yes, his current pal is George Bush, but his first love was Bill Clinton, the most violent president of the late 20th century. Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown is also a devotee of Clinton and Bush. The other day, Brown said, “The days of Britain having to apologize for the British Empire are over. We should celebrate.”

Like Blair, like Clinton, like Bush, Brown believes in the liberal truth that the battle for history has been won; that the millions who died in British-imposed famines in British imperial India will be forgotten—like the millions who have died in the American Empire will be forgotten. And like Blair, his successor is confident that professional journalism is on his side. For most journalists, whether they realize it or not, are groomed to be tribunes of an ideology that regards itself as non-ideological, that presents itself as the natural center, the very fulcrum of modern life. This may very well be the most powerful and dangerous ideology we have ever known because it is open-ended. This is liberalism. I’m not denying the virtues of liberalism—far from it. We are all beneficiaries of them. But if we deny its dangers, its open-ended project, and the all-consuming power of its propaganda, then we deny our right to true democracy, because liberalism and true democracy are not the same. Liberalism began as a preserve of the elite in the 19th century, and true democracy is never handed down by elites. It is always fought for and struggled for.


maintain the soul

August 7, 2007

Lauryn Hill

I found this video on  The Liberator’s website. The Liberator is an impressive and inspiring free magazine about “art, culture, education, politics, truth…”