Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

virtual terror

March 4, 2008

from the BBC:

The US government has begun a project to develop ways to spot terrorists who are using virtual worlds.

Codenamed Reynard it aims to recognise “normal” behaviour in online worlds and home in on anomalous activity.

It is likely to develop tools and techniques for intelligence officers who are hunting terrorists and terror groups on the net or in virtual worlds.

The project was welcomed by experts tracking terror groups using the net to organise or carry out attacks.

The full bizarre story is here.

W.T.F! – INFRAGARD

February 9, 2008

This is pretty creepy. It pretty much matches up with the step toward a fascist police state, as characterized by Naomi Wolf, in which a privileged citizen militia is created. And once again, the same as the extraordinary rendition program, it was started during the Clinton administration and then greatly expanded by Bush after 911.

The full article just came out at The Progressive website and is important to read. Here are some of the creepy excerpts:

Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.
InfraGard is “a child of the FBI,” says Michael Hershman, the chairman of the advisory board of the InfraGard National Members Alliance and CEO of the Fairfax Group, an international consulting firm.

InfraGard started in Cleveland back in 1996, when the private sector there cooperated with the FBI to investigate cyber threats.

“Then the FBI cloned it,” says Phyllis Schneck, chairman of the board of directors of the InfraGard National Members Alliance, and the prime mover behind the growth of InfraGard over the last several years.

InfraGard itself is still an FBI operation, with FBI agents in each state overseeing the local InfraGard chapters. (There are now eighty-six of them.) The alliance is a nonprofit organization of private sector InfraGard members.

“We are the owners, operators, and experts of our critical infrastructure, from the CEO of a large company in agriculture or high finance to the guy who turns the valve at the water utility,” says Schneck, who by day is the vice president of research integration at Secure Computing.

One business owner in the United States tells me that InfraGard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation—and what their role might be. He showed me his InfraGard card, with his name and e-mail address on the front, along with the InfraGard logo and its slogan, “Partnership for Protection.” On the back of the card were the emergency numbers that Schneck mentioned.

This business owner says he attended a small InfraGard meeting where agents of the FBI and Homeland Security discussed in astonishing detail what InfraGard members may be called upon to do.

“The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage,” he says. “From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we’d be given specific benefits.” These included, he says, the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out.
But that’s not all.

“Then they said when—not if—martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted,” he says.

I was able to confirm that the meeting took place where he said it had, and that the FBI and Homeland Security did make presentations there. One InfraGard member who attended that meeting denies that the subject of lethal force came up. But the whistleblower is 100 percent certain of it. “I have nothing to gain by telling you this, and everything to lose,” he adds. “I’m so nervous about this, and I’m not someone who gets nervous.”

Though Schneck says that FBI and Homeland Security agents do make presentations to InfraGard, she denies that InfraGard members would have any civil patrol or law enforcement functions. “I have never heard of InfraGard members being told to use lethal force anywhere,” Schneck says.

The FBI adamantly denies it, also. “That’s ridiculous,” says Catherine Milhoan, an FBI spokesperson. “If you want to quote a businessperson saying that, knock yourself out. If that’s what you want to print, fine.”

But one other InfraGard member corroborated the whistleblower’s account, and another would not deny it.

Christine Moerke is a business continuity consultant for Alliant Energy in Madison, Wisconsin. She says she’s an InfraGard member, and she confirms that she has attended InfraGard meetings that went into the details about what kind of civil patrol function—including engaging in lethal force—that InfraGard members may be called upon to perform….

Black Panthers documentary

January 30, 2008

MLK, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, cointelpro, REX84, Iran-Contra, CIA drug trade, privatized counterinsurgency… this documentary tracks the historical through-line into the 1990s. You can see today how these forms of manipulation and control have continued to escalate and we continue to struggle with the aftermath of the 60s, 70s, 80s…

(more…)

kucinich

January 27, 2008

Kucinich is out of the race. In a practical sense, he made the right decision. He needs to defend his seat in congress and there are many pieces of legislation being pushed through right now that he is one of the few voices against. He has been so thoroughly shut out of the presidential race and his ideas have been so thoroughly shut out of the debate, we need him to focus on congress where he can hopefully still have an effect.

It has been immensely frustrating to see the possibility for positive social transformation that Kucinich represents be so cynically shoved aside. It is very important to continue pointing out this massive anti-democratic manipulation of our society by corporate power. It is important to recognize that this may be a temporary defeat to one approach to progressive change, but it is not a defeat to the ideas. If the time is not right to come up against the system in this way, how do we act at the local level to start implementing ideas such as a WPA-style program that would focus on meaningful work for community building and environmental sustainability?

Meanwhile, lets see if Cynthia McKinney is able to play the game in more innovative ways and make a presence for her Green Party candidacy.

Here is Kucinich on Democracy Now responding to segments from one of the many debates his ideas were excluded from:

Chris Hedges did an interview with Kucinich that is very worth reading. It points up the vast differences and potentials that have been silenced. In this excerpt Kucinich talks about his plan for a modern day version of the WPA as a means of counteracting the decimation of our economy and returning meaningful work to our society :

Hedges: Have we evolved into a corporate state?

Kucinich: I Look at it as the political equivalent of genetic engineering. That we’ve taken the gene of corporate America and shot it into both political parties. So they both now are growing with that essence within. So what does that mean? It means oil runs our politics. Corrupt Wall Street interests run our politics. Insurance companies run our politics. Arms manufacturers run our politics. And the public interest is being strangled. Fulfilling the practical aspirations of people should be our mission. How do we measure up to providing people with jobs? It was a Democratic president that made it possible for NAFTA to be passed, causing millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs that help support the middle class. …

NAFTA, GAT, the WTO, China Trade, and every other trade agreement that’s passed in Congress has been passed with the help of either the leadership of or with the help of the Democratic Party, knowing that each and every one of those agreements was devoid of protections for workers, knowing that if you don’t have workers’ rights put into a trade agreement then workers here in the United States are going to see their own bargaining position undermined because corporations can move jobs out of the country to places where workers don’t have any rights. They don’t have the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike. So what I see is that the Democratic Party abandoned working people, and paradoxically they’re the ones who hoist the flag of workers every two and four years only to engender excitement, and then to turn around and abandon their constituency. This is now on the level of a practiced ritual. At least a biannual ceremony, or every two years. So you can see how pernicious this becomes when the minimum wage increase was tied to funding the war. That, to me, says it all. Because it is inevitably the sons and daughters of working Americans that are the ones who are led to slaughter. Aspirations for health care.

So what I’ve done in my campaign is to advocate a full-employment economy. How do you do that? A new WPA-type program. We’ll rebuild America’s bridges, water systems, sewer systems, our libraries, our universities, our mass transit systems. And we do that with a program that I introduced legislation in repeated Congresses with the cosponsorship of a Republican from Ohio by the name of Steven LaTourette and the bill, HR 3400, provides for rebuilding America’s infrastructure. And I would put millions of people back to work in good-paying jobs. I would put millions more back to work in new energy policies where we would design, engineer, manufacture, install and maintain wind and solar microtechnologies which would be retrofitted into tens of millions of American homes and businesses, driving down our carbon footprint and dramatically reducing our cost of energy. This would be a major development in America to take us away from a condition where America is leading the way towards the destruction of our global climate. I call this part of it the WG: a Works Green Administration, where we turn government into an engine of sustainability, where the whole government becomes about moving towards green. The transportation plan, mass transit, housing and development—it’s about green housing, solar, natural lighting, using recycled material, the energy department stops incentivizing coal and oil and nuclear, and moves toward incentivizing wind and solar, bringing forward a whole generation of entrepreneurs just waiting to get into green energy solutions.

NAFTA becomes about the development of these new technologies at the alpha stage and then licensing them to the beta stage to encourage that entrepreneurial spirit. I mean we could create millions of jobs to prime the pump of the economy—that’s the way I think about this. Prime the pump of the economy, get people back to work rebuilding America and creating a transition economy and making us more green in all of our policies. Agriculture, for example: Bring back the concept of parity, work for sustainable practices in agriculture and help protect small farmers, get their products to market, get their price, get a fair price, protect them with local markets, help organic farmers. I could go through every department, and that’s what Works Green is about.

Addressing the practical aspirations of people, you’re looking for jobs, how to create jobs, how to create movement in the economy that benefits people. And our party just swings around the edges and always makes deals with the idea of protecting the status quo, which is war

The full interview is available here.

(more…)

do something local, do something real

January 25, 2008

Grace Lee Boggs on Bill Moyers:

interviewed on DemocracyNow:

STOP THE CIA

January 10, 2008

The real name of the War On Terror is the War On Democracy. This documentary by John Pilger is very important for understanding the current situation not only in Latin America, but also here in the U.S. and also the Middle East, and also all of Africa and the rest of the world…  How many times have neocon pundits claimed “What Iraq needs is a Pinochet?” How long until they make the claim that what the United States needs is a Pinochet as well?

headlines

January 6, 2008

from Democracy Now:

Giuliani Backer Calls For Extermination of Muslims

A leader of the group New Hampshire Veterans for Rudy has resigned from the Giuliani campaign after he called for the extermination of Muslims. John Deady made the comment in a videotaped interview with the Guardian newspaper.

John Deady, co-chair of state Veterans for Rudy: “He’s got I believe the knowledge and the judgment to attack one of the most difficult problems in current history and that is the rise of the Muslims, and make no mistake about it, this hasn’t happened for a thousand years. These people are very dedicated and they’re also very very smart in their own way. We need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people until we defeat or chase them back to their caves or in other words get rid of them.”

ABC & Fox Bar Six Presidential Candidates From NH Debate

In other campaign news, ABC and Fox have decided to bar six Democratic and Republican candidates from debates this weekend in New Hampshire. Democrats Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel won”t be allowed to participate in ABC’s Democratic debate on Saturday. Republicans Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter are being excluded from a debate hosted by Fox on Sunday.

Report: U.S. Has Become “Endemic Surveillance Society”

A new report by Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center has ranked the United States in the worst possible category for privacy protections. The United States is listed along with nations including China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia as having an “endemic surveillance society.” According to the authors of the report, the United States is the worst ranking country in the democratic world.

Navy Attorney Resigns To Protest U.S. Torture Policies

A Naval lieutenant commander and member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps has resigned his post to protest the government’s use of torture in interrogations. Andrew Williams was a legal officer and defense counsel in the U.S. Navy, where he both prosecuted and defended people in military courts. In a letter to the editor published in his local newspaper in Washington State, Williams likened the use of waterboarding by the United States to practices used by the Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Germany and the Khmer Rouge. Williams wrote “we were [once] far different from the Soviet Union and its gulags, the Vietcong with their torture camps and a society of surveillance and informers like Nazi Germany. We were part of the shining light on the hill who didn’t do those things. Sadly, no more.”

Bush Issues Signing Statement After Signing Sudan Divestment Act

President Bush has signed the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act—the legislation allows state and local governments to cut investment ties with companies doing business in Sudan. But President Bush also issued a signing statement in which he said he was reserving the authority to overrule state and local divestment decisions if they conflicted with foreign policy.

Cynthia McKinney

December 23, 2007

I’m tired of this “electability” b.s. The time has come to take a stand for ourselves. Take a stand for someone who actually believes in democracy and could have a chance in a real democratic system where the media wasn’t bent on marginalizing these voices. Call the electability bluff, vote for someone who deserves it.

give peace a chance

December 14, 2007

Both Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were excluded from yesterday’s Democratic debate in Iowa- sponsored by the Des Moines Register. It is the last debate before the caucuses and primaries begin. It is only the most recent and blatant marginalization of any voices in the campaign not speaking for the vision of the corporate elite. It begins with the whole myth of “electability”. A self-fulfilling prophecy in which the elite anoint their candidates. The media then hypes these candidates as being the only legitimate choices- all other voices are ridiculed as those of wingnuts. This leaves voters already feeling that they only have a choice between Obama and Hillary. This leaves most voters unaware that there are actually people proposing sane and workable alternatives. They are unaware they could choose a better world. The marginalization process continues by marginalizing their voices within the debates by limiting the number of questions they are asked. In one debate, Kucinich was not asked a question for the first 45 minutes.

Here is Mike Gravel’s response to this cynical b.s.:

I think it’s beautiful.

Mike Gravel for President 2008

Kucinich 2008

paths of victory: PAUL CHAN

December 3, 2007

The whole article by Holland Carter in the New York Times is well worth reading and there are images of the work, too:

The performances, by the Classical Theater of Harlem, took place outdoors in parts of the city particularly hard hit by Hurricane Katrina and slow to recover. In the Gentilly section, a gutted, storm-ruined house was used as a set. In the Lower Ninth Ward, where one of the largest black neighborhoods in a mostly black city was all but erased by roof-high water surging through a levee, the intersection of two once-busy streets was the stage.

The streets are empty now, lined with bare lots. A few trees and houses stand far off. Reclamation work by returning homeowners and volunteers is under way. But some residents live in cramped trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, here widely despised for its inefficiency. Under the circumstances, Beckett’s words sounded less like an existentialist cri de coeur than like a terse topographic description.

The “Godot” performances were not isolated theatrical events. They were part of a larger project conceived by the New York artist Paul Chan, 34, who is well known to the international art world for his video animations of paradises embattled and lost, and to law enforcement officials for his activist politics.

A board propped against a ruined church carries a hand-painted text: “Can these bones live? Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and ye shall live.” The words, evoking an apocalyptic future, are from Ezekiel.

Sometime in October, new words began to appear. Printed on small cardboard signs, they consisted of the same three phrases: “A country road. A tree. Evening.” — an exact quotation of Beckett’s scene-setting for “Godot.”

The signs were designed by Mr. Chan and posted all over the city, in a distribution pattern that had a rhythm of surprise. Drive through a “good” neighborhood or a “bad” neighborhood and you’d spot one. At a traffic light, another one. On the boarded window of an abandoned shopping mall, another.

After a while the signs came to feel like a shared secret, or some bounteous but anonymous civic gift, the way Keith Haring’s subway paintings felt in New York in the early 1980s. They added up to a visual network, art as a connective tissue for a torn-apart town.

In 2004 he was arrested after taking part in a demonstration at the Republican National Convention in New York. But, as is often the case, his political activity was twofold: in the street and in the studio, where as part of a collective called Friends of William Blake he designed a free New York map for protesters, pinpointing convention events, delegates’ hotels and public toilets.

More recently he has created gorgeous, shadowlike film projections of an everyday world in gravitational crisis — one was in the last Whitney Biennial — with bodies pulled down and objects floating away. At the same time he finished a filmed interview, broken by intervals of abstract color and light, with the civil liberties lawyer Lynne Stewart, who was convicted of passing information from an imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, to terrorists.

Since the only promotion had been the stealth advertising of Mr. Chan’s cryptic signs, there was no guarantee of an audience. But The Times-Picayune gave the event significant coverage, and thousands of people turned up for the performances over two November weekends. (A fifth was added to meet the demand.) At each, a gumbo dinner was served and the audience was brought into the seating area by second-line jazz bands.