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With each uprising, we see the same kinds of things.  Like the "woman in the red dress" at Occupy Gezi in Istanbul, this photo has gone viral is sparking outrage in Rio.  After the protests were over, this woman, walking alone, was assaulted on the street by police thugs.  It happens all over the world and we all know it. The police react in the same way to protests -- with force and thuggish bullying (though the Rio protest was primarly very peaceful at least at first).  The presidents and prime ministers and dictators react in the same way too, calling them terrorists or claiming that foreigners are fueling protests, and other predictable reactions.  How dare they question my authority!

APTOPIX Brazil Confed Cup Protests

pepper_spray_wide_a_560x375[1]

NY Daily Intelligencer interviews the photographer, who says she was standing alone near a corner at 11:20pm, after the protests were over.
The Story Behind the Brazil Protest’s Shocking Pepper-Spray Photo [Updated]

Three riot officers approached the woman and told her to leave. When she objected — the woman either questioned the order or insisted that she wasn't doing anything wrong, Caivano recalls — she was pepper-sprayed. "This policeman just didn't think twice," Caivano says.

The woman stumbled backward, "screaming and cursing." She was detained and taken to a police van.

Muckrock is a tool for filing FOIA requests.  The Freedom of the Press foundation funded or helped fund this project. I believe it was one of their first projects.  They filed FOIA requests on Hastings, just as FOIA requests were filed immediately after Aaron Swartz died.  
Featured Request: Michael Hastings’ FBI file
Did the FBI track the journalist who brought down a general?

With Hastings’ tragic death, we now have a window into what the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have collected about him. The FBI is required to release any requested file on an individual as long as the person consents or is no longer living.

MuckRock users Phil Mocek and Robert Delaware both requested his FBI file today. Given the FBI’s average response time of 107 days, it may be a long wait before we know whether Hastings’ activities caught the attention of the Bureau.

Muckrock clarified that the FOIA filings were filed before Wikileaks revealed that Hastings had contacted Jen Robinson, a human rights lawyer and a Wikileaks lawyer, hours before he died, telling her that he thought the FBI was investigating him.  Several journalists (editor of Gawker, David Corn, someone from LA Times) reacted really badly to Wikileaks revealing this (on Twitter).  I'm not sure if Julian Assange manages that Twitter account. Given the way they replied very personally, I assume he does.  I have considered Hastings' death suspicious from the start but there seems to be something odd going on with Assange.

I'm not sure why the journalists reacted like that or what relationship they had with Hastings.  Establishment journalists, on the whole, have treated both Assange and Hastings with contempt.  This NSA files project has, in my opinion, forced a lot of people (both in the establishment media and the blogosphere which are becoming more and more intermingled) to show themselves for who they are.  Assange has also claimed that he is working with Snowden on securing asylum.  Glenn Greenwald mostly refuted that.  Jen Robinson hasn't spoken on it yet. Eli Lake wrote an article about the conference call with Assange yesterday, and all of this, in which he says that Assange reportedly is not in good health.  I expect that there will be some more clarification today.  Cenk Uygar included some of this on his show last night as breaking news.

Hours Before His Death Michael Hastings Contacted Wikileaks Attorney Said FBI Was Investigating Him

Jeff Cohen, from FAIR, says he knows what political spying is like because from his past experience as a nonviolent activist, an ACLU lawyer and a journalist, he's been spied on before.  This is a really good article.
Trust me: Political Spying + Computers = Big Brother

There are four basic truths of political spying worth remembering in light of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s disclosures about phone record and Internet surveillance. These truths were obvious before computerized spying – e.g. when the FBI’s massive 1960s spy program led to harassment and violence against civil rights and antiwar activists – and are more obvious, and perhaps more dangerous, now that digitized information on millions of us can be so easily vacuumed up.

False “facts” and assumptions CIRCULATE WILDLY.
Political spying RARELY STAYS ON TARGET; they tend to wander.
Political “intelligence” is often the OPPOSITE OF ACTUAL INTELLIGENCE.
Big Brother has flourished under BOTH PARTIES.
[...]
Why do spy agencies so often wander away from their designated “hard” targets to “soft” ones? It’s easier and safer. The FBI devoted far more money and energy to disrupting Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent associates than to the murderous Ku Klux Klan. Today, trying to infiltrate closed, violent groups -- Al Qaeda-types, for example – can get you killed; hanging out in American mosques is much safer . . . and you can convince yourself you’re protecting the homeland.

Tim Shorrock, expert on the issue of the privatization of the intelligence industrial complex, advocates for nationalizing the industry again.  Congresspeople have hinted at this to Keith Alexander in hearings, and from his reaction it seems that this is something he would never consider seriously.  Will our Congress pass laws that would force it to happen or is there too much grift in it for them too, as part of the government and military revolving door? In any case, it's significant that Shorrock was given the chance to do an op-ed in the NYT.  A number of previouly ignored journalists and authors are rising to the top since the NSA Files broke.
Put the Spies Back Under One Roof

For decades, the N.S.A. relied on its own computer scientists, cryptographers and mathematicians to tap, decode and analyze communications as they traversed phone lines and satellite networks. By the 1990s, however, advances in personal computing, the growth of the Internet, the advent of cellphones and the shift in telecommunications to high-speed fiber-optic lines has made it difficult for the N.S.A. to keep up.

As the commercial world began to surpass the N.S.A., some in the agency began looking to the private sector for solutions. In 2000, thanks in part to an advisory committee led by James R. Clapper Jr., now the director of national intelligence, the N.S.A. decided to shift away from its in-house development strategy and outsource on a huge scale. The N.S.A.’s headquarters began filling with contractors working for Booz Allen and hundreds of other companies.

In 2001 the N.S.A. even outsourced its I.T. infrastructure “to push more of our work to contractors,” as its director testified last week. Mr. Snowden was a systems administrator on the program. That’s how he knew about the highly classified programs he leaked.

U.S. military presence in Jordan quietly grows

Even as U.S. military officials privately maintain there are no immediate plans for action against the Syrian regime, the American presence next door in Jordan is quietly growing as is an increased U.S. military capability to defend that nation.

At the moment it looks like the traditional military (joint chiefs) are the most sane leadership in Washington.  When I say traditional military I'm not talking about the president's Republican guard / commando teams, JSOC.  This is commentary from Pat Lang, and he is referring to a Bloomberg article.
Dempsey defied Kerry over Syria

Powell is a weakling compared to Dempsey.  We all saw that in Powell's abject surrender to the neocons in presenting evidence to the UN that he must have known was bogus.  He should have told the old biddy to stick it in her ear.  The Secretary of State has no authority over the armed forces.  How many divisions does Kerry have?  pl  

http://www.bloomberg.com/...

I'm sorry to keep piling these things on but in the world of war, there is no good news today.  No SOFA agreement means no immunity for our troops and I wonder what it means for the current proposal of 25K troops left in Afghanistan after 2014.  I don't know if that falls through if there is no immunity agreement but I think it does.  I have no idea if they would just be replaced with contractors, and no idea how many of the current > 100K contractors are supposed to stay in this agreement.  This thing with the Taliban in Qatar looks like a mind game being played with Karzai, but I don't know.  This is from MoonofAlabama.
Afghanistan: The Beginning Of The End Game

I agree with Pat Lang that there will never be a SOFA for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Karzai will find ways to stretch the negotiations out and avoid a decision. That is why such proposals as the Washington Post editors issue will not be taken seriously:

if there is to be a genuine political settlement in Afghanistan, the United States must drive home a different message: that it will do what is necessary to prevent a Taliban military victory for the indefinite future. If the insurgents believe they can wait out — or negotiate out — the United States, they will never engage seriously with the Karzai government.
The U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan and a short while later Congress will follow popular demand and cut off the money to the Afghan government. Then Afghanistan will have to find a new internal balance.The incapable Afghan security forces will fall apart and revert into ethnic-tribal militia.

The warlords are already positioning themselves. General Dostum, one of the slaughterers throughout Afghanistan's wars, had his bodyguards attack the governor of the northern Jowzjan Province because the governor did not agree with Dostum's plans to recreate the Northern Alliance militia and to restart the civil war.

In the end more than a decade of "western" war on Afghanistan will have resulted in nothing but death and despair and again a very uncertain future for that country. Unfortunately no one in power is likely to learn the lesson and avoid to start such other such futile wars.

The other day I wrote a diary about the Guardian story concerning the espionage conducted by the UK and US on the attendees of the 2009 G8 in London.  I got quite a bit of flak and also a lot of people wondering, what's the big deal? We know that countries spy on each other.  I laid out a number of reasons why I thought the story was an important one, but Amy Goodman asked Glenn Greenwald about the significance of it in her interview with him on Tuesday, so I thought you might be interested in hearing what he had to say if you didn't get a chance to watch the videos that were embedded in yesterday's What's Happenin' news and opinion section.  This is from the show's transcript.
Follow up on story about espionage at 2009 G8 in London

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn, right now the G8 summit is taking place. Can you talk about the latest release from Ed Snowden about the U.S. and British governments using Internet cafés, phone taps, etc., to spy on G8—G-20 delegates during the 2009 summit?

GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. I didn’t actually participate in that story, but the reason it was significant is not because it shows that the United States and Britain are spying, say, on the Russian president, which I think everybody expects and probably a lot of people want. The significance is twofold. One is that they are spying very aggressively on their own allies, under the guise of inviting them to an economic summit. But I think the much bigger part of the story is it shows just how sophisticated and deceitful the eavesdropping capabilities are of Western governments, and specifically of their intelligence and surveillance agencies.

And so, this is what I think is really the critical aspect of all of these stories, which is, there are these extremely invasive capabilities being assembled by these governments that allow all kinds of deceitful spying, obviously ones that even trick the Russian government in the efforts to protect themselves from spying, and we ought to have as part of our debate an understanding of what these capabilities are, so that we can have a real discussion about the kind of limits that should be imposed on them. So, that’s always what happens is, when these spying agencies create these capabilities, in the first instance, they direct them at other governments, they direct them at hostile countries, but they always end up creeping further and further toward domestic surveillance. And we ought to know what these capabilities are, so that we can anticipate them and plan for them and talk about ways to limit them and prevent abuse.

This might get hashed over so many times that people will end up being both bored and confused about it, but it's such an important issue that I think many of our journalist friends are going to keep at it until there is a very clear answer in everyone's minds about what is being done.  High level officials, all the way from the top down, and not being truthful about this, based on what people who have seen the FISA paperwork are telling us.  And I think it is not at all unfair to say that not only are they being untruthful, they are being deceitful.  This is a very big deal.  If high level officials are going to such great lengths to hide the truth about this, even if "well everybody knows anyway", it's a really big deal because while we might have a high confidence that we know, a lot of other people in this country don't.  Look what Adam Serwer, an MSNBC reporter, says about it.  That's an extraordinary thing for a journalist to say. "Adam Serwer is a former reporter at Mother Jones. Prior to working at Mother Jones, he was a staff writer at the American Prospect. Adam has written for the Washington Post, the Root, the Village Voice, and the New York Daily News."

Now let's go back and reexamine what Glenn Greenwald said about it on Tuesday too, after having seen FISA documents, having consulted with Snowden and perhaps others.  Remember, Greenwald said early on that we should not assume that there is only one whistleblower.  Also keep in mind that these FISA documents are so top secret that supposedly they are only held in two places.  When they are shown to a person responsible for Congressional oversight, they have to view them in a special room, alone with no staff, no notes, no copies.  Marcy Wheeler says that these generalized FISA orders are "locked up in a vault like the family jewels".

[To be continued tomorrow]
You're going to have to help me find some words for this because it makes me see red and I can't even think straight when I know the amounts of money we're spending on war and tax breaks for the wealthy, and I know about the extreme income inequality, and I see this happening.  A massive surveillance state, a Pentagon that cannot even account for trillions and can't even account for what it spends in a year, a burgeoning economy in DC metro with construction everywhere you look, yet another f'ing war... and they're going to cut an already pathetic food stamp program and take kids off of a school lunch program.  Plus, this is personal for me.
What Congress and the Media are Missing in the Food Stamp Debate

And yet here we are, teetering on the edge of cutting $21 billion from a SNAP program that is assisting one in seven Americans; it’s a cut that would remove 2 million people from the program and cause more than 200,000 low-income children to lose access to school meals. Even the Democratic-led Senate is proposing a $4 billion cut, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will result in 500,000 households losing $90 per month in SNAP benefits.

“More than two-thirds of SNAP benefits go to families with children,” says Frank. “This is trying to balance the budget with the bodies and brains of babies.”

“This farm bill is going to hurt poor people as one of the last sacrifices to the short-term deficit hysteria gods,” says Weill. “It reminds me of the famous line from John Kerry, ‘How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?’ Well, not atypically, members of Congress are offering up poor people.”

And it continues to spread, and I don't see any reason why it would not continue to spread in many places all around the world as the 1% vs. 99% problem is widespread.

This is a really good article.

When Drones Guard the Pipeline – Militarizing Fossil Fuels in the East

Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make a corporation a terrorist.

I’m in South Dakota today, sort of a ground zero for the XL Keystone Pipeline, that pipeline, owned by a Canadian Corporation which will export tar sands oil to the rest of the world. This is the heart of the North American continent here. Bwaan Akiing is what we call this land-Land of the Lakota. There are no pipelines across it, and beneath it is the Oglalla Aquifer wherein lies the vast majority of the water for this region. The Lakota understand that water is life, and that there is no new water. It turns out, tar sands carrying pipelines (otherwise called “dilbit”) are sixteen times more likely to break than a conventional pipeline, and it seems that some ranchers and Native people, in a new Cowboy and Indian Alliance, are intent upon protecting that water.

The Telegraph.
If Bernanke really shakes the tree, half the world may fall out

We no longer have a free market. The world’s financial asset prices have become a plaything of central banks and the sovereign wealth funds of a few emerging powers.
Julian Callow from Barclays says they are buying $1.8 trillion worth of AAA or safe-haven bonds each year from an available pool of $2 trillion. Nothing like this has been seen before in modern times, if ever.
The Fed, the ECB, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, et al, own $10 trillion in bonds. China, the petro-powers, et al, own another $10 trillion. Between them they have locked up $20 trillion, equal to roughly 25pc of global GDP. They are the market. That is why Fed taper talk has become so neuralgic, and why we all watch Chinese regulators for every clue on policy.

EFF Joins Over 100 Civil Liberties Organizations and Internet Companies in Demanding a Full-Scale Congressional Investigation Into NSA Surveillance

Dozens of civil liberties organizations and Internet companies—including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, ThoughtWorks, and Americans for Limited Government—today joined a coalition demanding Congress initiate a full-scale investigation into the NSA’s surveillance programs. This morning, we sent an updated letter to Congress with 115 organizations and companies demanding public transparency and an end to illegal spying.  

The letter comes even as dozens of groups are organizing a nationwide call-in campaign to demand transparency and an end to the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance program via https://call.stopwatching.us

Will Bunch in the Huffington Post. Will is an icon in Philadelphia and always a great read, in my book.
From Istanbul to Rio to Philly, This Democracy Thing Is Broken

It was just the other day that we were celebrating the 24th anniversary of the unknown hero that the world knows simply as Tank Man. You know exactly what I'm talking about, the solitary protester in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, who refused to move in the face of four Chinese tanks involved in crushing a pro-democracy movement. The image "went viral" in 1989 before most people even had the Internet, because it spoke to both our fears and fantasies of the 20th Century -- a valiant stand for personal freedom in the face of a totalitarian government, a memorable battle in our long slow drive to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.

In 2013, the world is rallying behind...Standing Man. His name is Erdem Gunduz, a Turkish "performance artist" who yesterday strolled into the heart of Istanbul's Taksim Square, which had been cleared of protesters just the night before by Turkish police firing tear gas canisters and water cannons. At 6 p.m. local time, the Standing Man dropped his bag and stood completely still, staring straight at a giant portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the godfather of modern Turkish democracy, and the Turkish flag. For the next eight hours, Gunduz did not move -- an act of defiance so simple, so dignified, that it electrified the nation. Some rushed to the square, others took up a solitary stance in the capital city of Ankara and elsewhere, and a few even stood with him in other nations around the globe.

The 21st Century was having a moment.



Action



Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Crowd-Fund a Court Stenographer for Bradley Manning's Trial

The trial of Bradley Manning will have an enormous impact on press freedom and the rights of future whistleblowers. Help us crowd-fund enough donations so we can hire a court stenographer to take transcripts of the trial. The government refuses to make its transcripts available to the public.

Your donation to this project will be tax-deductible. You can also donate by check.



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