This is here mainly
because I like it - and there is a nice picture under the link:
Activists flew a blimp
emblazoned with the words "Illegal Spying Below" over the National
Security Agency's data centre in Utah on Friday in protest against the
US government's mass surveillance programmes.
The one-hour flight was
carried out by the environmental group Greenpeace, digital rights
activists the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a conservative
political organisation, the Tenth Amendment Centre.
The 41 metre (135ft)
blimp, owned by Greenpeace, was adorned with a sign that read "NSA
Illegal Spying Below".
This also has a nice ending:
"Our right to privacy is
not a partisan issue. It's a human rights issue," said Michael Boldin,
founder of Tenth Amendment Centre, which advocates for decentralised
"This coalition gives great
hope for the future because it shows that people across the political
spectrum can set aside differences to work together."
Yes, I agree "that people across the political spectrum can
set aside differences to work together", although I am probably not as optimistic as
is Michael Boldin. But he is right it is a human rights issue
and is not a partisan issue: The NSA does every day enormous
amount of illegal spying on everyone.
SWAT Teams Claim They’re Private Corporations
item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig, and deals with
one aspect of the militarization of the American police forces (which
is quite frightening, at least in my eyes):
This starts as
follows (under a frightening picture):
Requests by the American
Civil Liberties Union for open records on Massachusetts SWAT teams
begat refusals to comply based on the premise that the forces are
private corporations rather than government entities.
At The Washington Post,
Radley Balko explains that a number of SWAT teams in the state are
operated by “law enforcement councils.” These councils are funded by
police agencies in a particular region and overseen by an executive
board made up primarly of police chiefs from member departments. Some
of the councils have incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations, meaning
they claim the legal status of private corporations, including immunity
from open records requests.
Let’s be clear. These
agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns,
wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power
to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which
conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because
they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records
laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT
teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get
or who they’re primarily used against.
One of the reasons
the militarization of the American police, that has been going on for
quite a while now, and in part consists in their being outfitted with
military material, is frightening is that this is the
repressive arm of
the government: the US government seems to be preparing, on a large
scale also, for the military repression of its own people.
This is just a small
item in that militarization: Now the governmental SWAT teams - paid
from the taxes, and in fact governmental bureaucrats - claim, completely
falsely, that they
are private corporations, and this exempts them from
control by the representatives of the people they may arrest, while
paid from the taxes, and while behaving as occupational forces.
3.BREAK THE KOCH MACHINE
item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This is directed against
the 5th and 6th richest men in the world, the Koch brothers. It comes
with a video that takes less than 3 minutes and contains most of the
text in the article:
And this is some of
the evil the Kochs do, in Reich's opinion, but I will suppose he is
right about this:
The Koch machine
Political front groups pouring hundreds of
millions of dollars into elections at every level of our democracy,
while disguising the sources of the money.
Giant advertising campaigns to convince Americans
climate change is a myth, the Affordable Care Act will harm them,
unions are bad, and wealthy people deserve tax cuts.
A network of think tanks designed to come up with
findings the Kochs want. For example, over $23 million for studies
arguing we should abolish the minimum wage or keep it where it is
A campaign to suppress the votes of minorities. In
the last presidential election, funding white “poll-watchers” where
minorities vote, leading to complaints of voter intimidation. And
peddling a Voter ID bill to state legislators across the country,
designed to make it harder for many to vote.
A nationwide effort to bust unions. Funding
anti-union campaigns in states like Wisconsin, and pushing an
anti-union law that’s been used in dozens of states to undermine
workers’ collective bargaining rights.
6. A long-term strategy to unravel America’s campaign finance laws,
even organizing secret meetings with sympathetic Supreme Court
Note that this is
evil from a point of view like mine or Reich's: I am quite willing to
grant that the Koch's themselves act as good capitalists should, which
means that they do everything for more profits for the very rich, and
they probably also will insist that is good.
My problems are
mainly with the last line of the article and the video:
Our democracy is
not for sale.
For I see at least
two things at variance with this:
A. The Supreme Court has disagreed: American democracy is
for sale, and has effectively been given away to the
rich, and especially the big corporations, in which the Koch
brothers are prominent leaders.
I agree with Reich
this is a highly lamentable fact, but it does seem to be a fact to me:
American democracy has been given away to the rich. Not only
B. A considerable
part of the American electorate, that is heavily propagandized,
either does not care or welcomes this, indeed generally on what I agree
with Reich are invalid grounds, but even so.
But OK...as Edmund
Burke said: If you're desperate... work on. I agree to that, but points
and B seem to hold, at least for the time being.
Rich Aren’t Job Creators
item is an article
by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
Actually, it is about
two pieces by Nick
Hanauer (<- Wikipedia) who is an American capitalist, who seems
to have a fairly clear perception, that is not at all like that of the
Kochs, although Hanauer is very rich.
First, he explains in
the following video of 5 min 50 s why the term "jobcreators" is falsepropaganda:
The rich are not jobcreators; the only jobcreators are a
middle class with sufficient income to spend. (But the middle class
is being destroyed in the US.)
This he does well,
and it is worth remarking (see Wikipedia) that
although this was supposed to be a TED-talk, and Hanauer is
a large and rich American capitalist, the talk was not chosen
to be a TED-talk because
Curator of the private
organisation Chris Anderson stated that he felt Hanauer's talk was
"explicitly partisan" and included "a number of arguments that were
I say: That shows the bias
of TED-talks: anything goes - as long as it is pro-capitalist in
the Republican way, for it cannot be denied Hanauer is
What sets me apart, I
think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen
in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of
entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?
I see pitchforks.
At the same time that
people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats
in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far
behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse
really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8
percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18
percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50
percent, just 12 percent.
But the problem isn’t
that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any
high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is
at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is
rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society.
Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will
disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the
And so I have a message
for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble
worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.
If we don’t do something
to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going
to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality.
In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated
like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a
highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an
uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.
I think that is right -
and note that he expects a police state or an uprising (and indeed part
of the explanation for the militarization of the American police - see item 2 - is that the government agrees with
him, and is preparing for the repression of an uprising by heavily
militarizing the American police).
Warrant, No Problem: How the Government Can Get Your Digital Data
and last crisis item
is an article by Theodoric Meyer on ProPublica:
It is more proper
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
from is quite pertinent.)
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: