Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Violence Against Demonstrators Follows Contested Result in Honduras Elections Violence Against Demonstrators Follows Contested Result in Honduras Elections Wednesday, 27 November 2013 13:10 By Sarah Blaskey and Jesse Chapman, Truthout | News (Photo: Jacques Morial)"What we want is to defend our rights and that they be respected. And the only way that our rights will be respected is to perform our duty, and our duty is to be here [protesting]," said one young man, eyes still streaming from the clouds of teargas that engulfed his school. 
 Jose (name changed for security purposes) is a student of the Autonomous University in Tegucigalpa. He and a few thousand of his fellow students were tear-gassed and beaten November 26, 2013, when they peacefully demonstrated, alleging fraud in the presidential election that took place two days earlier in Honduras. 
 Most of the protesters supported the newly formed, left-leaning Party of Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) in the elections. They say their presidential candidate, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, wife of deposed president Manuel "Mel" Zelaya, was the true winner. Their assertions of fraud are based on exit polls and numbers that were called in by table observers at all of the voting centers that projected Castro would win by a margin of up to 5 percent.
 However, with 68 percent of the total votes counted at this point, the Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), charged with overseeing the elections, declared an irreversible lead for the hyper-conservative Nationalist Party, which currently runs the country. 
 Students began what they say will be a series of protests against the fraudulent election results. Their protests took place in defiance of the cautionary words that Zelaya used at the LIBRE press conference Monday when he said that LIBRE supporters should take the streets only "if it is necessary."
 The demonstration began outside of the university around noon, when several hundred students blocked the streets. Not long after it began, national police in riot gear arrived and forcefully pushed the students back inside the campus, using military-grade tear gas and giant batons made out of long thick pieces of hardwood. Students began throwing rocks in defense. 
 Human-rights observer Franklin David Dercir said that the violence was started by the police. 
 "We asked [the police] to let the students express themselves freely. But before we knew it, they came from the front and from behind," Dercir said. "They surrounded us and started throwing teargas bombs. The boys obviously had to defend themselves." 
 Once the students were pushed inside the university gates, the police continued to assault them with tear gas and weapons. Many minor injuries were reported, and one young man was sent to the hospital with a broken leg. A dozen protesters were taken to jail after the violence subsided. 
 This violent repression of political protest came as no surprise to the protesters. The police force is corrupt and completely under the command of the ruling oligarchy, 12 families with absolute power in Honduras. 
 Lorena Espinal, a student protester said, "[The police] don’t go to the neighborhoods where the real delinquency is. Here in the university, where we have the knowledge, they come here and attack us. They don’t mess with the delinquents, because they protect the delinquents of power - the oligarchy that has dominated us."
 The election took place in an atmosphere of intimidation and militarization. The TSE controlled 14,000 troops and sent them to monitor the polling stations and transport the ballots. Many more troops were deployed throughout the country for potential riot control. These troops are some of the same forces that carried out the military coup against Zelaya in 2009. 
 Many of the generals that orchestrated the coup, including the leader Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, were trained at the School of the Americas. The US military also has had a role in training the Honduran military and police force and is responsible for massive arms exports to Honduras. In 2012, the United States exported $1 billion of arms to Honduras, although the specifics of what was exported are still unknown. 
 During the protests at the Autonomous University, we saw firsthand the use to which these military exports are put. The tear gas that was used against nonviolently protesting students defending their right to democracy was manufactured in the United States.
 Contrary to popular narrative, the military exports the United States sends to Honduras are not being used solely against drug traffickers and cartels. They are being used widely to repress Honduran citizens all across the country. From Bajo Aguan, where campesinos are driven off their land to make room for corporate African palm plantations, to Rio Blanco, where the Lenca people are struggling to protect one of their sources of water against a dam that is being installed, the Honduran military and police use their weapons and training to clear the way for the ruling elite’s interests. 
 The United States is not just complicit in the violent repression of Hondurans. It formally has endorsed an illegitimate coup-government, until now, run by the National Party’s Porfirio Lobo. Now, the United States is on track to endorse the current elections wrought with fraud and intimidation. 
 According to the US State Department’s press release on the elections: "Honduran and international observers, including those from the U.S. Embassy in Honduras, reported that the process was generally transparent, with strong voter turnout and broad participation by political parties. … The United States supports the democratic process and remains committed to continuing our cooperation with the Government and people of Honduras."
 Even the Carter Center, which has a good track record in truthful analysis of election processes, essentially has claimed that the elections took place under normal circumstances.
 These "mainstream" narratives are in stark contrast to many others that are getting less attention. Reports range from murder to kidnapping to simple intimidation and ballot fraud. 
 On Tuesday morning, a press conference was held at the office of COFADEH, Committee of the Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras, where many delegations of election observers presented their findings. All expressed deep concern over the electoral process and the results. 
 Azadeh Shahshahani, president of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) said, "We have serious concerns and questions regarding the validity of TSE preliminary election results. We are deeply concerned about the United States government’s characterization of the electoral process as transparent. The US government should refrain from assessing the validity of the elections at this early stage but should insist on the protection of Honduran civil society."
 The NLG press release went on to document many irregularities witnessed by their 17-member election observing team. The report states: "Additional irregularities were observed throughout the country, including allegations that smaller parties’ credentials were sold to National Party supporters for a seat at the voting tables (a TSE official has verified this). This threatens the integrity of the election process as individuals staffing the voting tables were in charge of counting ballots at the end of the day. There were also reports of the distribution of gratuities to National Party supporters. The NLG also documented inconsistencies with voter rolls and vote tabulations."
 All of the groups present at the press conference denounced the elections as fraudulent. Observers documented many irregularities ranging from already-marked ballots, to dead people whose names were on the lists to vote. Others documented cases of intimidation, ranging from frequent pat-downs at the doors of voting centers, to whole delegations of LIBRE Party table observers detained by paramilitary forces. 
 The groups also expressed concern over the worsening of human rights violations under the rule of the National Party. 
 Marta Flores, a speaker at the press conference, concluded, "Here a military dictatorship is continuing to deepen. Here the population is being criminalized. We cannot stop denouncing this and we publicly ask that this continue to be denounced." Copyright, Truthout. Sarah Blaskey is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, and a former volunteer at the WORT community radio station in Madison. She is currently in Honduras with a delegation of independent journalists. Jesse Chapman is a freelance journalist from Costa Rica. His work reporting from Central America has appeared in and Dollars & Sense Magazine. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Heroes to be honored during Plymouth’s annual Thanksgiving parade

Friends, Please enjoy your giving of thanks, and share the bounty with our disadvantaged brothers and sisters. Be with family and friends and become renewed. Then continue the struggle for peace with justice. Best wishes to all, Kagiso, Max Heroes to be honored during Plymouth’s annual Thanksgiving parade By Edward Donga The Patriot Ledger Posted Nov 16, 2013 @ 05:00 AM PLYMOUTH — Heroes are the theme of this year’s America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade, and organizers plan to recognize heroes from every era of the nation’s history. The parade will be held next Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. Olly deMacedo, executive director of the parade, said the heroes theme grew out of a float that was designed to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and the first responders who came to their aid. “We’re honoring them for what they went through, and we’re thankful for the people who survived and the people who helped,” deMacedo said. The parade honorees will also include include Squanto and the Wampanoag tribe, Paul Revere, John and Abigail Adams and President John F. Kennedy. “We couldn’t tell this story of heroes without talking about the first heroes of American history,” deMacedo said, talking about the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive their first winter. Members of the Wampanoag tribe will be participating in the parade for the first time. They will be at the front of parade, which depicts American history chronologically. Another hero who will be honored is Abraham Lincoln, the president who made Thanksgiving a federal holiday. Fritz Klein, a Lincoln portrayer from Springfield, Ill., will be on hand to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation. In addition to 14 floats, the parade will include marching bands, color guards, the Budweiser Clydesdales and classic cars. Although the parade is free, spectators are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item. America’s Hometown Express, a 40-foot float designed to resemble a locomotive, will be collecting food as it travels along the parade route. All of the donated food will be given to the South Shore Community Action Council, a nonprofit organization that provides services to low-income individuals and families on the South Shore. Edward Donga may be reached at Read more: Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The Administration Versus James Risen The Administration Versus James Risen Monday, 25 November 2013 10:31 By Charles M Smith, Truthout | Opinion In a major ruling about press freedoms, a divided federal appeals court ruled on Friday, July 19, 2013, that James Risen, an author and reporter for The New York Times, must testify in the criminal trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official charged with providing him with classified information. Risen in a 2006 portrait. (Photo: Fred R. Conrad / The New York Times) On July 19, 2013, a 2-1 majority of the Fourth Circuit Court ruled that a subpoena for Pulitzer Prize-winning (awarded for the reporting at the center of this case) New York Times reporter James Risen's testimony about a source for his book, State of War, would be upheld. Later, the full court refused to review this decision. The court relied on a 1972 Supreme Court case, Branzburg v. Hayes, to find that the First Amendment protection of freedom of the press does not include any right to protect sources in a criminal case. Judge Roger L. Gregory, a member of the court, wrote an informed dissent in the case in which he found good reason to support Risen, based in part on the ambiguities of the Branzburg decision and on common law. He noted that the book provided essential information about the CIA's inept attempts to find evidence of an Iranian nuclear program. This was especially important after bad evidence about an Iraqi nuclear program led to an unnecessary war. Gregory also found that the government has asserted only that these disclosures harmed national security but had presented no evidence of harm - based, of course, on claims of national security. This ruling is especially important as we find out more about secret government spying programs, now involving records of almost all US citizens. In light of the recent disclosures, we see how essential it is to protect solid investigative reporting - which the court declined to do. For democracy to work well, citizens must not only participate by voting, but be well-informed. The Risen decision, if allowed to stand, will do great harm by impeding the ability of all reporters to inform us about government actions. Any promise of confidentiality by a reporter to a source will now be weighed against the possibility that the reporter will be compelled to testify and threatened with prison if he or she refuses. The government will be able to classify any embarrassing information with much more security that it will not be revealed. Imagine the lack of Watergate information if "Deep Throat" felt he could not talk to Woodward and Bernstein because of this possibility. The classified information they uncovered was classified solely to protect President Richard Nixon politically. The Pentagon Papers case is also highly relevant, because much of what we know of the planning and assessment of that awful war is based on these classified documents being released to the media. As with all of these cases, there is also a real human being involved. I personally know Jim Risen. He reported the story of my attempts to protect the troops and taxpayers by holding Halliburton/KBR accountable for their mismanagement of the LOGCAP contract in Iraq. He is a family man who may be forced to make an excruciating decision whether to go to jail or violate a personal commitment not to reveal or harm a source. He has made it quite clear he will not identify his source. The purpose of requiring Risen to testify is also at issue. The summation of the case against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of leaking the information, by the court decision, cited above, indicates the government has identified Risen's source and established quite a case against him without Risen's testimony. Risen's investigative abilities have been a bit of a problem for spurious government secrets for some time and for several administrations. This attempt to bully him appears to be equal parts harassment and an attempt to intimidate future reporting. As you will find in the decision, both of these motives are not legal and would require quashing the subpoena. There are two possible favorable outcomes. The trial of Sterling could be delayed until the Supreme Court makes a ruling favorable to Risen. This would give the Supreme Court an opportunity to clarify the flawed Branzburg decision. Unfortunately, the current court is not that favorable to civil liberties. Given the makeup of our Supreme Court, the better solution would be for Attorney General Eric Holder to direct the US attorney to drop the subpoena for Mr. Risen's testimony. This would be in accordance with the recent guidelines which Holder has issued. It would also reassure us that President Obama is committed to an open society with the proper information to make political decisions. It is the right thing to do. Copyright, Truthout. Charles M. Smith, a little-known, retired, Army civilian employee hero, went up against the Iraq contractor KBR on behalf of the troops and the taxpayers and was demoted. Smith was chief of the Field Support Contracting Division of the Army Field Support Command in Rock Island Arsenal, and one of his main jobs was to oversee the enormous Army contract with KBR during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He told KBR he legally would be withholding 15 percent of all payments to KBR until their auditing systems caught up to their spending. His story, as told by The New York Times, can be found here. His new book, War for Profit: Army Contracting vs. Supporting the Troops, is available here. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

End the N.S.A. Dragnet, Now November 25, 2013 End the N.S.A. Dragnet, Now By RON WYDEN, MARK UDALL and MARTIN HEINRICH WASHINGTON — THE framers of the Constitution declared that government officials had no power to seize the records of individual Americans without evidence of wrongdoing, and they embedded this principle in the Fourth Amendment. The bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records — so-called metadata — by the National Security Agency is, in our view, a clear case of a general warrant that violates the spirit of the framers’ intentions. This intrusive program was authorized under a secret legal process by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so for years American citizens did not have the knowledge needed to challenge the infringement of their privacy rights. Our first priority is to keep Americans safe from the threat of terrorism. If government agencies identify a suspected terrorist, they should absolutely go to the relevant phone companies to get that person’s phone records. But this can be done without collecting the records of millions of law-abiding Americans. We recall Benjamin Franklin’s famous admonition that those who would give up essential liberty in the pursuit of temporary safety will lose both and deserve neither. The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated. We have yet to see any proof that it provides real, unique value in protecting national security. In spite of our repeated requests, the N.S.A. has not provided evidence of any instance when the agency used this program to review phone records that could not have been obtained using a regular court order or emergency authorization. Despite this, the surveillance reform bill recently ratified by the Senate Intelligence Committee would explicitly permit the government to engage in dragnet collection as long as there were rules about when officials could look at these phone records. It would also give intelligence agencies wide latitude to conduct warrantless searches for Americans’ phone calls and emails. This is not the true reform that poll after poll has shown the American people want. It is preserving business as usual. When the Bill of Rights was adopted, it established that Americans’ papers and effects should be seized only when there was specific evidence of suspicious activity. It did not permit government agencies to issue general warrants as long as records seized were reviewed with the permission of senior officials. Congress has a crucial opportunity to reassert constitutionally guaranteed liberties by reforming the N.S.A.’s overbroad collection of Americans’ personal data. But the Intelligence Committee bill squanders this chance. It would enable some of the most constitutionally questionable surveillance activities now exposed to the public eye. The Senate should be reining in these programs, not giving them a stamp of approval. As members of the Intelligence Committee, we strongly disagree with this approach. We had already proposed our own, bipartisan surveillance reform legislation, the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act, which we have sponsored with a number of other senators. Our bill would prohibit the government from conducting warrantless “backdoor searches” of Americans’ communications — including emails, text messages and Internet use — under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It would also create a “constitutional advocate” to present an opposing view when the F.I.S.C. is considering major questions of law or constitutional interpretation. Rather than adopt our legislation, the Intelligence Committee chose to codify excessively broad domestic surveillance authorities. So we offered amendments: One would end the bulk collection of Americans’ records, but still allow intelligence agencies to obtain information they legitimately needed for national security purposes by getting the approval of a judge, which could even be done after the fact in emergency situations. Another of our amendments sought to prevent the N.S.A. from collecting Americans’ cellphone location information in bulk — a capability that potentially turns the cellphone of every man, woman and child in America into a tracking device. Each of these proposals represents real and meaningful reform, which we believe would have fulfilled the purpose of protecting our security and liberty. Each was rejected by the committee, in some cases by a single vote. But we will continue to engage with our colleagues and seek to advance the reforms that the American people want and deserve. As part of this effort, we will push to hold a comprehensive reform debate on the Senate floor. There is no question that our nation’s intelligence professionals are dedicated, patriotic men and women who make real sacrifices to help keep our country safe and free. We believe that they should be able to do their jobs secure in the knowledge that their agencies have the confidence of the American people. But this trust has been undermined by the N.S.A.’s domestic surveillance programs, as well as by senior officials’ misleading statements about surveillance. Only by ending the dragnet collection of ordinary Americans’ private information can this trust be rebuilt. Congress needs to preserve the agencies’ ability to collect information that is actually necessary to guard against threats to our security. But it also needs to preserve the right of citizens to be free from unwarranted interference in their lives, which the framers understood was vital to American liberties. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, all Democrats, are United States senators. © 2012 The New York Times Company Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism 'Tyranny' and Urges Rich to Share Wealth Excerpt: "Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as 'a new tyranny,' urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff." Pope Francis kisses a baby handed to him as he is driven through the crowd in St. Peter's Square. (photo: AP) Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism 'Tyranny' and Urges Rich to Share Wealth By Reuters 26 November 13 Pontiff's first major publication calls on global leaders to guarantee work, education and healthcare Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff. The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March. In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticising the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare". He also called on rich people to share their wealth. "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills," Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday. "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" The pope said renewal of the church could not be put off and the Vatican and its entrenched hierarchy "also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion". "I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," he wrote. In July, Francis finished an encyclical begun by Pope Benedict but he made clear that it was largely the work of his predecessor, who resigned in February. Called Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), the exhortation is presented in Francis's simple and warm preaching style, distinct from the more academic writings of former popes, and stresses the church's central mission of preaching "the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ". In it, he reiterated earlier statements that the church cannot ordain women or accept abortion. The male-only priesthood, he said, "is not a question open to discussion" but women must have more influence in church leadership. A meditation on how to revitalise a church suffering from encroaching secularisation in western countries, the exhortation echoed the missionary zeal more often heard from the evangelical Protestants who have won over many disaffected Catholics in the pope's native Latin America. In it, economic inequality features as one of the issues Francis is most concerned about. The 76-year-old pontiff calls for an overhaul of the financial system and warns that unequal distribution of wealth inevitably leads to violence. "As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems," he wrote. Denying this was simple populism, he called for action "beyond a simple welfare mentality" and added: "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor." Since his election, Francis has set an example for austerity in the church, living in a Vatican guest house rather than the ornate Apostolic Palace, travelling in a Ford Focus, and last month suspending a bishop who spent millions of euros on his luxurious residence. He chose to be called Francis after the medieval Italian saint of the same name famed for choosing a life of poverty. Stressing co-operation among religions, Francis quoted the late Pope John Paul II's idea that the papacy might be reshaped to promote closer ties with other Christian churches and noted lessons Rome could learn from the Orthodox church such as "synodality" or decentralised leadership. He praised co-operation with Jews and Muslims and urged Islamic countries to guarantee their Christian minorities the same religious freedom as Muslims enjoy in the west. © 2013 Reader Supported News Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Los Angeles Considering Proposal to Ban Feeding Homeless People in Public

Los Angeles Considering Proposal to Ban Feeding Homeless People in Public By Scott Keyes There’s a perpetual yuppie belief that society’s true failing isn’t the fact that half a million residents don’t have shelter, but that some do-gooders have the audacity to give homeless people food. The latest epicenter of this thinking is Los Angeles, where the City Council is considering a ban on feeding homeless people in public areas after complaints from nearby homeowners. Los Angeles has the second highest homeless population in the country, at 53,800 individuals, according to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report. And although the number of homeless people went down nationally over the past year, it increased by 27 percent in Los Angeles. For a quarter-century, the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition, a group of community members who strive to meet homeless people “on their own turf, talk to them, and listen,” has served meals to the hungry every evening. On any given night, volunteers will hand out as many as 200 meals. However, the group is now facing a backlash from locals who don’t like the presence of homeless people near their homes. The New York Times quotes one such man, an actor named Alexander Polinsky, who lives nearby: “If you give out free food on the street with no other services to deal with the collateral damage, you get hundreds of people beginning to squat. They are living in my bushes and they are living in my next door neighbor’s crawl spaces. We have a neighborhood which now seems like a mental ward.” As bad as Polinsky thinks he has it, it’s safe to assume that any one of the 100 homeless people lined up for a meal would, given the chance, switch spots with him without hesitation. But complaints like those from Polinsky are beginning to fall on sympathetic ears among City Councilmembers, two of whom have already called on the city to ban groups like GWHFC from feeding homeless people in public. One of them, Councilman Tom LaBonge, called the charities “well-intentioned” but said the effort has devolved into a “free-for-all” that “has overwhelmed what is a residential neighborhood.” But GWHFC and other charities are critical for the homeless who rely on these meals to survive. “People here — it’s their only way to eat,” said one homeless man, Aaron Lewis, who lives on the sidewalk outside a 7-Eleven. “The community doesn’t help us eat.” Another man, Emerson Tenner, agreed: “There are people here who really need this,” he said while waiting in line for a meal. “A few people act a little crazy. Don’t mess it up for everyone else.” The proposal will need to pick up more support among the 15-member Council in order to become law. If passed, though, Los Angeles would join a growing number of other cities that have banned or passed significant restrictions on charities attempting to feed the homeless, including Raleigh and Orlando. This article was published at Nation of Change at: All rights are reserved. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Saudi-Israeli Defeat on Iran Deal A Saudi-Israeli Defeat on Iran Deal November 24, 2013 Exclusive: The Saudi-Israeli alliance hoped to sink a deal between Iran and world powers that limits but doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program, so the deal’s signing in Geneva is both a defeat for that new alliance and a victory for President Obama and diplomacy, writes Robert Parry. By Robert Parry The interim agreement restraining Iran’s nuclear program represents a stern international rebuke to the new Saudi-Israeli alliance which sought to thwart the deal and maneuver the United States into another military confrontation in the Middle East. Despite increasingly hysterical rhetoric from Saudi Arabia, Israel and their many media and political allies, the world’s leading powers – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – hammered out an agreement that increases chances for a peaceful settlement with Iran. Over the next six months, Iran and the so-called “p-5-plus-1” can now try to devise a permanent framework for ensuring that Iran keeps its word about not wanting a nuclear bomb. Secretary of State John Kerry (third from right) with other diplomats who negotiated an interim agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. (Photo credit: State Department) Surely, Saudi Arabia and Israel will not abandon their efforts to torpedo a fuller agreement – and one can expect more sabotage by members of Congress, elements of the Western news media, and countries, such as France (a disgruntled p-5-plus-1 member), angling for lucrative business deals with Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, this interim arrangement with Iran – on the heels of a negotiated agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal (which headed off a threatened U.S. military strike last summer) – means that Saudi Arabia and Israel were blocked on two high-profile issues in which they favored a violent solution that would have dragged the U.S. military into another Mideast conflict. On both Syria and Iran, the Saudi-Israeli tandem was stopped by a big-power alliance headed by the United States and Russia, favoring diplomacy. Thus, what we have seen over the past several months — though mostly missed by the mainstream U.S. news media — is a dramatic shift in the polarity of geopolitics, especially in the Middle East. The Saudi-Israeli alliance, with its combination of wealth and oil on the Saudi side and propaganda and lobbying on the Israeli side, has represented a new pole testing out its combined strength against the more traditional powers of Washington and Moscow. Since Saudi Arabia and Israel lack the “hard power,” i.e., the military might of the United States and Russia, the Saudi-Israeli alliance has sought to deploy its “soft power” of Saudi financial inducements and Israeli political and media manipulation. That has meant Saudi Arabia spreading petrodollars around to economically vulnerable countries like France — and to clients like the Egyptian military and Syrian rebels – while Israel puts talking points into the mouths of its many neocon puppets in Congress and the U.S. press corps. Regarding Iran, the Saudi-Israeli strategy was to torpedo the interim deal by getting France to blast a hole in the negotiations in Geneva while influential neocons in Washington harassed President Barack Obama sufficiently to prevent him from saving the sinking ship. Then, the thinking went, he would have few options left other than to join Israel in a bombing campaign against Iran with the Sunni royals of Saudi Arabia cheering the battering of their Shiite rivals. This Saudi-Israeli strategy was aided, apparently inadvertently, by the inept diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry, who – the fluent French speaker that he is – agreed to French demands for changes to the pending agreement two weeks ago, thus scuttling that deal with the Iranians. As the p-5-plus-1 negotiations with Iran took on water and foundered, the Saudis and the Israelis whipped up new waves of resistance from their buddies in Washington. There were congressional threats of new punitive sanctions against Iran and numerous op-eds accusing Obama of appeasement toward Iran. But President Obama did not back down. He fended off any immediate congressional action on new sanctions and worked with Russian President Vladimir Putin to salvage the Iran deal. I’m also told that Obama personally ordered Kerry to – this time – steer the Iran deal home. On one level, the interim agreement, signed early Sunday morning, only curtails Iran’s nuclear program for six months while further negotiations proceed, but the signing represents an historic achievement, the first time the United States and Iran have joined in a formal diplomatic pact since the Iranian revolution of 1979. Yet, perhaps even more significant, the agreement is a message to the Saudis and Israelis that their desire to be the small-power tail wagging the big-power dog has its limits, that Obama and Putin can form their own alliance in favor of diplomatic solutions. In facing down Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama also has done something that few recent U.S. presidents have dared even attempt, to stand up to Israel and its imposing lobby. [For other recent stories on this topic, see’s “Who Controls US Foreign Policy?”; “The Saudi-Israeli Tag Team”; “Why France Sank an Iran Nuke Deal”; and “A Showdown for War or Peace.”] Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - Nov. 27-30, 2103

26] Music for Peace – Nov. 27 27] Thanksgiving Open House – Nov. 28 28] Support Wal-Mart workers – Nov. 29 29] Vigil To Save Guantanamo Hunger Strikers – Nov. 29 30] Justice in Palestine/Israel – Nov. 29 31] National SodaStream Boycott – Nov. 29 32] No Silent peace vigil – Nov. 29 33] Ballroom dancing – Nov. 29 34] Olney Peace vigil – Nov. 30 35] West Chester, PA demo – Nov. 30 36] Silent vigil at Capitol – Nov. 30 37] Stop the drone war command center – Nov. 30 38] Authentic Reflection: UTOPIA – Nov. 30 39] Max is seeking a place to live 40] Support the Transform Now Plowshares 41] Sign up with Washington Peace Center 42] Join Fund Our Communities 43] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records 44] Do you need any book shelves or file cabinets? 45] Join Global Zero campaign 46] War Is Not the Answer signs for sale 47] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil ----- 26] – Music for Peace is an opportunity to discover music as a means to communicate and connect across cultures. Listen, play or learn. The event which takes place at 7 PM on the last Wednesday, Nov. 27, of the month at the HI Baltimore Hostel, 17 W. Mulberry St. will feature an open mic forum, guitar lessons and the chance to meet and connect with other musicians in the city. Call 410-576-8880 or visit 27] – Enjoy a Thanksgiving Day Open House at the Emergence Community Arts Collective on Thurs., Nov. 28 at 3 PM at 733 Euclid St. NW. If you're not able to gather with family this year, bring a dish, non-alcoholic drink or donation and spend time in the company of the ECAC family. RSVP to or (202) 462-2285. 28] – Support Wal-Mart Workers Strike on Black Friday, Nov. 29! This holiday season Wal-Mart and the Waltons expect to make huge profits again (400 billion dollars), while paying poverty wages and forcing workers to depend on food stamps and other government assistance just to survive. The workers are risking their livelihoods to speak out for all families. But instead of respecting and listening to them, Wal-Mart continues to illegally intimidate, threaten, and even fire workers. Demand that workers be heard, respected, and paid livable wages on Black Friday at 7:30 AM with UFCW Local 400 at 4301 Garden City Dr., Landover, MD 20785 (near the New Carrollton Station, Orange and Blue Lines). In Towson, gather on Joppa Road at 11 AM. See or Call for an end to retaliation against those who bravely speak out and a real wage of $25,000/year. Join the Baltimore demo on Joppa Road in Towson near the store at 1238 Putty Hill Ave., Towson 21286. 29] – On Fri., Nov. 29 at noon, participate in the White House Vigil To Save Guantanamo Hunger Strikers--NO MORE TORTURE! NO MORE WAR! The vigil is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and Witness Against Torture. See and 30] – A vigil for Justice in Palestine/Israel takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at 19th & JFK Blvd., Philadelphia, across from Israeli Consulate. It is sponsored by Bubbies & Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East. Email Go to 31 ] – There is a National SodaStream Boycott Day of Action – on Black Friday, Nov. 29 from 2 to 3:30 PM– to Celebrate Chanukah and the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People! See The action will take in front of the Columbia Heights Mall, at the Columbia Heights Metro Station on 14th St. and just north of the intersection with Irving St. Ask shoppers to refuse to buy SodaStream products, and call on local store managers to tell their corporate headquarters to stop stocking the products. Email or call 301-80-9224. 32] – There is no silent peace vigil on Fri., Nov. 29 from 5 to 6 PM outside the Cathedral of the Incarnation, University Parkway and St. Paul St. The vigil, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, will next take place on Fri., Dec, 6. War Is Not the Answer. Stop bullying. 33] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM. Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St. Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Nov. 29. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725. 34] – Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 10:30 to 11:30 AM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. [Route 97] in Olney, MD. The next vigil is Nov. 30. Call Chuck Harker at 301-570-7167. 35] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email 36] – There will be a peace vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol at noon on Sat., Nov. 30. Look for the blue banner with the message, "Seek Peace and Pursue It.--Psalms 34:14." The vigil lasts one hour and is silent except when one responds to the occasional questions. Go to or email 37] – Stop the killing...stop the drone war command center in Horsham NOW. Be at a protest on Sat., Nov. 30 from noon to 2 PM. Continue the Demand...Stop the Drone War Command Center at the Horsham Air Guard Station, Horsham, Montgomery County, PA, at corner of Route #611/Easton Road & County Line Road. Stand up...Speak Out...Protest and Demonstrate! Enjoy music, read the names of U.S. drone strike victims and their stories and hear bell-tolling. Go to or call 610-544-1818. 38] – On Sat., Nov. 30 from 5 to 8 PM at 733 Euclid St. NW, WDC 20001, Authentic Reflection: UTOPIA, featuring Mariah Maxwell, will launch a campaign to promote peace and positivity in the world while also providing tangible actions to improve the capacity of disadvantaged communities. Funds from this event go directly towards The Emergence Community Arts Collective for the purpose of housing. Help fund a socially responsible entrepreneurship program named Authentic Movements, started by John Harris III, founder of Authentic Reflection. Tickets cost $15. Visit 39] – Max is seeking a place to live. Let him know of any possibilities. He can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at net. 40] – You can support the Transform Now Plowshares resisters by writing the judge and the prisoners. Greg Boertje-Obed, Michael Walli and Megan Rice are currently in the Irwin County Detention Facility in Ocilla, GA, awaiting their sentencing on January 28, 2014. The three were found guilty by a jury in Tennessee in May on two counts. Judge Amul Thapar revoked their pre-trial release saying they were technically guilty of a crime of violence and must be held. Here are the addresses: Gregory Boertje-Obed 22090 Irwin County Detention Center 132 Cotton Drive, Ocilla, GA 31774; Michael Walli 4444, Irwin County Detention Center, 132 Cotton Drive, Ocilla, GA 31774: and Megan Rice 22100, Irwin County Detention Center, 132 Cotton Drive, Ocilla, GA 31774. You must make sure to include your entire return address on the outside of the envelope. No staples or paperclips can be included in your mail; no oversized envelopes. Magazines and books must be sent directly from the publisher or bookstore/Amazon. Photocopies of brief articles are likely to be permitted (based on our past experience). If you include inappropriate material or fail to comply with these rules, your mail will not get through—it will be returned to you. The second thing you can do is send a letter to Judge Thapar. We have suggested guidelines for your letter, and we are asking people to send their letter to Bill Quigley, lawyer for Mike Walli (address below), so they can be collected and delivered to the judge. If you want to send a copy of your letter to us, that would be great—our address is also below. Invite Judge Thapar to think about sentencing in light of the fact that this was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience intended to awaken the conscience of the nation, and no evidence was presented that it was an act of terrorism meant to harm anyone. You could write that you share the court's concern that Congress would write a law that wouldn’t allow a judge to distinguish between peace activists and terrorists, and are disturbed that the government defines the crime they stand convicted of as a violent "crime of terrorism.” As testimony of the defendants showed during trial, they carried out their action in a spirit of nonviolence and hope. Without making it the focus of the letter, you could mention that the action was carried out with the clear understanding of the illegality and immorality of nuclear weapons, and intent to uphold higher laws. Encourage him to consider downward departures from the high guidelines for the charges, and to use his discretion at sentencing to bring more justice into the situation by recognizing that the defendants are NOT violent terrorists as the government has implied through its interpretation of the crime; and remind him of the intentions of the three nonviolent activists: to follow the words of the prophet Isaiah to beat swords into plowshares, and build a safer and more secure world for all. Our purpose with these letters is not to reargue the case, nor is it to condemn nuclear weapons production—the judge is not engaging those issues at this time. Our purpose is to address the legal system’s distortion of the nonviolent action of the TNP resisters and to provide support to the judge for a sentencing decision that takes into account the nature of their action and their nonviolent behavior throughout their action. Letters should be sent to US District Judge Amul R Thapar, c/o Professor Bill Quigley, Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice, 7214 St. Charles Ave., Campus Box 902, New Orleans, LA 70118. If you care to send a copy to OREPA that would also be or OREPA, PO Box 5743, Oak Ridge, TN 37831. 41] – The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email: 42] – Fund Our Communities campaign is a grass roots movement to get support from local organizations and communities to work together with their local and state elected officials to pressure Congresspersons and senators to join with Congresspersons Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who have endorsed a 25% cut to the federal military budget. Bring home the savings to state and county governments to meet the local needs which are under tremendous budget pressures. Go to 43] – If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at 44] – Can you use any book shelves? Can you use any file cabinets? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at 45] – Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees. This is an historic window of opportunity. With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many. 46] – WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER signs from Friends Committee on National Legislation are again for sale at $5. To purchase a sign, call Max at 410-366-1637. 47] – Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to; call 202-682-4282. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

America exports inmates to private prisons. Eidelson reports: "Over 10,500 U.S. prisoners are currently being held in private prisons hundreds or thousands of miles away from the states that sent them there." America exports inmates to private prisons. (photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton) How America Exports Inmates to Private Prisons By Josh Eidelson, Salon 24 November 13 "Horrendous," says a man shackled for 36 hours on a surprise bus trip from Vermont to Kentucky Over 10,500 U.S. prisoners are currently being held in private prisons hundreds or thousands of miles away from the states that sent them there, according to a new report from the progressive group Grassroots Leadership. "The practice of shipping prisoners out of state is costly, it's unsustainable, it's hurting families ..." report author Holly Kirby told reporters Wednesday. "These transfers allow states to avoid making common-sense reforms." Grassroots Leadership, a group committed to ending private prisons and reducing overall incarceration, notes that four states currently entrust their inmates to facilities in other states, all run by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). This year, Vermont sent prisoners to Arizona and Kentucky; Idaho sent prisoners to Colorado; California sent prisoners to Arizona, Oklahoma and Mississippi; and Hawaii sent prisoners to Arizona, about 2,900 miles away. Kirby was joined Wednesday by interstate transfer critics including Danielle Rigney, the mother of a California inmate who was shipped to Arizona in July. Before that happened, she told reporters, "he continued to have hope for the future" and "was able to watch his sisters grow up, share in our joys and our sorrows." Now, she said, "because he is 15 hours away, each trip costs close to $1,000" and "his father hasn't been able to visit." Rigney added,"I can truly see him becoming institutionalized ... we are losing touch. We are losing the battle ... When my young son was arrested, he was a boy. He is now a man." The Grassroots Leadership report, "Locked Up & Shipped Away: Interstate Transfers and the Private Prison Industry," argues that such transfers are "diminishing prisoners' ties to family and community" while they "serve the interests of an industry that views prisoners as commodities and perpetuate our nation's mass incarceration crisis." Kirby charges that "With little public scrutiny, state officials have pointed to overcrowding as justification for sending incarcerated people to out-of-state prisons, rather than prioritizing decarceration and sustainable alternatives to incarceration to address prison overcrowding." The report includes the story of a prisoner, not identified by name, who "said he had no clue what was happening when officers came into his Vermont cell in the middle of the night, told him to get up and grab his things, and refused to answer when asked where he was going. Shackled to the person next to him, he endured the 36-hour bus ride, still without any idea where he would end up." The man called the practice "horrendous," and said "you're taking people who, whatever support network they may have, is gone." Asked about the report, CCA public affairs manager Mike Machak emailed, "We are proud that we've been one of the very beneficial tools that state policy makers have used to address prison overcrowding that the federal courts have deemed unconstitutional." Machak said the company "firmly believes we have the opportunity and responsibility to help inmates develop the skills and values they need to be successful when they leave prison." He added, "The inmates entrusted to our care are housed in state of the art facilities with access to rehabilitative programming such as adult education, vocational training and substance abuse treatment." Critics painted a very different picture. Monica Hopkins, who directs the ACLU of Idaho, described a "horrid history we have over 16 years of transferring inmates out of state, to facilities where we found abuse and poor living conditions, squalor, understaffing and deaths - including suicide and deaths within facilities that couldn't be monitored because of a lack of transparency, because quite frankly, they were out of state." Hopkins told reporters she found it "shocking" that Idaho would continue to keep prisoners in CCA facilities after the company "have been held in contempt of court ... and are actually leaving our state." The Grassroots Leadership report recommends that state lawmakers ban "the exportation of incarcerated people," and instead "prioritize strategies to reduce prison populations ..." In California, which according to the report currently has more of its prisoners out of state than the other 49 states combined, Californians United for a Responsible Budget statewide organizer Diana Zuniga told Salon that Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has "a huge responsibility" to effect reform. Given a Supreme Court ruling that the state's prison conditions violated the Bill of Rights, and a finding that expanding "good time" custody credits could cut the prison population by 20,000, Zuniga said, "The responsibility is really on the administration right now to move forward on those reforms, or to continue to have people in out-of-state facilities and continue to expand the system." Asked about the report and Zuniga's critique, state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation press secretary Jeffrey Callison emailed that "California would strongly prefer to have none of its prisoners housed out of state," but "the continuing prison-crowding court case has made it all-but impossible for California to follow through on its plan to end the out-of-state program on schedule" by 2016. While a September bill signed by Brown "does allow for more inmates to be sent out of state," said Callison, "it is important to note that sending more inmates out of state is considered to be the very last resort." Callison argued it "takes a selective reading of the facts to assert that Governor Brown and his administration bear a 'huge responsibility' for the fact that the out-of-state program continues." He added that Brown "has repeatedly said that he has no intention of approving the early release of thousands of inmates. On the scale proposed, that would necessarily involve the release of more serious offenders, which would place a burden of local enforcement, courts, jails and probation." © 2013 Reader Supported News Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks

Published on Monday, November 25, 2013 by Time Giving Thanks by Chelsea Manning I’m usually hesitant to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. After all, the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony systematically terrorized and slaughtered the very same Pequot tribe that assisted the first English refugees to arrive at Plymouth Rock. So, perhaps ironically, I’m thankful that I know that, and I’m also thankful that there are people who seek out, and usually find, such truths. I’m thankful for people who, even surrounded by millions of Americans eating turkey during regularly scheduled commercial breaks in the Green Bay and Detroit football game; who, despite having been taught, often as early as five and six years old, that the “helpful natives” selflessly assisted the “poor helpless Pilgrims” and lived happily ever after, dare to ask probing, even dangerous, questions. Such people are often nameless and humble, yet no less courageous. Whether carpenters of welders; retail clerks or bank managers; artists or lawyers, they dare to ask tough questions, and seek out the truth, even when the answers they find might not be easy to live with. I’m also grateful for having social and human justice pioneers who lead through action, and by example, as opposed to directing or commanding other people to take action. Often, the achievements of such people transcend political, cultural, and generational boundaries. Unfortunately, such remarkable people often risk their reputations, their livelihood, and, all too often, even their lives. For instance, the man commonly known as Malcolm X began to openly embrace the idea, after an awakening during his travels to the Middle East and Africa, of an international and unifying effort to achieve equality, and was murdered after a tough, yearlong defection from the Nation of Islam. Martin Luther King Jr., after choosing to embrace the struggles of striking sanitation workers in Memphis over lobbying in Washington, D.C., was murdered by an escaped convict seeking fame and respect from white Southerners. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in the U.S., was murdered by a jealous former colleague. These are only examples; I wouldn’t dare to make a claim that they represent an exhaustive list of remarkable pioneers of social justice and equality—certainly many if not the vast majority are unsung and, sadly, forgotten. So, this year, and every year, I’m thankful for such people, and I’m thankful that one day—perhaps not tomorrow—because of the accomplishments of such truth-seekers and human rights pioneers, we can live together on this tiny “pale blue dot” of a planet and stop looking inward, at each other, but rather outward, into the space beyond this planet and the future of all of humanity. Copyright 2013 Chelsea Manning Whisteblower Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) is the US Army Private (Pfc) who leaked military and government documents to the online media outlet Wikileaks which became the basis for the Collateral Murder video, which showed the killing of unarmed civilians by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. Leaks made by Manning also resulted in the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and a series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables that became known as Cablegate. In 2013, was convicted by a military court or the disclosures and sentence to 35 years in prison. Article printed from Source URL: Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

NSA Infected 50,000 Computer Networks With Malicious Software

Published on Portside ( NSA Infected 50,000 Computer Networks With Malicious Software Floor Boon, Steven Derix and Huib Modderkolk Saturday, November 23, 2013 NRC Handelsblad The American intelligence service - NSA - infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malicious software designed to steal sensitive information. Documents provided by former NSA-employee Edward Snowden and seen by this newspaper, prove this. A management presentation dating from 2012 explains how the NSA collects information worldwide. In addition, the presentation shows that the intelligence service uses ‘Computer Network Exploitation’ (CNE) in more than 50,000 locations. CNE is the secret infiltration of computer systems achieved by installing malware, malicious software. One example of this type of hacking was discovered in September 2013 at the Belgium telecom provider Belgacom. For a number of years the British intelligence service - GCHQ – has been installing this malicious software in the Belgacom network in order to tap their customers’ telephone and data traffic. The Belgacom network was infiltrated by GCHQ through a process of luring employees to a false Linkedin page. NSA special department employs more than a thousand hackers The NSA computer attacks are performed by a special department called TAO (Tailored Access Operations). Public sources show that this department employs more than a thousand hackers. As recently as August 2013, the Washington Post published articles about these NSA-TAO cyber operations. In these articles The Washington Post reported that the NSA installed an estimated 20,000 ‘implants’ as early as 2008. These articles were based on a secret budget report of the American intelligence services. By mid-2012 this number had more than doubled to 50,000, as is shown in the presentation NRC Handelsblad laid eyes on. Cyber operations are increasingly important for the NSA. Computer hacks are relatively inexpensive and provide the NSA with opportunities to obtain information that they otherwise would not have access to. The NSA-presentation shows their CNE-operations in countries such as Venezuela and Brazil. The malware installed in these countries can remain active for years without being detected. ‘Sleeper cells’ can be activated with a single push of a button The malware can be controlled remotely and be turned on and off at will. The ‘implants’ act as digital ‘sleeper cells’ that can be activated with a single push of a button. According to the Washington Post, the NSA has been carrying out this type of cyber operation since 1998. The Dutch intelligence services - AIVD and MIVD – have displayed interest in hacking. The Joint Sigint Cyber Unit – JSCU – was created early in 2013. The JSCU is an inter-agency unit drawing on experts with a range of IT skills. This new unit is prohibited by law from performing the type of operations carried out by the NSA as Dutch law does not allow this type of internet searches. The NSA declined to comment and referred to the US Government. A government spokesperson states that any disclosure of classified material is harmful to our national security. Source URL: Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Respond to Vatican survey

Please be sure to respond to the Archdiocese of Baltimore questionnaire #5 On Unions of Persons of the Same Sex. The Archdiocese will collate all the responses as part of the Archbishop's submission to the Vatican. Official request from the Vatican and the U.S. Bishops: LEAD (lgbt ministry at St Matthew) met with Bishop Denis Madden last night [Wed 11/20/13] and he stressed that the Vatican will accept only responses from dioceses, no individuals nor organizations. Therefore it is very important to use the on line survey [or paper copy to be available in the parish] and submit your responses no later than midnight December 15. The Archdiocese must submit it collated responses to the Vatican by December 31. Bishop Madden acknowledged this is not a scientifically professional survey but that amassing all the data from around the world will demonstrate the need for competent researchers to develop a more reliable instrument for the Synod of Bishops in 2015 on the same topics. Also all the responses from members in the Archdiocese will be maintained and could be valuable data for developing future programs and dialogue with the Archbishop. Archbishop Lori concluded his letter saying: Finally, I would very much like to continue our conversation for the good of our Church and the good of those we are humbly called to serve. This opportunity/invitation could be as significant for the people of God as the election itself of Pope Francis. Vatican II can come alive! NOTE: the request is for active and inactive Catholics to respond. Therefore this is an opportunity, an invitation from the Pope, for everyone to say what they want to say. Please retain a copy of your own responses. IF NOTHING ELSE, PLEASE GIVE YOUR ATTENTION TO QUESTION #5 - ON UNIONS OF PERSONS OF THE SAME SEX. Thanks very much, Dick Ullrich 3617 Mary Avenue Baltimore, MD 21206 410-319-9472 410-294-8965 c

I Was Virginia's Executioner—Here's What I Learned Published on Alternet ( The Guardian [1] / By Jerry Givens [2] I Was Virginia's Executioner—Here's What I Learned November 21, 2013 | Jerry Givens worked for 25 years for Virginia [3]'s department of corrections. He was the state's executioner from 1982 to 1999 and administered the death penalty to 62 inmates, some by lethal injection and some by electrocution. For many years, even his own family did not know the truth about his job. Now Jerry campaigns to end capital punishment [4]. He is the author of Another Day Not Promised [5] and is on the board of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty [6]. Today he opens up on Comment is free about his old job, what caused him to change his mind and the realities of America's criminal justice system. [Readers posted questions for Jerry in the comments section on The Guardian's story page [7]. He responded to as many as he could.] 1. Can you describe what the day was like when you had to perform an execution? On the day before, we begin what we call a 24-hour "death watch". Normally I would be there starting at 9pm during the death watch and spend the night at the institution in case something would occur during that period. Everything is reported that happens. We have security guys for the "death team", a special group of people who simply maintain security for the death chamber. Inmates arrive at Greensville [8], the institution with the death chamber, 15 days prior to the execution date. For those days, we have to provide security around the clock. We would test the equipment frequently, whether we had an execution or not. But on the day of an execution or during that week, we would have all sorts of training. We train for the worst. We train for the man to put up resistance. Most would not, but sometimes it would get rough. On the day of the execution, I could almost tell if the condemned had already accepted that this was it for them or not. Some folks resigned themselves to it. I would try to see if the inmate is at that level and if he's ready or not. If there's tension in the building, you could sense it. He would prepare and get things together for last meal and who he wanted to see. Most of the time, during the actual execution, I'm back behind the partition, behind a curtain with my equipment. I'm alone as the executioner, but we had a crew that would go and escort the inmate and place him on the gurney or in the chair and strap him down and a doctor who would confirm the heart had stopped after. 2. Can you explain the difference between the types of executions you had to perform? When I first started, it was only death by electrocution. Electrocution consists of 2,400 to 3,000 volts. The condemned receives 45 seconds of a high volt shock and 45 seconds of the low cycle. It takes about 2.5 minutes. Then there is a five minute grace period to let the body cool down. Then a physician goes in the room with a stethoscope to see if there is a heartbeat. Back in the mid-1990s, Virginia decided to go with lethal injection instead. That consists of seven tubes that are injected into the left arm. Three tubes of chemicals and four that are flush. So you administer the first chemical (sodium pentothal), then a flush, then the second chemical (pancuronium), then a flush, then the third chemical (potassium chloride) and then a final flush at the end. You have to keep people who remove the body from being exposed to chemicals. If I had a choice, I would choose death by electrocution. That's more like cutting your lights off and on. It's a button you push once and then the machine runs by itself. It relieves you from being attached to it in some ways. You can't see the current go through the body. But with chemicals, it takes a while because you're dealing with three separate chemicals. You are on the other end with a needle in your hand. You can see the reaction of the body. You can see it going down the clear tube. So you can actually see the chemical going down the line and into the arm and see the effects of it. You are more attached to it. I know because I have done it. Death by electrocution in some ways seems more humane. 3. What caused you to change your opinion on the death penalty? It's not something that I enjoyed. I never enjoyed none of it. When I accepted the job, there was nobody on death row in Virginia. A person had to be foolish to commit that kind of crime knowing they could be put to death. It's like volunteer suicide. I never thought that 100-some people would end up on death row. I had no idea that I would actually execute 62 people. I didn't know that when I signed up. Even when I was on the job, I was always asking, what can I do to prevent these guys before they get there? I used to bring kids down from schools. I would allow the kids to sit in the chair and explain that I want to see kids get an education and remove themselves from violence or you'll end up here. I know it helped. I used to get letters. They would write back saying thank you for steering them in the right direction. I also never understood why we would spend money on the death penalty instead of spending money to try to prevent these people from getting in the system in the first place. When I found out they had some innocent people on death row that came almost hours before I had to take their life, then I knew we had to change. That would be on me for the rest of my life. I honestly believe God stepped in and said enough is enough. I was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. I remember the day because I was supposed to have an execution soon, March 16, 1999. They were after a friend of mine. To make a long story short, the grand jury said I was involved in money laundering and perjury for buying cars for my friend who obtained the money illegally. I told them I thought he had straightened out. But I did 57 months in a federal institution [9]. I knew then that the system wasn't right. I don't believe I had a fair trial, so I realized maybe some of the people I executed weren't given a fair trial. 4. What kind of training did you need to be an executioner? It was complicated for me. When I was asked, death row was empty in Virginia. I was thinking to myself, I didn't agree, but I would give it some thought. Then after the first execution in 1982 that I assisted, the guy who did it got sick. He just stopped working and retired. And I took over from there. We had so many executions so close together. After the first one, I did it by myself in 1984. I always said once I get to 100, I was going to stop. I'm glad I never got that far. I guess I had a reputation in the prison system. I would put my life on the line for a lot of inmates and people. I would go in and fight guys with my bare hands to try to stop the violence. I did my job. I saw it as saving the lives of people, stopping violence. One day I was saving people. Then I was taking lives. I had to transform myself into someone who could go and take the life of another person. It's not an easy task to do. When I accepted the job, I never told my wife or kids or anybody. I didn't want them to go through anything I had to go through. If I told someone, they would tell someone. It would have been like a snowball and gotten bigger and bigger and everyone would know exactly what I was doing. 5. What was your annual salary when working in the Virginia prison system? Were you paid extra to perform executions? We got roughly $39,000 to $50,000. It depended what pay grade you were at as a correctional officer. When I resigned, it was closer to $50,000. We got benefits, but I did not get any extra pay as the executioner. Sometimes, I think if I hadn't been selected to be the executioner, then I think that I would have worked my 27 years without any problems and settled for my retirement. But when I was forced to resign, it took away everything. I lost my pension. If I had known what I had to go through as an executioner, I wouldn't have done it. You can't tell me I can take the life of people and go home and be normal. 6. What's the biggest mistake you've ever made while working? Biggest mistake I ever made was taking the job as an executioner. Life is short. Life only consists of 24 hours a day. Death is going to come to us. We don't have to kill one another. Source URL: Links: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Captain of Seized Greenpeace Ship Speaks From Russia November 23, 2013 Captain of Seized Greenpeace Ship Speaks From Russia By ANDREW E. KRAMER MOSCOW — The Russian commandos who boarded a Greenpeace ship in the Arctic two months ago were coldly professional at first, pointing automatic weapons at terrified crew members and forcing them to kneel. But after discerning no threat, they began plundering the crew’s alcohol supply, and quickly descended into drunken revelry. So went the account of Peter Willcox, the American captain of the ship, the Arctic Sunrise, in his first interview since his release from detention. He recalled his odyssey through the Russian legal system, from arrest at sea to confinement in grim, concrete prisons where guards showed occasional gestures of kindness. “The way we were arrested was quite scary,” Mr. Willcox, 60, said on Saturday by telephone from St. Petersburg, where all but two of the 30 people who were on board the Arctic Sunrise have been released on bail ahead of a trial in February. About a dozen commandos descended onto the ship on Sept. 19. They “wore balaclavas and uniforms with no insignia of any kind, and rappelled out of a helicopter,” he said. “They made the crew kneel on deck and took over the ship as quickly as possible. They had machine guns out.” The commandos locked most of the crew members, who had been protesting oil drilling in the Arctic to the north of Russia, in their cabins. But soon enough, as it became clear that the crew posed no real danger, the air of sleek professionalism disappeared. Besides, they knew there had to be alcohol on board. “The first thing they did was search everybody’s cabins and steal everybody’s liquor, and then they proceeded to drink it,” Mr. Willcox said of the first night under Russian command. The Russians staggered on the deck and were “quite drunk,” he said. Mr. Willcox, who was locked in his cabin like the others, likened the party on his ship that night to a maritime tradition “from the square-rigger days,” when the first booty usually found by an invading crew was the rum. He had never spent more than a night in jail for Greenpeace before, and he described his detention as trying. At one point, Mr. Willcox recalled kneeling in despair in the corner of a prison yard, in a freezing rain, contemplating spending a decade in the Russian gulag. “I would sit and wonder, ‘How the heck did I get in this situation?’ ” he said. One guard, though, allowed him to walk without handcuffs after meeting with investigators on a sunny day. Before being transferred to St. Petersburg, the 28 crew members and two freelance journalists who had been on board the Arctic Sunrise were held in a jail in Murmansk, a glum northern port. There, Mr. Willcox said, he was served fish-head stew, which he enjoyed, and cold mashed potatoes with herring, which went down with some difficulty. He and the other activists face charges of hooliganism, punishable by up to seven years in prison. Russian prosecutors initially also pressed, but now appear to be ready to drop, charges of piracy, which carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Greenpeace International sent the ship to the Pechora Sea to draw attention to the potential environmental threats caused by a rush to exploit natural resources in the Arctic. The activists wanted to hang banners on a drilling platform operated by Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled energy giant. Mr. Willcox said the Arctic Sunrise was certainly in international waters when the commandos boarded it. Russia says the activists threatened a complicated and dangerous piece of industrial equipment, in a region where impromptu protests cannot be tolerated because they increase the risk of accidents. For Greenpeace, it was the worst crisis since the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior by French agents in a New Zealand harbor in 1985. One crew member was killed in that attack. Mr. Willcox, a 32-year veteran of Greenpeace, was also captain of the Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed. © 2012 The New York Times Company Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Chomsky: Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America

Published on Alternet ( Zuccotti Park Press [1] / By Noam Chomsky [2] Chomsky: Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America November 21, 2013 | This is an excerpt from the just released 2nd edition of Noam Chomsky’s OCCUPY: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity [3], edited by Greg Ruggiero and published by Zuccotti Park Press. [4] Chris Steele interviews Chomsky. An article that recently came out inRolling Stone, titled “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail,” by Matt Taibbi, asserts that the government is afraid to prosecute powerful bankers, such as those running HSBC. Taibbi says that there’s “an arrestable class and an unarrestable class.” What is your view on the current state of class war in the U.S.? Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized. We don’t use the term “working class” here because it’s a taboo term. You’re supposed to say “middle class,” because it helps diminish the understanding that there’s a class war going on. It’s true that there was a one-sided class war, and that’s because the other side hadn’t chosen to participate, so the union leadership had for years pursued a policy of making a compact with the corporations, in which their workers, say the autoworkers—would get certain benefits like fairly decent wages, health benefits and so on. But it wouldn’t engage the general class structure. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Canada has a national health program and the United States doesn’t. The same unions on the other side of the border were calling for health care for everybody. Here they were calling for health care for themselves and they got it. Of course, it’s a compact with corporations that the corporations can break anytime they want, and by the 1970s they were planning to break it and we’ve seen what has happened since. This is just one part of a long and continuing class war against working people and the poor. It’s a war that is conducted by a highly class-conscious business leadership, and it’s one of the reasons for the unusual history of the U.S. labor movement. In the U.S., organized labor has been repeatedly and extensively crushed, and has endured a very violent history as compared with other countries. In the late 19th century there was a major union organization, Knights of Labor, and also a radical populist movement based on farmers. It’s hard to believe, but it was based in Texas, and it was quite radical. They wanted their own banks, their own cooperatives, their own control over sales and commerce. It became a huge movement that spread over major farming areas. The Farmers’ Alliance did try to link up with the Knights of Labor, which would have been a major class-based organization if it had succeeded. But the Knights of Labor were crushed by violence, and the Farmers’ Alliance was dismantled in other ways. As a result, one of the major popular democratic forces in American history was essentially dismantled. There are a lot of reasons for it, one of which was that the Civil War has never really ended. One effect of the Civil War was that the political parties that came out of it were sectarian parties, so the slogan was, “You vote where you shoot,” and that remains the case. Take a look at the red states and the blue states in the last election: It’s the Civil War. They’ve changed party labels, but other than that, it’s the same: sectarian parties that are not class-based because divisions are along different lines. There are a lot of reasons for it. The enormous benefits given to the very wealthy, the privileges for the very wealthy here, are way beyond those of other comparable societies and are part of the ongoing class war. Take a look at CEO salaries. CEOs are no more productive or brilliant here than they are in Europe, but the pay, bonuses, and enormous power they get here are out of sight. They’re probably a drain on the economy, and they become even more powerful when they are able to gain control of policy decisions. That’s why we have a sequester over the deficit and not over jobs, which is what really matters to the population. But it doesn’t matter to the banks, so the heck with it. It also illustrates the consider- able shredding of the whole system of democracy. So, by now, they rank people by income level or wages roughly the same: The bottom 70 percent or so are virtually disenfranchised; they have almost no influence on policy, and as you move up the scale you get more influence. At the very top, you basically run the show. A good topic to research, if possible, would be “why people don’t vote.” Nonvoting is very high, roughly 50 percent, even in presidential elections—much higher in others. The attitudes of people who don’t vote are studied. First of all, they mostly identify themselves as Democrats. And if you look at their attitudes, they are mostly Social Democratic. They want jobs, they want benefits, they want the government to be involved in social services and so on, but they don’t vote, partly, I suppose, because of the impediments to voting. It’s not a big secret. Republicans try really hard to prevent people from voting, because the more that people vote, the more trouble they are in. There are other reasons why people don’t vote. I suspect, but don’t know how to prove, that part of the reason people don’t vote is they just know their votes don’t make any difference, so why make the effort? So you end up with a kind of plutocracy in which the public opinion doesn’t matter much. It is not unlike other countries in this respect, but more extreme. All along, it’s more extreme. So yes, there is a constant class war going on. The case of labor is crucial, because it is the base of organization of any popular opposition to the rule of capital, and so it has to be dismantled. There’s a tax on labor all the time. During the 1920s, the labor movement was virtually smashed by Wilson’s Red Scare and other things. In the 1930s, it reconstituted and was the driving force of the New Deal, with the CIO organizing and so on. By the late 1930s, the business classes were organizing to try to react to this. They began, but couldn’t do much during the war, because things were on hold, but immediately after the war it picked up with the Taft-Hartley Act and huge propaganda campaigns, which had massive effect. Over the years, the effort to undermine the unions and labor generally succeeded. By now, private-sector unionization is very low, partly because, since Reagan, government has pretty much told employers, “You know you can violate the laws, and we’re not going to do anything about it.” Under Clinton, NAFTA offered a method for employers to illegally undermine labor organizing by threatening to move enterprises to Mexico. A number of illegal operations by employers shot up at that time. What’s left are private-sector unions, and they’re under bipartisan attack. They’ve been protected somewhat because the federal laws did function for the public-sector unions, but now they’re under bipartisan attack. When Obama declares a pay freeze for federal workers, that’s actually a tax on federal workers. It comes to the same thing, and, of course, this is right at the time we say that we can’t raise taxes on the very rich. Take the last tax agreement where the Republicans claimed, “We already gave up tax increases.” Take a look at what happened. Raising the payroll tax, which is a tax on working people, is much more of a tax increase than raising taxes on the super-rich, but that passed quietly because we don’t look at those things. The same is happening across the board. There are major efforts being made to dismantle Social Security, the public schools, the post office—anything that benefits the population has to be dismantled. Efforts against the U.S. Postal Service are particularly surreal. I’m old enough to remember the Great Depression, a time when the country was quite poor but there were still postal deliveries. Today, post offices, Social Security, and public schools all have to be dismantled because they are seen as being based on a principle that is regarded as extremely dangerous. If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That’s not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public. That’s why unions had the slogan, “solidarity,” even though they may not have lived up to it. And that’s what really counts: solidarity, mutual aid, care for one another and so on. And it’s really important for power systems to undermine that ideologically, so huge efforts go into it. Even trying to stimulate consumerism is an effort to undermine it. Having a market society automatically carries with it an undermining of solidarity. For example, in the market system you have a choice: You can buy a Toyota or you can buy a Ford, but you can’t buy a subway because that’s not offered. Market systems don’t offer common goods; they offer private consumption. If you want a subway, you’re going to have to get together with other people and make a collective decision. Otherwise, it’s simply not an option within the market system, and as democracy is increasingly undermined, it’s less and less of an option within the public system. All of these things converge, and they’re all part of general class war. Can you give some insight on how the labor movement could rebuild in the United States? Well, it’s been done before. Each time labor has been attacked—and as I said, in the 1920s the labor movement was practically destroyed—popular efforts were able to reconstitute it. That can happen again. It’s not going to be easy. There are institutional barriers, ideological barriers, cultural barriers. One big problem is that the white working class has been pretty much abandoned by the political system. The Democrats don’t even try to organize them anymore. The Republicans claim to do it; they get most of the vote, but they do it on non-economic issues, on non-labor issues. They often try to mobilize them on the grounds of issues steeped in racism and sexism and so on, and here the liberal policies of the 1960s had a harmful effect because of some of the ways in which they were carried out. There are some pretty good studies of this. Take busing to integrate schools. In principle, it made some sense, if you wanted to try to overcome segregated schools. Obviously, it didn’t work. Schools are probably more segregated now for all kinds of reasons, but the way it was originally done undermined class solidarity. For example, in Boston there was a program for integrating the schools through busing, but the way it worked was restricted to urban Boston, downtown Boston. So black kids were sent to the Irish neighborhoods and conversely, but the suburbs were left out. The suburbs are more affluent, professional and so on, so they were kind of out of it. Well, what happens when you send black kids into an Irish neighborhood? What happens when some Irish telephone linemen who have worked all their lives finally got enough money to buy small houses in a neighborhood where they want to send their kids to the local school and cheer for the local football team and have a community, and so on? All of a sudden, some of their kids are being sent out, and black kids are coming in. How do you think at least some of these guys will feel? At least some end up being racists. The suburbs are out of it, so they can cluck their tongues about how racist everyone is elsewhere, and that kind of pattern was carried out all over the country. The same has been true of women’s rights. But when you have a working class that’s under real pressure, you know, people are going to say that rights are being undermined, that jobs are being under- mined. Maybe the one thing that the white working man can hang onto is that he runs his home? Now that that’s being taken away and nothing is being offered, he’s not part of the program of advancing women’s rights. That’s fine for college professors, but it has a different effect in working-class areas. It doesn’t have to be that way. It depends on how it’s done, and it was done in a way that simply undermined natural solidarity. There are a lot of factors that play into it, but by this point it’s going to be pretty hard to organize the working class on the grounds that should really concern them: common solidarity, common welfare. In some ways, it shouldn’t be too hard, because these attitudes are really prized by most of the population. If you look at Tea Party members, the kind that say, “Get the government off my back, I want a small government” and so on, when their attitudes are studied, it turns out that they’re mostly social democratic. You know, people are human after all. So yes, you want more money for health, for help, for people who need it and so on and so forth, but “I don’t want the government, get that off my back” and related attitudes are tricky to overcome. Some polls are pretty amazing. There was one conducted in the South right before the presidential elections. Just Southern whites, I think, were asked about the economic plans of the two candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Southern whites said they preferred Romney’s plan, but when asked about its particular components, they opposed every one. Well, that’s the effect of good propaganda: getting people not to think in terms of their own interests, let alone the interest of communities and the class they’re part of. Overcoming that takes a lot of work. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it’s not going to happen easily. In a recent article about the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest,*you discuss Henry Vane, who was beheaded for drafting a petition that called the people’s power “the original from whence all just power arises.” Would you agree the coordinated repression of Occupy was like the beheading of Vane? Occupy hasn’t been treated nicely, but we shouldn’t exaggerate. Compared with the kind of repression that usually goes on, it wasn’t that severe. Just ask people who were part of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, in the South, let’s say. It was incomparably worse, as was just showing up at anti-war demonstrations where people were getting maced and beaten and so on. Activist groups get repressed. Power systems don’t pat them on the head. Occupy was treated badly, but not off the spectrum—in fact, in some ways not as bad as others. I wouldn’t draw exaggerated comparisons. It’s not like beheading somebody who says, “Let’s have popular power.” How does the Charter of the Forest relate to environmental and indigenous resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline? A lot. The Charter of the Forest, which was half the Magna Carta, has more or less been forgotten. The forest didn’t just mean the woods. It meant common property, the source of food, fuel. It was a common possession, so it was cared for. The forests were cultivated in common and kept functioning, because they were part of people’s common possessions, their source of livelihood, and even a source of dignity. That slowly collapsed in England under the enclosure movements, the state efforts to shift to private ownership and control. In the United States it happened differently, but the privatization is similar. What you end up with is the widely held belief, now standard doctrine, that’s called “the tragedy of the commons” in Garrett Hardin’s phrase. According to this view, if things are held in common and aren’t privately owned, they’re going to be destroyed. His- tory shows the exact opposite: When things were held in common, they were preserved and maintained. But, according to the capitalist ethic, if things aren’t privately owned, they’re going to be ruined, and that’s “the tragedy of the commons.” So, therefore, you have to put everything under private control and take it away from the public, because the public is just going to destroy it. Now, how does that relate to the environmental problem? Very significantly: the commons are the environment. When they’re a common possession—not owned, but everybody holds them together in a community—they’re preserved, sustained and cultivated for the next generation. If they’re privately owned, they’re going to be destroyed for profit; that’s what private owner- ship is, and that’s exactly what’s happening today. What you say about the indigenous population is very striking. There’s a major problem that the whole species is facing. A likelihood of serious disaster may be not far off. We are approaching a kind of tipping point, where climate change becomes irreversible. It could be a couple of decades, maybe less, but the predictions are constantly being shown to be too conservative. It is a very serious danger; no sane person can doubt it. The whole species is facing a real threat for the first time in its history of serious disaster, and there are some people trying to do some- thing about it and there are others trying to make it worse. Who are they? Well, the ones who are trying to make it better are the pre-industrial societies, the pre-technological societies, the indigenous societies, the First Nations. All around the world, these are the communities that are trying to preserve the rights of nature. The rich societies, like the United States and Canada, are acting in ways to bring about disaster as quickly as possible. That’s what it means, for example, when both political parties and the press talk enthusiastically about “a century of energy independence.” “Energy independence” doesn’t mean a damn thing, but put that aside. A century of “energy independence” means that we make sure that every bit of Earth’s fossil fuels comes out of the ground and we burn it. In societies that have large indigenous populations, like, for example, Ecuador, an oil producer, people are trying to get support for keeping the oil in the ground. They want funding so as to keep the oil where it ought to be. We, however, have to get everything out of the ground, including tar sands, then burn it, which makes things as bad as possible as quickly as possible. So you have this odd situation where the educated, “advanced” civilized people are trying to cut everyone’s throats as quickly as possible and the indigenous, less educated, poorer populations are trying to prevent the disaster. If somebody was watching this from Mars, they’d think this species was insane. As far as a free, democracy-centered society, self- organization seems possible on small scales. Do you think it is possible on a larger scale and with human rights and quality of life as a standard, and if so, what community have you visited that seems closest to an example to what is possible? Well, there are a lot of things that are possible. I have visited some examples that are pretty large scale, in fact, very large scale. Take Spain, which is in a huge economic crisis. But one part of Spain is doing okay—that’s the Mondragón col- lective. It’s a big conglomerate involving banks, industry, housing, all sorts of things. It’s worker owned, not worker managed, so partial industrial democracy, but it exists in a capitalist economy, so it’s doing all kinds of ugly things like exploiting foreign labor and so on. But economically and socially, it’s flourishing as compared with the rest of the society and other societies. It is very large, and that can be done anywhere. It certainly can be done here. In fact, there are tentative explorations of contacts between the Mondragón and the United Steelworkers, one of the more progressive unions, to think about developing comparable structures here, and it’s being done to an extent. The one person who has written very well about this is Gar Alperovitz, who is involved in organizing work around enterprises in parts of the old Rust Belt, which are pretty successful and could be spread just as a cooperative could be spread. There are really no limits to it other than willingness to participate, and that is, as always, the problem. If you’re willing to adhere to the task and gauge yourself, there’s no limit. Actually, there’s a famous sort of paradox posed by David Hume centuries ago. Hume is one of the founders of classical liberalism. He’s an important philosopher and a political philoso- pher. He said that if you take a look at societies around the world—any of them—power is in the hands of the governed, those who are being ruled. Hume asked, why don’t they use that power and overthrow the masters and take control? He says, the answer has to be that, in all societies, the most brutal, the most free, the governed can be controlled by control of opinion. If you can con trol their attitudes and beliefs and separate them from one another and so on, then they won’t rise up and overthrow you. That does require a qualification. In the more brutal and repressive societies, controlling opinion is less important, because you can beat people with a stick. But as societies become more free, it becomes more of a problem, and we see that historically. The societies that develop the most expansive propaganda systems are also the most free societies. The most extensive propaganda system in the world is the public relations industry, which developed in Britain and the United States. A century ago, dominant sectors recognized that enough freedom had been won by the population. They reasoned that it’s hard to control people by force, so they had to do it by turning the attitudes and opinions of the population with propaganda and other devices of separation and marginalization, and so on. Western powers have become highly skilled in this. In the United States, the advertising and public relations industry is huge. Back in the more honest days, they called it propaganda. Now the term doesn’t sound nice, so it’s not used anymore, but it’s basically a huge propaganda system which is designed very extensively for quite specific purposes. First of all, it has to undermine markets by trying to create irrational, uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. That’s what advertising is about, the opposite of what a market is supposed to be, and anybody who turns on a television set can see that for themselves. It has to do with monopolization and product differentiation, all sorts of things, but the point is that you have to drive the population to irrational consumption, which does separate them from one another. As I said, consumption is individual, so it’s not done as an act of solidarity—so you don’t have ads on television saying, “Let’s get together and build a mass transportation system.” Who’s going to fund that? The other thing they need to do is undermine democracy the same way, so they run campaigns, political campaigns mostly run by PR agents. It’s very clear what they have to do. They have to create uninformed voters who will make irrational decisions, and that’s what the campaigns are about. Billions of dollars go into it, and the idea is to shred democracy, restrict markets to service the rich, and make sure the power gets concentrated, that capital gets concentrated and the people are driven to irrational and self-destructive behavior. And it is self-destructive, often dramatically so. For example, one of the first achievements of the U.S. public relations system back in the 1920s was led, incidentally, by a figure honored by Wilson, Roosevelt and Kennedy—liberal progressive Edward Bernays. His first great success was to induce women to smoke. In the 1920s, women didn’t smoke. So here’s this big population which was not buying cigarettes, so he paid young models to march down New York City’s Fifth Avenue holding cigarettes. His message to women was, “You want to be cool like a model? You should smoke a cigarette.” How many millions of corpses did that create? I’d hate to calculate it. But it was considered an enormous success. The same is true of the murderous character of corporate propaganda with tobacco, asbestos, lead, chemicals, vinyl chloride, across the board. It is just shocking, but PR is a very honored profession, and it does control people and undermine their options of working together. And so that’s Hume’s paradox, but people don’t have to submit to it. You can see through it and struggle against it. Source URL: Links: [1] [2] [3] [4] Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs