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Good Morning!

Longwood Gardens.  February, 2013.  Photo by joanneleon.

Big yellow taxi - Joni Mitchell

News and Opinion

"When We Take Care of the Land, It Takes Care of Us": Chief Jacqueline Thomas Opposes Keystone XL
Speaking at Sunday's "Forward on Climate" march in Washington, D.C., Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik'uz First Nation warns the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline will threaten indigenous communities living in its path. "When we take care of the land, the land [takes] care of us," Chief Thomas says. To see Democracy Now!'s entire coverage of Sunday's climate rally, visit http://bit.ly/....

Really good two minute news report about the rally with great footage and summary.  It focuses more on the people and less on the speeches.  Al Jazeera is really good with putting reporters on the ground doing interviews at protest events.  Al Jazeera reporting is now something you have to be selective about, IMHO, especially on Syria and Libya, but on other topics they are still excellent.
Thousands rally in Washington against climate change

Thousands of protesters have gathered in Washington DC to demand government action on climate change. Organisers say it's the largest climate change protest in US history. Al Jazeeraa's Alan Fisher was there.

Seems like Sierra Club is under a lot of pressure.  It's a good time for them to break precedents.  If not now, when?  This is hard to excerpt.  Better to go over and read Kevin Gosztola's excellent post.
Obama’s Choice to Alienate Environmental Activists and Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline

The major rally came days after forty-eight were arrested in front of the White House in a planned civil disobedience action. Though the Sierra Club weakly floated a disclaimer that they were not here to be critical of Obama, their executive director, Michael Brune, and president, Allison Chin, broke a ban on civil disobedience the environmental organization had in place for 120 years. Bill McKibben, Julian Bond, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Connor Kennedy and Daryl Hannah were arrested as well.
In the months of August and September in 2011, over a thousand were arrested in sit-ins that occurred for two straight weeks in front of the White House. The actions organized by Tar Sands Action effectively called attention to construction of the pipeline and why it should not be constructed. And then, on September 17, 2011, Occupy Wall Street began and the Occupy movement erupted. Many involved in Occupy protests took up the cause of stopping the pipeline.

In November 2011, actions by concerned citizens appeared to have had an effect.
On January 18, 2012, the Obama administration decided to not issue a permit before February 21 after Congress imposed a 60-day deadline on a “process for the permit as part of a deal to extend a payroll-tax break and unemployment benefits for two months.”

Tens of Thousands Rally to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline & Urge Obama to Move "Forward on Climate"

DemocracyNow.org - We play highlights from the "Forward on Climate" rally that drew tens of thousands to Washington D.C.'s National Mall Sunday. Protesters from across the United States and Canada urged President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would deliver tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast. Organizers described Sunday's protest as "the largest climate rally in history," and Reverend Lennox Yearwood compared it to Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington for civil rights. We hear from speakers including Van Jones, Obama's former Green Jobs advisor, Canadian indigenous leader Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik'uz First Nation, and Bill McKibben of 350.org.

Thousands of Climate Change Activists Gather in Washington for 'Forward On Climate' Rally

The event appeared to divide activists into two camps: those who see Obama as an ally with whom they simply need to plead with often and diligently enough so perhaps the president will yield to their demands, and those who see their roles as dissidents who need to force Obama’s hand by participating in blockades and other forms of direct action.

Tar Sands Blockade, a group of residents and climate justice organizers who use nonviolent direct action in an attempt to halt the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, addressed concerns that 350.org and Sierra Club are simply opportunists unwilling to get their hands dirty utilizing strategies like direct action.

“350 has backed us up a lot,” @KXLBlockade tweeted after the march. “Sierra club is who you should be tweeting at.”

On the Tar Sands Blockade website, activists preparing for the DC rally stated, “The fight against Keystone XL is about much more than asking a few privileged leaders to do the right thing. It’s about community resistance and resilience. It’s about traditionally marginalized people standing up to build a better future.”

Pseudo-Protests and Serious Climate Crisis

Going in, I was of mixed views regarding Sunday's rally in Washington, D.C., to save the earth's climate from the tar sands pipeline.  I still am.

Why on a Sunday when there's no government around to protest, shut down, or interfere with?

And why all the pro-Obama rhetoric?  Robert Kennedy, Jr., was among the celebrities getting arrested at the White House in the days leading up, and his comment to the media was typical.  Obama won't allow the tar sands pipeline, he said, because Obama has "a strong moral core" and doesn't do really evil things.

Keystone XL protesters pressure Obama on climate change promise

Protesters were bussed in from 30 states and Canadian provinces. Marchers held aloft banners proclaiming "Don't be fossil fools" and "It's time to cut carbon" during the rally.

The DC event was accompanied by smaller one in cities including Austin, during which protesters chanted that the president had "sold out Texas" over the pipeline.


The president is under even stronger pressure from the oil industry, business groups and the Canadian government to approve the project, which will open new outlets for the vast crude reserves of Alberta's tar sands.

The Canadian government has deputed a well-connected Conservative MP, Rob Merrifield, to build support for the pipeline in Congress. The MP told the Globe and Mail he now spent about half of his working life in Washington.


By Sunday afternoon, the protesters had been endorsed by Robert Redford, who has called the Keystone XL a "national disgrace", and Democratic members of Congress.

Meanwhile, Canadian newspapers were reporting the fate of the project now hung in the balance.

ZOMG.  Actually they could have done a much better job with the tweets.  Could have had the king switch sides... all kinds of things.  
Burger King's Twitter Got Hacked And Tweeted Crazy McDonald's Messages

Hacker group Anonymous took responsibility for the prank. The tweet calls the hacking "#OPMadCow."
Here's what the Twitter page looked like:

White House Tasks Itself With Controlling Speech On The Internet

From the White House.

The American public increasingly relies on the Internet for socializing, business transactions, gathering information, entertainment, and creating and sharing content. The rapid growth of the Internet has brought opportunities but also risks, and the Federal Government is committed to empowering members of the public to protect themselves against the full range of online threats, including online radicalization to violence.
Shorter: the internet is gaining in power and we have not figured out a way to dominate it yet, this scares us.
Most Terrorist Plots in the US Aren't Invented by Al Qaeda -- They're Manufactured by the FBI
In the ten years following 9/11, the FBI and the Justice Department convicted more than 150 people following sting operations, though few had any connection to real terrorists.

The following is an excerpt from The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson (Ig Publishing, 2012).

As a young man, Martinez had been angry and lost. He’d dropped out of Laurel High School, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and spent his teens as a small-time thief in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.
Searching for greater meaning in his life, Martinez was baptized and became a Christian when he was twenty-one years old, but he didn’t stick with the religion. “He said he tried the Christian thing. He just really didn’t understand it,” said Alisha Legrand, a former girlfriend. Martinez chose Islam instead. On his Facebook page, Martinez wrote that he was “just a yung brotha from the wrong side of the tracks who embraced Islam.” But for reasons that have never been clear to his family and friends, Martinez drifted toward a violent, extremist brand of Islam. When the FBI discovered him, Martinez was an angry extremist mouthing off on Facebook about violence, with misspelled posts such as, “The sword is cummin the reign of oppression is about 2 cease inshallah.” Based on the Facebook postings alone, an FBI agent gave an informant the “green light” to get to know Martinez and determine if he had a propensity for violence. In other words, to see if he was dangerous.

The government was setting the trap.

F.B.I. destroyed file on Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, 'Times' publisher behind the Pentagon Papers
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has destroyed its file on Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the late New York Times publisher who defied the federal government in the twilight of J. Edgar Hoover’s reign, Capital has learned.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, F.B.I. records pertaining to Sulzberger became accessible upon his death on Sept. 29, 2012, but the Sulzberger file had been destroyed less than 10 months earlier.

I filed a Freedom of Information request with the F.B.I. in October, and they replied 11 weeks later to say that unreviewed but potentially responsive records had been sent to the National Archives. I then filed a second Freedom of Information request with the National Archives.
It is surprising that the Bureau has found insufficient historic value in the information it collected on the person whose decision to publish secret documents led to an unprecedented federal injunction to stop a newspaper from publishing an article and a Supreme Court decision that, to quote Sulzberger’s obituary, “established the primacy of a free press in the face of a government’s insistence on secrecy.”
The F.B.I.’s destruction of these files does not rule out the possibility that Sulzberger material, either these records or other ones, might surface in the future. The F.B.I.’s archives are vast, containing declassification exemptions and a “special file room” for secret information and particularly sensitive documents and information. So there may yet be information to discover. In 2009, CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite’s F.B.I. file was said to be destroyed, but further FOIA appeals revealed other Cronkite documents in Bureau records.

Will Bunch of Attytood prompts his readers to watch MSNBC documentary last night: "Hubris".
Tonight: Must-see TV

“It was a shock, it was a total shock–I couldn’t believe the vice president was saying this,” Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command, told me in an interview for the documentary. Zinni, who had access to the most sensitive U.S. intelligence on Iraq, was on a stage in Nashville, Tennessee, receiving an award from the Veteran of Foreign Wars on August 26, 2002, when he heard the vice president launch the opening salvo in the Bush administration’s campaign to generate public support for an invasion. “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” Zinni, sitting right next to Cheney’s lectern, says he “literally bolted” when he heard the vice president’s comments. “In doing work with the CIA on Iraq WMD [weapons of mass destruction], through all the briefings I heard at Langley, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was an ongoing program.” He recounts going to one of those CIA briefings and being struck by how thin the agency’s actual knowledge of Iraqi weapons programs was. “What I was hearing [from Bush administration officials] and what I knew did not jive,” Zinni says.

Like I've said many times before, this stuff still matters.

Profiting From Human Misery

Marela, an undocumented immigrant in her 40s, stood outside the Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, N.J., on a chilly afternoon last week. She was there with a group of protesters who appear at the facility’s gates every year on Ash Wednesday to decry the nation’s immigration policy and conditions inside the center. She was there, she said, because of her friend Evelyn Obey.
“The people who run that prison make money off of human misery,” said Diana Mejia, 47, an immigrant from Colombia who now has legal status, gesturing toward the old warehouse that now serves as the detention facility. As she spoke, a Catholic Worker band called the Filthy Rotten System belted out a protest song. A low-flying passenger jet, its red, green and white underbelly lights blinking in the night sky, rumbled overhead. Clergy walking amid the crowd marked the foreheads of participants with ashes to commemorate Ash Wednesday.

Arms Vendors Turn to Cyber Security as Sales Drop

The world's largest arms vendors are expanding in the cybersecurity sector as austerity measures weigh on sales of traditional weapons, a Swedish peace research institute said Monday.

Sales by the 100 largest arms producing companies, excluding Chinese companies, fell by 5 percent to $410 billion in 2011, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its annual review of the industry.

"We Must Unleash Radical Thought": Harry Belafonte's Stirring Speech Accepting NAACP Spingarn Medal

DemocracyNow.org - Along with his rise to worldwide stardom, the musician and actor Harry Belafonte has been deeply involved in social activism for decades. One of Dr. Martin Luther King's closest confidants, Belafonte helped organize the March on Washington in 1963. On Friday, the NAACP awarded Belafonte their highest honor, the Spingarn Medal. "Numerous strategies in the quest of our freedom have been played out at all levels of the social spectrum," Belafonte says in his acceptance speech. "What is missing I think from the equation in our struggle today is that we must unleash radical thought... America has never been moved to perfect our desire for greater democracy without radical thinking and radical voices being at the helm of any such a quest."

Really important topic.  Emptywheel has been all over this for a long time but especially during the past few weeks. I'll excerpt a bit but really it's something that must be read in full over at her site.   She cites several other discussions at other sites, including Armando's from dkos.  I'm having a really hard time understanding all the different laws, treaties and constitutional things that come into play, along with the legal memos and the white paper.  But I think it's important that  we all do our best to follow this discussion and try to be as informed as possible.
The AUMF Fallacy

There’s a whole strand of commentary on the targeted killing that lets the Obama Administration off easy for what it maintained in the white paper on the targeted killing of Americans.
All of them claim the Administration is operating exclusively within the AUMF, and based on that assumption conclude certain things about what the Administration has done.

There is abundant evidence to refute that. After all, the Administration invokes self-defense about as many times as it does AUMF in the white paper. The white paper actually situates the authority to kill an American in “constitutional responsibility to protect the country” — that is, Article II authority — and inherent right to self-defense even before it lists the AUMF.

Bob the Street Cat


Aaron's Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age

February 19, 2013 @ 05:00 PM
Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School will host a public lecture, "Aaron's Laws," by Lawrence Lessig on the occasion of his appointment as the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership.

In the wake of the tragic death of social activist Aaron Swartz, many, including some in Washington, are asking how the law should respond. In this lecture — radically personal, deeply non-disinterested — Professor Lessig reflects on the life and work of Aaron Swartz, and how that work might be honored.

All are welcome to attend a reception in Milstein West, Wasserstein Hall, immediately following the lecture.

You can watch the lecture live here.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Evening Blues
From sea to shining sea: Bay Area moving forward on climate!
What's possible for humanity? vs. What's in it for me?
Forward on Climate: What the Kids Have to Say About the XL Pipeline
BREAKING::Pod Protest for the Planet
Today was the day the climate movement came together

@brandontwebb is the co-author of the e-book Benghazi: The Definitive Report.

Joni MItchell - Free Man in Paris
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