Photos by: joanneleon. August 15, 2013.
Lorde - Royals
News & Opinion
'New Jim Crow' Placards Seized by Police & More From the March on Washington
I spent eight hours today amongst thousands at the March on Washington, and the people present were some of the most remarkable, resilient people I have ever had the privilege to be around. The number-one face on T-shirts, placards, and even homemade drawings was not President Obama or even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was Trayvon Martin. I also witnessed homemade signs calling for jobs programs, speaking out against the school closures and in solidarity with those overseas victimized by US militarism. The people at this march are the face of resistance to what Dr. King called the “evil triplets of militarism, materialism and racism.”
The main speakers at the march, however, did not match the politics and urgency of those who gathered in the Saturday heat. Even more frustrating is that few tried. ...
Based upon the speeches during the main portion of today’s events there can be little doubt that the Dr. King who was murdered in Memphis in 1968 would not have been allowed to speak at this fiftieth-anniversary commemoration of his life. There was no discussion of the “evil triplets.” Instead, we had far too many speakers pay homage to the narrowest possible liberal agenda in broad abstractions with none of the searing material truths that make Dr. King’s speeches so bracing even today.
The day was symbolized for me on multiple levels by seeing DC Park police seize 200 professionally printed placards from activists that were distributing them for free. The placards read, “Stop Mass Incarceration. Stop the new Jim Crow.” Police said that it was "unlawful solicitation", even though they were clearly giving them away. ... Today, those “triplets of evil” King warned us about 1967 still strangle this country. If we are not talking about the New Jim Crow, Wall Street and militarism, then what are we doing? King said, “If an American is concerned only about his nation, he will not be concerned about the peoples of Asia, Africa, or South America. Is this not why nations engage in the madness of war without the slightest sense of penitence? Is this not why the murder of a citizen of your own nation is a crime, but the murder of citizens of another nation in war is an act of heroic virtue?” Given US foreign policy, how can one say that they stand in King’s legacy and not raise these issues?
Laura Poitras Chips at the Terrorism Lie
A key point of Poitras’ piece is that top officials — up to and including President Obama — have led the American people to believe all this spying focuses only terrorism. Indeed, she points to a line of the speech Obama gave a few weeks back that suggested terrorism was the only reason the government conducted this dragnet (this is the full quote — Poitras breaks up the quote into two; I think it is slightly more ambiguous but at the same time more assertive like this).I think the main thing I want to emphasize is I don’t have an interest and the people at the NSA don’t have an interest in doing anything other than making sure that where we can prevent a terrorist attack, where we can get information ahead of time, that we’re able to carry out that critical task. We do not have an interest in doing anything other than that.This was a response to a journalists’ question, not part of Obama’s prepared speech. Nevertheless, the President stood up publicly and claimed that the NSA does not “have an interest in doing anything other than … prevent[ing] a terrorist attack.”
That is a false statement. ...
If Obama and everyone else want to start rebuilding credibility, they need to stop lying, and get rid of the more substantive liars like Clapper and Alexander. But they also need to square with the American people about what this dragnet is for. Congress has repeatedly rejected internet-based surveillance to protect Hollywood IP and to socialize the private cybersecurity risk of corporate owners of critical infrastructure. Even Congress doesn’t approve the use of this technology for some applications.
Feinstein Wants To Limit Who Can Be A Journalist
The most recent congressional threat to the free press in the United States comes from California Democrat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
In a proposed amendment to a media shield law being considered by Congress, Feinstein writes that only paid journalists should be given protections from prosecution for what they say or write. The language in her proposal is raising concerns from First Amendment advocates because it seems to leave out bloggers and other nontraditional forms of journalism that have proliferated in recent years thanks to the Internet.
An amendment offered by Feinstein would extend shield-law protections to those who work as a “salaried employee, independent contractor, or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information,” though students working for news outlets would similarly be covered. ...
“The distinction between who gets paid to do journalism and who doesn’t is going to become essentially meaningless as we go forward with this technological revolution,” said Kelly McBride, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a journalism school based in St. Petersburg, Fla.
McBride, the recent author of a book on journalism ethics in the Internet age, said shield laws are meant to ensure a vibrant marketplace of ideas where all voices can be heard.
“To the extent that you limit the shield law, you limit who is in that marketplace,” she said.
US, Britain and France Agree to Attack Syria Within Two Weeks
Initially Limited Strikes Aim to Avoid Serious War Debate
Discussing the matter in a 40 minute phone call on Saturday night, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed in principle to start attacking Syria within the next two weeks. France, long calling for such a war, is also reportedly in on the idea.
British officials familiar with the situation say that they didn’t rule out seeking UN support for the war, but also don’t expect to actually get that support, and are prepared to ignore the UN and attack anyhow. ...
Britain is said to be particularly eager to get the attacks going quickly to avoid having to deal with the prospect of parliament voting on the war, and possibly preemptively rejecting the attack. They are also hoping to keep the first strikes very limited to justify not consulting parliament ahead of time.
U.S. Prepares to Attack Syria -- 60% of Americans Are Against It, Obama Has No UN Approval, and No Proof of Who Was Behind Gas Attacks
The U.S. is giving all signs of preparing for a unilateral military strike on Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack last week. Any move to attack Syria could entangle American involvement in a brutal civil war that has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians.
The American people are strongly opposed to U.S. military involvement in Syria. A recent poll conducted by Reuters showed that 60 percent of Americans are opposed to intervention in Syria.
Last week, reports emerged that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad attacked the Damascus suburb of Ghouta with nerve agents. Doctors Without Borders, which operates aid centers near Ghouta, said that the victims they treated came in with symptoms consistent with a chemical attack, including breathing problems, foaming at the mouth and damaged vision. Western governments over the weekend also said that there was little doubt that chemical weapons were used. Still, no firm proof has emerged as to who exactly was behind the attacks. ...
In an interview with CNN, Obama said: “ If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it.” But given Russian opposition to a U.S. strike on Syria, a UN mandate would be hard to come by.
Syria crisis: warplanes spotted in Cyprus as tensions rise in DamascusThis deserves wider attention in light of the vampire squid's recent manipulations of the aluminum market being exposed among other things:
Warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at Britain's Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus, less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast, in a sign of increasing preparations for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria.
Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca on Monday told the Guardian that they had seen C-130 transport planes from their cockpit windows as well as small formations of fighter jets on their radar screens, which they believe had flown from Europe.
Residents near the British airfield, a sovereign base since 1960, also say activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours.
If an order to attack targets in Syria is given, Cyprus is likely to be a hub of the air campaign. The arrival of warplanes suggests that advanced readiness – at the very least – has been ordered by Whitehall as David Cameron, Barack Obama and European leaders step up their rhetoric against Bashar al-Assad, whose armed forces they accuse of carrying out the chemical weapons attack last Wednesday that killed many hundreds in eastern Damascus.
The Leveraged Buyout of America
In a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke dated June 27, 2013, US Representative Alan Grayson and three co-signers expressed concern about the expansion of large banks into what have traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically:[W]e are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining.After listing some disturbing examples, they observed:
According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach. They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. . . .A “macro” risk indeed – not just to our economy but to our democracy and our individual and national sovereignty. Giant banks are buying up our country’s infrastructure – the power and supply chains that are vital to the economy.
It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries.
Newest YouTube user to fight a takedown is copyright guru Lawrence Lessig
If Liberation Music was thinking they'd have an easy go of it when they demanded that YouTube take down a 2010 lecture of Lessig's entitled "Open," they were mistaken. Lessig has teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to sue Liberation, claiming that its overly aggressive takedown violates the DMCA and that it should be made to pay damages. ...
Lessig's lawsuit runs through the checklist of fair use, making a case for why his lecture falls under that distinction: he used a small proportion of the song, his lecture doesn't compete with the market for the song in any way, and the lecture is an entirely new creation. Phoenix wanted its song to entertain and make money; Lessig's lecture was educational, and neither he nor Creative Commons, the sponsor, made any profit.
The EFF and Lessig are hoping Liberation Music will have to pay damages under 512(f), the section of the DMCA that requires copyright owners to pay damages when they go too far in issuing a takedown.
Yes, Black Is The New ‘Transparency’…Cass Sunstein On NSA “Review Board”
Redaction Equals Transparency
The recently released secret FISA court opinion is supposed to promote the idea that the administration elected on a promise of “transparency” is now making good on that pledge. There’s just one problem: a good 20 percent of the 83-page document is redacted, including some key paragraphs. It is to a large extent unreadable. But what else are we to expect from this Bizarro World administration – the most secretive in our history – where black is the new “transparency”?
Yet that’s just the beginning of the White House’s weirdly inverted response to the public outcry against its massive domestic surveillance program. At his press conference promising to “reform” the spying machinery, President Obama announced a “review board” to be appointed that would supposedly reassure his critics there really is no domestic spying program: the goal, as he put it, would be to strike a “balance” between civil liberties and the safety of all Americans.
A week or so later he made some appointments to this panel: former Counter-Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, former special assistant for economic policy Peter Swire, former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell – and Cass Sunstein, a very close friend and confidant of the President. Sunstein formerly headed up the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs: now a Harvard law professor, he has made something of a name for himself as an outspoken advocate of government spying. Being one of those really highbrow types, he calls it “cognitive infiltration.” Sunstein wants paid government agents to penetrate ostensibly subversive “conspiracy minded” social networks: in other words, he wants to set up a police state system of government spies and provocateurs.
Katrina Pain Index 2013
Eight years after Katrina, nearly a hundred thousand people never got back to New Orleans, the city remains incredibly poor, jobs and income vary dramatically by race, rents are up, public transportation is down, traditional public housing is gone, life expectancy differs dramatically by race and place, and most public education has been converted into charter schools. ...
Now, thanks to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center (GNOCDC) and others, it is possible to illustrate the current situation in New Orleans. ...
Nearly half of the African American men in the city are not working according to the GNOCDC. Since 2004, the city’s job base has declined 29 percent. Fifty three percent of African American men in the New Orleans area are employed now. African American households in the metro New Orleans area earned 50 percent less than white households, compared to the national percentage of 40 percent. ...
About 60% of New Orleans rent, compared to the national norm of 35%. Rents in New Orleans have risen. According to GNOCDC, 54% of renters in New Orleans are now paying unaffordable rent amounts, up from 43% before Katrina. ...
Public education has been completely changed since Katrina with almost 80 percent of students attending charters, far and away the highest percentage in the country reports the Tulane Cowen Institute.
'Unhospitable Oceans' Acidifying at Rate Unseen in 250 Million Years (or Ever)
In both a new study published Monday and in a newspaper interview over the weekend, German marine biologist Hans Poertner warns the world that the crisis of ocean acidification—an intricately woven aspect of global warming and climate change—is now happening at a rate unparalleled in the life of the oceans for at least 250 million years and perhaps the fastest rate ever in the planet's entire existence.
"The current rate of change is likely to be more than 10 times faster than it has been in any of the evolutionary crises in the earth's history," said Poertner in an interview with environmental journalist Fiona Harvey.
Ocean acidification—often called climate change's "evil twin" by scientists and experts—happens as the pH level of seawater dwindles as it absorbs increasing amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and though such fluctuations are a normally occurring phenomenon, when the balance tips too far, the acidification can imperil numerous types of marine life and is especially threatening to coral, shell fish, and other essential members of the ocean's ecosystems.
Poertner—whose study, Unhospitable Oceans, was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change—says that if humanity's industrial carbon emissions continue with a "business as usual" attitude, the problem of the oceans will be catastrophic.
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Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Anna Kendrick - Cups (Pitch Perfect's "When I'm Gone")