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Photos by: joanneleon. September, 2013.


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Last night there were several volleys of the House sending funding bills (just a 6 week continuing resolution, CR, to be accurate) to the Senate with amendments that took chunks out of Obamacare or delayed implementation of the program or the mandate, the Senate would modify the bill to kill the amendments and send the clean CR bill back to the House.  When time has almost run out, about 40 minute to midnight, after the Senate knocked down another modified CR, the House decided that they wanted to convene a conference, an official negotiation between the House and the Senate.  The Senate had attempted to have a conference with the House 18 times before on the budget, which met refusals by Boehner.  So with 40 minutes left, they decided they wanted to bring four parties to the table.  Harry Reid said no, and that was that.  Reporters said that the lights went out in the West Wing and Obama went to bed, and the shutdown was then certain unless Boehner had decided to swoop in and put the clean CR up for a vote, and he'd have to break/override the Hastert rule to do that, and he didn't do it, and now the government is shut down and there are no panda cams and the apocalypse is beginning.  We've heard, for three solid days, lists of things that will be closed or not available if the govt. is shut down.  But the Ridiculous Republicans did it anyway and the Dems did not cave in and give them concessions. So here we are.  It's unlikely to last long. It's not over. But now the stakes are higher because the govt is actually, technically partially, shut down.  

And now the show really gets into gear. Are you convinced yet that these Ridiculous Republicans are really crazy and will do anything to get their way?  Are the Noble Democrats will have no choice but to give them something so they will stop taking the govt. hostage.  We'll see it play out, over and over, for the next couple of months until poor Pres. Obama has to make a deal with them, a big deal, a Grand Bargain deal, because they just won't stop until we feed them something!  They're crazy! And the Dems will have to do something! Like cut corporate tax rates and flatten the tax code and cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and restore the Defense Dept funding and get rid of that sequester, or or or or  something they've been trying to do for five years, but the Ridiculous Republicans will make them do it this time!  Are you convinced yet that the terrible horrible Republicans are forcing all of this to happen?

Government starts shutting down

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government started shutting down early Tuesday after a bitter fight over the new health care law deadlocked the Congress and stymied every attempt to keep money flowing after the federal fiscal year ended at midnight.
The shutdown came after the Senate and the House of Representatives engaged in a high-stakes political showdown well into the night _ sending bills back and forth across the Capitol _ but never coming close to a deal. It was driven by several different House efforts over the last several days to weaken the new Affordable Care Act, all of which the Democrats rejected.
As the clock ticked toward deadline, the House tried a new tactic, voting 228-199 in the early morning hours Tuesday to set up direct negotiations with the Senate by appointing a team of budget negotiators called “conferees” to work with Senate counterparts in the coming days. The Senate flatly rejected that proposal before leaving the Capitol.

“We like to resolve issues,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “But we will not go to conference with a gun to our head.”

The NSA Deserves a Permanent Shutdown
by Norman Solomon

The NSA’s surveillance programs are exempt from a government shutdown. With typical understatement, an unnamed official told The Hill that “a shutdown would be unlikely to affect core NSA operations.”

At the top of the federal government, even a brief shutdown of “core NSA operations” is unthinkable. But at the grassroots, a permanent shutdown of the NSA should be more than thinkable; we should strive to make it achievable.
In this century, the institutional momentum of the NSA -- now fueled by a $10.8 billion annual budget -- has been moving so fast in such a wrong direction that the agency seems unsalvageable from the standpoint of civil liberties. Its core is lethal to democracy.

A big step toward shutting down the National Security Agency would be to mobilize political pressure for closure of the new NSA complex that has been under construction in Bluffdale, Utah: a gargantuan repository for ostensibly private communications.
“The U.S. government has gone further than any previous government … in setting up machinery that satisfies certain tendencies that are in the genetic code of totalitarianism,” Jonathan Schell wrote in The Nation as this fall began. “One is the ambition to invade personal privacy without check or possibility of individual protection. This was impossible in the era of mere phone wiretapping, before the recent explosion of electronic communications -- before the cellphones that disclose the whereabouts of their owners, the personal computers with their masses of personal data and easily penetrated defenses, the e-mails that flow through readily tapped cables and servers, the biometrics, the street-corner surveillance cameras.”

“But now,” Schell continued, “to borrow the name of an intelligence program from the Bush years, ‘Total Information Awareness’ is technologically within reach. The Bush and Obama administrations have taken giant strides in this direction.”
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The Sparks of Rebellion
By Chris Hedges

Editor’s note: Chris Hedges will be giving a talk titled “The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies” on Oct. 13 in the Los Angeles area. Click here for more information.

I am reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries about the mechanisms of social change. These debates were not academic. They were frantic searches for the triggers of revolt.
The revolutionists of history counted on a mobilized base of enlightened industrial workers. The building blocks of revolt, they believed, relied on the tool of the general strike, the ability of workers to cripple the mechanisms of production. Strikes could be sustained with the support of political parties, strike funds and union halls. Workers without these support mechanisms had to replicate the infrastructure of parties and unions if they wanted to put prolonged pressure on the bosses and the state. But now, with the decimation of the U.S. manufacturing base, along with the dismantling of our unions and opposition parties, we will have to search for different instruments of rebellion.

We must develop a revolutionary theory that is not reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers. [...] Our revolt will look more like what erupted in the less industrialized Slavic republics, Russia, Spain and China and uprisings led by a disenfranchised rural and urban working class and peasantry in the liberation movements that swept through Africa and Latin America. The dispossessed working poor, along with unemployed college graduates and students, unemployed journalists, artists, lawyers and teachers, will form our movement. This is why the fight for a higher minimum wage is crucial to uniting service workers with the alienated college-educated sons and daughters of the old middle class. Bakunin, unlike Marx, considered déclassé intellectuals essential for successful revolt.

It is not the poor who make revolutions. It is those who conclude that they will not be able, as they once expected, to rise economically and socially. This consciousness is part of the self-knowledge of service workers and fast food workers. It is grasped by the swelling population of college graduates caught in a vise of low-paying jobs and obscene amounts of debt. These two groups, once united, will be our primary engines of revolt. [...]

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan examined 100 years of violent and nonviolent resistance movements in their book “Why Civil Resistance Works.” They concluded that nonviolent movements succeed twice as often as violent uprisings. [...]

This is a complicated story but one that should be watched, IMHO.  First, a NYT story was published, citing an Obama admin official who claimed that a story published by McClatchy about top Al Qaeda leaders' conversation being intercepted, was so incredibly damaging to national security that it was worse than all the Snowden documents put together, which is a pretty extreme claim, especially since word aout the intercepted conversation was widely known in Yemen at the time, and since the NYT published the same story a day later.  First I'll excerpt the NYT story and then the McClatchy's reporting on it yesterday.  Both are hard to excerpt and should be read in full.

This story was at the top of NYT front page, on the right-hand side with an ominous headline "QAEDA PLOT LEAK HAS UNDERMINED U.S. INTELLIGENCE" and the story smells, big time.  Is McClatchy, well known for not being a lapdog for the Obama admin, being offered up as a sacrifice for some other reason?  That's speculation on my part.  I just think it smells and the whole idea of leaks and undermining US intelligence and terrorists changing their method of communication is something we've heard before from high level intelligence actors who are behind the eight ball right now after the Snowden files were leaked, and after David Miranda was detained at Heathrow, and it reeks of the kinds of statements made about Chelsea Manning, where they try to claim that terrible damage was done to intelligence capabilities when it looks like the real story is that damage was done to their reputations and perhaps their unconstitutional surveillance practices domestically.  This, of course, is foreign surveillance and does involve terrorists, but does the whole issue of proving that leakers, whistleblowers and journalists did grievous damage to national security come into play here? What's going on with this story?

Qaeda Plot Leak Has Undermined U.S. Intelligence

WASHINGTON — As the nation’s spy agencies assess the fallout from disclosures about their surveillance programs, some government analysts and senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by Al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

Since news reports in early August revealed that the United States intercepted messages between Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the head of Al Qaeda, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, discussing an imminent terrorist attack, analysts have detected a sharp drop in the terrorists’ use of a major communications channel that the authorities were monitoring. Since August, senior American officials have been scrambling to find new ways to surveil the electronic messages and conversations of Al Qaeda’s leaders and operatives.

McClatchy, after the NYT article was published.
Leaks alerted al Qaida leaders they were being monitored, U.S. officials claim

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government-ordered closure of 19 U.S. diplomatic facilities in August has prompted a new controversy, this one about whether news reports at the time alerted al Qaida leaders that their communications were being monitored.

Obama administration officials, speaking anonymously to The New York Times, are claiming that those reports, especially one by McClatchy, caused, in the Times’ words, “more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.”

That claim was disputed by McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief James Asher, who defended McClatchy’s story, and by other analysts of Yemen events, one of whom called the Obama officials’ assertion “laughable.”

Michael Calderone at HuffPo reporting about it.
McClatchy Editor Questions 'Odd' New York Times Story On Al Qaeda Leak

NEW YORK -- The New York Times reported Monday that an August leak concerning an al Qaeda plot had “undermined U.S. intelligence" by prompting terrorists to change their methods of communicating, a front-page story that some journalists viewed as a swipe at a competitor.

Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg that the Times story “pretty much accuses McClatchy journalists of helping al Qaeda.”

On Aug. 4, McClatchy reported that the decision to close nearly 20 U.S. embassies and issue a major travel advisory was the result of intercepted communications between al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the Yemen-based head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. That revelation helped clarify the U.S. government’s decision to close embassies amid a flurry of news reports in which anonymous U.S. officials spoke of a possible terrorist plot without revealing that detail.

The Times had reported two days earlier that the U.S. intercepted communications between “senior operatives of Al Qaeda,” but withheld the identifies of the two men at the government’s request.


Stop Watching Us.

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

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

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