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Thelonious Monk - Round About Midnight
"The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities."
Zbigniew Brezinski, Between Two Ages, America's Role in the Technotronic Era 1970
News and Opinion
This article is a really good read, but this section of it leapt off of the page, grabbed my eyeballs and refused to let go:
Are you opposed to fracking? Then you might just be a terrorist
Back in 1975, the Trilateral Commission - a network of some 300 American, European and Japanese elites drawn from business, banking, government, academia and media founded by Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockerfeller - published an influential study called The Crisis of Democracy.
The report concluded that the problems of governance "stem from an excess of democracy" which makes government "less powerful and more active" due to being "overloaded with participants and demands." This democratic excess at the time consisted of:"... a marked upswing in other forms of citizen participation, in the form of marches, demonstrations, protest movements, and 'cause' organizations... [including] markedly higher levels of self-consciousness on the part of blacks, Indians, Chicanos, white ethnic groups, students, and women... [and] a general challenge to existing systems of authority, public and private... People no longer felt the same compulsion to obey those whom they had previously considered superior to themselves in age, rank, status, expertise, character, or talents."The solution, therefore, is "to restore the prestige and authority of central government institutions," including "hegemonic power" in the world. This requires the government to somehow "reinforce tendencies towards political passivity" and to instill "a greater degree of moderation in democracy." This is because:
"... the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups... In itself, this marginality on the part of some groups is inherently undemocratic, but it has also been one of the factors which has enabled democracy to function effectively."Today, such official sentiments live on in the form of covert psychological operations targeted against Western publics by the CIA, Pentagon and MI6, invariably designed to exaggerate threats to manipulate public opinion in favour of government policy.
As the global economy continues to suffocate itself, and as publics increasingly lose faith in prevailing institutions, the spectre of 'terror' is an increasingly convenient tool to attempt to restore authority by whipping populations into panic-induced subordination.
Evidently, however, what the nexus of corporate, state and intelligence power fears the most is simply an "excess of democracy": the unpalatable prospect of citizens rising up and taking power back.
Obama withholding Fisa court orders on NSA bulk collection of Americans' data
The Justice Department is withholding documents related to the bulk collection of Americans’ data from a transparency lawsuit launched by the American Civil Liberties Union.
US attorney Preet Bharara of the southern district of New York informed the ACLU in a Friday letter that the government would not turn over “certain other” records from a secret surveillance court, which are being “withheld in full” from a Freedom of Information Act suit the civil liberties group filed to shed light on bulk surveillance activities performed under the Patriot Act. ...
Alexander Abdo, an ACLU attorney, noted that the government’s bulk surveillance disclosures have yet to include, among other efforts, a reported CIA program to collect international money transfers in bulk, revealed in November by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
“It appears that the government is concealing the existence of other bulk collection programs under the Patriot Act, such as the CIA’s reported collection of our financial records,” Abdo said.
“In other words, on the same day that President Obama recognized the need for a vigorous debate about bulk collection, the government appears to be hiding the ball. We can't have the public debate that President Obama wants without the facts that his agencies are hiding.”
Snowden Calls Russian-Spy Story “Absurd”
Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor turned whistleblower, strongly denies allegations made by members of Congress that he was acting as a spy, perhaps for a foreign power, when he took hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents. Speaking from Moscow, where he is a fugitive from American justice, Snowden told The New Yorker, “This ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd.” ...
Snowden, in a rare interview that he conducted by encrypted means from Moscow, denied the allegations outright, stressing that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.” He added, “It won’t stick…. Because it’s clearly false, and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are.” ...
Asked today to elaborate on his reasons for alleging that Snowden “had help,” Congressman Rogers, through a press aide, declined to comment. ...
“It’s not the smears that mystify me,” Snowden told me. “It’s that outlets report statements that the speakers themselves admit are sheer speculation.” ... Snowden went on, “It’s just amazing that these massive media institutions don’t have any sort of editorial position on this. I mean these are pretty serious allegations, you know?” He continued, “The media has a major role to play in American society, and they’re really abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account.”
NSA Gave 2-3 ‘Daily Tips’ To The FBI For 3 Years
So about that whole not spying on Americans thing, it seems the NSA has been having quite an exchange with domestic law enforcement. According to recently declassified FISA documents the NSA has been tipping off the FBI at least two to three times per day going back at least to 2006. ...
Why is the NSA so involved in this, I thought they just did foreign intelligence? Every one of these daily “tips” is just about foreigners? Or, could it be, that any barriers between foreign intelligence and domestic spying on American citizens have been destroyed?
For those with short memories, the DEA was also caught having an inappropriate relationship with the NSA. The NSA supplied the DEA with intelligence information used to “make non-terrorism cases against American citizens.” The information the NSA supplied helped the DEA make drug and other organized crime cases that had nothing to do with terrorism. Apparently the FBI was also getting in on the action.
Google's Eric Schmidt denies knowledge of NSA data tapping of firm
Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has insisted he had no knowledge of the US National Security Agency's tapping of the company's data, despite having a sufficiently high security clearance to have been told.
He said that he and other members of the search company were outraged by the tapping carried out by the NSA and the UK's GCHQ – first revealed in the Guardian in June – and that they had "complained at great length" to the US government over the intrusion. Google had since begun encrypting internal traffic to prevent further spying, he said.
Speaking in a private session at the Guardian, Schmidt, 58, said: "I have the necessary clearances to have been told, as do other executives in the company, but none of us were briefed.
"Had we been briefed, we probably couldn't have acted on it, because we'd have known about it. I've declined briefings [from the US government] about this because I don't want to be constrained."
Public Not Buying Obama's NSA 'Reforms': Poll
U.S. disapproval of NSA spying has continued to climb since whistleblower Edward Snowden unearthed the scandal this summer, and President Obama's speech on 'reforms' last Friday has failed to allay the public's growing concerns.
This is according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted in the days immediately following Obama's speech and published Monday.
The poll, which surveyed 1,504 adults, found that 53% disapprove of the U.S. government's surveillance of telephone and internet data, while just 40% approve. This is a marked shift from July, when more than 50% said they approved and only 44% said they disapprove. ...Almost half of those surveyed said the limits on the government's ability to collect telephone and internet data are inadequate. ...
The fall in support is most steep with respondents identified as African-American and Hispanic.
Obama's much-vaunted speech on NSA reforms last Friday failed to buck this trend.
Half of those surveyed said they didn't even know about his proposed reforms, and of those who had, 73% said the proposed reforms will make "no difference" to "protections on people's privacy."
Ex-NSA director to debate Snowden leaks journalist Glenn Greenwald in Toronto
Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency in the U.S. will go head to head with Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist who reported on NSA leaks. ...
The topic of the debate — set for May 2 — is "Be it resolved: State surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedoms."
The event organizer — Munk Debates — says two other debaters are yet to be announced, one to join Hayden on the pro side and another to join Greenwald on the con side.
Ukraine’s 1984 moment: Government using cellphones to track protesters
“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” That's the chilling text message people near the clash between Ukrainian riot police and protesters in Kiev yesterday received shortly after midnight, Andrew E. Kramer at the New York Times reports.
The protests were in response to new restrictions on speech and assembly rights signed into law by President Viktor Yanukovych. ... As eerie as the text message may seem, it was likely not technically difficult to achieve. Presumably, authorities could determine who was in the vicinity of the protest by going through the records of nearby cell towers. In the United States, that type of information can be requested from mobile providers in the form of "tower dumps" which reveal the locations of hundreds or thousands of innocent citizens associated with a specific cell tower, along with suspects. ...
Cell site location data is considered metadata. ... "This incident highlights how location metadata — contrary to NSA defenders' claims that such data isn't sensitive — is incredibly powerful, especially in bulk, and can easily be used by governments to identify and suppress protesters attempting to exercise their right to free expression," says Kevin Bankston, policy director for the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.
Kiev turns into battlezone as police clash with radical protesters
Shrouded in smoke and tear gas and echoing with the din of stun grenades and drums, the centre of Kiev turned into a battle zone amid brutal clashes between security forces and protesters.
Police launched the first assault against stone-throwing protesters in the morning, marching forwards as a military formation clad in body armour with their shields in front. ...
January 22 is supposed to be the country’s day of national unity, remembering the unification of western and eastern Ukraine in an attempt at independence during the turbulence of 1919.
However Ukrainians seemed less unified than ever amid the carnage on the street with the mainstream opposition leaders apparently having lost any authority over the most radical protesters. ...
Ukrainians have until now always boasted that the country, for all its problems, had no inclination for violence and the 2004 Orange Revolution succeeded without even a single window being broken. ...
The protesters have been particularly outraged by parliament’s adoption last week of new anti-protest laws, which make most forms of public protest illegal and ban the wearing of helmets by protesters and driving in a convoy of more than five cars.
Syria accuses the west of pouring arms into the hands of terrorists
The Syrian government has accused the west of backing terrorism in Syria in a defiant opening address at the start of long-awaited talks in the Swiss resort of Montreux.
In provocatively lengthy speech, Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said: "The west claims to fight terrorism, but it secretly feeds terrorism."
He urged the west to stop "pouring arms" into Syria, warning that if it failed to do so the near three-year conflict in Syria would spread to neighbouring countries. "We have come [to the talks] to prevent the collapse of the Middle East," Moallem said. ...
Addressing his US counterpart, John Kerry, Moallem said: "No one, Mr Kerry, has the right to withdraw legitimacy of the [Syrian] president other than the Syrians themselves."
Obama Administration Ramps Up Anti-Assad Rhetoric
Washington Wednesday upped the ante against the Syrian regime, denouncing its “inflammatory rhetoric” at the opening of key peace talks and dismissing claims of improved aid access as “laughable.”
“Instead of laying out a positive vision for the future of Syria that is diverse, inclusive and respectful of the rights of all, the Syrian regime chose inflammatory rhetoric,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. ...
The United States has insisted for years that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy to lead his people, accusing the regime of sustained brutality in the three-year war which has left 130,000 people dead.
As some 40 countries gathered for the opening of the talks in the Swiss lakeside city of Montreux, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem dubbed the country’s opposition “traitors” and foreign “agents.” ...
Psaki also used her Twitter account @StateDeptspox to hammer away at the Syrian regime, suggesting the Syrian coalition led by Ahmad Jarba better represented the people.
Syriza Succeeds in Greece by Challenging European Social Democrats' Approach to Reform
PANITCH: Yeah. SYRIZA alone has said, we're not accepting this redefinition of reform. For a century the notion of reform was designed to be about the amelioration of market forces. And now social democratic politicians, even the former leader--the current leader of the former Communist Party in Italy, the Democratic Party, which is now actually to the right of the American Democratic Party, says he wants the government to be much more committed to introducing neoliberal reforms. So SYRIZA's rejected that, and they've had enormous electoral success in doing so--not surprisingly, given what Greece has gone through in this crisis, the worst of all in Europe in terms of levels of unemployment, the growth in inequality, the cutbacks in public services, and so on. And they've got upwards of 40 percent of the vote in opinion polls. And there may be election this year.
Now, what SYRIZA recognizes and I think what people need to take on board is that you can't even get back to the old type of reforms now, given how powerful business is and given how powerful the ideology of the need to remove those reforms in order to be competitive is. SYRIZA's recognized that you need to do some more things to get even those reforms on the agenda and that those reforms will be called revolutionary, not only by business, not only by the right, but they'll even be called revolutionary by social democratic politicians. And that involves, above all, in order not to have a capital strike when you introduce protections for people, when you bring back public services, in order for the capital not to flee, you need to introduce capital controls again. And the United States above all is worried that this crisis will lead to one country after another doing that.
Secondly, in order to make that effective and in order to be able to make decisions about what's to be invested and where, to direct investment towards public infrastructure, which all Keynesian and even a good many former monetarist economists are calling for now, in order to do that, you probably need to take the banking system and turn it into a public utility, make it part of a democratic planning system. And SYRIZA has called for that as well, changing the function of the banks and socializing them. And it's got enormous support in doing so.
Davos' Elite Message Deserves 'Fierce Resistance' Not Applause
Corporations represented at global gathering are cause of crises they claim to want to solve
Even amid seemingly thoughtful discussions about climate change, economic inequality, water scarcity and other key global issues, what's important to remember, says Alex Jensen, an expert on globalization and development at the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), is that a critical look at any of these crises shows "the complicity of the very corporations that the WEF represents."
Beyond its glossy "veneer," Jensen says, the Davos summit acts as a stage "for multinational corporations, among them human rights abusers, political racketeers, property thieves and international environmental criminals."
According to Jensen, looking at Davos' corporate sponsors this year—which include Nestle, Shell, Wal-Mart, Syngenta, and Goldman Sachs—is like looking at a 'Who's Who' list of corporate criminals. He writes:The corporations represented by the World Economic Forum are the agents principally responsible for destroying the planet, ravaging livelihoods, and literally starving people, all while aggrandizing unprecedented profits into the hands of an ever-tinier super elite. Seen in this light, all the burnished social and environmental concern-speak of the WEF is so much vacuous corporate swagger, the crudest sort of greenwash. Even though these companies actually spend huge amounts of capital and energy fighting environmental regulation and the citizen’s groups who are suffering their abuses, they simultaneously pursue a strategic embrace of environmental discourse and narratives; they accept the existence of the problems while promoting privatized, technocratic strategies for addressing them. These strategies pivot between those that assign responsibility for causing and fixing the problems to individual consumers, and those that position the corporations themselves as crucial players in the common cause of “improving”/”cleaning” the environment – the same one, incidentally, that they destroyed.
Archaeologists find remains of previously unknown pharaoh in Egypt
The 3,600-year-old remains of a previously unknown pharaoh have been discovered in southern Egypt, the country's antiquities ministry has announced.
The discovery of King Woseribre Senebkay is the first firm evidence of a forgotten pharaonic dynasty whose existence archaeologists had suspected but never proved. ...
Archaeologists say Senebkay's discovery confirms for the first time the existence of a third dynasty of pharaohs that ruled a central area between Egypt's northern and southern kingdoms at around 1,600BC. The two latter kingdoms were reunited in the century that followed – but the presence of a third dynasty suggests that their amalgamation may have been more complex than initially thought.
The Evening Greens
Freedom in 'death spiral,' bankruptcy judge told
A federal bankruptcy judge said a loan he tentatively approved during a hearing Tuesday would allow Freedom Industries to pay its employees and also pay to clean up a chemical leak into the Elk River earlier this month. ...
Freedom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows companies to reorganize under bankruptcy protection, on Friday. In Tuesday's hearing, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson called the case "one of the most unique Chapter 11 cases I've ever seen." ...
[Freedom's president, Gary] Southern told the judge, "Freedom Industries, from where I sit, is in a death spiral." Customers aren't buying from Freedom, he said, and suppliers aren't selling to them. ...
On Tuesday, the judge tentatively approved a modified DIP agreement for $4 million. The money is to pay Freedom's 51 employees, clean up the environment and pay back "critical vendors" that agree to continue supplying Freedom with products. ...
In a separate filing Monday, eight business owners in the Kanawha Valley filed an "adversary complaint," or a lawsuit within the bankruptcy, against Freedom Industries, Chemstream Holdings, Rosebud Mining Co., Gary Southern, J. Clifford Forrest and 99 unnamed individuals that acted with Freedom.
Yet another chemical identified as present in West Virginia chemical spill
Just when you thought this story couldn’t get any weirder or worse, it has just been revealed that another chemical substance was present alongside the crude MCHM mixture that leaked into the Elk River and contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginia residents.
A story published late today in the Charleston Gazette by Ken Ward, Jr., reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has told officials that a chemical identified as “PPH, stripped” was present in the leaking tank at a level of 5.6%. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the substance, provided by the Gazette, describes the substance as consisting of 100% “polyglycol ethers” – but withholds the substance’s specific chemical identity as “proprietary.”
And while the scant toxicity data provided on the substance in the MSDS suggest it has lower acute oral toxicity than the crude MCHM mixture – at least for what is called the “majority component” (suggesting that this substance, too, is a mixture) – the MSDS notes that “PPH, stripped” is a “serious eye irritant” and a skin irritant.
It has already been reported by the Charleston Gazette that some residents making hospital visits did so because of rashes or other skin irritation; other reports indicate eye irritation among residents as well. It should be noted that the MSDS for crude MCHM reports that it is also a skin and eye irritant.
Solar Power a Better Deal For Minnesota Residents Than Natural Gas, Says CourtHat tip Agathena:
Solar power just got a big boost in Minnesota. A judge responsible for deciding the best energy deal for Minnesota residents has ruled that solar power should win out, the Minnesota Tribune reports.
Solar power was assessed to be cheaper than natural gas.
The ruling says “solar is coming in a big way to the country and to Minnesota,” according to Betsy Engelking, Vice President of Geronimo Energy, which will build solar energy sites in Xcel Energy areas. “The cost of solar has come down much faster than anyone had anticipate. his is one of the reasons solar is going to explode.” The judge’s decision marked a first for solar energy: winning out on a competitive bid going against natural gas.
Pollution "made in China" hits the Western US. (probably Canada too)
Filthy emissions from China’s export industries are carried across the Pacific Ocean and contribute to air pollution in the Western United States, according to a paper published Monday by a prominent American science journal.
The research is the first to quantify how air pollution in the United States is affected by China’s production of goods for export and by global consumer demand for those goods, the study’s authors say. It was written by nine scholars based in three nations and was published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which last year published a paper by other researchers that found a drop in life spans in northern China because of air pollution. ...
The movement of air pollutants associated with the production of goods in China for the American market has resulted in a decline in air quality in the Western United States, the scientists wrote, though less manufacturing in the United States does mean cleaner air in the American East. ...
"Powerful global winds called westerlies can carry pollutants from China across the Pacific within days, leading to “dangerous spikes in contaminants,” especially during the spring, according to a news release from the University of California, Irvine, where one of the study’s co-authors, Steven J. Davis, is an earth system scientist. “Dust, ozone and carbon can accumulate in valleys and basins in California and other Western states,” the statement said."
New virus linked to bee colony collapse disorder
A rapidly mutating virus has leaped from plants to honeybees, where it is reproducing and contributing to the collapse of colonies vital to the multibillion-dollar agricultural industry, according to a new study.
Tobacco ringspot virus, a pollen-borne pathogen that causes blight in soy crops, was found during routine screening of commercial honeybees at a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory, where further study revealed the RNA virus was replicating inside its Apis mellifera hosts and spreading to mites that travel from bee to bee, according to the study published online Tuesday in the journal mBio.
The discovery is the first report of honeybees becoming infected by a pollen-born RNA virus that spread systematically through the bees and hives. Traces of the virus were detected in every part of the bee examined, except its eyes, according to the study. ...
The tobacco ringspot virus acts as a “quasi-species,” replicating in a way that creates ample mutations that subvert the host’s immune response. That phenomenon is believed to be the driving factor of recurring viral infections of avian and swine influenza and of the persistence of HIV, the study noted.
After Tuesday’s Taiji Cove slaughter, Japanese fishermen back at sea to kill more dolphins
Japanese fishermen were out at sea attempting to trap more dolphins on Wednesday, campaigners said, after the bloody slaughter of dozens of the animals the previous day was hidden from view behind screens.
Clouds of blood drifted through the waters of the cove in Taiji on Tuesday as metal spikes were driven into the spinal columns of bottlenose dolphins that had been trapped for several days, environmentalists said. ...
On Wednesday the hunters' boats were out on the ocean looking for more pods, the group said on its Twitter feed, but added that the pod they had initially been chasing had got away. ...
Local officials say the hunt is an economic necessity for an area that has little else in the way of industry, and accuse campaigners of cultural insensitivity.
One-in-four shark species faces ‘alarmingly elevated risk of extinction’
At least one in every four existing species of sharks and rays may not survive into the future, finds the first global analysis of the conservation status of 1,041 shark, ray and related species.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, hosts a clutch of species specialist groups that contribute information to its authoritative Red List of Threatened Species. ...
“Our analysis shows that sharks and their relatives are facing an alarmingly elevated risk of extinction,” said Dr. Nick Dulvy, IUCN Shark Specialist Group Co-Chair and Canada Research Chair at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
“In greatest peril are the largest species of rays and sharks, especially those living in shallow water that is accessible to fisheries,” he said.
Overfishing is the main threat to the species, finds the study, the product of 302 experts from 64 countries.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
A Little Night Music
Thelonious Monk - Straight No Chaser
Thelonious Monk - Blue Monk
Thelonious Monk - Misterioso
Thelonious Monk - Caravan
Nappy Brown - Cherry Red
Nappy Brown - If You Need Some Lovin'
Nappy Brown - Don't Be Angry
Nappy Brown - Any Time Is The Right Time
Nappy Brown - Coal Miner
Nappy Brown - Open That Door
Nappy Brown - My baby
Nappy Brown - Who
Nappy Brown - Well,Well,Well, Baby La
Nappy Brown - Every Shut Eye Ain't Sleepin'
Nappy Brown - I Done Got Over
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