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This evening's music features r&b singer Lee Dorsey. Enjoy!
Lee Dorsey - Working In The Coal Mine
“In a room where
people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence,
one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.”
-- Czesław Miłosz
News and Opinion
Glenn Greenwald: from Martin Luther King to Anonymous, the state targets dissenters not just "bad guys"Here's an article from the founder of the Pirate Party in Sweden:
The perception that invasive surveillance is confined only to a marginalised and deserving group of those "doing wrong" – the bad people – ensures that the majority acquiesces to the abuse of power or even cheers it on. But that view radically misunderstands what goals drive all institutions of authority. "Doing something wrong" in the eyes of such institutions encompasses far more than illegal acts, violent behaviour and terrorist plots. It typically extends to meaningful dissent and any genuine challenge. It is the nature of authority to equate dissent with wrongdoing, or at least with a threat.
The record is suffused with examples of groups and individuals being placed under government surveillance by virtue of their dissenting views and activism – Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, anti-war activists, environmentalists. In the eyes of the government and J Edgar Hoover's FBI, they were all "doing something wrong": political activity that threatened the prevailing order. ...
One document from the Snowden files, dated 3 October 2012, chillingly underscores the point. It revealed that the agency has been monitoring the online activities of individuals it believes express "radical" ideas and who have a "radicalising" influence on others. The memo discusses six individuals in particular, all Muslims, though it stresses that they are merely "exemplars".
The NSA explicitly states that none of the targeted individuals is a member of a terrorist organisation or involved in any terror plots. Instead, their crime is the views they express, which are deemed "radical", a term that warrants pervasive surveillance and destructive campaigns to "exploit vulnerabilities".
Among the information collected about the individuals, at least one of whom is a "US person", are details of their online sex activities and "online promiscuity" – the porn sites they visit and surreptitious sex chats with women who are not their wives. The agency discusses ways to exploit this information to destroy their reputations and credibility. ...
All of the evidence highlights the implicit bargain that is offered to citizens: pose no challenge and you have nothing to worry about. Mind your own business, and support or at least tolerate what we do, and you'll be fine. Put differently, you must refrain from provoking the authority that wields surveillance powers if you wish to be deemed free of wrongdoing.
The Ruling Class Wages War On Truth Itself
The ruling class and the governments are waging a war against truth itself. Governments are demanding control over citizens and their communications. Governments don’t hesitate to persecute and imprison people who tell the truth about what’s going on, defending citizens’ rights. There is reason to worry.
Chelsea Manning gave the West the true picture about what’s happening in the wars waged in our name. She gave us the truth about the political and diplomatical double-crossing that happens when powerholders believe that the people aren’t watching. This was punished with 35 years in prison.
WikiLeaks distributed this knowledge to the world. The U.S. Adminsitration reacted with fury against the truth coming out. American politicians have threatened the Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, with the death penalty – and it is unclear what would happen if the United States would manage to sink its claws into him. ...
Edward Snowden, the whistleblower on the United States NSA, is one of the planet’s most hunted individuals – for telling the truth about the global mass surveillance under construction by (among others) the NSA, the GCHQ, and the Swedish equivalent, the FRA. He has been branded a traitor for telling the people at large what the ruling political and bureaucratic class is actually doing.
And now we’re being told that European politicians, diplomats, and reporters are at risk of prosecution in the United States if they’re digging too deeply into Snowden’s revelations. If they learn too much about what’s actually going on. If they seek the truth.
Trans-Atlantic Supplicant: Merkel Chooses Unity over NSA Truth
Obama welcomed Merkel by calling her "one of my closest partners" and a "friend" and took her on a tour of the White House vegetable garden as part of the four hours he made available. He praised her as a "strong partner" in the Ukraine crisis and thanked her many times for the close cooperation exhibited in recent years. The birds in the Rose Garden sang happily as the president spoke.
But then Obama made clear who had the upper hand in this wonderfully harmonious relationship. When a reporter asked why, in the wake of the NSA spying scandal, the no-spy deal between Germany and the US had collapsed, Obama avoided giving a clear answer. He also dodged a question as to whether Merkel's staff is still monitored. Instead, he stayed vague: "As the world's oldest continuous constitutional democracy, I think we know a little bit about trying to protect people's privacy." That was it. ...
If accepting defeat with a smile on one's face is part of political theater, then Angela Merkel delivered a virtuoso performance. ... But there is a kind of special relationship between Berlin and Washington at the moment -- special in that the Chancellor wants to do everything to avoid a conflict with the US. She had every reason in the world to veer from diplomatic politesse. Her very own cell phone, after all, had been targeted by the NSA. But instead, she brought along a valuable gift for Obama: The promise that whistleblower Edward Snowden would not be coming to Germany to give testimony in the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into NSA spying practices. ...
Opposition politicians from the far-left Left Party and from the Greens have spoken of "sabotage." They were also nonplussed when they learned last week that the government has based its position in part on legal guidance provided by an American law firm.
The expertise came from the Washington DC-based firm Rubin, Winston, Diercks, Harris & Cooke and essentially means that anyone who has anything to do with Snowden, even journalists, is a potential criminal. "We are of the opinion that if Snowden provides classified information or documents to the Bundestag or to German diplomats who interview Snowden, such acts give rise to criminal exposure under the laws of the United States. The United States would have jurisdiction to prosecute these acts regardless of where they occur," writes firm partner Jeffrey Harris. It is an interpretation that also applies to SPIEGEL and other media outlets that have seen and reported on large numbers of documents provided by Snowden.
The document clearly notes that German politicians do not enjoy the same rights in the US as they do in Germany nor are they protected to the degree that American lawmakers are.
EU court backs 'right to be forgotten': Google must amend results on requestAn excellent article which delivers the goods:
A European court has backed the "right to be forgotten" and said Google must delete "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" data from its results when a member of the public requests it.
The test case ruling by the European Union's court of justice against Google Spain was brought by a Spanish man, Mario Costeja González, after he failed to secure the deletion of an auction notice of his repossessed home dating from 1998 on the website of a mass circulation newspaper in Catalonia.
González argued that the matter, in which his house had been auctioned to recover his social security debts, had been resolved and should no longer be linked to him whenever his name was searched on Google.
The European court judges ruled that under existing EU data protection laws Google has to erase links to two pages on La Vanguardia's website from the results that are produced when González's name is put into the search engine.
The European judges made clear that in their view the EU data protection directive already established a "right to be forgotten". This appears to pre-empt lengthy negotiations within the EU over a new data protection directive which could establish a limited "right to be forgotten". ...
The ruling makes clear that a search engine such as Google has to take responsibility for the content that it links to and may be required to purge its results even if the material was published legally.
The Newspaper of WarHere's an illuminating excerpt from a letter from 100+ scholars to Human Rights Watch suggesting that its independence from the US government is lacking:
Many years ago, Ho Chi Minh’s North Vietnam, Communist China, and Soviet Russia were saying one thing about what had happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in early August 1964, while President Johnson and top administration officials were all saying the exact opposite. How should the Times have responded to that situation, assuming a commitment to an independent press and an informed citizenry?
Ten years earlier, in July 1954, the governments of Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and China all signed the Final Declaration of the Geneva Accord on Vietnam, which formally concluded France’s U.S.-supported colonial war in Vietnam. The United States refused to sign, and thereafter proceeded to undermine the most important stipulation of the accord – that elections to unify the northern and southern zones of Vietnam take place in 1956. By what journalistic criteria should the New York Times have covered this refusal by the Eisenhower administration to sign and comply with the Geneva Accord on Vietnam, which opened the door to the twenty-year American military campaign in Vietnam?
When Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Rice claimed in 2001-2003 that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including an active nuclear weapons program, and when Saddam Hussein denied those claims, what journalistic standard did the Times apply in its response to those conflicting claims? ...
The fact is that Times editorial policy – essentially unchanged since the late-nineteenth century – has never emphasized enlightened law as a standard of coverage to be applied to U.S. foreign policy, has seldom reported the facts independently of the executive’s war-related pronouncements, has usually supported U.S. interventions and U.S.-backed coups abroad, and has never questioned the “clean hands” and moral right of the United States to punish others via economic sanctions or otherwise.
The Corruption of Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch characterizes itself as “one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.” However, HRW’s close ties to the U.S. government call into question its independence.
For example, HRW’s Washington advocacy director, Tom Malinowski, previously served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton and as a speechwriter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 2013, he left HRW after being nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under John Kerry.
In her HRW.org biography, Board of Directors’ Vice Chair Susan Manilow describes herself as “a longtime friend to Bill Clinton” who is “highly involved” in his political party, and “has hosted dozens of events” for the Democratic National Committee.
Currently, HRW Americas’ advisory committee includes Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, and Michael Shifter, one-time Latin America director for the U.S. government-financed National Endowment for Democracy. Miguel Díaz, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst in the 1990s, sat on HRW Americas’ advisory committee from 2003-11. Now at the State Department, Díaz serves as “an interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts.”
In his capacity as an HRW advocacy director, Malinowski contended in 2009 that “under limited circumstances” there was “a legitimate place” for CIA renditions—the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet. Malinowski was quoted paraphrasing the U.S. government’s argument that designing an alternative to sending suspects to “foreign dungeons to be tortured” was “going to take some time.”
HRW has not extended similar consideration to Venezuela. In a 2012 letter to President Chávez, HRW criticized the country’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, alleging that Venezuela had fallen “far short of acceptable standards” and questioning its “ability to serve as a credible voice on human rights.” At no point has U.S. membership in the same council merited censure from HRW, despite Washington’s secret, global assassination program, its preservation of renditions, and its illegal detention of individuals at Guantánamo Bay.
Likewise, in February 2013, HRW correctly described as “unlawful” Syria’s use of missiles in its civil war. However, HRW remained silent on the clear violation of international law constituted by the U.S. threat of missile strikes on Syria in August.
Joe Biden’s Son Appointed Director of Ukraine’s Largest Gas Company!
The rabbit hole of corruption goes deep!
Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has been appointed to the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, a privately-owned natural gas company operating in the Ukraine since the year 2002. Burisma Holdings has become a considerable player within the Ukrainian natural gas and oil industry, with licences covering the Dnieper-Donets, Carpathian and Azov-Kuban basins. The production capability has reached over 10,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOEPD) which has left the company with considerable reserves.
Is Ukraine Entering A Revolutionary Moment?
WORONCZUK: Well, you also said that Donetsk and Lugansk are major industrial sites of Ukraine. I'm wondering, like, what kind of support exists among the owners of industry in the Eastern regions for the referendum and for the uprisings in the East.
BUZGALIN: This is important question, by the way, because before referendum, majority of big forces of industry, owners, oligarchs, they were not supporters of this self-defense of people and they didn't help them. All this organization was based on the small money which came from the ordinary people, and they were talking, without that, they don't have money for normal food, sometimes for medicine, for gasoline for their cars, and so on. So it was not sponsored by oligarchs.
But now some of owners of huge industrial enterprises in the East/South of Ukraine started to support a referendum, because they're simply afraid that workers will, I don't know, nationalize or socialize their enterprises. They say that we will ask [places] from the West or black--I am sorry; black--right sector, right-wing nationalist forces for support of--for defense of their enterprises, of their property. So this is not simple choice even for big business.
For small business it's also not simple, but a lot of ordinary small farmers and owners of shops and so on supported this referendum and supported this struggle.
Also important, that miners, workers from the miner factories, they keep mining factories working, because it's very dangerous for them and for everybody if they will be closed. So when Ukrainian, Central Ukrainian, Kiev propaganda says that Russia supports East of Ukraine because they want to stop production of coal, steel, and so on to have preferences in the world market, it's not true. Workers are continuing production, and they're trying to continue production.
But from another side, we have information that Kiev government is now taking bread, taking grain, food from East of Ukraine, and they want to create shortage of food in the East of Ukraine. And this is not good idea to act this way with people of Ukraine. And southeast of Ukraine, this is part of Ukraine.
Germany to aid Ukraine talks with separatists
The German foreign minister has arrived in Ukraine saying he hopes round-table talks between politicians and civil groups this week will help disarm pro-Russia separatists and improve the atmosphere for elections in the country later this month.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier met the acting prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at Kiev's airport on Tuesday morning before travelling to the Black Sea city of Odessa, the site of deadly clashes between Ukrainian forces and rebels.
The situation in parts of Ukraine remained "dangerous and threatening", Steinmeier said, adding that the priority was for as many voters as possible to take part in presidential elections on 25 May.
"We also support your efforts to launch a national dialogue, under Ukrainian ownership, here in your country, through round-tables, at the central level and in the regions," Steinmeier told a joint news conference with Yatsenyuk. "I hope that under these conditions it is possible to take steps to bring back occupied buildings and eventually to disarm illegal groups," said the German foreign minister. ...
Russia has welcomed the initiative, which reflects some key demands of insurgents who have denounced the central government in Kiev as a "fascist junta".
Yatsenyuk pledged on Monday to talk to representatives of Ukraine's east.
Second Referendum Possible as East Ukraine Faces Post-Vote Divide
Sunday, eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts went to the polls to answer the question “do you support the People’s Republic of Donetsk?” They answered yes, now they need to figure out what that means. ...
That could well mean a second referendum, asking if the voters support seeking accession into the Russian Federation, as voters in Crimea did earlier this year. Some protest leaders saw that as the whole point of yesterday’s vote, and want annexation. ...
Figuring out where Donetsk is headed is all the more difficult because all of this is occurring amid a military invasion by the interim government, which is promising to not only reconquer the area, but “liquidate” the protest movement outright. The situation, if anything, is less resolved than ever.
US Drone Strike Kills Six in Southeast Yemen
A US drone strike has destroyed a car traveling in the southeastern Maarib Province on Yemen today, killing six people, all of whom the Yemeni government dubbed “al-Qaeda” suspects.
The killings are a continuation of the ramshackle US-Yemeni offensive across Yemen, which has killed large numbers of people, virtually none of whom have been identified, in the past couple of weeks.
While each attack has Yemen raising hopes they killed a “al-Qaeda leader,” so far those beliefs have not panned out.
Is Israeli PM Netanyahu’s Case against Iran Collapsing?
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has determinedly beaten the drums for war with Iran, though his lack of any actual overt action on that front has suggested to many observers that he uses the Iran issue to distract the international community from the Israel project of annexing the Palestinian West Bank and keeping Gaza a huge outdoor prison.
But even the plausibility of Netanyahu’s assertions about Iran have increasingly been brought into question by Israeli officials themselves.
This week Uzi Eilam, a former head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Agency, insisted that Iran is at least a decade from having nuclear weapons capability and suggested that Iran probably does not even want such a capability. Netanyahu has been saying Iran is around the corner from the bomb since at least the early 1990s.
Meanwhile, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors confirmed that Iran is upholding its side of the bargain struck with the US and the UN Security Council when negotiations began last fall. Iran has diluted 75% of its stock of uranium enriched to 19.75 percent. That stockpile, intended to fuel Iran’s medical reactor to produce isotopes for treating cancer, had been of concern because Western powers felt it would be easier to enrich it further, to the 95% needed for a nuclear bomb, than is the case with the 5% enriched uranium used in nuclear power plants. ...
Iran’s increasing transparency about its civilian nuclear enrichment program, which it insists is for electricity generation, its acknowledgment of the Holocaust, and its willingness to go an extra mile to allay Western fears, are hallmarks of the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, who was elected last summer. Rouhani’s Iran isn’t so easy to turn into a pariah, though it is still heavily sanctioned.
No such posture can, moreover, be misunderstood by the world community in such a way that they might authorize military force there.
Credit Suisse deal with U.S. authorities could top $2 billion
New York state's banking regulator is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from Credit Suisse in its probe of potential tax evasion involving the Swiss bank, according to sources close to the matter, which could push an eventual settlement with U.S. authorities over $2 billion.
The New York regulator made an opening bid of $1 billion, one of the sources said, though negotiations are expected to significantly drive down the final penalty amount.
The settlement with the New York State Department of Financial Services would be in addition to the fine that Credit Suisse is discussing with the U.S. Justice Department. Reuters reported last week that the Justice Department is seeking as much as $1.6 billion from the bank.
The talks between Credit Suisse and Benjamin Lawsky, New York's financial services superintendent, are ongoing, people familiar with the matter said. Credit Suisse could reach a deal with New York and federal authorities in the coming days, they said.
Federal prosecutors have also been pushing for the bank to plead guilty to criminal charges as part of the settlement, as the U.S. Justice Department has faced criticism that it has shied away from prosecuting financial firms. ...
The Swiss bank is eager to move past the long-running probe by the Justice Department into whether it helped thousands of Americans evade U.S. taxes.
The Evening Greens
Western Antarctic ice sheet collapse has already begun, scientists warn
The collapse of the Western Antarctica ice sheet is already under way and is unstoppable, two separate teams of scientists said on Monday.
The glaciers' retreat is being driven by climate change and is already causing sea-level rise at a much faster rate than scientists had anticipated.
The loss of the entire western Antarctica ice sheet could eventually cause up to 4 metres (13ft) of sea-level rise, devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world. But the researchers said that even though such a rise could not be stopped, it is still several centuries off, and potentially up to 1,000 years away. ...
The Nasa researchers focused on melting over the last 20 years, while the scientists at the University of Washington used computer modelling to look into the future of the western Antarctic ice sheet.
But both studies came to broadly similar conclusions – that the thinning and melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has begun and cannot be halted, even with drastic action to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
Canadian runaway train disaster firm faces criminal chargesThe government fiddles while the climate burns, part 3,242,563:
The railway company and three of its employees involved in a massive explosion of a runaway oil train that incinerated much of a small town in Quebec last July, killing 47 people, will face criminal negligence charges, provincial prosecutors have said.
The charges come 10 months after more than 60 of the tankers carrying oil from North Dakota came loose in the middle of the night, sped downhill for nearly seven miles (11km) and derailed in the town of Lac-Megantic in eastern Quebec. At least five of the tankers exploded, destroying about 30 buildings, including a bar filled with revellers.
The Quebec provincial prosecutor's office said 47 counts of criminal negligence have been filed against engineer Thomas Harding, manager of train operations Jean Demaitre, and Richard Labrie, who was in charge of rail circulation, as well as the now-defunct Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd. The criminal charges, the first to be brought, represent one count for each person killed.
Rene Verret, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said the three railway employees were arrested late on Monday afternoon. They are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday in Lac-Megantic. A message left at MM&A offices was not immediately returned.
Keystone vote dies along with energy efficiency bill
WASHINGTON — The chances for a Senate vote to approve the Keystone pipeline died on Monday along with an energy efficiency bill, victims of Congress’ inability to do anything regarding energy policy.
The Senate, paralyzed by partisan bickering, has not been able to pass a major energy bill since 2007, and it now appears unlikely to do so before the November election.
Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., had agreed to schedule a vote on forcing President Barack Obama to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, a key issue in election races around the country. But Reid said he would only allow that vote if the Republicans agreed to the modest energy efficiency bill, which has languished for years despite wide and bipartisan support.
Senate Republicans, though, insisted on offering amendments to the energy efficiency bill _ including measures to help the coal industry by limiting regulation of planet-warming gases and to speed up the approval U.S. natural gas exports. Reid refused to allow amendments to be considered on the floor.
The Republicans in return threatened a filibuster of the energy efficiency bill, killing the measure and Reid’s offer to schedule a vote on Keystone.
Both sides blamed each other, with Reid saying the stalemate represents what’s wrong with Congress when even a noncontroversial energy efficiency bill can’t pass.
Questions arise about wisdom of huge China water project
NANYANG, China — There’s an old saying in the American West: “Water flows uphill toward money.” The same holds true in China, where engineers are building a 1,500-mile network of canals and tunnels to divert water from the rain-abundant south to Beijing and other wealthy northern cities.
Costing an estimated $62 billion, the South-North Water Transfer Project is the largest public works undertaking in China since the Three Gorges Dam, and even more gargantuan in scale. ... Sometime next fall, possibly as early as September, engineers will turn several valves and water will flow to Beijing from the Danjiangkou Reservoir. More than 400 feet wide and lined in concrete, the central channel can carry nearly 15,000 cubic feet of water every second. For comparison, the Missouri River’s average flow at Kansas City is 55,400 cubic feet per second. Engineers estimate the water will take 15 days to get to Beijing. ...
Whether all this engineering will meet expectations is unclear. Back in the 1990s, the Danjiangkou Reservoir’s water source, the Han River, a tributary of the Yangtze, was known widely to be pristine. Some of its tributaries have since been fouled, and contamination along the channel route north is also a concern. ... Another problem is the degree that continuing diversions of water will harm the ecosystems of South China. While the mighty Yangtze isn’t close to drying up, a fate that regularly befalls the Yellow River in the north, China is increasingly tapping it for a variety of industrial and urban uses. “This could reduce the environmental capacity of the river, the availability of water and the water quality flowing downstream,” said Ma Jun, who heads the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs in Beijing.
Ma says the crisis starts and ends with unsustainable water use, particularly in Beijing, a growing capital of 22 million people and numerous fountains, lawns and golf courses. The South-North Water Transfer Project, he notes, was originally conditioned on a requirement that Beijing reduce its groundwater pumping and wasteful practices. “Now that the population is growing so fast, it is doubtful whether this plan will be carried out,” he said.
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
Lee Dorsey - Get Out Of My Life, Woman
Lee Dorsey - Ya Ya
Lee Dorsey - Everything I Do Goin' Be Funky
Lee Dorsey - Ride Your Pony
Lee Dorsey - Yes We Can
Lee Dorsey - Holy Cow
Lee Dorsey - Give It Up
Lee Dorsey - Work, Work, Work
Lee Dorsey - Do Re Mi
Lee Dorsey - The Greatest Love
Lee Dorsey - People Gonna Talk
Lee Dorsey - Who's gonna help brother get further
Lee Dorsey - A Lover Was Born
Lee Dorsey - Can You Hear Me
Lee Dorsey - Great Googa Mooga
Lee Dorsey - Confusion
Lee Dorsey - Gator Tail
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