Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for November, 2011

A bunch of communists

Posted by Charles II on November 30, 2011

(Via Barry Ritholtz)

Really, having about 1000 people control corporations with trillions of dollars of revenue, and thereby control the political system more closely resembles the Soviet Politburo than it does a democracy.

Posted in Occupy movement | Comments Off

Christmas gifts for the baby Jesus; Luckiest gunny; Bloggers get their day in the sun

Posted by Charles II on November 30, 2011

What will you be giving the Prince of Peace this Christmas?

Image of the Scottsdale Gun Clun from Talking Points Memo.

Ya know, I support the right of people to have and to hold whatever non-fully automatic weapon they care to own till death do them part (minus dumdums, armor piercing ammunition, and high capacity magazines). But this kinda goes to show how completely hypocritical many gunnies are. They go to church to pray to the Prince of Peace and they go out to the mall to buy a weapon to gun down the armies of the anti-Christ or whatever. If you’re going to be a pedal to the metal gunny, please admit you’re not Christian.

The luckiest gunny on earth

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Richard Seymour, who run’s Lenin’s Tomb, provides an incredibly lucid picture of the British strike, which brought 2 million into the streets and closed down many schools. This was the largest strike in nearly a century.

And Raed Jarrar of Dear_Raed (careful, without the underline, you get phentermine etc. talks about Biden’s visit to Iraq.

Posted in blogs and blogging, gun issues | Comments Off

As LAPD Prepares To Forcibly Evict Occupy LA, Some News While You Wait

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 30, 2011

Silly LAPD. Even their best efforts to limit journalistic presence to their own embedded and ideologically trusted Veal Pen selectees (what else do you call it when no Spanish-language media are invited — in a city with well over four million Spanish speakers — yet pathetic hack right-winger Andrew Breitbart is given the LAPD’s red-carpet treatment?) are doomed to failure, as the cellphones and cameras of the Occupiers they bludgeon and gas and spray will be rolling and transmitting throughout.

While we wait for the cops to make their move and inject some more momentum into the Occupy movement, here are some news items for your perusal:

Chinese workers, outraged at low pay and atrocious working conditions, are staging several strikes against the companies contracted by multinational firms such as Apple, IBM and even Pepsi.

This NYT story (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/world/europe/british-hacking-scandal-widens-to-government-secrets.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all) originally reported that News of the World spies, allegedly at the behest of Andy Coulson and Murdoch’s own very best friend Rebekah Brooks, hacked into government computers. But that’s all been scrubbed now, and the only evidence left is the story’s URL and some of the comments:

Jon, NM, November 29th, 2011, 8:46 am:

Of course they hacked into government computers…perhaps to see if the information government ministers were selling to Murdoch was on the up and up.

[...]

whoever, Hamden, CT, November 29th, 2011, 9:10 am:

Wait one! Tell me again that Ian Hurst, British Army intelligence officer, ran undercover ops in Northern Ireland and didn’t have the wit or tradecraft to secure his electronics from hacking?!??! Good going Dear Brit Cousins.

[...]

Technic Ally, Toronto, November 29th, 2011, 10:29 am:

To MI-5 and MI-6 we can now add MI-7, the Murdoch Intelligence network.

[...]

Michael Rivero, Honolulu, HI, November 29th, 2011, 10:29 am:

This has gone beyond mere scandal-mongering. Murdoch was running an intelligence gathering operation behind the facade of his newspapers. The question that must be asked now is, which nation did he provide the gathered intelligence to? You get three guesses and the first two don’t count.

[...]

Steve Bolger, New York, NY, November 29th, 2011, 12:59 pm:

Someday China may get credit for pulling off one of the most effective acts of subversive spying in the history of cloak and dagger. Mata Hari eat your heart out, Rupert’s wife shows how it is done without getting executed.

[...]

mike davis, fort lee,nj, November 29th, 2011, 1:00 pm

Please can anyone explain why this crime is not worse than watergate, a crime that resulted in the resignation of president Nixon and the jailing of many top officers of his admininistration. I find it particularly strange why these high crimes are not reported more vigorously by our news media. WHY ARE THE MURDOCHS STILL WALKING AROUND AS IF NOTHING HAPPENED. THEY ALLEGEDLY HACKED THE COMPUTERS OF THE HIGHEST OFFICERS OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT FOR GOODNESS SAKE. Julian Assange from what I know did not hack into our computers and published information given to him, yet many here are calling for his head. Where are these same people when it comes to the Murdochs?

[...]

Will B, New York, November 29th, 2011, 3:39 pm:

Seems to me that News Corp. is in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. If additional evidence substantiates these claims, I would like to see the Justice Department really jump in.

[...]

Richard, Washington, November 29th, 2011, 5:45 pm:

Of course Scotland Yard has no comment; they are complicit!
So who do you have conduct a real investigation when the police have been bought off? The PM, or is he in bed with Murdoch, too?

– Lastly, even as the LAPD’s looming eviction of Occupy LA will just give the Occupy movement a big boost, New York magazine comes out with an article explaining some facets of Occupy Wall Street that haven’t yet been examined.

It’s a huge piece so I won’t attempt to excerpt it here, but my takeaways from it are as follows:

– A fair number of key OWSers (including the tech guy who handed out the laptops to the various key Occupy branches nationwide) are former Wall Streeters who are repentant and who want to bring down the beast. Some of them have saved their Wall Street earnings just so they could use the money for this goal.

– Jesse Jackson is very, very smart; he knew how to approach the OWS crowd. Yet even he couldn’t co-opt them.

– OWSers are learning to trust their own internal judgement about potential allies.

– If OWS survives the winter (which the raid on Zuccotti actually made much more likely), it has the potential to create groups like those of the civil rights era: the SCLC, etc. It also has the potential to make Obama soil his pants, as the Occupiers aren’t going to be snowed by pretty words. He’ll have to actually back up his words with deeds, not toenail clippings.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | Comments Off

Murdoch computer hacking scandal sucks in N. Ireland minister

Posted by Charles II on November 29, 2011

Patrick Wintour and Dan Sabbagh on yet another compromise of confidential informants by Murdoch computer hacking:

The former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain has been told by the Metropolitan police that they are investigating evidence that his computer, and those of senior Northern Ireland civil servants and intelligence agents, may have been hacked by private detectives working for News International.

The suggestion that the minister’s computers, containing sensitive intelligence material, may have been compromised is the most serious sign yet that newspaper malpractice extended far beyond the hacking of mobile phone voicemail, into the realm of other electronic data.

Hain, Labour MP for Neath, was Northern Ireland secretary from May 2005 to June 2007 when he was involved in sensitive peace negotiations. He will have had access to classified information about informers and security.

Josh Halliday and Lisa O’Carroll:

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson have been branded “the scum of journalism” in a series of allegations from a former News of the World deputy features editor at the UK inquiry into press standards.

Paul McMullan accused Coulson of introducing “wholesale” phone hacking when he appointed editor of the News of the World in 2003, and described Brooks as “the criminal-in-chief”.

He later said: “For 21 years you have a culture of illegality of phone hacking and fiddling your expenses and so on. What you have is a future prime minister [presumably David Cameron] cosying up and being moulded by the arch-criminal, Rebekah Brooks, the criminal-in-chief.”

The tabloids were paying enormous sums for information about celebrities: ca. $45,000 to learn that Princess Diana was landing at Helsinki airport and ca, $15,000 to learn that Victoria Beckham was pregnant.

Posted in Rupert Murdoch, wiretapping | 2 Comments »

Direct rule by bankers?

Posted by Charles II on November 29, 2011

I don’t think that’s constitutional.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=7637

The fake party is called Americans Elect. They are falsely called moderates by such “liberal” institutions as the Washington Post. But even TNR is not buying that. Basically it’s corporate money.

Quick quiz: the fusion of corporate power with state power is _____________.

Posted in capitalism as cancer, fascism, financial crisis | 2 Comments »

Inventor of pepper spray denounces its use by police

Posted by Charles II on November 29, 2011

One of the people who developed pepper spray in its weaponized uses for the FBI, Kamran Loghman, was so shocked by what he saw at UC Davis and in Seattle that he denounced the manner in which police are using it. He is the recipient of three patents, but has done everything from film making to martial arts to “alternative treatments for addiction and alcohol disorder.”

Here’s the summary from DemocracyNow:

We speak with Kamran Loghman, the expert who developed weapons-grade pepper-spray, who says he was shocked at how police have used the chemical agent on non-violent Occupy Wall Street protesters nationwide — including students at University of California, Davis, female protesters in New York City, and an 84-year old activist in Seattle. “I saw it and the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t police or students, it was my own children sitting down having an opinion and they’re being shot and forced by chemical agents,” says Loghman, who in the 1980s helped the FBI develop weapons-grade pepper -spray, and collaborated with police departments to develop guidelines for its use. “The use was just absolutely out of the ordinary and it was not in accordance with any training or policy of any department that I know of. I personally certified 4,000 police officers in the early ‘80s and ‘90s and I have never seen this before. That’s why I was shocked… I feel is my civic duty to explain to the public that this is not what pepper spray was developed for.”

He makes the point that pepper spray is ideal in the situation where a policeman is trying to subdue someone out of his mind on PCP, where the person who is pepper-sprayed can be decontaminated shortly thereafter. To use it on people who are sitting on the ground is unquestionably an abuse–a form of torture–and completely irresponsible in a situation where the police don’t have any clear means to decontaminate the person within a reasonable period of time. Two people at UC Davis were hospitalized. I suspect that these out-of-spec usages are likely to expose significant long-term damage, including permanent scarring of the airways and esophagus.

The idiots from Fox News called capsicum a “food product.” Well, yeah. So is LSD, opium, and atropine, all of which are dangerous when used in inappropriate dosages. Arsenic is natural, and aflatoxin is organic. What’s your point, Fox?

Posted in abuse of power, Fox Noise, Occupy movement, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

In which Senator Carl Levin loses his mind

Posted by Charles II on November 29, 2011

I long ago accepted that most of the people in Washington had lost their minds and the rest were a bit wobbly on reality. I did not think that Carl Levin would be one of them. But read this and see if you don’t think that he has lost all sense of proportion. Also note that one Senator is standing up for sanity. From DemocracyNow:

AMY GOODMAN: The Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on a Pentagon spending bill that could usher in a radical expansion of indefinite detention under the U.S. government. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial. The measure would effectively extend the definition of what’s considered the U.S. military’s battlefield to anywhere in the world, even the United States. The measure’s authors, Democratic Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, have been campaigning for its passage in a bipartisan effort. But, the White House has issued a veto threat with backing from top officials including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James clapper, an FBI Director Robert Mueller. The measure was inserted into the full military spending bill after the Armed Services Committee quietly approved it without a single public hearing. Now Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set Wednesday as a procedural vote day to advance the legislation. For more we’re joined by Daphne Eviatar, Senior Associate with the Law and Security Program at Human Rights First. On Monday, Human Rights First released a letter from 26 retired military leaders urging the Senate to vote against the measure as well as against a separate provision that would repeal the executive order banning torture. Daphne Eviatar joins us in the studio today. Welcome to Democracy Now!. Explain exactly what this legislation is about.

DAPHNE EVIATAR: OK, first of all, the legislation is 680 pages long, and so one reason this has been able to get through so quietly is that the controversial provisions [Amendment 1107] are just three or four provisions within this huge package. The ones that we’re particularly concerned about, are for—-specifically the one you mentioned about creating a system of indefinite military detention within the United States by statute…

DAPHNE EVIATAR: … another very controversial provision in the bill and what the administration has particularly objected to, is the mandatory military custody provision which would say anyone suspected of terrorism in any way connected to Al Qaeda would have to be put into military custody. So, the government wouldn’t even have the option. So, all these FBI investigations that are thwarting terrorist attacks and local police investigations, immediately that would have to be turned over to the U.S. military, and that would become a military action here in the United States, on U.S. soil.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the [Mark, not Tom] Udall Amendment?

DAPHNE EVIATAR: The Udall Amendment would basically table this.

AMY GOODMAN: Who are the military leaders who have signed on to the letter that you released this week?

DAPHNE EVIATAR: Those are retired generals and admirals, very senior people. Many of the same people who stood behind President Obama when he signed an executive order on his second day in office banning the use of torture and closing the CIA’s secret prisons. So many of those same people are saying, you know what, this is not a good idea.

DAPHNE EVIATAR: … the third provision, which I didn’t have a chance to talk about is just that it extends the transfer restrictions. It means you can’t transfer anyone out of Guantanamo. And the worst thing, and this is also something very few people have realized, but, Secretary Panetta mentioned this recently, is it would prevent the transfer of detainees out of Bagram and Afghanistan. So, we have about 3000 detainees being detained indefinitely in Afghanistan at the Bagram Air Base. Now, the U.S. wants to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. This would make it almost impossible to do that, because you wouldn’t be able to transfer these detainees to Afghanistan because Afghanistan could never meet the conditions that are set out in the bill to accept detainees from the United States.

[In addition, legislation proposed by Senator Kelly Ayotte of NH would authorize torture]

OK, so in summary: Carl Levin has proposed suspending our obligations under international treaties and the US Constitution to permit indefinite detention by the military of anyone, even a US citizen inside the United States, on the mere suspicion of being involved in terror. If your neighbor doesn’t like you and anonymously calls in saying, “She talks to people who look foreign to me,” even if those people happen to be your British exchange student, that’s enough to send you to Guantanamo. And, he wants to keep us in Afghanistan forever so that we can hang onto 3000 people at Bagram. Either that or, in effect, transfer them abroad into a gulag. And, just as a bonus, Kelly Ayotte wants to authorize torture for anyone who lands up in the Gulag Archipelago the Levin-McCain legislation would create. This despite the fact that numerous senior military commanders think it’s a bad idea.

Our military leaders do not want torture, since that would make them war criminals under existing treaties:

Our military and intelligence agencies have made clear they do not want this issue revisited. In 2009 they unanimously reported they had all the authority they needed to effectively interrogate. Responding to calls to bring back “enhanced interrogation techniques,” when he was commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan last year, General Petraeus unequivocally stated “we should not go there.”

Fortunately, the ACLU has made it easy for you to write to your state’s senators here.

Posted in civil rights, Democrats as cancer, Guantanamo, torture, totalitarianism | Comments Off

No $ For Franken Or Klobuchar Until They Stop Trying To Kill The Internet

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 29, 2011

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

It’s really sad to see people who should know better — especially someone who pretends to favor Net Neutrality — on the wrong side of an issue:

Big Pharma and the recording and movie industries are on the verge of passing a bill that could very well destroy the social web, including Daily Kos.

This is no hyperbole. Watch the video above. It is literally an existentialist threat for Daily Kos and any other site with user-generated content, from Facebook, to Reddit, to tumblr, Sound Cloud or YouTube.

This is the holy grail of the entertainment industry—to destroy the internet, and thus, destroy the biggest danger to their business.

[...]

The LA Times and NY Times have both editorialized against the bills today. The LA Times writes:

Both bills go to risky extremes, however, in their efforts to stop these sites from attracting an audience. Of the two, the House bill goes further down the wrong path, weakening protections for companies — including those based in the United States — that enable users to store, publish or sell goods online. The change could force such companies to monitor everything their users do, turning them into a private security force for copyright and trademark owners.

We’ll have more info soon on what you can do to help stop this atrocity. You can also go to AmericanCensorship.org to learn more about these bills, and what you can do to help stop them.

Then again, in Franken’s case, note that Time Warner and General Electric are among his top five donors.

Be that as it may, he can forget about seeing any money from me. He and Amy Klobuchar — and Patrick Leahy — obviously prefer corporate Hollywood’s money, anyway.

Send Al Franken an e-mail to urge him to recant. I’d do the same for Klobuchar, but I think she’s too far gone to bother with. Aw, what the hell, here it is.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Secretly Passing Around Anti-Gay Declaration For Signatures

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 29, 2011

Yikes — just what we all needed. NOT:

Like all communities, the Orthodox Jewish one is comprised of many layers. In July 2010, Modern Orthodox rabbis around the country signed a groundbreaking Statement of Principles in “regard to the place of Jews with a homosexual orientation” in their community. While clearly stating that the parameters of Halacha (Jewish Law) prohibit same-sex sexual intercourse, the Principles still offered a message of compassion, empathy and inclusiveness of gay and lesbian Jews within the Orthodox community. It was a huge step forward for the Jewish community.

However, many ultra-Orthodox leaders felt that these Principles were too affirming of homosexuality. So this Declaration currently making rounds will serve as their official response in regards to guiding individuals with same-sex attractions. The endorser, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, urges all rabbis and mental health professionals to sign this Declaration, which offers modification and healing through reparative therapy as the sole option.

The full text of this secret Declaration, which has not been released to the public — until now — is posted below. I am releasing it here because I am certain that despite the signatures already included, plenty of other ultra-Orthodox rabbis will disagree. More importantly, this Declaration — and these rabbis endorsing it — will certainly cause anguish to the gay and lesbian Orthodox Jewish community, which has fought so hard for acceptance. Finally, I am certain that if reparative therapy is presented as the sole option, many individuals seeking guidance from rabbis or mental health professionals will be harmed — indirectly by others, and perhaps even directly by harming themselves.

That’s right — we’re talking about a document that tells Jewish mental health professionals that they must not only embrace the idea that homosexuality is a disease to be eradicated (a notion that every medical association worth the name has renounced for nearly the past half century), but that gays must be forced to take “reparative therapy“, which as has been known for many years is not only bogus, but downright harmful.

You can read the document in question, called “the Torah Declaration” by its authors, right here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Murdoch computer hacking demonstrates that wiretapping is out of control

Posted by Charles II on November 28, 2011

While most of the recent phone-hacking news has been of the sort of celebrity-driven, moral posturing that so diminish the value of inquiries by Parliament and Congress, one recent guest had some interesting testimony. Jason Deans, The Guardian:

A former British army intelligence officer whose computer was allegedy hacked by the News of the World has claimed at the Leveson inquiry that the police were involved in covering up journalistic abuses.

Hurst also told the hearing at London’s high court he learned this year that the News of the World installed a Trojan programme on his family computer in 2006 that allowed it to access his messages and other documents.

He served in covert Army units in Northern Ireland between 1980 and 1991 specialising in recruiting and developing agents within paramilitary organisations, the press standards inquiry heard.

Hurst featured in a BBC Panorama programme broadcast in March this year which alleged that a fax containing extracts of his emails was sent to the Dublin office of the News of the World in July 2006.

He said in a statement to the inquiry that the News of the World may have been trying to obtain information about the British intelligence agent within the IRA known as Stakeknife.

Panorama’s journalists told the former intelligence officer that the now-defunct Sunday tabloid hired a private investigator to target him, who in turn commissioned a specialist hacker – referred to only as Mr X – to access his computer.

“When I first heard that these documents had been compromised, my first thought was if all the people we help hear about this, they will lose confidence in us through no fault of our own and that is a very chilling thought.

Now, there’s lots more to chew on in this piece. The hacker, who was also from intelligence, used a primitive Trojan that requires opening an attachment. The military uses Trojans that are activated just by opening the e-mail. In addition to communications that may have compromised sources in Northern Ireland, the hacker obtained private information like the PIN number of Hurst’s wife, and could have activated the webcam in the computer to allow spying on Hurst at home. That’s shocking, though hardly surprising insight into how difficult it is to fully secure intelligence networks.

But the basic story: that newspapers can hire former intelligence officers–with the collusion of senior police officers– to compromise the sources of other intelligence officers in order to write sensationalistic stories should make it clear that the whole business of privacy violation is way out of hand. Intelligence services should be at the forefront of demanding that we develop reasonably secure communications, because the alternative is that the public will demand that we develop genuinely secure communications.

Which would be OK with me, just a lot more work for legitimate law enforcement.

Posted in abuse of power, Rupert Murdoch, wiretapping | 4 Comments »

 
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