Tuesday, March 15, 2016

(GO VOTE!)  Now Is the Time to Make Real the Promise of Democracy - MLK, Jr.   (Hillary and Trump's Long Cons)  End-Stage Reagan Disease Raises Ugly Head  ('We Must Seize The Means of Communication' to Protect Basic Freedoms)  MAX MAX MAX

What would Hillary Clinton's campaign look and sound like without the campaign of Bernie Sanders?

You might want to think deeply about this question.

Now Is the Time to Make Real the Promise of Democracy

Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I Have a Dream 1963
A powerful, must watch video has emerged.  While it represents a compelling argument on behalf of Bernie Sanders presented by influential African-Americans to the African-American electorate, its core message is one that all of us should heed.   Against the backdrop of Hillary Clinton’s “no we can’t” message we hear the prophetic wisdom of Dr. King, uttered more than a half-century ago.

This is no time to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
Ernest Canning
Veterans for Bernie
Utter confusion of pundits reveals mainstream bias toward Arabs, not bias of Arabs.
In October, at a student Town Hall in Fairfax, Virginia, George Mason University student Remaz Abdelgader asked Senator and candidate for the 2016 Democratic nomination Bernie Sanders a question about the growing Islamophobia in the United States and the Republican’s inciting rhetoric concerning Muslims.
Bernie Sanders took Abdelgader’s hand and walked her up to the podium.
“I’m Jewish. My father’s family died in concentration camps,” Sanders said. “I will do everything that I can to rid this country of the ugly stain of racism, which has existed for far too many years.”

Bernie Sanders’ Tax on Market Trades:  Realistic or Pie-in-the-Sky?

On May 19, 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Robin Hood tax bill that would tax stock market trades on sales involving stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other financial instruments in order to generate enough revenue to make all public colleges and universities tuition and fee free.

In New Shock Poll, Bernie Swamps Both Trump and Bush

In a new McClatchy-Marist poll, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leads Republican candidate Donald Trump by a landslide margin of 12 percentage points, 53 to 41. In the McClatchy poll, Sanders also leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by a landslide margin of 10 points, 51 to 41.
The huge Sanders advantage over Trump is not new. In the last four match-up polls between them reported by Real Clear Politics, Sanders defeated Trump by margins of 12, 9, 9 and 2 percentage points.
The huge Sanders advantage over Bush is new. In previous match-ups, the polling showed Sanders and Bush running virtually even, with Bush holding a 1-point lead over Sanders in most of the polls. Future polls will be needed to test whether the huge Sanders lead over Bush in the McClatchy poll will be repeated in future polling or whether the McClatchy poll is an outlier.
It is shocking that the data suggests that Sanders has a lead over Trump that could be so huge that he would win a landslide victory in the presidential campaign, with margins that would almost certainly lead Democrats to regain control of the Senate and could help Democrats regain control of the House of Representative — if, of course, the three polls that show Sanders beating Trump by 9 to 12 points reflect final voting in the presidential election.

Donald Trump Is a Fraud: Report Confirms the Billionaire’s Presidential Bid Is a Long and Calculated Con Job

Everything Trump has done during the campaign is designed to dupe the media into funding his marketing strategy

Such foolishness loose upon the country once again.

Has Ronald Reagan been reborn now that Nancy is safely interred?


Some other folks wandered out of the "National Review" freak show tent looking spooked, so I wandered in and got a load of Kevin D. Williamson's latest outrage.

It is indeed a corker - his thesis is that the declining state of working-class whites in America has nothing really to do with economic circumstances such as job flight - the figures may say it's massive but look, here's a factory town that died many years ago, so there! - and their troubles are their own damn fault and they should open a map, look up Opportunity, and go find some:

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs.

Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
Most of the discussion I've seen around this marvels that Williamson dares to spit on "the base" -- those normally reliable masses of Republican voters who need only the merest sign that the leadership shares their concerns, prejudices, and objects of worship to be kept aboard. Why was he abandoning such a successful shtick? You just show some concern for their increasingly tenuous employment prospects, and (while continuing tax policies that encouraged offshoring) promise to kick out Mexicans and to immiserate the other, darker poor so these good sons of the sod will never be mistaken for them, and they follow you like baby ducklings. It worked for decades! And you didn't even have to give a shit.
But in truth, conservatives have been losing that knack for a long time. I notice the one traditional conservative instrument Williamson employs in his essay is Marriage & Morality Nagging. We're rich because we no longer worry about meat shortages, says Williamson, but "the family-life numbers, on the other hand, came down on us like a meteor... divorce in 1960 was so rare as to carry a hint of scandalous glamour... add to that the violence of abortion, which fundamentally alters the relationship between men, women, and children," etc.

So Williamson does blame heathenism - but he shows no sympathy for the poor crackers he says suffer from it. It sort of makes sense - after all, backwoods preachers (on whose act modern scolds base their own) didn't show sympathy for adulterers, they called down wrath and invited shame.

'We Must Seize The Means of Communication' to Protect Basic Freedoms

By Nafeez Ahmed, Mint Press News
14 March 16
Renowned NSA whistleblower calls for ‘radical’ popular action to take control of information technologies.
gathering of journalists, hackers and whistleblowers in Berlin this weekend heard former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden, issue a call for citizens to find ways to take direct control over the information technologies we use everyday.

The Logan Symposium, organized by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) based in Goldsmiths University, London, also heard from Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, and NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and William Binney.

The two-day conference was supported by a wide range of press freedom organisations, independent journalism outfits, and mainstream media - including the German newsmagazine Der Speigel.

I participated in the symposium as a speaker, where I and my other panelists including investigative journalist Jacob Appelbaum - who has worked with both Assange and Snowden, and independently broke the story of NSA spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel - described our experiences of frontline reporting.

Also on my panel was Eveline Lubbers, who has pioneered investigations exposing UK police operations to infiltrate activist groups; Martin Welz, editor of Noseweek, South Africa’s only investigative journalism magazine; Natalia Viana, co-director of Brazil’s leading nonprofit investigative journalism outlet, Agencia Publica; and Anas Aremeyaw, Africa’s foremost undercover journalist.

During his exclusive video address on Saturday evening, Snowden cautioned against viewing new developments in encryption as the only way of addressing mass surveillance, instead emphasising the urgency of dramatic global political and legal reform.

The whistleblower also criticised President Barack Obama’s stance on the dispute between Apple and the FBI over access to the IPhone used in the San Bernardino shootings.

“There’s been a lot about how we can address challenges through technical means,” Edward Snowden told the audience in Berlin via live video link.

“We need to think about how we got here. We talk about legal reform, but these weren’t authorised in the first place… Reforming things within the system is the ideal, within the system. It’s the way it should work, the way our societies are designed to function.

What happens when the systems fail to function?

We have this natural inclination to think that these are departures from the natural order of things, and everything will be better again, and we can rely once more on the system.

But, it turns out, that abuse is the byproduct of power… Whenever we have increasingly small groups with power, we have abuses of power. The mechanism today is technology…

There’s an intersection of technology and access to information in society. The internet is the shorthand for it… It increasingly effects all of us, but we have less and less control over it.”

Assange warned of the increasing intersection between Google, now the world’s largest media company, and the US military industrial complex, in particular highlighting Google’s escalating investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, largely for ‘national security’ applications by the US military and intelligence community.

“Google is integrating AI systems with the national security system,” said Assange. “This is a threat to mankind. We must stop feeding Google.”

He urged the public to explore alternative online services to mitigate Google’s ability to sweep up vast quantities of personal data into AI systems co-opted by the Pentagon.

Threat to democracy

Both Assange and Snowden argued that the rapid centralisation of control of information communication technologies within a private corporate sector increasingly enmeshed with the security-state, represents a fundamental threat to functioning democracies, particularly a free press.

“We have to accept that the only way to protect the rights of one, is to protect the rights of all,” said Snowden. “Increasingly this is seen as a threat to government because it represents a domain in which they will no longer be able to intervene.”

Describing President Obama’s stance on the Apple-FBI dispute as a “false dichotomy between privacy and security,” he stated that “you need both”, and can’t have one without the other.

Snowden added that the use of metadata to target people as threats to national security sets a dangerous precedent, with wide scope for miscarriages of justice against everyday citizens. A person who simply communicated with a journalist breaking a story based on information from a government whistleblower, for instance, could end up being convicted as the source - even if they were not the source - based on the use of metadata linking them circumstantially to the journalist.

“Whether or not you were the source, if you simply communicated with the journalist, you could be convicted,” said Snowden.

In Britain, the Tory government is attempting to push through a particularly draconian piece of legislation, the Investigatory Powers Bill (IP Bill), which would grant the state extraordinary powers to interfere with journalism. The bill, which if passed could set a precedent for other Western countries, is due to receive a second reading in parliament on Tuesday, 15th March.

According to the National Union of Journalists, the bill will grant the government powers to access journalists’ communications and hack their electronic equipment, including intercepting the content and metadata of their communications, without informing them.

Despite significant opposition from various parliamentary committees, including the Joint Committee on the Investigatory Powers Bill, subsequent government re-drafts have only worsened its provisions.

According to Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, the IP Bill:

“… is a threat to the ability of journalists to do their jobs, to guarantee their material and to protect their sources. Without that protection, we simply won’t have a functioning free press… A lack of safeguards for all journalists will have profound consequences for the public’s right to know in the

Metadata, of course, is already used in a wide range of contexts by the intelligence community to identify not just terrorism suspects, but also activists, human rights groups, and others critical of government policy.

Increasingly, signature drone strikes against unidentified groups of suspected terrorist targets in theatres like Syria, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan are based solely on metadata gleaned through surveillance of mobile phones, social media profiles, and other electronic information repositories. This has led to countless civilian casualties.

Metadata from numerous electronic sources, including social media, is increasingly being seen by the Pentagon, as well as UK and EU security agencies, as a vast repository of easily attainable ‘open source’ intelligence to attempt to predict, and control, the behaviour of human populations.

As I reported in February, unclassified official documents from the US Office of Naval Research among other Pentagon research programmes throw light on the alarming ‘minority report’-style ambitions of US government officials in terms of wanting to precisely anticipate and predict future activism, protests, crime, terrorism, conflicts and state-failures. Yet independent experts note that such technologies are more likely to generate false positives and red-herrings, rather than forecasts of real predictive value.


Edward Snowden advocated the careful use and advancement of encryption technologies by journalists to help protect sources, but noted that technology alone is not the answer.

One new powerful technology, a complete operating system known as SubGraph OS which can be installed onto a PC or Mac to provide a full range of encrypted communication tools, was launched at the conference. SubGraph is the latest in several different but similar tools, such as Tails - an operating system that can be booted up on any computer through a USB drive - and Qubes, another system requiring installation on specifically tailored security hardened computers.

Designers of these projects at the conference warned, however, that while these tools are powerful, they do not offer guarantees against government surveillance, especially due to the possibility of as yet unknown built-in ‘backdoors’ in both mainstream software and hardware.

“They are truly great projects,” said Snowden, highlighting SubGraph OS in particular: “I plan to use this myself. But we have to recognise that these are inaccessible for the majority of users, for journalists, who aren’t specialists.”

The challenge for technologists is to develop friendlier and more accessible user-interfaces which can be learned by laypeople as you go. Snowden suggested exploring the ‘gamification’ of the learning curve for such tools to make the experience of getting to grips with them easier.

“We can provide people basic skills, understandings, by teaching them as they go - a gamification of the interface, that teaches people as they use it, in a way that’s fun, not burdensome, and enjoyable. This is something we need to work on a lot.”

Snowden also encouraged technologists to “compete directly with these billion dollar corporate interests” like Google, Facebook and Apple. There’s a chance, he said, that citizen-led entrepreneurship could be “more successful, creating products that are just as attractive, more easy to use, but aren’t as dangerous to the individual’s rights to be free and associate in a free and safe way.”

Radical transformation

Edward Snowden also warned against assuming that attempting to counter state surveillance through encryption alone would be a panacea, advocating the need to fundamentally challenge the centralisation of power over information technologies in state-corporate hands.

“We’re reliant on for-profit groups corporations like Apple to defend our rights. We have to rely on the protocols and systems that are underlying our communications.

We need to get more radical as technologists and journalists…

There have been extraordinary imbalances of power throughout history. I’m not a Communist, but there were people who argued we need to seize the means of production. We’re rapidly approaching the point where we need to seize the means of our communication.”

The reason?

“We are seeing entirely too much control of institutions we’re supposed to be able to trust, but we cannot trust,” he said. “At the same time, we’re seeing corporations get access to our private lives, in ways we didn’t anticipate and we’re not aware of how its being used.”

Privacy or security?

Snowden dismissed the idea that privacy or liberty stood somehow counterposed to genuine security.

“Politicians are consumed by the ease of fear in messaging. Saying ‘this will save lives’ is persuasive to the voter. People are inclined to believe them…Let’s look at the actual facts, at 9/11. We had a Congressional investigation - and they found that it wasn’t the case we weren’t collecting enough. The problem was our focus was so scattered, so many programmes collecting so much, we didn’t share it properly, and because of that, 3,000 people died. Politicians today are saying we need to collect more - but they’re making us all less safe, and putting lives at risk.”

The Boston marathon bombings, he said, provided a clear example of the bankruptcy of the surveillance-for-security mantra - the perpetrators, despite operating in the context of “the largest dragnet programme in the history of my country” had remained undetected.

“At the end of the day, we have to make a decision. Do we want to be a controlled society? Or do we want to live in a free one? Because we can’t have both.”

In a panel on Friday, Thomas Drake - the former senior NSA executive who inspired Snowden to blow the whistle by exposing the flaws of the agency’s billion dollar Trailblazer mass surveillance project - recalled how his NSA bosses cynically saw the 9/11 intelligence failure as an opportunity to increase the agency’s budget dramatically.

“I couldn’t believe it when my supervisor described 9/11 as ‘a gift to the NSA.’”

The idea that mass surveillance has any prospect of genuinely keeping us safe is thus deeply questionable. The fundamental problem with the insistence on eliminating privacy in the name of security is its totalitarian impact across our entire societies.

“We need to think about what rights are for? Where do they come from? What are their values? What is privacy for, really?” Snowden told the audience at the CIJ gathering.

“Privacy is the right from which all others are derived. Without privacy there is only society, only the collective, which makes them all be and think alike. You can’t have anything yourself, you can’t have your own opinions, unless you have a space that belongs only to you.

Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say…”

Political dissent

If mass surveillance was simply about thwarting terrorism, its targets would not consistently be political dissidents, Snowden argued, pointing to the famous ‘I have a dream’ speech by Martin Luther King Jr - described by Snowden as the “greatest civil rights leader my country has ever seen.”

Two days after that speech, Snowden said, the FBI assessed King to be “the greatest threat to national security” at the time.

Little has changed since then.

The former intelligence contractor pointed out that Britain’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, has unlawfully spied on human rights groups like Amnesty International, journalists, media figures and other NGOs, “using powers passed publicly to thwart terrorists.”
Citing the top secret documents he had leaked, he noted that internal justification for keeping such programmes classified made no reference to national security issues. Instead, the documents said that “publicising them would lead to a ‘damaging public debate’ because we [the public] would protest these activities.”

The implication is that the national security state sees the very fundamentals of vibrant democracies - a truly free press, vigorous public debate, oversight over highly classified intelligence policies - as the enemy.

The dismissal of the importance of rights of privacy, Snowden said, is a function of unequal power. The whistleblower urged his listeners to consider how the demand to eliminate privacy comes from powerful people “in a position of privilege… If you’re an old white guy at the top of the pyramid, society is ordered to protect your interests. You designed the system to protect your interests.”

This inequality in power, Snowden said, means that “it’s the minorities who are most at risk” from the impact of mass surveillance.

“It’s not enough to think about these things, it’s not enough to believe in something,” concluded Snowden to resounding applause. “You have to actually stand for something, you have to actually say something, you have to actually risk something, if you want things to get better.”

Watch the videos below, friends, for your further education about the end of positive interest rates and what the "end of globalization" portends.

Big words.

Good times!

Don't miss Satyajit Das at the end of the first segment. He wrote Extreme Money and A Banquet of Consequences. He's the bomb.

As well as Max and Stacy!

And don't miss Craiggers pulling up the anchor.


TONY @oakroyd said...

Good luck to Bernie but I can hear the Israel Firsters rubbing their hands at the thought of a Hillary walkover vs Trump.....

Cirze said...

I got you, Tony.

But you know it's all smoke and mirrors, right?

When the Republican-infested (remember when Bush replaced all those U.S. attorneys as well as appointed all those judges during his 8-year vacation?) DOJ lodge the illegal-server indictment against HRC, the game will be over if we have allowed Bernie to be abandoned in the Hillary onslaught.

Bernie has a slew of delegates, splitting many of those states she 'won" almost equally, and he's only 200 behind her total. And don't be confused by those silly TV chatterers who award Hillary the super-delegates in every state's results. They won't be awarded and voting until the Convention, and no one knows what will be the reality in late summer.

Heck. The Republicans are blowing up into a thousand pieces, and we're worried about Israel not liking Bernie enough?

My guess is that Hillary will have her plate full by then.

And she's not looking that healthy now.

Not that I'm predicting anything, of course.

TONY @oakroyd said...

May it come to pass.