By greydogg, 99GetSmart


Source: youtube




By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Remember when, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, the Patriot Act was controversial, held up as the symbolic face of Bush/Cheney radicalism and widely lamented as a threat to core American liberties and restraints on federal surveillance and detention powers? Yet now, the Patriot Act is quietly renewed every four years by overwhelming majorities in both parties (despite substantial evidence of serious abuse), and almost nobody is bothered by it any longer. That’s how extremist powers become normalized: they just become such a fixture in our political culture that we are trained to take them for granted, to view the warped as normal. Here are several examples from the last couple of days illustrating that same dynamic; none seems overwhelmingly significant on its own, but that’s the point:

After Dick Cheney criticized John McCain this weekend for having chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate, this was McCain’s retort:

Look, I respect the vice president. He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not. I don’t think we should have.

Isn’t it amazing that the first sentence there (“I respect the vice president”) can precede the next one (“He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not”) without any notice or controversy? I realize insincere expressions of respect are rote ritualism among American political elites, but still, McCain’s statement amounts to this pronouncement: Dick Cheney authorized torture — he is a torturer — and I respect him. How can that be an acceptable sentiment to express? Of course, it’s even more notable that political officials whom everyone knows authorized torture are walking around free, respected and prosperous, completely shielded from all criminal accountability. “Torture” has been permanently transformed from an unspeakable taboo into a garden-variety political controversy, where it shall long remain. […]

Guests: Jane Hamsher, founder of Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald, from Salon




By Political Fail Blog

Anaheim, CA July 29, 2012

Anti-police violence activists take to the streets after over a week of heated protests against police involved shooting deaths in the community.

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By David S. Levine, Economy in Crisis

[…] TPP is misleadingly labeled as a trade agreement, making it seem like a relatively narrow and limited agreement involving traditional topics like tariffs and exchange of goods—the sort of government-to-government discussions that seem too esoteric to have much impact on the everyday citizen. It is, in fact, much more than that. As explained by the USTR, TPP is an “ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects U.S. priorities and values.” President Obama, who announced the goal of creating TPP in November 2009, has said that TPP will “boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports, and creating more jobs for our people, which is my No. 1 priority.” That sounds pretty important—and more than a little vague. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about it beyond those platitudes.

Here’s what we think we know. Based upon the leaks that have occurred, it seems that an enacted TPP would require significant changes in U.S. and/or other signatory countries’ laws.  It would curb public access to vast amounts of information in the name of combating intellectual property infringement (or piracy, depending on your choice of words). The owner of the copyright in a song or movie could use a “technological protection measure”—what are often called “digital locks”—to prevent your access to it, even for educational purposes, and regardless of whether the owner had the legal right to do so. Your very ability to read this article, with hyperlinks in it, could be affected by TPP. So, too, might your access to works currently in the public domain and available free of charge. And these concerns are only related to the intellectual property rights chapter of TPP. There are apparently more than 20 chapters under negotiation, including “customs, cross-border services, telecommunications, government procurement, competition policy, and cooperation and capacity building,” as well as investment and financial services. Technically, TPP would only take effect in the 10 negotiating countries: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. Mexico joined recently, and Canada and Japan may soon follow. But in reality, it would also affect citizens of any nations that interact with at least one of those 10—which means even the shut-off North Korea might feel its influence.

Sadly, even the above involves a fair amount of conjecture and speculation, rather than verifiable fact. This procedural bottleneck, fueled by a dogged adherence to a belief in 20th-century-style secrecy, requires direct engagement, even if that engagement is flawed and wildly inefficient. So, on July 2, I traveled to San Diego to take part in an experimental, bizarre, new, and terribly important civic duty: being among a fraction of the nearly 300 “registered stakeholders” to speak to the negotiators attending the 13th round of negotiations of the TPP—even though none of us had any clue what was really going on.

The only thing that I knew with certainty was that I didn’t know much about what was happening in the TPP negotiations, and therefore I couldn’t offer much in the way of substantive questions and input, which was the point that I wanted to make to the negotiators. Other than “cleared advisors”—primarily industry representatives—no one outside the inner circle knows what is currently being negotiated in TPP. Most members of Congress do not even know what is in TPP. Indeed, the last publicly available text of TPP’s intellectual property chapter is a leaked version dated Feb. 10, 2011. Nonetheless, the goal of the “stakeholder engagement event,” as the TPP “Welcome Stakeholders!” packet explained, was to provide an “open and productive forum.” Yet the public knows more about the aggregate numbers of nuclear warheads the United States and Russia have deployed on intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty than it does about U.S. negotiating positions in TPP. Thus, on “openness,” the TPP negotiators and USTR have failed. […]



The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: The 1% Strike Back Against Occupy Movement @



By Smari McCarthy, Informative Activist

 What’s in a name?

[…] So what’s with the name? I don’t know, really. I’m as confused as you are. Nobody criticises the “Progressive Party” for being one of the least progressive and most repressive parties in Icelandic politics. Nobody criticises the “Independence Party” for fostering a culture without independent thought. The Liberal Party is full of social conservatives and the Left-Greens have an alarming number of fascists. And “Samfylkingin”? Give me a break. Political parties in Iceland have a long history of adopting the most oxymoronic names – or at least the most moronic names – they can come up with. With one exception.

We didn’t choose to go with “Sjóræningjaflokkurinn” because it doesn’t sound cool. Also, we don’t condone theft, only piracy. The law of the sea is quite clear in it’s Article 101 definition, and it does not apply to us.

“Píratapartýið” however came up during a meeting where we had been talking about the ways in which words keep being misappropriated and reappropriated. In Icelandic, the word for “casino” is “spilavíti” – literally “game hell”. The word for drugs is “eiturlyf” – literally “poison medicine”. Icelandic is very direct about its meanings – the language is very actively used as a tool of political manipulation. The current favorite is to stick the word “meint” (alleged) in front of anything – a similar thing is happening in English. It’s a dampening word which makes all certainty go away. The people at that meeting rather enjoyed challenging this tyranny of language, so we decided to use “Pírat”, which is very much not an Icelandic word (and is, as is rightly pointed out, meaningless), conjoined with “Partý”, which means the fun kind of party but not the political type of party. The name might still change, pending election from our members, although honestly I haven’t heard any good counterproposals.

Frankly, I really enjoy the fact that the best people can fling at us is that we have a silly name (oh noes!). A foreign name (gasp!). A name that doesn’t fit acceptable political doctrine (shame!) or befit an organization bent on gaining power (take a hint!). If they can’t find anything better to complain about…

Oh by the way, here’s some Shakespeare:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;