Friday READ – 25 October 2013
Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* PAXMAN VS. BRAND
The revolution itself may not be televised, but on last night’s edition of the BBC’s Newsnight, viewers may have witnessed the start of one.
Actor-slash-comedian-slash-Messiah Russell Brand, in his capacity as guest editor of the New Statesman‘s just-published revolution-themed issue, was invited to explain to Jeremy Paxman why anyone should listen to a man who has never voted in his life.
“I don’t get my authority from this preexisting paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people,” Russell responded. “I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity.”
And with that, the first shots of Russell’s revolutionary interview were fired.
* WHY WASHINGTON JUST CAN’T STOP MAKING WAR
The US ‘Blowback Machine’ and the coming era of tiny wars and micro-conflicts
By Tom Engelhardt, Common Dreams
In terms of pure projectable power, there’s never been anything like it. Its military has divided the world — the whole planet — into six “commands.” Its fleet, with 11 aircraft carrier battle groups, rules the seas and has done so largely unchallenged for almost seven decades. Its Air Force has ruled the global skies, and despite being almost continuously in action for years, hasn’t faced an enemy plane since 1991 or been seriously challenged anywhere since the early 1970s. Its fleet of drone aircraft has proven itself capable of targeting and killing suspected enemies in the backlands of the planet from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia with little regard for national boundaries, and none at all for the possibility of being shot down. It funds and trains proxy armies on several continents and has complex aid and training relationships with militaries across the planet. On hundreds of bases, some tiny and others the size of American towns, its soldiers garrison the globe from Italy to Australia, Honduras to Afghanistan, and on islands from Okinawa in the Pacific Ocean to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Its weapons makers are the most advanced on Earth and dominate the global arms market. Its nuclear weaponry in silos, on bombers, and on its fleet of submarines would be capable of destroying several planets the size of Earth. Its system of spy satellites is unsurpassed and unchallenged. Its intelligence services can listen in on the phone calls or read the emails of almost anyone in the world from top foreign leaders to obscure insurgents. The CIA and its expanding paramilitary forces are capable of kidnapping people of interest just about anywhere from rural Macedonia to the streets of Rome and Tripoli. For its many prisoners, it has set up (and dismantled) secret jails across the planet and on its naval vessels. It spends more on its military than the next most powerful 13 states combined. Add in the spending for its full national security state and it towers over any conceivable group of other nations.
In terms of advanced and unchallenged military power, there has been nothing like the U.S. armed forces since the Mongols swept across Eurasia. No wonder American presidents now regularly use phrases like “the finest fighting force the world has ever known” to describe it. By the logic of the situation, the planet should be a pushover for it. Lesser nations with far lesser forces have, in the past, controlled vast territories. And despite much discussion of American decline and the waning of its power in a “multi-polar” world, its ability to pulverize and destroy, kill and maim, blow up and kick down has only grown in this new century.
No other nation’s military comes within a country mile of it. None has more than a handful of foreign bases. None has more than two aircraft carrier battle groups. No potential enemy has such a fleet of robotic planes. None has more than 60,000 special operations forces. Country by country, it’s a hands-down no-contest. The Russian (once “Red”) army is a shadow of its former self. The Europeans have not rearmed significantly. Japan’s “self-defense” forces are powerful and slowly growing, but under the U.S. nuclear “umbrella.” Although China, regularly identified as the next rising imperial state, is involved in a much-ballyhooed military build-up, with its one aircraft carrier (a retread from the days of the Soviet Union), it still remains only a regional power.
Despite this stunning global power equation, for more than a decade we have been given a lesson in what a military, no matter how overwhelming, can and (mostly) can’t do in the twenty-first century, in what a military, no matter how staggeringly advanced, does and (mostly) does not translate into on the current version of planet Earth. […]
* THE MILITARIZATION OF THE POLICE. ARE WE LIVING IN A POLICE STATE?
By Amiya Fernando, Global Research
Are we living in a police state?
* URBAN SHIELD: ‘THE EPITOME OF STATE REPRESSION’ COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU
Meeting of SWAT teams and military contractors from around the world faces local opposition in Oakland, CA
By Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams
SWAT teams, police forces, and military contractors from across the world will converge in Oakland, California this weekend—October 25-28—for a little-known ‘Urban Shield’ global training exercise and weapons technology expo that is bankrolled by millions of dollars from the Department of Homeland Security and arms manufacturers and is billed as a program to fight ‘terrorism.’
They will be met on Friday by protesters from over 30 Bay-Area community and peace and justice organizations who say this gathering, that stands at the nexus of global and domestic militarization, is not welcome in their city.
“What Urban Shield represents to us is the epitome of state repression that has been impacting communities of color and immigrant communities for decades,” said Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center in an interview with Common Dreams. “Different strategies of surveillance against Arabs and Muslims and brown and black people are being used as tactics against our people back home. This is the militarization of the police.” […]
* SECURITY CHECK NOW STARTS LONG BEFORE YOU FLY
By Susan Stellin, NYTimes
The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information.
While the agency says that the goal is to streamline the security procedures for millions of passengers who pose no risk, the new measures give the government greater authority to use travelers’ data for domestic airport screenings. Previously that level of scrutiny applied only to individuals entering the United States.
The prescreening, some of which is already taking place, is described in documents the T.S.A. released to comply with government regulations about the collection and use of individuals’ data, but the details of the program have not been publicly announced.
It is unclear precisely what information the agency is relying upon to make these risk assessments, given the extensive range of records it can access, including tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information.
The measures go beyond the background check the government has conducted for years, called Secure Flight, in which a passenger’s name, gender and date of birth are compared with terrorist watch lists. Now, the search includes using a traveler’s passport number, which is already used to screen people at the border, and other identifiers to access a system of databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.
Privacy groups contacted by The New York Times expressed concern over the security agency’s widening reach.
“I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,” said Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant to the Identity Project, one of the groups that oppose the prescreening initiatives. “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.” […]
* DANGEROUS FREEDOM VS. PEACEFUL SLAVERY
By Michael Krieger, ZeroHedge
Over the weekend a close friend sent me the following image, which was found spray-painted somewhere in Brooklyn:
I PREFER DANGEROUS FREEDOM OVER PEACEFUL SLAVERY
[…] I find it incredibly bizarre that so many people who will claim in polls to distrust the government, will at the same time support the police state grid being built around them. Why? Fear. Fear of terrorists. A fear that has been nurtured and encouraged by the very government frantically trying to have every human being on the planet on watch 24/7. While in my mind the trade-off between “safety and freedom” should always err toward freedom, there are times when it must even more aggressively bend in that direction. I believe that to be the case today since we have a government and elite power structure of oligarchs that has proven itself to be beyond corrupt and beyond morality.
These folks do not care about the country, or the Constitution, the poor and middle class or civil society. Their actions have proved without a shadow of a doubt that they care about nothing but themselves and furthering their wealth and power. They are not constructing the largest surveillance society in human history to protect you, they are doing it to protect them. From you. The sooner we all recognize this, the better.