RSSCategory: Censorship

Leaking information to the public now appears to be a federal crime.

September 27, 2012 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald comments on some disturbing information recently obtained pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request.

It seems clear that the US military now deems any leaks of classified information to constitute the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” or “communicating with the enemy” even if no information is passed directly to the “enemy” and there is no intent to aid or communicate with them. Merely informing the public about classified government activities now constitutes this capital crime because it “indirectly” informs the enemy.

The implications of this theory are as obvious as they are disturbing. If someone can be charged with “aiding” or “communicating with the enemy” by virtue of leaking to WikiLeaks, then why wouldn’t that same crime be committed by someone leaking classified information to any outlet: the New York Times, the Guardian, ABC News or anyone else? In other words, does this theory not inevitably and necessarily make all leaking of all classified information – whether to WikiLeaks or any media outlet – a capital offense: treason or a related crime?

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Unjustified take-downs in the news

September 15, 2012 | By | Reply More

Good article by Public Citizen’s “Consumer Law & Policy Blog” regarding recent unjustified take-downs. This is going to be a more and more prominent issue.

It is one reason I have my own blog, because I don’t trust private for-profit companies like Facebook to give me (or anyone) free rein to express critically important political ideas.

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Oops. We cut away for the Romney/David Koch handshake

September 1, 2012 | By | Reply More

Hidden handshake between Romney and David Koch. Amy Goodman reports.

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The verdict is in on Pussy Riot

August 17, 2012 | By | Reply More

As reported by the NYT, the verdict against Pussy Riot is in, and the three young women have been sentenced to two years each. The verdict has been commemorated by cartoonist Ray Gregory.

While a guilty verdict against the three women, members of a band called Pussy Riot, was widely expected, suspense had built over how severe a punishment they would receive. . . . But the judge, Marina Syrova, showed little sympathy for the trio, and it was not immediately clear whether the sentences would prompt a reaction on Moscow’s streets.

“Who is to blame for the performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and for our being put on trial after the concert? The authoritarian political system is to blame. What Pussy Riot does is oppositional art or politics.”

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Military Voting Philosophy

August 16, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More

I remember the presidential election of 2004, during which the armed services were flooded with the message that it was seditious to speak out against your Commander in Chief, and certainly bad to consider voting against your own commander. Luminaries of the time like Ann Coulter published the principle that anyone who casts doubt on ones president is a traitor. This was a solidly accepted conservative plank.

But the message fed to members of the armed forces has changed for the 2012 election:

Not My President

This image has been going around on Facebook, among other sources. I suspect that the message they receive about their Commander in Chief is different than before. There also is a busy meme insinuating that Democrats are busily working to deny military members their right to absentee vote.

Does this mean that the military is a Republican organization? Or does it cleave to one of the Three Tea Party branches?

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Time to declare war on the war budget

August 15, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
Time to declare war on the war budget

Mitt Romney says we can’t afford to support PBS, National Endowment for the Arts or Amtrack. This is a disgraceful lie. These three programs add up to barely more than $2 Billion/year. Let’s put that number in context. How much are we now spending on the militarization of America? $1.2 Trillion per year (carefully count the zeros and make sure you add it ALL up, like Tom Dispatch has done). That comes out to $600 Million per working HOUR (assuming that there are 2,000 working hours per year) to militarize the United States (don’t call it “Department of Defense,” because this is largely a lie).

In other words, with FOUR HOURS of our warmongering budget, we could afford all of the things Romney says we need to cut.

[More . . . ]

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Judge Baltasar Garzon to lead WikiLeaks legal strategy

July 28, 2012 | By | Reply More

The following update is from Justice for Assange:

The Spanish judge, lawyer, and international jurist, Baltasar Garzón, will lead the legal team representing Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The jurist met with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom recently. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the new legal strategy which will defend both WikiLeaks and Julian Assange from the existing abuse of process; expose the arbitrary, extrajudicial actions by the international financial system which target Julian Assange and WikiLeaks specifically; and show how the secret US processes against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have compromised and contaminated other legal processes, including the extradition process against Mr Assange. Despite been imprisoned, fiscally blockaded, and placed under house arrest for over 650 days, Mr. Assange has not been charged with an offense in any country.

Baltasar Garzón revolutionized the international justice system two decades ago by issuing an international arrest warrant for the former Head of State of Chile, Augusto Pinochet. His actions spearheaded the fight against impunity in Latin America and in the rest of the world. The judge has expressed serious concerns regarding the lack of safeguards and transparency whith which actions are being taken against Julian Assange, and the harassment he is being subjected to which has irreparable effects on his physical and mental wellbeing. The threats against his person are further aggravated by the complicit behaviour of the Swedish and U.K. governments, who are wrongfully abrogating his rights.

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Olympic-sized Intellectual Property Crackdown

July 26, 2012 | By | Reply More

This is not a humorous parody from The Onion. What follows is an excerpt from a serious news interview hosted by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: The Olympic Games are estimated to cost British taxpayers a staggering $17 billion. At the same time, Brits near the Olympic Park have been subjected to sweeping censorship laws enacted by their government at the behest of the International Olympic Committee. The laws limit the use of Olympic language and imagery to—strictly to official sponsors, such as Visa, McDonald’s, GE.

. . .

AMY GOODMAN: And a mock awards ceremony at the Olympic clock in Trafalgar Square descended into farce after police arrested six people taking part. Three people pretending to be corporate representatives from BP, Dow and Rio Tinto were awarded gold medals for being the worst corporate sponsors of the Olympics, before having small quantities of green custard poured over their heads. The good-natured performance took about 15 minutes. It was clearly amusing to a number of passersby, until 25 police officers arrived and arrested six people, including the three corporate representatives and people who were mopping up the small amounts of custard on the ground.

Well, for more, we go to London, where we’re joined by Jules Boykoff, associate professor of political science at Pacific University, currently a visiting scholar at the University of Brighton. He was born in England since—he’s been in England since April following the build-up to the Olympics. He’s writing a book on dissent and the Olympics and played for the U.S. Olympic soccer team in international competition from 1989 to 1991. His recent piece in the New York Times is called “Olympian Arrogance.”

Jules Boykoff, welcome to Democracy Now! Well, tell us what you’re seeing there and why you titled your piece “Olympian Arrogance.”

JULES BOYKOFF: Well, what we’re seeing here are a lot of what you’ve outlined in terms of the intense militarization of the public sphere. And it really does go back to the International Olympic Committee, or the IOC. And that’s what we are getting at with “Olympian Arrogance.” If you want to understand the crass commercialism of the Games, if you want to understand the intense militarization of the Games, it makes sense to start with the IOC.

And the IOC has always been a privileged sliver of the global 1 percent. Going back to the 1890s, when it was started by Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin, he basically assembled a hodgepodge of counts and dukes and princes together to run the show. In the subsequent, basically it’s remained this basically old boys’ club. In fact, they started allowing wealthy business elites into the club. And only in 1981 did they start to allow women to be members of the IOC.

And it’s not just the composition of the IOC that some might find a little bit problematic; it’s the dictates that they impose on host cities. So, for example, right before they make the final selection for who’s going to host the next Olympics, all the candidate city finalists have to sign a document that promises that they will follow all 33 of the IOC’s technical manuals down to a letter. A lot of that has to do with brand protection, which I’ll get to in a second. But it also has to do with creating new laws in the country and the host city that conform to the principles of the IOC. So, here in London, what they did was they passed the 2006 Olympic and Paralympic Act, which did all sorts of things. You mentioned it’s illegal to use the words “2012” and, say, “medals” for commercial purposes in any form, and you can receive a 20,000-pound fine. This all goes back to the IOC and what they set up and impose on host cities.

And that’s why you’re seeing, when you look around—you said I was here since April, so I was here for the Jubilee, actually. And when the Jubilee happened for the queen, there were signs in windows, there were people celebrating, shops put little placards up and that sort of thing. Well, right now, during the Olympics, you’re really not seeing that very much, because people are afraid that they’re going to get cracked down on. Just a couple examples. A butcher put a bunch of sausages up in his window in the shape of the Olympic rings; he got asked to take them down. Somebody in Plymouth put up on their menu a “flaming torch breakfast baguette,” and they were asked to take it off the menu. A florist was—put up a little display in the front of her store in the shape of the Olympic rings; again, told to take it down or face a 20,000-pound fine. So, the IOC is really where a lot of this starts.

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Self-dimming of awareness to protect oneself against anxiety

July 25, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More
Self-dimming of awareness to protect oneself against anxiety

I’m mostly finished reading Daniel Goleman’s 1985 book, Vital Lies, Simple Truths: the Psychology of Self Deception (I found a copy of the book online here). He’s preaching to my choir, based on a paper I wrote in 1996 (“Decision Making, the Failure of Principles, and the Seduction of Attention), where I pointed out the critical and often unconscious role of attention in embellishing and distorting our moral decision-making. My targets were the many people who believe that morality is mostly founded on the conscious application of rules. I concluded that humans define and frame moral situations as a result of the way they attend (or don’t attend) to the situations. I warned that it is important that we become aware that we have great (often subconscious) power to define the situation as moral (or not). My thesis was as follows:

Attention is constantly steering us in directions which dramatically affect the application of principles [including moral principles]. For starters, if we completely fail to attend to a subject, we will likely be ill-informed about that subject, and likely less competent to make decisions regarding such matters. At the other extreme, excessive attention can bloom into an obsession, causing one to see the entire world through glasses colored by that obsession. Attention also works in subtler ways, however, rigging the machinations of legal and moral reasoning. Attention rigs decision-making in two ways:

1) by the manner in which we attend to our perceptions of the world, and
2) in the way by which we perceive and attend to the principles themselves.

I concluded that high-level decision making is based far more on attentional strategies than on traditional problem solving skills.

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