Monday, July 7, 2008

Five myths about the new wiretapping law

Why it's a lot worse than you think.

Unless you're a government lawyer, a legal scholar, a masochist, or an insomniac, chances are you haven't read the 114-page bill. Don't beat yourself up: Neither have most of the 293 House members who voted
for it last week. Ditto the mainstream press, who seem to have relied
chiefly on summaries provided by the same lawmakers who hadn't read it.

To be fair, wiretapping is so classified, and the language of the bill so opaque, that no one without a "top secret" clearance can say with any authority just how much surveillance the proposal will authorize the government to do. (The best assessment yet comes from former Justice Department official David Kris, who deems the legislation "so intricate" that it risks confusing even "the government officials who must apply it.")

Out of the echo chamber of ignorance and self-serving political cant, a number of myths have begun to emerge. We may never know for sure everything that this new legislation entails. But here are a few things that it most certainly doesn't.

Myth No. 1: This bill is a compromise.

The House bill "is the result of a compromise," one of its architects, Steny Hoyer, D-Md., maintained the other day. But in truth, Hoyer and his colleagues gave the White House most of what it asked for, dramatically expanding the government's surveillance capabilities without demanding any serious concessions in exchange. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., calls the deal "a capitulation," and he's right. Why else would the White House express its approval so quickly, after a full year in which President Bush petulantly vowed not to sign any legislation that obliged him to concede too much? Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., offered an honest appraisal: "I think the White House got a better deal than even they had hoped."

Myth No. 2: We need the bill to intercept our enemies abroad.

One frequent refrain in favor of the new legislation is that without it, America's intelligence capabilities will dry up, leaving the country vulnerable to attack. The National Security Agency wants to intercept communications that pass through routers in the United States, even when both parties to the communication are abroad. The administration has argued that the NSA should not have to obtain a court order to intercept those communications. Seems reasonable, right?

Of course it's reasonable. So reasonable, in fact, that House Democrats proposed to fix the problem a year ago. They were rebuffed. Why? Because their plan contained too much judicial oversight. (They ended up folding, just as they have this time around.) So when people say that this legislation is all about exempting foreign-to-foreign communications that happen to pass through the United States from the warrant requirement, don't buy it.

You see, the new law goes a lot further, basically doing away with warrants altogether in the domestic-to-international context. Under the proposal, the NSA can engage in what David Kris calls "vacuum cleaner surveillance" of phone calls and e-mails entering and leaving the United States through our nation's telecom switches. Provided that the "target" of the surveillance is reasonably believed to be abroad, the NSA can intercept a massive volume of communications, which might, however incidentally, include yours. When authorities want to target purely domestic communications, they still have to apply for a warrant from the FISA court (albeit only after a weeklong grace period of warrantless surveillance). But where communications between the United States and another country are concerned, the secret court is relegated to a vestigial role, consulted on the soundness of the "targeting procedures," but not on the legitimacy of the targets themselves.

This is a huge departure from FISA. As Glenn Greenwald argues in Salon, the underlying suggestion of the new proposal is "not that the FISA law is obsolete, but rather, that the key instrument imposed by the Founders to preserve basic liberty—warrants—is something that we must now abolish."

~ read on... ~

The Drugging of our Children

full movie

YouTube ordered to reveal users' data

Dismissing privacy concerns, a federal judge overseeing a $1 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit against YouTube has ordered the popular online video-sharing service to disclose who watches which video clips and when.

U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton authorized full access to the YouTube logs after Viacom Inc. and other copyright holders argued that they needed the data to show whether their copyright-protected videos are more heavily watched than amateur clips.

The data would not be publicly released but disclosed only to the plaintiffs, and it would include less specific identifiers than a user's real name or e-mail address.

Lawyers for Mountain View, Ca.-based Google Inc., which owns YouTube, said producing 12 terabytes of data - equivalent to the text of roughly 12 million books - would be expensive, time-consuming and a threat to users' privacy.

The database includes information on when each video gets played, which can be used to determine how often a clip is viewed. Attached to each entry is each viewer's unique login ID and the Internet Protocol, or IP, address for that viewer's computer.

Stanton ruled this week that the plaintiffs had a legitimate need for the information and that the privacy concerns are speculative.

Stanton rejected a request from the plaintiffs for Google to disclose the source code - the technical secret sauce - powering its market-leading search engine, saying there's no evidence Google manipulated its search algorithms to treat copyright-infringing videos differently.

The court has yet to rule on Google's requests to question comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of Viacom's Comedy Central.

Viacom is seeking at least $1 billion in damages from Google, saying YouTube has built a business by using the Internet to "willfully infringe" copyrights on Viacom shows, which include Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants" cartoon.

The lawsuit was combined with a similar case filed by a British soccer league and other parties.

Together, the plaintiffs are trying to prove that YouTube has known of copyright infringement and can do more to stop it, a finding that could dissolve the immunity protections that service providers have when they merely host content submitted by their users.

~ read on... ~

Spotlight on torture

From The Every Human Has Rights campaign

On June 26th, activists all over the world joined in an 'International Day in Support of Victims of Torture' by calling on governments to reaffirm their commitment to the consensus first affirmed after the Second World War - that torture and other ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited. Members of Amnesty International held events in Luxembourg, Portugal, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and the United States as part of their Counter Terror with Justice campaign. You can read about the events in their campaign activism blog, or view images from the day of action on the 'Counter Terror with Justice' Flickr Photostream.

In commemoration of victims of torture all over the world, Amnesty International also released this video, titled 'Torture must Never be Justified', featuring interviews with The Elders Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson.

Amnesty International is calling on all governments to: condemn all forms of torture and other ill-treatment; prevent torture, including through ending secret and incommunicado detention; and hold to account those responsible for authorising, facilitating, or inflicting torture or other ill-treatment.

China inspired interrogations at Guantánamo

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of "coercive management techniques" for possible use on prisoners, including "sleep deprivation," "prolonged constraint," and "exposure."

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Some methods were used against a small number of prisoners at Guantánamo before 2005, when Congress banned the use of coercion by the military. The C.I.A. is still authorized by President Bush to use a number of secret "alternative" interrogation methods.

Several Guantánamo documents, including the chart outlining coercive methods, were made public at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing June 17 that examined how such tactics came to be employed.

But committee investigators were not aware of the chart's source in the half-century-old journal article, a connection pointed out to The New York Times by an independent expert on interrogation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

~ read on... ~

Protests and repression in Japan on eve of G8 summit

Heavily-policed demonstrations were held in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo July 5 as world leaders began arriving on the island of Hokkaido for the G8 summit that opens Monday at Toyako mountain resort. A march of some 5,000 was lined with, and sometimes boxed in by, several thousand police in full riot gear. At least four people—including Reuters reporter Masahiro Koike—were arrested. Police shattered the window of a sound truck and dragged out the driver. AFP said the van failed to stop at a traffic stop. Japan Economic Newswire reported that a South Korean labor union official arriving for the protests was arrested at Sapporo's airport July 4 "on suspicion of obstructing an immigration officer."

The No! G8 Legal Team reported July 6 that several leftist leaders around Japan in the prelude to the summit, and "face years in prison." The statement says local organizers fear arrest:

This latest action comes after weeks of repressive activity on behalf of the police and government. Activists throughout Japan have been arrested at demonstrations and in their homes, often on "technical" charges, such as not registering a change of address. Overt surveillance of activists, academics and reporters has been taking place for months, and with some local activists for years. International conference participants and protesters have been interrogated for hours at the border and many have been denied entry into the country without warrant. The legal team sees this as a violation of people's right to freely exchange ideas.

"We were surprised by the excessive force used by police in today's demonstration," said Ko Watari, of WATCH, a Japanese legal network created to document police and government misconduct during the anti G8 protests. "This was a non-violent demonstration where no acts against property or people took place, or even appeared likely to take place." The arrested Reuter's cameraman was standing on a public sidewalk when seized by plainclothes police; his video camera was confiscated and has not been returned. The arrest of the sound truck driver followed immediately thereafter. Footage of the driver's arrest shows him screaming in pain as the police pulled him out of the truck, his foot stuck in the steering wheel.

Japanese law permits police to hold and interrogate suspects in the police station for 23 days without formal charges. They can interrogate suspects for up to 12 hours at a time. While detained arrestees can be forced to sit on their knees the entire time they are awake, not being able to move, even to use the bathroom without asking permission. This permission is not always granted.

See our last post on Japan.

~ World War 4 Report ~


An open letter to Barack Obama on Iran

Dear Senator Obama,

We the undersigned may have different views on U.S. foreign policy with respect to Iran. We all, however, are deeply concerned about the stories in the press in the past few weeks suggesting that the Bush administration might be considering a military strike on Iran, that it might give a green light to such an attack by Israel, or that it might engage in other acts of war, such as imposing a blockade against Iran.

We welcomed your stand against the war on Iraq in 2002. And we were encouraged by your early campaign statements emphasizing diplomacy over military action against Iran. Today, you have an opportunity to forestall a repeat of the tragic Iraq war. We hope you will use that opportunity.

We agree with the conclusion of Muhammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that "A military strike ... would be worse than anything possible. It would turn the region into a fireball..." A military attack, he said, "will mean that Iran, if it is not already making nuclear weapons, will launch a crash course to build nuclear weapons with the blessing of all Iranians, even those in the West." (Reuters, June 20, 2008.)

We don't know, of course, whether an attack on Iran is in fact being considered, or if there are serious plans to initiate other acts of war, such as a blockade of the country. But we call on you to issue a public statement warning of the grave dangers that any of these actions would entail, and pointing out how inappropriate and undemocratic it would be for the Bush administration to undertake them, or encourage Israel to do so, in its closing months in office.

An attack on Iran would violate the UN Charter's prohibition against the use or threat of force and the Congress's authority to declare war. Moreover, the public right to decide should not be foreclosed by last-minute actions of the Bush administration, which will set U.S. policy in stone now.

We were heartened by your earlier comments suggesting that an Obama administration would act on the understanding that genuine security requires a willingness to talk without preconditions (something Iran has offered several times to no avail), and that threats and military action are counterproductive. We hope you will follow through on these commitments once in office, but also that you will speak out now against any acts of war by the Bush administration.



Please join these signatories and sign below

(organizations listed for identification purposes only)

Michael Albert ZNet
Cathy Albisa exec. director, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
John W. Amidon U.S. Veterans for Peace
Stanley Aronowitz Professor of Sociology, Graduate Center, CUNY
Rosalyn Baxandall Distinguished Teaching Professor, SUNY Old Westbury
Phyllis Bennis Institute for Policy Studies
Stephen Eric Bronner Professor (II) of Political Science, Rutgers University
Charlotte Bunch exec. director, Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers Univ.
Noam Chomsky Institute Professor (retired), MIT
Ray Close retired CIA Middle East specialist; Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Rhonda Copelon Professor of Law, CUNY Law School
Hamid Dabashi Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia Univ.
Lawrence Davidson Professor of Middle East History, West Chester Univ.
Ariel Dorfman author
Stuart Ewen, Distinguished Professor, Hunter College & the Graduate Center, CUNY
John Feffer co-director, Foreign Policy in Focus
Bill Fletcher, Jr. exec. editor,
Libby Frank Women's Internat'l League for Peace & Freedom, Philadelphia
Arthur Goldschmidt Professor emeritus of Middle East History, Penn State Univ.
Tom Hayden author
Doug Henwood Left Business Observer
Doug Ireland journalist
James E. Jennings exec. director, U.S. Academics for Peace
Nikki Keddie UCLA (emeritus), historian, Iran specialist
Janet Kestenberg Amighi v.p., CDR (sponsor of Holocaust child survivor research)
Rabbi Michael Lerner chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives; editor, Tikkun mag.
Mark LeVine Prof. of Modern Middle Eastern History, Culture and Islamic Studies, U. Cal., Irvine
Manning Marable director, Center for Contemporary Black History, Columbia Univ.
David McReynolds former chair, War Resisters Internat'l
Rosalind Petchesky Distinguished Prof. of Poli. Sci., Hunter College & the Graduate Center, CUNY
Rachel Pfeffer interim exec. director, Jewish Voices for Peace
Katha Pollitt writer
Danny Postel No War on Iran Coalition, Chicago
Matthew Rothschild editor, The Progressive magazine
Stephen R. Shalom Prof. of Poli. Sci., William Paterson Univ.
(Rev.) David Whitten Smith Univ. of St. Thomas, Minnesota (emeritus)
Meredith Tax writer; president, Women's WORLD
Michael J. Thompson editor of Logos
Chris Toensing editor, Middle East Report
Cornel West Professor, Princeton University
Stephen Zunes Professor of Politics, Univ. of San Francisco

Christiania’s fate might end up in the courts

a Christiania protest marchLong running efforts to formalise the status of Copenhagen's most famous suburb seem to have reached a deadlock. The hippie enclave that has squatted on a former army base near the city centre for four decades initially agreed to proposals from city administrators but with too many conditions attached.

Carsten Jarlov, representing the Palaces and Properties Agency, says his party has lost patience, pointing out that the state had already spent '20,000 hours and around 20 million kroner' on resolving the matter.

'I don't see the point in meeting again,' he told public broadcaster DR. 'Now the courts will have to decide the fate of Christiania.'

Residents of this ad hoc suburb that has no proper utilities such as paved roads, and gets away with loose law enforcement on issues such as drug use, are hoping they will be protected by rulings passed in 1978 and 1989 that allow them final say over the colony's fate.

More than 700 lawsuits have been filed by residents against the government eager to protect their 'colony' and avoid rent – which few have paid in any significant amount. The issue of 150 additional houses built in the colony and who gets to administer a waiting list for such housing, as well a demand for a 10 million kroner fund to subsidise introduced rents, are all conditions over which negotiations have broken down.

The leading party in the government, the Liberals, want no further time wasted talking to the residents, while the Conservatives prefer to keep the door open.

~ From: IceNews ~


The Busk

The "busk" was the most important ceremony of Indians living in the South Appalachian Mississippian sphere. During the busk, houses were cleaned and the temple and grounds were repaired. All fires were extinguished and all debts and grievances were resolved. From outlying villages people came and gathered at the ceremonial center for rituals of purification: ceremonial bathing, fasting, scratching the body with garfish teeth, and taking cathartic medicines. Everyone prepared to begin the new year with the eating of new corn at the conclusion of the busk, also known as "poskito." At the close of the busk visitors returned to their villages, carrying with them embers from the sacred fire with which to relight the hearths in their own homes. Sharing the fire symbolized unity among the Pee Dee, making them "people of one fire."

Feds use violent tactics against campers and children

[Big Sandy, WY] - Attendees at the annual Rainbow Gathering have once again been the target of brutal law enforcement tactics this past week as they gathered in the Bridger National Forest in southwestern Wyoming. The violent tactics, which have injured several adults and children, include the shooting of pepper spray bullets, pointing guns at children, and repeatedly tasering a man who was handcuffed.

The Rainbow Family of Living Light is a loose network of individuals who gather every year in the national forest to pray for peace, commune with nature, and visit with friends. Every year, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) increases its attempts to disrupt and cause violence at the Rainbow Family's peaceful gatherings. This year's Gathering was no exception.

The pepper bullet incident occurred around 7:00pm on Thursday, July 3 when about a dozen USFS federal agents surrounded a meadow where Rainbows were enjoying the day. For reasons unknown, they zeroed in on a male member of the crowd, who went into the woods towards Kiddie Village, an area of the Gathering filled with children. USFS agents followed the man into Kiddie Village, where they apprehended him. As the man was being arrested, one concerned woman tried asking the feds what the man had done. The feds refused to answer, and instead viciously threw the woman to the ground and pulled her head back by her hair while she was being handcuffed. This caused panic among the other campers, who called for the Rainbows own crisis intervention and peace-keeping team to come from the main circle. As the feds retreated with the two campers in custody, they were followed up the hill by about 100-200 concerned Rainbows. In these situations, Rainbows are trained to call out calming suggestions for peace and order like "Stay calm." and "Give 'em room." Elders told the campers to keep "cameras in front and people in back" to prevent the Forest Service from feeling threatened.

Despite this, the feds then opened fire with 20-30 bursts of pepper spray bullets at random into the crowd, injuring both adults and children, and hitting one man in the face. There are also reports that the feds used rubber bullets and that one federal agent pointed his gun at several children and a baby.

The USFS called in for reinforcements, who showed up with M16 rifles and scared the campers from asking any more questions. The feds say that the campers threw "sticks and rocks" at them during the incident. This has not been substantiated. However, this excuse is used every year by the feds as part of their propaganda campaign against the Rainbows to justify their harsh tactics. In Colorado in 2006, the feds also accused the Rainbows of throwing sticks and stones, but video evidence later proved that this was a lie.

Another violent incident occurred around 2pm on July 2 when the feds tasered a man while handcuffed. The incident occurred in a parking area, when a man was moving a car from one parking space to another. He was asked by USFS agents to get out of his car, but he did not respond. The agents then roughly removed him from the vehicle, tasered him twice and handcuffed him. Witnesses report that he was then tasered 5 to 7 more times while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground.

Since the Gathering started on July 1, the feds have cited hundreds of people for minor infractions of the law. Almost every vehicle entering the site has been searched, and gatherers are routinely harassed and intimidated. Campers have been charged with dirty license plates, failure to use a turn signal on a 4WD dirt road, and having objects dangling from their rear view mirror.

The Gathering will continue through this weekend, and campers will be onsite to cleanup the area until at least the middle of July. Campers are encouraging concerned citizens to contact the USFS and ask them to stop harassing peaceful campers and wasting taxpayer dollars.

Write, call or email to express your outrage at the actions of the USFS:

Mark Rey
USDA Undersecretary
1400 Independence Ave. SW, 217-E
Washington, DC 20250
Phone: 202-720-7173
Fax: 202-720-0632

USFS Chief Gail Kimbell
Phone: 202-205-1661

Call the Wyoming Representatives and Senators
* Sen. John Barrasso (R)
* Sen. Michael Enzi (R)
* Rep. Barbara Cubin (R)

And your own reps in DC
Capitol Switchboard TOLL-FREE:

*** *** ***
ACLU to investigate Rainbow Family treatment
Associated Press - July 5, 2008 5:25 PM ET

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union plans to
investigate how federal law enforcement officers treated members of
the Rainbow Family during their annual gathering this year in western

Federal officers arrested five Rainbow Family members Thursday night.
The U.S. Forest Service says the arrests occurred after a mob of
perhaps 400 Rainbows threw rocks and sticks at 10 agency police
officers after they tried to arrest one member of the group.

Linda Burt is executive director of the ACLU in Wyoming. She says her
organization plans to accept collect calls from Rainbow Family members
for the next two weeks to hear how law enforcement treated them.

Burt says she's concerned about reports that law enforcement officers
have been ticketing Rainbow Family members for the smallest traffic
infractions. She also said she's heard reports that officers have
walked among the Rainbow camps asking people if they're using drugs
without reason to suspect that any crime has been committed.


ACLU of Wyoming
P.O. Box 20706
Cheyenne, WY 82003
(307) 637-4565

Neocon political-military operatives in Obama / McCain campaigns , the oil speculators

The 2 candidates got heavy-duty neocon political-military operatives on their teams

1) take McCain , besides Charlie Black , he's got Phil Gramm, the "Enron Loophole" master...for the money, that is.........also neocon members of the Eisenberg group, the guy who signed the WTC 99 year leases to Silverstein ,Goldman,etc., just 6 weeks before 9/11, in a big rush to put it mildly....he's got also Kravis from KKR and Ken Mehlman who with Fleischer,Ullman,Rosen,Libby,Abrams,Feith,Wolfowitz and Zakheim,among other darlings, created the master plan to invade Iraq,bomb the daylights out of the CIVIL POPULATION ( Ullman : the shock and awe ! guy ) and leave all the arms and explosives depots unguarded to fuel the insurgency and justify more attacks and more contracts,and ond and on, we could go on for days about their military precision plan ....

2) Obama's got Ben-Veniste , who with Zelikow and the Robert Rubin team and others turned the 9/11 Commission Report into a national insult, these ultra-neocons from the political-military hard core section of the Mossad-Aipac kept key questions about WTC-7,Insurance policies from 23 Insurance Companies just 3 to 5 weeks weeks before 9/11, etc. etc. out of the report and with no answers.......he's got Albright,Farber, Furman,Sussman,Reich,and none other than Orin Kramer who with Farber are the link to the Hedge-Funds ( and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley ) which control 30% of the Oil,Gas,Heating Oil and Futures contracts, the swaps and commodities index funds that pushes oil and gas prices every day up for huge trading profits...the cancer of America and the world...and their managers and partners pay only 15 % in taxes instead of the 25 to 30 % that the rest pays.......the Hearings this month of June 2008 in the HOUSE and SENATE are a must for every student and taxpayer in America,in the Senate the 3rd of June 2008 chaired by Senator Cantwell and in the House the 23 of June 2008 by R.Stupak and R.Dingell, these 2 Hearings and others are a full view of the abuse,incompetence and corruption in Wall Street and Washington D.C....

so the 2 candidate's got some heavy shame in their campaigns......

and all these neocons work together, they may disagree on policy details,but their intent is for the same faith,same country and same military control, these neocons want America addicted to Middle East Oil and Gas forever ,Saudi Arabia and Opec, and with only one friend in the region, Israel, and so forced to keep USA troops there forever and sending money to them forever too...

so will the 2 candidates get rid of the waste and junk? , will they do the job of America? or will they continue to do the job of the Neocon and Oil Lobby's ? what will the 2 candidates do ?

the worst is that there is still not a National Plan to start installing solar panels and wind turbines on every building in America, start manufacturing plug-in electric cars by the millions right now, no plans to start hydrogen and methanol fuel cell cars production lines, no plans to start a geothermal farm in every State, no plans to turn all the garbage into electricity or steam, etc.etc., NOTHING !!!

Thanks to Secretary Rice for demanding that extreme israelis stop stealing the land of palestinian farmers to build luxury homes and condos with USA Taxpayers money, enough! , since the Annapolis Peace Conference these extreme israelis have started all together 3.000 new homes for a total of 8.000 homes, and the USA gets the hate and the bombs around the's time to share Jerusalem and the 2 State Solution, it's time ! ....and because this is the root of most of the hate and violence.

as many are saying, the fact that AP's ( Associated Press) new USA editor in charge is Oreskes,an extreme neocon from the New York Times, is insulting, he was with the rest,Sulzberger,Safire,Rosenthal,Kristol,Rupert Murdoch,Karmazin, Lehrer,etc., pushing for the Iraq War every day in 2002 and 2003, with Senators Schumer,Lieberman,Kyl, Boxer,Feinstein, and Rep.Emanuel,Israel, etc., all pushing to attack and bomb, every day , and now that this Oreskes controls all the AP stories for the USA markets is absurd, and with the total monopoly control that the neocons have over and as well as PBS-TV , America is without a free democratic voice !!!

Politico's June 24,2008 issue story , "Hedge Funds ISO Political Cover", is key to get the latest on the battle between the Hedge Funds and Congress, and also the Hedge Funds count with a key asset, the new IRS Commissioner,Shulman, is a dear friend, if you know what i the Hedge Funds will never pay their share,they will stay at 15 % ,while the rest of America pays 25 to 30%, and playing the over-the-counter commodities markets overseas, isn't wonderful? it's a reality, neocons are above the USA Constitution,the IRS laws are just for gentiles...


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