Saturday, June 27, 2009

Show Britain is on the right side by barring torture, say security experts

Defence, security and intelligence grandees will next week launch a critique of the government's strategy for dealing with terror, including a demand that ministers should show that Britain has "unambiguously" renounced the use of torture.

They will argue that the government must demonstrate that it is "on the right side" when it comes to the abuse of detainees and the practice of extraordinary rendition.

The 180-page final report of the Institute of Public Policy Research's security commission, to be published on Tuesday, will recommend that the government ensures that its own agents employ only legal methods and robustly challenge alleged or suspected torture .

The commission also warns that control orders and other measures that "subvert the rule of normal law" can provide a propaganda coup for radical jihadi groups.

~ more... ~

Ministry of Defence blocks Wikileaks

The Ministry of Defence is trying to block all internet access to the whistleblowing site Wikileaks from thousands of its own computers after discovering that dissidents have been using it to leak copies of British military manuals.

Newly obtained MoD emails reveal alarm over the discovery that Wikileaks is freely publishing manuals that are used by patrols in Iraq.

One email says: "There are thousands of things on here, I literally mean thousands. Not just UK MoD but other places as well. Everything I clicked on to do with MoD was 'restricted' ... It is huge."

Dismay was sparked by the discovery that Wikileaks had posted copies of a 2007 manual on UK tactics for Iraq and Afghanistan, and a handbook on Istar (intelligence surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) on its website.

The Iraq "stability operations" manual contains details on how to organise roadblocks, conduct searches and tackle suicide bombers, advising: "Immediate incapacitation of the suicide bomber, using lethal force, is likely to be the only means of stopping him."

~ more... ~

Venezuela, in 2002, pioneered the events in Iran in 2009

By Al Giordano

As millions around the world marvel at the seismic historic events underway in Iran - probably the last place most expected a civic revolution to emerge (wasn't it just a little over a year ago that a major US presidential candidate was singing "Bomb, bomb, Iran" as if it was some prehistoric subhuman place and people?) - I want to ask all our readers here for a little more of your attention than is usually required to check out a mere blog post.

I would like you to give 74 minutes to watch the online video of the documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised about the April 2002 attempted coup d'etat in Venezuela, and how an organized people and an ad hoc network of Internet organizers and journalists beat back that coup in 72 hours.

(I gave you at least 74 minutes of my time to prepare this presentation; so I'm not asking you to do anything I haven't already done.)

In April 2002, the elected president of a South American democracy had been kidnapped by military generals, while the country's corporate TV stations (it's been documented convincingly that the station owners were party to the violent coup conspiracy) broadcast the gigantic lie that President Hugo Chávez had "resigned."

Some Irish documentary filmmakers happened to be in the capital city of Caracas when all hell broke loose. They were able to film what happened in the streets. And in what could only be described as a colossal act of hubris on the part of the coup-plotters, members of the film crew were able to capture their taking of the national palace, known as Miraflores, also on film and microphone.

Back in 2002, we didn't have Twitter. We didn't have YouTube. Or Facebook. We didn't have most of the online tools that are being deployed today to break the information blockade.

Think about that.

And the international corporate media was, if it paid any attention at all to the coup and counter-coup in Venezuela, hostile to the country's democratically elected president (the New York Times went so far as to publish an editorial praising the coup; online organizers created so much pressure upon the newspaper that a few days later it had to issue an unprecedented correction and apology for such an editorial).

The battle that saved democracy in Venezuela was a battle over control of the means of communication. Abbie Hoffman wrote in 1969 that "the modern day revolutionary doesn't run to the factory, but to the TV station." Those words proved prophetic in 2002 in Caracas. And now that the Internet has supplanted so much of television and newspapers' roles in human communications, the battle over the present and future of Iran is being fought right here on the screen in front of you. It's why Twitter users are suddenly in a justifiable uproar over the website's announced 90 minutes of downtime tonight for maintenance; an hour-and-a-half that would coincide with the first working hours of tomorrow's General Strike called in Iran. For reasons that I suspect have to do with the fact that one doesn't need high-speed Internet bandwidth to post 140 character messages on Twitter, it has become "the front" of this week's global communication war.

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Organizing demonstrations outside of police stations after arrests of activists

Otpor! (“Resistance!” in Serbo-Croatian) prepared “Plan B” demonstrations outside of police stations to respond immediately to arrests during protest events in Serbia. Whenever the police arrested activists in their demonstrations, Otpor! would instantaneously launch a second operation, mobilizing more people to show up at the police stations and protest the arrest. The events at the police station became media showpieces, calling attention to the injustice of the arrests and the illegitimacy of the regime. They also provided moral support and encouragement to the arrested activists, turning them into local and national heroes, rather than forgotten victims. Otpor! thus turned the regime’s policy of arrests to its own advantage and continued to build a movement.

In response to growing repression by the Milosevic regime in Serbia, Otpor! built a national campaign throughout the country, holding hundreds of events, putting up thousands of posters, distributing millions of leaflets. While they did this, they faced a relentless response from the state, including over 2000 arrests of activists. Otpor! organized nonviolent political actions of all kinds – demonstrations, marches, street theater, etc.– but the Serbian police were less creative: arresting activists became a habitual response to all actions. When activists were arrested, Otpor! knew which police station they would be taken to (because each municipality had its own local police station). They also helped activists prepare psychologically for arrest beforehand by creating a “dialogue list” that explained what they could expect under interrogation and by assuring them they could count on Plan B to support them.

Once arrests occurred, Plan B consisted of mobilizing Otpor!’s extensive network of contacts by:

  • Calling friendly lawyers, who would go immediately to the police station and begin negotiating for the activists’ release;
  • Calling on all Otpor! activists to gather at the Otpor! premises or in front of the police station within an hour. They would then participate in nonviolent and fun activities such as singing and games at this new demonstration;
  • Informing the media (including all independent TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and press photographers) and calling on them to come to the police station to support the action, and to take the activists’ statements after their release;
  • Calling on all opposition political parties in order to condemn the arrest and to call their members from that territory (municipality) to join the activists in front of the police station;
  • Calling on local NGOs to inform international organizations and to send protest letters condemning the arrest.

The lawyers always succeeded in getting the arrested activists released. Generally there was no reason for their arrest (except to stop the action and to frighten the activists). The arrested activists would then be welcomed as heroes and would hold a press conference in front of the police station or at Otpor!’s office after they were released.

These activists were in most cases very exhausted, tired, frightened and angry, but they were also motivated and happy because they were not alone when they were released, but were greeted by crowds of friends and well-wishers. The arrested activists were very often the ones in charge of planning subsequent actions and motivating others to participate in them, or they would participate in Plan B actions. Then, the previously arrested activists could talk to others about what it was like to spend hours in the police station, what questions the police asked, and how they felt. Also, activists knew they would never be alone: If they were arrested, they knew for sure that lawyers, the media and more protesters would stand in front of the police station until they were released. This built a sense of solidarity in the organization.

In addition to building solidarity among activists, Plan B guaranteed that some successful action would take place, whether or not the primary demonstration was broken up. This raised the morale of all Otpor! activists and weakened the credibility of the government’s police machinery. In addition, it mobilized Serbian citizens who were already fed up with Milosevic. They grew particularly incensed when he began arresting young people who were doing nothing wrong. Thus Plan B, which called attention to the illegitimacy of the arrests, became an important factor in mobilizing the general citizenry in Otpor!’s favor.

Although this tactic is applicable to a wide range of contexts, there are a number of considerations that may impact its success. These include the existence of rule of law in a country, the development of strong networks of communication and support, and the effect of Plan B demonstrations on public support for the campaign. These considerations vary significantly across countries and communities.

~ New Tactics in Human Rights ~

Lawmaker accuses Fed of "cover-up" in BofA deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve sought to hide its involvement in Bank of America Corp's acquisition of Merrill Lynch as Merrill's financial condition worsened, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said on Wednesday.

The Fed "engaged in a cover-up and deliberately hid concerns and pertinent details regarding the merger from other federal regulatory agencies," Representative Darrell Issa said in a statement released to Reuters.

Bernanke has in the past denied any inappropriate pressure on Bank of America. Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith on Wednesday referred to a letter Bernanke sent Representative Dennis Kucinich on April 30 and later testimony in which he offered an "unconditional assertion" that he did not ask Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis to withhold information regarding Merrill.

"The Federal Reserve acted with the highest integrity throughout its discussions with Bank of America," Bernanke wrote to the Ohio Democrat, who chairs a subcommittee on the Oversight panel.

The Democrat who heads the committee, Edolphus Towns of New York, has called Bernanke to testify on Thursday. "I am not going to prejudge these issues. We are not even close to finishing the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch investigation at this point," Towns said in a statement.

~ more... ~

Healthcare industry spending $1.4 million - a day - on lobbyists

The healthcare industry is spending upwards of $1.4 million each day on average to lobby members of Congress on health care legislation, a report issued by Common Cause this week reveals.

Industry spending has nearly doubled since 2000. Healthcare interests contributed $94 million to Congress members during the 2008 election cycle alone — up from $40 million in 2000.

Common Cause’s report has received almost no treatment in the press — with a single article in Bloomberg News and one in the National Journal.

~ more... ~

Palestinian violence overstated, Jewish violence understated

Time to Change the Story
By Ira Chernus

The Israel Project hired pollster Stanley Greenberg to test American opinion on the Middle East conflict -- and got a big surprise. In September 2008, 69% of Americans called themselves pro-Israel. Now, it's only 49%. In September, the same 69% wanted the U.S. to side with Israel; now, only 44%.

How to explain this dramatic shift? Greenberg himself suggested the answer years ago when he pointed out that, in politics, "a narrative is the key to everything." Last year the old narrative about the Middle East conflict was still dominant: Israel is an innocent victim, doing only what it must do to defend itself against the Palestinians. Today, that narrative is beginning to lose its grip on Americans.

Well, to be more precise, the first part of the old narrative is eroding. Nearly half the American public seems unsure that Israel is still the good guy in the Middle East showdown. But the popular image of the Palestinians as the violent bad guy is apparently as potent as ever. The number of Americans who say they support Palestine remains unchanged from last September, a mere 7%. And only 5% want the U.S. government to take such a position.

Those numbers reflect the narrative that President Obama recited in Cairo on June 4th. He chided the Israelis for a few things they are doing wrong -- like expanding settlements and blockading Gaza. To the other side, though, his message was far blunter: "Palestinians must abandon violence." Of Israeli violence he said not a word.

The president's speech implicitly sanctioned the most up-to-date tale that dominates the American mass media and public opinion today: The Israelis ought to be reined in a bit, but it's hard to criticize them too much because, hey, what would you do if you had suicide bombers and rockets coming at you all the time?

That view is a political winner here. In the latest Pew poll, 62% of Americans say Obama is striking the right balance between Israel and Palestine; of those who disagree, three-quarters want to see him tougher on the Palestinians, not the Israelis. A Rasmussen poll finds even stronger support for a pro-Israel tilt.

There are, however, two things wrong with his narrative. First, though it's somewhat less one-sided than the story that prevailed during the George W. Bush years, it is far from impartial, which means the U.S. still cannot act as an even-handed broker for peace in the region. Since no one else is available to play that role, it's hard to see how, under the present circumstances, any version of a peace process can move forward.

~ more... ~

Top 5 most sinister corporate logos

Big corporations pay millions in public relations to make customers associate their brand with a warm and fuzzy feeling. It is imperative that the soulless and inherently greedy nature of the corporation be hidden behind a family-friendly facade. But some companies just don’t give a hoot. They hate you, your family and especially your cat and they don’t care if you know it. They even display their evilness right on their logo.

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Dollar slides after China calls for ‘super-sovereign’ currency

The dollar dropped against all of its most-traded counterparts after China repeated its call for a “super-sovereign” currency.

The greenback headed for its biggest weekly loss against the euro in a month after the People’s Bank of China said the International Monetary Fund should manage part of members’ foreign-exchange reserves. China is the biggest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries, with $763.5 billion in April.

“The concern of reserve diversification is always lurking in the background,” said Martin McMahon, a foreign-exchange analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG in Zurich.

The dollar weakened 0.8 percent to $1.4101 per euro at 8:34 a.m. in New York, from $1.3988 yesterday, extending its loss this week to 1.1 percent. The dollar will decline to a level between $1.50 and $1.60 euro in the third quarter, McMahon said. The yen weakened 0.3 percent to 134.59 per euro from 134.22. The U.S. currency fell 0.5 percent to 95.44 yen from 95.95.

The Dollar Index, which the ICE uses to track the greenback against the currencies of six leading trading partners, fell 0.8 percent to below 80.

“To prevent the deficiencies in the main reserve currency, there’s a need to create a new currency that’s delinked from the economies of the issuers,” the People’s Bank of China said in a review of the economy in 2008 released today.

~ more... ~

The end of the Internet? Cybersecurity Act gives Obama power to shut down internet, ignore laws

Techniques to discredit

Sutton and Wood warned, "Anyone in the U.S. who promotes unwelcome news for the elite receives some unwelcome attention in return." This attention includes the use of experts, mainstream media, and anti-hate organizations, for well-coordinated character assassination.(*) According to author Perloff, a document released by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, on September 23, 1956 entitled, Propaganda and the Alert Citizen outlined the tactics reportedly used by the Establishment to discredit opposition.

Quoting from this document, Perloff wrote, "The tactic used had a prototype in a directive issued by the Communist Party... It read: When certain obstructionists become too irritating, label them, after suitable build-ups, as Fascist or Nazi or anti-Semitic, and use the prestige of anti-Fascist and tolerance organizations to discredit them. ... In the public mind constantly associate those who oppose us with those names which already have a bad smell."

"Because the Establishment controls the media," wrote Allen, "anyone exposing the Insiders will be the recipient of a continuous fusillade of [criticism] ... from newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. In this manner one is threatened with the loss of 'social respectability' if he dares broach the idea that there is organization behind any of the problems currently wrecking America."

"Smear tactics" from "left and right" are "standard operating procedure," explained Sutton and Wood. Even if you don't believe in the phony left/right political spectrum and have no political affiliation, you may be assigned one. Then the financial elite can use the opposite political party expressed in the mainstream news for character assassination. These labels, describe Sutton and Wood, "divert attention from responsible reasoned criticism with no attachment to a synthetic political spectrum."

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"The Norwegian government is building more and more underground bases and bunkers"

From A letter from a Norwegian politician:

I am a Norwegian politician. I would like to say that difficult things will happen from the year 2008 till the year 2012.

The Norwegian government is building more and more underground bases and bunkers. When asked, they simply say that it is for the protection of the people of Norway. When I enquire when they are due to be finished, they reply “before 2011”.

Israel is also doing the same and many other countries too.

My proof that what I am saying is true is in the photographs I have sent of myself and all the Prime Ministers and ministers I tend to meet and am acquainted with. They know all of this, but they don’t want to alarm the people or create mass panic.

Planet X is coming, and Norway has begun with storage of food and seeds in the Svalbard area and in the arctic north with the help of the US and EU and all around in Norway. They will only save those that are in the elite of power and those that can build up again: doctors, scientists, and so on.

As for me, I already know that I am going to leave before 2012 to go the area of Mosjøen where we have a deep underground military facility. There we are divided into sectors, red, blue and green. The signs of the Norwegian military are already given to them and the camps have already been built a long time ago.

The people that are going to be left on the surface and die with along the others will get no help whatsoever. The plan is that 2,000,000 Norwegians are going to be safe, and the rest will die. That means 2,600,000 will perish into the night not knowing what to do.

A
ll the sectors and arks are connected with tunnels and have railcars that can take you from one ark to the other. This is so that they can be in contact with each other. Only the large doors separate them so that the sectors are not compromised in any matter.

~ more... ~

Musical Innerlube: Warzone - 'The sound of revolution'



~ Blank TV ~

'Stoned wallabies make crop circles'

Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around "as high as a kite", a government official has said.

Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine.

She was reporting to a parliamentary hearing on security for poppy crops.

Australia supplies about 50% of the world's legally-grown opium used to make morphine and other painkillers.

"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Lara Giddings told the hearing.

~ more... ~

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