Saturday, May 31, 2014

Poetry Intensive Weekend

We were at a poetry reading last night featuring Jon Davis, the current poet laureate of Santa Fe, along with  Joan Logghe, past poet laureate as well as Chee Brossy, Carol Moldaw, Henry Shukman, and Farren Stanley.

Not one of them mentioned Maya Angelou, who died last Tuesday, and I thought that was interesting. The widespread non-notice her death has received is very interesting indeed. I've been working on a piece in her memory -- we had some personal contact with her 30 or so years ago, and bluntly, she was unforgettable. And I smile at the memory.

Tonight, we're going to a Poet's Conclave in Albuquerque in honor of José Montoya of the Royal Chicano Air Force. Yes, we knew him and other members of the RCAF in Sacramento so it will be quite a treat to see and hear so many poets laureate of the Southwest honoring his memory. We'll see if they mention Sister Maya.

And tomorrow, Ms Ché will be doing a poetry workshop with Jon Davis back in Santa Fe, a workshop integrated with an exhibit of pinhole photography at the history museum.

While it's not poetry per se, this afternoon we're attending a talk at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art featuring Shan Goshorn, Jen Dunn of the Santa Fe Institute, and Valerie Plame -- of a certain CIA fame... Maybe they'll mention Maya Angelou??

Well, it's keeping us busy anyway...



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Double Helping of Ick

Last night I had more on my mind than listening to a double helping of Ick on the television. Maya Angelou was dead, and I was more moved by her passing than I thought I would be. In trying to compose something of a memorial, many memories were triggered, both of her and of times gone by. She represented something that had the power of good, I think. A curative, even a cleansing power.

But then the teevee was dominated last night not by thoughts or memories of Maya Angelou, not by any mention of her come to think of it -- though there must have been and I missed it -- but by two rather bizarre appearances or apparitions, one on Charlie Rose of the execrable Victoria Nuland-Kagan, in which she went on and on about all the "opportunities" Russia has "missed" to join "the community of nations," the other, of Edward Snowden canoodling with Brian Williams in Moscow (cameo by Glenn Greenwald) that seemed like yet another scripted sales pitch -- or training lecture -- from this man.

I found I was not able to listen to either of them closely. Their words and their bearing struck me as false from the get-go, in Nuland's case partly because of her artificially courtly "diplo-speak" and her distracting hand movements and her constant pushing/catapulting the propaganda; in Snowden's case because of his apparent forthrightness that I've seen too often among government types, a forthrightness that masks layers of lies, deceptions and sub-rosa threats. I said at one point to Ms Ché, "I find I don't believe a word this man is saying."

Both had foils. Nuland's was not Charlie Rose, who was on vacation or something, but the New Yorker's David Remnik who actually comes at the topic of Ukraine and Russia from a position of (some) knowledge, having been the Washington Post's Moscow Bureau Chief during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, understanding and speaking Russian, and personally knowing some of the players on the current Russian/Ukrainian stage including Vladimir Vladimirovich. Remnick wasn't necessarily gentle with Nuland-Kagan. He challenged a few of her daft notions about Ukraine and Poroshenko and Russia's "invasion." She was able to parry by fluttering her hands and arching her brow at his temerity, but as I say, he knows something about what's going on and who the players are. She can't bullshit him the way she can bamboozle Congressmembers, for example. But when he had the advantage over her, he didn't pursue it, no doubt in order to preserve Charlie Rose's access to her and her ilk in the future. Challenging her lies last night was not worth upsetting that applecart.

Brian Williams and NBC had been shamelessly teasing and promoting last night's apparition of Young Snowden for a week, the final tease before the reveal being the statement by Snowden that he was "trained as a spy" by the CIA. Something that has been disputed by former CIA operatives, one of whom is featured in the video clip I posted yesterday. "Everybody" is supposed to have been talking about Snowden last night, at least according to Williams and NBC, as if somehow this hasn't (quite) become a stale story, its sell-by date having long passed.

I was rude last year by calling it a "Summer Shark and Missing White Boy" Story, not really "news" at all, more an entertainment for those so inclined to fill the summer news hole. It was marketed exactly like every other Summer Shark story had been for years, and its content was almost as slight. We knew about the presence of sharks in the water -- and most of us knew it was fairly rare for anyone to be bitten. We knew that people, mostly white and mostly women, went missing sometimes, and finding them or finding out what happened to them was constant summer news fare (remember Chandra Levy?)

We knew too, or at least we should have, that there was a vast and growing corporate-government surveillance state that could and did track our lives online, in intimate detail. Many of us knew that "assurances of privacy" were bullshit on stilts. Not that necessarily anyone in a position to do anything about it cared a whit about what you were doing or saying online.

We knew, or we should have, that cell-phones were essentially radio transmitters and communications via cell-phone are easy for government and corporate droogs to intercept and analyze if they should care to.

We knew, or we should have, that elements of the corporate sector and the government keep voluminous dossiers on every single one of us they can find.

The Snowden Trove offered up some of the details of how the NSA, seemingly in a vacuum, accomplishes some of this domestic and overseas surveillance, and as I pointed out over and over again, the NSA is hardly the most important or pervasive factor in domestic surveillance, that we are being watched by layers and layers of corporate and government surveillance entities (there is often no difference), and the obsessive focus on the NSA alone is and was counterproductive -- assuming anyone actually wanted to do anything about domestic surveillance overreach. Initially, but for a few voices on the margins, there was no mention at all of the intricate interweb of surveillance we are subject to. It was all NSA, all the time.

Later, as the summer faded and the story seemed to languish, mention now and then was made of the way Google and Facebook and other corporate players collect and analyze mountains of data on users and non-users alike -- and how they share this information with the government. When Omidyar entered the picture, there came some stories about how he and his companies, especially eBay and PayPal, are intimately interconnected with government and law enforcement, how he is personally no stranger to the White House, and how his companies' surveillance of users and their data is interlinked with government surveillance activities.

It took quite a while, but eventually, it was pointed out in the mass media that the surveillance state is pervasive, and surveillance data is widely shared between all kinds of public and private agencies and interests, not solely by law enforcement, either.

So here's Young Snowden in a sit-down at an Unnamed Moscow Hotel with Brian Williams, flogging the NSA story once again, and supplementing it with his personal saga of a man on a mission, still working for the US Government, and a patriot to the core.

Of course, Greenwald has a book out, and that seems to be the impetus to a whole lot of these stories, but Greenwald -- though his book was flogged briefly during a segment -- was definitely the bit player in this drama. He was barely there at all.

I found myself not listening to Snowden much of the time, in part because his delivery is so artificial and scripted. I recognized the style of his presentation right off, back in the Summer Shark period, as that of a government trainer, which Snowden says he had been for the DIA (a fact that wasn't widely known until recently). As a trainer, you learn -- or you read -- a training script and you deliver it the same way every time. Pausing for questions, you answer carefully, conscious that what you say needs to reinforce rather than refute the script, and if the script is factually in error, you make note of it and pass that on to your superiors, you do not make an issue of it with the trainees, and certainly not with the public.

That was his initial style, that is his current style. I call it a sales pitch because in essence, that's what it is. As a government trainer you are selling a product: the correct way to do things according to the standards and procedures of your agency.

The fact that Snowden adheres to this style of presentation rigorously despite the fact that he is supposedly this great and amazing whistleblower has always disconcerted me. It's as if there is no "real" person there at all, almost as if he's a robot of some sort -- which in fact he has been during some of his presentations. What he has to say is almost identical in every apparition, there is no deviation from the script, and his personal narrative has been cobbled together and is maintained with great rigor. That as they say is that. Who knows whether any of that narrative Snowden presents is true or not? Much of it is disputed by those who ought to know, but they're in a strange position vis a vis Snowden in that they may "know" but they can't truthfully "say." There is little dispute over the veracity of the material from the NSA trove that's been released so far, though interpretations may vary somewhat. But the tale Snowden tells of himself -- which is a big part of the narrative -- is murky at best.

For his part, Brian Williams was soft-balling the entire time, following a script of his own. It was almost as if the whole encounter had been carefully rehearsed beforehand. Maybe it was, I don't know. But Williams broke no new ground, and he did not challenge Snowden's narrative.  In fact, he constantly reinforced it.

Perhaps the worst thing about both the Nuland-Kagan and Snowden appearances last night is the "normalization" factor. They were conditioning exercises -- among so many we're subjected to these days. They weren't illuminating, they were normalizing a kind of monstrousness. Monstrousness in terms of American international relations with Russia, Europe, and the Ukraine. Monstrousness in terms of the Surveillance State which we're immersed in and which Snowden says he wants to "improve."

The media served the role of courtier in both interviews, more so in the case of Snowden. At least Remnik challenged some of Nuland's bullshit. Williams never challenged Snowden's -- or Greenwald's for that matter.

We the Rabble are just supposed to believe, I guess, and henceforward never question unless given leave to do so by our betters.

Sickening. And more than a little bit frightening...


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Snowden Thing As Farce -- or Is It All An Elaborate Hoax?



Mark your calendars and put stars by it! Young Snowden gives his First American Interview (whut?) Exclusively to NBC and Brian Williams tonight!!!!! at 10pm Eastern Time, 9pm Central, wherein he reveals that he's a fricking CIA Spy!!!!  Bet you never imagined that!!!!

Let chaos and confusion reign!

From the outset of the Snowden Thing, I've suspected that it could be a hit on the NSA by the CIA, done in order to establish Security State pre-eminence. Throughout, it seemed that the NSA was being held up to ridicule and contempt within the Spy-State and Government, while the CIA -- which actually performs a lot of the surveillance and wet-work going on in the world -- got an entirely free pass.

This was made clear as crystal when both the #1 (Keith Alexander, Starfleet Commander) and the #2 (John "BigBooté" Inglis) were forced out of the Agency through early retirements. Meanwhile John Brennan at CIA and James Clapper, DNI, went on and on, despite their appalling lies and dissimulations. It didn't matter -- for them -- what they did or said in public. Only Alexander and Inglis were made to pay for the Snowden revelations, which were of course focused on NSA information gathering, mostly signals intelligence... which was done for the military, for the CIA, for the DEA, for the FBI, for the DHS and for god-knows-who-all.

Anybody with enough clout, it seems, could become a "customer" or "client" of the NSA.

Good to know.

"Out of control..." is the appropriate way to look at it. Indeed, the term was repeated over and over again. The NSA was out of control, and there was no effective oversight from any quarter, and Oh, didja know that this Alexander mook is kinda whack? Didja see his Starfleet Center? Never mind that it was ordered up by Hayden, Alexander's predecessor, who was then assigned to CIA.


Jeebus.

Let's be clear. NBC is a CIA conduit, as is the New York Times and WaPo, indeed as is most all of the mainstream -- and a good deal of the alternative -- media.

We've known this, haven't we, for a long-long-long time, but since we don't have an abundance of non-compromised news sources -- much as Soviet citizens didn't have much in the way of non-government news sources back in the day -- we let the knowledge of the propaganda we're constantly exposed to percolate in the backs of our minds, and we pay attention to those parts of the mainstream and mass media that 1) confirm our biases; or 2) entertain and amuse us.

"Truth" is not really an element of the process, because "truth" is subjective -- at least so it seems in the post-modern world.

So the fact is, we have no way of knowing what's "true" and what's not with regard to Snowden's story or Greenwald's story or really anyone's story when it comes to this matter. It's clear that a narrative has been constructed which the very makers of that narrative then jiggle and even shatter from time to time to induce cognitive dissonance. Lies? Some of it, sure. Deceptions? Certainly, why not? Story-telling, marketing, and above all drama? You got it.

Most people have not been able to use the knowledge they've gained from the Snowden Affair for any practical purpose. There is no sign whatsoever that the revelations have caused any part of the Surveillance/Security State to back off the people. All they've done is make some adjustments regarding precedence and priorities with regard to their corporate partners.

Apart from that?

Not much. Really not anything.

We are just as surveilled as ever, if not more so. The systems performing the surveillance get ever more sophisticated. And the transparency of those systems is ever more occluded.

But we've had quite a debate, haven't we? Who's the Top Dog is now settled. Right?

Pfft.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Vids

This is the video that supposedly got Anna News (newsfront /2 /3 /4 at UStream) banned from YouTube.



And this is the Global Research video -- still up at YouTube -- that examines the deliberate propaganda campaign under way by "Western" governments and media against Russia and the Ukrainian resistance to the Kiev coup-regime.


Pierre Omidyar's Excellent Indian Adventure

Oh my.

I noted the election of India's Fascist Modi the other day with some passing alarm at the March of Triumph the Fascists seem to be engaged in these days. It seemed awfully convenient in light of events in Ukraine and elsewhere -- note how Ukraine news has all but disappeared? -- and the concerted efforts of neo-con/neo-libs to overthrow every government that isn't aligned with its own Fascistic program of plunder and despair. So the Indian electorate sent the Fascists from Gujarat to New Delhi and a new technocratic, nationalist, and rabidly Hindu-centrist government will be formed, or already has been, to "reform" what's left of India's relatively benign-socialist past.

Little did I know until the intrepid Mark Ames at Pando did some sleuthing that Our Mister Omidyar, "progressive" oligarch that he is, has his hand in the Indian Transformation, just as he did in Ukraine. And where else? one might ask. Of course the Omidyar footprint is at a slight remove from direct implementation, but the closeness of it, through an interlocking matrix is still somewhat stunning.

Ames introduces what happened:

Modi leads India’s ultranationalist BJP party, which won a landslide majority of seats (though only 31% of the votes), meaning Modi will have the luxury of leading India’s first one-party government in 30 years. This is making a lot of people nervous: The last time the BJP party was in power, in 1998, they launched series of nuclear bomb test explosions, sparking a nuclear crisis with Pakistan and fears of all-out nuclear war. And that was when the BJP was led by a “moderate” ultranationalist — and tied down with meddling coalition partners.
Modi is different. Not only will he rule alone, he’s promised to run India the way he ran the western state of Gujarat since 2001, which Booker Prize-winning author Arandhuti Roy described as “the petri dish in which Hindu fascism has been fomenting an elaborate political experiment.” Under Modi’s watch, an orgy of anti-Muslim violence led to up to 2000 killed and 250,000 internally displaced, and a lingering climate of fear, ghettoization, and extrajudicial executions by Gujarat death squads operating under Modi’s watch.
Yes, and? What's the Omidyar connection?

Well, it turns out:
 
Omidyar Network, as Pando readers know, is the philanthropy arm of eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Since 2009, Omidyar Network has made more investments in India than in any other country in its portfolio. These investments were largely thanks to Jayant Sinha, a former McKinsey partner and Harvard MBA, who was hired in October 2009 to establish and run Omidyar Network India Advisors.
During Sinha’s tenure, Omidyar Network steered a large portion of its investments into India, so that by 2013, India investments made up 18% of Omidyar Network’s committed funds of well over $600 million, and 36% of the total number of companies in its portfolio.
In February of this year, Sinha stepped down from Omidyar Network in order to advise Modi’s election campaign, and to run for a BJP parliamentary seat of his own. Sinha’s father, Yashwant Sinha, served as finance minister in the last BJP government from 1998 (when his government set off the nukes) through 2002. This year, Sinha’s father gave up his seat in parliament to allow Jayant Sinha to take his place.

Oh, but there is much more. The article explains how the Omidyar Network (which is closely supervised by the Omidyars) has used its influence in India, and how Jayant Sinha, now a member of the Indian Parliament, was -- and no doubt will continue to be -- the Omidyar factotum in India as head of Omidyar Network India Partners, responsible for the distribution of some $300,000,000 in Omidyar grants and disbursements during his three plus years at the helm. Compared to the $1.3 million Omidyar spent in Ukraine through Center UA and New Citizen, and all the unpleasantness that has followed, India was probably a bargain.

Yes, Pierre wants something for his "investment" in "democracy" in India. At the very least, he wants the online marketing sector opened to eBay. At the very least. And how much do we want to bet it will happen sooner rather than later?

Meanwhile, the question arises: why the fascination with Fascists among the oligarchy? I assume -- but I don't know -- that Pierre's family were aligned with the Shah in Tehran before the Revolution and their exile to Paris, later to the US. The Shah was pretty Fascist as I recall, though opposed to the Fascism of the Arabs. For all the hooey over the authoritarianism and nationalism of the Iranian Islamic revolutionaries, however, they don't have the trappings of Fascists, and they don't seem to be operating a Fascist government in Tehran. It's in some ways closer to an ideal of democracy as put forth in days of yore -- not completely populist by any means, but far from a dictatorship. I can easily imagine that Pierre's Fascist proclivities are so internalized, he may not even be aware...

With India's government now in the hands of extreme Hindu nationalists and actual Fascists, supposedly with a strongly anti-Russian/anti-Chinese policy, this will certainly put a great deal of strain on the "emerging Russian-Chinese Axis." I would say the "Axis" -- if used as a pejorative -- actually works in the direction of EU/NATO/USA, but that's another topic.

The problem for the rest of us is that Fascism as a rule does not turn out well...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The New (Fascist) Warlordism

Well, it's not really new, but it seems to be the spreading thing these days. James Petras explains it all in far more detail than I would. Note the focus on the Indian elections last week, elections that apparently have installed a Fascist government in New Delhi intent on... what, exactly? 

How... Interesting...

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There is something of a news blackout from Ukraine on this Day of Elections. The Anna News site, which has been one of the most consistently non-propagandist (although clearly anti-Kiev) during the recent unpleasantness in Ukraine has been summarily deleted by YouTube (owned by Google) -- based on "complaints." There are a few other Ukrainian news sites, but their content and reliability can be questionable.

The MSM seems far more interested in the Memorial Day holiday, the latest VA scandal, and mass murderers. The usual.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Riding the Ukrainian Tiger



There's been little or no mainstream news coverage of Ukrainian matters for many weeks, as the so-called military operations of the Kiev coup-regime continue in the East and South, supplemented by all kinds of militia and "privat-armi" action, including the phenomena of death squads, so beloved of our own government's adventurism abroad.

So far as I can tell, the mayhem and chaos is confined to the "separatist" regions, but it is bloody and nasty and is meant to terrorize the locals into complying with the demands of the Freaks in Kiev -- whatever they may turn out to be. There is, after all, supposed to be a "national election" tomorrow that is intended to endorse and confirm the Kiev Freak-Regime in power, and to assert one or another of the "Western" oligarchs as President, probably the so-called Chocolate King, Poroshenko.

Someone the West can do business with at any rate.

It must be said that Russia has stayed pretty much out of this mess of growing proportions on its western border. Despite all the propaganda and hysteria about "Putin-Hitler" and "Putin-Stalin" and the nonsense about "reviving the Soviet Union" and all the constant baiting of the Kremlin by Anglo-American and EU interests, Putin and the Kremlin have remained remarkably calm and restrained. They have not intervened on behalf of their Russian-speaking Ukrainian brothers and sisters, in fact they seem to have shunted them away as the death and destruction from Kiev continues unabated.

So far as matters can be puzzled out from afar -- and the lack of "news" from the region is as telling as if there were actual news being reported in the mainstream -- the Kiev coup-regime is as freaky as The Saker makes them out to be. Though curried by Anglo-American and EU imperialists, they are massively incompetent to actually govern -- not that anyone else is on tap who might be better.

Since independence in 1991, Ukraine has been ruled by a succession of incompetents and kleptocrats, leaving little or nothing in their wake. I've been struck by the videos I've seen of various parts of Ukraine, from Kiev eastwards. Practically every building is a legacy of the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union. It appears that almost nothing has been built -- at least from Kiev eastwards -- since independence, and programs on the Vremya Odessa channel continuously highlight the deterioration of housing and other buildings from the Imperial and the Soviet eras -- which are almost the only buildings there are in any case.

The place is falling apart, at least those parts that are not being deliberately destroyed by the Freaks in Kiev and their henchmen.

Of course this civic deterioration and lack of infrastructure construction and maintenance activity is widespread throughout the West as well. In Ukraine, it's no surprise that a handful of kleptocrats, styled "oligarchs" hoovered up all of the valuable properties and industries as soon as they were offered by Kiev and that is a major reason why little or nothing is or has been done on behalf of the public interest, and nothing resembling a government of the people has ever taken root in Kiev. It can't so long as everything of value is in the hands of kleptocrats and oligarchs and everyone's deteriorating well-being is dependent upon them rather than on the will of the People themselves.

While the situation in Ukraine is far starker than what we see in the West, they mirror one another. Oligarchic control isn't as complete in the West, but it is getting there, the goal being more like the Ukraine (minus the civil unrest) than not.

It's dreadful.

But that's the world these global oligarchs and kleptocrats want for the rest of us; what they want for themselves is another matter.

The Ukraine is turning into another Yugoslavia or even (God forbid) another Libya, and this has got to put some fear into the minds and hearts (such as they are) of the oligarchs and kleptocrats and their servants. Profits can still be made, of course, if the situation deteriorates completely, as it did in the Former Yugoslavia and Libya, but the amounts extractable -- and on whose behalf -- are seriously diminished under such conditions than they would otherwise be.

Stability may not be a short term objective, however. More wealth can be looted faster under conditions of chaos and warlordism than under any stable regime, so if the short-term objective is to steal as much as possible from the Ukrainian people -- and to destroy what can't be stolen outright -- then maintaining the current conditions are much preferable to having an actual national government in Kiev. Note, for example, how the sham of national governance is maintained in Baghdad  while the wealth of the nation (such as remains after wars and occupations) is pillaged and what can't be taken is destroyed day in and day out...

Having an unstable Ukraine on the borders of Europe and Russia would not seem to be in the interests of either Russia or the EU over the long term, however. What's there now is a tiger that isn't being ridden very well by anyone, not the Freaks in Kiev, not the oligarchs and kleptocrats, not the Kremlin, and not by the sponsors of the coup.

The mess gets worse daily.

The Ukrainian people are being used and abused badly. Their attempts to take matters into their own hands are understandable, but as we've seen so often elsewhere, the people who are actually capable of taking control of the chaos are the rightists, the Fascists and the Nazis, not the socialists/communists and democrats. This is what happened in Europe during the interregnum between the World Wars, and in a sense, it's what's happened throughout the West and East during the Post - Soviet Era.

In other words, power has devolved since the expiration of the failed Soviet experiment into a re-animation and revision of the supposedly destroyed Fascist/Nazi experiments of the post-WWI era. Since the Soviet version of Communism and the Fascist/Nazi version of Capitalism were essentially mirror images of one another, both totalitarian and in competition with one another -- eventually at war with one another for supremacy (or survival as the case may be) -- the absence of the Soviet model together with the resurgence of the Fascist/Nazi model means gross imbalance at the very least. Specious claims that Putin-Russia are the mirror image of the Soviet Union, and thus the mirror image rivals of the West are ludicrous. Putin-Russia are integral aspects of the Western rightist resurgence. Compared to the EU, Russia today is more like Poland in comparison to Germany in 1937 or 39. Poland was just as Fascist as Germany at that time though not quite as dominance-minded. Their governance and economic regimes were practically the same.

So it is with Russia and the EU; they're hardly distinguishable.

Ukraine is a tiger being ridden by the EU and US, but without grace or skill, and Russia seems content to see it falter and even die.

Putin-Russia have the Crimea and that's sufficient unto the needs of the Kremlin.

There can be no sufficiency, though, in the eyes of the West under its current neo-Fascist/Nazi regime. It's either all or nothing.

"All" means the end of rivals like Russia and China. Not their incorporation into the Western Realm, their extinction.

India has just elected a Fascist government, interestingly enough. Perhaps that assures that India doesn't fall into the "rival" camp. I don't know, but could be. Meanwhile, China is declared a rival and indeed cyber-enemy. While name-calling the West and particularly the USofA "mincing rascals" is cute, I'm sure the Chinese know very well what is up and are taking appropriate steps to protect themselves.

Ukraine is not a rival, it's a resource to be exploited, nothing more or less, and what can't be exploited is to be destroyed. Depopulation is already under way -- has been a feature, not a bug, of Ukraine's independence from Soviet/Russian control.

Russia doesn't seem to be interested in participating in either the destruction or the exploitation of Ukraine and seems content to let the locals fight over the debris, and let the EU/US/NATO axis try to make something other than a giant mess of what's left.

And every time I see the claim that the West is "supporting" Nazis and Fascists in Ukraine, I shake my head and think, "No, the West IS Fascist and Nazi." The Anglo-American/EU Imperial Project isn't something "other than" Fascist/Nazi, it IS the Fascist/Nazi project made manifest once again.


Friday, May 23, 2014

CEASE-FIRE!

There was another APD shooting last night in Albuquerque. Another man is dead from police gunfire. Two women were injured, one critically, allegedly by the man who was shot.

This has got to stop.

Of course, earlier this week, there was a wanton police killing in Salinas, CA, that looked and sounded strikingly like the many police killings in Albuquerque. It was the third police killing in Salinas this year. Needless to say, the community is up in arms about it. During a demonstration against police brutality and wanton killings in Salinas on Wednesday, a man was shot -- by whom is unknown -- and police were summoned to the scene where they faced a very hostile crowd. One of the officers attending the wounded man was hit in the head by a bottle.

It's out of control. It's got to stop.

There's a demonstration against police brutality scheduled for June 21 in Albuquerque.


I'm sure it will be a significant event, but how many more will die by police gunfire before then? This is the fundamental problem: nothing has so far seemed to stop the killing spree the police are on, in Albuquerque or anywhere else. If anything, the rate of killing increases the more the People protest.

What will stop it? Can anything stop it?

Several suggestions come to mind:

1) Don't call 911 if a loved one is having a mental health issue, is drunk and acting crazy, is elderly and acting crazy or is on drugs and acting crazy. The likelihood of your loved one getting shot and killed by police after calling 911 for help is very high.

2) Disarm. Disarm (most of) the police, and disarm the citizens as well. A big part of the ongoing shooting spree the police have been on is due to their fear that every citizen is armed and every citizen might shoot them, simply because of the massive proliferation of firearms in this country. New Mexico is an open carry state, and many citizens wear side arms. Worse, many have whole arsenals which too often turn into murder weapons of choice, particularly in domestic situations. The police are terrified of the armed citizenry, and they are trained to prioritize force-protection. If they see anything that might resemble a gun in the hands of a suspect, they will shoot to kill.

3) De-escalate. In the latest incident in Albuquerque, the police claim that they "tried to de-escalate" the situation by backing away and repeatedly ordering the suspect to drop his weapon (a knife). Instead, the police claim that the suspect "lunged" at them. Much the same claim was made by Salinas police, but video demonstrates they were not "de-escalating" the situation at all, they were threatening and aggressively trying to subdue and control the suspect. They were yelling at him, issuing contradictory commands (in English), they tried to taser him, they pointed their firearms at him, they were continually and aggressively stalking him, and finally they shot him. For his part, the suspect was continually backing away from the police. Yet the police claimed that the man attacked them when clearly he did not.

There was no effort to de-escalate the situation at all, only an aggressive attempt by the police to subdue and control the suspect. This has happened repeatedly in the forty incidents of police involved shootings in Albuquerque since 2010.

4) Restrain and Retrain. Police as a rule are terrified, and many of them are bullies and cowards. Lack of restraint when dealing with individuals and in situations which frighten them is one of their well-known characteristics. Too many seem to be roided or otherwise drugged up to such an extent that any resistance to their command, any inability or refusal to comply, is met with brutality or instant execution. Because there is almost no accountability for such routine police misconduct, the misconduct spreads, like a disease, until entire police forces are corrupted. Instead of priority focus on use of force and force protection, the priority should be on restraint in the use of force, and on courage in the face of potentially threatening situations, with the objective of preserving rather than destroying life.

This means a major alteration in the way police see themselves and their relationship to the community. It means completely revising current training standards, and it means retraining police forces from the ground up.

5) Replacement. In Albuquerque, the situation is exacerbated by a corrupt and corrupting police culture that is driven from the top. The higher ranks are a big part of the problem of police culture of violence and until they are removed and replaced, little or nothing can or will change. Placing someone in the chief's chair as a political favor -- which seems to have happened with the appointment of Gorden Eden in Albuquerque -- is not helpful. Similarly, the appointment of Tim Gonterman to command the Eastside -- promoting him from Foothills command, which position he held when James Boyd was shot in the foothills, and which position he gained after he and APD were sued for excessive force for tasering off a portion of a homeless man's ear in a illegitimate arrest, a suit which APD lost to the tune of $300,000, is simply insane.  

6) CEASEFIRE. Stop. Stop killing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

For the Record -- First Look Media and NBC News Partnership

The partnership between NBC News and Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media was briefly noted on NBC Evening News Tuesday, then was made quite explicit on tonight's news when a promo announced the impending "exclusive" interview of Edward Snowden by Brian Williams in Moscow.

Eric Wemple at the Washington Post has now expanded the announcement somewhat:

The interview is sure to produce some memorable exchanges, but the way that NBC News pulled off the coup is noteworthy as well. NBC News has a “collaboration agreement” with the outfit that these days publishes Greenwald’s work — First Look Media, the venture funded by billionaire and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald is a staffer at the Intercept, First Look’s digital magazine on national security matters.
So did the Greenwald “collaboration agreement” snare the Snowden interview for NBC News? For starters, Snowden is a strong-willed sort unlikely to take interview orders from anyone, though his relationship with Greenwald is airtight (he’s in a just-published selfie with Greenwald & Co. in Russia). According to the network source, NBC News approached Snowden via several avenues, one of them being through Greenwald. Though Greenwald didn’t negotiate the terms of the agreement, the NBC News source concedes that Greenwald is among a small number of people who can assist in making contact with Snowden, who is living in Moscow.
The agreement between NBC News and First Look Media contains no financial terms, says the NBC source. It’s merely what the network calls a co-reporting arrangement, in which the two participating outlets share resources in working on the almost always complicated surveillance stories that spring from the Snowden document dump. Responding to an e-mail inquiry, Greenwald himself says that the agreement “simply provides that we will work together on selected NSA stories, on a story-by-story basis, when it will help the reporting to do so.”
To complicate matters a bit, Greenwald worked as a freelancer for NBC News in between his departure from the Guardian and the launch of the Intercept. Together they produced four stories, with Greenwald receiving $750 a pop. In this February investigation, for instance, NBC News used Snowden documents to expose how British intelligence waged war on hackers. Greenwald is credited as a “special contributor” for the piece. In January, NBC News published a story stemming from Snowden documents on how British intelligence spied on Facebook and YouTube. That one, too, listed Greenwald as a special contributor.

There is more at the link.

If anyone wants to look into it, there is most certainly a story to be found in the various arrangements that have been made with and by Omidyar, his employees, and the media enterprises they have partnered with, but I don't know who would ((dare)) find out the whole story and publish it.

We live in interesting times...

[Note: there have been previous indications of the partnership between NBC and Greenwald/First Look, though the first time I heard it mentioned explicitly was on Tuesday. If anyone has an earlier explicit reference, it would be interesting to put together a timeline...]

How the Fascists (Continue to) Win




This is the longest version I've so far seen of the military action in Mariupol, Ukraine on May 9, Victory Day, during which a number of residents were killed and wounded as troops-behaving-badly fired on outraged crowds -- "terrorists" all.

Other versions keep cropping up. And reports from elsewhere in the restive south and east of Ukraine tell very similar stories of gunfire and bloodshed by the so-called military of the so-called Kiev government.  Also, there have been extensive reports of shellings, bombardments and fire-bombings of numerous sites in the region under contention, leading to unconfirmed reports of hundreds dead and wounded.

Ultimately, it doesn't take a lot of killing to enforce control. Not that the so-called military of the so-called Kiev government has so far been able to accomplish that aim...

Note that in the video, there is no telling what the military objective of the so-called troops might be. They are simply rampaging on a holiday, and the crowd -- which is quite large and quite brave -- will have none of it. They taunt and denounce the so-called troops lustily. While I don't understand the language well enough to follow a conversation, I understand some of what they are saying:

Fa-schis-ti!
Nyet-nyet terrorista!

And so on. These people are angry that their celebration has been interrupted by some kind of violent chaos brought on by the so-called military of the so-called Kiev government, and they are remarkably fearless in letting the so-called troops know how they feel.

While they initially keep their distance from the so-called troops, first one woman and then another,  arms out and hands up, decide to break ranks from the crowd and approach the "troops" shouting denunciations along the way. Once these brave and indomitable women fearlessly push forward, men in the crowd do likewise and continue taunting and denouncing while the so-called "troops" attempt to establish a perimeter.  To what object, who knows.

Eventually, members of the crowd confront the so-called troops from very close range. Military vehicles are dashing about. One of the men who'd been taunting the so-called troops is shot, though the shooting itself isn't shown in this video, just the aftermath as he is crumpling into the street. Another video shows the shooting and the aftermath, as other members of the crowd attempt to tend his wounds. He was shot in the chest.

Other men are arguing with and taunting the so-called troops, and more are shot, first one man in casual clothes on the plaza across the street from the man who was first shot, then a man in a suit who crumples on the plaza while holding on to someone else, then another in front of a kiosk (that shooting isn't seen in this video).

The videographer gets closer and closer to the so-called troops, and as he does he sees a man in the crowd with a gun pointed toward the so-called troops, apparently firing, and he sees someone with what looks like a Molotov cocktail, and I distinctly hear the videographer say, "Provocateurs?" or the Russian equivalent of it.

Kiev-coup supporters have made much of the fact that there was someone with a gun in the crowd and that someone had what looked like a Molotov cocktail in the crowd as justification for calling the crowd "terrorists" and for shooting and killing people in the crowd.

Indeed, the so-called troops continue to fire into the crowd, and one man -- alleged to be the one with the gun, though I don't think it is him -- is seen after he is shot in the head in front of the coffee tent, blood gushing from his wound; another is shot in the leg beside the tent.

The so-called troops retreat while continuing to fire as the crowd advances, taunting and denouncing and tending to the wounded.

The utter fearlessness of the Mariupol residents in the face of gunfire from the so-called military of the Kiev coup-regime is remarkable, something I doubt we'd see under similar conditions in this country.

So far, at any rate, we haven't seen this sort of situation in the United States, where there is an actual military operation in the midst of a civilian population, but it could happen despite posse comitatus and other provisions against it.

If it did happen in this country, the military would win almost instantly. It's not at all clear that will be the upshot of the so-called operations being conducted in the south and east of Ukraine, in part because enough of the people are putting up enough of a largely unarmed resistance, and enough of the alleged military are reluctant or refuse to fire on civilians.

So the coup-regime and its sponsors have brought in militias and mercenaries to do their dirty work, or so they say. Young and bloodthirsty men are -- they say -- being recruited from among the soccer ultras, and most especially the Right Sektor (ie: Nazi) and Svoboda (ie: Fascist) partisans to go to the East and South and make mayhem, death, and destruction happen. Mercenaries are said to be coming from all sort of conflict regions to apply their special wet-work talents to controlling and eliminating resistance to the Kiev coup-regime in Ukraine.

According to reports they are cowards, but that doesn't prevent them from causing chaos and destruction, and that's what any good Fascist would want to see in order for their power to manifest and ultimately to succeed. What they do is make it impossible for stability and a status quo to be established unless it is under the authority and control of the coup-regime and its forces. By this means, a relative handful of killers and destroyers are able to overcome and control large and often resistant populations.

The tactics are right out of the Nazi playbook of yore. By preventing any routine or stability from occurring except as they will it under their own authority and control, resistance eventually dissipates. By committing essentially random acts of violence, killing and wounding more or less randomly, and by destroying property both randomly and using targeted destruction against designated "enemies" they are able to assert their power over a largely unarmed population that by and large is unwilling or unable to use the same tactics against them.

This is how they win despite their unpopularity and widespread resistance to them. These are the tactics that were used in Iraq and Afghanistan by the so-called coalition which attempted to conquer them, and whose legacy is still apparent despite withdrawal.

One thing that keeps being overlooked or forgotten is that much of Europe was ruled by Fascist and quasi-Fascist governments at the outbreak of World War II. It was not, by any means, a contest between "liberty" and its opposite despite how the war in Europe was being marketed. The Axis was Fascist, and so were nearly all the Allies -- with the notable exception of the Soviet Union, which initially was being destroyed and rent asunder by the Nazis.

What we see in Ukraine and elsewhere is a remarkable resurgence in Fascist and even Nazi fortunes as one after another formerly social democratic government succumbs to the power and authority of essentially Fascist interests, and those which resist integration into the System -- even if they are Fascist themselves -- are relentlessly destroyed.

I'd like to think that the Fascists will be defeated by the Resistance, but it really doesn't work that way, never has. Recall, the Fascist Franco won the Spanish Civil War, in part by being the most ruthless bastard and the last man standing. His Fascist regime endured for the rest of his life, as did many (MANY) similar Fascist regimes all over the world, though especially concentrated in Latin America.

Spain is essentially back in Fascist hands, as is much of Europe. Ukraine is following the same pattern.

The USA has its own version thereof.

Resistance does not thwart Fascism.

The question is, what does...?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More NYPD Sadism

Cops Smash Boy Through Window in the Bronx

The headline makes the story of what happened to Javier Payne the other day in New York seem quite routine. Cops do smash people into and through windows -- in New York and elsewhere -- with sickening regularity. Also into car hoods, floors, walls, bars, sidewalks, streets, lamposts, you name it. 

It's policy. After all, if compliance isn't immediate and perfect, it must be compelled. What better way to compel compliance than to smash people into or through stationary objects? I ask you...

In this case, Javier Payne, 14 and a resident of the Bronx, and a friend were visiting The Hookah Shop on Arthur Avenue around 11pm. Police pulled up and confronted the boys. The proprietor of the shop heard heated voices outside and then the sound of shattering glass. According to Payne a police officer smashed his head through the plate glass window at the front of the shop, causing cuts to his face, a large gash to his chest and a punctured lung. 

He was handcuffed and left bleeding on the stoop of the shop while police were "nonchalant" about the boy's condition and the medical emergency they had created.

“He looked like a young man who was facing down his own mortality,” said one city employee familiar with the incident. “This is a kid who was staring at his own doom. He looked like he was going to die. And if he didn’t get help when he did, he would have.”
An argument ensued between the paramedics and police about removing the teenager’s handcuffs so they could treat his injuries. Initially, the police refused, but eventually relented, witnesses said.
One of the paramedics had to hold the boys chest wound closed while they rushed him to Jacobi Medical Center. Medical experts said it may have saved Payne’s life.
Clearly yet another one who needed killing, only the EMTs in this instance were not going to allow it.

The boy is said to be recovering.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Yakety Yak, Don't Talk Back -- or Lose a Testicle in Albuquerque

This APD story has been making the rounds.



By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

For the first time Monday we're learning exactly what happened before a UNM law student's testicle was shattered, allegedly by an APD officer.
KOB Eyewitness News 4 requested lapel video from APD officer Pablo Padilla, but the station's request has not been fulfilled.
APD did turn over the officer's lapel video to political action group Progress Now New Mexico, and KOB has obtained the organization's copy.
On April 24, University of New Mexico law student Jeremy Martin was pulled over for running a stop sign on Campus and Wellesley near the north side of the UNM campus.
The video shows Martin being pulled over, and being asked out of the car. Padilla asks Martin to sit down on the curb, which he does.
At one point, Martin stands up and walks into the road.

And the video shows what happened then.

Yet another case of police misuse of force. While the injury to Mr. Martin was severe enough for him to lose a testicle, many others have reported similar abuse when stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, or just... because. No reason at all.

It's all of a piece, the rampant abuse and murder by police, and not just in the Duke City; it's endemic throughout the USofA, and obviously such abuse is no longer as confined to targeted groups as it once was.

Is it too late to turn back?

Yakkity yak at the city council last night was... polite...


Permission Granted...

The recent trial, conviction, and sentencing of Cecily McMillan in New York is emblematic of something that has been going on in this country for a very long time but which has reached a kind of tragic climax.

Permission has been granted to "authority" -- no matter who -- to attack those without acknowledged power and authority at will with nearly complete impunity.

As I say, this has been going on for a very long time, but almost always with a proviso: police and those with power could do pretty much what they wanted to certain categories of people without power (young, brown and black men in particular, but by no means just them), but they couldn't go beyond those categories without facing consequences. A DA, judge or jury might not throw the book at them for assault, battery, murder, mayhem or what have you when they beat up or killed a mouthy white woman or a high-powered white business executive (as examples), but they might face "discipline," and that could amount to a sternly worded rebuke from higher up all the way to firing or even (very rarely) jail time.

For the most part, police know what they can get away with, and in New York, especially during the Occupy Wall Street period, they knew they could get away with just about anything short of gunplay, when it came to suppression of the movement. No, NYPD was not allowed to shoot down Occupy demonstrators in the streets and parks when they went marching or occupying encampments. Also, the NYPD rarely (or never?) appeared in standard issue Robocop/riot gear when confronting Occupy demonstrators. They mostly wore their regular uniforms. Some of the police infiltrators, of course, wore civilian clothes, trying to blend in with the motley crowds, but infiltrators were often easy to spot because they were so roided up and aggressive. Hello?

When it came to suppression of Occupy NYPD were often outrageous, brutal, deliberately cruel, and yet so very, very delicate. Touch a cop, and quite often demonstrators would wind up beaten bloody and trussed up like Thanksgiving turkeys before being hauled off in the wagon for whatever "processing" was thought necessary.

Cecily McMillan got caught up in that matrix on St. Patrick's Day, 2012, when she went down to Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square to meet some friends to go out for the evening. Well, yes, it was St. Patrick's Day, and there were celebratory festivities down at the Square for the six month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. A large and boisterous crowd had gathered at the park (soon to be outnumbered by police), and many were having a good time canoodling and reminiscing over past triumphs and failures. It was a party.

A decision was made to clear the park for its ritual "cleansing," and notice was given. Of course it was ignored, as was often the case during the Occupy Wall Street hey-day. Officers were then delegated to start removing people one by one, and they were authorized to arrest people who resisted.

Cecily says she was approached from behind by a strange man who did not identify himself who told her she had to leave. She ignored him. He was insistent. Rather than debate the matter, she decided to leave on her own volition, and as she was doing so, the unidentified stranger who was walking behind her grabbed her right breast and squeezed it hard. She reacted, she said, instinctively, by elbowing the man, who then tackled her and beat her and trussed her up with zip-ties. He was a cop. She had no idea.

Injured, apparently with a cracked rib and many bruises, she was hauled off to a holding area by a bus, where others who had been arrested were awaiting transport for "processing." She tried to escape the holding area, though she was still in zip-ties. She was re-captured and thrown down to the ground hard. She was in a great deal of pain and barely conscious by this point. After a while, arrestees started calling for medics -- they thought she had a broken rib and was in extreme distress. Their calls were ignored.

Soon, she was grabbed from the group and roughly hauled to the bus where she began to have a seizure. Then she was apparently thrown off the bus, falling hard on the street, and left in a seizure condition in the street for some minutes before being carried to the sidewalk -- so as to clear a path for traffic. She was left without any kind of medical attention for what I understand was sixteen minutes, while police hovered about chatting. EMTs in the crowd offered to help. They were ignored. People hurled invective at the police for their disinterest and neglect. Cops saw their main job as crowd control and taking those who had been arrested to jail.

Eventually, the fire department medics arrived and began treating Cecily. As far as I could tell, watching on livestream and later videos, she wasn't having a seizure as such, she was hyperventilating due to the injury to her rib, and the rough treatment and neglect she'd suffered had badly aggravated her condition.

After some time with the fire department medics, she was transported to the hospital where her numerous injuries were assessed and treated. She was released. Quite a while later, she was charged with assault on a police officer, a great surprise to her.

Thus her trial, conviction, and sentencing as the "last Occupy protester" to face judgement in the courts.

That's the story as I understand it, and in the retelling, it doesn't seem all that bad, given some of the other horrors that went on during the Occupy Wall Street suppression, and it is hardly worth mentioning given the numerous police shootings of innocent black and brown men in New York during that period as well as before and afterwards.

So what if a well-off young white woman is roughed up by the police? Who cares? Black and brown women face much worse on a daily basis in New York and all over the country. Maybe it's a good thing that this uppity white bitch gets a taste of what black and brown women go through all the time.... she's actually lucky, runs this line of reasoning, because if she weren't white and well off, she'd face much worse treatment than she did.

That's true enough. Making a cause celebre out of Cecily McMillan seems perhaps a bit unwise when so many black and brown men and women face far worse all the time, and nobody (well, hardly anybody) bats an eye.

If Cecily were black or brown, who would care what happened to her? She could be brutalized, raped, disappeared, chopped up for cat food, and hardly anybody would ever notice. That's the way it is in this country, that's the way it's long been for women of color.

So why should we care about Cecily above all? Or care about at all?

The only real reason to care about what happens to Cecily is if such concern is tied in with growing concerns about an out-of-control policing and injustice system that grinds down and grinds up thousands in New York and millions around the country, operating unjustly day in and day out, targeting the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the young, the black and the brown. This is a monstrous system that destroys families and whole communities routinely, kills the innocent with impunity, declares entire categories of people to be... less than human.

It's insane.

The only reason to care about what happens Cecily is if caring about her opens eyes to what's been happening to so many, many others unjustly accused, imprisoned or killed by "authority" run amok.

She represents the consequences of this highly unjust system, that's all.

It's an unjust system of authority that has once again been granted permission to behave with impunity toward whomever it chooses.


Some of the jurors -- nine out of the twelve who convicted Cecily -- seemed to wake up to what they had done and implored the judge to grant leniency. Observers have said he did, by sentencing her to 90 days rather than the more typical 180 days. Maybe so, but that doesn't change the fact that the system he and they serves is unjust at its core, is arbitrary, and it targets the young, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the black and brown for special interest and treatment.

We're told that Cecily has made her personal crisis within this unjust matrix into an opportunity to do good on behalf of those who face a much worse situation than she does.

For that, we can be grateful.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Trusting Greenwald??!

I understand Glenn Greenwald has a new book out which can be seen as the capstone of the long-term project he's been undertaking to have his voice heard at the highest levels of government and corporate board rooms.

It would appear they're listening now.

To what object may still be something of a mystery, but an overall goal, beyond being "heard" has never been entirely clear with Greenwald. "Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person!" Yes, well...

It would appear he got his wish. The toast of the town, he is, at least for now, wined and dined among the highest of the mighty, with abundant accolades, prizes and gravitas besides. He is someone now, and that seems to be what he's wanted more than anything all along. To be known, to be recognized, to be honored, and more than anything, to be reckoned with.

His personal toxicity aside, Greenwald has actually accomplished quite a feat. He's managed to rise to the top of the profession of journalism primarily by means of the NSA scoop, not through any particular writing talent, understanding of the issues, or ability to tell a cohesive and compelling story. His writing throughout has been one of his weaker aspects, as much of what he writes unedited reads like a legal brief rather than news, and it became clear to me (if to no one else) that the NSA articles he was bylined for the Guardian were heavily edited by someone or someones into something more "journalistic" before publication. In fact, in the end, they didn't read like they had been written by him at all, whether or not he shared a byline with someone else.

Those many others who helped make Greenwald's meteoric rise as a journalist possible have been essentially "disappeared." This is most telling in the case of Ewen MacCaskill of the Guardian who, along with quite a few others at that institution, have essentially vanished in the marketing and tale-telling surrounding the NSA scoop. MacCaskill was awarded a Polk for his work on the NSA stories, but you'd never know it to listen to the current hagiography surrounding the "biggest story of the first half of the 21st Century" -- or however it's being marketed these days. This was made painfully obvious in Amy Goodman's coverage of the Polk Awards and Greenwald's prodigal return to the USofA from his exile in Brazil. Amy, in a nearly Stalinist propaganda move, literally erased MacCaskill from the record of the Polk Award, and ever since has barely mentioned him at all. Yet he was apparently the old-hand journalist who was sent by the Guardian to accompany Greenwald and Poitras to Hong Kong to vet Young Snowden's validity, and so far as I can tell, MacCaskill was the one who edited and co-wrote the original stories that appeared in the Guardian.

Also, there is a widespread claim that Greenwald "won a Pulitzer" -- when he specifically did not. The papers that initially published the NSA stories (the Guardian and the Washington Post) won the Pulitzer Public Service Award -- which only goes to institutions, not to individuals. But in the telling of the story of the Pulitzer Prize for the NSA stories, the nearly universal convention among Greenwald's acolytes is to claim he (sometimes he and Laura Poitras) won the Pulitzer themselves as individuals, when they clearly did not.

There's another actor in this drama, Bart Gellman for the Washington Post, who has written some of the most incisive investigative reports on the NSA documents. Gellman is also part of the team -- that's not really a team at all, it would appear -- who was given access to the Snowden Trove at the outset of the undertaking. He's a long-time serious journalist whose work is well-respected within the profession. Thus, apparently, he has to be essentially disappeared as well from the received narrative of Greenwald's intrepidness and daring.

Ah yes, and about that daring... One of the primary themes in Greenwald's narrative of himself has been his trembling fear and anger at the perfidy of the National Security State's potential to arrest him and throw him "in a cage" for being a journalist, because high-ranking individuals in Congress have suggested as much and the lawyers at DoJ wouldn't assure his lawyers that he wouldn't be arrested if he returned to the USofA. Same with Laura Poitras who lives in Berlin.

So, quaking with fear of being arrested and rendered for torture to some demonic foreign land, Greenwald and Poitras sat in exile in Rio and Berlin respectively (though apparently they traveled fairly extensively during the interim, just not to the United States or Britain) until such time as they were awarded the Polk and determined to return like prodigals to the US and to dare the authorities to do anything about it.

Of course, the authorities paid no attention to them, any more than they would to anyone else, and their breathlessly awaited return went off without a hitch. No one in a position to do anything about their arrival in the USofA let alone render them seemed to care.

And so it has been ever since, as Greenwald has embarked on a nationwide book tour, unmolested, and Poitras, well, who knows what's happened to her? She is like a wraith, appearing and disappearing at will, offering stern and sturdy perspectives now and again, but more often she is referred to but neither seen nor heard from.

And Snowden? So far as we know, Snowden is still comfortably ensconced as a resident guest of the Kremlin, in what appear to be very nice digs, somewhere in Moscow or its environs. He has "given up so much" -- and yet seems to be well provided for and happy enough in his Russian exile, able to "appear" pretty much whenever he wants to and wherever he wants to via electronic means, including (notoriously) during Vladimir Putin's annual call in show on Russian television.

It was a notorious appearance not so much because of what Snowden had to say, which was relatively innocuous, but because of the relentlessness of the anti-Russian/anti-Putin propaganda campaign that's been waged by all the capitals of the West for many months now. For Snowden to appear "with" Putin (even if only electronically and recorded at that) was yet another emblem of his supposed "treason."

Snowden doesn't get as many awards as Greenwald, doesn't have a book, isn't -- so far as we know -- profiting from any of this hoo-hah, though he seems to enjoy at least some modest luxury and apparently some freedom of movement while he is a guest of the Kremlin. There have been many stories about his life in the US and as an international spy or perhaps not a spy but a genius at IT matters, or perhaps... the stories are legion. What's true and what's not is open to speculation. There are significant portions of the received narrative that don't fit, but that's another issue for another day. The only question I would ask right now is what Snowden is actually doing in Moscow, as there have been a number of reports that he has been hired by one or another private Russian enterprise as an IT consultant. If it's true, it might be interesting to find out more, but when it comes to Snowden, fact and fiction are so intermingled, the real story is pretty much unknowable -- at least not until the book comes out and the movie is released. Even then, mystery will no doubt continue to abound.

But speaking of Snowden... one thing that was very intriguing to me (though it may not mean anything) is that Snowden was living in Hawaii -- allegedly with his high-class artistic stripper girlfriend -- while he was acquiring the data trove from the NSA through his private contractor employment with Booz Allen Hamilton. Now of course this is the story; we don't know that it is true, and we will probably never be able to know for sure given the nature of spycraft and all...

At any rate, assuming it's true, Snowden was living comfortably in Hawaii, acquiring his NSA data clandestinely while a few miles away, Pierre Omidyar was also living in Honolulu, taking care of his many far-flung projects. Projects, in the Islands, on the Mainland, and well, let's face it... all over the world, including the soon-to-erupt in revolt and civil war Ukraine. Oh yes, Pierre has his fingers in many ((MANY)) pies simultaneously. And he's not shy about it, either. He's one of the richest men in the world and he uses his wealth for whatever objective he has in mind, whether it is educating the masses in Ukraine about the wonders of European Democratic Capitalism (or is it Fascism?), or building luxury condos on unspoiled Hawaiian beaches, or getting into the lucrative micro loan business on the ground floor and making out like a bandit.

Oh but there's more. As far as I know, Pierre lives primarily in Hawaii, though he has a number of homes in United States and apparently in Europe as well.

I'm given to understand he is financially involved with Booz Allen through interlocking boards, and his PayPal subsidiary of eBay is apparently closely tied in with NSA and law enforcement at all levels all over the world. One assumes that eBay is just as closely linked with these contractor, surveillance and law enforcement outfits as PayPal is. Then of course, there's the whole PayPal14 imbroglio which dogs both Pierre and Greenwald.

Pierre owns a news outlet in Hawaii which focuses on aspects of corruption as seen through a particular lens. (There's a similar outfit in New Mexico, though it has a much lower profile and is not, so far as I know, an Omidyar project.) That lens is essentially libertarian.

At some point around the time that Young Snowden went to work for Booz Allen in Hawaii, Pierre was taking the initial steps to form First Look Media, the umbrella under which he has placed a rather impressive stable of journalists -- including, of course, Greenwald and Poitras, whose Snowden docs are their principal claim to fame ...and fortune.

It's been pointed out by some observers that once Pierre's stable was essentially filled with formerly prolific journalists, their output declined, and for some it came to a screeching halt. In other words, going to work for Omidyar meant... silence, or nearly so.

"Transformative media" indeed. When you think about it, saying and publishing nothing on a regular basis can be just as "transformative" as anything else. It's all in the way you look at it, no?

Or in the case of The Intercept, Greenwald's personal fief under the First Look umbrella, "nothing" has been accompanied by fluff, nonsense, and occasional bursts of interesting stories of Surveillance State operations both here and abroad, but without any indication of how or whether they can be controlled, curbed or thwarted.

Of course the lack of any idea of what could or should be done about the All-Pervading and All-Knowing Surveillance State has been a consistent theme in the revelations to date. The world is to know in substantial detail about the surveillance they are under, but they are not, ever, to imagine anything can be done about it. Knowing about it without the ability to thwart it is an Orwellian means of control.

When this was pointed out by Naomi Wolf so long ago now, back in June of last year, she was viciously attacked by some of those who saw her questions about the purpose of what were then called the Snowden leaks as some kind of uncalled-for assault on Snowden and/or Greenwald, no doubt set up by the NSA. Or something. No, she had it right. Knowing that there was mass surveillance going on, without the ability to do anything about it, was and is a means of controlling the behavior of the population; it works quite well, as those who have lived under such conditions can tell you.

One of the keys to understanding the NSA Surveillance is the fact that nothing has been done about it -- and the implication is that nothing can be done about it. Greenwald has shown an interest in gaining exemptions from blanket surveillance for certain categories of people, such as journalists like him, but y no means has he shown an interest in undermining the Surveillance State itself, any more than Snowden has.

Well, it's not entirely accurate to say that "nothing has been done about it." Because something most definitely has been done: The #1 and #2 at NSA were... "retired" under pressure. In other words, they were forced out, though it was with great good will, of course. Policies have been (they say) revised to better attend to the privacy interests of the public, and there has been a good deal more "transparency" about the surveillance programs under way. Further, there are a number of efforts at beginning "reform" of the NSA to enable more oversight of its surveillance activities.

Cool.

So there is that.

Meanwhile, Greenwald seems quite delighted with himself and has even taken to being somewhat less abrasive and contemptuous of others in his public appearances (which are legion). He's explained that his antagonistic and sometimes over the top assholitry/performances in public were meant to propel him into the limelight sufficiently to be heard -- apparently in the mainstream, where he seemingly wanted to be.

Well, he's heard nowadays, but what does he really have to say?

There are those who say that Greenwald is one of the few journalists -- or the only journalist -- they trust.  As far as I can tell, Greenwald is as trustworthy as most others in the field -- which is to say, somewhat, though never absolutely. Critical thinking is necessary no matter who the messenger is. Greenwald has established a place in the firmament, but neither he nor anyone else in that field should be granted blanket trust. His narrative on the Snowden matter is filled with gaps and contradictions, and his stories about it are just that, stories. Take them for what they are worth, but don't take them on faith.

It seems so obvious, and yet the desire for a heroic figure is strong. As conditions get worse for so many, the need for a heroic figure grows stronger.

Many have placed their faith and trust in Greenwald.

Some have felt betrayed by him for various reasons, others feel rewarded to bask in his reflected glory.

But in the end, we're still pretty much in the same place we were vis a vis the Surveillance State. We know a bit more about it now, but we don't have the ability to control it or to thwart it, nor does Greenwald have any intention to provide that kind of control.

Even if we were able to have some measure of control over the government's surveillance activities, there is still the little matter of corporate surveillance which is even more pervasive and intrusive than that of the state. In other words, even if we we were able to tie a rope around the All-Knowing, All-Pervading Surveillance State, it would still go on, unimpeded, through its many corporate partners.

So what ultimately has been accomplished?

And what do we want to accomplish?



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Successful De-legitimization of Authority -- But Then Losing the Plot

De-legitimizing authority is one of the principal agents of civil change known in political circles. It's used all the time. It's the foundation of the many "Color Revolutions" that led to the break up of the Soviet Union, and it was used many times by Occupy demonstrators, most particularly in Oakland, during the time before Occupy transitioned to its current iteration of public service.

De-legitimization of authority is one of the key aspects of the current efforts by a coalition of community and victim groups in Albuquerque to... tame shall we say... an out of control and bloodthirsty police department.

It was also very much an aspect of the J28 (2012) actions in Oakland (along with many other actions before and after that). In Oakland, unfortunately, the J28 activists did not press their advantage once they had successfully de-legitimized the authority of the police and the civic bodies. In fact, they almost immediately threw it away.

The danger is that activists in Albuquerque may follow in the same path, even though they seem to be much more aware of the pitfalls than Occupy Oakland activists were back in the day.

What's going on in Ukraine, to the extent we in far distant lands can puzzle it out, seems to follow the pattern of de-legitimization of authority and pressing the advantage that is the hallmark of successful revolutions. True enough, the so-called revolution in Kiev is not on behalf of the People, it's on behalf of a select group of oligarchs and their western European and American co-conspirators. We understand that. The ideological motor for this revolution is Fascist right out of the '30s and '40s of the previous century, and one of its most powerful and effective elements is Nazi, in the form of the Right Sektor thugs who seem to be allowed to patrol and kill at will.

Oh yes, they are most definitely pressing their advantage, what with the ongoing "anti-terrorist" operations in the restive and rebellious Eastern Regions of Ukraine.

I keep thinking that if Yanukovych had done anything like this, there would have been an immediate NATO bombing campaign on the lines of what was done to Serbia.

But he didn't. Instead, he kept trying to negotiate with the rebels aligned against him, and he kept yielding to their demands, until it was apparent he and his government had ceded all their authority to the rebels and it dawned on the Kremlin that it was time for him to go.

On the other hand, when the Yatsenyuk "government" was installed in place of the Yanukovych debacle, he and they immediately set out to consolidate their power (which initially was only in Kiev, practically only in the Maidan) and to press their advantage through some of the most over-the-top belligerence and anti-Russian propaganda since the hey-day of Fascism and Nazi-ism in Europe. It looked to be right out of the Nazi playbook. For those of us who have some knowledge of what that was like and for those who lived through it, the implications are ugly and chilling.

Ugly, yes. But effective in that it was and is relentless. There has been no let up of belligerence and propaganda since the installation of the coup-regime in Kiev. In fact, doubling down is a way of life for this crew, even when something like the Odessa Massacre might have blown the whole thing to smithereens. They don't care. They are intent on securing their power no matter what.

Their scheme is grand -- once they find their footing and crush the rebellion in the East -- and they have the backing of every Western government and their plutocrat sponsors. This is an extraordinary advantage, and despite many missteps and that unpleasantness in Odessa (reflected if not matched by arbitrary civilian deaths and injuries elsewhere), they are making the most of it every day.

(Side note: Busheviks did this, too, once they were able to seize the operations of government after the 2000 "election" in the United States. They were relentless and, despite the disaster of their reign, they were successful in changing governance. So successful, their principles of rule are now standard and institutionalized in DC. It's really quite remarkable.)

The J28 activists in Oakland set out to liberate the long vacant Oakland Auditorium/Kaiser Convention Center for use by the community for educational and organizational purposes. From my perspective, it looked like they wanted to set up an alternative civic headquarters, one that would host the kind of civic services and deliberative bodies the citizens of Oakland could not find and did not have at City Hall.

It was a Big Idea. One that perhaps wasn't entirely worked out in advance, though there had been many precursors in Oakland itself and throughout Northern California. What they wanted to do, move into a vacant space and set up a viable social service and justice alternative to the rigid and essentially captive and useless city government, looked to be a direct outgrowth of the intentional community framework of the Oakland Commune -- which had long existed -- and Occupy Oakland which was tied in with OWS and the Oakland Commune.

My understanding is that the activists involved in the J28 Oakland action were divided from the outset, and many were not kindly disposed to taking over the Kaiser Center -- when, that is,  they found out that was the goal on the day of the action. Apparently, the destination was kept secret from all but a few of the activists until the moment they set out to liberate the Center. And when they faced the barricades, police lines, tear gas and more, some of those involved were... dismayed.

They were prevented by police from taking possession of the Center, and so about a thousand of the activists re-assembled nearby on Oak Street in front of the Oakland Museum, where the infamous -- and important -- Battle of Oak Street took place.

This battle was the moment when the authority of the police and Oakland civic bodies started to collapse.

When the activists were repulsed again, they shortly reassembled, and these incidents would go on all over the city until well into the night, when several hundred activists were kettled outside the YMCA building and were placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, there had been some minor vandalism at City Hall.

Oh. Dear.

Nothing could be more emblematic of the successful de-legitimization of authority that day than the sight of the Mayor fretting over the overturned model of her fief.

Hundreds were arrested in Oakland the night of January 28, 2012, but nearly all were the victims of an out of control and chaotic police force and a civic administration that had, for all intents and purposes, collapsed.

Had the makers of the day's -- and night's -- events understood what had happened, they might have taken advantage of their success. But apparently, they saw it as a failure, because they didn't achieve their objective of liberating the Kaiser Center, and so many hundreds were arrested. More pointedly in the aftermath, the media focused on the burning of the flag at City Hall and the minor vandalism that took place there, rather than on the day's repeated acts of violence and chaos by the police.

The sense of failure was thereby multiplied in the minds of many of the activists to the point where, during subsequent post-mortems, the recriminations were unremitting. Ultimately, rather than press their advantage, the Oakland activist community fell on one another and then fell apart.

Power and authority were given back to the police and civic administration, although in the years since, there have been a number of important developments and upheavals, including the abrupt resignations and replacements of city administrators and police chiefs and fundamental reforms of the police department ordered -- if not implemented -- by federal courts and monitors.

Nevertheless, the city of Oakland appears to be mired in a permanent condition of missed opportunity, malaise, poorly considered priorities and continuing police brutality and misconduct. Nothing the established powers that be in Oakland do seems to be able to change that. It doesn't have to be that way, but it is that way -- in part because it's "always" been that way, and no one has yet come up with an effective means and mechanism to change things. Instead, there is continued deterioration and despair on the one hand, and lower key activism for social justice on the other. The status quo has been maintained and reinforced.

Albuquerque's situation is not unlike that of Oakland, in that it's a gritty and largely working class town in which a handful of very wealthy and powerful individuals hold sway over a large and more and more impoverished and desperate underclass, an underclass which is beset by all the domestic horrors of poverty and family disintegration one can imagine, and also by an out of control and bloodthirsty police force.

For decades, these problems have festered, and efforts at reform seem to get nowhere. It's not as if nothing is done, it is that nothing that is done seems to change things for the better. Police seem to kill people at an ever greater clip, impoverishment expands, and the domestic situation for so many Buquenos deteriorates.

Nothing seems to correct what's wrong. From a statistical point of view, conditions may not be getting worse overall, but they're not getting better, either.

So what do you do? Activists in Albuquerque have been demonstrating, protesting, proposing reforms, and trying to move things in a better direction for decades, and they've had some successes, there's no denying that. The problem is that a success in one aspect doesn't solve the overall problem, and declarations of victory often dissipate the necessary energy for change. And worse, the rate of killing by police continues unabated.

Something more is needed if that bloody record is to change.

I've seen that the mayor's office and the city council, even the police department itself, have once again been goaded into action by some of the agitation of the people and the DoJ's devastating report -- even if the action is only talk at this point. There are task forces, commissions, councils and community meetings all the time now. But the killing continues. There are disruptions and protests all the time now. But the killing continues. There are many proposals and suggestions from the public and the power structure, but the killing continues.

Something more is needed if this bloody record is to change.

Authority is de-legitimized in Albuquerque in ways that are potentially even more profound than other examples given, but so far it is not clear that full advantage can or will be take of this interlude.

For whatever reason, these days the advantage is almost always seized by proto- and actual Fascists.


Friday, May 16, 2014

David Correia Explains It All For You


David has been one of the leading lights of the movement for positive change in Albuquerque.

Knowing history and knowing what kind of society you want to live in makes a potent recipe for change, especially if the foundation for change is one of "restorative justice."

For years, I've been saying that the four key elements of positive society are Dignity, Justice, Community, and Peace.

That's basically what the movement to change the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is all about.