Category Archives: Public service

A melodious voice, provocative insights


John Henry Faulk was a remarkable character, an academic fokloristic who became a humorist, and who waged and won a seminal battle against the Hollywood blacklist, a secret database used by the entertainment and electronic media industries to bar people whose beliefs were deemed threats to national security to be barred from public screens and airwaves.

He’d have turned 100 last August if cancer had finally stilled his rich, melodious voice, conveying sophisticated thoughts cloaked in idiom and Texas dialect.

Here’s Faulk in a wonderful 1985 conversation with Frank Morrow for the legendary public access series Alternative Views:

FAULK AT HIS FINEST: Meet Uncensored Humorist John Henry Faulk

Proogram notes from AlternativeViewTV:

Austin’s beloved folk humorist tells tales from his new book The Uncensored John Henry Faulk. The stories, which range from childhood recollections of life on a South Austin farm to commentary on political figures, embody a populist, egalitarian spirit. Some of these stories are from Faulk’s well-known one-man show Pear Orchard USA. Through the use of these folk characters, Faulk is able to make political commentary which is palatable even to people who might disagree with the message, such as the anti-Nixon stories which he has used before audiences of businessmen. The last section of the program is a Faulk mini-retrospective, featuring clips of the humorist’s past appearances on Alternative Views.

One of esnl’s favorite folksingers, Phil Ochs, paid him tribute in this 1962 song:

Phil Ochs: The Ballad of John Henry Faulk [1962]

From the lyrics:

And you men who point your fingers and spread your lies around,
You men who left your souls behind and drag us to the ground,
You can put my name right down there, I will not try to hide —
For if there’s one man on the blacklist, I’ll be right there by his side.

For I’d rather go hungry to beg upon the streets
Than earn my bread on dead men’s souls and crawl beneath your feet.
And I will not play your hater’s game and hate you in return,
For it’s only through the love of man the blacklist can be burned.

Ralph Nader on wealth, power, and politics


This is the first of three segments from The Real News Network featuring an extended Paul Jay interview of Ralph Nader:

McCarthyism Made Us Veer Away From a Systemic Doctrine for Change – Ralph Nader

From the transcript:

JAY: But now, you know, as we see capitalism in its–the ’08 financial crisis and the sort of recovery of Asia, you start to see–and let me add another big thing is there’s no longer this–even if it’s hypothetical–or was it theoretical?–but there wasn’t this supposed socialist Soviet Union that was going to guarantee jobs and insurance, health insurance, and this and that. I mean, the message of European capitalism and America to Europe, not so much to Americans: well, you don’t need socialism to get all this; capitalism can do it for you.

NADER: Yeah, social democratic politics they called it.

JAY: But now Europe is now turning on itself, and they’re doing everything they can to get rid of all this stuff. And now they want to be like the American model, to be more competitive.

But I guess where I’m going with this is: have we entered a kind of new stage of history of capitalist development?

NADER: Well, basically it was globalization that did it to Western Europe. Once they took in the model of the World Trade Organization, once they in effect financialized more of their economy–derivatives, speculation, stock market, all that–that’s when they started going down. I warned them: do not accept the U.S. multinational model, ’cause it’s going to happen to you. And the effect of the multinational model was exacerbated by the European common market. So if they got in one country, they’d get in a lot of the other countries.

However, they still have a safety net. And it’s frayed badly in England. For example, they’re charging students now as high as $12,000 a year for tuition. But by comparison with us, nobody dies in Western Europe–nobody dies in Western Europe because they don’t have health insurance. They’re insured from the cradle to the grave. In this country, 800 Americans die every week, every week, ’cause they can’t afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time.

And that’s–figure comes from a Harvard Medical School peer-reviewed study in the December 2009 Journal of American Public Health. This is not some wild figure. Eight hundred a week, and not a single major politician is talking about it in the election year last year.

Quote of the day: Whistleblower call to action


From an appeal by renowned whistleblowers T, , , , , , and , published in today’s issue of The Guardian:

Hidden away in offices of various government departments, intelligence agencies, police forces and armed forces are dozens and dozens of people who are very much upset by what our societies are turning into: at the very least, turnkey tyrannies.

One of them is you.

You’re thinking:

● Undermining democracy and eroding civil liberties isn’t put explicitly in your job contract.
● You grew up in a democratic society and want to keep it that way
● You were taught to respect ordinary people’s right to live a life in privacy
● You don’t really want a system of institutionalized strategic surveillance that would make the dreaded Stasi green with envy – do you?

Still, why bother? What can one person do? Well, Edward Snowden just showed you what one person can do. He stands out as a whistleblower both because of the severity of the crimes and misconduct that he is divulging to the public – and the sheer amount of evidence he has presented us with so far – more is coming. But Snowden shouldn’t have to stand alone, and his revelations shouldn’t be the only ones.

You can be part of the solution; provide trustworthy journalists – either from old media (like this newspaper) or from new media (such as WikiLeaks) with documents that prove what illegal, immoral, wasteful activites are going on where you work.

There IS strength in numbers. You won’t be the first – nor the last – to follow your conscience and let us know what’s being done in our names. Truth is coming – it can’t be stopped. Crooked politicians will be held accountable. It’s in your hands to be on the right side of history and accelerate the process.

Courage is contagious.

Headlines of the day I: Spooks, hubris, hacks


We begin with an animation from Mark Fiore:

Li’l NSA Spy Kit

Program notes:

Every week, and sometimes every day, there is a new revelation about the shady practices of the NSA. After the news broke that the spy agency targeted thirty-five heads of state, not to mention the head of the UN, General Keith Alexander and Obama were on the defensive again and the cartoon ideas were frolicking in my head. More at http://www.markfiore.com

Next, a point we’ve made repeatedly in discussions with friends and family now confirmed. From Common Dreams:

Scared Silent: NSA Surveillance has ‘Chilling Effect’ on American Writers

New report published by PEN America found writers self-censoring as a result of spy revelations

Here’s one telling graphic from the report [[PDF]:

BLOG Chilling

From Techdirt, getting some Sense[nbrunner]:

Author Of The PATRIOT Act Goes To EU Parliament To Admit Congress Failed, And The NSA Is Out Of Control

from the didn’t-see-that-coming dept

From EUobserver, hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil:

Tech giants plead innocence to MEPs on US snooping

Executives from three of the world’s biggest IT firms – Facebook, Google and Microsoft – have told MEPs they did not give US intelligence services “unfettered” access to people’s private data.

The Guardian cites Big Brotherly paternalism:

John Kerry: world leaders have been understanding about NSA leaks

US secretary of state says foreign governments understand that Barack Obama did not order all phone and internet surveillance

Making sense of the trade representative’s involvement with Techdirt:

If The NSA Isn’t Engaged In Economic Espionage, Why Is The USTR Considered ‘A Customer’ Of Intelligence?

from the simple-questions dept

Tell us, are you surprised? From Spiegel:

Germans Rejected: US Unlikely to Offer ‘No-Spy’ Agreement

Senior German intelligence officials met with their NSA and CIA counterparts in the US last week to start trust-rebuilding efforts between the estranged allies. While a “no-spy” agreement seems unlikely, Merkel might learn what Snowden could still reveal.

The Guardian covers press-baiting:

Counter-terror chief renews fight for ‘snooper’s charter’

Charles Farr tells MPs that public’s data was never collected by GCHQ and claims Snowden leaks damaged GCHQ’s work

From Spiegel, a Quixotic quest?:

Spy-Proofing: Deutsche Telekom Pushes for All-German Internet

Recent revelations about NSA spying have given fresh impetus to the dream of a purely German Internet. Deutsche Telekom believes it could introduce a system safe from prying foreign surveillance, but some criticize the plan as pointless.

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Deeplinks Blog, sinister spin:

The House Intelligence Committee’s Misinformation Campaign About the NSA

Rep. Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), is a busy man. Since June, he (and HPSCI) have been all over the media with press statements, TV appearances, and tweets, relentlessly trying to persuade the public that the National Security Agency (NSA) is merely doing its job when it collects innocent Americans’ calling records, phone calls, and emails.

The Verge encapsulates:

The edge of the abyss: exposing the NSA’s all-seeing machine

We now know that nearly five decades after its creation, the NSA began to operate what would become a global surveillance network of breathtaking scale. Today, it collects records about every phone call placed in the United States. It works with overseas partners and telecommunications companies to directly tap into the arteries of the internet, and scoops up massive amounts of data including emails, chats, VoIP calls, and more. It collects billions of records every year, many belonging to ordinary US citizens with no suspicion of wrongdoing.

From the Moscow Times, a look at the leaker:

Lawyer Says ‘Lonely’ Snowden Living on Donations

U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has used up most of his money for food, rent and private bodyguards, and is living on donations from public organizations and ordinary Russians, his lawyer said in an interview published Tuesday.

More from Xinhua:

Snowden not paid for revealing information: lawyer

  • Edward Snowden was not paid for revealing classified information, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said.

  • The lawyer said Snowden’s financial situation proved he was an altruist.

  • The lawyer said he had to help Snowden “not only legally but in everyday life as well.”

From Ars Technica, reasonable requests:

ACLU to law enforcement: Tell us how you get users’ search history, data

  • More questions: Are warrants required? Can you intercept searches in real time?

  • On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it had filed a formal request (PDF) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), asking various federal judicial agencies what “policies, procedures, and practices [are] followed to obtain search queries from search engine operators for law enforcement purposes.” The ACLU also asked if a warrant or another legal process is required to make requests and if requests can be intercepted in real time.

The Irish Times covers tightening of freedom of information laws on the Emerald Isle:

Attempt to postpone changes to FoI regime unsuccessful

Brendan Howlin to introduce additional fees for applications with multiple requests

And the Asahi Shimbun covers another Island’s radpicaly developing security state:

Foreign policy adviser Yachi picked to head NSC secretariat

A foreign policy aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has overcome his reluctance and agreed to serve as the first head of the secretariat under the planned National Security Council, sources said. The Abe administration has decided to name Shotaro Yachi, 69, as the first secretariat head of the council that will be established in January, they said. The NSC is designed to chart the course of Japan’s foreign and security policies.

A parallel story, also from the Asahi Shimbun, and notable for being notable:

SDF members on secret duties must undergo rigorous background checks

Self-Defense Forces members tapped for duties involving secrets are required to declare a host of personal background information, such as the people they know and their own thoughts on various issues.

The Daily Dot covers another form of cyber-security:

Anonymous aims to shut down Utah boarding school over abuse allegations

The hacktivist collective Anonymous has launched a campaign against a Utah boarding school for troubled teenagers after testimonies of alleged abuse surfaced four weeks ago online.

From Nextgov, cyber insecurity, Obamacare edition:

CMS Manager Who Approved HealthCare.gov Launch Never Received Key Security Memos

A top Obamacare technology official was not informed of high-level security risks before he recommended the HealthCare.gov launch, according to closed-door congressional testimony released late Monday night.

The Irish Times cover the theft of credit card details of nearly 400,000 people across Europe, plus an additional 1.1 million whose  names, addresses, telephone numbers, and emails were hacked:

Over 1.5 million affected by Ennis data breach

Data Protection Commissioner investigates major security breach at Co Clare-based company which manages customer loyalty schemes across Europe

From the Daily Dot, information insecurity Down Under:

Outdated copyright law makes memes illegal in Australia

Here are a few things you can’t do in Australia: Post a YouTube video of yourself in a homemade Super Mario Brothers costume, stream music from your iPhone during a funeral, or share just about any Internet meme on your Facebook wall.

And for our final item, DVICE covers evasion:

Take on the NSA and Google with arkOS, your own at-home server

The NSA scandal has ruffled the feathers of even the biggest birds in the Internet eyrie. Google slaughters whatever services it sees fit, despite public outcry. These are grave days for the little people of the Internet. But one 23-year-old developer has planted his flag in the ground, hoping to give us all a little of our own online power back.

New media meets old: Greenwald v. Keller


From CNN Internacional, we bring you two interesting conversations about the nature and role of the journalist featuring archetypes of the old and new media news media.

In the first, CNN’s David Folkenflik talks with Bill Keller, who for the last 29 years has drawn a paycheck from the New York Times — about as old school a medium as there is — currently as an op-ed columnist and before that,  executive editor.  As might be expected, Keller advocates for the sober “impartial approach,” while ceding a role to form of advocacy journalism Greenwald practices.

From CNN Internacional:

Keller v Greenwald: Bill’s take

Program note:

NYT columnist Bill Keller tells David Folkenflik about his conversation with Glenn Greenwald on the future of news.

The second segment features Glenn Greenwald, a muckraker extraordinaire who has — with the leads and documents provided by Edward Snowden — changed the consciousness of the world more dramatically than anyone else practicing the art today. He makes a particularly telling point, too: Keller’s own paper effectively advocated for the Bush administrations war on Iraq.

Keller v Greenwald: Glenn’s take

Program note:

Glenn Greenwald tells David Folkenflik about his conversation with NYT columnist Bill Keller on the future of news.

The CNN videos are an extension of a 27 October New York Times op-ed dialogue between Keller and Greenwald.

Interview: Government deception at Fukushima


Jessica Desvarieux of The Real News Network interviews nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, who, she notes, “holds a nuclear safety patent, was a licensed reactor operator, and is a former nuclear industry senior vice president. During his nuclear power industry career, Arnie also managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants in the US.”

Nuclear Engineer: Japan’s PM “Lying to the Japanese People” About Safety of Fukushima

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

It’s never happened where three nuclear reactors have blown up in three days. So this is a brand-new event.

But that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that Tokyo Electric has been allowed to continue to operate this plant and try to clean up the site. They’re an operator, thy’re not an engineering firm, so that you’ve really got the wrong skill set. So you’ve got the wrong people trying to do the cleanup.

There’s one other piece, though, and that piece is the cost. Tokyo Electric doesn’t have enough money to do this. I made some recommendations two years ago to prevent this water from going into the Pacific, and I was told Tokyo Electric didn’t have enough money to do it. Well, if they had done my recommendations years ago, they wouldn’t be in the mess they’re in now.

The money’s got to come from the nation of Japan. And the Japanese government doesn’t want to admit that they’re on the hook for half a trillion — that’s with a T — half a trillion dollars. And they would rather not tell the Japanese people that, because the Japanese government wants to get 50 nuclear plants up and running, and if the people ever realized the liability that they face, I don’t think that would happen.

Berkeley hit by rash of smart phone bandits


A warning notice just received from the Berkeley Police Department:

We saw a large increase in the targeting of Smartphones in the first six months of this year. In 57% of cases, people had their phone visible when approached. The data also showed that robbers prefer targeting lone pedestrians, often at night.

When walking, we believe these measures can make a difference:

  • Put your Smartphone in your pocket.
  • ‘Take off your earphones.
  • Be alert to your surroundings.
  • At night, consider walking with others &/or carrying a flashlight.

John Ralston Saul: It’s Broke how Can We Fix It?


Another of those wonderful extended talks at the Sydney Opera House from Ideas at the House [previously], this time featuring provocative author/philosopher John Ralston Saul.

John Ralston Saul: It’s Broke how Can We Fix It?

The program notes:

Declared a ‘prophet’ by TIME magazine, John Ralston Saul’s critically acclaimed works have been translated into 22 languages in 30 countries, displaying a growing impact on world political and economic thought.

A long-term champion of freedom of expression, watch John Ralston Saul in intimate conversation on the state of the world today; from economic stability, unemployment and poverty to inequality, racism, terrorism and fundamentalism.

It’s a fascinating talk, and his focus is the end of globalism — a concept premised on the impossibility of organizing societies around economics, while rejecting the notion of a society organized around citizens rather than consumers [or, as he calls them, “servants of greed”].

Globalism and democracy are mutually exclusive, he contends, because democracy is based on the local, on making decisions about the communities where citizens live and work.

One of the most pernicious effects of globalism is to disguise the nature and operations of real power, while diverting the discontented into NGOs, organizations which seek to influence rather than wield power.

A self-described optimistic pessimist [expecting the worst while working for the best], he offers an incisive critique of contemporary philosophy, academia, governance, and power.

We particularly like his focus on debt, and on the futility of austerian policies.

Enjoy!

Massive privatization protests rock Latin America


From Oscar León of The Real News Network, two reports on protests, one that ended with a win and the other ending with massive police repression.

First up:

Mexico City Police Violently Crackdown on Occupying Teachers

From the transcript:

OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: On Friday, September 13, a force of an estimated 3,000 anti riot police cleared El Zócalo Plaza in downtown Mexico City.

CROWD: Solutions, solutions. We don’t want repression.

A public place that tens of thousands of teachers had occupied for five months now, opposing an “Educative Reform” allowed, and among other things it would impose nationally standardized evaluations of teachers that would lead to their automatic firing if they receive negative ratings.

>snip<

Once in control of the plaza, following a script that has become familiar to many cities in the world, the riot police tore the occupation camp down and arrested those who dare resist the government and its policies, even if they are teachers.

Since assuming power, Enrique Peña Nieto had faced opposition from many different sectors, which he has met with a heavy hand, criminalizing unions and student groups, all of which have faced police brutality and arbitrary detentions. Amnesty International reported the detention and violation of human rights of a number of independent journalists. AI called the Mexican government to respect the freedom of the press.

Some of the detainees are charged with “disrupting public peace” and even “attacks to the nation”. Beatings and inhumane treatment were reported by detained teachers and journalists.

In Xalapa, Veracruz, near the Caribbean coast, Sin Embargo, an independent newspaper, reported that police armed with electric knives evicted 300 teachers who had occupied Plaza Lerdo. There was an unreported number of injured and detained.

But further south, another nationwide protest ended in a victory:

National Farmers and Social Strike gets seeds control law 970 suspended

And excerpt from the transcript:

OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: In Colombia after 21 days of a nationwide strike by thousands of farmers, who were supported by bus and truck drivers, miners, students, and others joining massive demonstrations in cities and towns all around the country in places as far as Boyacá, Cundinamarca, Cauca, Huila, Putumayo, Caldas, Cundinamarca, and Nariño, and blocking more than 40 roads, in an historic moment, protesting farmers forced the Colombian government to negotiate the rejection of a farm bill and the release of detained protesters.

On Sunday, September 8, Vice President Angelino Garzón met with the Strike Negotiating Commission in Popayan and agreed to suspend Law 970, the one that gave control over seeds to the government. They also were promised the release of the 648 arrested during the strike and the creation of a new mining law.

Under this first and provisional agreement, the government will compensate the farmers for their losses when competing with cheaper products imported under as much as ten free market treaties with countries all around the world. In other cases it will suspend the importation of such products.

The strike was ended and negotiations started to discuss the farmers’ proposals. The process of negotiation, as well as the final agreement and its implementation, will be verified by the United Nations.

In Putumayo in the south of the country, farmers leaders and other actors of Colombian society met with President Santos and other authorities and officially started the negotiations after signing the initial document.

The destruction of the farmers’ rice stock seeds, seeds they were keeping for the following year’s planting time, occurred in Campo Alegre and other towns in 2012. For some these images became the symbol of the farmers’ strike fighting for the right to keep their seeds. Seed control was described by President Santos as having Colombia “tune up to international reality”.

Malware tied to Syrian bombing alert email


If you get an email headed “The United States began bombing!,” trash it immediately.

CNBC reports:

Clicking “Full story” after the two-sentence lead triggers the download of a Trojan Downloader and various other malware, computer security company Kaspersky Lab told CNBC. The spam targets older, vulnerable versions of Adobe Reader and Java.

Chomsky tackles corporatization of the university


A very important, very timely video from Noam Chomsky addresses one of our greatest concerns, the corporate takeover of the American university, nowhere more evident than right here in Berkeley, home of the largest corporate academic grant in American history, $500 million from the deep and bloody pockets of BP.

American universities are being transformed into labs and training grounds for multinationals with no ties to local communities and no desire other than the accumulate profits by offloading costs onto the rest of us, a legal obligation under the Doctrine of Fiduciary Responsibility, the corporate version of the Prime Directive.

Chomsky’s remarks were delivered 12 July at the University of Michigan and deserve a wide audience:

Some excerpts from a report on the address by Giacomo Bologna of the Michigan Daily:

Chomsky said as the price of higher education has continued to increase, many public institutions have often operated on a budget increasingly comprised of private rather public funds, leading to these institutions to act more like their private counterparts.

He said this trend could have catastrophic results for the future of higher education.

“It’s pretty hard to imagine an economic reason for (increasing tuition rates across the country),” Chomsky said.

To prevent increasing privatization, he said the United States should put greater emphasis on funding higher education. He added that many other countries, such as Germany and Mexico, offer free or heavily subsidized access to higher education.

“If you want to privatize something and destroy it, it’s simple,” Chomsky said. “First you defund it so it doesn’t work anymore.”

Read the rest.

A future for community journalism, or not


In the last decade, a third of newspaper reporting positions have vanished, along with half of newspaper advertising dollars, raising this question: Is there a future to the journalism trade?

Here’s a talking head discussion from C-Span’s The Communicators with Peter Slen sparked by the acquisition of the Washington Post by Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos.

One of the discussants is an industry consultant who also teaches at the UC Berkeley journalism school, while the other is an industry scribe for Bloomberg News.

The real question remains: Will Americans find a way to fund community news? We hope so, but the outlook isn’t good.

The Communicators: The Future of the Newspaper Industry

The program notes:

Alan Mutter, newspaper consultant, and Edmund Lee, Bloomberg News Media Reporter, talk about the newspaper ownership and the future of newspapers and the newspaper industry.

Mutter’s blog, Reflections of a Newsosaur, is a regular esnl read.

Big Brother, Outsourcing Your Security™


Wikipedia describes Tom Scott as a British “geek comedian, programmer, and” a host of satellite channel Sky One’s Gadget Geeks.

All we can say is that he’s damn funny and in the slyly subversively serious way that marks the best of British humor.

He recently turned his energies to one question: “What happens when you privatise Big Brother?”

Here’s what he came up with:

Oversight: Thank you for volunteering, citizen.

H/T to Cary Doctorow of Boing Boing, who writes:

Tom Scott (who created last year’s EULAs for the Afterlife video) has made a terrific and terrifying video called “Oversight: Thank you for volunteering, citizen;” a horribly plausible look at what the future of crowdsourced, privatised ubiquitous surveillance might look for. As always, Scott nails the weirdly upbeat and blandly evil voice of global corporatism and produces something that is chillingly convincing.

Quote of the day: Honor Snowden — Chomsky


Via Leak Source, from Noam Chomsky’s appearance Friday at the Geneva Press Club while he was in Switzerland to deliver an address on linguistics at the University of Geneva :

The transcript:

My own opinion is that Snowden should be honored. He was doing what every citizen ought to do, telling. [Applause] He was telling Americans what the government was doing. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

Governments as I mentioned before always plead security no matter what’s going on. The reflexive defense is security. But anyone who’s looked at– first of all, you take a look at what he exposed. At least anything that’s been published, it’s not any kind of threat to security, with one exception, the security of the government from its own population. And in fact if you look at anyone who’s spent any time poring through declassified records– I have, I’m sure many of you have– you find that overwhelmingly the security is the security of the state from its own population and that’s why things have to be kept secret.

There are some cases where there’s authentic security concerns. But they’re pretty limited.

The plea of the US government in this case for the surveillance and so on, is that it’s security against terror. But at the very same moment the US policy is designed in a way to increase terror. The US itself is carrying out the most awesome international terrorist campaign, ever, I suppose– the drones and special forces campaign. That’s a major terrorist campaign, all over the world, and it’s also generating terrorists. You can read that and hear that from the highest sources, General McChrystal and scholars and all, so on.

Of course the drone campaign is creating potential terrorists, and you can easily understand why. I mean, if you were walking through the streets of Geneva and you don’t know whether five minutes from now there’s going to be an explosion across the street that’s run a couple thousand of miles away and it will blow away some people and who ever else happens to be around– you’re terrorized. And you don’t like it. And you may decide to react. That’s happening all over the regions that are subjected to the Obama terror campaign.

So you can’t seriously on the one hand be not only carrying out massive terror but even generating potential terrorists against yourself and claim that we have to have massive surveillance to protect ourselves against terror. That’s a joke. It should be headlines.

Then comes the interesting question of extradition. The US has just announced again that they’re going to punish anybody who refuses to extradite Snowden.

At the same time the US is one of the leaders in refusing extradition. Bolivia is an interesting case. The US has imposed pressure at least… to try to block the Bolivian plane because they want Snowden extradited. For years Bolivia has been trying to extradite from the United States the former president who’s already indicted in Bolivia for all sorts of crimes. The US refuses to extradite him.

In fact it’s happening right in Europe. Italy has been trying to extradite 22 CIA agents who were involved and in fact indicted for participating in a kidnaping in Milan. They kidnaped somebody, sent him off I think to Egypt to be tortured. And agreed later he was innnocent…

Extradite the people involved, the US of course refuses. And there’s case after case like this… There are a lot of cases where the U.S. just refuses…

In fact one of the most striking cases is Latin America, again, not just Bolivia. One of the world’s leading terrorists is Luis Posada, who was involved in blowing up a Cubana airliner which killed 73 people and lots of other terrorist acts. He’s sitting happily in… Miami, and his colleague Rolando Bosch also a major terrorist… is happily there… Cuba and Venezuela are trying to extradite them. But you know. Fat chance.

So for the U.S. to be calling for others to extradite Snowden is let’s say a little ironic. Again, these ought to be headlines.

Video history: The Mike Wallace Interview


In a varied career that including stints as actor, announcer, game show host, and, in his most significant role as correspondent for 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace hosted The Mike Wallace Interview, a thirty-minute 68-episode ABC Sunday night broadcast that ran from 1957 to 1960.

While his revealing questioning of Ayn Rand makes for his best-known episode, we especially liked his interview of Aldous Huxley.

We add two more segements to our posts, each with a transitional figure

Mike Wallace interviews Rod Serling, 1959

Serling was and best known for When Wallace interviewed Serling, a seminal figure in the history of TV drama, the writer/producer was just launching The Twilight Zone, an anthology of fantasy and science fiction featuring some superb writing and memorable acting.

Whast 60 Minutes was to TV magazine shows, Twilight Zone was to drama, both a template for future shows and a springboard for a remarkable range of talent.

Serling has a lot to say about commercial television, and one memorable moment is the rendition of the time he was forced to drop the mention of gas in a story about the Holocaust because a sponsor manufactured gas ranges.

Mike Wallace interviews Erich Fromm, 25 June 1958

Erich Fromm represents a directoion not taken by mainstream psychiatry. A German Jew, he was a member of the Frankfurt School, a remarkable assemblage of thinkers that included the seminal media critic and socialist Walter Benjamin and political philosophers Herbert Marcuse and Theodore Adorno.

From the transcript:

WALLACE:  This is Dr. Erich Fromm, one of the most influential psychoanalysts in the world.  A man whose work has been hailed as a significant step forward from the theories of Sigmund Freud.

WALLACE:  Recently, Dr. Fromm said: “There has never been a better society than in the United States in 1958, but …”  He added, “if the United States goes on in the direction it is now taking, it is in serious danger of destroying itself.” We’ll find out why in a moment.

>snip<

FROMM: Well, Mr. Wallace, I would say, if I would put it generally, because in our enthusiasm to dominate nature and to produce more material good – goods — we have transformed means into ends.   We’ve wanted to produce more in the 19th century and the 20th century in order to give man the possibility for more dignified human life; but actually what has happened  is that production and consumption have become means — have ceased to be means and have become ends, and we are production crazy and consumption crazy.

More interviews here.

Headlines of the day I: Spooks and spooky pols


First, a defeat for civil liberties from the Department of Precrime, via The Guardian:

Narrow defeat for Amash amendment to restrict NSA surveillance

First major legislative challenge to NSA’s bulk collection of phone records defeated by only 217 votes to 205 in House of Representatives

The bloody, hypocritical gist, also from The Guardian:

Democratic establishment unmasked: prime defenders of NSA bulk spying

NYT: “The Obama administration made common cause with the House Republican leadership”

From Techdirt, the rationale:

Democratic Leadership Says NSA Data Collection Is Fine Because You ‘May Be In Communication With Terrorists’

And from the Dept. Of Strange Bedfellows via OpEd News:

Tea Party, Progressives and Libertarians Attempt to Block NSA’s Prism Fails by Small Margin

The voice of the people, via the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Poll: Back off the snooping, public tells Washington

And more omnivorous spookery, via CNET:

Feds put heat on Web firms for master encryption keys

Whether the FBI and NSA have the legal authority to obtain the master keys that companies use for Web encryption remains an open question, but it hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from trying.

Two headlines form Xinhua bring us up to date on the fate of Edward Snowden. First, some semantic antics:

U.S. wants Russia to “return” Snowden, not “extradite”: ambassador

And then this:

Moscow cannot extradite Snowden: Russian human rights chief

From the Buenos Aires Herald, a debated apology for that Washington-instigated aerial hijacking-by-default of the Bolivian president’s plane:

Morales receives apology from France’s Hollande

From The Independent, another reminder that corporations act just like nation states:

Exclusive: Blue-chip dirty tricks ‘bigger than phone hacking’

Angry MPs join calls for secret list of those involved – including banks and pharmaceutical firms – to be published as crime agency admits sitting on evidence of criminality for years

From Deutsche Welle, reporting on the feeling of some German legislators that they’re being treated like mushrooms [kept in the dark and fed a diet of bullshit]:

Chancellery finds it hard to be transparent about intelligence

In Germany, three agencies are responsible for three areas of intelligence. The chancellery is supposed to inform parliament about what they’re doing – but the parliamentarians often feel out of the loop.

And there’s absolution in Ireland for the corporate/spook establishment, via the Irish Times:

Apple, Facebook ‘not breaking EU law’ by giving data to US

Data Protection Commissioner tells lobby group firms meet requirements after complaint over Prism spy programme

From the Oakland Tribune, reporting that someone’s committed a Cardinal sin:

Stanford investigating apparent IT breach

Finally, the latest despicable news from The Hill, with the secrets involved being the special loopholes sought by legislators on behaklf of their owners [which ain’t us]. From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Congress Will Keep Senators’ Tax Reform Wishes Secret—for 50 Years

Jezz, bring on the torches and pitchforks, foilks. . .

Chris Hedges: Things really are that bleak


In the second part of his interview with journalist and author Chris Hedges for The Real News Network, Paul Jay asks Hedges to respond to critics who say he’s too pessimistic about the fate of the the nation and the lack of civil disobedience in the face of immense, state-backed corporate power.

We posted the first part of the interview here.

Hedges: We Must Grasp Reality to Build Effective Resistance

From the transcript:

[T]he formal mechanisms of power don’t work. We’ve undergone with John Ralston Saul calls correctly a coup d’état, a corporate coup d’état in slow-motion. And it’s over. They’ve won. We live in what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls a system of inverted totalitarianism. And by that he means it’s not classical totalitarianism. It doesn’t find its expression through a demagogue or a charismatic leader, but through the anonymity of the corporate state, that in classical totalitarian regimes you have a reactionary or revolutionary party that replaces one structure with another. In inverted totalitarianism you have corporate forces that purport to be loyal to the Constitution, electoral politics, the iconography and language of American patriotism, and yet internally have seized all of the levers of power to render the citizen impotent, and so that this political theater which we are witnessing is a charade. The Democrats are as beholden to corporate power as the Republicans. The judiciary has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state. And our only hope left is to build mass movements of dissent — and I covered the revolutions in Eastern Europe — that can wrest power back from this rapacious corporate elite that quite literally will kill us. And I see — of course it’s bleak. And, you know, I’m sorry. The climate science reports are bleak. I’m not making it up. And this kind of mania for hope is really a kind of sickness, because it prevents us from seeing how dire and catastrophic the situation is if we don’t radically reconfigure our relationship to each other and to the ecosystem. And so of course people don’t want to hear it. You know, they want to become entranced or mesmerized with the trivia that dominates the airwaves and the sagas and soap operas, and, you know, we are fed this mantra that is really fiction. And the mantra goes that we can have everything we want, that reality is never an impediment to what we desire. And that’s given to us by Oprah, and it’s given to us by Hollywood. . .

Headlines of the day II: Spookery & blowback


From The Independent, an astonishing tale of American power, projected across the Atlantic:

Edward Snowden saga: Bolivia accuses Europe of ‘kidnapping’ Bolivian president in forcing Evo Morales’ plane to land in Vienna

French officials deny refusing to let Bolivian president’s plane cross its airspace as fugitive is not found on board

From El País, more details:

Spain gives Bolivian leader airspace clearance after diplomatic standoff

  • Rumors surfaced that Evo Morales may have been smuggling whistleblower Edward Snowden on board

  • Presidential plane eventually makes stopover in the Canary Islands

And the blowback, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Diverting Bolivian president’s plane in bid to bag Snowden infuriates Latin America

From Spiegel, more woes for Snowden:

Stateless in Moscow: Germany Rejects Asylum for Snowden

And a plea, relayed by Radio France Internationale:

Wikileaks Julian Assange urges European countries to accept Snowden

From the Los Angeles Times, an offer Snowden hopes to refuse?

Snowden still seeks asylum offer; U.S. ‘ready to take him back’

The U.S. has stepped up pressure on other countries to deny asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

From the Irish Times, proof that the usual games go on:

Ecuador says hidden microphone found in its London embassy

Building where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been living seemingly bugged

And from Reuters:

EU checking if British surveillance broke law: source

And from Deutsche Welle, worries from Europe’s industrial powerhouse:

Germany fears NSA stole industrial secrets

From EUobserver, reporting a fast European retreat on that earlier “no spying or no trade agreement” line

France and Germany eat their words on US trade talks

And from the director of national intelligence via The Guardian, a colossal memory fail:

Clapper: I gave ‘erroneous’ answer because I forgot about Patriot Act

Intelligence chief tries to explain false Senate testimony by saying he ‘simply didn’t think’ of NSA efforts to collect phone data

Blood on the Newsroom Floor: Some costs


In Mexico, there’s real blood on newsroom floors as journalists fall victim to cartel hit squads.

For investigative reporter Marcela Turati of Proceso news magazine and co-founder of Periodistas de a Pie, a journalism association, Turati has seen scores of colleagues slain for practicing their craft.

In her 22 June keynote speech to the 34th annual conclave of Investigative Reporters and Editors in San Antonio, she described the plight of journalists south of the border and called on colleagues to the north to dig into the role played by U.S. institutions and organizations in nurturing the violence.

But she is also acutely aware of the massive downsizings of U.S. news media, most notably papers in states bordering her own country.

From the JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog of the Knight Center for Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, where you can read her fill remarks:

I recognize that great efforts have been made by some American journalists. Many top U.S. newspapers covered the violence in Juárez, in fact almost all the newspapers of the world eventually sent someone there. There are subjects that came to light thanks to the work of U.S. investigative reporters or correspondents, such as operation Fast and Furious, which makes us so indignant. Or the publication of the databases with up to 25 thousand names of people who disappeared under the last government.

But as time passes, all this death, all these massacres, all these mass graves, all these bodies, all these missing people, stop being so newsworthy. As Lise Olsen wrote in a book: on the U.S. side, “reporters who are informed and experienced in Mexico and the border have been dropped in all border states, largely for economic reasons, but the violence has had an impact too.”

Every major newspaper in the region has eliminated bureaus and cut coverage. In California, the largest border region newspaper, the San Diego Union, had a five-person border team in the late 1990’s. Only one person remained to cover Tijuana in 2012. The Los Angeles Times has a single border reporter, though he works with a team of two in Mexico City. The Arizona Republic has lost border staff too. In Texas, The Dallas Morning News formerly deployed five people to Mexico City–one remains. The Houston Chronicle and The Express-News (…) located only 150 to 300 miles from Mexico by car, once had three border reporters and two in Mexico City. Only one of those jobs remained in 2013.

Many large and small U.S. newspapers no longer allow reporters to cross the border to cover any story. Both national U.S. and Mexico City-based media companies have reduced binational coverage. Many times, reporters like you, ask us: how can we help you?  We could say: raising funds, offering asylum, raising awareness. But what we ask from IRE members is that you do your work here. That you investigate trafficking networks in your own country. That you share this problem, which is mutual.

It isn’t only gun trafficking that adds to the death toll in our country. It’s corrupt U.S. government officials, U.S. drug dealers and gangs, and U.S. dirty businessmen and money launderers. Because some cartel leaders and hit men are U.S. citizens. Many others live and own property here.

Read the rest.

Quote of the day: Why Brazilians protest


From an interview of João Pedro Stedile, national coordinator of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers [MST], by Nilton Viana of the Committee for the Cancellation of the Third World Debt:

There have been many opinions as to why these protests occurred. I agree with the analysis of Professor Erminia Maricato, who is one of our best specialists in urban issues and has worked in the Ministry of Cities under Olivio Dutra. She defends the thesis that there is an urban crisis in Brazil’s cities, a result of the current stage of financial capitalism. Due to an enormous amount of housing speculation, rent and land prices have increased 150% in the last three years. Without any government control, financial capital has promoted the sales of cars in order to send profits overseas and transformed our traffic into chaos. And in the last 10 years there has been no investment in public transport. The housing program “My home, my life” has driven the poor out to the periphery of the cities, where there is no infrastructure.

All this has generated a structural crisis where for people, large cities have becoming a living hell where they lose three or four hours a day in transit, which they could instead be using to spend with their family, studying or participating in cultural activities. Added to this is the poor quality of public services, especially health and education, from the primary and secondary level, where children leave without being able to write. And university education has become a business, where of 70% of university students’ diplomas are sold on credit.

Fifteen years of neoliberalism plus the last 10 years of a government of class conciliation has transformed politics into a hostage of capital’s interests. Parties became old in their way of functioning and have been transformed into mere acronyms that mainly bring together opportunists interested in winning public posts or fighting over public resources for their own interests.