"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

With Assassination Of Anwar al-Awlaki, Has U.S. Entered New Era of Killing Its Citizens Without Charge?

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm

In this Nov. 8, 2010 file image taken from video and released by SITE Intelligence Group on Monday, Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted on radical websites

Oldspeak:”President Obama has claimed the right to detain, eavesdrop on, and kill American citizens without due process. Anwar al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen. He was ordered assassinated by the President of the United States without presenting any evidence of any kind as to his guilt, without attempting to indict him in any way or comply with any of the requirements of the Constitution that say that you can’t deprive someone of life without due process of law. The president ordered him killed wherever he was found, including far away from a battle field, no matter what it was he was doing at the time. And if you’re somebody who believes that the president of the United States has the power to order your fellow citizens murdered, assassinated, killed without even a shred of due process, without having to have charged him with a crimes or indict him and prove in a court he’s actually guilty, then you’re really declaring yourself to be as pure of an authoritarian as it gets.” -Glenn Grunwald. Is this what it’s come to? The U.S. conspiring with illegitimate and murderous foreign governments to target and kill American deemed citizens undesirable without due process? Now that it’s started down this frightfully slippery slope, where does it end? What is there to prevent You or I from being unilaterally targeted for assassination with no evidence of wrongdoing or guilt?”

Related Story:

The Due-Process-Free Assassination Of U.S. Citizens Is Now Reality

By Juan Gonzalez @ Democracy Now:

Guest:

Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com.

The United States has confirmed the killing of the radical Yemeni-American cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, in northern Yemen. The Obama administration says Al-Awlaki is one of the most influential al-Qaeda operatives on its ‘most wanted’ list. In response to news of al-Awlaki’s death, constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald and others argue the assassination of U.S. citizens without due process has now has become a reality. “One of the bizarre aspects of it is that media and government reports try to sell al-Awlaki as some grand terrorist mastermind … describing him as the new bin Laden. The United States government needs a terrorist mastermind to replace Osama bin Laden to justify this type of endless war … For a while, al-Awlaki was going to serve that function,” Greenwald says. “If you are somebody that believes the President of the United States has the power to order your fellow citizens murdered, assassinated, killed without a shred of due process … then you are really declaring yourself to be as pure of an authoritarian as it gets.”

JUAN GONZALEZ: Shortly before we went on the air this morning, senior U.S. administration officials confirm the killing of the radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in northern Yemen. The United States says Awlaki is one of the most influential Al Qaeda operatives on its most wanted list. News of the death was first announced by Yemen’s Defense Ministry in a text message sent to journalists the ministry wrote, “The terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed along with some of his companions,” but did not provide further details. In a separate email statement, the Yemeni government reported Awlaki was targeted and killed about 90 miles east of the capital Sanaa. The statement said the attack was launched at 9:55 a.m. local time. Despite the Yemeni government’s claims its forces successfully targeted Awlaki in a raid near the capital, sources on the ground say he was likely killed in a U.S. air-strike. Awlaki was previously targeted in U.S. bombing of Yemen earlier this year. Well, for more, we turn to Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for salon.com. He joins us via Democracy Now! video-stream from Brazil. He first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom it had ordered assassinated without any due process. One of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki, despite substantial doubt among the Yemen experts about whether he had an operational role in Al Qaeda Glenn Greenwald, welcome to DEMOCRACY NOW!

GLENN GREENWALD: Good to be here.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well Glenn, your reaction, first of all, to this news and what it means in terms of any new precedence now set by this administration in the targeting of U.S. citizens?

GLENN GREENWALD: Let’s begin with the fact Anwar al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen. He was ordered assassinated by the President of the United States without presenting any evidence of any kind as to his guilt, without attempting to indict him in any way or comply with any of the requirements of the Constitution that say that you can’t deprive someone of life without due process of law. The president ordered him killed wherever he was found, including far away from a battle field, no matter what it was he was doing at the time. And if you’re somebody who believes that the president of the United States has the power to order your fellow citizens murdered, assassinated, killed without even a shred of due process, without having to have charged him with a crimes or indict him and prove in a court he’s actually guilty, then you’re really declaring yourself to be as pure of an authoritarian as it gets. Remember that there was great controversy that George Bush asserted the power simply to detain American citizens without due process or simply to eavesdrop on their conversations without warrants. Here you have something much more severe. Not eavesdropping on American citizens, not detaining them without due process, but killing them without due process, and yet many Democrats and progressives, because it’s President Obama doing it, have no problem with it and are even in favor of it. To say that the President has the right to kill citizens without due process is really to take the constitution and to tear it up into as many little pieces as you can and then burn it and step on it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, for those in the audience not familiar with him, give us the sketch of who Al-Awlaki is and what the alleged terrorist plots that he was involved with are.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, he, as I said, was born in the United States and went to college in the United States and, for a long time, was considered by the U.S. government and the media to be a moderate Muslim cleric. In fact the Pentagon invited him to a lunch in the wake of 9/11 in order to talk to him and other Muslim leaders about how to root out extremism in the Muslim community. The Washington Post had him host his own chat about the meaning of various Muslim holidays and the like. So, for a long time he was viewed as this, sort of, moderate figure. He became increasingly radicalized, like a lot of people have, over the last decade, as the United States has continued to slaughter Muslim men, women and children in multiple countries around the world, and he definitely became much more hostile in his sermons to the United States, and began arguing that it wasn’t just the duty but the right of Muslims to not just be passive receivers of violence by the U.S., but also to begin to attack the United States back as a means of deterring further violence. And so, he definitely became a great concern to the U.S. because he was so effective in communicating these ideas in English to large parts of the English speaking Muslim world. And, of course, expressing those ideas that the United States is engaged in aggression against the Muslim world and that Muslims have the right or even the duty to fight back rather than getting passively slaughtered, whether you agree with those ideas are not, or think they’re horrible ideas, they’re obviously rights you have to express under the First Amendment of the Constitution. The government began claiming that it wasn’t just his messages and his ideas that were bothering them and making them want to kill him, but the fact he started to have an operational role in various plots, such as the attempt by Abdulmutallab to detonate a bomb in a jet over Detroit over Christmas. They claim that he was involved in the attack by Nidal Hasan on the Fort Hood base that killed 14 American service members. The problem with that is that, there’s been no evidence presented that he’s actually been involved in any of those plots. He is not been indicted or charged. If he has been involved in those plots, then the solution is to charge him with those crimes, bring him before a court of justice, and prove his guilt; not simply to order him killed as though the President is judge, jury, and executioner.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, his father had attempted, or started a court proceeding to try to enjoin the Obama administration from carrying out any attack on his son. Could you talk about that and where that is?

GLENN GREENWALD: Sure, well, Awlaki, himself, was incapable of suing to vindicate his rights because, had he popped his head up at any time, as we proved today, he would have been killed by the Unites States government, which sought on several occasions before today to kill him. So, his father brought suit on his behalf, represented by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, asking a court to enjoin the President from murdering his son without due process, and in response the Obama administration made numerous claims, mostly arguing courts have no right to interfere in the decisions the president makes about who is an enemy combatant using standard Bush-Cheney theories about how this is a military operation that the court shouldn’t be involved in it. They argued that whom the president decides to assassinate is a state secret. And that courts have no business meddling in or judging or adjudicating the president’s choices in that regard. A federal court, several months ago, accepted the argument that this was really a political and military number, and not a legal or constitutional or judicial question for courts to resolve. Although, the judge said there are very difficult questions raised because of what an extraordinary step this is for the president to order American citizens killed. He said it’s really up to the Congress to stop it or for the president to make decisions on his own. That, I believe that is being appealed; the appeal is pending, but, obviously, it’s now it is too late. There’s no point in trying to obtain an injunction now that Awlaki has been killed by President Obama.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the Bizarre irony of the government in Yemen which is clearly illegitimate by any international standards, facing a huge popular rebellion among its own people, being involved, to some degree or other, with the United States in this killing?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, President Saleh, who, of course, has been slaughtering his own citizens by the dozens over the last several months, and is still, you know—-has been a longtime ally of the United States. The State Department has issued some very meek statements, suggesting that there should be a democratic transition. But, we’ve continued to work with President Saleh, the U.S. government has, to try and kill those people that we want dead in Yemen, including Awlaki, and this is widely viewed as an attempt by President Saleh to, sort of, offer an olive branch to the United States; we will help to kill the American citizen within our borders whom you want dead in exchange for your continuing to support our regime. Of course, the United States has been trying to claim to the Arab world that it is on the right side of the Arab Spring, and yet just yesterday, of course, in Bahrain, numerous medical professionals, doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, were imprisoned for the crime of treating protesters who were shot by government forces just two weeks after the U.S. government announced that it plans to ship to Bahrain huge amounts of new weapons. Here, our long time ally, President Saleh, is not only now slaughtering his own citizens, but helping the United States government murder its own. So, it’s a pretty difficult sell to people in the Muslim world to claim that we’re on the right side of the Arab Spring when we not only continue to embrace the people who kill their own citizens, but now kill our citizens as well.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I want to read to you a quote from the editor of The Yemeni Post, Hakim Al Masmari. He said, “The Yemeni government will face a lot of criticism, especially in the south, for allowing US drones to attack Yemeni civilians. But it will not be a blow to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from any perspective. We don’t feel they will suffer, because Awlaki did not have any real role in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

GLENN GREENWALD: Right,well, one of the bizarre aspects of this is that media and government reports have tried to sell Awlaki is some kind of grand terrorist mastermind. There’s even lots of articles you can find online and major publications describing him as the new Bin Laden. The United States government needs a terrorist mastermind to replace Bin Laden to justify this type of endless war that President Obama, the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is insisting on not just continuing, but escalating. And for a while, Awlaki was the person to going to serve that function. But, the problem is, if you the read experts in Yemen, like Gregory Johnson and others, they mock the idea Awlaki was some kind of a leader of Al Qaeda and even question whether he had any operational role at all in any of these plots. He was clearly a cleric who developed some audience and was popular, particularly among English-speaking Muslim youth because of his ability to communicate with them. But, the idea that he was some high up in Al Qaeda or this is a blow to the operational capability of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is absolutely ludicrous. And if you read Yemen experts, you’ll see that that’s true. The problem is that American political culture is such that evidence doesn’t make a difference. Trials and due process are very pre-9/11. What we believe is that if the president stands up and says, someone is a terrorist, that’s all we need to know; they are therefore there are guilty because the leader has accused him of being that, and as long as the Aides then go and leak to the media, which they have done, that he played a significant operational role and was a big Al Qaeda leader, we won’t need to see evidence. We’ll just stand up and blindly click our heels and accept it’s true, and then cheered the fact he’s been murdered based on as unproven claims.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Glenn, what can people who are concerned about this extraordinary extension of the powers of a president to basically ignore any kind of due process with our American citizens, what can they do?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, one thing that is obvious, is that voting for Democrats as opposed to Republicans doesn’t help. In fact, if you read The New York Times article from 2010 confirming that Awlaki is on the hit list, it makes clear that there’s been no instances where George Bush ordered American citizens targeted for assassination, that this is extraordinary and perhaps an unprecedented step under the Democratic president. What people in the Arab world did, when their leaders did things like imprison them, let alone kill them, and their fellow citizens without trials, is they went out into the streets and protested and demanded that it stop. It’s hard to see how voting for one of these two parties is going to end these extraordinary excesses in violations of the constitution; it clearly doesn’t. Something outside of that system is necessary to address it. That’s been proven. So, I think if Americans cared about the constitutional rights the pretended to care about under George Bush, Democrats in particular, they would be very vocally protesting and objecting to this. But, the problem is that, the opportunity to use these issues as a means to undermine Republican politicians is now gone, and so, many people who, three years ago, were pretending to care about these things, no longer do. So, the question that American citizens have to ask themselves, is whether they believe in the principles of liberty and rights that they have learned were protected by the Constitution? That’s just a piece of paper—-the Constitution—-it cannot protect those rights, only the citizenry can ensure that those rights are not trampled on; and the question is whether citizens actually believe in those.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Finally, Glenn Greenwald, we’re getting reports that U.S. government confirming that it was a joint operation with the Yemeni government. Your sense of whether you believe this was a drone strike largely carried out by the United States?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, there’s no question I believe that the United States played a significant role. I mean, the United States have been wanting to kill Awlaki for a long time. The Yemeni government has not wanted to kill him, in part, because if it does, it will trigger lots of unrest and resentment, and that’s the last thing, especially at this point, that it wants. So, I believe that this has been done by an air strike, certainly the Yemeni government would not have the ability to carry that out on its own. The fact U.S. government confirmed so quickly that he was dead and accepting responsibility, I think, is fairly definitive proof that the U.S. played a very significant role, if not the lead role, in extinguishing the life of its own citizen without due process.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Glenn Greenwald, I want thank you for being with us, constitutional law attorney, political and legal blogger for Salon.com.


Facebook Tracks You Online, Even After You Log Out

In Uncategorized on September 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Oldspeak:Whenever you visit a web page that contains a Facebook button or widget, your browser is still sending details of your movements back to Facebook. Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. When you log out of Facebook, rather than deleting its tracking cookies, the site merely modifies them, maintaining account information and other unique tokens that can be used to identify you. …the only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.” -Nik Cubrilovic  The surveillance state as indispensable social network. Just a FYI.

By Asher Moses @ The Sunday Morning Herald:

Facebook cookie collection 'could be dangerous' (Video Thumbnail)

Click to play video

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An Australian technologist has caused a global stir after discovering Facebook tracks the websites its users visit even when they are logged out of the social networking site.

Separately, Facebook’s new Timeline feature, launched last week, has been inadvertently accessed by users early, revealing a feature that allows people to see who removed them from their friends’ lists.

Facebook’s changes – which turn profiles into a chronological scrapbook of the user’s life – are designed to let its 800 million members share what they are reading, listening to or watching in real-time. But they have been met with alarm by some who fear over-sharing.

Causing a stir ... Nik Cubrilovic.

Causing a stir … Australian Nik Cubrilovic first spotted the tracking issuePhoto: Flickr.com/e27singapore

Of course, Facebook’s bottom line improves the more users decide to share. Reports suggest that Facebook staff refer internally to “Zuck’s law“, which describes Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s belief that every year people share twice as much online – a trend that has caused Facebook’s valuation to skyrocket towards $US100 billion.

“Facebook is a lot more than a social network and ultimately wants to be the premier platform on which people experience, organise and share digital entertainment,” said Ovum analyst Eden Zoller.

But in alarming new revelations, Wollongong-based Nik Cubrilovic conducted tests, which revealed that when you log out of Facebook, rather than deleting its tracking cookies, the site merely modifies them, maintaining account information and other unique tokens that can be used to identify you.

Facebook founder shows off the new Facebook profiles at the F8 conference last week.Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shows off the new Facebook profiles at the F8 conference last week. Photo: AFP

Whenever you visit a web page that contains a Facebook button or widget, your browser is still sending details of your movements back to Facebook, Cubrilovic says.

“Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit,” Cubrilovic wrote in a blog post.

“The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.”

Facebook's new Timelines feature creates a chronological scrapbook of major events in your life.Facebook’s new Timelines feature creates a chronological scrapbook of major events in your life. Photo: AFP

Cubrilovic is working on a new unnamed start-up but has previously been involved with large technology blog TechCrunch and online storage company Omnidrive.

He backed up his claims with detailed technical information. His post was picked up by technology news sites around the world but Facebook has yet to provide a response to Fairfax Media and others.

David Vaile, executive director of UNSW’s Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, said Facebook’s changes were a ”breathtaking and audacious grab for whole life data”. In an email interview he accused the social networking site of attempting to ”normalise gross and unsafe overexposure”.

”While initially opt-in, the default then seems to be expose everything, and Facebook have form in the past for lowering protection after people get used to a certain level of initial protection – bait and switch,” he said.

Stephen Collins, spokesman for the online users’ lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said he did not believe Cubrilovic’s revelations would see people turn away from the site in droves but he hoped users became more engaged with the issue.

”Facebook, once again, are doing things that are beyond most users’ capacity to understand while reducing their privacy. That’s just not cool. I’d go so far as to say it’s specifically unethical,” he said.

Collins said the only reason he still uses Facebook is to help his 14-year-old daughter on the site. He said it took him an hour to lock down his profile to his satisfaction following the recent changes.

”It’s just not good enough. The default setting for any site should be ‘reveal nothing about me unless I make a specific choice otherwise’,” he said.

Others have compared Facebook’s changes to Bentham’s panopticon – a design for a prison where the guards can see all inmates but where the inmates never know whether they’re being watched. The result, applied to Facebook, is that real-time sharing means we always feel like we’re being watched and this then influences our behaviour.

Cubrilovic said he tried to contact Facebook to inform it of his discovery but did not get a reply. He said there were significant risks to the privacy of users, particularly those using public terminals to access Facebook.

“Facebook are front-and-centre in the new privacy debate just as Microsoft were with security issues a decade ago,” Cubrilovic said.

“The question is what it will take for Facebook to address privacy issues and to give their users the tools required to manage their privacy and to implement clear policies – not pages and pages of confusing legal documentation, and ‘logout’ not really meaning ‘logout’.”

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, would not comment specifically on Cubrilovic’s findings but said generally social networking sites need to clearly spell out when browsing information is being collected, the purposes for which it may be used and whether it will be disclosed to other organisations.

“Good practice would also be to allow for users to opt out of having it collected,” said Pilgrim.

The findings come after technology industry observer Dave Winer declared Facebook was scaring him because the new interface for third-party developers allows them to post items to your Facebook feed without your intervention. This has been dubbed “frictionless sharing”.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Timeline feature, which shows users a timeline of their activity on the site throughout the years, has not officially been switched on but many are using it already. Instructions can be found here.

But inadvertently or by design, the Timeline feature also lets people see which users had “unfriended” them by following a few simple steps:

1. Enable the new Timeline feature.
2. Pick a year in the timeline and locate the Friends box.
3. Click on “Made X New Friends”.
4. Scroll through the list and when you see an “Add Friend” box, those are the people either you have unfriended or vice-versa.

However, it appears Facebook has now disabled this function, describing it to gadget blog Gizmodo as a “bug”.

Finally, security researchers were quick to hose down a hoax that spread through the social network, claiming that Facebook was planning to start charging users for the new features.

twitter This reporter is on Twitter: @ashermoses

 

 

International Monatary Fund Report: Inequality Increases National Debt

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Oldspeak: “WOW. You know it’s real when the financial arm of the Corporatocracy puts out a report that runs counter to the very corprocratic policies which have created the rampant inequality and crushing debt contagion that has gripped the planet. “This month, International Monetary Fund economists demonstrated that higher income inequality in developed countries is associated with higher domestic and foreign indebtedness. Leading economists agree that rampant inequality leads to unstable economies and depressions, and makes the middle and lower classes poorer.” Shocker. Turns out, it’s not entitlement programs, public employees’ pensions, and non-military spending that drives debt. It’s inequality, poverty, and debt creation. Could this report signal dissention in the ranks? Very little discussion of this corportate media.”

By Washington’s Blog:

 

Inequality Creates Economic Instability and Widespread Poverty

Leading economists agree that rampant inequality leads to unstable economies and depressions, and makes the middle and lower classes poorer.

Inequality Increases National Debt

This month, International Monetary Fund economists demonstrated that “higher income inequality in developed countries is associated with higher domestic and foreign indebtedness”:

kumhof1 IMF: Inequality Increases National DebtWe find (see Chart 1) thatwhat unites the experiences of the main deficit countries is a steep increase in income inequality over recent decades, as measured by the share of income going to the richest 5 percent of the country’s income distribution.

This increase in inequality has contributed to a deterioration in the richest countries’ aggregate savings-investment balances, as the poor and middle class borrowed from the rich and from foreign lenders. This, along with the other factors mentioned above, can fuel current account deficits.

***

The increase in debt happens over the decades of below-trend incomes that result from the persistent shock. In an open economy, the task of financing the bottom group’s borrowing demand following a negative income shock is shared between the domestic top group and foreigners. This enables the top group to deploy more of its higher income in domestic plant and machinery investment and consumption than would be possible in a closed economy. But externally the result is a deterioration of the current account, which peaks at more than 1 percent of GDP.

In reality, increases in income inequality are often followed by political interventions to prop up the living standards of the bottom group, whose real income is stagnating. This is generally done not by directly confronting the sources of inequality, such as declines in the collective bargaining power of the bottom group or shifts in the tax burden from the top group to the bottom group, but rather by promoting policies that cut the cost of borrowing for both individuals and financial institutions (Rajan, 2010). These policies include domestic and international financial liberalization, and they put additional downward pressure on current accounts.

kumhof2 IMF: Inequality Increases National DebtAs shown in the simulations in Chart 2 (solid line), a reduction in financial intermediation spreads leads to much lower lending rates, which draw more of the top group’s resources into financial rather than real assets. Initially this allows the bottom group to maintain a much higher consumption level. But in the long run it means the top group underinvests in real assets such as plants and machinery, and so the bottom group sees lower real wages over time. At the same time, debt-to-income ratios rise more strongly, as do current account deficits.

***

If lending is liberalized without addressing the underlying income inequalities, the result would simply be an increase in indebtedness within surplus countries (between the rich and the rest of the population), rather than vis-à-vis the rest of the world. In other words, there would be a globalized rather than a regional increase in domestic indebtedness of the poor and middle class. While this would reduce cross-border financial imbalances, it would exacerbate domestic debt-to-income ratios and thus vulnerability to crises. In the long run, there is therefore simply no way to avoid addressing the income inequality problem head-on. Financial liberalization in surplus countries buys time, but at the expense of an eventually much larger debt problem.

Conservatives and Liberals Agree: Government Should Not Worsen Inequality

Conservatives tend to be much more worried about debt than liberals. Given the fact that – as shown above – runaway inequality fuels debt, conservatives should be against policies that make inequality even worse. As I noted in July:

Inequality in the United States is at insane levels. Inequality among Americas is worse than in Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen. As NPR notes, inequality is higher in the U.S. than in many banana republics in Latin America. And social mobility is lower in America than in most European countries (and see thisthis and this).

In fact, most conservatives already are against insane levels of inequality.

BBC Speechless As Trader Tells The Truth: “Governments Don’t Rule The World, Goldman Sachs Rules The World.”

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Oldspeak:”The collapse is coming…The market is toast, the stock market is finishedThe savings of millions of people is going to vanish….This economic crisis is like a cancer, if you just wait and wait hoping it is going to go away, just like a cancer it is going to grow and it will be too late. -Alessio Rastani. In a moment of utter candor, we glimpse a sliver or reality than very few publicly acknowledge. While this man is in all probability a sociopath, he’s articulating an elusive truth. Making incessant changes around the edges of a fatally flawed monetary system will do nothing to change or improve it. It will just postpone its inevitable collapse. This man and many like him would like nothing better than to see a full-fledged global depression. So they can profit from it. These are the people who control governments, topple them, build them up, manipulate them with hidden in plain sight financial terrorism. These amoral, anti-humanistic, ‘happiness machines’ care very little about people. They trade ‘commodities’ like food, energy, water, and farmland, with little regard for the devastatingly real life impacts their digitized keystrokes have on the lives of billions of human beings. This is why people are camped out on Wall Street. As Mr. Rastini says, their job is to make money. The rest of us, can get on board with their nihilistic, sociopathic worldview, or get fucked. “Profit Is Paramount.”

Madison Ruppert @ Activist Post:

In a surprisingly blunt interview aired on the BBC, an independent trader admits that he “dreams of another recession” since some people can prepare and treat a market crash as an opportunity to “make a lot of money from this.”

What exactly is “this”? Well, according to Alessio Rastani, “this” is the inevitable crash in the markets that is headed our way. Rastani, an independent trader, does not treat the crash of the Euro and the stock market as a possibility. He treats it as an inevitability.

He pulls no punches in this interview and it is clear that the BBC presenter is shocked by what he has to say.  When asked what would keep investors happy and mitigate the economic crisis currently unfolding, Rastani reveals, “Personally, it doesn’t matter. See, I’m a trader. Uh, I don’t really care about that kind of stuff.”

He continues, “If I see an opportunity to make money, I go with that. So, for mosttraders, it’s not about… we don’t really care that much how they’re going to fix the economy, how they’re going to fix the, uh, the whole situation. Our job is to make money from it.”

I’ve never heard a trader come right out on mainstream media and lay it out in such a plain way.

Indeed he is correct, a traders job is to make money. Period. A trader need not worry about what will be done to fix an economic crash because as long as they are making money, they couldn’t care less.

This is something that the mainstream media likes to pretend is not the case, as though investors actually have an interest in keeping the stock market and the global economy afloat. This is simply untrue as Rastani reveals.

Traders and investors are just like corporations, they are only interested in the bottom line. If this means profiting off of an economic downturn while their neighbors are foreclosed on and their entire nation is robbed blind then so be it. As long as the cash keeps coming in, who cares?

Speaking of the current global economic meltdown unfolding around us, Rastani says, “I’ve been dreaming of this one for three years.”

He also reveals the mindset of many a trader in saying, “I go to bed every night, I dream of another recession. I dream of another moment like this.”

He then gives the example of the market crash of the 1930s which was not only a market crash, but an opportunity for some people to make a lot of money.

After his frank statements the presenter says, “If you could see the people around me, jaws have collectively dropped at what you’ve just said.” I guess she wasn’t expecting him to tell the truth.

She says, “We appreciate your candor, however it doesn’t help the rest of us, the rest of the Eurozone.”

Rastani then likens the economic crisis to a cancer, telling us that if we wait and wait, it will be too late.

He recommends that everyone prepare while also saying that this is not a time for wishful thinking, hoping for government to ride in like a white knight and save the day.

Then he drops the biggest bombshell of the entire interview.

In a statement that likely sent BBC producers into a frenzy, Rastani stated, “The governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world. Goldman Sachs does not care about this rescue package, neither does the big funds.”

He gives the average person a bit of hope in saying that it isn’t just traders and investors that can make money off of an economic downturn.

Rastani says that average people need to learn how to make money from a downward market. The first thing people need to do is protect their assets, what they already have.

Rastani concludes with this grim projection, “In less than 12 months, my prediction is, the savings of millions of people is going to vanish. And this is just the beginning.”

He continues, “I would say, be prepared and act now. The biggest risk people can take right now is not acting.”

You can find Alessio Rastani on Facebook here.

Update: Some are saying this was a Yes Men hoax.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at admin@EndtheLie.com

What If The Tea Party Occupied Wall Street?

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

You wouldn't know much about the continued occupation of Wall Street by thousands of activists from the corporate media--outlets that seem much more interested in protests of the Tea Party variety. (photo: pweiskel08) The anti-corporate protests have been lightly covered.

Oldspeak:” “People are down on Wall Street right now, holding a sit-in and a camp-in down there–virtually no news about this protest.” -Michael Moore. “So five days of clogging downtown Manhattan, protesting corporate control of the economy, and you haven’t heard a word about it on the news? If that’s a Tea Party protest in front of Wall Street about Ben Bernanke…it’s the lead story on every network newscast.” -Keith Olberman. Not atal a shocker that anti-corporate protests are largely ignored in corporate media. Corporate media focuses its attention on corporate funded anti-government protests like those of the tea party, with the goal of diverting the people’s attention away from real and deep flaws with a hopelessly corrupt financial system, coincidentally controlled, owned and operated by the corporatocracy.” “Freedom is Slavery”

By Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

In an action called Occupy Wall Street, thousands of activists took to the streets of Lower Manhattan on September 17.

The protests are continuing, with demonstrators camped out on the Financial District’s Liberty Street in support of U.S. democratization and against corporate domination of politics (Adbusters9/19/11).

But you wouldn’t know much about any of this from the corporate media–outlets that seem much more interested in protests of the Tea Party variety.

The anti-corporate protests have been lightly covered in the hometown New York Times: One piece (9/18/11) largely about how the police blocked access to Wall Street, and one photo (9/22/11) with the caption “Wall Street Protest Whirls On.”

The protests have been treated with brief mentions on CNN, like this one from host Wolf Blitzer (9/19/11): “Protests here in New York on Wall Street entering a third day. Should New Yorkers be worried at all about what’s going on?”

From the ABCCBS and NBC network news, we could find nothing at all in the Nexis news database. On the PBS NewsHour (9/19/11), the protests got a brief reference, tacked on to the end of the stock market report:

Away from the trading floor, some 200 protesters marched for a third day, charging the financial system favors corporations. At least six people were arrested.
Some voices in the media have noted the lack of coverage. On the Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC9/19/11), Michael Moore said, “People are down on Wall Street right now, holding a sit-in and a camp-in down there–virtually no news about this protest.”

At the top of his Current TV show (9/21/11), Keith Olberman said:

So five days of clogging downtown Manhattan, protesting corporate control of the economy, and you haven’t heard a word about it on the news?
He later remarked, “If that’s a Tea Party protest in front of Wall Street about Ben Bernanke…it’s the lead story on every network newscast.”

The media preference for Tea Party gatherings over progressive activism is well-documented. A September 2009 Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C., garnered far more coverage than a similar gay rights rally the following month (Extra!12/09). Thousands of activists at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit in June 2010 did not merit anywhere near the coverage accorded to 600 attendees at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville (Extra!9/10). The One Nation Working Together rally (10/2/10) brought thousands to Washington– but little media attention (FAIR Media Advisory, 10/6/10).

And even the size of a given Tea Party gathering does not seem to much matter. When about 200 Tea Partiers gathered in Washington earlier this year (FAIR Blog4/1/11), an account in Slate (3/31/11) noted, “There was at least one reporter for every three or four activists.”

The answer to the problem of non-coverage would seem to be simple: If the people occupying Wall Street want more media attention, they should just call themselves Tea Party activists.

ACTION:
Ask the nightly newscasts why they have decided to give little to no coverage to the Occupy Wall Street protests– especially given their interest in Tea Party demonstrations.

CONTACT:

NBC Nightly News
nightly@nbc.com
212-664-4971

ABC World News
Feedback form

CBS Evening News

evening@cbsnews.com
212-975-3247

PBS NewsHour
onlineda@newshour.org
703-998-2138

High Stakes Testing In Public Schools: Who’s Cheating Whom?

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Oldspeak:”Corporate school privatizers feign disgust with teachers that cheat standardized tests. But Big Business theft of  public education is by far the greater sin. High stakes testing was designed as a Trojan Horse for a corporate educational takeover, but packaged as a public good. This is the substance of education “reform” in the Age of Obama. The real cheats are those that pushed high stakes testing under the false pretexts of reform, when the actual goal was union busting and privatization” -Glen Ford. Rather than deal with the entrenched, institutionalized, centuries old social and structural problems which are driving many of the problems we see today with public education (poverty, inequality, racism, “banking system of eduction“), many “reformers” would rather privatize the system, automate it via ‘standardized testing’ and turn it into a perpetual revenue stream, with little regard for actual effective learning. Churning out widgets to plug into private corporations who in turn “sponsor” education “reform” and further increase their profits. A self perpetuating meat-grinder, with children being the meat.  A less educated, less competent, less critically thinking society of all-consuming “happiness machines” with no love of learning. Who see education as a means to an end (more education = more money = more consumption = more prescribed ‘happiness’) not as means of personal growth and development.  Sucesssive generations will be less and less equipped to critiscize and question the system which is failing them. Alas yet again, in then end, ‘We the People’ loseand the corporatocracy wins. “Freedom Is Slavery”

By Glen Ford @ Black Agenda Report:

The school privatizers now headquartered in the Obama administration are all pitching a morality fit over teachers that cheat by altering answers on standardized tests. Corporate privatizers, of course, have no real sense of morality beyond profit and loss: their own profit, and to hell with those that lose. But, when attacking institutions so historically revered as public education and the teaching profession, one must play dirty. You’ve got to get them on a morals charge.

The assault on public schools began with the blanket assertion that teachers – or, more precisely, teachers unions – are out for themselves; that they are sinfully selfish. Strange words, from the lips of corporate executives and free marketeers who preach that the highest virtues are revealed in the cutthroat corridors of commerce. Then again, pots and kettles are always calling everybody else black.

So, they slimed the teachers as the root of all that ails public education, teachers whose moral deficits could be corrected by rigorous competition regulated by standardized testing of students. If the students failed the tests, then the teachers would fail and be discharged, and the schools they worked in would also fail, and be replaced by privatized charters. High stakes testing was designed as a Trojan Horse for a corporate educational takeover, but packaged as a public good. Bad teachers and bad schools would come to a well-deserved bad end.

This morality play was always based on a lie. The standardized tests were bombs, designed to explode the public schools and the teaching profession. Everyone involved knew that inner city kids would fail the tests in huge numbers, setting the infernal machine in motion for the closing of schools and the wholesale firing of teachers. In their place would be recruited a new workforce that would either view teaching as a temporary job or cut every other teacher’s throat in order to stay – neither of which redounds to the benefit of students or anyone else but the bosses. This is the substance of education “reform” in the Age of Obama.

Faced with extinction of their jobs and their very profession, and with a teacher’s learned certainty that many of their students would be pushed into marginality by the testing juggernaut, teachers turned to cheating the test. They have been caught and shamed and may face prosecution in Atlanta and Philadelphia and elsewhere, but cheating the test surely occurs in virtually every inner city. I don’t think it’s cheating, in a moral sense, at all. The cheats are those that pushed high stakes testing under the false pretexts of reform, when the actual goal was union busting and privatization. Teachers are fighting for their lives, and all of us would cheat death, if we could.

The school privatizers are determined, not just to bust the teachers unions, but to remake teachers as corporate citizens. A schools superintendent in New Jersey said part of the difficulty for teachers under the new order is that they “are more concerned about relationships than about achieving more than one another.” When he gives teachers awards, he says, they won’t display them because “they don’t want to outshine one another.” His teachers would rather collaborate and cooperate to achieve a common goal. And that’s why they’ve got to change, or go.

© 2011 Black Agenda Report

Glen Ford

Back Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Yahoo Censored Email Messages About “Occupy Wall Street” Protests

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Yahoo blocks users from sending e-mails about the OccupyWallSt.org website with a message claiming "suspicious activity"

Oldspeak:”Wow. Big Brother Is Watching You. Yahoo’s email censorship policies perfected in China are now being implemented in the U.S. If you choose to transmit links to a website Yahoo finds objectionable, your actions are  labeled “Suspicious Activity” and your ability communicate it is denied. “It’s not the first time Yahoo has been accused of political censorship. Yahoo officially partners with the repressive Chinese regime to provide the government with access to emails related to groups viewed as dissidents. An explosive investigation by Der Spiegel found that Yahoo provided Chinese authorities with access to emails from journalists, and the snooping resulted in the same journalists being sent to prison camps” -Lee Fang The Thought Police are getting more and more brazen in theirs efforts to manipulate and control everything you think, see, hear and feel.  Yahoo has since explained away the censorship as “Unintentional”. One can only wonder how long the “error” would have persisted if someone hadn’t called them on it. “Ignorance is Strength”.

By Lee Fang @ Think Progress:

Thinking about e-mailing your friends and neighbors about the protests against Wall Street happening right now? If you have a Yahoo e-mail account, think again. ThinkProgress has reviewed claims that Yahoo is censoring e-mails relating to the protest and found that after several attempts on multiple accounts, we too were prevented from sending messages about the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.

Over the weekend, thousands gathered for a “Tahrir Square”-style protest of Wall Street’s domination of American politics. The protesters, organized online and by organizations like Adbusters, have called their effort “Occupy Wall Street” and have set up the website: www.OccupyWallSt.org. However, several YouTube users posted videos of themselves trying to email a message inviting their friends to visit the Occupy Wall St campaign website, only to be blocked repeatedly by Yahoo. View a video of ThinkProgress making the attempt with the same blocked message experienced by others (click full screen for a better view of the text):

ThinkProgress tried other protest websites, like AmericansforProsperity.org and TeaPartyPatriots.org, and both messages were sent smoothly. However, emails relating to the OccupyWallSt.org protest were blocked with the following message (emphasis added):

Your message was not sent
Suspicious activity has been detected on your account. To protect your account and our users, your message has not been sent.
If this error continues, please contact Yahoo! Customer Care for further help.
We apologize for the inconvenience.

ThinkProgress has sent a request for more information to Yahoo, and will post any reply once we have received it with Yahoo’s explanation for its apparent censorship.

It’s not the first time Yahoo has been accused of political censorship. Yahoo officially partners with the repressive Chinese regime to provide the government with access to emails related to groups viewed as dissidents. An explosive investigation by Der Spiegel found that Yahoo provided Chinese authorities with access to emails from journalists, and the snooping resulted in the same journalists being sent to prison camps.

The Occupy Wall Street protests have continued, but if you own a Yahoo e-mail account, you might not know about it.

Update 

We’re continuing to monitor Yahoo’s mail service and have now been able to send messages containing the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” and its website on some Yahoo accounts. On other accounts, however, Yahoo is still blocking the messages.

Update

Yahoo’s customer care Twitter account acknowledges blocking the emails, but says it was an unintentional error:

“We apologize 4 blocking ‘occupywallst.org’ It was not intentional & caught by our spam filters. It is resolved, but may be a residual delay.”

Yahoo’s main Twitter account adds:

“Thanks to @YahooMail users & @ThinkProgress for catching problem w/ #Occupywallst.org mail. Prob is fixed, but there may be residual delays.”

“Occupy Wall Street” Protest Continues, With Wall Street Declared “Off Limits” By NYPD

In Uncategorized on September 19, 2011 at 11:26 am

People protest during the 'Occupy Wall Street' rally at Bowling Green Plaza on 17 September

Oldspeak:“Freedom of assembly:  the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. The right to freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political freedom and a civil liberty. EXCEPT when the NYPD says not today. You’re rights to dissent, protest and petition your government with grievences are being continually and relentlessly constricted and eroded. An entire section of NYC was literally declared off limits by the Praetorian Guard of Empire, to dissuade  5,000 people from voicing their displeasure with this malfunctioning monetary/capitalist system that allows billions to starve, millions to be thrown out of their their homes, the perpetual fleecing of the poor, spectacular and immoral inequality, and attacks and silences those who dare to demand something different.” “Freedom Is Slavery”.

By Micah White and Kalle Lasn @ The Guardian U.K

On Saturday 17 September, many of us watched in awe as 5,000 Americans descended on to the financial district of lower Manhattan, waved signs, unfurled banners, beat drums, chanted slogans and proceeded to walk towards the “financial Gomorrah” of the nation. They vowed to “Occupy Wall Street” and to “bring justice to the bankers”, but the New York police thwarted their efforts temporarily, locking down the symbolic street with barricades and checkpoints.

Undeterred, protesters walked laps around the area before holding a people’s assembly and setting up a semi-permanent protest encampment in a park on Liberty Street, a stone’s throw from Wall Street and a block from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Three hundred spent the night, several hundred reinforcements arrived the next day and as we write this article, the encampment is rolling out sleeping bags once again. When they tweeted to the world that they were hungry, a nearby pizzeria received $2,800 in orders for delivery in a single hour. Emboldened by an outpouring of international solidarity, these American indignados said they’d be there to greet the bankers when the stock market opened on Monday. It looks like, for now, the police don’t think they can stop them. ABC News reports that “even though the demonstrators don’t have a permit for the protest, [the New York police department says that] they have no plans to remove those protesters who seem determined to stay on the streets.” Organisers on the ground say, “we’re digging in for a long-term occupation“.

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET was inspired by the people’s assemblies of Spain and floated as a concept by a double-page poster in the 97th issue of Adbusters magazine, but it was spearheaded, orchestrated and accomplished by independent activists. It all started when Adbusters asked its network of culture jammers to flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens and peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. The idea caught on immediately on social networks and unaffiliated activists seized the meme and built an open-source organising site. A few days later, a general assembly was held in New York City and 150 people showed up. These activists became the core organisers of the occupation. The mystique of Anonymous pushed the meme into the mainstream media. Their videocommunique endorsing the action garnered 100,000 views and a warning from theDepartment of Homeland Security addressed to the nation’s bankers. When, in August, the indignados of Spain sent word that they would be holding a solidarity event in Madrid’s financial district, activists in Milan, Valencia, London, Lisbon, Athens, San Francisco, Madison, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Israel and beyond vowed to do the same.

There is a shared feeling on the streets around the world that the global economy is a Ponzi scheme run by and for Big Finance. People everywhere are waking up to the realisation that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system in which speculative financial transactions add up, each day, to $1.3tn (50 times more than the sum of all the commercial transactions). Meanwhile, according to a United Nations report, “in the 35 countries for which data exist, nearly 40% of jobseekers have been without work for more than one year”.

“CEOs, the biggest corporations, and the wealthy are taking too much from our country and I think it’s time for us to take back,” said one activist who joined the protests last Saturday. Jason Ahmadi, who travelled in from Oakland, California explained that “a lot of us feel there is a large crisis in our economy and a lot of it is caused by the folks who do business here”. Bill Steyerd, a Vietnam veteran from Queens, said “it’s a worthy cause because people on Wall Street are blood-sucking warmongers”.

There is not just anger. There is also a sense that the standard solutions to the economic crisis proposed by our politicians and mainstream economists – stimulus, cuts, debt, low interest rates, encouraging consumption – are false options that will not work. Deeper changes are needed, such as a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions; reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act in the US; implementing a ban onhigh-frequency “flash” trading. The “too big to fail” banks must be broken up, downsized and made to serve the people, the economy and society again. The financial fraudsters responsible for the 2008 meltdown must be brought to justice. Then there is the long-term mother of all solutions: a total rethinking of western consumerism that throws into question how we measure progress.

If the current economic woes in Europe and the US spiral into a prolonged global recession, people’s encampments will become a permanent fixtures at financial districts and outside stock markets around the world. Until our demands are met and the global economic regime is fundamentally reformed, our tent cities will keep popping up.

Bravo to those courageous souls in the encampment on New York’s Liberty Street. Every night that #OCCUPYWALLSTREET continues will escalate the possibility of a full-fledged global uprising against business as usual.

 

The Bin Laden Cover-Up: Pentagon Scrubbed Documents To Hide Truth About Tracking Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, Taliban Before 9/11

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Oldspeak:” In light of recent calls by officials to reopen investigations into the attacks, more holes poked in the “Official Story of 9/11″. Apparently the Pentagon’s Asymmetric Threats Division had a pretty good idea where Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Shaykh Muhammed resided and planned the attacks, determined that the “most likely buildings to be attacked in the U.S.” were the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and were told to stop tracking Bin Laden, suspected al-Qaeda terrorists, and members of the Taliban some months prior to 9/11. And a subsequent Department of Defense Inspector General’s Report attempted to cover up these facts. I wonder what else they’re not telling us? O_o No mention of this in all the 10th anniversary tributes and TV specials.” “Ignorance is Strength”.

By Jeffrey Kaye and Jason Leopold @ Truthout:

Senior Pentagon officials scrubbed key details about a top-secret military intelligence unit’s efforts in tracking Osama bin Laden and suspected al-Qaeda terrorists from official reports they prepared for a Congressional committee probing the 9/11 terrorist attacks, new documents obtained by Truthout reveal.

Moreover, in what appears to be an attempt to cover up the military unit’s intelligence work, a September 2008 Defense Department (DoD) Inspector General’s (IG) report that probed complaints lodged by the former deputy chief of the military unit in question, the Asymmetrical Threats Division of Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC), also known as DO5, about the crucial information withheld from Congress, claimed “the tracking of Usama Bin Ladin did not fall within JFIC’s mission.”

But the IG’s assertion is untrue, according to the documents obtained by Truthout, undercutting the official narrative about who knew what and when in the months leading up to 9/11.

Much of JFIC’s work on al-Qaeda and Bin Laden remains shrouded in secrecy and has not been cited in media reports revolving around pre-9/11 intelligence, which has focused heavily over the past decade on CIA and FBI “intelligence failures.” Only a few details about the military intelligence unit have surfaced since then, notably in two previous reports published recently by Truthout.

JFIC was the intelligence component of United States Joint Forces Command (JFCOM). In 2005, it was renamed the Joint Intelligence Command for Intelligence. Last month, JFCOM was shuttered, reportedly due to Pentagon budget cuts, and as a subcommand, JFIC was believed to have been disbanded along with it.

Truthout had previously reported that the deputy chief of JFIC’s Asymmetrical Threats Division, who is identified in government documents by the code name “Iron Man,” had produced “numerous original reports, with original imagery, measurements & signatures intelligence, or electronic intelligence, identifying probably [sic] and possible movements and locations of Usama bin Ladin and [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar.” The intelligence included “bin Ladin’s likely residence in Qandahar … evidently the house in which Khalid Shaykh Muhammed planned the 9/11 attacks.”

However, Iron Man, whose unit also developed original intelligence on al-Qaeda targets, which determined that the “most likely buildings to be attacked in the U.S.” were the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, claimed JFIC was told to stop tracking Bin Laden, suspected al-Qaeda terrorists, and members of the Taliban some months prior to 9/11.

Iron Man further alleged that the orders his unit received, as well as the work it conducted, was knowingly withheld from investigators working for the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, who were tasked with probing the circumstances behind the 9/11 attacks.

When the DoD’s watchdog prepared its report following an investigation into Iron Man’s complaints, the IG concluded Iron Man’s most explosive allegations related to the withholding of intelligence from Congress was  unfounded. But a close look at the report reveals it is rife with numerous factual errors.

The appendices in the IG’s report shows significant changes were made to JFIC’s original responses to Congressional investigators about its pre-9/11 intelligence work on al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Bin Laden. The information regarding the military unit’s work turned over to Congress described a substantially attenuated picture of JFIC’s operations.

The report determined “operational information in response to the 9/11 Commission” about Asymmetrical Threats Division had not been withheld. Yet, Iron Man had charged the information was withheld from Congressional investigators probing the 9/11 attacks, not the independent 9/11 commission. The IG’s report repeatedly confused the two investigative bodies.

Additionally, while the IG did confirm that Asymmetrical Threats Division analysts were told to stop tracking Bin Laden, suspected al-Qaeda terrorists and members of the Taliban, the watchdog determined that the Asymmetrical Threat Division had “not completed original intelligence reporting” and that “JFIC did not” specifically have a “mission to track Usama bin Ladin or predict imminent US targets.” (Emphasis added.)

In attempting to refute Iron Man’s claims about JFIC’s work, the IG’s report stated, “the 9/11 Commission questions were very specific and asked for information which involved the ‘imminent attack’ or ‘hijackers involved.’ Evidence indicated that the JFIC did not have knowledge regarding imminent domestic targets prior to 9/11 or specific 9/11 hijacker operations.”

But Truthout has learned that the definition of “hijackers,” as perceived by the Joint Forces Command and Joint Forces Intelligence Command, was overly restrictive. The definition of “hijackers” only referred to the hijackers in the planes and not the alleged planners, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or Bin Laden, which the intelligence unit considered to be part of the team of hijackers.

Messages left for Gary Comerford, a spokesman for the Inspector General, were not returned. Officials who helped prepare the report referred questions to Comerford’s office.

Revealing New Documents

Iron Man, who requested anonymity in order to protect his family’s privacy, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 2006 seeking a copy of the complaint he filed with the IG, which was marked classified, and other secret documents pertaining to JFIC’s duties. He received a copy of his complaint in April, just a few weeks prior to the death of Bin Laden. That document, as well as the IG’s findings, formed the basis of Truthout’s two previous reports on JFIC’s activities.

Over the past month, Iron Man provided Truthout with other documents he received in response to his FOIA request, which shed additional light on JFIC’s work and calls into question the veracity of the IG’s investigation and conclusions into the charges Iron Man had leveled.

Iron Man provided Truthout with copies of a slide presentation that was used for a briefing held for the head of counterintelligence and counterterrorism at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). The date of the meeting could not be confirmed.

Jeffrey Kaye is a psychologist active in the anti-torture movement. He works clinically with torture victims at Survivors International in San Francisco, CA. His blog is Invictus; as “Valtin,” he also regularly blogs at Daily Kos, Docudharma, American Torture, Progressive Historians, and elsewhere. 

Jason Leopold is Deputy Managing Editor at Truthout

 

Why Are Men Obsessed With Being Tough? How Unrealistic Expectations Hurt Men And Women

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Oldspeak:“Like women, men are pushed to obsess over unrealistic ways of looking and acting. And that hurts everyone. ‘It’s a worthwhile conversation for all of us because men’s anxiety about their appearance and men’s fear of not measuring up to an unattainable standard is the great unspoken problem in the fight against body dysmorphia, against eating disorders, against low self-esteem and so many other things. For men, the enemy is softness. When a man wants to put another man down, he’ll often say “he’s soft.” And that means both physically and almost psychically. So for guys, the obsession is being hard, which means being badass, which means being tough—it means being physically hard in terms of what people can see in your body, it means being sexually able to perform on command because that’s what they see increasingly in pornography, and it’s this tremendous fear of weakness.’ -Hugo Schwyzer Fascinating discussion on the cultural and social psychological implications of maleness and how it drives behavior, socialization, and perception.”

 

By Cristen Conger @ Bitch Magazine: 

Before I got too much farther in “Isn’t He Lovely,” I figured it would be a good idea to chat with a male about this whole “male beauty” business. Hugo Schwyzer is a proud feminist, the Gender and Sexuality Editor over at The Good Men Project, and a professor of history and gender studies at Pasadena City College. Schwyzer fielded questions about how the beauty myth applies to young men these days, how body image standards affect non-white and non-straight men, the intersection of male grooming and dress, and the modern male’s latent fear of developing “man boobs.”

Bitch: Do you think we even need to have a conversation about male beauty and body image? Is it relevant?

Schwyzer: Absolutely, it’s a worthwhile conversation. It’s a worthwhile conversation for all of us because men’s anxiety about their appearance and men’s fear of not measuring up to an unattainable standard is the great unspoken problem in the fight against body dysmorphia, against eating disorders, against low self-esteem and so many other things.

And it’s correlated to a lot of very unhealthy, very destructive behavior by men. As anyone who works in the field of domestic violence and violence prevention will surely attest, lack of confidence and anxiety are hallmarks of predators. That certainly doesn’t mean that every guy who has low self-esteem about his body is a predator, but it does mean that most guys who are abusive are also facing a whole host of other social pressures that include negative feelings about body image and a lot of rage and anger about that.

Bitch: How would you describe “the beauty myth” as it applies to men?

Schwyzer:  The constant that we see in the last 15 or 20 years isn’t a particular look, although certainly hairless, waxed, and pumped-up is very popular. What it is, is hardness. The ideal is hardness. If you look at men’s magazines today, what is the advertising all about? It’s about building muscle, and it’s about getting and maintaining a stronger erection. What do they have in common? Hardness.

And it’s men’s fear of being soft, like women’s fear of fat. For men, the enemy is softness. When a man wants to put another man down, he’ll often say “he’s soft.” And that means both physically and almost psychically. So for guys, the obsession is being hard, which means being badass, which means being tough—it means being physically hard in terms of what people can see in your body, it means being sexually able to perform on command because that’s what they see increasingly in pornography, and it’s this tremendous fear of weakness.

That’s the real ideal because it’s not just a particular look; there can be some variation in that. It isn’t just “The Situation” and his abs. There is some diversity, but it’s always hard.

Bitch: In response to a study finding correlations between male media consumption and negative body image, Deborah Tolman of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality in San Francisco told MSNBC: “For boys and men, engaging with these media images [that promote unrealistic beauty standards] is more of a choice.” Do you think that young men are somehow more immune to these media messages, or are they just not talking about it?

Schwyzer: It reminds me a lot of what people were saying 25 years ago when I was first starting out when people said that anorexia and eating disorders were a white girl problem and that black and Latina girls didn’t have body image issues. And I had feminists of color tell me that when I was the young man in the room. The research has shown that, in fact, what happened? That anorexia and eating disorders were a predominantly white issue and metastasized to effect almost every community. Part of that was because of the mainstreaming of the white ideal, and part of that was because people weren’t doing the research on young women of color, so it remained invisible, and a lot of them got silenced about it.

A: We haven’t done enough research on this.

B: The pressure to achieve perfection is newer for guys than it is for young women.

C: Absolutely, guys are reluctant to talk about this.

Bitch: Statistically, a majority of girls don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror, and culturally we associate body dissatisfaction and appearance dissatisfaction with females. But would you expect the same to be true for boys and we just aren’t addressing it?

Schwyzer: Yes, but sometimes, you just have to get it more specific. When you talk about vague dissatisfaction with the whole body, that’s different that dissatisfaction with one area of the body. Both men and women are likely to name a “problem area,” but I think men are more likely to not say “I dislike my body” because that sounds feminine, but to say “I wish I had a bigger chest” or “I’m ashamed of my flabby belly,” or the classic one I hear from a lot of guys now, “I’m so scared I have man boobs.”

The anxiety about “man boobs,” which is obviously charged with [so many gender issues], that’s the huge one. That’s one of the biggest anxieties that I encounter. My friends who are trainers say that’s the number one question they get from new male clients: What can I do to get rid of my “man boobs”?

Men can be merciless to each other about that. And of course the culture of waxing and hair removal, there’s less to disguise. For guys, the hair removal and going through that waxing can be a very painful thing.

Bitch: Aside from the image of these sculpted, hairless chests, how is popular culture misleading young men about what they “should” look like and how they “should” perform masculinity?

Schwyzer: It’s a difficult one because it’s supposed to look effortless. And one of the things that happens is that vanity gets re-imagined, or reframed as dedication.

Take the [extreme exercise regimens] P90X and Insanity: How do they market themselves to guys? They don’t say “you’ll look so hot, you’ll look amazing.” They say, “you’ll look ripped, but above all, you’re going to prove your dedication.” It gets reframed as a masculine ritual—the dedication, the pressure. It’s almost like you’re going through your own personal Marine boot camp where you become a man. So it becomes a ritualized way of becoming more of a man, rather than just a guy, just a boy.

Your focus on building your pecs isn’t about looking hot because that would be feminine; it’s about being stronger and tougher and more masculine and proving that you can be dedicated to something and stick with it. And isn’t it a happy byproduct that you look awesome—because you can’t admit that that’s what the real driving force is.

Bitch: In that case, it seems like a big difference between beauty marketing toward women and men is that with women, the message is external, that other people will find you more attractive, whereas for men, it’s all about pumping up the self.

Schwyzer: Exactly. It’s self-centered in terms of meeting your own ideal, becoming the man you want to be. This all started with the Army 20, 25 years ago, when they went with the most brilliant advertising slogan ever: “Be All You Can Be.” They don’t even use that anymore. Now, they use “An Army of One,” which is the same damn thing. They decided to stop selling patriotism because that was old school and start selling personal transformation, and that was absolute genius.

Horatio Alger self-improvement obsession like that is so much a part of American masculinity: the endless desire to prove yourself, to make yourself, to transform yourself.

Bitch: What about this cultural homophobia that seems to exist regarding male grooming? There seems to be a fine line between a man caring about his appearance and a man caring too much.

Schwyzer: And knowing what that line is is very dependent on what group you’re in. And that’s why it’s helpful to have things like P90X and the gym and other things where you’re allowed to do this, where this is OK because I’m working on this.

When it comes to grooming, it gets reframed as an issue of competence. If you look at shaving advertisement, a guy whose got razor burn or a missed spot isn’t less attractive, it’s “Oh, dude, he screwed it up.” What do we say about a guy who’s really well put together? We don’t say he looks “hot; he looks “sharp.” He looks “tight.” When you’re working it, and, literally working it. It’s a job; it’s maintenance. But it’s about demonstrating competence. You’re not a dandy. You’re not feminine in the sense that you’re looking to be gazed at and desired. You’re demonstrating that you know how to put this together. I got the most awesome shave; I’m tight.
There are a lot of complicated permutations to that.

Bitch: What about the role of men of color? Do we need more conversations around how the “straight, white male” standard applies to and affects them?

Schwyzer: Yes, and with the recognition that these mean different things. The black male body and the Asian male body—all I have to do is say those phrases, and it brings to mind a whole host of stereotypes.

For black men, a lot of this is tripled and pushed even harder. There’s this myth out there that black men have all the attributes of white men, and more so.  From being sexual super performers to stereotypically being better athletes to having bigger muscles, able to pack on muscle more easily. And of course, we have the exact reverse stereotype about young Asian men and their bodies.

So, yes, all of these pressures exist, but they exist in an enhanced way in the lives of young men of color. They don’t escape that at all. And for black men, for example, the closer you come to achieving the ideal, the more praise you get, but also the more threatening you become. Your body is an object of desire, but it’s also an object of such extraordinary cultural fear and anxiety.

Bitch: A number of studies have shown that gay men tend to adhere to an even more hypermuscular body ideal than heterosexual men. Might that have to do with a greater cultural pressure gay men might feel to perform masculinity?

Schwyzer: I think that’s fair to say. And where you really notice it is among older men. Among young guys today, body image anxiety is so high that I’m not sure that if you were to take a bunch of 18-year-olds, that an 18-year-old straight guy and an 18-year-old gay guy would have different ideals for themselves. They may have different sexual fantasies, but their sense of what they need to do to be sexually attractive is probably the same.

Older gay men, because they live in so much more of an ageist culture, and there’s a lot of well-known ageism in gay male culture, do continue to feel this anxiety. I think that young gay men and young straight men feel similar levels of anxiety simply because young straight men have caught up to where young gay men have always been in terms of this worry.

You can read more from Hugo Schwyzer over at The Good Men Project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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