Everyone at work seemed preoccupied with celebrating “their” electoral victory today, so I decided to preoccupy myself by making these.
If you voted for Obama, you not only registered your approval of the things you like, you also officially condoned the many atrocities he’s committed and corrupt policies he’s championed. Congratulations, you’re an accomplice to heinous acts.
If this offends you, there’s hope for you yet.
May 08, 2012
By: Roger Esquivel
The perception of the anarchist threat to the safety of US citizens reached a new level during this year’s May Day events when self-proclaimed anarchists are alleged to have attempted to blow up a bridge in Cleveland, Ohio.
The evolution of the anarchist threat to this level of sophistication serves as an alarm to what the threat could become in the coming months and years. In joining the ongoing threat posed by jihadists, and the re-emerging threats posed by right-wing violence, anarchists are poised to become the third element of terrorism in the 21st century.
On May Day, along with marches and protests by the Occupy movement across the US and abroad, the FBI foiled an alleged bombing attack planned by self-proclaimed anarchists in Ohio. Reports indicate the would-be bombers did not spontaneously plan the attack, but rather the plot allegedly had been known about for some time.
The five avowed anarchists first came to the attention of law enforcement when they began attending protests in October, 2011. They are alleged to have expressed disappointment with the lack of violence at Occupy Cleveland protests in late 2011, where they spent their time dressed in masks similar to the Black Bloc that has caused so much damage since the Occupy movement began. One of the suspects, according to the federal government’s criminal complaint, claimed his goal was to spread as much rioting and cause as much destruction as possible in every major city. The group’s plans allegedly included attacking banks and a center for joint law enforcement operations in Cleveland.
Anarchist violence is nothing new in the West, and such groups on the left have proven extremely violent in the past. In the 19th century, one of the first terrorist manuals written involving improvised explosive devices came from the anarchist, Johann Most.
Originally from Germany, Most spent time in Britain and the United States where he incited and participated in anarchist terrorist activities. Seeking to increase the tactical and tradecraft knowledge of anarchists in Austria and Germany, Most recorded his expertise in the manual, The Science of Revolutionary Warfare, that he penned in 1884.
Johann Most served as but one figure in the 19th century anarchist movement that claimed the lives of civilians, politicians, police and others up until the outbreak of World War I.
Ideology similar to that of the 19th century anarchists emerged again in the second half of the 20th century in the form of Italy’s Red Brigades. In the 1970s, under the leadership of Antonio Negri and Mario Moretti, the Red Brigades committed crimes ranging from shootings and protests, to bombings, kidnappings, bank robbery and assassination.
What particularly stands out about the Red Brigades is that despite their Communist label, the group actually viewed noted Italian Communists and Socialists as too conservative. So much so that they physically attacked both Socialist and Communist Italians on more than one occasion – attacks that included bombings of their homes and offices.
The Red Brigades hold special connection to the Occupy movement through the figure of Antonio Negri. As the leader of the Red Brigades in Italy in the 1970s, Negri had involvement in a number of terrorist activities, including the assassination of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro.
Negri’s ideology states there’s no difference between liberal democracies and fascist states. Put on trial for Moro’s assassination, Negri denied his influence over the Red Brigades by claiming freedom of expression. When he was elected to parliament, disgusted MPs convened a vote to have him arrested again, only to find he’d fled to France. The elderly Negri remains an influential figure in the international anti-capitalist movement from which the Occupy movement derives, and he writes in support of its ideas and activities.
There’s a risk that figures like Negri, violent Black Bloc demonstrators and would-be anarchist bombers such as the five arrested last week for allegedly attempting to destroy a bridge in Cleveland, will succeed in hijacking an otherwise peaceful protest movement.
As America’s economy begins to look more like that of Europe, the economic dynamics that largely gave rise to the Occupy movement are not likely do disappear anytime soon. And in order to protect peaceful protestors and civilians and prevent accidental police overreach, new strategies like those displayed by the FBI in unearthing the alleged Ohio bomb plots are required. The use of informers and human assets inside terrorist cells were responsible for thwarting numerous post-9/11 attacks, and must be used more often if strategic policing is to be conducted to this end.
So, because a few people allegedly plotted to blow up a bridge (after being lead into it by an FBI informant), anarchists are back on our way to Public Enemy #1—despite the fact that the US Federal Government blows shit up in other countriesall the damn time.
America, fuck yeah.
Our government’s deliberate and premeditated killing of American terrorism suspects raises profound questions that ought to be the subject of public debate. Unfortunately the Obama administration has released very little information about the practice — its official position is that the targeted killing program is a state secret — and some of the information it has released has been misleading.
Our suit overlaps with the one recently filed by The New York Times insofar as it seeks the legal memos on which the targeted killing program is based. But our suit is broader. We’re seeking, in addition to the legal memos, the government’s evidentiary basis for strikes that killed three Americans in Yemen in the fall of 2011. We’re also seeking information about the process by which the administration adds Americans to secret government “kill lists.” We think it’s crucial that the administration release the legal memos, but we don’t think the memos alone will allow the public to evaluate the lawfulness and wisdom of the program.
We know something about the fall 2011 strikes from media reports. On September 30, the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) jointly carried out the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico, using missiles fired from unmanned drones in Yemen. A second U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, was killed in the same attack. Two weeks later, Anwar al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, a 16-year-old U.S. citizen born in Colorado, was killed in another U.S. drone strike elsewhere in Yemen. The administration has not adequately explained the legal basis for these strikes, and it has not explained the factual basis, either.
Soon after the fall 2011 strikes, we submitted a FOIA request to the CIA, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice (DOJ). Three months later, we have yet to receive a single document in response. Outrageously, the CIA and the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel responded by refusing to confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to our request. Essentially, these agencies are saying the targeted killing program is so secret that they can’t even acknowledge that it exists.
Since the Second World War, the United States has:
1) Attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of them democratically elected.
2) Attempted to suppress a populist or national movement in 20 countries.
3) Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
4) Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
5) Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
In total, the United States has carried out one or more of these actions in 69 countries. In almost all cases, Britain has been a collaborator. The “enemy” changes in name - from communism to Islamism - but mostly it is the rise of democracy independent of western power, or a society occupying strategically useful territory and deemed expendable, like the Chagos Islands.
The sheer scale of suffering, let alone criminality, is little known in the west, despite the presence of the world’s most advanced communications, nominally freest journalism and most admired academy. That the most numerous victims of terrorism - western terrorism - are Muslims is unsayable, if it is known. That half a million Iraqi infants died in the 1990s as a result of the embargo imposed by Britain and America is of no interest. That extreme jihadism, which led to the 11 September 2001 attacks, was nurtured as a weapon of western policy (in “Operation Cyclone”) is known to specialists, but otherwise suppressed.
While popular culture in Britain and America immerses the Second World War in an ethical bath for the victors, the holocausts arising from Anglo-American dominance of resource-rich regions are consigned to oblivion. Under the Indonesian tyrant Suharto, anointed “our man” by Margaret Thatcher, more than a million people were slaughtered in what the CIA described as “the worst mass murder of the second half of the 20th century”. This estimate does not include the third of the population of East Timor who were starved or murdered with western connivance, British fighter-bombers and machine-guns.
These true stories are told in declassified files in the Public Record Office, yet represent an entire dimension of politics and the exercise of power excluded from public consideration. This has been achieved by a regime of uncoercive information control, from the evangelical mantra of advertising to soundbites on BBC news and now the ephemera of social media.
It is as if writers as watchdogs are extinct, or in thrall to a sociopathic zeitgeist, convinced they are too clever to be duped. Witness the stampede of sycophants eager to deify Christopher Hitchens, a war lover who longed to be allowed to justify the crimes of rapacious power. “For almost the first time in two centuries,” wrote Terry Eagleton, “there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life.” No Orwell warns that we do not need to live in a totalitarian society to be corrupted by totalitarianism. No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake proffers a vision, no Wilde reminds us that “disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue”. And grievously no Pinter rages at the war machine, as in “American Football”:
with this, good night.
They left out Americans and Puerto Ricans. Many of our own have died just in the so called justice system and the fucking privatized jails alone. Not to mention the cannon fodder for all their overseas excursions.
Don’t forget that ongoing colonialism still kills today.
Freedom of Religion*
Assassination of U.S. citizens
President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)
Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While the administration claims that this provision only codified existing law, experts widely contest this view, and the administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal courts. The government continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion. (China recently codified a more limited detention law for its citizens, while countries such as Cambodia have been singled out by the United States for “prolonged detention.”)
The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice. (Egypt and China have been denounced for maintaining separate military justice systems for selected defendants, including civilians.)
The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obamaextended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records. The government can use“national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens — and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan operate under laws that allow the government to engage in widespread discretionary surveillance.)
The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security — a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government’s actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.
The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law. When courts in countries such as Spain moved to investigate Bush officials for war crimes, the Obama administration reportedly urged foreign officials not to allow such cases to proceed, despite the fact that the United States has long claimed the same authority with regard to alleged war criminals in other countries. (Various nations have resisted investigations of officials accused of war crimes and torture. Some, such as Serbia and Chile, eventually relented to comply with international law; countries that have denied independent investigations include Iran, Syria and China.)
The government has increased its use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group. The administration has asserted the right to ignore congressional limits on such surveillance. (Pakistan places national security surveillance under the unchecked powers of the military or intelligence services.)
Immunity from judicial review
Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has successfully pushed for immunity for companies that assist in warrantless surveillance of citizens, blocking the ability of citizens to challenge the violation of privacy. (Similarly, China has maintained sweeping immunity claims both inside and outside the country and routinely blocks lawsuits against private companies.)
Continual monitoring of citizens
The Obama administration has successfully defended its claim that it can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. (Saudi Arabia has installed massive public surveillance systems, while Cuba is notorious for active monitoring of selected citizens.)
The government now has the ability to transfer both citizens and noncitizens to another country under a system known as extraordinary rendition, which has been denounced as using other countries, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, to torture suspects. The Obama administration says it is not continuing the abuses of this practice under Bush, but it insists on the unfettered right to order such transfers — including the possible transfer of U.S. citizens.
These new laws have come with an infusion of money into an expanded security systemon the state and federal levels, including more public surveillance cameras, tens of thousands of security personnel and a massive expansion of a terrorist-chasing bureaucracy.
Some politicians shrug and say these increased powers are merely a response to the times we live in. Thus, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) could declare in an interview last spring without objection that “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” Of course, terrorism will never “surrender” and end this particular “war.”
In The Size of the Economy and the Distribution of Income in the Roman Empire, a careful paper published in the Journal of Roman Studies in 2009, Walter Scheidel and Steven Friesen estimate the size and distribution of the Roman economy at its demographic peak around the middle of the 2nd century c.e.
We conclude that in the Roman Empire as a whole, a ‘middling’ sector of somewhere around 6 to 12 per cent of the population, defined by a real income of between 2.4 and 10 times ‘bare bones’ subsistence or 1 to 4 times ‘respectable’ consumption levels, would have occupied a fairlynarrow middle ground between an élite segment of perhaps 1.5 per cent of the population and a vast majority close to subsistence level of around 90 per cent. In this system, some 1.5 per cent of households controlled 15 to 25 per cent of total income, while close to 10 per cent took in another 15 to 25 per cent, leaving not much more than half of all income for all remaining households.
Thus, in Rome the top 1.5% controlled 15-25% of income while in the United States around 2007 the top 1% controlled 23.5% of income thus suggesting slightly more inequality in the United States. Scheidel and Friesen calculate a Roman Empire gini coefficient of .42-.44 again perhaps slightly less than the U.S. coefficient of around .4-.45 depending on source.
“It’s morning again in America.”
Interestingly, LAliberty cited a conservative article that showed a gini coefficient of .503 for individuals, .469 for households and .44 for families.
(click picture for higher resolution).
Basically, LAliberty confirmed that income inequality is a huge problem.
As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it’s worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren’t the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.
American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents.
White House issues statement saying it will not veto defense bill - @AP— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) December 14, 2011
Disturbing news, as this is the bill which would allow for indefinite detention. More details here.
Not really surprised at all. Obama…
In February of last year, video surfaced of a marijuana raid in Columbia, Mo. During the raid on Jonathan Whitworth and his family, police took down the door with a battering ram, then shot and killed one of Whitworth’s dogs within seconds of entering the home and they wounded the other. They didn’t find enough pot in the home to charge Whitworth with even a misdemeanor. (He was, however, charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia when police found a pipe.) The disturbing video went viral in May 2010, triggering outrage around the world. On Fox News, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer and Bill O’Reilly cautioned not to judge the entire drug war by the video, which they characterized as an isolated incident.
In fact, very little about the raid that was unusual. For the most part, it was carried out the same way drug warrants are served some 150 times per day in the United States. The battering ram, the execution of Whitworth’s dog, the fact that police weren’t aware Whitworth’s 7-year-old child was in the home before they riddled the place with bullets, the fact that they found only a small amount of pot, likely for personal use — all are common in drug raids. The only thing unusual was that the raid was recorded by police, then released to the public after an open records request by the Columbia Daily Tribune. It was as if much of the country was seeing for the first time the violence with which the drug war is actually fought. And they didn’t like what they saw.
That video came to mind with the outrage and public debate over the now-infamous pepper-spraying of Occupy protesters at the University of California-Davis protest earlier this month. The incident was just one of a number of high-profile uses of force amid crackdowns on Occupy protesters across the country, including one in Oakland in which the skull of Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was fractured by a tear gas canister, and in New York, where NYPD Officer Anthony Bologna pepper-sprayed protesters who had been penned in by police fencing.
But America’s police departments have been moving toward more aggressive, force-first, militaristic tactics and their accompanying mindset for 30 years. It’s just that, with the exception of protests at the occasional free trade or World Bank summit, the tactics haven’t generally been used on mostly white, mostly college-educated kids armed with cellphone cameras and a media platform.
Police militarization is now an ingrained part of American culture. SWAT teams are featured in countless cop reality shows, and wrong-door raids are the subject of “The Simpsons” bits and search engine commercials. Tough-on-crime sheriffs now sport tanks and hardware more equipped for battle in a war zone than policing city streets. Seemingly benign agencies such as state alcohol control boards and the federal Department of Education can now enforce laws and regulations not with fines and clipboards, but with volatile raids by paramilitary police teams.
Outraged by the Occupy crackdowns, some pundits and political commentators who paid little heed to these issues in the past are now calling for a national discussion on the use of force. That’s a welcome development, but it’s helpful to review how we got here in order to have an honest discussion.
Part of the trend can be attributed to the broader tough-on-crime and drug war policies pushed by politicians of both parties since at least the early 1980s, but part of the problem also lies with America’s political culture. Public officials’ decisions today to use force and the amount of force are as governed by political factors as by an honest assessment of the threat a suspect or group may pose. Over the years, both liberals and conservatives have periodically raised alarms over the government’s increasing willingness to use disproportionately aggressive force. And over the years, both sides have tended to hush up when the force is applied by political allies, directed at political opponents, or is used to enforce the sorts of laws they favor.
When people accuse me of being an “extremist” or a “radical” for citing the United States as a hegemonic terrorist organization, I reply with 2 words, proceed to throw the mic on the ground, and then walk away:
There is no denying that what we did in Latin…
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.
Centcom said it was not targeting any US-based web sites, in English or any other language, and specifically said it was not targeting Facebook or Twitter.
Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.