More surveillance legislation info published yesterday by The Intercept AND Bernie Sanders for POTUS - gives a modicum of hope to a hopeless nation AND states with good anti-surveillance ideas [added 04/30/2015].
04/24/2015 Senator Rand Paul on NSA:
This letter dated April 13 responding to my concerns about uncurtailed NSA methodologies was received today via USPS. In that letter Senator Paul says the right things while placing too much blame on POTUS. The Republican-controlled Congress is desirous of preventing expiration of Section 215 of the PATRIOT ACT and just four days ago Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation toward that end. Despite Senator Paul's efforts the GOP appears supportive of all freedom-killing legislation touted by vested interests as necessary to "national security" although consequent methodologies have been shown ineffective in thwarting terrorism and have been several times adjudicated unconstitutional. The same party that sold unnecessary invasions of sovereignty, international kidnappings and torture, secret international prisons, and international drone assassinations is most apt to permanently grab your freedoms while the grabbing is good. CISA is a part of that effort too.
04/23/2015 more about CISA et al:
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) was the lone member of the Senate Intelligence Committee to vote against CISA as it exited committee a month or so ago. The Senate Republican "leadership" has no desire to reign-in NSA methodologies despite legitimate concerns of reflective rights advocates. Tuesday night Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation to prevent expiration of Section 215 of the PATRIOT ACT.
04/22/2015 CISA & PCNA & NCPA:
Some combination of two new cyber bills, Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) and National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (NCPA), is expected this week to replace last year's failed Cyber Internet Sharing Act (CISA) and be approved by the US House of Representatives. The proposed legislation then will be forwarded to the US Senate for additional blessings. PCNA has already passed the House, NCPA is scheduled for a vote tomorrow. Cooler heads wisely oppose these new bills, whether or not combined, just as they opposed the bills' predecessors. One critic, Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society, phrased it this way: "...what Congress will be doing is weakening privacy law and increasing government surveillance at time when the public agrees that stronger privacy and civil liberties protections are needed". Nonetheless the Republican-controlled Congress is not apt to favor citizens' privacy concerns since national security can be effectively touted to grant additional powers to government, grant ludicrous immunities to big businesses and employees of government "intelligence" organizations, and dramatically increase revenue streams for military-industrial-surveillance use.
04/19/2015 Ayatollah Khamenei's point:
According to RT.COM Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali "Khamenei says the United States has created the myth of nuclear weapons to paint Tehran as a source of threat". And according to both US "intelligence" officials and Israeli "intelligence" officials he likely has a valid point. In any case it looks like long-term peace prospects are virtual toas.
04/17/2015 free trade and peace:
It looks like today's Republican-controlled Congress is ready to grant unilateral negotiation and bargaining powers to POTUS for sealing "secret" global free-trade agreements but would rescind those powers for negotiating any progress toward peace—as in the Iranian nuclear deal. Despite appearing contradictory both positions ultimately serve Republicans' primary constituencies, the very wealthy and the corporate sectors. Elizabeth Warren on the other hand is "against virtually everyone who supports [the trade agreement fast-track] ...legislation" and nowadays also seems to address the Iranian situation far better than most American legislators. She is a frequent ray of hope for a hopelessly corrupt nation and lame-stream media likely would oppose her presidential bid were she to make one.
04/13/2015 Senator Bill Nelson on Defense Spending:
Senator Nelson and other legislators were asked to give certain humanitarian domestic programs priority over defense spending in any proposed budget. Since WWII over half the nation's discretionary income has been allocated for "defense" and this definitely needs to change. More American money can be used for healing when less is used for killing. Regardless here is Senator Nelson's predictable reply: Senator Bill Nelson on Defense Spending.
04/12/2015 Republicans gone wild:
What to do about contemporary Republican thrusts? (Killing nuclear agreements, thwarting international relation breakthroughs, and generally pretending they know better than everyone else about everything). Noam Chomsky said it best back around March 2, 2015, when talking to Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow.org: "The Republicans stopped being an ordinary parliamentary party some years ago. They were described, I think accurately, by Norman Ornstein, the very respected conservative political analyst, American Enterprise Institute; he said the party has become a radical insurgency which has abandoned any commitment to parliamentary democracy. And their goal for the last years has simply been to undermine anything that Obama might do, in an effort to regain power and serve their primary constituency, which is the very wealthy and the corporate sector. They try to conceal this with all sorts of other means. In doing so, they've had to—you can't get votes that way, so they've had to mobilize sectors of the population which have always been there but were never mobilized into an organized political force: evangelical Christians, extreme nationalists, terrified people who have to carry guns into Starbucks because somebody might be after them, and so on and so forth. That's a big force. And inspiring fear is not very difficult in the United States." Read or see the entire interview HERE and think about it
04/09/2015 US policing:
Those who believe that US police abuse is a racial issue need to read this story about a handcuffed pregnant Texas woman being punched by police. Then reflect on the state of mental health in America, especially within legislative and enforcement circles. A few years ago it was unthinkable for government agencies to enter private homes nabbing children away from their parents. But here is the land of the free and home of the brave—leader of the free world—in contemporarily characteristic action.
*More information posted 18:20 CST 04/09: note
Melvin Tucker's comments as reported by ABC—"'Nationwide, training that pushes pre-emptive action, military experience that creates a
warzone mindset, and legal system favoring police in misconduct cases all lead to scenarios where officers see the people they serve as enemies',
he said"—arguably mental health issues for sure.
*Relevant New Jersey episode reported 4/11 by RT.COM and ending with this statistic: "White was the 290th person to be killed by police in America in the first 90 days of 2015, according to the website, killedbypolice.net".
*Separate relevant case reported 04/10/2015 by RT.COM: February Florida shooting where all parties suffer mental illness.
*Relevant episode reported 4/10 by RT.COM from San Bernardino County, California.
*Relevant episodes reported by DemocracyNow.Org 04/09/2015: Why Is the Man Who Filmed Eric Garner's Death in Jail?.
*last updated 04/11/2015, links added 04/11 & 04/10 & 04/09
04/08/2015 CISA again:
The Republican controlled congress appears ready to expand NSA surveillance powers and provide immunity to cooperating private enterprise. Core thrusts of CISA (Cyber Information Sharing Act) are diametrically opposed to everything the founding fathers revered and CISA is currently touted with poorly-supported fear-mongering. Unfortunately there appears to be little or no viable congressional interest in restoring lost constitutional protections to American citizens. Nowadays only whistleblowers advocate traditionally definitive American values.
Some hope: Failing federal action, according to US News and World Report, eight states currently are considering NSA-curtailment legislation prohibiting "...state and local governments from offering material support to the agency, including use of public utilities that carry water and electricity. Two of the bills would criminalize official cooperation with the NSA...". These would be marvelous steps in the right direction eventually helping restore some lasting American pride and self-respect.
04/07/2015 Ukraine perspectives:
US film director Oliver Stone and Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa both have strong views about events unfolding in Ukraine. Mr. Stone is working on a documentary film about what sparked the Ukrainian crisis and the fall of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. Ms. Lisitsa loves her native Ukraine and has been outspoken about what she believes is transpiring there. Both individuals are celebrities of sorts and have created firestorms of controversy since neither of their views are aligned with lame-stream media. Publicity of any kind ultimately is helpful to Mr. Stone's artistic endeavors and film release. Unfortunately Ms. Lisita's employer, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, disagrees with her assessment of her homeland's dilemma and consequently is replacing her magnificent performances due to "ongoing accusations of deeply offensive language by Ukrainian media outlets". Life in North America has never been fair.
04/05/2015 AUMF to pacifism:
It could be successfully argued that the joint congressional resolution signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001, and now known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), was neither necessary nor prudent. Subsequent action has plagued the world for over 14 years and has exponentially proliferated international support of terrorism. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on US soil were accomplished by a handful of militant activists affiliated with other small like-minded cells mostly in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nowadays, primarily as a result of post-9/11 US policies, Al Qaeda is spread around the globe from the Middle East to Southeast Asia to West Africa and back. As Noam Chomsky has noted, "it's not that the U.S. is trying to generate terror... It's simply that it doesn't care".
At least since WWII US foreign policy has consistently enraged the victimized powerless by using unchallenged military might as complimentary corporate muscle for US business interests. Even Al Qaeda's Twin Tower attacks were retribution for specific perceived wrongs inherent in US foreign policy. In October of 2001 Osama bin Laden released a videotape disclosing three core rationalizations for seeking revenge and retribution. Those bones of contention are well-presented by Chalmers Johnson in the prologue to Nemesis:
- 1. sanctions against Iraq since 1991—"One million Iraqi children have thus far died although they did not do anything wrong."
- 2. US policies toward Israel and Palestine—"I swear to God that America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine..."
- 3. US military bases in Saudi Arabia—"and before all the army of infidels [American soldiers] depart the land of Muhammad [Saudi Arabia]."
It was characteristically disingenuous of "Dubbya" to proclaim "they hate our freedoms" knowing that what is hated worldwide is US self-centered hegemony and hubris. Nonetheless the insincere comment pales in comparison to the outright lies "justifying" ill-advised warfare whereby hundreds of thousands of Middle East residents needlessly have died for no more reason than US desire to destabilize a targeted region and eventually bludgeon it into economic and political submission—despite repeated experience with the fallacy of that approach. These days destabilization is fairly successful although bludgeoning still needs a lot of work.
Regardless how can a nation devoid of humanitarian goals, dismissive of human rights, and primarily exporting war be considered leader of the free world? Contemporary global needs are humanitarian through international cooperation and diplomacy and detente. Genuine respect for the sovereignty and disparate cultures of others ultimately will prove invaluable as evolving modern communications accelerate the shrinking of the globe and war becomes an unacceptable instrument of national policy. The Germans still vividly remember close-up war and oppression and are among the world's strongest authentic proponents of peace and democracy. Their rejuvenated pacifist movement is right on target.
04/02/2015 Congressman Miller on budget and AUMF:
Today's e-mail letter from Congressman Jeff Miller on fiscal 2016 budget.
Today's in-depth e-mail letter from Congressman Jeff Miller on Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) granted to POTUS.
04/01/2015 budgets (original post 3/19, last paragraph added 04/01):
Since WWII America has consistently spent over half her annual discretionary revenue on her military and consequently has
managed to maintain what Chomsky calls "a near monopoly on the preferred means of large-scale violence". Even today her military is
essentially unchallenged. Why Republicans are ever-insistent about ever-increasing that larder can only be explained as supporting
vested interests and has little or nothing to do with "defense". In fact what DoD truly "defends" is its congressional appropriations.
Not only does the GOP plan to increase military allocations in these financially difficult times, it wants, according to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont1, "...to cut programs for some of the most vulnerable people in this country - the elderly, children, sick low-income people...At the same time they want to give significant tax breaks to the wealthy and the large corporations."
European taxes are high but Europeans enjoy a higher quality of life and typically have enviable health care for everyone, better education, reasonable elderly pensions, and far fewer homeless waifs. This is in large part because they do not spend over half their discretionary revenue bombing the less-fortunate into oblivion with enraging foreign policies.
Nonetheless the GOP has expended significant 2015 resources trying to undermine the Executive's foreign policy leadership and torpedo US diplomatic efforts while preventing reasonable long-term solutions and encouraging conflict. It's a shame Rand Paul is still tied to them.
Unlike his father, Senator Paul seems to be compromising some of his core beliefs in order to improve his electability. Recently he introduced a budget amendment to increase defense spending by $190 billion dollars over a two year period. Before that he was one of the 47 brain-dead GOP Senators signing that sophomoric letter to Iran warning that Congress could torpedo any nuclear deal Iran reached with the current administration. Pure politician? Time will tell. Unfortunately the US gate sentries and the puppetmasters favor malleable officials.
1bad link 2/11/2017: http://news.yahoo.com/house-senate-panels-adopt-balanced-212619331.html