The Hell Of A Repressive Government: Edward Snowden Flees Hong Kong, Michael Hastings’s Car Explodes

June 25, 2013


Edward Snowden, who leaked documents  showing the US government is indiscriminately spying on millions of Americans through their phone records, emails, and other methods, has escaped from Hong Kong and is now believed to be in Moscow.

According to ABC News, cars with the Ecuadoran flag were there to greet Snowden’s plane, but the Ecuadoran diplomat had no comment.

Ecuador offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum, but for the past year Assange has been stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

Authorities in Moscow say that Snowden will not leave the customs area, so does not need a passport or visa. Nor will Moscow stop him if he tries to leave. (The State Department revoked Snowden’s passport on Saturday – from a distance.)

The media, in their same old slimy way, is not questioning whether or not the government should have the authority to arrest anyone who exposes government wrongdoing. Instead, they are wondering why the journalist who broke the story, Glenn Greenwald, isn’t being arrestedSeriously?

Buzz Feed’s Ben Smith said it best: “Snowden’s flight and its surrounding geopolitics are a good story; what he made public is a better one.”

As most media wonders which journalists deserve imprisonment, they have the nerve to criticize other countries’ lack of  freedom of the press.


Michael Hastings, RIP


Most famous for his Rolling Stone article  that got a general recalled from Afghanistan, Michael Hastings died last week when his car blew up at 4:30 am in Los Angeles.

He was working on a story about the FBI. Hours before he died, Hastings sent an email to friends that read, in part, that if the FBI came knocking on their door to get a lawyer. Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, with whom Hastings was embedded in Afghanistan in 2008, said he was very disturbed by the panicked tone of the email, and that it didn’t sound typical of his friend. The full email is here. The crash is still under investigation.


June Is Torture Awareness Month

June 20, 2013


Please support the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, because torture is always, always, always wrong.

Welcome To The Suspect List

June 8, 2013


I’m viewing with some sense of irony, and not a little derision, the outcry over the government spying on all our telephone calls.

That’s because this news broke over ten (10) years ago, when the USA Patriot Act first passed. Under section 215, the government gets to spy on/listen to/search—yes, search your home, your person, your car, your email — whenever it wants. Everyone is a potential suspect. Authorities no longer need “probable cause,” and a warrant from a judge. You, me, the world, is a suspected criminal.

But there was nary a peep ten years ago. The USA Patriot Act passed both Houses of Congress almost unanimously (Russ Feingold (D-WI) was the only Senator to vote no).

That was October, 2001, when most of America assumed the Government was only going to spy on Muslims. But now “that Muslim” – as our President is erroneously called by some – is spying on all of us, and a collective gasp is heard, right before the wailing and the beating of breasts.

So guys, I have to ask: “What took you so long?”

The USA Patriot Act obliterates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment is the only thing standing between us and illegal searches and seizures, warrantless wiretapping, and IMPRISONMENT without “probable cause.”

How does it feel to be treated like a criminal when you haven’t done a thing?

What happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” That was obliterated by drones.

It didn’t matter when it was only people who somehow “deserved” to be suspected…is that it? People of another religion or ethnicity? I hate to use the word racism here, but why not use it? If the shoe fits…

About the sudden outcry, and demands for an investigation, Senator Diane Feinstein, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, said: “We are always open to changes. But that doesn’t mean there will be any. It does mean that we will look at any ideas, any thoughts, and we do this on everything.

There, there, now. Don’t you feel better?

The Strongest of the Strange (For Bradley Manning) ::

June 5, 2013


by Richard Pithouse

(reposted with permission, from The South African Civil Society Information Service)

Just before midnight on the 5th of September 1877 an American soldier ran his bayonet into Thasunke Witko’s back in Fort Robinson, Nebraska. In June the previous year Thasunke Witko, known as Crazy Horse in English, had led his people to victory in the Battle of Little Bighorn against the US Seventh Cavalry under George Custer. The battle was won when Thasunke Witko charged directly into Custer’s lines, split his forces and brought the battle into the close combat better suited to the Sioux soldiers.

The Sioux had been at war for a century. But the seeds of this particular battle were sown in 1874 when Custer was first sent into the Black Hills, the last redoubt of the Sioux. When word spread that his expedition had discovered gold settlers, many of them, like many of Custer’s soldiers, half-starved refugees from the enclosure of the commons in Europe, rushed on to the Sioux lands.  An invasion followed. And, as with Isandlwana three years later, an early battle was won and a war was lost.

The logic of the modern world wasn’t only inscribed in blood and fire. There was a philosophy to go with the practice of expropriation. In the same year that Custer first rode into the Black Kills John Stuart Mill, the English liberal philosopher, wrote that, “Barbarians have no rights as a nation, except a right to such treatment as may, at the earliest possible period, fit them for becoming one.” Mill’s casual evisceration of the humanity of most of the people in the world was not some idiosyncratic deviation from the liberal tradition. Back in 1690 John Locke, the first great liberal philosopher had written that while in England no one could enclose land “without the consent of all his fellow-commoners” it was right and proper to seize the “wild woods and uncultivated waste of America”.

Liberalism has never been for everyone. Its underside – invasion, enslavement, murder and appropriation, a long accumulation of global terror – has always been premised on the division of the world into different types of people: Christian and heathen, civilized and barbarian, white and black, developed and undeveloped and, these days, Western and Muslim.

On the 12 July 2007 the crew of an Apache helicopter, with the call sign Crazy Horse 18, killed eleven unarmed people and seriously wounded two children in a Baghdad suburb. A military spokesperson informed the New York Times that: “There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force.” He was lying. And in a world where a single humanity remains divided into different types accorded different value his lie carried weight. His lie was no aberration. A war for oil was presented as an act of solidarity in selfless search of democracy, human rights and, implicitly, armed conscription into the virtues of Western civilization.

We know what really happened in Baghdad on the 12th of July 2007 because a young American soldier decided to leak the video filmed through the gun sight of the Apache helicopter, Crazy Horse 18. In February 2010 Bradley Manning, a twenty two year old intelligence analyst working in base outside Baghdad, leaked the video. It was put online in April that year and a month later Manning was arrested. Over time a huge cache of documents and other information that Manning had downloaded was steadily made available.


Manning was first held in Kuwait and then moved to a military prison in Virginia. At times he’s been held in solitary confinement in an 8ft by 6ft cell, shackled in the presence of visitors, made to parade his nakedness publicly and deprived of sleep. It’s difficult not to conclude that there has, consciously or not, been an attempt to drive him mad in order that he can be made to appear perverse rather than principled. But, now, after more than a thousand days and nights in military prison, he’s in the dock. Amongst other charges he stands accused of aiding the enemy.

There is, at the moment, no evidence that any of the information that Manning put into the public domain has aided any armed threat to any society. But what we do know is that the information that he put into the public domain has illuminated the sadistic underside of the American military, the active support of the US state for the dictators, venal and ruthless in equal measure, deposed in the Arab Spring and much more. Once again the liberal ideology stands exposed for what it has always been – a ruthless drive for profit legitimated by racism.

Sometimes courage does, like Thasunke Witko, charge in on a horse with lightning bolts painted on its sides. But mostly it’s confused, sick with fear and far from certain of itself. Mostly it’s just someone that can’t carry on without what Manning calls in his statement to his court martial the relief of attaining a clearer conscience.

This time courage has come to us in the form of Bradley Manning – a slight man reeling under the weight of a gender that doesn’t seem to fit, a man who grew up with distant, divorced parents, a man who went into the American military from living in his car and working at Starbucks hoping, like so many others, that it would open a path to college – a man who has felt himself on the edge of both disintegration and self-realization.

In The Strongest of the Strange, Charles Bukowski wrote,

you won’t see them often
for wherever the crowd is
are not.
but from them
the few
good paintings
the few
good symphonies
the few
good books

For Bukowski the creative courage of the artist,

against the
walls of
the world

is a luminous presence, hard won.

Political courage is not the same thing as macho posturing or recourse to dogmatic abstractions. It requires acts of real consequence, heretical acts that refuse, in practice, the denial of our common humanity. It often leaves the people who find themselves lit by its flame broken. But political courage, with or without artistry, is also a luminous presence in the world.


The Strongest of the Strange (For Bradley Manning) ::

Free Energy For Everyone

June 2, 2013


Need a little? Sorry, this is not a promo for free Red Bull at 7-Eleven. The energy in question is electricity.

MIT grad, Ben Glass, invented a wind turbine that doesn’t require a tower.

High up in the air (the prototype was tested at 350 feet), the balloon-type structure is filled with helium, with a conventional wind turbine at its center. It delivers electricity through the tethers that secure it to the ground.

The idea is that the remotest areas off the grid can have electricity, and cost 65% less than conventional power. The goal is to fly the turbines at 1,000 feet, where the wind is constant, and 5 times stronger than wind on the ground.

The entire apparatus can be carried on the back of a large truck.

It’s called the Altaeros Wind Turbine (AWT). Altaeros Energies is based in Boston, Massachusetts.