The Spirit of the Holidays

December 11, 2013

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Fox Has a Brand New Newsroom Bringing You Lots Of Nothing, Faster

October 16, 2013

You’ve been newsed! Cool big screens, and giant iPads, give Fox News the veneer of actual fact-checking credibility. Says Stephen Colbert: “It’s like they’re playing ‘Wii Tragedy.'” This 8 minute take-down employs kittens and robots for your viewing enjoyment.


Kerry, Kissinger and the Other September 11

September 12, 2013

by Amy Goodman

Op-Ed published first by Nation of Change

As President Barack Obama’s attack on Syria appears to have been delayed for the moment, it is remarkable that Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting, on Sept. 11, with one of his predecessors, Henry Kissinger, reportedly to discuss strategy on forthcoming negotiations on Syria with Russian officials. The Kerry-Kissinger meeting, and the public outcry against the proposed attack on Syria to which both men are publicly committed, should be viewed through the lens of another Sept. 11 … 1973.

Henry Kissinger y Augusto Pinochet

Kissinger (right) shakes hands with Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet

On that day, 40 years ago, the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was violently overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup. Gen. Augusto Pinochet took control and began a 17-year dictatorial reign of terror, during which more than 3,000 Chileans were murdered and disappeared—about the same number killed on that later, fateful 9/11, 2001. Allende, a socialist, was immensely popular with his people. But his policies were anathema to the elites of Chile and the U.S., so President Richard Nixon and his secretary of state and national-security adviser, Henry Kissinger, supported efforts to overthrow him.

Kissinger’s role in plotting and supporting the 1973 coup in Chile becomes clearer as the years pass and the documents emerge, documents that Kissinger has personally fought hard to keep secret. Peter Kornbluh of the nonprofit National Security Archive has been uncovering the evidence for years, and has recently updated his book, “The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.” Kornbluh told me that Kissinger was “the singular most important figure in engineering a policy to overthrow Allende and then, even more, to embrace Pinochet and the human-rights violations that followed.” He said that Kissinger “pushed Nixon forward to as aggressive but covert a policy as possible to make Allende fail, to destabilize Allende’s ability to govern, to create what Kissinger called a coup climate.”

The Pinochet regime was violent, repressive and a close ally of the United States. Pinochet formed alliances with other military regimes in South America, and they created “Operation Condor,” a campaign of coordinated terror and assassinations throughout Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Brazil. Operation Condor even reached onto the streets of Washington, D.C., when, on Sep. 21, 1976, a former Chilean ambassador to the U.S. during the Allende government, Orlando Letelier, along with his assistant, a U.S. citizen named Ronni Moffitt, were killed by a car bomb planted by Pinochet’s secret police on Embassy Row, just blocks from the White House.

Eventually, under increasing global condemnation and growing internal, nonviolent resistance, the Pinochet regime was forced to hold a plebiscite, a national vote, on whether Pinochet would continue as Chile’s dictator. With a resounding “No!” the public rejected him, ushering in the modern, democratic era in Chile.

At least two U.S. citizens were murdered during the 1973 coup. Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi were in Chile to observe the democratic experience there, working as writers and journalists. Their abduction and murder by Pinochet’s forces, with the likely collaboration by the U.S. government, is depicted movingly in the 1982 Oscar-winning film “Missing,” directed by Costa Gavras, starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. On the week of the coup’s 40th anniversary, Charles Horman’s widow, Joyce Horman, held a commemoration. The event, hosted in New York City by the Charles Horman Truth Foundation, attracted hundreds, many who were personally involved with the Allende government or who were forced into exile from Chile during those terrible years.

Among those in attendance was Juan Garces, a Spanish citizen who was President Allende’s closest adviser. Garces was with Allende in the presidential palace on Sept. 11, 1973. Just before the palace was bombed by the air force, Allende led Garces to the door of the palace and told him to go out and tell the world what had happened that day.

Allende died during the coup. Garces narrowly escaped Chile with his life. He led the global legal pursuit of Pinochet, finally securing his arrest in Britain in 1998, where Pinochet was held for 504 days. While Pinochet was eventually allowed to return to Chile, he was later indicted there and, facing trial and prison, died under house arrest in 2006, at the age of 91.

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Today, Garces sees alarming similarities between the repression in Chile and U.S. policies today: “You have extraordinary renditions. You have extrajudicial killings. You have secret centers of detentions. I am very concerned that those methods … were applied in Chile with the knowledge and the backing of the Nixon-Kissinger administration in this period. The same methods are being applied now in many countries with the backing of the United States. That is very dangerous for everyone.”

Rather than meeting with Kissinger for advice, John Kerry would better serve the cause of peace by consulting with those like Garces who have spent their lives pursuing peace. The only reason Henry Kissinger should be pursued is to be held accountable, like Pinochet, in a court of law.

©  Amy Goodman

For a terrific summary of Kissinger’s war crimes, go to this Salon article.

More detailed account of Kissinger’s shenanigans in South America, including newly declassified transcripts of meetings with generals in Argentina from 1976.


NSA: “Our Criminal Behavior Is A Small Percentage Of What We Do”

August 17, 2013

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graph by The Washington Post

 

The NSA is floundering as they try to explain an internal audit that was leaked to The Washington Post (by Edward Snowden) revealing that they broke even the broadened privacy laws they were granted by Congress in 2008.

Here is what a senior NSA official told The Washington Post: “You can look at it as a percentage of our total activity that occurs each day,” he said. “You look at a number in absolute terms that looks big, and when you look at it in relative terms, it looks a little different.”

According to the audit, the NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times a year, then faked their reports to Congress.

Some anonymous Obama Administration officials say the NSA didn’t lie to the public last year when the director said the NSA didn’t collect the data of Americans, because: “the agency’s internal definition of ‘data’ does not cover ‘metadata’ such as the trillions of American call records that the NSA is now known to have collected and stored since 2006.”

Not so, The Washington Post Points out. The NSA definition of “data,” is “raw SIGINT data… [which] includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and/or unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice, and some forms of computer-generated data, such as call event records and other Digital Network Intelligence (DNI) metadata as well as DNI message text.”

The Washington Post provides the full NSA audit here.

Meanwhile, Edward Snowden is hiding in Russia with temporary asylum. The US wants to prosecute him for espionage. How about prosecuting the NSA instead?


So Goes Thoreau, So Goes The Nation

August 14, 2013

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Perhaps that headline is wishful thinking, but, the Wall Street Journal published two stories on Saturday (2!) about what Henry David Thoreau would do about all the tech distractions of today, and how it makes good sense to follow his lead (from 1845 no less).

Believe me, I see the irony in writing a blog post, that I will cross post on facebook, about the need to unplug. Here goes!

Called “Simplify Your Tech Life, Thoreau-Style,” Michael Hsu helps you power down in six easy steps. It’s worth the longer read for the detailed instructions and advice, but here they are in brief:

  1. Manage Your Facebook Friendships
  2. Stay Just Out of Touch (especially when the work day is through)
  3. Read Something Longer Than 140 Characters
  4. Ditch Your Smartphone While Driving [duh]
  5. Proactively Prevent Procrastination [for example, there are apps that will kick you off-line at the times you set like, say, bedtime]
  6. Take a Walk for the Heck of It [my favorite, along with #2]

Then, cleverly, Gary Sernovitz writes “We Are The Nine Percent,” which is the segment of the population that doesn’t own a cell phone (21 million adult Americans). For the online version, the article headline was changed to “Confessions of a Cellphone Holdout” A sample:

“For the last two decades, I have spent 83% of my waking hours enjoying the freedom of not owning a cellphone, 5% feeling smug about it, 2% in situations in which a phone would have been awfully convenient and 10% fielding incredulous questions.”

Quoting Thoreau, Sernovitz says “Our inventions ‘are but improved means to an unimproved end which it was already but too easy to arrive at;…’”

Want to find out for yourself, What Would Thoreau Do? Yes, there’s a digital collection from the Walden Library. So, download, but then get off-line to read it.


Tom Tomorrow: The NSA Comes Clean…

August 9, 2013

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Bradley Manning Verdict: the American People Are The Enemy

August 7, 2013
 
Acquitted of “Aiding the Enemy,” but found guilty of six Espionage charges, comedian Stephen Colbert makes the obvious point that if Bradley Manning is guilty of Espionage, and there is no foreign enemy, then the enemy is us—the American people. The government is prosecuting a man for exposing war crimes committed by the government.
Now that Russia has granted temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, perhaps this is the beginning of a new Cold War. But instead of the USA bragging to our foes that we are more free than they are, Russia, China, and the like get to point to our dismal human rights record.