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28 August 2008

Conversations With History: Descent into Chaos, Ahmed Rashid on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia

Test pattern till a minute in, so scroll to 1:00.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization Website

Get to know this organization; much of current international affairs turns on this organization, of which Iran is an observer.

More on this from Pepe Escobar (begins on other related topics, but gets into SCO proper at 8:45):

Noam Chomsky on Human Destiny

This short video was taken from Manufacturing Consent (1992), which you can watch in full here -- in two parts, better synched, with Spanish subtitles:

"Killing In the Name," Rage Against the Machine @ DNC Protest, 8/27/08

"Some of those that burn crosses are the same that hold office...." Exactly.

Ralph Nader on the Democrats’ Corporate Ties, the Silencing of Third Parties, and Why Biden is the “MasterCard Senator”

Seems like the link above will start at the beginning, so scroll to one hour (1:00) to hear it, if you don't hear Nader upon clicking on one of the media links.

27 August 2008

Jewish International Opposition Statement against Attack on Iran

Further endorsements may be added by sending in a message to <saalaha@fokus.name>.

Noam Chomsky Lectures on Modern-Day American Imperialism: Middle East and Beyond, Boston University Law School, April 2008

Click above; video is unembeddable. Some of the documents mentioned:

  • PPS/23 (Report of the Policy Planning Staff dated 2/24/48, by George Kennan: "Review of Current Trends[:] US Foreign Policy"). Note the critique of Chomsky's use of the document, and his responses to the critique -- and then read it and make up your own mind.
  • NSC 68 (National Security Council report dated 4/15/50, by Paul Nitze and others: "United States Objectives and Programs for National Security").

Noam Chomsky, an emeritus professor of linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a well-known political activist critical of U.S. foreign policy, traces modern-day American imperialism to its earliest roots, 25 years before the American Revolution. If it weren’t for British forces preventing America’s expansion, claims Chomsky, Canada wouldn’t exist today.

Chomsky says the current war in Iraq can be traced back to the U.S. invasion of Florida during Andrew Jackson’s administration, which was an “executive war in violation of the constitution, a precedent that has been followed ever since.”

He compares the United States to a Mafia “godfather,” crushing third world countries like disobedient shop owners who don’t pay their protection money so others will get the point. The United States, he says, has a reputation as “the most frightening and dangerous country in the world.”

Chomsky claims that those in power in Washington, in London, in editorial offices, and in universities are defying the world — the majority of the world’s people, including most of the U.S. population, are against the war in Iraq, agree with the Group of 77 at the United Nations, which approves of Iran’s right to enrich uranium for nuclear power, and support the rights of Palestinian peasants who were removed from their land by Israel.

But there is hope, and according to Chomsky, it lies with South America — whose countries are banding together to work against the oppressive forces of the United States by weakening the presence of American military and strengthening their own economies. The failed attempt of the United States to overturn the results of the recent democratic election in Bolivia, he says, is one example of this glimmer of hope.

April 24, 2008, 6 p.m.
School of Law Auditorium

Video length is 02:00:00.

About the speaker:
Noam Chomsky earned a Ph.D. in linguistics in 1955 at the University of Pennsylvania and came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the same year. In 1961 he was appointed a full professor in the department of linguistics and philosophy and in 1976 an Institute Professor.

Chomsky has received honorary degrees from more than two dozen universities around the world. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Science, a Foreign Member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and a member of several other professional and learned societies in the United States and abroad. He has received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, the Dorothy Eldridge Peacemaker Award, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, the Adela Dwyer/St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award, and others.

He has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history, contemporary issues, international affairs, and U.S. foreign policy.

Eliminating the Green Line, Peace Now (Israel) Report

Here's the main blurb:

Construction in Isolated settlement Aims at a Teritorial [sic] Connection

A. Main Findings:

  • Over 1000 new buildings are being constructed in the settlements, in which approximately 2,600 housing units, according to Peace Now’s calculations (aerial photographs and field visits). Approximately 55% of the new structures are located to the east of the constructed Separation Barrier.

  • According to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics, construction in the settlements has increased by a factor of 1.8 by comparison to the same period last year. The Housing Ministry initiated 433 new housing units during the period of January – May 2008, compared to just 240 housing units during the period January – May 2007 (construction initiated by the Housing Ministry accounted for 64% of all the construction counted in the West Bank by the CBS in recent months).

  • 125 new structures have been added to the outposts, including 30 permanent houses.

  • The number of tenders for construction in the settlements has increased by 550%. 417 housing units, compared to just 65 in 2007.

  • The number of tenders in East Jerusalem has increased by a factor of 38 (1,761 housing units compared to 46 in 2007).

B. Construction in the Settlements: Eliminating the Green Line:

In recent years the trend has accelerated to eliminate the Green Line through intensive construction intended to create a territorial connection between the blocks of settlements and isolated settlements in the heart of the West Bank.

Click above for highlights; full report here (PDF). Here's a map of recent settlement-building activity:

And another important map, which you will no doubt see on the front page of the New York Times:

A really rough stretch for Pax Americana, Jim Lobe

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) Speaks to the DNC

Polling, the media and who will win in 2008

Polls, the media, and who will win in 2008

Barry Kay on the accuracy of polling and the presidential elections August 27, 2008

Polls and racism in America

Barry Kay on polling, racism and the presidential election August 27, 2008

Polls, the media and profit

Barry Kay : Polling is a business, the interest of pollsters is not to educate the public August 27, 2008

26 August 2008

Military and Intelligence Methodology for Emergent Neurophysiological and Cognitive/Neural Science Research in the Next Two Decades

Click above for a free summary of the report. If you want to throw down, you can buy it there. More on this lunacy here. Point: the M-I complex is fully integrating biological and cognitive science. How wonderful.

Police Trap Peaceful Protesters in Denver: ANP

Lovely, and not surprising. Click above to view: when embedded, it played upon loading.

25 August 2008

The Genius of Charles Darwin, Full Show

If you've already watched part one, jump down a bit. If not, here's the whole shebang:

Part 1: Life, Darwin, and Everything...

Part 2: The Fifth Ape...

Part 3: God Strikes Back...

FBI Seeks Sweeping New Powers, Aziz Huq, The Nation

August 22, 2008

In July, the Associated Press reported that Attorney General Michael Mukasey was overhauling rules that govern when the FBI can begin an investigation. In a speech last week in Portland, Mukasey acknowledged this and explained that the new guidelines would yield a "more flexible, more proactive, and more efficient" bureau.

FBI guidelines matter because Congress has never enacted a comprehensive statute governing the bureau, even though the FBI last month marked its hundredth anniversary.

The FBI's birth in 1908 was an accident unanticipated by Congress: it was born because Attorney General Charles Bonaparte, frustrated by a Congressional appropriations rider precluding him from borrowing agents from Treasury to conduct investigations, hired ten former US Secret Service agents as investigators.

For the next hundred years, the bureau staved off efforts by Congress to create a constraining legislative framework. After the Church Committee investigations of the 1970s revealed massive FBI surveillance of civil rights leaders and activists, Congress seriously debated such a statute.

But then-Attorney General Edward Levi pre-empted that effort by issuing guidelines defining what facts could trigger an investigations, when confidential informants could be sent in and other hot-button questions. Political will on the Hill for confrontation evaporated.

While the Levi guidelines have been watered down by Reagan, Bush I and Bush II attorneys general, they nevertheless still provide a critical brake on the bureau: by giving rules to trigger an investigation, deciding when incognito FBI agents can attend public meetings, and for informants' usage--all matters the Constitution does not regulate. The rules provide the sole barrier between the people and open-ended surveillance.

While the new guidelines have yet to be released, Mukasey's Portland speech raises serious concerns.

The new rules, for example, would allow the FBI to open an investigation based on a person's race plus his or her travel history. In his Portland speech, Mukasey made much of the fact that no investigation can begin "simply based on somebody's race, religion, or exercise of First Amendment rights." But this is cold comfort if the bureau focuses on Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities, whose members frequently travel overseas (as anecdotal evidence and common sense suggest); for these groups, the new rules discards any restraint on surveillance.

Moreover, the new rules would allow the FBI to open investigations based on its own "threat assessment and profiles constructed from public databases and informants' tips. This invites the targeting of dissident groups--a trend already visible at the state and local level.

Simultaneously with the guidelines changes, the Administration is stealthily unfurling a gamut of other regulatory changes to shift federal and local law enforcement dramatically from an investigative to an intelligence-gathering role.

In past year, the Administration has injected upward of $2 million to develop a network of 15,000-plus informants in the United States. It has ramped up its internal data-mining efforts, and taken a forward-leaning position on its authority to conduct secret searches, or black-bag operations, in the United States.

Compounding these concerns, the bureau is aggressively recruiting local and state law enforcement into its open-ended data collection efforts.

In June, the bureau issued guidance to local law enforcement agencies about "suspicious activity" to be recorded and shared with federal authorities. The list includes First Amendment-protected activities, such as expressing "extremist views" and "affiliation" with "extremist organizations." Proposed new regulations would loosen limits on federal-state information sharing by eliminating the requirement that agencies state a reason to know information.

Further, as a pair of superlative reports by the ACLU (here and here) demonstrate, the federal government has recently initiated the creation of a nationwide network of "fusion centers," where federal and state law enforcement authorities sit together and share information.

Any one of these changes can get lost in the hype of convention season. Standing alone, any one change might seem innocuous, even sensible. Marshaled together, however, these stealth changes portend a dramatic redirection of America's law enforcement agencies--the inking of a new national surveillance state with tendrils trailing down into every precinct and station house of the land.

About Aziz Huq

Aziz Huq directs the liberty and national security project at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. He is co-author of Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror (New Press, 2007)

He is a 2006 recipient of the Carnegie Scholars Fellowship and has published scholarship in the Columbia Law Review, the Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, and the New School's Constellations Journal. He has also written for Himal Southasian, Legal Times and the American Prospect, and appeared as a commentator on Democracy Now! and NPR's Talk of the Nation. more...

  • Copyright © 2008 The Nation

The Gaza Blockade and the USS Liberty