Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stop The War On Whistleblowers

Not only do they want to prevent us from knowing about the crimes Bradley Manning exposed, exposures that have led to no negative consequences in terms of national security according to the government, our government isn't allowing us to really know what's happening at his trial.  And the corporate media is going along.  Watch this video supporting him.  When they threaten to kill a person for informing us of incidents that are in the public interest they threaten us with tyranny.  It's not democracy if we aren't allowed to know the relevant information.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Heritage Foundation vs Equador

Bill Black, associate professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, puts it pretty well in this article, talking about the Heritage Foundation in a way that I've discussed before.  Their so called "Index of Economic Freedom" represents faux empiricism in service to ideological dogmas.  More from Black:
Modern theoclassical economics has made an art form of fake empiricism produced by fake think tanks that shape their product to please their corporate founders/donors.  The products may look like science, but it is simply dogma misrepresenting reality in an intellectually dishonest manner.
His focus is on Ecuador, which has run in exactly the opposite direction of the policy recommendations of groups like Heritage, which advocates Washington Consensus neoliberal policies.  The result is a 7.8% economic growth rate, 4.1% unemployment (the lowest in Latin America) and even more impressively, economic growth that is for the benefit of not just the richest members of society, but also the others.  Black asks how Heritage handles the case of Ecuador?  Naturally they try to spin it like it's not too impressive.

Here Krugman discusses recent data they offered to the Senate that was false and deliberately misleading.  Here Krugman discusses another recent bit of fraud from one of their white supremacist types.  Sadly people continue to take them seriously.  That's the power of money.

Friday, June 21, 2013

They Wire Tapped Candidate Obama

NSA whistleblower Russ Tice talks about how then candidate for Senate Barack Obama was being surveilled by the NSA.  Thanks to Examinator for the tip off on this one.  If you had any doubt about the potential for abuse of this program, consider that whatever skeletons existed on Obama's closet are now possibly known by the NSA.  Is the most most powerful man in the world being controlled by potentially embarrassing information?  You sometimes wonder how a community organizer and Constitutional lawyer like Barack Obama can turn into a war mongering, Constitution shredding lunatic, going in 100% the opposite direction of what his rhetoric during the campaigns would suggest.  Obviously I don't know.  For all I know he could just be a psychopath with no real moral bearings, just saying whatever is expedient for securing power.  But could he be bending to the powers that know his secrets?  While we can't know it we know it's the very kind of thing that the laws in our country were designed to guard against.  We know the temptation for those in power will be to exploit this NSA program in exactly this manner.  People that have power strive to retain their grip on power, and this is how you do it.  This is a travesty that exposes how undemocratic our institutions are, and getting worse.

In a related note, researches are working on drones that look like mosquitos.  They'll be in our homes surveilling, securing their grip on power, unless we stop it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

US Propaganda as Teaching Aid

I'm still pounding away at my language learning mission.  It's going OK.  One thing I tried as a teaching aid briefly was Voice of America for China.  Basically it's blatant US propaganda directed at the Chinese.  What's nice about it though as a teaching aid is you get a transcript and the text is spoken by the news anchors.  So what I tried to do was first take the transcript and paste it into Google Translate.  This gives me a kind of rough translation and it also gives me the romanized version of the text.  So for instance you see 中 and Google Translate tells you it is pronounced zhōng and also gives you the main definition.  Then I'd just work through it by translating the individual words.  I was thinking I'd note words that I thought would make good additions to my flash card program.  Then knowing kind of what is being said I'd listen to the anchors read it and try to follow.  It was a pretty big undertaking.  I only tried it briefly because I found something else that worked better for me.

Anyway, here's a translation I did from the broadcast from February 8 of this year.  Interesting in light of the recent disclosures about how Obama has drawn up a list of targets for cyber attack.  VOA paints China negatively for doing the same back in February.  A Chinese friend at work was watching VOA yesterday I noticed and I asked him what they were talking about.  They were aggressively criticizing Edward Snowden for revealing that the US is doing exactly what VOA criticized China for doing back during the show I transcribed.  My translation was literal, word for word, which is why grammatically it's so strange.  I have one line in black and then my literal word for word translation of that black line follows in bold, then this is repeated.  The end is interesting.  "China does not hesitate through internet crime to advance it's economic and political interests."  Pot meets kettle.

Huáshèngdùn— yīgè xīngqí lái, jǐ gè hé wǎng lù yǒuguān de xīnwén yǐnqǐ guǎngfàn zhùyì.
Washington – one class week come, several class (he?) internet related de news cause widespread attention.

Shǒuxiān shi měiguó “niǔyuē shí bào” děng duō jiā quánwēi méitǐ xuānbù zāo dào zhōngguó
First is America “New York Times” same many other authoritative media announce by the Chinese

hēikè gōngjí, yǐnfā qiángliè guānzhù. Qícì, wǎng lù jùbāi gǔgē gōngsī de dǒngshì zhǎng
hacker attacks, initiate intense interest. Secondly, internet giant Google company de director Eric

shī mì tè zài qí xīnshū zhōng, chēng zhōngguó shì quánqiú zuì wéixiǎn de chāojí
Schmidt located its new book within, calls China is global/total most danger de super

qiángquán, yīn wéi zhōngguó zhèngfǔ hé guóyíng qǐyè bùxī tòuguò wǎng lù fànzuì lái huòqǔ
power, because China government and state-run enterprise not hesitate through internet crime come get

jīngjì hé zhèngzhì lìyì
economic and political interests.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Greenwald Killing It

So I have been so out of it between certain family events, being on vacation, etc, that I knew nothing of Greenwald's bombshells until late Friday and didn't get a chance to read his columns until Saturday.  So people reading this I'm sure already know what's going on.  He had been somewhat limited in his access to cable news since some of his Wikileaks appearances where he embarrassed the critics, like what happened here with Fran Townsend.  I'd read he didn't go on CNN again after that appearance.  Until now.  He's back on.  And he's doing to others what he did to Fran Townsend and the idiot CNN host back then.

From the right wing Newsbusters website, watch him expose the CNBC host's errors and spin.  Here he is with CNN's Anderson Cooper taking on Ari Fleischer.  Here in a fair interview with Howard Kurtz he addresses some of his critics.

Unfortunately, but for me unsurprisingly, polls show a majority of Americans do support this total surveillance state that has been revealed.  I think we shouldn't get discouraged by that.  Even Greenwald himself after 9-11 still bought off on a lot of lies, generally assumed our government was engaging in foreign policy with benevolent intent, and supported the invasion of Iraq from a kind of uninformed perspective that granted the benefit of the doubt to our leaders.  This was the place I found myself in as well.  I think a lot fewer Americans are similarly duped today.  We need to keep plugging away.

I want to address one argument you hear frequently from people that don't object to this total surveillance that is in the hands of this largely unaccountable institution called the NSA.  People say they don't object because they have nothing to hide.  If you have nothing to hide and it can conceivably prevent terrorism, what's the harm?

But it's not necessarily about what you have to hide.  Consider that Edward Snowden said he had access to everything, even conceivably emails involving the President.  Can democracy really function in this way?  Suppose Snowden had a friend facing a DUI.  What's to stop him from taking a look at emails from the presiding judge, digging for something to embarrass the judge and pressure him to offer a favorable ruling?  What's to stop someone from serving the interests of a powerful corporation that wants to pollute in your district from taking a look at your Congressman's history.  Suppose he discovers an affair.  Then for reasons that aren't clear your Congressman suddenly doesn't mind putting a toxic landfill upstream from your house.  What's to stop even more powerful people from similarly manipulating the President?

This is not a hypothetical scenario.  This is exactly the kind of abuse that was going on with the FBI under J Edgar Hoover.  You can be sure it's happening now.  Give unaccountable people all the power and they'll abuse it.  That's why we have a 4th amendment to our Constitution.


Mika Brzezinski takes on Glenn.  Wow, it's hard to find a person more skilled.  And it's kind of like Chomsky.  He has his facts in order, so to try and spin just doesn't work.  We couldn't ask for a better spokesperson than Glenn Greenwald.  You see how these talk show hosts get embarrassed and you understand why they don't want to interview him.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Excerpt from Chomsky's "Power Systems"

A brief an interesting excerpt here includes some interesting historical details regarding the Cuban missile crisis.  If you didn't already know our leaders, though often praised for their handling of the issue, in fact acted in ways that appear insane.  Also a few details about the current crisis with N Korea, which frankly for most Americans, me included, is just completely shrouded in mystery.  Yeah, we know their leaders are a bit nuts, but I always feel like there's a lot to the story we aren't getting.  Chomsky provides some of that mostly unknown background.