Monday, July 08, 2013

you can forget about asserting your constitutional rights when the clampdown comes...,

guardian | why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis - or all three.
Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic "emergency" or "civil disturbance":
"Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances."
Other documents show that the "extraordinary emergencies" the Pentagon is worried about include a range of environmental and related disasters.
In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:
"Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response."
Two years later, the Department of Defense's (DoD) Army Modernisation Strategy described the arrival of a new "era of persistent conflict" due to competition for "depleting natural resources and overseas markets" fuelling "future resource wars over water, food and energy." The report predicted a resurgence of:
"... anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially threaten government stability."
In the same year, a report by the US Army's Strategic Studies Institute warned that a series of domestic crises could provoke large-scale civil unrest. The path to "disruptive domestic shock" could include traditional threats such as deployment of WMDs, alongside "catastrophic natural and human disasters" or "pervasive public health emergencies" coinciding with "unforeseen economic collapse." Such crises could lead to "loss of functioning political and legal order" leading to "purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency...
"DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance."
That year, the Pentagon had begun developing a 20,000 strong troop force who would be on-hand to respond to "domestic catastrophes" and civil unrest - the programme was reportedly based on a 2005 homeland security strategy which emphasised "preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents."
The following year, a US Army-funded RAND Corp study called for a US force presence specifically to deal with civil unrest.

don't try this at home: (unless you have your crazy white friend and his digital cameras with you)

There is no such thing as a lawful checkpoint in the US. It is illegal for police to stop people without PROBABLE CAUSE. That means evidence of a crime. "Inspection" is a euphemism for SEARCH. It is illegal for police to SEARCH WITHOUT A WARRANT. They cannot get a WARRANT without PROBABLE CAUSE. READ Amendment IV BELOW. Our ancestors shed blood & died to give us right to remain silent, right to NO unwarranted search etc. The question is whether POLICE will obey law. If POLICE have nothing to hide they will respect BILL OF RIGHTS & they will not ask for permission to violate the law. What happens if YOU ASK for permission to violate law? Allow police to violate the BILL OF RIGHTS & step onto a slippery slope. YOUR RIGHTS ARE NOTHING EXCEPT WHAT YOU WILL DEFEND. 

Amendment IV-Search & seizure "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall NOT be violated, and NO Warrants shall issue, but upon PROBABLE CAUSE, supported by Oath or affirmation, & particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." THE CONSTITUTION IS HIGHEST LAW. Do let them regurgitate usurpations. Tell them to back to constitution & learn about what SHOULD BE DONE. PROBABLE CAUSE IS NOT the power to search. PROBABLE CAUSE is ability to ASK A JUDGE for a search warrant. 

That warrant, IF GRANTED, would be power to search. Now they claim that they have created a "constitution free zone", by declaring that we have no rights, if we are within 100 miles of the border. If they get away with this, next it will be 200 miles, then 300 miles. Then they will simply abolish the constitution. View: Bill Jasper The SPLC- A Closer Look preview IN OUR LIVES government moved from service & friendly advice, to disrespect, to thuggery, to corruption, to outright criminal conspiracy. Logical discourse is now fined. Laws are whatever a particular policeman says they are at any moment. We do still have a legislative branch of government to create the illusion of rule of law. Yesterday's play ground bully now has a badge, a gun, & a tazer. View Freedom or Slavery? Understand your choice and your duty. IT ALL BECOMES CLEAR HERE.­BPMRhHap684Ig&index=1&feature=plcp Read the article, "Calling the Tyrant's Bluff" at View full Police State playlist & other videos on channel johnperna2­ature=view_all 

DO YOU WISH THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD READ THE CONSTITUTION? JUST EMAIL IT PRIVATELY TO A FRIEND. They are taking away the 4th Amendment & you might be quiet because you are not dealing drugs. They are taking away the 5th Amendment & you might be quiet because you are innocent. They are taking away the 2nd Amendment & you might be quiet because you do not own any guns. They are taking away the 1st Amendment & if you continue to be quiet you will have no choice but to be continue to be quiet. Freedom of speech - use it or lose it DID YOU LOSE YOUR PHONE? DID YOUR COMPUTER CRASH? DID YOU NOT HAVE A BACKUP? CALL THE NSA. THEY HAVE ALL OF YOUR DATA. Thomas Jefferson said "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." I add: "The battle for freedom is never won & is never lost. The battle for freedom always continues. It is never too late & it is never soon enough, to defend freedom. No matter how enslaved we are, we always have hope. No matter how free we are we are never safe. NOTHING EVER LIMITS THE GOVERNMENT, EXCEPT THE PEOPLE. Any generation that fails to defend freedom will lose it. The next generation will have to shed blood to gain it back. When the defense of liberty becomes a crime, tyranny is already in force. At that point, failure to defend liberty makes slavery a certainty." John Perna Watch the rest of the videos on this channel to make this a clear.

1930's mass deportations to mexico...,

LATimes |  Raymond Rodriguez was 10 years old in 1936 when his immigrant father walked out of the family's Long Beach farmhouse and returned to Mexico, never to see his wife and children again.
The son would spend decades pondering the forces that had driven his father away, an effort that reached fruition in "Decade of Betrayal," a social history of the 1930s focusing on an estimated 1 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans unjustly deported or scared into leaving their homes in the United States by federal and local officials seeking remedies for the Great Depression.

"Americans, reeling from the economic disorientation of the depression, sought a convenient scapegoat. They found it in the Mexican community," Rodriguez and co-author Francisco Balderrama wrote in the 1995 book, which sparked legislative hearings and formal apologies from the state of California and Los Angeles County officials.

Rodriguez, 87, a former Long Beach City College administrator and columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, who believed "the greatest tragedy of all" was public ignorance of the deportations, died June 24 at his Long Beach home. The cause was believed to be a heart attack, said his daughter, C.J. Crockett.
"It is no exaggeration to say that without the scholarly work by Ray and Francisco, no one but a handful of individuals would ever know about the illegal deportations of Mexican Americans in the 1930s," said former state Sen. Joseph Dunn (D-Santa Ana), who sponsored 2005 legislation that apologized for California's part in "fundamental violations" of the deportees' constitutional rights.

Last year the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors apologized for the county's role in the roundups.
The deportations began a decade before the World War II internment of 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Federal and local authorities rounded up Mexican immigrants and their families at dance halls, markets, hospitals, theaters and parks, loading them onto vans and trains that dumped them on Mexican soil.

One of the most notorious raids occurred in 1931 at La Placita, a popular gathering spot for immigrants outside Olvera Street in Los Angeles. A team of Immigration and Naturalization Service agents armed with guns and batons sealed off the small public park and herded 400 terrified men and women into waiting vans. The success of the raid galvanized authorities in other localities across the country.

By 1940, Rodriguez and Balderrama found, more than 1 million people of Mexican descent had been deported. Government officials used the term "repatriation" to describe their actions, but the researchers found that 60% of the expelled were U.S. citizens. "They might as well have sent us to Mars," Rodriguez once said, recalling the words of one "repatriate."

Sunday, July 07, 2013

more impressed with this little cat than I am with myself.....,

reddit | I don’t know what you were doing in middle school, but reading newspapers and using words like “theocracy” probably weren’t among your normal activities.

But for Ali Ahmed, a young Egyptian recently interviewed by El Wady News, grasping his country’s ongoing revolution and its political intricacies is as elementary as a spelling lesson.

Viewers might assume Ahmed must be parroting his parents, but listen to him speak and it’s obvious he grasps these concepts in a way that would put plenty of adults to shame; at 12 years old, this child understands political power, subtle hypocrisies, public manipulation and social injustice.

The video is blowing up on Reddit and even native speakers of Arabic confirm the subtitles are not only accurate, but Ahmed speaks at a level that would be considered impressive for an adult.

It's expected that the boy's observations about the recently toppled Muslim Brotherhood will not sit well with members of that party.

After witnessing their leader, President Mohammed Morsi ousted from office last week, the group has recently pledged to keep fighting in Egypt's streets until their power is restored.

The country remains in peril, but Ali Ahmed can be counted as one of its wise and reasoned voices.

left behind by the "recovery"...,

pbs | Paul Solman: Northeastern University economist Andrew Sum is featured in our youth joblessness story on the NewsHour Friday. His full picture of the crisis is essential reading, however, and so we share more of my interview with him here. For example, if you are a poor African-American high school teenage dropout, your likelihood of having a job is -- 5 percent.

Paul Solman: You have used the term "age twist" to describe today's job market? What do you mean?

Andrew Sum: What has happened is not a flat trend where every age group is moving up and down together as jobs grow and shrink. The younger you are, the more likely it is that you've been thrown out of the labor market. So for 16, 17, 18-year-olds, their employment rates have dropped to about half what they were a decade ago. Meanwhile, people 57 and over are more likely to be working today than they were in 2000. But the younger you are, the more likely it is you've been thrown out of the market.

Paul Solman: How does that compare to the historical relationship between age and joblessness?

Andrew Sum: Up until 1995, older workers were retiring more from the labor market so their employment rate was actually declining -- from the 1960s -- and then, starting in the 1990s, it began to change. The baby boomers were getting older. They had different work behavior and were more likely to stay in the labor market than their predecessors.

Paul Solman: That's people like us?

Andrew Sum: That's absolutely right. But among the young, we began to observe the problem after 2001. When the boom ended in 2000, the labor market, like it always does, generated lots of job losses for young people. What was different this time was that when the economy recovered, it generated no net new jobs for teenagers. Then along comes the 2007-2009 Great Recession, and the labor market for young people is destroyed.

The sad thing is that since the nation began to add jobs in 2009, we've created about 5.2 million additional jobs for America's workers. Teenagers in the aggregate received none of them. Not one.

Paul Solman: So, there are no more jobs for teenagers today than there were when the recovery started in 2009?

Andrew Sum: That's right. Not one.

Paul Solman: How do you explain that?

Andrew Sum: The labor market is still in a depressed state. Employers are telling us, and showing this in their behavior, that they'd rather hire older workers and young adults than teenagers. They find that they can do it. When we were talking to employers and I asked them about customer service, "Why were you hiring younger college grads rather than teenagers?"

They said, "For one reason, because I can." They've got choices about whom to hire and teenagers just unfortunately are at the very back of that queue.

banksters jacking the little man for his tiny little morsel of cheese....,

NYTimes | A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee. 

For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay. 

But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.
These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators. 

Devonte Yates, 21, who earns $7.25 an hour working a drive-through station at a McDonald’s in Milwaukee, says he spends $40 to $50 a month on fees associated with his JPMorgan Chase payroll card.
“It’s pretty bad,” he said. “There’s a fee for literally everything you do.” 

Certain transactions with the Chase pay card are free, according to a fee schedule. 

Many employees say they have no choice but to use the cards: some companies no longer offer common payroll options like ordinary checks or direct deposit. 

At companies where there is a choice, it is often more in theory than in practice, according to interviews with employees, state regulators and consumer advocates. Employees say they are often automatically enrolled in the payroll card programs and confronted with a pile of paperwork if they want to opt out. 

“We hear virtually every week from employees who never knew there were other options, and employers certainly don’t disabuse workers of that idea,” said Deyanira Del Rio, an associate director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, which works with community groups in New York. 

Taco Bell, Walgreen and Wal-Mart are among the dozens of well-known companies that offer prepaid cards to their workers; the cards are particularly popular with retailers and restaurants. And they are quickly gaining momentum. In 2012, $34 billion was loaded onto 4.6 million active payroll cards, according to the research firm Aite Group. Aite said it expected that to reach $68.9 billion and 10.8 million cards by 2017.
Companies and card issuers, which include Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup, say the cards are cheaper and more efficient than checks — a calculator on Visa’s Web site estimates that a company with 500 workers could save $21,000 a year by switching from checks to payroll cards. On its Web site, Citigroup trumpets how the cards “guarantee pay on time to all employees.” 

The largest issuer of payroll cards is NetSpend, based in Austin, Tex. Chuck Harris, the company’s president, says it attracts companies by offering convenience to employees and cost savings to employers.
“We built a product that an employer can fairly represent to their employees as having real benefits to them,” he said. Fist tap Dale.

egypt still broke and hongry...,

stratfor | Underlying the question of what political structure will emerge from this week's crisis, the fundamental fact is that Egypt is running out of money. Dwindling foreign reserves point to a negative balance of payments that is sapping central bank resources. At the same time, Egypt's reliance on foreign supplies of fuel and wheat is only growing. Egyptian petroleum production peaked in 1996 and the country first became a net importer in 2007. Government fuel subsidies are an enormous burden on state finances and, throughout the past year, failures to pay suppliers and a shortage of foreign exchange available to importers have caused supply shortfalls and price spikes throughout the country.

The government has a few options, including backing off subsidies in hopes that higher prices will help reduce consumption and therefore cut down on the net drain on state finances. That route carries a high risk of a major political backlash, so it is more likely that the government will continue, if not increase, its commitment to using state funds to guarantee sufficient supply and low prices.

The second major challenge stems from Egypt's extreme vulnerability to international food markets. Though dire warnings of food shortages have been frequent in the media, they have not yet appeared with any significant frequency within Egypt. However, this is not to say that they will not eventually appear. Bread is a staple of the Egyptian diet, and Egypt relies on imports for more than half of its wheat consumption. Although farmland within Egypt is increasingly dedicated to growing wheat, there is simply not enough arable land for Egypt to feed its population.

In fact, although Egypt is a vast country geographically, most of it is uninhabitable desert. Population growth is accelerating in Egypt's densely packed urban centers, threatening to worsen these underlying challenges. Population growth in 2012 hit its highest levels since 1991, reaching 32 births per 1,000 people and bringing the country's population to 84 million, according to initial government estimates. This represents an increase of 50 percent from 1990, when the population was just 56 million. Egypt's fertility rate is currently 2.9 children per woman and is expected to remain above the replacement ratio of 2.1 for at least the next two decades. As a result, the United Nations projects the Egyptian population to exceed 100 million by 2030. This means that Egypt will have a growing pool of young people of working age in the coming decades, creating substantial challenges for the Egyptian state to provide them with economic opportunities, or at the least sufficient basic goods.

Ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak faced similar problems, and growing poverty and joblessness are arguably among the root causes of the uprising in 2011 that unseated him. The wave of protests that challenged Morsi, who became the first democratically elected president in the country's history, should be understood as a continuation of this swelling trend. While previous governments in Egypt have been able to leverage strategic rent from foreign countries interested in maintaining stability in Egypt, which is the linchpin between the Middle East and North Africa and the manager of the Suez Canal, the country has become increasingly peripheral to the strategic needs of major powers.

As a result, although Egypt has been able to secure some limited funding from regional players such as Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Libya, it remains locked in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over some broader, more sustainable financial relief. It is possible that the new government will find a level of stability that the increasingly isolated Muslim Brotherhood leadership was unable to sustain in the face of rising disputes with former coalition partners and a firmly obstructionist judiciary. However, the military's decision to unseat Morsi underlined the instability inherent in Egypt's political system and may make it even more difficult for Egypt to return to the good graces of financial markets or Western powers. In any case, mounting demographic and economic pressures mean that the job of managing Egypt's economic challenges will become incrementally more difficult with each passing year and for each faction that occupies the presidential palace.

the egyptian military: manipulating, managing, containing collapse...,

stratfor | But the real issue in Egypt has always been something else. Though a general was forced out of office in 2011, it was not clear that the military regime did not remain, if not in power, then certainly the ultimate arbiter of power in Egyptian politics. Over the past year, so long as Morsi remained the elected president, the argument could be made that the military had lost its power. But just as we argued that the fall of Hosni Mubarak had been engineered by the military in order to force a succession that the aging Mubarak resisted, we can also argue that while the military had faded into the background, it remained the decisive force in Egypt.  

Modern Egypt was founded in 1952 in a military coup by Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser was committed to modernizing Egypt, and he saw the army as the only real instrument of modernization. He was a secularist committed to the idea that Arab nations ought to be united, but not Islamist by any means. He was a socialist, but not a communist. Above all else, he was an Egyptian army officer committed to the principle that the military guaranteed the stability of the Egyptian nation.

When the uprisings of the Arab Spring came, Nasser's successors used the unrest to force Mubarak out, and then they stepped back. It is interesting to consider whether they would have been content to retain their institutional position under a Muslim Brotherhood-led government. However, Morsi never really took control of the machinery of government, partly because he was politically weak, partly because the Muslim Brotherhood was not ready to govern, and partly because the military never quite let go.  

This dynamic culminated in the demonstrations of this "Egyptian Summer." The opposition leadership appears to support constitutional democracy. Whether the masses in the streets do as well or whether they simply dislike the Muslim Brotherhood is difficult to tell, but we suspect their interests are about food and jobs more than about the principles of liberalism. Still, there was an uprising, and once again the military put it to use.
In part, the military did not want to see chaos, and it saw itself as responsible for averting it. In part, the military distrusted the Muslim Brotherhood and was happy to see it forced out of office. As in 2011, the army acted overtly to maintain order and simultaneously to shape the Egyptian political order. They deposed Morsi, effectively replacing him with a more secular and overtly liberal leadership.

But what must be kept in mind is that, just as in 2011, when the military was willing to pave the way for Morsi, so too is it now paving the way for his opposition. And this is the crucial point -- while Egypt is increasingly unstable, the army is shaping what order might come out of it. The military is less interested in the ideology of the government than in containing chaos. Given this mission, it does not see itself as doing more than stepping back. It does not see itself as letting go.

The irony of the Egyptian Arab Spring is that while it brought forth new players, it has not changed the regime or the fundamental architecture of Egyptian politics. The military remains the dominant force, and while it is prepared to shape Egypt cleverly, what matters is that it will continue to shape Egypt.
Therefore, while it is legitimate to discuss a military coup, it is barely legitimate to do so. What is going on is that there is broad unhappiness in Egypt that is now free to announce its presence. This unhappiness takes many ideological paths, as well as many that have nothing to do with ideology. Standing on stage with the unhappiness is the military, manipulating, managing and containing it. Everyone else, all of the politicians, come and go, playing a short role and moving on -- the military and the crowd caught in a long, complex and barely comprehensible dance.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

nsa recruitment drive goes wrong...,

guardian news | On Tuesday, the National Security Agency called at the University of Wisconsin on a recruitment drive. 

Attending the session was Madiha R Tahir, a journalist studying a language course at the university. She asked the squirming recruiters a few uncomfortable questions about the activities of NSA: which countries the agency considers to be "adversaries", and if being a good liar is a qualification for getting a job at the NSA. 

She has posted a recording of the session on Soundcloud, which you can hear above, and posted a rough transcript on her blog, The Mob and the Multitude. Here are some highlights.
The session begins ...

Tahir: "Do you consider Germany and the countries that the NSA has been spying upon to be adversaries, or are you, right now, not speaking the truth?"

Recruiter 1: "You can define adversary as 'enemy' and, clearly, Germany is not our enemy. But would we have foreign national interests from an intelligence perspective on what's going on across the globe? Yeah, we do."

Tahir: "So by 'adversaries', you actually mean anybody and everybody. There is nobody, then, by your definition that is not an adversary. Is that correct?"

Recruiter 1: "That is not correct."

Recruiter 2: "… for us, our business is apolitical, OK? We do not generate the intelligence requirements. They are levied on us ... We might use the word 'target'."

Tahir: "I'm just surprised that for language analysts, you're incredibly imprecise with your language. And it just doesn't seem to be clear."

Later ...

Tahir: "... this is a recruiting session and you are telling us things that aren't true. And we also know that the NSA took down brochures and factsheets after the Snowden revelations because those factsheets also had severe inaccuracies and untruths in them, right? So how are we supposed to believe what you're saying?" Fist tap Dale.

venezuela offers asylum to edward snowden

guardian | Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro said on Friday he had decided to offer asylum to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.

"In the name of America's dignity ... I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden," Maduro told a televised military parade marking Venezuela's independence day.

The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor is believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport.

WikiLeaks said on Friday that Snowden had applied to six more nations for asylum, bringing to about 20 the number of countries he has asked for protection from US espionage charges.

Maduro said Venezuela was ready to offer him sanctuary, and that the details Snowden had revealed of a US spy program had exposed the nefarious schemes of the US "empire".

"He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the US spying on the whole world," Maduro said.
"Who is the guilty one? A young man ... who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president Bashar al-Assad?"

"Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?"

in the name of our friendship, we must say things clearly, directly, frankly....,

guardian | Germany and the US will begin talks as soon as Monday, to address mounting European concerns over internet surveillance that are threatening to overshadow trade negotiations and damage Silicon Valley exports.

A German government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said a working group of high-level US and German intelligence experts will begin "an immediate and intense discussion" over the issues of data protection and intelligence collection revealed by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

This follows the clearest acknowledgement yet by the White House of how the affair is damaging transatlantic relations. In a phone call on Wednesday, President Barack Obama assured Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, "that the United States takes seriously the concerns" – despite his having previously dismissed the spying allegations as no different from activities undertaken by many other countries.

The European Commission also underlined the commercial threat to the US on Thursday by warning that European businesses are likely to abandon the services of American internet providers because of the NSA surveillance scandal. Neelie Kroes, the EC vice-president who speaks on digital affairs, predicted that providers of cloud services, which allow users to store and access data on remote servers, could suffer significant loss of business if clients fear the security of their material is under threat.

The French government called for a suspension of long-awaited talks on a new transatlantic free-trade pact, due to start on Monday, while the US explains its surveillance practices. European ambassadors eventually agreed to go ahead with negotiations in parallel.

France's top security official publicly admonished the United States at the American ambassador's 4 July garden party, denouncing alleged US "espionage" of France and other countries. Interior minister Manuel Valls was guest of honor at the fête, which was hosted by ambassador Charles Rivkin on Thursday. In a speech before hundreds of guests, he said that "in the name of our friendship, we owe each other honesty. We must say things clearly, directly, frankly".

Valls said that President François Hollande's demand for clear and precise explanations about reports of spying are justified because "such practices, if proven, do not have their place between allies and partners".
In the US, initial anger over domestic surveillance has been distracted in recent days by attempts to capture Snowden, but the forthcoming talks are likely to refocus attention on the White House. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, also faces the prospect of new congressional hearings to explain why he previously misled the Senate intelligence committee over the extent of data gathered on US citizens.

Friday, July 05, 2013

want to see the files being kept on you?

dailykos | Have you ever Tweeted a politically subversive message, attended a protest, or signed an oppositional petition? If so, you may have a dedicated file on you kept by the FBI and/or the NSA.

With a simple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, any U.S. citizen can obtain one's NSA or FBI file, if such a file exists.

It simply takes a few minutes to fill out the requisite forms and mail them to the appropriate address. An independent site – www.getmyfbifile – will, free of charge, generate the necessary forms for you already filled out.

Of course, you can also do this directly through the NSA or FBI if you are worried about providing personal information to an independent site.

While an appropriate level of cynicism may be warranted concerning the level of transparency one should expect from such a request – should your file be substantial – it is the law that your complete file be provided to you upon request.

Demand that the law be followed, for it is your right as a citizen to know this information.

My request is going in the mail today.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

mail isolation control and tracking program...,

NYTimes | Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home. 

“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green. 

“It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who with his wife owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr. Pickering’s mail but told him nothing else. 

As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.
Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images. 

Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail. Fist tap Arnach.

the "public" broadcast system calls naked thuggery "diplomatic persuasion"...,

pbs | P.J. CROWLEY: Well, it's a careful balancing act.

Clearly, both publicly and privately, the United States has told the world and particular countries, this is important to us, we want this guy back. By the same token, you don't want to make Edward Snowden the face of any relationship, the be-all and end-all of any relationship. I think that's one of the reasons why a pretty sophisticated play by China.

They were facing a legal process in Hong Kong that might have taken months. You can see with Vladimir Putin, who now has him, wants to get rid much him and has no one to hand him off to, the Chinese look at this and say, why do I want this complication? They whispered in his ear, you have got to go. They move to the side.

I think what we saw yesterday in the interplay over the potential that he might land in Evo Morales' airplane, not a case of the United States playing offense. I think it was a case of countries playing defense, because if you're a European leader right now, your best friend is the United States, very important relationship.

You have got some public sentiment in Europe. It's not so much about Snowden, per se, but he revealed some things that touch on privacy in Europe, a very sensitive issue, so there is some public sympathy for what Snowden represents. And these leaders one by one just said, I can't take a risk that Snowden is on that airplane, so why do I want to walk into that briar patch?

RAY SUAREZ: James Lewis, there was anger in Europe, feigned or real, about the revelations this week about spying on Europeans.

The president of Russia said, yes, Edward Snowden can stay, but he can't keep releasing things. And then he almost caught himself and said, and that may sound strange coming out of my lips.

Is this a game where all the players understand they have an interest, even if they're not friends?

JAMES LEWIS: Yes. And I think President Putin wins the prize for the best line so far in this episode, but everyone is looking at this as a political issue. No one is looking at it as Snowden, per se. They're asking, how would this affect my relations with the U.S.? What do I get out of it? What do I get that's a benefit from giving this kid asylum, particularly when the stuff he has on his computer, they may already have or at least know about?

So he's in an awkward place, and every country is looking at this as a political issue.

old-school creeping in the ecuadoran embassy sheltering assange...,

independent | The Ecuadorean Embassy has discovered a hidden microphone inside its building where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is sheltering from extradition to Sweden.

Politician Ricardo Patino said the microphone was found inside the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ana Alban. It was found during a visit made by Patino to the embassy to meet with Assange on 16 June.

"We have found a hidden microphone in the London embassy," said Patino. "I did not bring this up before because I didn't want my visit to London to hold talks on Julian Assange to be confused with accusations over this surveillance device found in the ambassador's office."

The Foreign Office in London declined to comment immediately on the allegation and Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said he did not comment on security issues.

Assange has been living inside the embassy for more than a year to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces allegations by two women of sexual assault. He denies this allegation.

If sent to Sweden he fears he would then be extradited from there to the United States to face potential charges over the release of thousands of confidential US documents on WikiLeaks.

Wikileaks are attempting to assist Snowden, who is believed to be stranded at a Moscow airport and is seeking asylum in over 20 countries including Ecuador.

“We regret to inform you that in our embassy in London we have found a hidden microphone,” Patino told a news conference in Quito on Tuesday.

“I didn't denounce this at the time because we didn't want the theme of our visit to London to be confused with this matter,” said Patino, who met during his time in London with British Foreign Secretary William Hague to discuss Assange.

“Furthermore, we first wanted to ascertain with precision what could be the origin of this interception device in the office of our ambassador,” he said.

“We are sorry to say so, but this is another instance of a loss of ethics at the international level in relations between governments,” he added.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

can the pretense of american democracy survive disclosure of the extent of its betrayal by the establishment?

aljazeera | what exists now in the US is a perfect storm of disempowerment of Americans by all three branches of their government when it comes to the most basic rights citizens can possess. For three presidential terms the Executive Branch has been firmly the hands of presidents and officials who believe that the government can contravene the most basic rights of any person - citizen or foreigners - as long as they can justify such actions in the guise of "protecting the American people" and other raisons d'Etat.

Congress, which in theory should have checked such untrammeled Executive Power, most recently revealed by Edward Snowden's leaking of NSA and other Executive Branch surveillance and spying policies. But what the Snowden affair reaffirms instead is the reality that Congress has little will to oppose such policies and indeed by and large supports the military-industrial-intelligence behemoth that so threatens the rights of all. Given the corporate control of the Congress and the political process more broadly, there is little incentive for legislators to draft and/or support any kind of legislation that would protect and enhance the rights of individual citizens at the expense of state power or its corporate sponsors.

And finally there is the Supreme Court. Here three cases in particular have enabled unprecedented constriction of the power of ordinary people vis-a-vis the political and economic elites who govern--better, rule--over them. The first is the Citizens United decision of 2010, which declared any restrictions on independent corporate campaign spending unconstitutional, thereby giving corporations equal rights and far more power than ordinary citizens. Next was the Clapper v. Amnesty decision this past February, in which the Court ruled in a case involving the surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden that human rights activists and journalists do not have the right to challenge secret FISA wiretaps that might collect their data, since they couldn't prove they were a target (an impossible standard since by definition the authorisations to collect data are secret). This ruling "jettisoned the bedrock requirement of the Fourth Amendment," in the words of Georgetown University Constitutional Law professor David Cole, by allowing the surveillance of individuals without any indication they were involved in wrongdoing. Finally, there is the effective overturning of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby v. Holder, decided last week, which will by most accounts ensure that Republican-controlled states pass legislation whose only result - whatever the putative intent - will be to make it much more difficult if not impossible for millions of citizens to carry out their most important democratic obligation. Some may argue that the Court's ruling that bans on same sex marriage are unconstitutional reveals a high degree of ambivalence in the Court's position on fundamental rights. But as important is the victory on marriage equality it is of a fundamentally different order than the stakes involved in the voting rights, which impacts a far broader spectrum of citizens and constitutional principles--namely the ability of government actively to subvert the enfranchisement of its poor and minority citizens. It is far more closely tied to the most basic historical structures of inequality in the United States than were the dynamics behind the uconstitutional prohibition against gay mariage.

The question remains as to what Americans will do in response to this tripartite aggression against them by their government. Almost 36 months ago the tactics and bravery of the early Arab uprisings helped inspire the Occupy movement globally, and particularly in the US. But however powerful the initial outburst, the movement has lost much if not most of its political and cultural momentum. Today protests sweeping across countries as diverse as Turkey and Brazil serve as another reminder of the power, and at times, obligation, of "the people" to take to the streets in order to force their governments take their core needs and concerns into consideration as part of the normal practice of governance.

With no where to turn politically, and an economic system that despite all the scandals and damage of the last half decade still remains firmly in the grips of the hyper-corporate forces that led the country into the "Great Recession," Americans have no one but themselves to rely on to reassert control over a political system that was designed precisely to ensure this kind of stacking of the deck against citizens by their government wouldn't happen. Occupying public or virtual spaces will not solve their problems unless it is done on a far greater scale and level of intensity and perseverance than were exhibited by the first incarnation of the Occupy movement. Even the civil rights revolution offers too narrow a model of protest and strategy for the present situation.

It's hard to know how Americans can actually "take back their government," as Republicans and Democrats routinely urge them without a hint of irony, utilising any of the political and cultural tools presently available to them. But at least with the events of the last few weeks they can no longer say they didn't understand the full spectrum of forces arrayed against them. If that doesn't generate enough urgency to produce the kind of conversations and grass roots practices that can lead to new political models emerging, then the death knell of democracy as most Americans have for generations understood it has most definitely sounded.

better lift that "head of state" sack and cough, boy!

cnn | Rumors that U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden hitched a ride on the Bolivian presidential jet forced the plane's grounding in Austria and outraged several South American leaders.

The drama unfurled when Portuguese authorities wouldn't let Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane land in Lisbon for refueling while on his way back from Russia, Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra told CNN en Español.

French authorities also wouldn't let the plane enter their airspace, he said.

"We are told that there were some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane," Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said. "We do not know who has invented this lie. Someone who wants to harm our country. This information that has been circulated is malicious information to harm this country."

After landing in Austria, Morales spent more than 10 hours stuck in Vienna.
Austrian officials said they believe Snowden was not on the plane, as passport officials have checked the passports of everyone on the aircraft, Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grunbock told CNN. But he said the passport officials have not been on board the plane itself to inspect it.
The Austrian government is accepting Morales' word and, saying "there is no reason to doubt that," Grunbock said.

The Bolivian mission in Vienna said Italy joined France and Portugal in refusing to allow Morales' plane in their airspace. Such restrictions would cut off any direct path from Austria to Bolivia.

Outrage in Latin America
Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera described Morales as a "hostage of imperialism."
"The president has been kidnapped by imperialism, and he is being held in Europe," he said in a televised address late Tuesday night. The vice president called for workers worldwide to protest "this act of imperial arrogance."

The situation drew a swift rebuke from Ecuador's foreign minister, who told reporters he planned to call a regional meeting of the Union of South American Nations, known as UNASUR, to discuss it.

"We consider this a huge offense, and I will call for a UNASUR special summit with foreign secretaries to discuss this issue," Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said.

Cuba's Foreign Ministry also condemned the incident.

"This constitutes an unacceptable, unfounded and arbitrary act which offends all of Latin America and the Caribbean," the ministry said in a statement.

snowden: statement and asylum applications...,

wikileaks | One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many. Edward Joseph Snowden

wikileaks | On 30th June 2013 WikiLeaks’ legal advisor in the Edward Snowden matter, Sarah Harrison, submitted by hand a number of requests for asylum and asylum assistance on behalf of Edward J. Snowden, the NSA whistleblower.

The requests were delivered to an official at the Russian consulate at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow late in the evening. The documents outline the risks of persecution Mr Snowden faces in the United States and have started to be delivered by the Russian consulate to the relevant embassies in Moscow.

The requests were made to a number of countries including the Republic of Austria, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Finland, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Poland, the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Spain, the Swiss Confederation and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The requests join or update others previously made including to the Republic of Ecuador and the Republic of Iceland.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

FBI: protect and serve corporations - citizens: served with no regard...,

RT | Only one month into the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations last year, plans were formulated to identify key figures in the movement and execute them with a coordinated assault using sniper rifles, new documents reveal.

The revelation — discussed in a heavily redacted FBI memo unearthed late last month through a Freedom of Information Act request — reveals that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of plans for a violent assault on the peaceful protest movement but stayed silent on rumors of an assassination attempt only until now.

Information on the alleged plot to kill off protesters appears on page 61 of the trove of documents obtained recently by a FOIA request filed by the Partnership For Civil Justice Fund. On the page in question, marked “SECRET,” the FBI acknowledges:

An identified [redacted] of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas, if deemed necessary. An identified [redacted] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [Redacted] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles.

In the rest of the material obtained by the PFCJF, the FBI declines to mention any follow-up attempts to investigate the rumored assassination plot. Page 61, where the plot is discussed, was redacted heavily before it was handed over to the PFCJF.

“This correlation between the FBI, the Department of Homeland security and corporations in the New York stock exchange really showed who they are serving. It’s not the government in this case, it’s these corporations and a financial sector, and it’s certainly not the people,” independent journalist and activist Anna Lekas Miller told RT.

“The FBI is really just targeting ordinary people going about their daily lives as potential terrorists, and now people, who are participating in peaceful protests, are also characterized as domestic terrorists. So, I think the FBI is really picking and choosing who it categorizes as the type of civilians it wants to protect,” added Miller.

As RT reported when the documents were first published just before Christmas, other material released through the FOIA request showed the FBI and other law enforcement agencies labeling Occupy activists as criminal and domestic terrorists. This was the case from the beginning of their anti-capitalism and anti-corporate greed protests that started in September 2011.

“These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity,” PFCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard says. “These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

But while police agencies were working to expose protesters for alleged crimes against the country, the demonstrators themselves were being faced with very real death threats.

palpatine in a wig wants all your guns and all your information...,

NYTimes | She fought so hard to outlaw assault weapons that the National Rifle Association deemed her efforts tantamount to proposing the largest gun ban in American history. Well before the Supreme Court took up same-sex marriage, she sponsored a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. And she urged President George W. Bush, and later President Obama, to shut down the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

But Senator Dianne Feinstein — California Democrat and liberal lioness — has taken on a role that is leaving many of her allies on the left dismayed: as perhaps the most forthright and unapologetic Congressional defender of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

“I think it’s an act of treason,” she said of the leaks by Edward J. Snowden, the N.S.A. contractor who revealed classified details about the programs, even as many liberals were hailing him as a whistle-blower. She has praised James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, who has been accused of lying to the Senate about the scope of the programs, as an honest and direct man.

At 80 — the Senate’s oldest member — she says she is resolute that the danger from terrorists demands an aggressive national security apparatus.

“I feel I have an obligation to do everything I can to keep this country safe,” Ms. Feinstein, who as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is one of the few Americans with detailed knowledge of the N.S.A.’s efforts, said in a recent interview from her private Capitol Hill office. “So put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Although her political upbringing in the liberal bastion of San Francisco City Hall, where she served first as a city supervisor and then as mayor, suggests otherwise, her beliefs have always defied an easy caricature. She supports capital punishment, saying the Boston Marathon bombings should be prosecuted as a death penalty case. She cast votes to sustain the Iraq war until its later stages and voted to confirm Bush cabinet and judicial nominees from her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Her Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee often had no idea when she would vote against them. Her support for Mr. Bush’s nominee for attorney general in 2007, Michael B. Mukasey, prompted some in the California Democratic Party to try to censure her.

To her critics today, she is just another victim of Stockholm syndrome on the Congressional Intelligence Committees: an enabler of government overreach who has been intoxicated by the privilege of knowing the deepest-held state secrets.

pelosi catching shade at netroots for pretending the emperor can be clothed...,

Speaking in a wide-ranging Q&A session at this year's Netroots Nation conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was booed by progressive activists Saturday for defending President Obama on the NSA's surveillance programs and suggesting that alleged leaker, Edward Snowden broke the law...

Pelosi said it's unfair to equate Obama and former President George W. Bush on the issue of surveillance. "People on the far right are saying oh, this is the fourth term of President Bush," the California Democrat said. "Absolutely, positively not so." As Pelosi was saying the country needs a "balance" between security and privacy, Marc Perkel, a 57-year-old activist from Gilroy, Calif., started shouting at Pelosi during her answer and was escorted out of the room. "It's not a balance. It's not constitutional!" he yelled. "No secret laws!" 

Others in the room began shouting as well, saying things like "Leave him alone!" or "That's what a police state looks like right there!" The moderator, Zerlina Maxwell, worked to quiet the crowd by saying audience members needed to submit questions via Twitter rather than shouting them out, but Pelosi said she didn't mind. "I welcome the challenges that people pose because I think that those questions must be answered," Pelosi said. She was further booed when she said Snowden did break the law by leaking the information he revealed. "As far as Snowden: he did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents," she said. Some of the crowd erupted in boos, with one man screaming, "You suck!"

social media censorship offers clues to china's plans...,

technologyreview | In February last year, political scandal rocked China when the fast-rising politician Bo Xilai suddenly demoted his top lieutenant, who then accused his boss of murder, triggering Bo's political downfall.

Gary King, a researcher at Harvard University, believes software he developed to monitor government censorship on multiple Chinese social media sites picked up hints days earlier that a major political event was about to occur.

Five days before Bo demoted his advisor, the Harvard software registered the start of a steady climb in the proportion of posts blocked by censors, a trend that lasted for several days. King says he has noticed similar patterns several times in advance of major political news events in the country. "We have examples where it's perfectly clear what the Chinese government is about to do," he says. "It conveys way more about the Chinese government's intents and actions than anything before."

King has seen dissidents' names suddenly begin to be censored, days before they are arrested. A jump in the overall censorship rate, like the one that foreshadowed Bo's fall, also presaged the arrest of artist Ai Weiwei in 2011. The rate declined in the days before the Chinese government announced a surprise peace agreement with Vietnam in June 2011, defusing a dispute over oil rights in the South China Sea. King suspects those patterns show that censors are being used as a tool to dampen and shape the public response to forthcoming news. That tallies with his other findings that censors focus on messages encouraging collective action rather than just blocking all negative comments.

China's social media censorship is less well known, and less understood, than the system known as the Great Firewall, which blocks access to foreign sites, including Facebook and Wikipedia, from inside the country. But social media censoring is arguably as important to the country's efforts to control online speech. Social media is attractive in a country where conventional media is tightly controlled, and the Great Firewall directs that interest toward sites under government direction.

Studies like King's tracking which posts disappear from social media services in China have now begun to reveal how the country's censorship works. They paint a picture of a sophisticated, efficient operation that can be carefully deployed to steer the nation's online conversation.

The most popular social media services in China are microblog networks, or "weibos," roughly equivalent to Twitter and used by an estimated 270 million people, according to government figures. In China, all microblog service providers must establish an internal censorship team, which takes directions from the government on filtering sensitive posts. Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo between them claim the majority of active users, and are said to have censorship teams as large as 1,000 people.

Those teams can act fast, as a study of 2.38 million posts on Sina Weibo (12 percent were censored) showed last year. "It's minutes or hours, not days," says Jed Crandall, an assistant professor at University of New Mexico, who took part in research with colleagues from Rice University and Bowdoin College. Previous studies had only checked for deleted posts at intervals of a day or more, says Crandall, who concludes that assumptions that social network censorship was largely manual were incorrect. "There must be some automation tools that would help them, or they wouldn't be able to do the rate that we observed."

Crandall has also uncovered evidence of how Chinese censorship is used to steer the direction of public conversation rather than just being used to block out sensitive topics for good. His software saw censors successfully dampen the online outcry after a major train crash in July 2011 before carefully relenting once politicians had managed to shift public chatter onto more favorable terms. "It demonstrates the kind of PR that the censors are trying to pull off," says Crandall. "They delay the discussion until the news cycle changes—when the conversation changes to a favorable one, people can talk all they want."

Monday, July 01, 2013

has capitalism failed the world?

aljazeera | At the famous Oxford Union, Mehdi Hasan challenges former top financial regulator Lord Adair Turner on the role of the banks, the politics behind austerity and whether capitalism has failed.

It seems that mistakes made in Wall Street and the City of London are paid for by people around the world, but can we govern greed within the realm of capitalism or is it all just money down the drain? Is austerity really needed? Can we trust the banks?

 Lord Turner said: “I’m not an egalitarian, I’m not a socialist, but I am worried about the sheer extent of the inequality that’s now growing. I think finance is part of that story.”

Lord Turner was at the helm of the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the wake of the financial meltdown and is now trying to find ground-breaking solutions to global problems at the Institute of New Economic Thinking. Hasan challenges a man at the heart of rethinking the global economic system about his past experience, his present thoughts, and our future.

“I am concerned that we have not been radical enough in our reform,” concluded Lord Turner.

But he also sounded a note of hope based on some of the new ideas and policies coming out from previously orthodox bastions of economic thinking.

Joining our discussion are: Jon Moulton, a venture capitalist and the founder of the private equity firm Better Capital. He has nurtured a reputation for forthrightness even to point of challenging his private equity peers for abusing tax regimes. He is also one of the few men in the City of London who warned about the impending crash before it happened; Professor Costas Lapavitsas, who teaches economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and is the author of several notable books on the crash and its consequences including Crisis in the Eurozone and Financialisation in Crisis; and Ann Pettifor, the director of PRIME (Policy Research in Macroeconomics), and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation. She was one of the first to warn about the debt crisis in her book The Coming First World Debt Crisis, and is also well-known for her leadership of the successful worldwide campaign to cancel developing world debt - Jubilee 2000.

the worst thing that ever happened to incompetent public school districts was the growth of private schools: they siphoned off the kind of parents who would have agitated for reform...,

newyorker | The closest Hirschman ever came to explaining his motives was in his most famous work, “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty,” and even then it was only by implication. Hirschman was interested in contrasting the two strategies that people have for dealing with badly performing organizations and institutions. “Exit” is voting with your feet, expressing your displeasure by taking your business elsewhere. “Voice” is staying put and speaking up, choosing to fight for reform from within. There is no denying where his heart lay.

Early in the book, Hirschman quoted the conservative economist Milton Friedman, who argued that school vouchers should replace the current public-school system. “Parents could express their views about schools directly, by withdrawing their children from one school and sending them to another, to a much greater extent than is now possible,” Friedman wrote. “In general they can now take this step only by changing their place of residence. For the rest, they can express their views only through cumbrous political channels.”

This was, Hirschman wrote, a “near perfect example of the economist’s bias in favor of exit and against voice”:
In the first place, Friedman considers withdrawal or exit as the “direct” way of expressing one’s unfavorable views of an organization. A person less well trained in economics might naively suggest that the direct way of expressing views is to express them! Secondly, the decision to voice one’s views and efforts to make them prevail are contemptuously referred to by Friedman as a resort to “cumbrous political channels.” But what else is the political, and indeed the democratic, process than the digging, the use, and hopefully the slow improvement of these very channels?
Hirschman pointed out the ways in which “exit” failed to send a useful message to underperformers. Weren’t there cases where monopolists were relieved when their critics left? “Those who hold power in the lazy monopoly may actually have an interest in creating some limited opportunities for exit on the part of those whose voice might be uncomfortable,” he wrote. The worst thing that ever happened to incompetent public-school districts was the growth of private schools: they siphoned off the kind of parents who would otherwise have agitated more strongly for reform.

Beneath Hirschman’s elegant sentences, you can hear a deeper argument. Exit is passive. It is silent protest. And silent protest, for him, is too easy. “Proving Hamlet wrong” was about the importance of acting in the face of doubt—but also of acting in the face of fear. Voice was courage.