August 21, 2013 archive
Aug 21 2013
Aug 21 2013
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
August 21 is the 233rd day of the year (234th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 132 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1959, Hawaii became our 50th state. Hawaii is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It occupies most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of Australia. Hawaii’s natural beauty, warm tropical climate, inviting waters and waves, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu.
The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian Island chain, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight “main islands” are (from the northwest to southeast) Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii. The last is by far the largest and is often called “The Big Island” to avoid confusion with the state as a whole. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.
The first known settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were Polynesian voyagers who arrived sometime in the eighth century. In the early 18th century, American traders came to Hawaii to exploit the islands’ sandalwood, which was much valued in China at the time. In the 1830s, the sugar industry was introduced to Hawaii and by the mid 19th century had become well established. American missionaries and planters brought about great changes in Hawaiian political, cultural, economic, and religious life. In 1840, a constitutional monarchy was established, stripping the Hawaiian monarch of much of his authority.
In 1893, a group of American expatriates and sugar planters supported by a division of U.S. Marines deposed Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii was established as a U.S. protectorate with Hawaiian-born Sanford B. Dole as president. Many in Congress opposed the formal annexation of Hawaii, and it was not until 1898, following the use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the Spanish-American War, that Hawaii’s strategic importance became evident and formal annexation was approved. Two years later, Hawaii was organized into a formal U.S. territory. During World War II, Hawaii became firmly ensconced in the American national identity following the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
Admission, or Statehood, Day is an official state holiday. It is the home state of President Barack Obama, the only President from that state and one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The pictures were the very hard to select. The second picture (above) is an aerial view of Diamond Head.
Diamond Head is a dormant volcanic cone on the island of Oahu. It is called Le’ahi by Hawaiians, most likely from lae ‘browridge, promontory’ plus ‘ahi ‘tuna’ because the shape of the ridgeline resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin. Its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who mistook calcite crystals embedded in the rock for diamonds.
Then of course there are volcanoes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The first picture on the left is the more famous of the volcanoes, Mauna Loa which is the largest volcano on Earth by volume and area and one of the five volcanoes in that form the islands.
Aug 21 2013
The Central Intelligence Agency has decided to “come clean” about what most of already knew. Through a Freedom of Information Act by Foreign Policy, it has been confirmed that the CIA spied on famed activist and linguist Noam Chomsky in the 1970’s.
For years, FOIA requests to the CIA garnered the same denial: “We did not locate any records responsive to your request.” The denials were never entirely credible, given Chomsky’s brazen anti-war activism in the 60s and 70s — and the CIA’s well-documented track record of domestic espionage in the Vietnam era. But the CIA kept denying, and many took the agency at its word.
Now, a public records request by Chomsky biographer Fredric Maxwell reveals a memo between the CIA and the FBI that confirms the existence of a CIA file on Chomsky.
Dated June 8, 1970, the memo discusses Chomsky’s anti-war activities and asks the FBI for more information about an upcoming trip by anti-war activists to North Vietnam. The memo’s author, a CIA official, says the trip has the “ENDORSEMENT OF NOAM CHOMSKY” and requests “ANY INFORMATION” about the people associated with the trip. request by Foreign Policy, the CIA finally admitted spying on famed activist and linguist Noam Chomsky in the 1970’s.
The CIA also admitted that while they had created a file, it had also been tampered with and destroyed at an unknown time. The destruction of the file may be in violation the Federal Records Act of 1950, requiring all federal agencies to obtain advance approval from the National Archives for any proposed record disposition plans. The Archives is tasked with preserving records with “historical value.” Maybe the dog ate the file.
The other not so surprising confession was the agency’s direct involvement, along with the British, in the 1953 Iranina coup that deposed the democratically elected government
Declassified documents describe in detail how US – with British help – engineered coup against Mohammad Mosaddeq
On the 60th anniversary of an event often invoked by Iranians as evidence of western meddling, the US national security archive at George Washington University published a series of declassified CIA documents.
“The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government,” reads a previously excised section of an internal CIA history titled The Battle for Iran.
The documents, published on the archive’s website under freedom of information laws, describe in detail how the US – with British help – engineered the coup, codenamed TPAJAX by the CIA and Operation Boot by Britain’s MI6.
Britain, and in particular Sir Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, regarded Mosaddeq as a serious threat to its strategic and economic interests after the Iranian leader nationalised the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, latterly known as BP. But the UK needed US support. The Eisenhower administration in Washington was easily persuaded.
This is one of those “no, duh” moments that we have always known was true and is now confirmed.
Yes, folks, it was and still is all about the oil. Forget the spin about Iran’s nuclear weapon’s program that doesn’t exist or the supposed threat to Israel, it’s all about who controls those oil fields. And the CIA is just another tax funded arm of the corporations that control the rest of the world’s government.
But there are no aliens in Area 51. Yeah, right.
Aug 21 2013
The violence continues with casualties mounting on both side with no resolution in sight. Democracy Now! recounts the daily horrors with host Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous, independent journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent based in Cairo.
Transcript can be read here
Mass violence continues in Egypt amidst the bloodiest period in the country’s modern history. Around 900 people have been killed since state forces attacked Muslim Brotherhood protest encampments five days ago. At least 173 people were killed in a “Day of Rage” protest called by the Brotherhood on Friday, followed by at least 79 deaths on Saturday. Around 90 police officers and soldiers have died in the violence, but Islamist supporters of the Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Morsi account for the bulk of the victims. On Sunday, at least 36 prisoners were killed in Cairo after guards said they tried to escape while being transferred. But the Muslim Brotherhood accused state forces of a “cold-blooded killing” and demanded an international probe. And earlier today at least 24 police officers were reportedly killed in the northern Sinai after coming under attack by militants.
“The report that we have suspended assistance to Egypt is incorrect,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
“As the president has said, we are reviewing all of our assistance to Egypt. No policy decisions have been made at this point regarding the remaining assistance,” she added.
• The supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, has been arrested in Nasr City in north-east Cairo after the security forces discovered his hiding place, Egyptian media reported. The private ONTV network showed footage of a man it said was Badie after his arrest. In the footage, a sombre looking Badie in an off-white Arab robe, or galabiyah, sits motionless on a sofa as a man in civilian clothes and carrying an assault rifle stands nearby. Badie and his deputy Khairat el-Shater, who was already in custody, are due to go on trial on 25 August for their alleged role in the killing of eight protesters outside the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters in June.
• The former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, could be freed within 48 hours after judicial authorities ruled that he has already spent too long in custody after one of the charges against him was dropped. News of the imminent release of Mubarak, who was overthrown in the 2011 revolution, looks likely to inflame a highly volatile mood in Egypt.
• Interim president Adly Mansour has declared three days of mourning for the 25 policemen killed by an armed group in the Sinai desert yesterday. Egyptian state TV reports from the scene near the border with Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip town of Rafah said the terrorists had forced the police conscripts off two minibuses and murdered them in cold blood. Three others were injured. Cairo sources describe the killers as “Takfiris” – a term often used for al-Qaida and like-minded groups.
• The Muslim Brotherhood said Badie was facing “political trumped up charges”. It appointed Mahmoud Ezzat, described in the media as the Brotherhood’s “iron man”, as Badie’s temporary replacement.
• An Egyptian court will review a petition for the release of deposed President Hosni Mubarak filed by his lawyer tomorrow raising the prospect of him being released within 24 hours, according to Reuters citing judicial sources. The sources said if the petition is upheld Mubarak will be released as there remain no further legal grounds for his detention, though he is being retried on charges of ordering the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising. An online poster has been circulating on Facebook today supporting him for president in 2014.
• A state-owned newspaper has accused the Muslim Brotherhood of being being the attack in the Sinai that left 25 policemen dead yesterday. Al-Akhbar ran the headline “Brotherhood Massacre”. The Guardian’s Middle East editor said the headline and the arrest of Badie are part of a propaganda campaign intended to split the Brotherhood’s supporters and to feed into popular sentiment against the Islamist group.
• Security officials say an Egyptian journalist working for a state-run daily has been shot dead by soldiers at a military checkpoint. They say Tamer Abdel-Raouf from al-Ahram newspaper and a colleague were on the road during a military-imposed nighttime curfew and a soldier opened fire after the pair drove off from the checkpoint without permission.
• Amnesty International said today that there has been “an unprecedented rise in sectarian violence across Egypt targeting Coptic Christians” since the violent dispersals of pro-Morsi sit-ins in Greater Cairo on 14 August and has demanded that the Egyptian authorities take immediate steps to ensure their safety. It says several Coptic Christians have been killed, their churches, homes and businesses targeted and graves desecrated, “seemingly in retaliation for their support of the ousting of Mohamed Morsi”,
• A private lawsuit has been issued against the Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradai, who was until recently part of the interim government installed after the ousting of Mohamed Morsi. It charges him with “breaching national trust” (Arabic link). The charge is that by resigning as vice-president he gave the impression that the Egyptian authorities were using excessive force. He has been referred to trial on 17 September.
Democracy Now! hosr Amy Goodman discusses the state of the revolution and the growing divide in Egypt with acclaimed Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif, Chris Toensing, executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project and Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.
Transcript can be read here
“One of most depressing things that we’ve seen has been how a strand of what was the revolution, and what was either progressive or liberal, has so completely backed, endorsed, egged on the military and the police and have completely, unrelentingly demonized the Brotherhood and Islamist currents,” Soueif says from Cairo. “And I think that is part of why we’ve had an escalation of violence. It’s as if everyone is playing out a role that is expected of them.”
Aug 21 2013
In her opening segment on her show, Rachel Maddow took the US and Great Britain to task for harassing journalists like Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda.
Apparently, when Rachel went on the air she was not aware of this latest development.
UK Authorities Destroy Guardian’s Hard Drives, Force Journalists to Report NSA Stories In Exile
by Trevor Timm, Freedom of the Press Foundation
Fresh off the news that UK authorities detained the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald for nine hours yesterday, Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger has published [an extraordinary report http://www.theguardian.com/com… of government pressure and intimidation that should send chills down the spine of anyone who cares about a free press.
Rusbridger, who up until recently was based in the UK, recounts being approached by UK government officials multiple times and threatened with legal action unless he returned or destroyed the Edward Snowden documents the Guardian had in its possession. Officials from GCHQ, Britain’s NSA counterpart, eventually entered Guardian headquarters and destroyed the hard drives that contained copies of the Snowden documents.
David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face
by Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian
As the events in a Heathrow transit lounge – and the Guardian offices – have shown, the threat to journalism is real and growing
During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian’s reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government’s intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?
The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.
Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.
The state that is building such a formidable apparatus of surveillance will do its best to prevent journalists from reporting on it. Most journalists can see that. But I wonder how many have truly understood the absolute threat to journalism implicit in the idea of total surveillance, when or if it comes – and, increasingly, it looks like “when”.
I wonder if the White House was given a “head’s up” on this action.