Tag: surveillance

Reclaiming Our Democracy (Part 2 of 2): Nullification

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”
— Thomas Jefferson

What is Government?

Why do we submit to the law?

We can’t run very fast. We have no sharp teeth or claws. Long ago it became obvious that it was in humanity’s self interest to ban together for our mutual security. We each give up a small amount of personal freedom, for the greater good of the whole. That is the basis of the social contract.

As citizens, our responsibility is to uphold the laws of government. The government, in turn, also has obligations. The bare minimum of those obligations are to protect the majority of people from enemies both foreign and domestic. What enemies do we wish to protect ourselves from? At the very least hunger, disease, invasion by hostile forces (external security), and threats to our self-governance (internal security).

So how are we doing in that respect? Lousy.

We all but wiped out hunger in the US shortly after the Kennedy administration (ended 1963), but the government intentionally reintroduced it in the Reagan administration to drive down worker wages. What is left of our health care system is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Foreign NGO’s have been invited by the Supreme Court to financially manipulate campaigns and thus our government. Internal threats to self-governance are too numerous to recount here, and in any case the Supreme Court has abandoned all pretense that this was a democracy and officially ruled the US a plutocracy.

We are in essence living in a failed state. Just because I am writing about the US, don’t think your country is doing any better. Most of the Western world is in the same boat.

Other articles have detailed the complex road we took to get here. That is not the purpose of this series. This series discusses how we get out.

Specifically, how to tell our government “No!”

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Reclaiming Our Democracy (Part I of II): Miliary Democracy

“Duck House”:

I sit on the floor of the Duck House with thirty others, brainstorming for the January action. Neither men nor women dominate the group. We are young, and surprisingly old. Counter-culture and conservatively clad. We question whether it is nobler to seek permits or just show up unannounced. We speak of banners, flyers and street theater-anything to educate the public about our goal.

Even when I still lived in Arizona, I had heard of this place. Democracy Unlimited Humboldt County (DUHC) or “Duck” was on the forefront of the war against corporate power. In 1998, they helped pass a ballot initiative establishing the Democracy and Corporations standing committee in Arcata’s city council here in California.

The Committee’s primary functions are: to research and present to the Council options for controlling the growth of “pattern restaurants” in the community; to cooperate with other communities working on socially responsible investing and procurement policies; to make recommendations to the Council, and/or with the Council’s approval, provide educational opportunities to promote “fair trade”; to inform citizens of corporations with negative social and environmental impact; and to provide advice on ways to foster sustained locally-owned businesses, publicly or locally owned services and worker-owned cooperatives and collectives.–City of Arcata

The committee was hailed by Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Jim Hightower. Ralph Nader commented, “I look forward to Arcata being a luminous star in the rising crescendo of democracy in our country.”

Embolden by this success, they passed Measure T in 2004. It forbid nonlocal corporations from contributing to local political campaigns. Two corporations immediately challenged the initiative as unconstitutional. Before the case could be decided by the courts, Humboldt’s Board of Supervisors succumbed to corporate pressure and declared this popularly elected law nullified.

DUHC learned from this experience. They won’t be going it alone, this time. They are but one small seed of democracy, but they are amassing with others to change the political landscape in America. They have joined Move to Amend in a miliary campaign, and this time their aim is not a city ordinance in some far off town on the edge of America, but changing the highest law in the land.

Coming to a City Near You

A post not about left/right but about freedom and privacy.

Big Brother has a great new expensive toy and itching to use it. Predator Drones once used for combat operations in war torn areas of the world are now ready to be deployed in US cities to spy on its own citizens.


White House’s ‘insider threat’ program targets federal employees for surveillance

RawStory this morning…

In an effort to prevent another Bradley Manning, the Obama administration is urging all federal government agencies to watch its employees for signs they may be leaking classified information.

In a memo dated Monday, Jacob J. Lew, the director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, directed government agencies that deal with classified information to ensure that they are in compliance with secrecy rules brought in after WikiLeaks’ release of classified material.

The document (PDF), which was leaked to NBC less than 48 hours after it was written, urges agencies to develop an “insider threat program” that would monitor employees for “behavioral changes” indicating they may be leaking classified documents or be willing to do so.

The document calls on agencies to hire psychiatrists and sociologists to measure the “despondence or grumpiness” of federal employees in order to “gauge trustworthiness.” It also urges the use of polygraph machines, and the monitoring of computer activities and signs of “high occurrences of foreign travel.”

Agencies are urged to “capture evidence of pre-employment and/or post-employment activities or participation in on-line media data mining sites like WikiLeaks or Open Leaks,” indicating that the administration wants to see personnel monitored even after they stop working for the federal government.


As NBC noted, the White House may be [once again folding like a cheap suit] under pressure to show to the new Republican-dominated House that they are reacting swiftly and concretely to the WikiLeaks releases.


It Would Also Make California a Laughingstock



By Arnold Schwarzenegger

September 24, 2010

Los Angeles Times

It would also make California a laughing stock.

Governor Smokenator,Just Say Now,Yes on 19

But you already did that.

Republican Governor of CA, Arnold Schwarzenegger Smoking Pot

Works So Well In Pakistan, So On To US- Mexican Border & Gulf


The future is now.   Got some crazy, yellow Gasden snake flag flying neighbors, who are arming themselves for the 2nd Coming ? Is your Congressman or Senator a birther, or just an exuberant alien exporter?

How would you like the Tea Party or the uber right wing of the CIA telling Homeland Security where to deploy these next ?

With Nixon, it was the  National Guard.

With Obama, during an election year, one day after sacking his Afghan general,  it’s the   Drones.

Maryland Police Spied On Activists, Claim It Was Legal

cross posted from The Dream Antilles

WaPO reports that Maryland police infiltrated and spied upon peace and death penalty abolition groups in 2005.  The information the cops gathered was apparently sent to other law enforcement agencies.  No crimes were alleged to have been committed by the activists.

That crushing sound you hear is the crumbling of the First Amendment:

Undercover Maryland State Police officers conducted surveillance on war protesters and death penalty opponents, including some in Takoma Park, for more than a year while Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was governor, documents released yesterday show.

Detailed intelligence reports logged by at least two agents in the police department’s Homeland Security and Intelligence Division reveal close monitoring of the movements as the Iraq war and capital punishment were heatedly debated in 2005 and 2006.

Organizational meetings, public forums, prison vigils, rallies outside the State House in Annapolis and e-mail group lists were infiltrated by police posing as peace activists and death penalty opponents, the records show. The surveillance continued even though the logs contained no reports of illegal activity and consistently indicated that the activists were not planning violent protests.

Then-state police superintendent Tim Hutchins acknowledged in an interview yesterday that the surveillance took place on his watch, adding that it was done legally. He said Ehrlich (R) was not aware of it. “You do what you think is best to protect the general populace of the state,” said Hutchins, now a federal defense contractor.

Did you read that?  The then state police superintendent says that the surveillance “was done legally.”  I feel so very assured and comforted by this conclusion about the law.  And protected.  Protected from what you might ask?  And from whom?  “To protect the general populace of the state” is a police goal that apparently does not include protecting the privacy and right of association of death penalty abolitionists and peace activists.  

Liveblog (cfp08) 21st Century Panopticon: Fusion centers

Another liveblog from the Coinference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy. Session on closed circuit law enforcement video surveillance and law  enforrcement data sharing and mining via “Fusion Centers.” Panelist bios at http://www.cfp2008.org/wiki/in… .

EPIC’s resource on Fusion Centers  

Whoever Controls Our Data Controls Us

We need to take back our data.

Bruce Schneier writes in a commentary on Wired that we have become intimately bound with our data in the information age.  The bits of information about us that are collected and stored in hundreds, even thousands of different spots around the globe determine whether we can get a job, obtain health insurance, have a loan approved, even board an airplane or enter a foreign country.

We leave a data trail wherever we go: when we use a discount card at the supermarket; when we log on to the Internet through our ISP; when we pick up a cell phone call.  Each bit and byte has the potential to affect our future, yet we have no control over who handles it, who gains access to it, even whether we can have a look at it ourselves.

Police State 2.0: It’s Here

cross posted at The Ohm Project: an exercise in resistance

High resolution cameras covering nearly every inch of public space.  National IDs crammed with biometric data.  Facial recognition software that can’t be defeated even by plastic surgery.  And a massive database to connect the cameras, the IDs, all financial and medical data.

It’s not merely resident in the mind’s eye of a screenwriter of the next dystopian thriller.  According to Naomi Klein in the latest issue of Rolling Stone , China has already implemented much of the above and is only a year or two away from completing this Information Age 1984 with the eager help of U. S. corporations and an American government that looks the other way as anti-export laws are violated.

Klein says that the latest unrest in Tibet was a test for the ever-expanding system, called the "Golden Shield."  And the oppressive infrastructure earned at least an A-.  Dissident cell phones were jammed.  Information favorable to the protestors was blocked on the Internet.  Photos of the participants, especially the leaders, were rapidly disseminated on "Most Wanted" posters on the Internet and the protests were "spun" through Chinese media to make the Tibetans look like violent thugs.

Digital TV And Rationed Electricity Too

Hundreds of high definition digital channels await you a mere 353 days, 12 hours, 10 minutes from right now.  Are you impressed?  No I am highly depressed.  What they tell you and what is behind the scenes.  It is much like the past seven years of legislation with noble sounding titles and hidden destructive memes.

This “change” is not for the better.

Under Surveillance

Granny Doc posted a Daily Kos Rec List diary about new surveillance on deck after the end of this month.  But surveillance is nothing new.  Big Brother was watching me back in the 1970s.  And lots of other people, too.  It’s certainly not pleasant, but one adapts to it.  And it has its funny moments, too.

Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about the subject of surveillance, in response to seeing the film The Lives of Others, recently released on video.

So, the purpose of this diary is mainly to get particular about surveillance.  Surely I’m not the only one around who’s been “watched”.  Perhaps, someone else has a tale to add.

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