Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Click title for information.
I definitely suggest a viewing of 12 Years A Slave. Certainly brings a vivid look into the "art" of slave purchasing and treatment. In the viewing I saw, a female audience member did not last past the first beating. A few notes: 1)As someone who is basically a non-drinker and who definitely does not, and does not encourage, getting throw up drunk, this story underscores why one should not do so. Solomon could have still ended up kidnapped in his regular sleep, but being fall out drunk, in a country known for kidnapping people who look like him for the purpose of involuntary servitude, is well, not the best idea. And remember James Byrd Jr. went out the same way. Protect yourself. Enjoy yourself, but protect yourself. 2) It's funny how becoming a victim suddenly makes one an advocate. There were two points in his "pre-slave" life where Solomon had no problem with folks describing Africans (like him, like it or not) as savages and didn't really give a hoot about the "servant" that had entered the store. Of course after his ordeal he became an abolitionist but when one is a "freeman" with "papers to prove" and living in relative safety, it's easy to be aloof. In my own life it could be said that I have no incentive, other than shared genetics, for being a Pan-Africanist. I have never been particularly ill treated by non-black people. Experienced very little overt discrimination or any of the usual things that would usually drive a person to such a "pro black" position. So why do it? Because of the principle. When you are a person of principle you do not have to wait until you are personally affected. 3) Nit pick: The accents of the enslaved Africans seemed way off to me. Often times they would slip between current language and what I assume to be "slave language". I'm not sure if this was for the benefit of the audience who likely would have had a difficult time following a heavy "accent" or simply a difficult time maintaining linguistic form. 4) Whoever that woman is that played Patsy (sp?) deserves recognition for her role. Long ago I took an acting class and volunteered to do a Civil Rights era sit in scene. That was a particularly rough thing to do (and showed me that I was not the sit in type at all). The emotional weight of putting myself in that time and space was very very heavy. As heavy as it was it was by no means close to what the Patsy character endured. If for nothing else but to have put herself through that, she deserves an award from somebody somewhere. 5) The film gives a great look at the "learned indifference" to black life that many of us today see in the black communities. The lynching scene IMO was the best example of that. Children playing. Folks going about their business. It seems odd, looking at it from today's eyes, but putting yourself into that time and space you understand the ever present fear of coming to a person's aid. 6) The destruction of black manhood. Early on we get a glimpse of what was the usual fate of those black men who dared to fight back or attempt to protect black women. I'm not sure if this point will be caught by many, but if one is cognizant of the situation you will see how the status of black men into what amounts to less than a child is quite powerful. It is also the reason why I have serious issues with so called "black feminists" and their asinine discussion of "black male privilege". There is no privilege when a man knows that his wife, daughter, mother, sister can be snatched up by another man and he can do nothing at all and receive no justice. When "niggas ain't shit" means more than you can possibly understand. Anyway. Add this to your collection. You DO have a collection right?
Monday, October 21, 2013
The headline says it all: NSA Accessed Mexican President's Email
he National Security Agency (NSA) has a division for particularly difficult missions. Called "Tailored Access Operations" (TAO), this department devises special methods for special targets.Of course there are people who will pooh-pooh this kind of news as the kind of stuff that is done to get at drug cartels, etc. As if the same or similar excuses would be found acceptable if it were found that some other country had done the same to US officials. Meanwhile...France in the NSA's crosshair : phone networks under surveillance
That category includes surveillance of neighboring Mexico, and in May 2010, the division reported its mission accomplished. A report classified as "top secret" said: "TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon's public email account."
According to the NSA, this email domain was also used by cabinet members, and contained "diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico's political system and internal stability." The president's office, the NSA reported, was now "a lucrative source."
This operation, dubbed "Flatliquid," is described in a document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which SPIEGEL has now had the opportunity to analyze.
According to the documents retrieved from the NSA database by its ex-analyst, telephone communications of French citizens are intercepted on a massive scale. Le Monde has been able to obtain access to documents which describe the techniques used to violate the secrets or simply the private life of French people. Some elements of information about this espionage have been referred to by Der Speigel and The Guardian, but others are, to date, unpublished.Apparently nobody ever tells the NSA "no" and means it. Apparently we have a president who is more interested in prosecuting those who whistle-blow these intrusive programs rather than stopping the intrusions.
Amongst the thousands of documents extracted from the NSA by its ex-employee there is a graph which describes the extent of telephone monitoring and tapping (DNR – Dial Number Recognition) carried out in France. It can be seen that over a period of thirty days – from 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, 70,3 million recordings of French citizens' telephone data were made by the NSA. This agency has several methods of data collection. According to the elements obtained by Le Monde, when a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call. Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS messages and their content using key words. Finally, the NSA apparently stores the history of the connections of each target – or the meta-data.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
On the off chance that those persons who, while I was on Twitter and FB, disagreed with my position that Obama caved to Republicans and should have stood firm on the expiry on the Bush tax cuts, etc. see, this I point you to the new "deal" that is opening the government. I said then as I say now. When confronted with folks who think they can bully you into submission, You make them put up or shut up. I said then, that when they threaten to filibuster, you make 'em get on the floor and talk as long as they can. When they eventually stop, you carry on like they never said a word. When they threaten to shut everything down. Let 'em do it. People recognize when people are being unreasonable. The Affordable Care Act was duly passed by Congress. It was upheld by the US Supreme Court (even though I object to how it was done and disagree with part of it AND am still a backer of full single payer). The people recognize that. They know that holding the government hostage for low taxes for million and billionaires is Not Cool(tm). They recognize that risking default, which in my opinion the fallout of which would not have been as bad as claimed as no nation at this point is going to bail on the dollar over politics. The US is not Greece (yet) or any number of sub-saharan countries. Europe is under a lot of strain so really other than perhaps the Swiss Franc, I don't see another reserve currency on board in the short term. Anyway. Obama did exactly what I said he should have done years ago, let the bullies blow themselves out the water. Once again the Ghost is proven correct.
I’d warned about its impact at the time [read.... US Tech Companies Raked Over The Coals In China]. Snowden’s revelations started hitting in May. Not much later, the Chinese security apparatus must have alerted IT buyers in government agencies, state-owned enterprises, and major independent corporations to turn off the order pipeline for sensitive products until this is sorted out. As Mr. Loughridge’s efforts have shown, it’s hard to explain any other way that hardware sales suddenly collapsed by “40%, 50%” in China, where they’d boomed until then.So we can clearly understand why China is hell bent on establishing it's own standards for video and the like. Being beholden to another entity for your basic computing is a bad thing.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Desmond Tutu has recently penned a piece in the NYT saying that African leaders are looking for a license to kill. Never mind the over the top James Bond reference, it is pretty clear that Tutu did not spend much time thinking about what he wrote before he sent it off for publication in one of the widely read publications in the world.
These calls must be resisted. The continent has suffered the consequences of unaccountable governance for too long to disown the protections offered by the I.C.C.It's pretty ironic that the person who authored the "truth and reconciliation" commission in South Africa, which essentially let those who committed crimes against the Azanian people to go without punishment so long as they "told the truth", to be talking about accountability. Where was the accountability in South Africa? Where was the JUSTICE for the many many many murders of South Africans (and we ain't talkin' about the European colonist or their descendants)? Now Tutu was correct that there are those who have been using their countries as personal bank accounts and have killed their own citizens in doing so. But that is no excuse for advocating that a foreign body that seems to think it's job is to police Africa keep doing so. Oh right, Tutu believes that because Africans are in the court and have "high up" positions, that it is OK. Well then Mr. Tutu, if it's supposed to be good for Africa, then why isn't it good enough for the US? See the US has signed to the court but not ratified it. See the US doesn't want to have it's citizens, including it's leadership liable for prosecution under the ICC. It does not want to be held responsible for it's wars of aggression. The criminal acts of its armed services members. The drone warfare. The wars it has provided material support for (which the ICC recently convicted Charles Taylor of doing in Sierra Leone). If Mr. Tutu wanted to make a real point about the validity of the ICC, he should demand that the world's police nation ratify the court and submit to it's jurisdiction. Until that happens those African leaders, regardless of what they've done are right to say they do not want to be under a court that is clearly stacked against them.
n a coordinated attack, numerous rebel groups fought off a small garrison of government troops and swept into the villages, killing 190 people, according to a Human Rights Watch report to be released on Friday. At least 67 of the dead appeared to have been shot or stabbed while unarmed or fleeing, including 48 women and 11 children, the report said. More than 200 civilians are still being held hostage.Well at least they didn't use chemical weapons.
Echoing a sentiment I've had for a while, Jonathan Carp writes about the
NYPD police in general in the US:
American police today appear unwilling to accept any risk whatsoever and seem willing to kill anyone and anything that could possibly be seen as a threat; according to the chief of the D.C. police, Cathy Lanier, these police officers “did exactly what they were supposed to do.”I said a long time back that militarizing the police is a convenient way around the Posse Comitatus Act.
Instead of bringing the military into the domestic sphere merely extend the power of domestic police to include capabilities and equipment previously available only to the military. In the end you get the same result with a different name.Jonathan ends with:
Deadly force cannot be the first and last choice for dealing with any potential threat, and police officers must be trained to strive always to protect the lives of citizens, especially of suspects. Policing is a dangerous job, but as someone who has held another dangerous job, I must say that our American police need to understand and accept the risks they take when they accept the badge and understand that they are there to protect others before themselves.Absolutely.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
O’Callaghan arrived to assist the arresting officers in placing Thomas in a patrol car. While Thomas was in handcuffs and leg restraints, prosecutors said, a police cruiser’s video camera captured the veteran officer kicking Thomas in the stomach and groin area and pushing her in the throat.What was it Chris Dorner was talking about in regards to the LAPD?
Thomas, once inside the patrol car, lost consciousness and paramedics were called. Shortly afterward, she was pronounced dead at a hospital... Two of the officers disregarded Thomas' request for medical help, while the third cop may have lied to investigators about the incident, Beck wrote in a report.
The five-member Police Commission agreed with the chief's finding that the female officer's forceful use of her feet was "ineffective and inappropriate," according to a commission report on the incident.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Back in late 2010 and August 2011, I wrote that Obama was caving to hostage taking Republicans over the budget.
There is so much being said here such as, is this his Afghanistan policy? It's a fair question. However; most importantly is that if this Democratic president had any backbone, this comment, particularly about the American people being held hostage, would have been what he would have said after vowing to not sign a single piece of legislation that allows the Bush tax cuts to be continued for the "rich"...and I predicted:
Hostage takers use this act only when they think it has a good chance of working. The hostage taker must believe that which they hold is of enough importance to a third party that the third party will do what the hostage taker wants.
During negotiations, the hostage taker may be "convinced" to make slight concessions such as freeing a hostage or two, but they do not EVER make concessions on their primary objective.
Some observers scored one victory for the president -- the second round of cuts do not kick in until 2013, when the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire. Having a fresh round of deficit reduction that is all cuts with no revenues could give the White House ammunition to end the tax cuts on wealthier Americans, as it failed to do last winter.And so here we are in 2013, hostage taking and all and the president is doing what he should have done in 2010.
So then they will be right back in the same position in 2013. Are we to believe that 3rd time is the charm?
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
* Don't walk around, sit around with your mouth hanging open.
* Speak properly. And the gem for today: * Mind the company you keep. I know plenty of kids that hate it when their parents tell them that they cannot play with so and so. Whyyyyyyy????? The usual reply went. Kids didn't get it. The parents did. They knew that even if their kid wasn't prone to doing bad things, the kid that IS prone to do so would likely involve their children and their children could end up on the short end of the trouble stick. Today Edwin Mieses is an example of when one fails to learn this particular lesson. For those who happen to still be unfamiliar, Edwin was in a group of motorbikes that thought it was a good idea to “entertain themselves” on the West Side Highway in NYC. Let's examine how Edwin's bad choices, and those of the people he associated with lead him to a comatose state in a hospital with a snapped spine. Edwin got up that Sunday morning. Edwin decided he would go hang out with a crew of motorcyclists. Nothing wrong with that. All over America people do things like that on a Sunday. The gather at restaurants, Mall parking lots, etc. They line up and they cruise. I see it all the time. It's loud but loud pipes save lives. The problem was with who Edwin decided to ride with. Edwin was with a group of people that included one Christopher Cruz who can be seen in the video evidence, riding up along side a surrounded Range Rover. Let's stop here for a moment. You do realize that it is illegal for a motorbike to share a lane with an automobile right? Motorbikes are expected to follow the same rules as any other motor vehicle. So one count against Mr. Cruz. Mr Cruz clearly did not care one bit about his own safety, the safety of the other motorcyclists or Alexian Lien. And certainly Christopher Cruz gave no thought to Edwin. Christopher Cruz only cared about himself. But what about Edwin. Clearly the behavior of the group on the West Side Highway was shall we say, unsafe. At least that's clear to those of us who give a thought about people other than ourselves when we are out and about on motor vehicles. Edwin could have said to himself: “Edwin, you got a wife and kid at home. I need to be there for them. This shit right here could end badly. Let me go about my business.” Edwin didn't do that. Strike against Edwin. Cruz, as seen in the video decides to cut in front of the Range Rover. Why? Well I don't know. Common sense says that in a survival competition between a motorbike and a Range Rover the bike certainly loses. But Cruz, being the brightest candle of the bunch decides that he would slow down in front of the Rover. Genius. We can see in the video that the Rover was slowing down as Cruz cut in front of him and that Cruz purposely slowed down enough to get hit from behind. At this point the crowd stops. Including Alexian Lien in the Rover with his family who are no doubt “concerned”. At this point the videocamera is pretty far away from the events, but if you look closely you can see someone (who I assume to be Cruz) up by the driver side saying something to the driver. Now if Cruz was a pleasant and reasonable fellow the conversation would have went something like this: “Hey man. I am soooo sorry for cutting you off and stopping short. Are you OK?” “Oh your kid is back there. Yo, man sorry about that. Do we need to exchange info? My bike looks ok. I doubt your car is damaged. No? Cool man. And again, Sorry for cutting you off.” But knowing what I know and experiencing what I've experienced AND seeing the figure in the video, snap back and then aggressively go back to the driver's window, I'm going to assume the conversation was more like: “The fuck man? Why you fuckin' hit me?..... etc. etc. Edwin, who had seen this had an opportunity to leave. He could have said to himself: “You know what, this could end really badly. We're in the middle of a highway, blocking traffic. Tempers are flaring and I know how niggas do when their boys are around. Let me go on and leave before this gets really bad.” Nope. Edwin decided to continue to hang out with bad company. So after likely being threatened by the person who was likely yelling profanities at him, Alexian Lien, fearing for his and his family's safety decided to get out of the situation quickly. Now some people are of the opinion that Alexian Lien had no reason to be afraid for his safety. I will simply point the reader to the numerous reports of mob actions by groups “resembling” the one on the highway who have randomly beat up people in the streets on Mall properties and at State fairs. Maybe YOU aren't bothered by a bunch of folks threatening you on a road, but for other people that kind of behavior sets off alarms. So when Alexian Lien drove off, Edwin, hanging with the wrong crowd at the wrong time, had his back crushed by the escaping Rover and now lays in a hospital bed in a coma. Sad. Edwin's wife wants Lien charged over that. I'm certain there will be a lawsuit. Unless there is a very sympathetic jury, Edwin and his family gets nothing. Why? Mind the company you keep. Lien had good reason to believe that he was not safe. He had been surrounded while driving on the highway. A cyclist was riding closely to his vehicle and likely menacing him. His vehicle was purposely hit by one of the group. That person likely threatened him verbally while he was surrounded by at least 30 people. Guess what folks, if a person feels threatened they have a duty to defend themselves AND to retreat from the situation. There was no way for Lien to reasonably deduce that Edwin was not one of the people who would beat him up and slash his face. Nope. The fact that Edwin was a part of the group made him as suspect as anybody else involved. Mind the company you keep. Unfortunately, should Edwin come out of his coma, he will have the rest of his paralyzed life to contemplate the hard truth of the Middle Class Values lesson that he ought to have learned years ago. For those of you who are young, somewhat dumb, able bodied, healthy and of impressionable age; I suggest you take a good look at Edwin and then take a good look at the company YOU keep. For you parents out there who have been lax in teaching and enforcing those lessons you are supposed to impart to your children, Take a good look at the comatose Edwin. That could be your child next. And yes, it will be partially your fault if you did not do your part.