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Name: Catherina
Gender: Female
Member since: Mon Mar 3, 2008, 02:08 PM
Number of posts: 35,568

About Me

There are times that one wishes one was smarter than one is so that when one looks out at the world and sees the problems one wishes one knew the answers and I don\'t know the answers. I think sometimes one wishes one was dumber than one is so one doesn\'t have to look out into the world and see the pain that\'s out there and the horrible situations that are out there, and not know what to do - Bernie Sanders http://www.democraticunderground.com/128040277

Journal Archives

Schooled by Occupy movement, fast-food workers put demands on the table

Schooled by Occupy movement, fast-food workers put demands on the table (+video)

Hundreds of fast-food workers protested in New York Tuesday, demanding their minimum wages be doubled as part of a nationwide effort that has drawn on the organizational lessons of the Occupy movement.

By Harry Bruinius, Staff Writer / July 30, 2013

Demonstrators in support of fast food workers protest outside a McDonald's as they demand higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation, in New York's Union Square, July 29. Strikers are demanding a minimum wage increase and calling for better benefits. John Minchillo/AP

New York

Along with thousands of fast-food workers in at least seven cities this week, Naquasia LeGrand decided to walk off her job at KFC for a day and demand a “living wage” of $15 an hour.

Chanting “we can’t survive on seven twenty five” – a reference to the federal minimum wage – Ms. LeGrand marched with hundreds of other workers yesterday in a nation-wide effort to draw attention to what they say is an ever-widening income gap.

New York’s contingent of protesters, some of whom carried signs saying “supersize my pay,” demonstrated all day in front of a number of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and KFC’s throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan.

It is a scene playing out in other cities as well: Kansas City fast food and retail workers walked out Tuesday, and Milwaukee workers plan their one-day strike on Thursday. Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis workers have also walked off the job – each asking for a $15-an-hour wage and the ability to unionize without reprisals from their employers.


“The Occupy movement created sort of a consciousness, a political space to talk about income inequality, and these workers really relate to the idea of the 99 percent,” says Hilary Klein, director of Make the Road New York, a community advocacy group with offices throughout the city.



How to translate from NSA to English

How to Decode the True Meaning of What NSA Officials Say
A lexicon for understanding the words U.S. intelligence officials use to mislead the public.

By Jameel Jaffer and Brett Max Kaufman

Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2013, at 5:29 PM

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before the House Select Intelligence Committee in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2013. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images


Surveillance. Every time we pick up the phone, the NSA makes a note of whom we spoke to, when we spoke to him, and for how long—and it’s been doing this for seven years. After the call-tracking program was exposed, few people thought twice about attaching the label “surveillance” to it. Government officials, though, have rejected the term, pointing out that this particular program doesn’t involve the NSA actually listening to phone calls—just keeping track of them. Their crabbed definition of “surveillance” allows them to claim that the NSA isn’t engaged in surveillance even when it quite plainly is.

Collect. If an intelligence official says that the NSA isn’t “collecting” a certain kind of information, what has he actually said? Not very much, it turns out. One of the NSA’s foundational documents states that “collection” occurs not when the government acquires information but when the government “selects” or “tasks” that information for “subsequent processing.” Thus it becomes possible for the government to acquire great reams of information while denying that it is “collecting” anything at all.

Relevant. The NSA’s call-tracking program is ostensibly based on the Patriot Act’s Section 215, a provision that allows the government to compel businesses to disclose records that are “relevant” to authorized foreign intelligence investigations. The theory, it seems, is that everybody’s phone records are relevant today because anybody’s phone records might become relevant in the future. This stretches the concept of “relevance” far beyond the breaking point. Even the legislator who wrote Section 215 has rejected the government’s theory. If “relevance” is given such a broad compass, what room is left for “irrelevance”?

Targeted. The call-tracking program is only one of the NSA’s surveillance efforts. Another is what’s been branded PRISM, a program that involves the acquisition of the contents of phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications. Americans need not worry about the program, the government says, because the NSA’s surveillance activities are “targeted” not at Americans but at foreigners outside the United States. No one should be reassured by this. The government’s foreign targets aren’t necessarily criminals or terrorists—they may be journalists, lawyers, academics, or human rights advocates. And even if one is indifferent to the NSA’s invasion of foreigners’ privacy, the surveillance of those foreigners involves the acquisition of Americans’ communications with those foreigners. The spying may be “targeted” at foreigners, but it vacuums up thousands of Americans’ phone calls and emails.




ACLU: New Report Confirms NSA's Ability to Access Americans' Online Activity

New Report Confirms NSA's Ability to Access Americans' Online Activity

July 31, 2013

CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The government can easily see the content of Americans' Internet communication and web browsing activities, according to a report published today in The Guardian.

"The latest revelations make clear that the government's surveillance activities are far more extensive and intrusive than previously understood, and they underscore that the surveillance laws are in desperate need of reform," said American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today about NSA surveillance. "These documents also call into question the truth of some of the representations that intelligence officials have made to the public and Congress over the last two months. Intelligence officials have said repeatedly that NSA analysts do not have the ability to sift indiscriminately through Americans' sensitive information, but this new report suggests they do."

The revelations today come at a time when public opinion has begun to shift in favor of strengthening Americans' privacy rights and a growing bipartisan group in Congress works to rein in NSA surveillance of Americans' communications.

"The seemingly never-ending NSA disclosures show the frightening power the government has afforded itself without the knowledge of the American people," said Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel at the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "The recent Amash amendment vote shows that the public has had enough with the blanket, warrantless surveillance of its communications. Without significant reforms to these programs, the government is going to lose them."


Like the time Summers was passed over 4 Fed chair & then demanded chauffeured car, Secret Svc

Like the time Summers was passed over 4 Fed chair in 2009 and then demanded a chauffeured car and Secret Service protection right?


Lindsey Graham: I have a letter from AIPAC...They do not support cutting off all assistance to Egypt

"It would be a terrific mistake for the United States to send a message to Egypt: you're on your own," McCain said on the Senate floor. "I urge my colleagues to vote to table the Paul amendment."


"Yeah, it probably fits the definition of a coup," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) before noting that the U.S. could simply not afford to lose its leverage with the Egyptian military. "If it's not going to be (U.S.-supplied) F-16s, you're going to find yourselves with MiG-29s coming from Russia."

"Why are we selling weapons to Egypt?" added Graham. "If we don't, someone else will."


"I have a letter here from AIPAC. I asked them to comment," said Graham, before reading the statement aloud: "We do not support cutting off all assistance to Egypt at this time."

Paul rejected the notion that the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee speaks for the entirety of pro-Israel supporters. "There is no unified statement from the nation of Israel," he said. "If you talk to the people, the grassroots and not the so-called leadership you'll find a much different story."



So guess who's going to Egypt for us since Capital Hill is ALL out of Democrats or something

President Obama has asked Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain to travel to Egypt for talks with the interim government and opposition figures. The announcement follows Tuesday’s meeting between European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. It was Morsi’s first known outside contact since he was removed from office earlier this month. Later in the day, Ashton met with Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei.


ACLU: " Here's our favorite page from the recently declassified FISA Court Order"

ACLU Action ‏@ACLU_Action

Here's our favorite page from the recently declassified FISA Court Order. #NSA


White House Closes Inquiry Into Afghan Massacre – and Will Release No Details

White House Closes Inquiry Into Afghan Massacre – and Will Release No Details

Physicians for Human Rights sent forensic experts to conduct a preliminary forensic assessment of various mass graves in northern Afghanistan, including the one at Dasht-e-Leili. (Physicians for Human Rights)

by Cora Currier
ProPublica, July 31, 2013, 12:47 p.m.

Soon after taking office, President Obama pledged to open a new inquiry into the deaths of perhaps thousands of Taliban prisoners of war at the hands of U.S.-allied Afghan fighters in late 2001.

Last month, the White House told ProPublica it was still “looking into” the apparent massacre.

Now it says it has concluded its investigation – but won’t make it public.

The investigation found that no U.S. personnel were involved, said White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. Other than that, she said, there is “no plan to release anything.”

The silence leaves many unanswered questions about what may have been one of the worst war crimes since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, including why previous American investigations were shut down, and how evidence was destroyed in the case.

“This is not a sufficient answer given the magnitude of what happened here,” said Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy for Physicians for Human Rights, the organization that originally uncovered mass graves where the prisoners were buried.

The long saga began in November 2001, when Taliban prisoners who had surrendered to Northern Alliance commander Abdul Rashid Dostum were transported in shipping containers without food or water. According to eyewitness accounts and forensic work by human rights investigators, hundreds of men died of suffocation while others were shot, and their bodies buried at the desert site of Dasht-i-Leili.

Dostum was working closely with U.S. troops at the time. Surviving prisoners alleged that Americans were present at the loading of the containers – but the Pentagon has said repeatedly that it had no evidence that U.S. forces participated or were even aware of the deaths. (Dostum has denied any personal involvement, and claims that roughly 200 men died in transit, from battlefield wounds.)

In the fall of 2002, the U.S., U.N., and even Dostum himself expressed support for an investigation. But none got underway. In the summer of 2009, prompted by a New York Times report that Bush administration officials had actively discouraged U.S. investigations, President Obama ordered a new review of the case.

Hayden, the White House spokeswoman, said the new investigation “was led by the intelligence community,” and found that no Americans – including CIA officers, who were also in the region – were involved.

She declined to answer the following lingering questions:

* What was the scope of the investigation? Former Bush administration officials who had been involved in the initial U.S. response to Dasht-i-Leili told ProPublica that they had not been contacted for a new inquiry. Physicians for Human Rights said it received only tepid responses to its queries from the administration over the past several years.

* Did the investigation cover the allegations, reported in the New York Times, that Bush administration officials had discouraged inquiries by the FBI and State Department?

* Did the U.S. help with related inquires by the U.N. or the Afghan government? Even absent direct involvement of U.S. personnel, government documents make clear that the U.S. knew about the allegations early on. The U.S. was in an alliance with Dostum, and was the de facto power in the country after the invasion. An Afghan human rights official told ProPublica last month, “I haven’t seen any political or even rhetorical support of investigations into Dasht-i-Leili or any other investigation into past atrocities, from either Bush or Obama.”

* Did the new investigation cover revelations that graves were disturbed and evidence removed as late as 2008? What, if anything, did the U.S. do to help protect the site over the years?

A parallel investigation began by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2010 also never made headway. The committee staffer leading that investigation was former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who is currently serving time in federal prison for revealing the name of an undercover officer to a reporter.

In letters from prison to ProPublica and an interview published recently in Salon, Kiriakou said that Secretary of State John Kerry, who was then chairman of the committee, personally called off the investigation. The State Department declined to comment, but a former Senate aide to Kerry called Kiriakou’s account “completely fabricated.”

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Corporate sell-outs exploit a secret new gimmick

Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013 10:33 AM CAST
Corporate sell-outs exploit a secret new gimmick
Craven senators Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch want to shield authors of toxic tax giveaways from the public view
By David Sirota

Max Baucus, Orin Hatch (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Reuters/Chip East)

With more and more operations of the executive and judiciary branches happening behind closed doors and out of public view, the legislative branch was bound to join Washington’s secrecy-fest at some point. That point apparently is now.

As The Hill reports, the U.S. Senate’s “top tax writers have promised their colleagues 50 years worth of secrecy in exchange for suggestions on what deductions and credits to preserve” in a tax “reform” bill that aims to overhaul the tax code from scratch. The system, reports the newspaper, allows only 10 congressional staff members to have “direct access to a senator’s written suggestions” and “each submission will be given its own ID number and be kept on password-protected servers, with printed versions kept in locked safes” in the National Archives until the end of 2064.

The architects of this scheme, Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) suggest that secrecy is the best way to facilitate input from all senators, as lawmakers will know they can make substantive suggestions without the fear of political retribution.


In the national security realm, for instance, secrecy has fostered stuff like the government’s unpopular warrantless surveillance and unpopular mass data mining – stuff that is bad for the average American’s civil liberties but good for both government officials who seek monarchical power and for private defense/intelligence contractors seeking to expand their profits.

A similar dynamic plays out with economics. In that policy realm just a few years ago, secrecy famously shielded policymakers from public outcry and resulted in a stealth $16 trillion bailout that handed out huge tranches of taxpayer cash to some of the largest corporations in the world. Now, as Businessweek’s Brendan Greeley notes, it’s the same dynamic playing out on tax policy (emphasis added):

Sausage is gross, and backroom deals are necessary. But these secrets, the scraps of paper on which Senators write their wishes, vouchsafed in a hope chest at the National Archives, are so precious that they can’t even be trusted to a back room. Senators are scared. Some tax loopholes are just indefensible to voters. There is no way to pretend that they help our kids, or jobs. They just go to people and companies that donate money. That’s what this secrecy is for. The only possible reason for it to exist is to prevent senators from having to defend their choices to the public.

So here’s what we know about Baucus and Hatch’s “blank slate” process, which wipes the tax code clean, forcing senators to justify every loophole they ask to have written back in. We know that some of the loopholes just aren’t defensible, so toxic to voters that not only can we not know them, we may not ever know them…Any senator with a tax plea so secret it has to be physically locked away is definitely, absolutely not requesting it for the voters.



Oakland accepts federal funds for controversial VAST surveillance setup

Oakland accepts federal funds for controversial vast surveillance setup
Promises to get data retention, privacy policies in place later.

by Cyrus Farivar - July 31 2013, 9:00am CAST

This sign was seen outside the Oakland City Council meeting on Tuesday evening.

OAKLAND, CA—At a regularly scheduled city council meeting last night, the Oakland City Council unanimously accepted a $2 million federal grant that would create a round-the-clock "Domain Awareness Center" (DAC) in the West Coast port city. In doing so, Oakland thrust itself into the forefront of the national debate about surveillance and its limits—and two dozen vociferous protestors shouted "shame, shame, shame!" as the council voted after midnight to accept the money.

A May 2013 DAC slide (PDF) from a presentation by the Port of Oakland shows that the system would combine not only existing surveillance cameras and thermal imaging devices at the Port of Oakland, but also the Oakland Police Department's license plate readers, ShotSpotter gunshot detection devices, CCTV cameras, surveillance cameras at Oakland city schools, and dozens of other cameras from regional law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol. According to that schedule, the DAC should be fully operational by the end of June 2014, and it will aggregate more than 1,000 camera feeds.

Enlarge (in original)/ The Port of Oakland's own May 2013 slide describes combining over 1,000 cameras.


"I think it's a travesty that the (Department of Homeland Security) has tapped our firefighters to be spies for the surveillance state," said Mary Madden of the group Alameda County Against Drones.



Some protestors became louder as the night went on.

Lee Tien, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, also said that the city's privacy assurances are not good enough.

"A thousand sensors that feed into one place is not the same as 1,000 identical sensors that each feed to 1,000 different places without exchanging information," he told Ars. "A network of cameras is rather unlike a bunch of un-networked cameras. Other variables include retention of the data, access to the data, or disclosure of the data. Much of the fight over privacy today is about aggregation and/or organization of already-collected data."

McClatchy asks whether US spied on its reporter

McClatchy asks whether US spied on its reporter
— Jul. 30 7:29 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The McClatchy news organization asked National Intelligence Director James Clapper on Tuesday whether U.S. intelligence agencies monitored cellphone calls between a McClatchy freelance reporter and his sources in Afghanistan.

In a letter to Clapper, Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy's vice president of news, and Karole Morgan-Prager, vice president, corporate development and general counsel, called the allegations that U.S. intelligence agencies helped target a journalist working for a U.S. news organization "disturbing."

"Absent a well-founded, good faith belief that a journalist is engaged in terrorist activities, compiling and analyzing a journalist's metadata would violate core First Amendment principles, and U.S. law," Gyllenhaal and Morgan-Prager wrote.

They asked Clapper whether any U.S. intelligence agencies helped in the "collection, use or analysis" of any metadata from McClatchy freelancer Jon Stephenson's cellphone while he worked in Afghanistan last year.


"We regard any targeted collection of the metadata of our journalists as a serious interference with McClatchy's constitutional rights to gather and report the news," the two McClatchy officials wrote.

Clapper's office had no immediate comment late Tuesday.


On Sunday, the Star-Times newspaper of New Zealand reported that the New Zealand military conspired with U.S. spy agencies to monitor Stephenson's communications with sources in Afghanistan. New Zealand officials have denied the allegations.


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