Thursday, September 19, 2013

You and Your (Government) Toys . . . .

From Luke Rudkowski at We Are Change yesterday:

Or - as Alison would say - Get Your NSA on, Zombies.

Still gotta have one ? ? ? ?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Deleted an Email and Want to Retrieve It ? ? ? ?

No problem!

Call the NSA they may be able to help.

But - of course - not the way you're saying . . . .

Monday, September 02, 2013

Eroding Excited States Civil Liberties . . . .

Chris Hedges in his TruthDig column today details his case against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its chances of success.  barry's kangaroo court has the upper hand  at this point in the legal proceedings.

Illustration by Mr. Fish

All we have left is the Supreme Court, which may not take the case. If the Supreme Court does not take our case, the law will remain in place unless Congress strikes it down, something that federal legislators have so far refused to consider. The three branches of government may want to retain the ability to use the military to maintain control if widespread civil unrest should occur in the United States. I suspect the corporate state knows that amid the mounting effects of climate change and economic decline the military may be all that is left between the elite and an enraged population. And I suspect the corporate masters do not trust the police to protect them. 

My bet is The Supremes don't touch this case with the proverbial 10-foot pole and the march toward total annihilation of civil liberties in The Excited States continues.

Sure would like to be wrong on this one, tho . . . .

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

bennie and his jerks return . . . .

Oh, fer krissakes.

It appears "the devil god made him do it?!?  (Maybe some help from "the devil made me do it," aka, Geraldine, aka, Flip Wilson might jog the old geezer's memory.)

From The Star today:

Former pope Benedict has said he resigned after “God told me to” during what he called a “mystical experience,” a Catholic news agency reported. 

Benedict, whose formal title is now Pope Emeritus, announced his shock resignation on Feb. 11. And on Feb. 28 he became the first pontiff to step down in 600 years.

“God told me to do it,” the Zenith agency quoted Benedict as saying to a visitor to the convent in the Vatican gardens where he is living out his retirement in near isolation.

According to the agency, Benedict told his visitor, who asked to remain anonymous, that God did not speak to him in a vision but in what the former pope called “a mystical experience.”

It appears bennie is not quite ready to exit the world stage after all.

Pity . . . .

Monday, August 19, 2013

A "USian" Apology to Canada . . . .

This is not ethically cool, but David Swanson's post today is so good I'm gonna post it in its entirety.

Hope you appreciate it as much as I did  . . . .

Apology to Canada From Your Southern Neighbor

Secession first he would put down
Wholly and forever,
And afterwards from Britain's crown
He Canada would sever.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy.
Mind the music and the step
and with the girls be handy!

I don't speak for the United States or harbor any affection for nationalism.  I'd break this country into several manageable pieces if I could.  But I think someone owes you an apology, Canada -- and, much as our political leaders are accused of making apologies (as if that were a bad thing) I don't expect any of them to get it remotely right any time soon.

So, here goes.

As a Virginian, let me begin by apologizing for the fact that, six-years after the British landing at Jamestown, with the settlers struggling to survive and hardly managing to get their own local genocide underway, these new Virginians hired mercenaries to attack Acadia and drive the French out of what they considered their continent (even if they failed).  I'm sorry, also, that this idea never went away, that the Virginia-based U.S. military still thinks as the Jamestown settlers thought, centuries of cultural progress having passed it by. 
I'm sorry that the colonies that would become the United States decided to take over Canada in 1690 (and failed, again).  I'm sorry that they got the British to help them in 1711 (and failed, yet again).  I'm sorry that General Braddock and Colonel Washington tried again in 1755 (and still failed).  I'm sorry for the ethnic cleansing perpetrated and the driving out of the Acadians and the Native Americans.

I'm sorry for the British and U.S. attacks of 1758 that took away your fort, renamed it Pittsburgh, and eventually built a giant stadium across the river dedicated to the glorification of ketchup.  It wasn't your land any more than it was U.S. land, but I'm sorry for the aggression against you by the future-U.S. and by Britain.  I'm sorry that in 1760 you were conquered by Britain.  I'm more sorry for everything that came next.

I'm sorry that George Washington sent troops led by Benedict Arnold to attack Canada yet again in 1775, and that -- unlike his future desertion -- this action by Arnold was considered righteous and admirable.  I'm sorry that these imbeciles talked of liberation and expected to be welcomed with gratitude.  I'm sorry their descendants have suffered from the same delusions with regard to every new country invaded for centuries.  I'm sorry that the 13 colonies sought to impose the status of "14th colony" on you by force.  I'm sorry that an early draft of the U.S. Constitution provided for the inclusion of Canada, despite Canada's lack of interest in being included. 

I'm sorry that Benjamin Franklin asked the British to hand you over during negotiations for the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  I'm sorry that Britain, in fact, handed a large chunk of you over: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana.  If it makes you feel any better, 60 years later Mexico would catch it even worse.  I'm sorry to the Native American residents of the land handed over from Canada to the United States, as if land were ownable, and as if that land were uninhabited.

I'm sorry for the Louisiana Purchase.  I'm sorry for the War of 1812, and for the idiots who've been celebrating its bicentennial.  I'm sorry that Thomas Jefferson, whose house I see out my window, declared that you would be conquered purely by marching in and being welcomed.  I'm sorry that when Tecumseh tricked a U.S. general into believing he had many more troops than he had, the U.S. "intelligence" "community" was effectively born.  I'm sorry that, at the end of the war, the British agreed to betray you again, handing over territory.  I'm sorry that the drive to annex more never vanished.  I'm sorry that the U.S. got Oregon and Washington by the same means -- negotiating with Britain, not you.

I'm sorry that, by the 1840s, with the take-over of half of Mexico underway, the strategy for the take-over of Canada began to focus more on the imposition of "free" trade agreements.  I'm sorry for the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854.  I'm sorry for the U.S. bribery of your politicians that put it through.

I'm sorry for the U.S. support for an Irish attack on you in 1866.  I'm sorry for the 1867 U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia, which was aimed at reducing you and weakening you.  I'm sorry that the U.S. Congress condemned your formation as a nation.  I'm sorry that the drive to annex you continued.  I'm sorry for the trade agreement of 1935, and the ever-growing push for "freer" trade agreements ever since, right up through the FTA, NAFTA, and the TPP.  I'm sorry that despite its greater wealth, the United States keeps dragging your social standards downward.

I'm sorry for all the assaults on your nation by the U.S. military, U.S. industry, U.S. labor unions, and the CIA.  I'm sorry that your military has been made a subsidiary of the U.S. military.  I'm sorry for so much U.S. interference in your elections.  I'm grateful for the refuge you've offered deserting U.S. soldiers.  I'm sorry that when your prime minister ever so slightly questioned U.S. genocide in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson picked him up by the neck, screaming "You pissed on my rug," and that your prime minister then wrote to Johnson thanking him for speaking so frankly.  I'm sorry you've progressed from there to greater subservience.

I applaud you for pushing through the land mine ban despite U.S. interference.
I know you always had your own major problems.  I know the United States has given you good as well as bad.  But you resisted destructive domination mightily for many years.  Other nations curious about the U.S. and its spreading array of military bases should ask its nearest neighbors for references.  Your successful resistance, for so long, is an example to the world, and to your current self.  You overcame internal divisions to unite and survive.  Perhaps the rest of the world can follow suit.

One can only hope . . . .

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Chris Hedges: "The Death of Truth" . . . .

Chris Hedges has a powerful interview and analysis with WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange yesterday on Truthdig.

A few highlights:

“The status quo, for them, is a loss,” Assange said of the U.S.-led campaign against him as we sat in his small workroom, cluttered with cables and computer equipment. He had a full head of gray hair and gray stubble on his face and was wearing a traditional white embroidered Ecuadorean shirt. “The Pentagon threatened WikiLeaks and me personally, threatened us before the whole world, demanded that we destroy everything we had published, demanded we cease ‘soliciting’ new information from U.S. government whistle-blowers, demanded, in other words, the total annihilation of a publisher. It stated that if we did not self-destruct in this way that we would be ‘compelled’ to do so.” 

“But they have failed,” he went on. “They set the rules about what a win was. They lost in every battle they defined. Their loss is total. We’ve won the big stuff. The loss of face is hard to overstate. The Pentagon reissued its threats on Sept. 28 last year. This time we laughed. Threats inflate quickly. Now the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department intend to show the world what vindictive losers they are through the persecution of Bradley Manning, myself and the organization more generally.” 

At least a dozen American governmental agencies, including the Pentagon, the FBI, the Army’s Criminal Investigative Department, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Diplomatic Security Service, are assigned to the WikiLeaks case, while the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are assigned to track down WikiLeaks’ supposed breaches of security. The global assault—which saw Australia threaten to revoke Assange’s passport—is part of the terrifying metamorphosis of the “war on terror” into a wider war on civil liberties. It has become a hunt not for actual terrorists but a hunt for all those with the ability to expose the mounting crimes of the power elite. 

It is from this room that Assange and his supporters have mounted an election campaign for a seat in Australia’s upper house of Parliament. Public surveys from the state of Victoria, where Assange is a candidate, indicate he has a good chance of winning. 

Assange communicates with his global network of associates and supporters up to 17 hours a day through numerous cellphones and a collection of laptop computers. He encrypts his communications and religiously shreds anything put down on paper. 

The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel giddily printed redacted copies of some of the WikiLeaks files and then promptly threw Assange and Manning to the sharks. It was not only morally repugnant, but also stunningly shortsighted. Do these news organizations believe that if the state shuts down organizations such as WikiLeaks and imprisons Manning and Assange, traditional news outlets will be left alone? Can’t they connect the dots between the prosecutions of government whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act, warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of communications and the persecution of Manning and Assange? Don’t they worry that when the state finishes with Manning, Assange and WikiLeaks, these atrophied news outlets will be next? Haven’t they realized that this is a war by a global corporate elite not against an organization or an individual but against the freedom of the press and democracy? 

Assange spoke repeatedly about Manning, with evident concern. He sees in the young Army private a reflection of his own situation, as well as the draconian consequences of refusing to cooperate with the security and surveillance state. Manning’s 12-week military trial is scheduled to begin in June. 

The prosecution is calling 141 witnesses, including an anonymous Navy SEAL who was part of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Assange called the Navy SEAL the “star diva” of the state’s “12-week Broadway musical.” Manning is as bereft of establishment support as Assange. 

“The old media attempted to remove his alleged heroic qualities,” Assange said of Manning. “An act of heroism requires that you make a conscious act. It is not an unreasoned expression of madness or sexual frustration. It requires making a choice—a choice that others can follow. If you do something solely because you are a mad homosexual there is no choice. No one can choose to be a mad homosexual. So they stripped him, or attempted to strip him, of all his refinements.”

Chris' concluding paragraph:

The world has been turned upside down. The pestilence of corporate totalitarianism is spreading rapidly over the earth. The criminals have seized power. It is not, in the end, simply Assange or Manning they want. It is all who dare to defy the official narrative, to expose the big lie of the global corporate state. The persecution of Assange and Manning is the harbinger of what is to come, the rise of a bitter world where criminals in Brooks Brothers suits and gangsters in beribboned military uniforms—propped up by a vast internal and external security apparatus, a compliant press and a morally bankrupt political elite—monitor and crush those who dissent. Writers, artists, actors, journalists, scientists, intellectuals and workers will be forced to obey or thrown into bondage. I fear for Julian Assange. I fear for Bradley Manning. I fear for us all.

The piece also includes a full-screen option interactive timeline of WikiLeaks major moments and audio clips of the interview.  The opening artwork is impressive in itself.

A bit lengthy, but definitely worth the read by and of today's real progressive heroes . . . .

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

barry's Continued Assault on Civil Liberties . . . .

continues with this report from today:

Government Plans to Fine Internet Companies for Refusing Wiretaps 

Seeking to foil terrorism and criminal plots, the Obama administration wants Congress to adopt legislation that would fine Internet companies for not going along with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intercepts of electronic communications. 

Under the proposed plan, a company could face a series of escalating fines for not turning over information sought by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. The fines would begin at tens of thousands of dollars and, after 90 days, would double every day for noncompliance.
The agency’s general counsel, Andrew Weissmann, has said that wiretapping the Internet is currently the FBI’s “top priority.”

Wonder how the "progressive" voters of The Excited States are feeling 'bout their prez these days?  Aww, they prob'ly agree with everything he does what with that "lesser of two evils" mantra and all.

The sad thing is, the "lesser" is becoming the "major" with each passing day . . . .

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Moral of the Story . . . .

To the San Francisco Pride Committee on their decision to not have Bradley Manning as one of their Grand Marshals of the annual pride parade:  Don't piss off Glenn Greenwald and not expect to be taken to task on it:

So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash. What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture. Even at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, once an iconic symbol of cultural dissent and disregard for stifling peities, nothing can happen that might offend AT&T and the Bank of America. The minute something even a bit deviant takes place (as defined by standards imposed by America's political and corporate class), even the SF Gay Pride Parade must scamper, capitulate, apologize, and take an oath of fealty to their orthodoxies (we adore the military, the state, and your laws). And, as usual, the largest corporate factions are completely exempt from the strictures and standards applied to the marginalized and powerless. Thus, while Bradley Manning is persona non grata at SF Pride, illegal eavesdropping telecoms, scheming banks, and hedge-fund purveryors of the nation's worst right-wing agitprop are more than welcome. 

The entire article is an indictment on today's culture being hijacked by the Corporatocracy . . . .

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Zealand Parliament Approves Marriage Equality . . . .

From today's Think Progress:

On Wednesday, the New Zealand Parliament voted 77-44 to approve marriage equality in its final reading, making it the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

The bill still requires “royal assent,” a mere formality, and couples should be able to start marrying in August.

Prior to the vote:


The final vote and aftermath:


Yet one more reason to respect and admire New Zealand's citizens . . . .

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ex-bennie's Jerks . . . .

'Ya gotta love it when the Race for the Ruby Slippers includes the mafia, anti-mafia and raids in the diocese of one of the favourites to replace bennie.  Not to mention infighting amongst the pious pompous old men in fancy dresses.

As The Guardian reports today, there's a a bit of a wrench being thrown into the proceedings:

Roman Catholic cardinals have been urged to overcome divisions at a special mass ahead of the papal conclave, just hours after anti-mafia investigators carried out a string of raids in the diocese of the leading candidate.

In a homily before thousands of pilgrims and the most senior figures in the church, Angelo Sodano, the dean of the college of cardinals, made a last-ditch attempt to banish infighting, as he extolled the virtues of unity amid diversity.

But even as preparations for the mass were being made, Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan – and reportedly the hot favourite to be the next pope – suffered a swingeing blow.

Anti-mafia detectives swooped on homes, offices, clinics and hospitals in Lombardy, the region around Milan, and elsewhere.

And we haven't even gotten to the sure-to-be-forthcoming Altar Boy Chasing Escapades Version 2.0 release.

Time to get the popcorn ready, ya'll . . . .

Makes Me . . . .

Proud to be a supporter of Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Today they released the full audio of Bradley Manning's court statement to the world.

Good on 'em and Good Luck to Bradley in the hardest battle of his military career . . . .

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Quotes from Hugo . . . .

Compliments of today's Toronto Star:

“The hypothesis is not absurd ... that those towers could have been dynamited,” Chavez said in a speech to supporters. 

“A building never collapses like that, unless it’s with an implosion.” [Chavez in 2006 reacting to a television report investigating a theory that the U.S. government was behind the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers] 

“He is a donkey.” “Hitler would be like a suckling baby next to George W. Bush.” [On former president George W. Bush, 2006] 

“The devil came here yesterday,” said Chavez, who then crossed himself and looked skyward. “It smells of sulphur still today.” [Again on Bush Jr., addressing the U.N. in 2006] 

“I sting those who rattle me. Don’t mess with me, Condoleezza.” 

“I am sorry I am too busy to marry you.” [To U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006.] 

“Go right to hell.” “You are a pawn of imperialism.” [To British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2006] 

“ ... The poor thing, you have to feel sorry for her. She is a beauty queen that they’ve put in the role of a figurine. Forgive her, for she knows not what she says.” [Addressing Sarah Palin after she called him a dictator in 2008] 

“Contrary to reports, Charlie Sheen is not welcome in Venezuela. There are limits.” [Chavez in 2011 on why he will not condemn Gadhafi but actor Sheen is not in his good graces] 

“Would it be strange if they had developed a technology to induce cancer and no one knew it?” [Chavez in 2011, shortly after having a tumour operated on, questions whether the U.S. government could be plotting to kill him off]

My two personal faves are those referring to condescending rice.

RIP, Hugo . . . .

Thursday, February 21, 2013

bennie's "Story" Just That . . . .

As we suspected, it appears there's much more to bennie's resignation than he originally led the faithful to believe.

From The Guardian today:

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

Looks like the holy father may have been caught in a rather large lie.

Who's he gonna confess his major fib to, eh ? ? ? ?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Matt on Drone Murder . . . .

Matt Taibbi weighs in on the drone murder policy of The Excited States:

The news that the executive branch had claimed for itself the power to assassinate Americans managed to very briefly raise the national eyebrow, but for the most part, the body politic barely flinched. I got the sense that most of the major press organizations sort of hoped the story would go away quietly (aided, hopefully, by the felicitous appearance of some distractingly thrilling pop-news/cable sensation, like Chris Dorner's Lost Weekend). 

Meanwhile, it also recently came out that the New York Times, among other papers, sat on knowledge of the existence of a drone base in Saudi Arabia for over a year because, get this, the paper was concerned that it might result in the base being closed.

What the Times proposes is the same sort of thinking. In their minds, the problem with our drone program isn't that we're murdering masses of people, it's that we're doing it without the appearance of legality.

Not to worry, tho, 'cuz barry announced yesterday he was going to be more open and forthcoming with his "kill list" operation.

Feel better now ? ? ? ?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shazzaaammm ! ! ! !

From the Associated Press today:

Actor Jim Nabors, partner marry in Seattle


HONOLULU -- The actor best known for playing the TV character Gomer Pyle in the 1960s has married his male partner of 38 years. Hawaii News Now reported that Jim Nabors and his partner, Stan Cadwallader, traveled from their Honolulu home to Seattle to be married Jan. 15.

Congrats to the happy couple . . . .

Friday, January 04, 2013

Canadian Health Care - (Re)Revisited . . . .

'Twas time for my annual physical exam with our family doctor.

Left home at 8:45, caught the bus to the subway and then walked the three blocks to the doctor's office.

The receptionist checked me in and directed me Exam Room #2 immediately.  Our doc arrived about a minute later and went over my recent blood test results, general medical questions, reviewed my activities, gave recommendations, etc.  I had a list of "queeries" with me which we went over and he answered all of them.  After a check of all the basic bodily functions, the mandatory prostate exam, my next lab test requisition  and prescription refill in hand, I was out the door.

'Nuther walk, subway ride and bus ride home and it was 10:02.  Yup, a total of 77 minutes!  I still had 23 minutes left on my transit ticket, fer krissakes!

Total out of pocket cost to me:  The $2.10* transit fare, as I had purchased a book of Fare Saver tickets previously.

So, the next time someone negatively compares our health care system to that of our neighbours down south, think about it.  When a politician down there postulates:  "You don't want the system they have in Canada for your health care!"  I would vigorously argue:  "Yes, you do!"

*To be fair, "drf" and I as a family of two pay $120.50/month for our total family BC Care Card health care premium.  Readers in the US, you read that right:  That's $60.25 each, per month.  No deductibles, no co-pays.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Polar Plunge 2013 . . . .

It's been awhile since I've been or posted photos of Vancouver's English Bay Polar Bear Plunge.

Here's this year's crop of photos:

 Brrrrrr . . . .