Analysis

2011-11-18 Arrests & Renewal #OccupyLA Day 48

I just got out of jail a few hours ago. I was one of 300 people arrested Thursday in Occupy Wall St. protests across the United States. In Los Angeles, a total of 67 people were arrested from Occupy Los Angeles, SEIU and Good Jobs LA which combined forces for two back-to-back protests, both of which had as there centerpieces acts of civil disobedience that brought important sections of downtown to a complete standstill as the biggest occupation in the nation took to the streets.

The first was a march that started at 7:00am to the 4th St. bridge, that brought Figueroa Ave, which at 30 miles, is the longest street in LA, to a complete standstill in the middle of the morning rush hour. This also pretty much shutdown freeway access to downtown, Figueroa is that important. 23 protesters, mostly SEIU members, were arrested in a very orderly, non-violent fashion after the protesters set up tents in the street.

2011-11-12 Rendering Assange: Hillary Clinton's revenge?

ImageWhile speculating about the fate of Julian Assange -- in the face of U.S. wrath over the massive WikiLeaks disclosures of politically-sensitive diplomatic materials -- most media reports have focused on the likelihood of Assange's extradition to the U.S. to face criminal charges. Less discussed, however, is the possibility of irregular rendition, which could pose a far greater threat to Assange's life and safety. Unfortunately for Assange, the key to his fate lies in the hands of his political foil U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

2011-11-09 A new culture of resistance: from WikiLeaks to the squares

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(Photo) Wikileak's Julian Assange wearing an Anonymous mask on October 15th at #OccupyLXS camp in London

Now that the grassroots movement that started inadvertently with the Arab Spring has gone global, it is necessary to cast a backwards glance to try and figure out, with some perspective, the dynamics of what has happened, physically and conceptually, over the last year. We propose a simple vision of the process of uprising in 2011, which was consolidated on the past 15th of October as a new culture of popular resistance and creativity. We also aim to point out the recent or enhanced concepts born in the collective consciousness of society during this period.

2011-11-08 DARPA, decoys and diplomatics

“Under this plan, the decoy docs would undermine hackers’ trust in the integrity of data, make them question whether releasing it in the public domain would be worth it, and force WikiLeakers to do more work verifying their authenticity.” - Dawn Lim, ‘Darpa’s Plan to Trap the Next WikiLeaker: Decoy Documents’ Wired, November 4, 2011.

The recent revelations of work by DARPA to plant fake documents in official systems to put off or trick potential whistleblowers and the publishers who work with them is the latest in the US Government’s series of reactions to the work of WikiLeaks, including the recent issue of an Executive Order tightening procedures around the classification of government information, enabling administrators to quickly remove suspected whistleblowers from duty and establishing an Information Security Oversight Office within the National Archives and Records Administration with powers to monitor and enforce the Executive Order’s directives.

There are a number of tactics at work with the DARPA proposal: the identification and monitoring of anyone who accesses the decoy documents, the planting of seeds of uncertainty in the minds of potential whistleblowers as to the authenticity of the documents, and making it more difficult for a publisher to feel confident about the release of the leaked documents while increasing the efforts they need to go to to verify the documents’ authenticity.

2011-11-04 Overlooked evidence in the Assange trial

Authored by Bella Magnani

Since the 100-page Swedish police protocol file leaked onto the internet in February 2011, it has been widely known that the SKL (Sweden's national forensic laboratory) failed to find any chromosomal DNA -- either male or female -- on the torn, used condom that Complainant AA gave to police 12 days after the event as evidence of her allegations. For anyone who doubts this fact, it's on page 77 of the police protocol (FUP), attached below [pdf].

Now, at that point -- 25 October, 2010 -- one would hope that a competent and impartial investigations team would turn toward investigating how this forensic finding came about. Sweden takes very seriously the issue of making false claims or presenting false evidence in sex crime cases, which is punishable with a 2-year prison sentence. In this particular case, however, the lead investigation officer, Mats Gehlin, simply asked the SKL to run the test again (page 81 of the FUP). In fairness, the first result does mention a tiny speck that might be "something," which a second test later found to be a very small sample of mitochondrial DNA.

This is significant for two reasons: first, mitochondrial DNA is not uniquely identifying in the same way as chromosomal DNA; and, more importantly, a sample which contains mitochondrial DNA but no chromosomal DNA can only come from hair and nails. And, of course, a used condom should be awash with chromosomal DNA from both participants -- but this one has none.

2011-10-29 The Economics of Occupy Wall Street, Part II: Citizens United v. FEC

"I hope we shall ... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to trial and bid defiance to the laws of our country." -- Thomas Jefferson

Earlier this month, a group within the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) published a draft of the 99 Percent Declaration, which proposes solutions to economic inequality in the U.S. and announces a plan to organize a national convention to be held in Philadelphia on July 4, 2012. Still a work-in-progress, the Declaration calls for the election of delegates who would draft and vote on a non-partisan petition of grievances to be presented to the U.S. President, each member of Congress, the Supreme Court, and all federal candidates in the 2012 elections. If, warns the Declaration, the government does not act within one year to remedy its stated grievances, OWS will form a third political party to run in every Congressional seat in 2014 and 2016.

2011-10-27 Trouble at the Hard Block Cafe - Day 26 @ #OccupyLA

Let me say at the outset that from what I have seen of the occupation movement, it has becomes so dynamic, so energized and been met with such wide support among the people that nothing can defeat it if it doesn't defeat itself.

However I fear that it is on the verge of doing just that. There is big trouble in the Hard Block Cafe!

Hard Rock Cafe, concept by Clay Claiborne, graphic by Mike SteeleThe Occupy Los Angeles General Assembly split into dueling factions Wednesday evening as a large number of occupiers who felt alienated by the highly structured, long and boring, but largely irrelevant GA , came in and took over the mike, overthrew the process, and made it an open mike session. The GA had been led by a facilitation committee that was far more concerned with process than content. This is a facilitation committee lead by a new core group. The original core group of facilitators that used the process to create Occupy Los Angeles have moved on to other areas. This may be "billed" as a leaderless movement but not only is there something to be said for leadership, there are a lot of advantages to consistent leadership, IMHO.

The original Wednesday GA started on the south side of city hall with the solar stage. After it was overthrown, the facilitators, for a while, reconvened their GA on north stairs before returning to the open mike crowd on the south stairs in the spirit of unity.

That there was a split at all is a sign of the deep divisions and serious problems that have cropped up at Occupy Los Angeles. About the same time this was going on, diagonally across First & Main from city hall in the LA Times building, they were posting this to their website:

Even in Los Angeles, where city leaders have greeted the demonstrators warmly, there are signs of protest fatigue and increasing anxiety about what happens next.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who earlier this month had ponchos distributed to rain-soaked Occupy L.A. protesters, said Wednesday that the encampment next to City Hall "cannot continue indefinitely."

Villaraigosa has instructed city officials to draft a plan for another location for the demonstration. He decided the camp could not stay after Los Angeles County health inspectors expressed worries about the cleanliness of the camp, and because of concerns about the condition of the lawn and trees.

2011-10-25 Six years after Subic rape incident, still no closure on VFA controversy

The October 26 visit to the Philippines of US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Kurt Campbell should be viewed as significant, coming as it is 6 years after the Subic rape incident involving four US Marines and a Filipina. Of course the US would now argue that no rape ever took place and proof of this was the acquittal of the principal accused, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, by an appeals court which reversed an earlier conviction by a lower court. The acquittal of course was surrounded by questionable circumstances.

But beyond the verdict of the courts, what the Subic rape incident did was expose the lopsidedness of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement. The VFA, which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999 (but not by the US Senate), sets the legal framework for the treatment of visiting US troops.

On November 1, 2005, a Filipina was allegedly raped inside a van and then left half-naked on the sidewalk in the former Subic US military base. Four visiting American soldiers were arrested. Their defense: only one of them engaged in consensual sex with the victim. The victim meanwhile said she was intoxicated and tried to resist the sexual advances of Smith. The other US soldiers cheered as the rape took place.

The Subic rape case triggered a controversial custody issue involving Smith, the US embassy and the Philippine government. While a Philippine court took jurisdiction over the rape case, Smith and his co-accused Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier, Lance Corporal Keith Silkwood, and Lance Corporal Dominic Duplantis were placed under the custody of the US embassy in Manila because this was what the VFA supposedly mandated.

When a guilty verdict was issued by a Regional Trial Court, Smith was handed a life sentence and ordered detained at the Makati City Jail. His three other co-accused were acquitted and were immediately spirited out of the country back to Okinawa.

2011-10-23 The Rise of the Occupy Insurgency, The World’s First Internet Revolution #OWS

The 1980's popularization of the computer and the birth of the Internet was a quantum shift in communication and an evolutionary step for human society. The Digital Revolution marked the latest stage of the information age. People in distant parts of the world now connect instantly and information flow has shrunk the world. One of the biggest changes recently is the interconnected immediacy of social networking. This is a communication revolution in itself.

The word revolution has roughly three different meanings. The first is political, signifying fundamental change in political institutions, such as the overthrow of a government and replacement with another form. The second describes a fundamental change in technology or society in general, such as the Industrial Revolution. The Digital Revolution brought a shift in how we communicate as well as a sea change in a vast array of technology. And lastly in astronomy, revolution is the orbiting of one heavenly body around another.

Until recently, the Digital Revolution has not been fundamentally linked to serious political change. Yet, it created the foundation for the ubiquitous social media that is now being linked with political revolution on a global scale.

2011-10-20 WikiLeaks: Syrian regime says it can make it worse in Lebanon

Not speaking often publicly on general issues is a main attribute of the top leadership in the Syrian Baathist regime. They rarely allow themselves to be faced and challenged by the media. The regime tends to convey its messages via different proxies and mouthpieces who are regime-linked. These unofficial spokespeople meet foreign officials or media to express the official line.

Take for example the Syrian uprising which is seven months old now. Rarely has a Syrian official has showed up in any TV show since the 'troubles' started in Syria; nothing like an interior minister, sub-minister or even a spokesman. The task is usually done by 'analysts', 'academics' or 'strategists' who are actually fiercer than the regime itself in expressing the official line. A lot of these names have become infamous now as they have been hosted almost full-time on satellite channels like AlArabiya and AlJazeera. Dr. Taleb Ibrahim is one of these. Of the few times the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem spoke to the media for example, they were in press conference type meetings rather than debate talk show types. Still, he managed to wipe out new countries when he spoke.

2011-10-16 Ten Thousand March with #OccupyLA

Saurday was the biggest day yet at Occupy Los Angeles as it began its third week. Around noon, between 10,000 – 15,000 people, according to official LAPD estimates, marched from Pershing Sq. through the financial district and then to the occupation site at city hall. With so many protesters, the police closed the streets for the march, which was very spirited with people from all over Southern California and what is more important a mix of people that was incredibly representative of South California. As this is not radio, I will let the 14 pictures in the slideshow below the fold speak for themselves.

The march ended at Occupy Los Angeles which now involves over 300 tents occupying almost of the grassy areas around city hall. Thousand of people stayed around for the celebration, dancing music, committee meetings, film screenings, yoga and more.

As city hall is closed on Saturday, we had the run of the place. The north, west and south stairs operated as three stages all afternoon and into the night. For the afternoon, Spring St. on the west side of city hall was blocked off to traffic so that people could rally there. A portable stage and sound system was set up in the middle of the street and that was the main forum for post march speakers and musicians.

2011-10-15 The Economics of Occupy Wall Street, Part I: The Glass-Steagall Act

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." -- attributed to Thomas Jefferson

2011-10-14 A brief history of the 15th of October: where it comes from, what it means and the future of the global uprising

The past 17th of September the world assisted almost unknowingly to the first taste of the new global protest of our time. Initially this was the date marked as the beginning of the Occupy Wall St. movement (now a nationwide phenomenon), however it also served to launch an international campaign of protests in front of local banks and stock exchanges dubbed as 'Antibanks Day'. For the first time, the rising global civil movement, based on democratic assemblies and structured around an ever-growing network of activists, tested its capacity to rally people worldwide and not only in a national framework. They created task-forces for media strategies, both online and offline, set up independent live-streams and coordinated globally for spreading information. Consequently, the start of Occupy Wall Street was used as an excuse by activists everywhere to prepare for the worldwide protest on October 15th, which will be the consolidation of this structure, and will set the standard for it's future success or failure.

2011-10-12 Los Angeles City Council votes support for #OccupyLA

Contradicting the trend in New York, Boston, Washington, DC and other cities where the growing occupation movement has been met by official hostility and police violence, today, on the twelfth day of the people's encampment at Los Angeles city hall in opposition to the domination of the big banks and in support of Occupy Wall St., the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution to promote responsible banking by the City of Los Angeles and in support of Occupy Los Angeles.

The resolution with the title "First Amendment Rights / Occupy Los Angeles / Responsible Banking Measure" was sponsored by Richard Alarcon and Bill Rosendahl and was seconded by five other councilpersons, virtually assuring it of passage.

The agenda item for this read as follows:

09-0234-S1

CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION (ALARCON - ROSENDAHL - ET AL.) relative to the City's position to support the First Amendment Rights carried out by “Occupy Los Angeles” and addressing concerns regarding the Responsible Banking measure.

Recommendation for Council action, SUBJECT TO THE CONCURRENCE OF THE MAYOR: ADOPT the accompanying RESOLUTION to SUPPORT the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by "Occupy Los Angeles" and URGE the City Departments responsible for completing the implementation plan associated with the Responsible Banking measure (Council file No. 09-0234) that was approved by the Council on March 5, 2010, which would address some of the concerns of the "Occupy Los Angeles" demonstrators by demanding accountability and results from the Banks we invest taxpayer dollars in, to bring the Responsible Banking measure for a final vote to the Council by October 28, 2011

After dozens of public comments by members of Occupy LA including me and other citizens, the endorsement of many City Counclpersons, and the haggling over the date for the final vote on the banking measure, the council passed the resolution by a vote of 11 to 0 with a couple members abstaining.

2011-10-12 Hollywood Megastars guarded by Bulgarian Mega Mafia

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov meets Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov meets Arnold Schwarzenegger

Movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis and Jason Statham are actually in Bulgaria for the shooting of the "The Expendables 2" at the Nu Boyana Film Studios.

Bodyguard services are provided by a Bulgarian security firm connected to the most powerful local organized crime group TIM, according to secret cables sent from the US Embassy in Sofia and published by Wikileaks.

Pictures taken during Schwarzenegger's arrival at the Sofia International Airport, published in Bulgarian media, show a Mercedes SUV, waiting for the actor, with license plate C4401XA, registered to a company owned by the Varna-based TIM and commonly used by the TIM boss Ivo Kamenov. According to unconfirmed reports, the SUV is armored to the 7b level, which is very rare in Bulgaria.

Another picture portrays kick boxer Todor Todorov standing close to Schwarzenegger. Todorov is a competitor of the TIM sports club and a bodyguard, employed by the Sark Group company, founded in 2004 by the former chief of security of TIM boss Marin Mitev.

The security activities of TIM are spread among several firms with the most popular one being TIM EOOD, offering VIP security services in Bulgaria and abroad, according to the official internet page tim.bg.

The Nu Boyana studios, contacted by bivol.bg, have declined giving information about the company providing security for Hollywood stars, shooting in Sofia, and in particular for Schwarzenegger.

TIM - "The up-and-coming star of Bulgarian organized crime"

2011-10-11 Žižek at Wall Street: “don’t fall in love with yourself” #occupywallstreet #ows

Post image for Žižek at Wall Street: “don’t fall in love with yourself”

“We’re not dreamers. We’re awaking from a dream turning into a nightmare. We’re not destroying anything. We’re watching the system destroy itself.”

2011-09-26 How an anti-Hezbollah newspaper spins WikiLeaks content

Aoun-wikileaks-hezbollah-lebanon-LBCI-Almustaqbal.JPGThe Lebanese daily newspaper Almustaqbal reported today that the head of Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) in Lebanon General Michel Aoun referred to Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist organisation’ in one of the Wikileaks cables (06Beirut413). Other media outlets reported the story referring to Almustaqbal, and one of them was Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI), where the author read this piece news (on their website).

Almustaqbal newspaper is owned by the business tycoon, Hezbollah’s political opponent and Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. If this is true, it will be a blow to the current alliance that exists between Michel Aoun and Hezbollah. This alliance has been the corner stone of what’s known as ‘March 8’ camp in the Lebanese politics, which is basically a pro-Hezbollah alliance. Hariri is the leader of ‘March 14’ camp, which is an anti-Hezbollah alliance.

Hezbollah is a main player in Lebanese politics, and has a main regional dimension too. It represents a fore front extension of the alliance between Syria, Iran on the Lebanese borders which stands up to Israel. Going back to the subject cable 06Beirut413 and the story in Almustaqbal. The author actually read this cable before Almustaqbal, and soon after its release. The author decided then NOT to write about it, as he didn’t find anything unusual or already not available in the public domain.

2011-09-26 "El Derecho a Saber" ("The Right to Know")

“On March 25, Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales' wife, Gladys Monterroso, was abducted by unknown assailants and released some 15 hours later after she was beaten and raped. Early indications suggested that the kidnapping may have been intended to intimidate Morales into backing off of his efforts to highlight and investigate human rights violations committed during Guatemala's internal conflict. Specifically, the attack could have been designed to stop him from making public sensitive records from the Historic National Police Archives. This potential link led the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to take on the investigation.”

Date: 06/08/2009
Refid: 09GUATEMALA539
Origin: Embassy Guatemala
Released: 30/08/2011

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09GUATEMALA539.html

This story has continued, with, fortunately, very positive results. And it reveals much to us about the nature of evidence en masse – how large collections of records can be necessary if we are to fully understand the systems and governance that supports the actions of abusive or just societies.

Having discovered this trove of police records in 2005, Guatemalan human rights investigators established the Project to Recover the Historic Archives of the National Police. The project had, by October 2009, digitised eight million documents from the archive, and cleaned and organized another four million.

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Photo credit:
Xeni's photostream

2011-09-26 Alleged terrorist financier escaped U.S. sanction

Recently-released embassy cables reveal that, just months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush administration officials opted against freezing the assets of Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, the owner of the Nigerian corporation NASCO whom the U.S. and U.N. had identified as a significant financier of Al Qaeda.

Media reports state that evidence linked Nasreddin (a former bin Laden family employee) to the funding of international terrorism, primarily through Al Taqwa Bank, which Nasreddin directed. Described as "a major source and distributor of funds for Osama bin Laden's terrorist operations" and "the most important financial structure of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic terrorist organizations," the bank was said to boast shareholders including Arab royalty, two sisters of Osama bin Laden, and members of Hamas.

2011-09-24 Eurozone endgame: all that is solid melts into air

With Greece on the verge of default, Italy sucked into the storm, and French banks drawing ever closer to collapse, the euro has finally reached its endgame.

All that is solid melts into air. What we are experiencing at present will define our era for centuries to come. Precisely twenty years after the final collapse of the Soviet Union and the demise of state communism, we are now approaching the endgame for the European Union and the potential demise of European capitalism. The train of economic integration has come grinding to a halt. These are tectonic shifts in world history. But our leaders seem largely oblivious to it.

In many ways, this year has already made its mark upon history: 2011 is the year of revolution, war and crisis; of terror, truth and disaster; of revenge, revolts and riots. But, as we predicted in an article back in December 2010, it might yet be remembered as the year of collapse. None of the underlying causes of the enduring global financial crisis have been addressed. Indeed, the chosen policy response — draconian austerity measures — has only made matters worse.

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