"I don't battle anymore! I uplift motherfuckers!" - GZA
Wednesday, June 28, 2006,2:35 PM
Hip Hop and Net Neutrality
By Davey D

Dear Folks who say they Love Hip Hop

I wish there was a way to make this issue of Net Neutrality more interesting. I wish there was a way to spice it up and make it compelling like some sort of beef within the rap industry. Maybe I should get Brad and Angelina to talk about it instead of their baby. Maybe Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton can utter a few words and force us to take more of an interest.

I wish Cam'ron spent his vast money holding press conferences, dissing punk ass Congress for taking tainted money from Verizon, SBC, and Comcast instead of going after Jay-Z. Im glad Jay-Z ignored Camron, unfortunately he remained silent as the President of Def Jam on this important issue. We'll see what happens after Def Jam finds it difficult or too costly to send out their e-post cards alerting me and others of their latest releases

Im sorry Miss Jones on Hot 97 was so upset and enraged that she felt compelled to make headlines calling Mary J Blige a bitch for not shouting her out at last weeks Summer Jam. Its too bad that she didnt use her 3-4 hours a day of airtime in the nations largest city to call the greedy Congress people who accepted money from these corporations Bitches. There aint gonna be any shout outs if the Senate follows Congress in passing this bill. Maybe she'll step it up when her parent company Emmis finds that folks from all over the country can no longer easily access their archived interviews on their website.

It's too bad that many of us found this issue 'too complicated' and 'too overwhelming' and hence directed our attention to Ludacris and Ice Cube's beef with Oprah. This is the feedback I got after stories ran on my website as well as AllHipHop.

Shyt I'm sorry Oprah was too busy telling Ed Lover that she really does love Hip Hop and that she listens to 50 Cent and his violent ass all damn day instead of alerting her millions of viewers about the issue of Net Neutrality.

Im sorry that KRS-One and others used these Internet airways to tell us about the Hip Hop Nation they want to build, but didnt issue a call to action to protect a main arm of our communication. Whether youre a Hip Hop or Rap Lover the elimination of Net Neutrality is gonna impact you..

Here's what's happening folks. The house has gone passed the COPE bill and rejected proposals to insure Net Neutrality. Those who sided with the Comcast and Verizon are well aware that the ability of ordinary people to communicate to the masses is a problem because its been the only thing holding them accountable. For the last 5 years, the biggest stories about government corruption, corporate swindles, global warming and no weapons of Mass Destruction has come through Internet bloggers who were able to push an issue to the masses and force Fox, CNN and other News outlets to pay some sort of attention.

Anyone who is an activist and championed causes ranging from Election fraud and Diebold Machines, police brutality Freeing Mumia, Global warming, Media Reform and Saving the South Central Farm in LA just to name a few this is will especially hit you hard, because the Internet and its neutrality provisions have enabled many of us to counter biased mainstream media outlets get information out about particular causes all over the world.

Yesterday that ability took one step closer to coming to an end. The mantra being sung on Capitol Hill is Shut it down, Shut that shyt down and redirect traffic to a handful of places and media outlets that they can influence and control.

Like Ice Cube said 'Laugh Now and Cry Later', because many of us will soon be crying when we see the Internet gets parceled up and we start paying outrageous tolls for basic amenities. And speaking of which why didn't Ice Cube talk about this issue instead of not being invited on Oprah?

Anyway your next steps should you choose is to call your Senator's office and tell them to stand up and protect your interests. Ignoring this, waiting for others to take on your responsibility or acting like the issue will simply go away will not change this.

While many of you may shrug this off and think it doesn't apply to you, stop and think of all the activities you do on the daily that involve the Internet. Such activities range from using phone cards which use Internet connections-(Many of y'all didn't realize that) on down to peeping your favorite blog... Many of y'all like to surf and check out my site, AllHipHop, Sohh, HipHopGame etc.. Folks that shyt is about to change in a big, big ,big way.

You're soon gonna be left with only being able to peep monthly issues of The Source and XXL, who neglected to address this issue. The Source bypassed this in their Media Watch column and Elliot Wilson from XXL obvious saw his shyt talking editorials as more important then keeping you informed. I guess I can understand, all these Hip Hop Internet websites were eating into business.

All you artists who felt like you can easily get your music out there via and the other sites, that's about to change Oh yeah lets not forget the punk ass RIAA who like to sue everybody. They stayed silent on this and in fact while all this is going on they have quietly been lobbying Congress to change laws so that they can fundamentally change the copyright laws in such a way that it will make it damn near impossible to pass things around via the net or do Internet Radio. Please read about this here:


and here:


Also lets not let Steve Jobs and his vast i-tunes network off the hook. Perhaps I missed it, but I didnt see him alerting us when you went to download your favorite song or stepped into his stores. Perhaps he figures he's rich enough to pay for the inevitable increases while the rest of us cant. In other words controlling 90% of the market is not enough.

Shame on former Black Panther, Congressman Bobby Rush for selling us out and supporting these corporations. Shame on the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and any other Civil Rights group pretending to represent our interests while selling us out and taking the money to front for these groups. And while Im glad former Congressman Ron Dellums did well in his Mayoral bid in Oakland, we should not forget that he's also a lobbyist with one of his main clients being Verizon so shame on him as well. How's Oakland gonna be a world class city that is a beacon for new technology and innovation when his client is one of the main people trying to shut down the Internet?

In closing I'm gonna say this and it may be sobering for some... It's what my pops told me after I got caught fuccing up and then went home and tried to kiss up to him so I wouldn't get in trouble. He told me to stop acting like a wuss and start acting like a man. He told me it was time I grow up and accept responsibility. He then punished me for 3 weeks not for the fucc up, but for me trying to kiss his ass instead of owning up to my mistakes. This is about to happen to all of us...

My point is this. Hip Hop is over 30 years old. We're not kids no more. This industry is not run by kids. To not involve ourselves in shaping the institutions that we rely on to get our information and music out is irresponsible. Thats some thing to pond about. Here's another breakdown on this issue courtesy of www.playahata.com

Peace out for now
Holla at your Senator before you holla back at me...

posted by R J Noriega
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,2:32 PM
Orwell Was Right; Hip-Hop Is Wrong
By illseed

George Orwell was right.

A close friend of mine hit me up and he was seriously concerned.

To frame this properly, I have to say this brother is one of the most apathetic street dudes I know, but he was worried about the United States of America. Here is why. Over the years, slowly but surely, through a number of methods such as the Patriot Act and others, our Civil Rights have been eroded like a California coastline. Now, I’m only half of an activist, but I see things beyond the nose on my ugly face. Now, my friend is uneasy about the future as well.

My friend’s newfound awareness could be rooted in his two children, wife or his own personal growth. I’m certain he’s been questioning many things that have evolved (or devolved) in America, while maintaining cover under the stoic thug exterior.

Me, I’ve always maintained an issue with authority and I’ve reserved a special contempt for those that regarded me a fool. So, when they talk about domestic surveillance and the government justifies it by saying, “Oh, we’re just looking for call patterns…you know, to see if Al Queda is making calls in and out of the States” I’m thinking I must have a fitted dunce cap on. This is what I call an unhealthy amount of Vaseline. And I’m not gonna sit idly by and get screwed without a peep. Domestic surveillance is just another slide down that slippery slope of deception with this administration.

Now, aside from the administration, there are a number of problems that exist. Here are a couple of them. 1) You have some civilians that are blind patriots reading the governments speeches in a fog of death. 2) And then you have others that are blinded by the mirage of Hip-Hop, sports, DJ Star, Wendy, realistic video games, myspace, beats, money and other distractions like my highly addictive rumors. Still, I’m not the fool and I’m not a part of the problem. I’m painted inside the big picture and refuse to be removed – despite what people want. My boy is the same in that our conversation quickly spiraled into a myriad of topics.

Planes struck the main Twin Towers, but why did WTC7 crumble? Nothing even hit it! Where are the leaders, inside and outside of the African American community? Where are all these terrorists that are hiding - Canada? My apathetic friend pointed out that the U.S. has satellites that can see a nickel on New York’s bustling Broadway, but they can’t find Bin Laden? Hell, I can see my mother’s house if I type her address in Google Earth. Maybe they should type in Laden’s address? Bush has already admitted to tapping phones, soon after they are “trolling to protect the American people," searching civilians bags in New York, increased military presence and even seeking to control the internet, which has leveled the information playing field. [Read about the sweeping, dramatic changes that the government is trying to quietly legislate the Internet.]

Many of these changes defy the laws of the land not to mention common sense for common people. My boy noted that both of us have lost several friends to the streets, drugs, random violence and disease. Never was the government overtly involved in protecting us. I’m scared of you, Mr. The Man! Lets run down a list of how “they” have conducted themselves in the last few years .

War crimes in Iraq that equate to a never-ending conflict, where Americans continue to die.
Military torture in secret prisons
Inadequate armor on our soldiers.
The Patriot Act.
Previous wiretapping
Leaking and covering up the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, CIA Operative.
And, say, Katrina…and a host of others (show somebody real the money!)

And America would love to have you “non-documented” immigrants from South of the Border. They just need you to be the new testing ground for Bush’s biometric ID cards. No Vaseline-style, homey. It reminds me of the rice-sized microchip they tried to introduce in the aftermath of Sept. 11 under the guise of your family easily finding your charred remains in terrorist-inspired rubbish. When the dumbest patriot didn’t fall for that one, they began to make it a cool idea to insert these chips to locate lost cats and stray dogs. Pets, African Americans, New Yorkers and Mexicans actually have a lot in common when you look at it. We’re all the testing grounds for the bigger plan.

Closer to home, it is time to hear more defiance in Hip-Hop – a concerted defiance in harmony. Your rims, your money, your girls, you dudes, your fancy kicks and clothing amount to nothing when so-called freedom is in a stranglehold. Hip-Hop is the only African American voice “they” care about these days and we aren’t even saying much. They aren’t listening to the old African American leaders [even though Hip-Hop needs to connect with them for a base of youth, power and experience].

I still feel George Orwell’s 1984 predictions were right, but the ending doesn’t have to be the same as what he wrote in 1948. If we want, the people can overcome blind fear in the face of a looming totalitarian state.

Again, this editorial is simply a start like my conversation with my friend. Read up. Look up. Look around. And tell me what you see. Then tell me what you are going to do.

Part II of This Editorial: F**k You Hip-Hop, You B***h A** N****s
posted by R J Noriega
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,1:46 PM
Julia Wright, Daughter of Famed Writer Richard Wright, on Mumia Abu-Jamal
We take a look at the death row case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. He was sentenced to death in 1982 for the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal was gravely wounded in the incident. A journalist, Black Panther and outspoken critic of police brutality, racism and the death penalty, Mumia Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence.
Julia Wright is here with us now - she's the daughter of the late, great writer Richard Wright.

Julia is visiting New York from her home in Paris where she is involved in the International Concerned Family and Friends For Mumia Abu-Jamal.

But first, let's take a listen to this audio tribute to Julia that Mumia recorded last week.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, recording from death row. Courtesy of the Prison Radio Project.
Julia Wright, daughter of the literary giant Richard Wright. She is an activist with the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

AMY GOODMAN: Julia Wright is here with us now. She's the daughter of the late famed writer, Richard Wright. She's visiting New York from her home in Paris, where she's involved in International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. We wanted first to go to a commentary of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an audio tribute to Julia, that Mumia recorded last week.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Julia, the eldest daughter of the great black literary lion, Richard Wright, has been a strong presence in peoples’ movements on three continents for generations. She helped open up the famed international section of the Black Panther Party in Algiers, Algeria. When the Cleaver family left Algiers some years later, they found refuge with Julia and her family in Paris, France, and Julia founded the French branch of our support movement in 1995. A steady presence, a sister with open arms and heart when her people are in need. Not just a proud daughter of a pioneering writer and activist, but an activist and writer in her own right.

Julia knows something about repression. You could say it's in her bones. Like millions of Black Americans, her father was the fruit of Africans and Native peoples. Her mother, Ellen Poplar Wright, was a Jewish survivor of the global genocidal Hitler regime. Thus, in that one woman, we see the crystallization of three inhuman genocidal assaults, the centuries-long war against Africans, the winnowing threshings of Native indigenous peoples from almost all of what we call the United States, and the anti-Jewish pogroms in Germany, in Nazi-occupied Europe. There's a reason she's so tough. She comes from tough resilient people. From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

AMY GOODMAN: Mumia Abu-Jamal's tribute to you, Julia Wright. Welcome to Democracy Now!

JULIA WRIGHT: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: And tonight in New York City, there's going to be a major event at Salem United Methodist Church, which is honoring you.

JULIA WRIGHT: Yes, a tribute to me, but I'm going to use my talking time to make tributes to other people who are fighting at my side. It's a long haul, Amy. It's almost a generation of fighting.

They want to see us breathless. We will not be. They want to see us tired. We refuse to be. They want to see what our strength is. We will not show it in advance. We will continuously surprise them.

I'll give you an example. In Philadelphia, we say, "Brick by brick, wall by wall, we're going to free Mumia Abu-Jamal." Well, they did not understand what we were saying. They're stupid, because what we meant was, we are going to build streets, and the first street has been built. It's a new street on the outskirts of Paris in the city of St. Denis, where the kings and queens of France are buried, a couple of them headless. This throws us back to the death penalty, way back during the Revolution. Anyway, there is a street that was named on the 29th of April, 2006, in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

AMY GOODMAN: How did that happen in St. Denis, France?

JULIA WRIGHT: It's because Mumia is a household name and a school hall name, because he's in textbooks in France. He's the symbol of resistance. You know, "résistance" is a very important word in France. It hails back to the Second World War. It hails back to the resistance against Franco. And it's not a coincidence that this street is in Little Spain, where the resistance against Franco came to settle in exile. It's a wonderful event. I was there; two mayors were there, the former mayor and the present mayor. The former mayor is an elected representative to the National Assembly of France. Now, when the news broke on the 23rd of May that the F.O.P. had gone hysterical --

AMY GOODMAN: The Fraternal Order of Police.

JULIA WRIGHT: Yes, in Philly, over the naming of this street and had passed a concurrent resolution, 407, at Congress, demanding that the city hall of St. Denis un-name the street, and if they did not do this quickly enough, demanding that the sovereign national government of France un-name the street in their place, the journalist in me woke up. I used to be a journalist.

And I rushed to St. Denis late at night and stationed in front of the mayor's house and waited for him to come home from work. He came home and -- very surprised to see me, you know, "What are you doing here? How's Mumia?" "Very serious news to break to you, Mr. Mayor." "Oh, come into my house." He uncorked a bottle of very good French wine, and I’m smiling because they're asking for a boycott of French products, because of the street now. Well, we drank to Mumia's liberation, and he said, "Je suis Breton. I hail from Brittany. I will not back down,” and then --

AMY GOODMAN: Let me read to you from the Philadelphia Inquirer this week. “As Philadelphians cope with another police slaying, news comes that a suburb of Paris has named a street for Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of the 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner. Hundreds of supporters of Abu-Jamal attended a ceremony April 29 to dedicate the Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal in the city of St. Denis.” It says, “Suzanne Ross, co-chair of the Free Mumia Coalition says, ‘In France, they see him as a towering figure.’ Ross said the street is in the town's human rights district which includes Nelson Mandela Stadium.

“Richard Costello, past president of the Philadelphia lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, said, ‘the street dedication was deplorable, but consistent with the offensive position the French have taken in this matter. They've made him into some type of hero.’” And it goes on to say that Maureen Faulkner, the wife of the slain police officer, urged Americans to boycott Paris. She said, “The people of Philadelphia should think, if they have any trips to Paris this summer, to cancel those trips.” Your response?

JULIA WRIGHT: My response to Maureen Faulkner is, we've reached out to her for years, because we have a message for her. We feel for her. She has lost her husband. We are not inhuman, but we would like to say to her: The killer of your husband is still on the loose, and we have information to prove it.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the latest in Mumia Abu-Jamal's case? Several years ago, he was supposed to be taken off death row until an appeal of his case.


AMY GOODMAN: What is the legal status of Mumia Abu-Jamal's case, who has been on death row for well over two decades now?

JULIA WRIGHT: Well, yes, almost a generation taken away from his life. Okay, a legal update. Three claims were granted for examination, legal examination. Two focus on racism in his case. Rampant. One in jury selection, and we have a tape training prosecutors-to-be to select members of the jury on racist-bias basis, without seeming to be racist. This tape is signed, "Producer, Ron Castile," and Ron Castile is a member of the Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia Supreme Court. So we have proof that there is racism in jury selection. We also have proof --

AMY GOODMAN: By the way, I just wanted to say that we did an hour with Harold Wilson, a man who was freed from death row in Pennsylvania, who was with Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row, and we played an excerpt of that videotape of that training on how to select a jury and how to select out particularly African Americans, as well as others, and people can go to our website at democracynow.org to see it.

JULIA WRIGHT: Yes, yes, there's profiling, like a Black woman, like me, don't select her. Okay. So there's also the hanging judge, Judge Sabo, very racist. I think -- I'm not sure about the percentage of sentencing to death, but I --

AMY GOODMAN: This was the original court judge, who has since retired?

JULIA WRIGHT: Yes. Who has since died. We can no longer bring him to the stand. He is deceased. I’m sorry about that. But it remains that he is -- he was racist. He was racist during the original trial, and he was racist during the appeals proceedings. He refused to recuse himself, and Terri Maurer-Carter, a stenographer, in court way back during the original trial, I believe -- I may be making a mistake -- but anyway, she was rushing through the court's chambers, and she heard Judge Sabo say, "I will help them fry the nigger," and she's ready to go to the stand and be witness to that.

There are so many other witnesses who want to speak, who need to speak, who have this on their conscience, that they lied because they were pressured. And they will not be allowed to go to the stand, because of the Effective Death Penalty Act and the fact that innocence is time-barred in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Julia Wright, who is one of the leaders of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Movement. Tonight, we'll be at the Salem United Methodist Church in New York City. July 1 is another major event for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a protest and rally in Philadelphia, as happens every year about that time. You're also here in this country, preparing for the centennial of your father's birth.


AMY GOODMAN: Richard Wright, author of Native Son, Black Boy. How does that legacy relate to the work you do today? You, of course, also a writer, yourself.

JULIA WRIGHT: Yes, my father's legacy is so rich. He did so much. He went to Bandung. He went to Africa. He wrote Black Boy. He went into exile. He met Sartre. Simone de Beauvoir was a friend of the family. I mean, the richness of what he's left us. So I had to choose, and I chose his action on behalf of a lifer in the state of New Jersey. And he went to see the governor of New Jersey and said, “I’m Richard Wright. Here's what I’ve written. Would you let Clinton Brewer out under my wing?”

AMY GOODMAN: Explain who Clinton Brewer was?

JULIA WRIGHT: Clinton Brewer was a lifer who killed the mother of two children. And the governor of New Jersey said, "Oh, Richard Wright! I’ve read all of your books. Of course, I’ll let him out." This sounds like a fairytale. This is back in 1941; I was in my mother's womb at the time. So my father brought Clinton Brewer back home, gave him a room in our house and found him work with Count Basie. He killed again.

My father was obsessive about these things. He said he would find a psychiatrist to prove that Clinton Brewer, a Black man, a poor man, practically illiterate, could not stand the pressure of racism. And he would have been sentenced to death had it not been for the intervention of the psychiatrist my father found.

So I thought this was magnificent. I don't know why. It's mysterious why I chose this, but when I found out that Mumia was a writer, and a powerful one, and a writer who has received prizes here twice in the United States and once in France. He's received a prize in France for one of his books. His latest book on the Panthers has received a prize here, I hear. But whether he's received prizes or not, his writing is so powerful. When I think he's doing it on death row with guards looking over his shoulder, and he's writing against the imperial wars of America and he's got guards looking over his shoulder, I think this is a magnificent example of resistance, and France thinks this, too. France abolished the death penalty in 1981.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did your father move to France from the United States?

JULIA WRIGHT: That's a beautiful question, Amy. Okay, I’ll give you the answer. I was a little girl of three years old, and Connie Pearlstein, a White woman, took me to Berg -- Bergman Goodman.

AMY GOODMAN: Bergdorf Goodman?


AMY GOODMAN: No relation.

JULIA WRIGHT: You see? I'm blocking on the name. And I needed to go to the toilet inside that department store. And the lady behind the counter said, "The toilet is over there." But as Connie went away, she saw this little Black child trailing after her. And --

AMY GOODMAN: Which was you.

JULIA WRIGHT: Which was me. The little -- I don't remember that, but it's recounted countless times. And the sales lady said, "Oh, no. Oh, no. You can't take her in there." And so I had to pee on the sidewalk, and I was given an ice cream cone to repair whatever dignity I had lost as a little girl having to wet the sidewalk like a dog. But my father was in a rage. And that rage took him to Paris with me and my mother.

AMY GOODMAN: Your mother was a Holocaust survivor.

JULIA WRIGHT: Yes, yes, yeah. I have three survivals in my blood: the Indians, the Blacks (the Middle Passage), and the Holocaust. So I feel strong. I feel rich of that legacy. But can I go back to the F.O.P.? Because the F.O.P. has reacted to the street, and --

AMY GOODMAN: The naming in St. Denis?

JULIA WRIGHT: The naming in St. Denis on 29th of April. They've passed a concurrent resolution, 407, in Congress. Three demands: One, St. Denis, un-name the street, but quick; two, St. Denis, if you don't un-name the street quickly, we will ask the sovereign national government of France to do it in your place; and three, -- very shocking -- we commend police officers throughout the world, not only in America, but throughout the world.

Now that sends a signal to rightwing police throughout the world that supporters of political prisoners in the United States can be targets, can be harassed, can be made breathless, can be made to kneel down, but we will not give up. And I think there is a laughable quality to that resolution. I mean, we burst out laughing in St. Denis. I interviewed the other mayor, myself.

AMY GOODMAN: We have ten seconds.

JULIA WRIGHT: Right? And he is an elected representative to the National Assembly of France, and we are being accused in Philadelphia of inventing this interview.

AMY GOODMAN: Julia Wright, we're going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you very much for being with us. Julia Wright, daughter of literary giant, Richard Wright, speaking out for Mumia Abu-Jamal. We'll be in New York tonight at the Salem United Methodist Church.
posted by R J Noriega
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,1:36 PM
Total Information Awareness?
The Bush administration is lashing out at The New York Times and other media outlets for their reports on the government's secret monitoring of international bank transactions without court-approval. Speaking at the White House on Monday, President Bush strongly denounced the disclosure of the program and defended its legality.

President Bush:
"Congress was briefed. And what we did was fully authorized under the law. And the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We're at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America."

The New York Times, followed by other news organizations, began publishing accounts of the program on Thursday evening. Vice President Dick Cheney singled out the Times for criticism saying "Some in the press, in particular The New York Times, have made the job of defending against further terrorist attacks more difficult by insisting on publishing detailed information about vital national security programs."
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow went even farther in denouncing the media's revelation of the program.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow:
"[T]he New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public's right to know in some cases might override somebody's right to live, and whether in fact the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans."

The secret monitoring program was enacted shortly after the 9/11 attacks in what government officials say is a crucial weapon in tracking the financing of terrorist activity. The banking information has been obtained from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT. The organization helps direct trillions of dollars in daily international bank transfers. SWIFT executives apparently tried to withdraw from the program after becoming concerned over its legality. The executives were persuaded to continue their cooperation only after the intervention of top government officials.
The New York Times and Los Angeles Times say the Bush administration lobbied them to withhold publication on the grounds public disclosure would harm national security. In a letters to readers on Sunday, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote "We believe The Times and others in the press have served the public interest by accurately reporting on these programs so that the public can have an informed view of them."

Jonathan Turley, a professor of constitutional law at George Washington University. He wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times about the bank monitoring program titled "Big Brother - Bush and connecting the data dots".

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking at the White House Monday, President Bush strongly denounced the disclosure of the program and defended its legality.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Congress was briefed. And what we did was fully authorized under the law. And the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We're at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America.

AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times, followed by other news organizations, began publishing accounts of the program Thursday evening. Vice President Dick Cheney singled out the Times for criticism, saying, quote, “Some in the press, in particular the New York Times, have made the job of defending against further terrorist attacks more difficult by insisting on publishing detailed information about vital national security programs.” Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow went even further in denouncing the media's revelation of the program.

TONY SNOW: The New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public's right to know in some cases might override somebody's right to live and whether in fact the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans.

AMY GOODMAN: The secret monitoring program was enacted shortly after the 9/11 attacks and what government officials say is a crucial weapon in tracking the financing of terrorist activity. The banking information has been obtained from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT. The organization helps direct trillions of dollars in daily international bank transfers. SWIFT's executives apparently tried to withdraw from the program, after becoming concerned over its legality. The executives were persuaded to continue their cooperation, only after the intervention of top government officials.

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times say the Bush administration lobbied them to withhold publication on the grounds public disclosure would harm national security. In letters to readers on Sunday, the New York Times Executive Editor, Bill Keller, wrote quote, “We believe the Times and others in the press have served the public interest by accurately reporting on these programs so that the public can have an informed view of them.”

Jonathan Turley joins us now on the phone from Washington, D.C.. He’s a Professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University and wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times about the bank monitoring program called “’Big Brother’ Bush and Connecting the Data Dots.” We welcome you to Democracy Now!


AMY GOODMAN: I hope you're not too water-logged right now in Washington, D.C.

JONATHAN TURLEY: In fact, I'm sitting in my water-logged basement. It flooded. So did my office. So it's been something of Biblical proportions here in D.C.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, talking about what you call “’Big Brother’ Bush and Connecting the Data Dots,” talk about the program and then the attack on the press for reporting it.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, first of all, in terms of the program itself, you know, this is only the latest use of a massive databank by the government to engage in surveillance, surveillance involving individuals who do not have -- the government does not have probable cause to show they've committed crimes. And in many ways, it harkens back to something that the administration wanted to do at the very beginning, when it started to take action after 9/11.

There was a program called T.I.A., Total Information Awareness, that was run by the DARPA office, and this was an effort to create the world's largest computer system that could track citizens in real time, from their credit card purchases, medical records, anything that they did electronically. And it went for a very long time without public notice. When finally Congress put a stop to it, however, as usual the Senate left some big loopholes at the request of the administration. And many of us suspected that DARPA simply broke its system up into smaller parts and that T.I.A. never really did die.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, T.I.A., of course, was always connected to John Poindexter, right?

JONATHAN TURLEY: That's right. And we found out recently that that does appear to be the case, that you have a sort of a spawn of DARPA that has been moved into various agencies. Now, this latest use of a databank is not a direct spawn of DARPA, but if you put it in the same context with all these other databanks that have been disclosed, including the world's largest databank, the one used by the government, in which they got literally millions and millions of telephone call records, in terms of the numbers from the telecom companies -- that's the largest databank ever created. They've also been collecting information on emails. You have the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program. When you bring all of these various databanks together, including almost 200 private databank search engines that they're using, you have effectively DARPA. That is, you have the administration creating a system that all you'd have to do is link it together and you'd have T.I.A.

And what it shows, I think, is an insatiable desire in this administration to create a transparent society, one which they can look in real time at any citizen they want and get instant information. And the great irony of that is, at the same time, they're fighting transparency in government, that this administration has fought virtually any release of information from its own offices, even alleged criminal acts.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Jonathan Turley, Professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University. Can you talk about the list of recent disclosures?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, yes. I mean, first of all, the one that's probably the most serious is the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program, which is defined in federal law as a crime. I mean, I've testified on this about four times in Congress. And there's no mystery to this. The federal law makes it a federal crime to engage in this type of warrantless domestic surveillance. Even Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that it's unlawful. But the problem is that both Democrats and Republicans have done nothing because they're afraid of being viewed as soft on terrorism.

So you have senators who know that this president has ordered something that is defined as a federal crime, not once, but 30 times. And when he mentioned it in the State of the Union, they gave him a standing ovation. It's the most bizarre thing I've ever seen. He basically told Congress that he's openly violating the laws that they passed, and both Democrats and Republicans gave him a standing ovation.

Now, on top of that, you have the disclosure that we have been essentially contracting out; instead of having T.I.A., they went to private data miners, and they've been contracting out for them to use databanks on citizens, over 195 of those. We have the telecom databank, which is the largest in the world. We know of the financial transactions databank. We know that they're following email information. It's a very, very broad and deep use of databanks and electronic information that you just simply have to assemble, if you want to create the same thing they were trying to do with T.I.A.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the national Registered Traveler Program?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, you know, that's one of the things that I've been really hammering on, because citizens have not really been made aware of this. You know, the former publisher Steven Brill has created this private company, in which citizens -- they started at, I think, Orlando airport -- where citizens will give private information to his company, and then he'll arrange with the government and the airports for you to get through security faster. And the fact is that he's going to create this massive databank, which eventually, I assure you, the government will have access to.

But what's really insidious about it is that it's an effort to get citizens to give up information, subject themselves to background searches, just so that they're not inconvenienced for a few minutes going through a security standpoint. That's how cheap privacy has become in this country. And it's a very, very dangerous program.

But the other thing that makes it dangerous is that it's something that terrorists would love. The terrorists on 9/11, many of them were sleepers. Many of our most serious attacks have been sleeper agents, people who have stayed in the United States. You know, these people had wallets filled with false I.D.s. In Canada, the people in the Canadian terror cell, these were all longtime Canadians with every possible I.D. They would make Steven Brill's preferred traveler, Registered Traveler Program. So you're having people who are making a lot of money on this homeland security thing, but I think that not only are they not making us safer, they're really driving a stake in the heart of privacy in America.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Turley, we have to go to break. When we come back, I want to ask you about the administration's argument that they are making us safer and that there are certain liberties that have to be given up in order to track terrorists, but also about the attack now on the New York Times and any media outlet that exposes these programs. We're talking to Professor Turley at George Washington University.


AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Jonathan Turley, Professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University, in his flooded basement in Washington, D.C., where the water runs deep. Professor Turley, there is a serious crackdown now, or at least tremendous anger expressed by the Bush administration, the new White House press spokesperson, who comes from FOX, Tony Snow, about the New York Times, about the media outlets that have exposed once again one of these monitoring programs, saying they're simply there in the service of terrorists.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, you know, I actually testified at the hearing on this issue, about possibly prosecuting journalists under national security laws, and this was in front of the House Intelligence Committee a couple of weeks ago. There was not a lot of support that I could see broadly on that committee for this type of action, although, as you know, Peter King from New York recently said that he wants to see possible prosecution of the New York Times. It's extremely dangerous.

And the reason is quite simple: Congress has entirely vanished from any role in government. That is, in the last -- I think the 109th Congress will go down as the congress that never existed. There will be no evidence that it ever played a role in governing. So we have no oversight being done by Congress. And what's fascinating is that at that House hearing, I said, you know -- when the chairman asked me, you know, “Why do we have all these whistleblowers? And I said, “Because they think that you’re a joke. They think this committee is a joke. You're not doing any oversight. You haven't done oversight in over ten years.” And what's amazing is that three of the committee members immediately agreed and said on the record, “It's true. We haven't done oversight in over ten years.”

So, the only check-and-balance we have left is the media. That is, we didn't find out about the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program, which is a federal crime, we didn't find that out from members of Congress, we found it out from the media, just as we have found out various other important stories that have led to reforms, like the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal. All of those came from the media. And if you want to point to one single institution that has guaranteed good government in our history, it's the media. Now, that doesn't mean that the media doesn't make mistakes. It does. But pound for pound, the media has done more to improving government than any other institution. But more importantly, they're all we've got right now.

There's a reason why the administration has been threatening prosecution of journalists. Because they're the only ones left. They’ve got Congress totally in a comatose state. They have -- most of the judges today are so conservative that they won't even consider challenges to national security arguments. And it leaves basically the media and the public.

AMY GOODMAN: You had Republican Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania, at first expressing outrage, for example, over the N.S.A. spying and saying he was going to subpoena telecom executives why they were giving over information, but then he completely backed off.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Yeah, I'm so disappointed in Specter. But Specter, you know, this is par for the course with Specter. You know, he correctly, as many people did, said that the N.S.A. program was completely unlawful. He correctly noted that he wanted information from telecoms, that Congress had never authorized it. But then, the White House continually gets to him, and he just backs down.

I mean, the best example of that is the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program. I mean, here's a guy who came out first to say, ‘Wow! This is totally, absolutely, undeniably illegal.’ And his response was to put this piece of legislation, which, by the way, many Democrats are supporting, which would give the President the authority that he essentially took, but more importantly, would protect the White House from any judicial review by putting this into the secret court. So this is the first time I know of, where instead of having unlawful conduct bend to the law, Specter is going to have the law bend to the unlawful conduct.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Professor Jonathan Turley, of Constitutional Law at George Washington University. We're talking about not only the latest expose, which involves monitoring international financial transactions, but also all of the programs going back to Total Information Awareness. President Bush has argued this is the way to track money of terrorists, and if they know about it, they're not going to use this system. Your response, Professor Turley?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, first of all, I think that this program has some merit to it. I mean, I think that it makes a lot of sense to follow this type of money. But you have to do it legally. You know, the key about being a system of laws, believing in the rule of law, is that it often matters how you do something, not just whether you do something. And here we've got another massive program that was never authorized by Congress.

But more importantly, I got to tell you, I just doubt that there was no inkling that finances were being followed by the Bush administration. My assumption is that terrorists are fully aware that this administration is using every means possible. And, you know, I just -- I cannot believe that suddenly in some cave in Afghanistan someone went, “Oh, my god! He's violating another law! Quick, let's move our finances!” Even intelligence officials have said that long ago terrorists moved to a more informal banking system used in the Middle East, because they believed they were being tracked.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jonathan Turley, I want to thank you very much for being with us again, Professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University. I hope you're able to dry out your basement and office.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Thank you very much.
posted by R J Noriega
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006,11:53 AM
Lovin It
posted by R J Noriega
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,10:53 AM
Tariq Ali on politics and the bombs
Dear friends, we meet in sad times. Before I start talking about the subject of this evening’s meeting, I think it’s important to speak a few words about what we’re living through at the moment.

What we’re living through is an attack, by a group of terrorists, on ordinary working people in London. It is not behaviour that anyone on the left can support.

But why did these attacks happen? That is the key question which the entire media and the entire political class in this country is trying to ignore. They are trying to ignore it because the government and the main opposition party know perfectly well why it happened. They have a guilty conscience.

It happened, without any doubt, because Tony Blair decided to lock himself in a coital embrace with the US president, from which he could not be easily dislodged. He decided to take a sceptical public into a war it did not support.

Opposition to this war was not confined to anti-war campaigners or the left, it existed in the upper reaches of the establishment. The week after Baghdad fell, a senior foreign office intelligence figure, who was national security adviser to 10 Downing Street, wrote a letter to the Financial Times.

He explained why the war was wrong, how we were stampeded into the war by lies, and why going to war was placing Britain itself at risk.

London mayor Ken Livingstone has taken to quoting Winston Churchill these days. We’ve been here before. Why can’t they think of anyone else to quote? Whenever there’s a crisis it’s back to the Second World War.

Ken himself, on a platform with myself and others, once said that one reason he was opposed to the war was that it endangered the lives of citizens in London. He was right then and he should get a grip on himself.

Unless you give people a political explanation for what has happened, the only other explanation is a civilisational one, which the prime minister gave—barbarians versus civilisation.

Blair says this, his wretched cabinet members have been repeating it, and even Bush has picked up a few phrases.

We have to be very clear. If the killing of innocent civilians in London is barbaric, and it is, how do you define the killing of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians?

In the dominant culture of the West there is a deep-seated belief that the lives of Western civilians are somehow worth more than those living in other parts of the world — especially those parts being bombed and occupied by the West.

This brings me to the subject of this evening. Are there war crimes being committed in Iraq? The answer is yes. If the media in Britain gave a quarter of the coverage that they devoted to the London bombings to what is being done to ordinary civilians in Iraq you would have a gigantic, uncontrollable anti-war movement.

Iraq brings back memories of Vietnam on a number of levels. In Vietnam, as in Iraq today, many politicians said, “It will soon be over, and we will bring our troops home by Christmas.”

Older members of the audience may remember General Westmoreland, the US military commander in Vietnam. Every year he used to say, “The boys will be back this Christmas.”

Another of the generals in Vietnam gave a statement contradicting the politicians and his fellow officers, saying, “If they want us to control this situation we could be here ten years.” At least he spoke the truth.

Another similarity is the wanton destruction of cities and human life. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq. You can contrast that to the number of occupation troops that have died, about 2,000.

In Vietnam the ratio was the same. By the end of the Vietnam war 50,000 US soldiers had died and two million Vietnamese.

The big difference is that the people leading the struggle against the US in Vietnam described themselves as Communists and were, in their own fashion, part of that tradition.

They understood the importance of winning over the American population to the anti-war movement. There is no similar organisation leading the resistance in Iraq.

There isn’t even a single organisation, there are many—nationalist, secular and, increasingly, religious. They have no idea how to intervene politically in global politics.

One reason we don’t have a single resistance organisation is the decision of the Iraqi Communist Party to join the occupation, instead of opposing it, which is a disgrace.

The other big difference between Vietnam and Iraq, is that during the Vietnam War the majority of the British population supported the war. I remember the figures well, at the peak of our movement we had 38 percent of the population supporting us.

In the US right until the end the majority supported the government. The minority kept increasing, and eventually that minority captured the ranks of ordinary GIs. When the GIs demonstrated against the war with their uniforms and medals, some on crutches, the establishment realised they could not carry on.

The Vietnamese made a special effort to talk to black troops. I was in Vietnam and saw their propaganda. It asked, “Why are you defending your ruling system? What has it done for you?” You began to see the number of desertions by black GIs grow from a trickle until you had a special group called Black GIs Against the War.

Their slogan was: “I ain’t gonna go to Vietnam, because Vietnam is where I am. Hell no, I ain’t gonna go.”

The raising of consciousness was because of what they found when they got back to the US — racism and appalling social conditions. In 1968 a wave of riots swept US cities.

Many of the riot leaders were black GIs who knew how to use weapons.

During the Vietnam War we set up a War Crimes Tribunal. One reason was that Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertand Russell said that war crimes were being committed in Vietnam.

We were attacked by the media and told it was fantasy. But six months later they were forced to accept that the My Lai massacre had taken place, because the US journalist Seymour Hersh had got hold of the evidence and published it. Suddenly everyone was talking about atrocities.

Today there is publicly available information about US soldiers shooting Iraqi prisoners dead. When they are asked why they did it they say, “We were being kind to them, they were wounded and we were putting them out of their misery.”

They have humiliated prisoners in Abu Ghraib, which is well known, but they also have torture centres in Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt where they send people to be tortured by specialists.

We know that they have made it their policy to urinate and shit on prisoners to humiliate them.

This is how colonials behave. They don’t know any other way, because there isn’t any other way if you are occupying someone’s country. It’s the logic of colonial occupation. There is continuity in what empires do.

I remember the French occupation of Algeria. The French used to call the Algerians filthy terrorists because they bombed cafes in Algiers.

The Algerian National Liberation Front used to reply, “We do what we have to do to drive you out of our country. If you don’t want us to bomb cafes where you and your friends sit, then please lend us a few fighter bombers and we can bomb your barracks.”

Throughout the Vietnam War the US denounced the Vietnamese when they planted bombs in the capital, Saigon. But the resistance had to do this to make the country ungovernable.

It is not a pretty thing. But the character of the occupation determines the nature of the resistance — this is true in every single instance.

We in the anti-war movement shouldn’t lose our nerve when things happen, such as the bombing in London.

The people who carried out these bombings are not part of our world, but they are angered by what they’ve seen. One argument that’s been taking place is with those who say, “We hadn’t attacked Iraq when 9/11 took place.”

But that was an attack on the US empire by people who were almost its former employees — people who had worked with the US in Afghanistan.

And they said why they carried it out — because of the US presence in Saudi Arabia. It is the Western presence in the Arab world that causes these problems. Unless there is a political solution, the terror will go on.

I notice George Galloway is in the audience tonight.

I’d like to say something publicly to George Galloway — your presence in the House of Commons is one of the biggest weapons we have in this country.

I know how the media goes after people in this country. They did it to me in the 1960s, they did it to Arthur Scargill during the Miners’ Strike, they did it to Ken Livingstone when he was running the GLC, they did it to Tony Benn when he ran for the leadership of the Labour Party and now they are doing it to George.

When the Sun publishes a picture of George, with a headline saying this is the most vile man in Britain, he should be proud. It shows that the political point we are making cannot be answered.

We may have our own opinions on Blair, his hairpiece or his wife’s shopping habits, but we attack his politics.

The ideas we have put forward — the link between the bombing and the war on Iraq — is more or less common sense on the streets throughout Britain. People who might not even like us are saying, “If we hadn’t gone to Iraq, they might not have bombed us.”

That’s why the establishment have united around the idea that this has nothing to do with Iraq. We have to be clear — it does have something to do with Iraq and, unless we pull out, it may happen again.
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Saturday, June 17, 2006,11:37 AM
Citizen Journalism: A Look at How Blogging is Changing the Media Landscape from the Congo to Korea
Democracy Now! is broadcasting from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California where the inaugural TechSoup NetSquared Conference is being held. The theme of this year’s conference is “Remixing the web for social change.” It’s bringing together representatives from the technology and non-profit sectors to talk about new ways of using the web and technology for social ends. [includes rush transcript]
Today we host a roundtable discussion with three people who have been using the internet to help create a citizen’s media. From Brazil to Korea to all over Africa, they’re helping everyday people write articles, produce videos and maintain weblogs about what’s going on in their communities:

Hong Eun-taek, editor-in-chief of the International edition of OhmyNews.com, one of the largest participatory journalism news sites on the internet. The Korean site has about 40,000 citizen reporters that contribute their own stories. The International edition publishes articles submitted by 600 own citizen reporters scattered across 60 countries.

Ethan Zuckerman, blogger and activist. Zuckerman is a Research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. He is co-founder of Global Voices, a project designed to feature citizen-created media from around the world. He writes about Africa, international development and the media at his website, www.EthanZuckerman.com.

Saori Fotenos, a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University. She is founder and director of Vamos Blogar (“Let”s Blog”). Vamos Blogar is a literacy program that teaches children in urban areas of Brazil about weblogging and other forms of media.

AMY GOODMAN: Joining us today is Hong Eun-taek. He is editor-in-chief of the international edition of ohmynews.com, one of the largest participatory journalism news sites on the internet. The Korean site has about 40,000 citizen reporters that contribute their own stories. The international edition publishes articles submitted by 600 citizen reporters scattered across 60 countries. We're also joined by Ethan Zuckerman, a blogger and activist. He is a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Global Voices, a project designed to feature citizen-created media from around the world. He writes about Africa, international development and the media at his website, ethanzuckerman.com/blog. We're also joined by Saori Fotenos. She is currently a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University. Saori is founder and director of Vamos Blogar, (“Let's Blog”). It’s a literacy program that teaches children in the favelas, the urban areas of Brazil, about weblogging and other forms of media. And we welcome you all to Democracy Now! Hong Eun-taek, can you tell us about OhmyNews? For those who have never heard about it, what is this phenomenon in Korea?

HONG EUN-TAEK: We launched our site six years ago with four full-time staff members and 727 citizen reporters, and it has grown into a big operation with actually 43,000 citizen reporters.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean “citizen reporters”?

HONG EUN-TAEK: Our statement is that everyone can be a reporter, so news stories can be written by citizens who are expert on their lives, so they can write about their lives and what they believe and what they want to see in the society.

AMY GOODMAN: And then, what happens? They submit it to OhmyNews, and what happens to it from there?

HONG EUN-TAEK: So, then our copy editors take a close look at the stories, and we decide whether it is published or not, and once it is decided to be published, then we can place those articles on the main page and the section pages.

AMY GOODMAN: How popular is this website on the net?

HONG EUN-TAEK: Every day we have 400,000 visitors a day.

AMY GOODMAN: How many?

HONG EUN-TAEK: I'm sorry, 500,000 visitors a day.

AMY GOODMAN: Half a million a day go to your website.


AMY GOODMAN: One of the more popular websites.

HONG EUN-TAEK: I guess so.

AMY GOODMAN: And when was it founded?

HONG EUN-TAEK: Six years ago, so February 2000.

AMY GOODMAN: You have reported from Iraq?

HONG EUN-TAEK: Iraq? Yes, they are citizen reporters, so they don't belong to us on a payroll, but they send stories from time to time.

AMY GOODMAN: And have you, yourself, been to Iraq?

HONG EUN-TAEK: Actually, I went to Kuwait to cover the Iraq war, so I was kind of coordinating stories, which our reporters sent to me.

AMY GOODMAN: And you also have reported from the United States.

HONG EUN-TAEK: Yes, but at the time I worked for one of the major Korean daily newspapers, not OhmyNews.

AMY GOODMAN: This was before OhmyNews.

HONG EUN-TAEK: That's right.

AMY GOODMAN: Ethan Zuckerman, you have been looking at the internet blog landscape for a long time. Can you talk about the significance of the level of participation we're seeing and how it relates to social activism?

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: What's really incredible is that over the last two or three years, we've seen blogging take off to just an unprecedented degree. At this point, we believe that there's something like 40 to 50 million blogs worldwide. We no longer believe that English is the dominant language of the blogosphere. We actually think that there are probably more Japanese and Chinese language blogs, but what really excites me about this is that you can find people putting together text blogs, audio blogs, video blogs from literally every corner of the globe.

We started Global Voices Online about 18 months ago to try to feature content from these blogs from all over the world, and early on in the process we discovered that there were people in the Democratic Republic of Congo who were discussing the upcoming elections. There were people throughout the Middle East who were engaged in dialogue between Israel and Palestine or between different Arab nations. We find activists in Cambodia. We find people even in Belarus, taking videos with cell phones of the protests going on around the elections. People are finding ways to use these very, very simple tools to put information online and to share it with a global audience.

Part of what's so amazing about it is that people are very aware the extent to which it is a global audience. You will often see people writing very explicitly with the notion that the world is looking and the world is watching, and our job over at Global Voices is to try to actually bring the world to these blogs, to put them in context, in some cases to translate them. We use a team of editors from around the world who find some of the most interesting voices, help explain what's going on in those stories and then put them together on a website.

AMY GOODMAN: And the website itself is?

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: Globalvoicesonline.org.

AMY GOODMAN: What about bloggers who are found and imprisoned? This is a cause that you have taken on.

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: This is a cause that we have been forced to take on for the simple reason that two of our key staff members right now are in detention, unfortunately. Our North Asia editor, Hao Wu, was detained by police in Beijing in late February. He is a blogger, a journalist -- well, he's a blogger and independent filmmaker would be the way to say it. He wouldn't identify as a journalist, but he had done some work for us editing the North Asia section. He has a weblog. He was making a film about underground churches in China, and he has been detained.

He is being held without a lawyer. His family hasn't been able to speak to him, and we got very active in setting up a campaign for his release. If you go to freehaowu.org, you'll find some information about it. What's honestly been most interesting in his case is that the most passionate advocate for his release, unsurprisingly, is his sister, Nina Wu, who has a blog in Chinese, and we've been translating that on a daily basis and putting that up on the FreeHaoWu site.

More recently, our friend Alaa Abd El-Fatah, who often reports on the Egyptian blogosphere for us -- he's a democracy activist, an open source activist and blogger from Egypt -- was detained as part of the protests for an Egyptian independent judiciary. What's incredible is that Alaa is actually blogging from prison. He's writing notes in English and in Arabic on scraps of paper. He's passing them to his lawyers and to friends who come to visit with them. They bring them to his wife Manal, who is posting them on their joint blog.

AMY GOODMAN: And how are Egyptian authorities dealing with this?

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: Well, it's an interesting thing. Egypt is one of the countries that has gone after bloggers in the past, and so there have been a number of bloggers who have been arrested or detained. I suspect part of what's going on in Alaa’s situation was they arrested him for presence at this protest but hadn't realized what an outcry there would be in the blogosphere. What's quite amazing is that we've got bloggers, both bloggers from the Middle East and actually bloggers from around the world, who are putting up badges, who are writing about the situation. Many, many more people are aware of this judicial protest in Cairo than would have been aware had the situation not come about. And this is the hope, to sort of activate this whole network of bloggers around the world, to give people sort of a sense of solidarity that, because we're all sharing our opinions and sharing our views, we're all invested in this notion that we want to be able to speak freely in this online space.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about open source? You mention that word. A lot of people don't know what that means.

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: Open source is a way of licensing software so that people can look at the underlying code of the software and make changes to it, if they wish. A lot of the software that makes blogging possible, and frankly, a lot of software that makes the internet possible is open source software. Many bloggers use open source tools to run their blogs. We use an open source tool called WordPress, which has allowed us to customize it, then turn a fairly simple system into, actually for us, a very complicated newsroom management system.

Alaa, as it turns out, is a Gerbil hacker. He's involved with the open source Gerbil content project, and so the people who are supporting his release are this sort of wonderful mix of bloggers who know his blog work, open source developers who know his work within the Arabization and internationalization of open source software, and democracy activists. It's a really fun little coalition.

AMY GOODMAN: Saori Fotenos, talk about what you're doing in Brazil.

SAORI FOTENOS: We're teaching children in the favelas, or slums of Brazil, how to blog, and it's an educational program, and we teach them not to just blog with text. With the advent now of very cheaply available multimedia blogs, video, audio, as Ethan mentioned, we can teach children who are not necessarily functionally literate to start contributing their voices without being able to type and actually write words. They have shots of -- they use a webcam to stand in front and sing a song. They do actual video productions, and we, you know, have taught them how to do that, and interestingly, one of the things that they like to do a lot is to take drawings and paintings that they've done, paper and pencil, not electronically, and scan them in and actually put them on the blog, and then what that entices them to do is to -- once they have this knowledge that this information is on the web, they go back -- they are willing and eager to go back to the blog and read the comments that people leave about their artwork and then write back, and so it engages them into actually doing reading and writing, which otherwise they are not confident in doing, they don't do enough of.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to come back to this discussion, so please stay with us. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We’re at the NetSquared Conference. Right now, we’re at Stanford University. The NetSquared Conference is in San Jose.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Saori Fotenos. She is currently a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University, and she’s director of Vamos Blogar ("Let’s Blog"), teaching kids in the favelas of Brazil how to blog. We’re also joined by Ethan Zuckerman, who is a well known blogger, an international blogger, and particularly focuses on Africa. He’s a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Global Voices. And we’re joined by Hong Eun-taek, editor-in-chief of the international edition of ohmynews.com, one of the few successful participatory journalism news sites on the internet, having 40,000 citizen reporters and 50 staff reporters around the world.

Ethan Zuckerman, the digital divide. I mean, some people might be listening right now and say, well, you focus on Africa. How do people get access to the internet, let alone be blogging on it?

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: It’s a great question. One of the things that we found in Africa is the role of shared computers, particularly cyber-cafes, is much more profound than it is, for instance, in the United States. And so a lot of people who don't have a net connection at home actually have a regular cyber-cafe that they go to, have a regular relationship there, are likely to go there and do their blogging from there. So the barriers are significantly less than you would suspect, but they are still substantial.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, that would also tend toward urban --

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: It tends towards urban, and it also tends towards literate, and it tends towards wealthy enough to afford cyber-cafe time. Even if that cyber-café time is under $1 an hour, as it is in many places in Africa, that's still a relevant amount of money. When you’re looking at bloggers in the developing world, you are not getting sort of a representative sample voice. You are getting, you know, elites of society, in one fashion or another, but at least you are getting voices that you otherwise wouldn’t be getting. You know, if you're getting news from Kenya, at least you're getting news from Kenyans, rather than sort of news about what’s going on in Kenyan politics, and it can be really good to get that sort of diverse view, but it is really important to remember that this is not necessarily sort of a man on the street or a woman in the street interview when you’re reading bloggers.

AMY GOODMAN: Give us some examples that you've been highlighting.

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: Well, Kenya's a country that I'm perpetually fascinated by the blogosphere. Kenya has taken to blogging, in a very political and very journalistic fashion, with events like the Githongo dossier, which basically exposed widespread government corruption. Bloggers were quite critical in keeping the story alive and actually distributing some of the government documents and in forcing some very uncomfortable questions to the government.

My friend Ory Okolloh, who is involved with us and periodically writes for us from Kenya, is involved with an amazing new project called Mzalendo, which is attempting to take records coming out of the Kenyan parliament and the arguments about the bills, what was discussed on any given day, put it up on the web and then have bloggers write about this, in part to encourage the mainstream media to pay more attention to this. You can make the argument in some ways that it's not useful to have a free press if that press is free but lazy. And if the bloggers can sort of spur on the mainstream newspapers -- the bloggers may only be read by a few thousands Kenyans, but the newspapers are read by millions of Kenyans, and we know that the newspapers are reading the blogs -- so if the blogs can help increase transparency, it's a great way to go, and if it works, it could be a model really for all over the world, as well as across Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned Congo before.

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: Congo is really fascinating. We have a terrific new Francophone editor, Alice Backer, who is based out of New York, but who is editing all of the Francophonie for us and finding different pockets of blogs. She recently found an amazing story in Senagal with people talking about migration and migration policies, but a lot of the blogs that we follow in Africa, in Francophone Africa, are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. And Congo now has elections coming up, and we're hoping that this is going to be the end of extended civil conflict in Congo, but the elections are crazy: lots and lots of different candidates, incredible strife between candidates, political violence, ongoing violence. And Congolese bloggers are giving us an amazing view of sort of democracy being born out of an extremely chaotic situation. And it’s fascinating to have the chance to watch, and you can watch even if you don't speak French, because she's translating as she goes.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about AIDS activism there?

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: AIDS activism is a topic that we hear a decent amount about, but what's very interesting, Americans always ask about AIDS in Africa, and when you sit down with Africans, Africans will often tell you, “That's not the main topic we want to talk about.” There's much less discussion about HIV and AIDS activism than you would expect. Part of this, of course, is the U.N. over-reporting of AIDS, and we know that UNAIDS has now said that in many cases the numbers were quite over-reported, as far as the crisis across the continent as a whole, still extremely acute in southern Africa, but over-reported in many, many nations.

A lot of our bloggers work on HIV and AIDS issues. Some of them write directly about it, particularly the bloggers who are in southern Africa, like Botswana. But you actually find much more discussion of economic development, international trade. How does Africa transform itself into a member of the world of nations as a whole.

AMY GOODMAN: Hong Eun-taek, OhmyNews, how is it dealing with the issue of globalization? Certainly Korea has very much stood out, in terms of the major protests at WTO gatherings, at World Economic Forum events. In Cancun, a Korean farmer killed himself in the midst of the protest, committed suicide.

HONG EUN-TAEK: Actually, Korea is not exceptional in terms of being influenced by globalization. Globalization makes the world polarized between who are benefiting from globalization, who are not getting any benefit from globalization, so in that regard we are not exceptional. But I think globalization brings up a question of globalization obviously in journalism. So, I mean, we can make globalization move in a positive way with mass participation of civilians. So that's why we operate the international version of OhmyNews, to make it a global platform where people voice their ideas and interests.

AMY GOODMAN: Is the international edition in English?

HONG EUN-TAEK: Yes, that’s right. So it is English that's on ohmynews.com.

AMY GOODMAN: And that’s ohmynews.com.

HONG EUN-TAEK: You can be a reporter for us. So everybody can be a reporter for us. And we have about 1,000 civilian reporters from 89 countries. What I respect from the [globalvoicesonline.org] is that they’re first to get -- to [inaudible] in the information-poor and information-rich is to give --

AMY GOODMAN: You're saying information-poor and information-rich countries.

HONG EUN-TAEK: -- is to give [inaudible] access to the people who live on the other side of the digital divide. Next step is to give them voices, platform that they can use to voice their own minds and ideas, and we need to hear them.

AMY GOODMAN: You spoke at the NetSquared Conference yesterday about a reporter, a citizen reporter from Easter Island.

HONG EUN-TAEK: Yes, Rapa Nui. Yeah.


HONG EUN-TAEK: She writes about the life in Easter Island, because of the presence of internet, because of the concept of that everyone can be a reporter. She can write about her life in Easter Island.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the significance of Easter Island, for people who haven't even heard of it.

HONG EUN-TAEK: So, I mean, it is not just exotic, but also it has universality of life, and it gives us diversity of the life to us.

AMY GOODMAN: In the headlines today, we were talking about Iraq and said that once Italy pulls out its troops, Britain and South Korea will be the only nations, besides the United States, to have more than 1,000 troops in Iraq. How have you been reporting on Iraq at OhmyNews?

HONG EUN-TAEK: I mean, it generates a lot of controversy in Korea, so many people protest against sending troops to Iraq. And OhmyNews is one of the few news media to oppose against that idea of sending troops to Iraq. So our citizen reporters send stories highly criticizing that decision, so they want to see government pull out our troops from Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Ethan Zuckerman, can you talk about Iraqi bloggers?

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: The Iraqi blogosphere has been active for a very long time. In fact, when we try to explain the concept of bridge blogging, the whole idea of people using their blogs to bridge between cultural differences, we often talk about Salam Pax and his blog, which was sort of the original citizen reporting from Baghdad. The Iraqi blogosphere is very politicized, and what’s interesting is that in many ways it's politicized along U.S. political lines, which is to say there are Iraqi bloggers who the U.S. right reads and Iraqi bloggers who the U.S. left reads. And it’s actually -- it’s very interesting. It's the only country that we've seen where external politics has a lot of influence on who is writing about what?


ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: Well, Baghdad Burning, for instance, tends to be characterized as a blog read by the left. There's a lot of sort of pro-U.S. intervention blogs that get pointed to a great deal by the right. They don't point to each other very much, and that’s actually very different from most national blogospheres. In most countries, you go just over the border into Jordan, and most of the Jordanian bloggers get together once a month and have dinner together. You can't really imagine that happening in the Iraqi blogosphere, both because it's not possible, and second of all, because of the political polarization. But you do have a lot of people talking about experiences of daily life, talking about speculations on the new government. But they are also very conscious of the fact that they are being read by a global audience and that they’re being used to bolster arguments on both sides of the debate around the world about intervention.

AMY GOODMAN: Saori Fotenos, when you're introducing kids who have so little of anything to the internet, to the blogosphere, how does it change them?

SAORI FOTENOS: Dramatically, in two ways, actually. The first way is that they become very confident about -- they start looking at themselves and their situation and reflecting on it, which is something that they rarely have a chance to do, because they have been neglected so much and they don't feel that they deserve the attention. And the second thing, it just opens them up to so many possibilities. And you'd be amazed at how much creativity is in them that just becomes unleashed by their knowledge that they can start blogging it and get on the internet and tell the world about --

AMY GOODMAN: Do they then communicate with kids in other countries?

SAORI FOTENOS: Yes, they do. They’ve been communicating with a lot of students at Stanford and going back and forth and doing a sort of cultural exchange over the blog, sort of a penpal over blog, which has been incredible for them to learn about life here, but also for the students here at Stanford to learn about what life is for these children in Brazil.

And another interesting thing about the opportunities that the blog gives is that two of the students who started blogging, mostly about their artwork and about the things that they do in their daily life, have really understood the global reach of the medium, and they have just now launched a little newspaper of their own school. It’s a blog, but it's mostly based on news that they think is relevant to the general public, so doing that transition between the more private and self-motivated and self-fulfilling blog to a more public one.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you all for being with us. Saori Fotenos, Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford, working with bloggers in Brazil at Vamos Blogar. I also want to thank Ethan Zuckerman, and thank you to Hong Eun-taek.
posted by R J Noriega
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,11:36 AM
The Front Lines of the Class War from 1927 to Today
Years from now, in Guantanamo or in a refugee relocation "Enterprise Zone", your kids will ask you, "what did you do in the class war, daddy?" We may have to admit that conquest and occupation happened before we could fire off a shot. The trick of class war is not to let the victims know they're under attack. That's how, little by little, the owners of the planet take away what little we have."
That's an excerpt from the book "Armed Madhouse" by investigative reporter Greg Palast. He joins us today to talk about what he calls the "front lines of the class war."

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Greg Palast. His new book is called Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Greg Palast.

GREG PALAST: Thanks, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Before we talk about the class war – what isn't supposed to be talked about in this country – I wanted to ask about a very specific story that you touch on in the book but have seemed to gather more information on, and that is the story of black soldiers in Iraq and voting here at home.

GREG PALAST: Yeah. They went after – they lost their vote. Let me explain what happened. A lot of people know me from my story of how – for BBC, that I reported here for you – how just before the 2000 election, thousands of black voters were scrubbed off the voter rolls of Florida, by Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris, you know, who wiped out all of these voters -- 94,000 -- claiming they were felons, criminals, but their only crime was voting while black. And we busted that story on BBC, and it took years to get over here, but that's how 2,000 was fixed. So I looked at 2004 for BBC, and we were able to get out of – they didn't go after the felons this time. The new target group – or they did, but now they've added a new target group: suspect voters, with suspect addresses. And I was able to get out of Republican Party computers, using a fake front, actually working with a joke website, GeorgeWBush.org, we literally sucked files and emails out of the Republican computers. I know some people may object to that but –

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean.

GREG PALAST: Well what happened was the top brass of the Republican Party, a guy Tim Griffin, who is head of operations and research, was sending a bunch of emails to the chairmen of the state committees, top-level guys of the Bush campaign in 2004, attaching lists of voters and addresses – very unusual. What's all of this clerical stuff going on back and forth between the very top guys? And they're saying, "Here's a caging list. Here's another caging list. Here's another caging list."

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, ‘caging lists’?

GREG PALAST: Well, it's these spreadsheets with names and addresses of voters. It was really odd and why the top guys were with it.

AMY GOODMAN: But I still don't understand why you were seeing these lists.

GREG PALAST: Ok, what happened was, is that GeorgeWBush.com was the internal secret way of communicating through email in the Republican campaign. Someone changed one address from "com" to "GeorgeWBush.org.” That allowed us, through a false website, GeorgeWBush.org, to suck down all of these emails at the top level of the Republican Party, and attached were these sheets. And at first, we didn't know what the heck they were until the team – we had 70,000 names from one state, of names on these so-called ‘caging lists’. We do the demographics, and first we go – and by the way, we went straight to the Republican Party for BBC and said, "What are these?" And they said, "Lists of donors." And there's page after page of guys from homeless shelters. You know, I don't think there's a lot of Bush-Cheney donors there. “Donors? You get another – We'll give you another chance to answer the question.” They wouldn't answer.

The experts say, look at the demographics. We’d spent endless hours matching whose names were on these secret sheets against the demographics, the racial breakdown of the – of where these voters live. 98% were in African-majority precincts, African-majority precincts, except for 2%, which were in Jewish-majority precincts, retirement areas in Miami. What was this about? These are called – These are "challenge" sheets. It was a secret system to challenge tens of thousands of voters, actually hundreds of thousands, maybe a million voters in the United States. We had over a million challenges in the United States, never seen before in the United States.

How did this happen? This was the secret program. Now, who was on these sheets? What was the basis of challenge? What they said is these people have – “Oh, they have suspect,” you know – when we finally caught them with it, they said, "Oh, suspect addresses." Well, who's suspect? We looked. Page after page, and I have a page here if you – on the radio you'll just have to take my word for it, but a page where every name says "Naval Air Station." "Naval Air Station, Naval Air Station, Naval Air Station," page after page of African-American soldiers, sailors and seamen, who were targeted on the challenge list to have their vote challenged. How? We called up – we called them up, their families, and one, for example, Randy Prousa, was the first one we got. We said, "Where is Mr. Prousa?" Is he really at this address? Is he a fake voter?” And they said, "Well, Randy has been sent overseas, he shipped overseas.” These are soldiers, black soldiers shipped overseas to Germany, to Baghdad, and now they're being challenged by the Republican Party because they were not at their voting address.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, explain how the challenge works?

GREG PALAST: Very simple. Anyone can challenge another voter. In other words, Amy Goodman can say, "Greg Palast shouldn't vote."

AMY GOODMAN: I can at the poll and saying, “I challenge his” –

GREG PALAST: You can be at the poll. There's two ways to do it. One, you give to elections officials evidence that this is a voter, who if their absentee ballot comes in, should not be counted. And you have to understand; 3.6 million votes were cast and not counted, mass challenges all over the swing states.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you know if I've challenged your vote, if you're an absentee voter?

GREG PALAST: No, and so –

AMY GOODMAN: You don't know if your vote has counted?

GREG PALAST: No, unless you're standing – unless it's a challenge right there and you're standing there, but even – by the way, this is the other evil – even if you're standing there and you're challenged, in the 2004 election, three million people, if they were challenged, were not given real ballots, they were given what's called "provisional" ballots, and those provisional ballots, of the three million ballots cast, 1.1 million were never counted, 88% of those, black voters, by the way, and Hispanic voters.

AMY GOODMAN: You mean, if I was standing at the poll challenging you, then they would give you a provisional ballot, and they would decide whether they would count that ballot later.

GREG PALAST: That's right, and it went two ways. In the case of the black soldiers, what was particularly evil – see, in the felon case, they could make some type of claim, 'Oh, we didn't know that we had a bad list; we didn't know that these were innocent people.' Like, in fact, in 2004, Bernice Kines, she was convicted of a felony. Right on their list it says – and we had thousands of these – “Bernice Kines, convicted on July 31, 2009.” I said – when we confront the state is – what about, you know, I mean, this is quite a master criminal that, you know, she can commit a crime in the future. You didn't know that this was a false name? Ok. They had an excuse, though. They said, 'we didn't know, it's an error.'

What about black soldiers? Here's what they did. They sent, we found out – here's now what we've just found out. They sent first-class letters to the homes of African-American soldiers shipped overseas. They wrote on the envelopes "Do not forward. Return to addressee." Well, of course, they're shipped overseas, so the letter can't be forwarded, to Baghdad or Germany, or wherever. Letters are sent back to the Republican National Committee, filtered back out to the state committees, and then elections officials are told, 'These people don't live at that address. We have evidence that they're falsely registered.'

Now, here's the trick. You send in your absentee ballot. That is a great act of faith, probably the greatest religious act of faith since Moses walked across the Red Sea, you know, hoping that he wouldn't get drowned. You just mail in that ballot, and soldiers – this is, remember the Republican Party made a big deal about Al Gore complaining about soldiers' illegal absentee voting. These people knew that these soldiers couldn't defend themselves, would not know that their ballot would not be counted, would be challenged. And there's no way, I mean you could – from Baghdad you can fight George's war, but you can't fight for your ballot – massive, massive, nationwide challenge.

In places like Wisconsin, by the way, we've just discovered – How did they even know how to challenge these people? They were using Blackberries loaded with the names. This is one expensive multimillion-dollar operation, and by the way, Amy, it's illegal, okay? One of the reasons why the Republican Party didn't 'fess up when we showed them the sheets and they said, 'Oh, it's donors,' is that if you target black people, or Jewish voters, as they did in a few districts, because that's a democratic demographic, if you challenge these people, that's against the law. That's against the voting rights act of 1965. It's a felony crime, you know.

So you can't, you can't just – You know, this is the old gimmick of – like they used to have literacy tests in the South in you know, in the Jim Crow era, where only black people were asked tough literacy questions. Same thing, you cannot target just African-Americans. I mean, you go to jail for that. The only problem is – and people ask, 'Why didn't they go to jail now that you've caught them?' Because the cops, the voting cops in the United States are in the U.S. Justice Department, and at the time, 2004, the voting cop was John Ashcroft. You know, George Bush's guy, and now we have Gonzales.

I mean, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, called, by the way, for a criminal investigation when I began showing this evidence. I don't give them my sources, but I do give them the public evidence, with the BBC's approval. You'll see it in the book. They did vote for criminal investigations. This never got reported in America. The reaction of the Justice Department was to completely ignore the demand for a criminal investigation, and George Bush fired every member of the Civil Rights Commission that voted for the criminal investigation. Do you like that?

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Greg Palast, author of Armed Madhouse. Very quickly, Greg, on the issue of class war, where this relates, if you can just summarize your thoughts?

GREG PALAST: Class war – look, when they take away your vote – 3.6 million people cast ballots that didn't count. While race is the badge of poverty, what we're finding is that it's the income of the voter that mattered on whether your vote counted. It's not – and, look, you go through my book and you've seen my reports on your show. Whether it's Iraq, what Huey Long of 70 years ago, used to call “rich men's wars.”

AMY GOODMAN: Huey Long being –

GREG PALAST: Huey Long was the governor of Louisiana, and it's a very simple point. Whether it's Iraq, whether it's elections, whether it's Hurricane Katrina, and whether it's Enron that we've discussed. These are all aspects of a class war against the very powerful and the very wealthy, against the average person. We've had a class war declared in America, and one of the points in the book is that these are – all of my investigations are really investigations of various fronts in the class war. And we are not shooting back because we don't have a general. The closest thing we have to a general is far away in Caracas, Hugo Chavez. And we've been here before in America. You know, last night, you and I were with Paul Krugman, who said, 'We need a new F.D.R., a new Franklin Roosevelt to bring us a New Deal, to turn things around.' That's not how it works. Back in 1927, the entire nation changed when the levees of New Orleans broke and New Orleans was drowned. This entire nation – it was a Republican era, Republican Congress, Republican President. Business was in charge of everything, then New Orleans' levees broke. And –

AMY GOODMAN: The great flood of 1927.

GREG PALAST: The great flood of 1927. When the floodwaters hit Louisiana, one guy – and Democrats were saying nothing except, 'Balance the budget.' One Democrat stood up on the back of a flatbed truck, grabbed the Internet of the day, which was the radio. He was the first guy to use radio. He grabbed the radio microphone and said, "This is it. The rich are drowning us. The rich don't pay for our schools. The rich are leading us into their wars for oil." – At that time, by the way -- "The rich will not give us social security for old age. They are not protecting us or providing infrastructure. They are not saving us from deadly work, and they're letting the oil companies and the banks control this nation, and we have got to end it. We're going to take this nation back. We're going to share the wealth. Join with me." And there was a huge national uprising.

Huey Long created something called "Share the Wealth clubs.” And it went like a prairie fire, man. It was explosive. And the Democratic Party itself got scared to death. And I hate to say it, two things happened. First, they assassinated Huey Long, who had become governor of Louisiana and was heading towards the White House, but then Franklin Roosevelt, a very weak governor, conservative governor of New York, conservative Democrat, suddenly said – took on Huey's spirit, kind of, and said, 'Okay, because we're going to lose this country, and even the billionaires are going to lose their billions.' And so, it was not that we had a great man. This is a new myth that we had a great man, F.D.R. What we did was, we had a great movement that found F.D.R., and F.D.R. found the movement, and that changed America. It's 1927 again, Amy. It could be.

AMY GOODMAN: Greg Palast, I want to thank you very much for being with us. His new book is called Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War. Thanks for being with us.
posted by R J Noriega
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006,1:07 PM
taking a break from blogging
now that the spring semester is over access to computers let alone the internet is a lot rarer so I am taking time to study for law school and get a summer job. till next semester stay strong
posted by R J Noriega
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,1:00 PM
American Exceptionalism
By Professor Wilson J. Moses

American Exceptionalism is one of those superstitions that unites white and black Americans, and serves to undermine the myth that there are significant cultural differences between them. The most fervent believers in American Exceptionalism (white and black) have never heard the term. That's always how it is with the most potent superstitions. Google "American Exceptionalism" and be amazed at the number of responses. I got 314,000 just now, and was surprised there were so few. Wikipedia offers a good definition for novices.

Given everything we know about human nature and human history, how could anyone believe that there would be a "Marshall Plan" for New Orleans? Consult Wikipedia again for Marshall Plan. America would have to be truly exceptional if it were to inaugurate a domestic Marshall plan from purely altruistic motives.

Eisenhower made it clear that his civil rights plan was a part of Cold War strategy, just as George C. Marshall made it clear that his plan was a part of Cold War strategy. The two former generals (not Reagan) developed the strategy that won the cold war. Without a "Communist Threat," Europe would have been left to starve, and American Negroes would still be sitting at the back of the bus.

Now that there is no longer a "Communist Threat," behold the effects—national and international. Privatization of the railroads in Germany, with a resulting rise in cost and decline in services. Erosion of the social welfare safety-net throughout the entire North Atlantic community. Widespread unemployment and segregation in the suburbs of Paris and in the inner city of Detroit. Decline in real household income of the American working class. Meaningless black rule in Soweto. These are patterns that anyone could have predicted after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Since the end of the Cold War, no political or economic interests can be served by such a plan. Hence, there will be NO "Marshall Plan" for New Orleans. On the contrary, ruling elite interests will be well served by replacing New Orleans' black population with "legalized" aliens, and that is what the recently-passed Senate immigration bill intends.

The government of the United States is no different than any other government that has ever existed or ever will exist. Governments exist in order to serve the interests of elite coalitions. Under any government, historically, the more intelligent and skilled classes of subordinate minorities have only done well, when they have been useful to ruling elites. Exceptionally intelligent segments of ethnic minority masses, too, can only do well, when and if they have economic value useful to their rulers.

House slaves, skilled slaves, and field slaves alike are equally interested in the economic fortunes of the "Big House." For the big house will sell all the slaves south whenever the going gets tough enough. The belief that a ruling class will assist peasants, slaves, or impoverished ethnic groups for altruistic reasons defies all the evidence of world history. America is not an exception to the patterns that have historically dominated human behavior.

I refuse to conclude with a theoretically based program for the future, or with any of the silly optimistic cheer-leading that we constantly get both from George Bush and from Noam Chomsky. I might offer some speculations concerning cultural and economic developments that might possibly accompany (if not cause) an amelioration of apparent historical trends, but I reserve those for another essay.
posted by R J Noriega
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