Category Archives: Censorship

How they handle security risks in Israel

There is a story making the rounds about a second secret prisoner being held by security services in Israel.  In an earlier case a Mosad agent, accused of betraying the state and referred to only as Prisoner X, was secretly held for some ten months in a “suicide proof” cell before he mysteriously committed suicide, at least according to a government investigation.  When Knesset Member (MK) Zehava Gal-On asked about Prsoner X, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich told her that “there are no anonymous prisoners in Israel.”

The new prisoner, also assumed to be a member of the Mosad, revealed by the former attorney for Prisoner X, is being referred to as prisoner X2 and the accusations against him are supposedly far more sensational.

“The revelation that there is another secret prisoner is serious and worrying,” Gal-On wrote on Facebook. “In a democracy, there cannot be secret prisoners, with no outside supervision of where and under what conditions they are held.”

“Even worse,” she added, “in a democracy, ministers do not lie to the Knesset and the public.”

She sounds a little naive.  And, if there are two secret prisoners, the question arises as to whether there are even more.

“The thought that additional soldiers are being held in such conditions is frightening and disturbing. Only the State Comptroller has the tools to investigate,” [MK Nachman Shai] stated.

According to MK Issawi Frej (Meretz), “we are on the fast track to becoming a dark police state.”

This story caught my attention because of the obvious parallel’s with the U.S.- operated black sites.  Welcome to the new style of Western Democracy as practiced by the U.S. and their buddy, Israel, where due process is an annoyance to be avoided at all costs and where secrecy permits the routine abuse of power.

Richard Silverstein, an American blogger who writes on Israeli security and political issues, provides more coverage of the secret Israeli prisons on his blog.

Tuesday Links

  • Eliot Spitzer, former New York governor and two-faced crusader against prostitution who was ultimately thrown out of office when it was discovered that he was routinely engaging high priced prostitutes, is running for Comptroller Of New York.  And who is he up against, but former Manhattan Madam, Kristen Davis.  I blogged about Davis back when she was running for governor of New York.  As a Madam, Davis was engaged in honest work, but you can’t fight the rats without getting into the sewer, territory Spitzer is all too familiar with.
  • The law form representing State Department inspector general turned whistle blower, Aurelia Fedenisn, was burglarized.  The perps apparently left behind more valuable property, taking computers instead.  The State Department, thinking they still have some credibility despite the Benghazi fiasco, says they didn’t do it.
  • New York Times reports about the disaster once known as Detroit.  Establishment media always seem to portray Detroit as if their problems just came upon them out of nowhere through no fault of their own.  If Detroit could talk, here is what it would say: “I was just standing here minding my own business, taking home my big fat union paycheck from corporations that enjoyed protection from foreign competition in a city run by politicians who were blind to the disintegration of the city, when all of a sudden, I discovered that most of the factories had closed and half the population moved away leaving me here in a cesspool of corruption and physical decay.”
  • A report by the Abbottabad Commission analyzing the events surrounding Bin Laden’s residency in Abbottabad blames incompetence and negligence in Pakistan’s dysfunctional intelligence and security forces for failing to detect that he was hiding there.  About the U.S. raid, the report says the operation on 2 May 2011 was an “American act of war against Pakistan” which illustrated the US’s “contemptuous disregard of Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity in the arrogant certainty of its unmatched military might”.
  • A member of the Russian Duma tweeted that Edward Snowden has accepted an offer of asylum by Venezuela.  The tweet was then deleted.  If true, all Snowden has to do is get there and hope that the U.S. doesn’t disregard Venezuela’s sovereignty the way they do for so many other small countries. [UPDATE]  As of 1:30 PM CT, RT now says that, according to Wikileaks, Snowden has not accepted Venezuela’s offer of asylum.

Abuse of police power, Hawthorne, California style

A man records cops in Hawthone, California.  Note that the man is not even close to the cops but cops don’t like being recorded. And because cops are basically permitted to abuse their powers without fear of consequences, they decide to arrest the guy.  Unfortunately, the guy’s dog gets upset and escapes the car upon which the cops decide to shoot the dog repeatedly.

WARNING: If you don’t want to be upset by the sight of a dog being senselessly and brutally murdered by Gang in Blue (who will undoubtedly be cleared of any wrongdoing), don’t watch the video.

As for the shooter, I hope he rests comfortably knowing that, because of his childish temper and galactic sized ego, a creature of far more significance in the universe than he will ever be, is dead.

[UPDATE 7/3/13] has some further information about this event.  It seems the dog owner has a history with police and police claim they approached him because he was playing his car stereo too loud.

Sanitizing the news in the “land of the free”

I haven’t really been closely following the trial of George Zimmerman, but it’s hard to get away from it when it consumes so much establishment media bandwidth.

I’m sure the story coming out through the testimony is detailed and consuming for many people, but what struck me most was the fact that during the testimony, the sound kept dropping out on my TV.  I was basically watching a bobbing head silently mouthing words.  It actually took me several seconds to figure out that this was the network silencing the words they didn’t want their audience to hear.

CNN was blocking all the naughty language so it wouldn’t offend sensitive listeners, permanently traumatizing them.  So, here we have a trial of a man accused of intentionally gunning down an innocent 17-year-old kid in cold blood, but the story is dumbed down for the least common denominator in the audience.  CNN, as well as other cable stations covering the story, are essentially filtering the testimony because they believe their audience is too timid to be faced with something so brutal as the profanity and racial slurs that were spoken in the course of a fucking  homicide for Christ’s sake!

To me, this is not only insulting, it shows a stunningly misdirected grasp of the character, integrity, and maturity of the audience they claim to serve.  You can’t help but wonder if they feel compelled to shield their audience from course language, what other raw truth do they feel called on to “protect” Americans from?

This is one reason why alternative news outlets have been catching on so quickly.  While they haven’t been able to break into the one-size-fits-all establishment controlled broadcast and cable media, alternative news sources have flourished on the web.  If you want to get the raw data, you have to go to the web because the establishment media in the U.S. doesn’t think you can handle it.

When the Zimmerman trial started with the opening statements, it was all the cable news networks could talk about.  The entire day, they kept repeating the first few words out of the prosecutor’s mouth followed with discussion and experts weighing in on the startling impact of those words, almost as if the trial was already won.  And yet the audience never got to hear the words because they needed to be protected.   For anyone with a brain capable of questioning the merit of TV news coverage, this goes past laughable and ridiculous right out into the the far reaches of the Twilight Zone.

If you want to hear those words, where do you go?  Youtube. Specifically at 34:28.

Americans, even when speaking among adults, have established code words like “the F-word” or “the N-word” to be used as substitutes in conversation.  Even in a discussion about the words themselves, we cannot come right out and actually utter them.  This is lunacy.

For the most part, civil society has quit making any distinction between the context of a word and the mere arrangement of it’s letters.  The simple arrangement of the letters, F-U-C-K, has been condemned, which makes no more sense than condemning the color blue.

In the court room, the jurors get to hear it all because someone’s future hangs in the balance.  The court, doesn’t shield the jury from some of the evidence and then tell them to judge the facts.  (Well, actually they do, but that’s a different subject.)

I fail to understand why most people don’t reject establishment news outright.  Considering their low regard for their audiences, turning on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, network news, and almost all local news stations is not much more than an exercise in self flagellation because these programs make it so obvious how stupid they think you are.

Combine the disdain that establishment media has toward the American public with it’s heavily vested interest in the statist quo and ignorance is an unavoidable consequence for anyone who relies heavily on them to learn about what’s going on in the world.

[update]  I’m a fan of the Discovery Channel’s show called Mythbusters.  During the commercials they advertise their new reality show called Naked and Afraid.  This is show about survivalist experts turned loose in the wild with no clothes.  But, because nudity is taboo in the U.S., the video is strategically blurred to avoid threatening the sensibilities of an audience steeped in a culture that defines nudity as shameful.  This has to rank pretty high on the list of stupid things on TV.

Google’s plan to eradicate child porn from the web

The Telegraph reports that Google plans to create a global database (databases seem to be in the news a lot these days) of child abuse images which will be shared with its competitors that will permit the images to be deleted from the internet en mass.  To identify what images constitute child porn, Google will rely on child protections organizations such as the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).   While no one else seems to be able to define child porn in a way that doesn’t infringe on constitutionally protected speech, the IWF apparently knows it when it sees it.  Of course, a lot of people knew this 1999 Calvin Klein billboard proposed for Times Square was child porn, too.

Presumably, since the IWF declares pictures to be child porn before any court judges them to be, their determination of the age of the people depicted in the images is based on how old they look rather than on how old they are.  Child porn that doesn’t involve children hardly constitutes abuse of children anymore than porn with women in white dresses constitutes abuse of nurses.

IWF is not without controversy in terms of its precision in identifying what it calls illegal content.   Back in 2008, the IWF attempted to censor a Wikipedia article which turned out to be a “false positive” which is a polite way saying, “we accidentally declare some content to be illegal when it isn’t — too bad for you when some service provider bans it based on our say-so”.

Almost all early attempts by the U.S. to control internet content were based on restricting child porn.  Some of those attempts were thrown out in court.  Other aspects, such as today’s onerous record-keeping requirements that target legitimate adult pornography industry, survived.  More recent mechanisms to control internet content come from a government partnership with the entertainment industry to protect copyrights.  Once screening technology is in place, it can effectively be used to censor any content.

But, it should be remembered that Google is a private company and not the government, so they have the right to do what they want with data that passes through their systems.  And, as we have recently learned, Google will work with the government if asked.  The IWF already works closely with law enforcement agencies.   If they start targeting people instead of pictures, a “false positive” can destroy someone’s life.   On just the mere accusation of child porn, you won’t have a friend in the world regardless of your innocence or guilt.

If you think it’s paranoid to believe that innocent people can be sent to prison for false accusations of child sex crimes, read up on the Satanic Ritual Abuse cases that started in the 1980s.  A lot of people went to prison.  Eventually many were exonerated, but only after their lives were destroyed.  I’d give you statistics, but apparently the definition of Satanic Ritual Abuse is different depending on who you talk to.  Imagine that.

The new faces of feminism

Because most mainstream U.S. new sources are so pro-establishment, often acting merely as governmental propaganda delivery machines, I frequently check out foreign news outlets which are, of course, largely propaganda delivery machines of a slightly different flavor.

One of the things I despise about these large corporate news outlets is their custom of sanitizing the news to be “safe” for children and the most easily offended adults.  These media claim to be targeting a responsible adult audience, but they are really targeting the least common denominators of the population, hence the focus on sensationalism devoid of any meaningful opinions that stray too far from total conformity.

Spiegel Online, probably fits that mold as much as any other large news organization, but they do one thing that few of the others do.  They do not edit nudity.  They have apparently assumed that their audience can handle such raw, unfiltered information without suffering permanent psychological damage and for that reason, I am always pleased to link to a story that I know would never get published in most western media without extensive editing to protect those who would dictate for everyone else, what they are allowed to see and read.

While, I’m pretty certain I have little if anything in common with the philosophy of these feminist protesters, I am more than willing to help them reach a larger audience since given their offering of something of great visual value in exchange.


From the Spiegel Online article: The new face of feminism

An inspiration for whistle blowers worldwide

It’s stunning how the establishment media and politicians have, over night, transformed the new revelations and discussion about the U.S. surveillance state into a partisan issue.  The republicans point the finger at Obama as if he is actually doing something even more sinister than what Bush did and the democrats, as mindless worshipers of their hero, Obama, claim that what the NSA is doing is a non-issue and that republicans are simply hyping the recent stories to play party politics (which of course, is true).  Aside from a few individual exceptions, neither republicans nor democrats have any wish to roll back the power of government to snoop on citizens.  If they did, it would have already happened long ago.  If there are really two parties in the U.S, it’s the party of government and the party of the governed.  Them and us.  The biggest threat to individual freedom is, and always will be, the government.

Below, Glen Greenwald interviews Edward Snowden, the whistle blower responsible for the recent leaks regarding the out-of-control nature of the U.S. government and its intelligence apparatus.  Two things immediately stand out.  First, this guy is no nut case and second, he is no enemy of the U.S. out to harm the country.  At this point, I would have to say he stands out, not only as a hero, but as an inspiration and roll model to potential whistle blowers worldwide in every country on the planet.   Democracy cannot exist in a country where the government knows everything about its citizens, but its citizens know nothing about the government.


Unfortunately, if the early reaction of the establishment press is any indicator, Snowden’s message about the power and coverage of the U.S. surveillance state won’t even become part of the discussion, being swamped out completely by the illegality of the actions of Snowdon and the “harm” he has wrought upon U.S. national security and, by extension, the U.S. itself.  This would be a good time to familiarize yourself with the array of alternative news sources available on the web.

Am I the only one?

  • Am I the only one who gets a laugh out of TV news anchors asking, with a straight face, current and former government officials whether the NSA is broadly collecting the internet data from U.S. citizens knowing that those officials either don’t know or are bound by oath not to reveal classified information, a category to which electronic data collection obviously belongs?
  • Am I the only one who thinks Obama’s denials are hollow?   I mean, a couple months ago he would probably have claimed no one at the IRS is targeting conservative non-profit groups for extra scrutiny.
  • Am I the only one who finds the denials of outfits like Google and Facebook unconvincing given the fact that they are bound by the law to not divulge the extent to which the government is collecting data from them?   And let’s not forget that the law indemnifies them should they suffer any consequences as a result of their cooperation with the government.  Hell, for all they know, a backdoor could have been installed in their equipment by the manufacturer without their knowledge.
  • Am I the only one who thinks, given the government’s clear lack of regard for the privacy of ordinary citizens, that data encryption is the only recourse left for people who don’t want the government recording everything they say and do?
  • Am I the only one who thinks that, regardless of all the outrage over the NSA data collection, nothing will be done about it and, in fact, it will continue to get even more extensive.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that, instead of urinating on the very Constitutional protections that define the U.S., a more effective way to fight terrorism is for the U.S. government to quit incessantly interfering with the political processes of middle eastern countries, quit supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and quit launching drone strikes targeting people we don’t even know to be enemies.

Glenn Greenwald joins the ranks of whistle blowers targeted by the U.S. government

Yesterday, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, a personage frequently referenced on this website, released an article exposing how the NSA has technology giving them direct real time access to the servers of the nation’s largest internet networks, essentially permitting them to collect the private communications of millions of people both internationally and domestically.  From the sound of it, the NSA has the technology to reach into servers and gather the information it wants without the permission or intervention by the service providers.  The only assurance that the agency won’t abuse this power is based on their promise not to do so.

From the New York Times:

The article, which included a link to the order, is expected to attract an investigation from the Justice Department, which has aggressively pursued leakers.

That, all by itself is a stunning revelation, not only confirming what many already suspected, but clearly exposing the denials on the part of Obama officials as blatant lies.  But, the story is just beginning.  As a result of yesterday’s article, Greenwald is rightly anticipating an aggressive response on the part of the Obama Justice Department.   The Obama administration has already established himself as the leader in pursuing whistleblowers, having already charging more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined.  This puts Greenwald on the same U.S. government shit list as Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and others.

While whistleblowers are heavily demonized as being self-interested traitors by government officials, Greenwald makes this point:

They could easily enrich themselves by selling those documents for huge sums of money to foreign intelligence services. They could seek to harm the US government by acting at the direction of a foreign adversary and covertly pass those secrets to them. They could gratuitously expose the identity of covert agents.

None of the whistleblowers persecuted by the Obama administration as part of its unprecedented attack on whistleblowers has done any of that: not one of them. Nor have those who are responsible for these current disclosures.

They did not act with any self-interest in mind. The opposite is true: they undertook great personal risk and sacrifice for one overarching reason: to make their fellow citizens aware of what their government is doing in the dark. Their objective is to educate, to democratize, to create accountability for those in power.

Governments rely on secrecy to give them the power to dominate any narrative about what government does.  And, just like a cop who routinely fabricates a story to cover up his abuses of power, the government likes to control what citizens know.  But, just as abusive cops are increasingly being exposed with video evidence, government abuses are being exposed by leaks from whistle-blowers.

In a democracy, where people are supposed to wield the ultimate control over government, transparency is critical.  It is virtually impossible for a citizen to cast a meaningful vote on election day if his government is intentionally keeping him ignorant.  When the U.S. government fires a missile from a drone and kills eleven children, it is doing so in the name of and under the authority of the people of the United States.  And retaliation for those kinds of attacks can be expected to fall on ordinary American citizens.  This is not rocket science.  The power to watch what people say and do its the power to control what they say and do.  Governmental harassment of activist groups is always preceded by surveillance.

Since the U.S. government is increasingly relying on secrecy in order to avoid oversight or challenge, the role of the whistle blower becomes increasingly more critical.  Furthermore, the government, now having more to lose from leaks, cracks down on whistle blowers, making it far more dangerous to be one.  And that’s what makes people like Manning, Assange, and Greenwald heroes.  There is no doubt it takes an immense amount of courage to challenge an entity as powerful as the U.S. government.  What’s worse is knowing that the evidence so far uncovered by whistle blowers shows the U.S. government to be an unscrupulous and ruthless opponent.


Tuesday Afternoon Links

  • Careful driving is not probable cause for the police to search your car.  At this point, I’m pretty sure you can probably count on one hand the activities that are not probably cause for a search.
  • If you work at a company that provides free lunch, like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, the IRS wants to tax it as income.
  • RTP, Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello.  This is a personal tragedy for most guys om their 60s and 70s.