• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 26 oktober 2013

NSA 3



Stop Watching Us: Largest privacy rally in US history hits DC

Published on Oct 26, 2013

Crowds are flooding Capitol Hill in Washington DC, venting their fury against the NSA's sweeping surveillance practices. The organisers say it's the largest pro-privacy rally in US history. LIVE UPDATES: http://on.rt.com/08l54t

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIIdi30dfwk


Bug Off! EU leaders 'lack trust' in US after spying claims

Published on Oct 25, 2013
EU leaders have admitted in a statement that a 'lack of trust' with America could affect the fight against terrorism. In a brief statement heads of state said that diminishing trust could complicate future collaboration between countries. This follows the latest leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden, that revealed the National Security Agency had been spying on 35 world leaders. For more on this RT talks to former UN diplomat Lode Vanoost. READ MORE:http://on.rt.com/yaa574



De Participatie Samenleving 17


Bill Maher Takes On Minimum Wage: 'That Is Barely Enough To Gas Up The Car You're Living In' (VIDEO)


Posted: 
Bill Maher wrapped up his October 25 episode of "Real Time" with a new rule for Ronald McDonald, and everyone else who employs minimum wage workers: "Until he starts paying his employees a living wage, he has to wipe that fucking smile off his face."
Watch Maher break down the flaw in conservative thinking on the minimum wage increase above and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

NSA 2


U.S. Spying On Angela Merkel's Phone May Date Back To 2002: Report

Reuters  |  Posted:   |  Updated: 10/26/2013 3:26 pm EDT
BERLIN, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The United States may have bugged Angela Merkel's phone for more than 10 years, according to a news report on Saturday that also said President Barack Obama told the German leader he would have stopped it happening had he known about it.

Germany's outrage over reports of bugging of Merkel's phone by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) prompted it to summon the U.S. ambassador this week for the first time in living memory, an unprecedented post-war diplomatic rift.

Der Spiegel said Merkel's mobile telephone had been listed by the NSA's Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 - marked as "GE Chancellor Merkel" - and was still on the list weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June.

In an SCS document cited by the magazine, the agency said it had a "not legally registered spying branch" in the U.S. embassy in Berlin, the exposure of which would lead to "grave damage for the relations of the United States to another government".

From there, NSA and CIA staff were tapping communication in the Berlin's government district with high-tech surveillance.

Quoting a secret document from 2010, Der Spiegel said such branches existed in about 80 locations around the world, including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt.

The magazine said it was not clear whether the SCS had recorded conversations or just connection data.


OBAMA APOLOGISED

Obama apologised to Merkel when she called him on Wednesday to seek clarification on the issue, Der Spiegel wrote, citing a source in Merkel's office.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung also said Obama had told Merkel he had not known of the bugging.

Merkel's spokesman and the White House declined comment.

"We're not going to comment on the details of our diplomatic discussions," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council at the White House.

The rift over U.S. surveillance activities first emerged earlier this year after reports that Washington had bugged European Union offices and had tapped half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month.

But it appeared close to resolution after Merkel's government said in August - just weeks before a parliamentary election - the United States had given sufficient assurances they were upholding German law.

Germany will send intelligence chiefs to Washington next week to seek answers on the allegations around Merkel's phone.

Obama ordered a review of U.S. surveillance programmes after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that raised alarm in the United States and abroad. (Reporting by Annika Breidthardt and Gernot Heller; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Russell Brand


Russell Brand: Radical Prophet, Mystical Force of Nature

Russell Brand, that controversial, formerly drug and sex-addicted, adolescent funny man, who was spawned from UK “reality” television, became a movie star with roles in mindless comedy blockbuster hits and was briefly married to a pop princess, has evolved into one of the world’s most important radicals.
In this modern age, where the spectacle of celebrity is used to distract, bamboozle and pacify the masses, where ignorance is placed on a pedestal and repetitiously rammed down our throat, raping our young minds, enslaving us in the all-consuming cult of consumerism and a never-ending narcissistic rat race to the bottom, Russell Brand has emerged as an enlightening force.
Behold, Russell Brand: comedian / trendsetter / thought-leader / revolutionary / spiritual guru. The more you pay attention to him, the more you realize that he is a madly brilliant critical thinker, a prophet of sorts, a spiritual sage, a shaman of radical positivity. Russell knows how to dance with fame, as he sprinkles subversive mind-opening truths like pixie dust.
He is currently on a whirlwind worldwide comedy tour, fittingly called Messiah Complex. His performance weaves through famed radical icons such as Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Gandhi and Jesus. Yes, Jesus the radical, the man who cared about the poor and chased the moneychangers from the temple. Russell makes you yearn for a modern day messiah who can chase Wall Street from our lives and deliver us to freedom. Alas, as Che said, only you can liberate yourself. There is much truth to Che’s words. However, as Brand makes clear, we are bred to follow false idols and live in a “cult of the hero.” Famed social psychologist Jacques Ellul summed it up:
“The cult of the hero is the absolutely necessary complement of the massification of society…. This exaltation of the hero proves that one lives in a mass society. The individual who is prevented by circumstances from becoming a real person, who can no longer express himself through personal thought or action, who finds his aspirations frustrated, projects onto the hero all he would wish to be. He lives vicariously and experiences the… exploits of the god with whom he lives in spiritual symbiosis.”
Russell Brand Messiah Complex tourKnowing that we have this ingrained bias built into our cultural programming, it seems clear that the propaganda-addicted masses need icons, now more than ever, who can help expand their consciousness and inspire them to new ways of thinking and living. As Brand jokes about being the second-coming (in bed, not in the biblical sense), you can’t help but think to yourself; is Brand evolving into one of these very icons he pokes fun of? It may seem like a stretch, and it is extremely high praise to even playfully ponder such a question. That being said, I see Brand as a seriously liberating force with limitless potential as a counter-cultural radical iconoclast.
As he masks his message in an intense, quick-witted, relentless rapid-fire torrent of self-deprecating humor, it subversively slips through your habitual thoughts and hits home in a profound way. Amidst all the laughs, I decipher and sum up his message this way: we are all distracted, dumbed-down and mentally conditioned by mainstream media, while corrupt politicians have been paid off by a small group of shortsighted, greed-addicted billionaires and multinational corporations, who are consolidating wealth and resources on an unprecedented scale, and destroying our future in the process.
This may be commonsense to anyone paying attention to the true state of the world, but for the overwhelming majority, to the propagandized masses, he delivers this eye-opening message in bedazzling fashion, with humorous, disheveled sex appeal, which makes him irresistible to the people who need to hear this message the most. The talented trick of it all, he does it all in a very compassionate, fun-loving, and, most importantly, non-preachy style. As Oscar Wilde once said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” Brand lives by that quote, he even has it tattooed on his arm.
Above all, Brand’s spiritual vibe comes through, radiating love and empathy for humanity as a whole. That may make the cynical among us roll their tired eyes, but he pulls it off in a genuine way. Celebrity, sex, spirituality and humor are all highly infectious. These days, they are most often used to manipulate, deceive, divide and disempower us. Brand is now flipping that script, he is using them to empower, enlighten and unite us. His hilarious and controversial bad boy attics have slipped him into mainstream consciousness, and his ever-growing celeb status ensures he will stay there for a while to come. He’s a Trojan horse inside the gates of mainstream media. The soldiers are only just beginning to sneak out, freedom seems within reach.
I don’t want to over-hype the guy, any more than I already have, and put too much pressure on him. After all, he’s just a comedian… but there is a strong sense that this is an opening act for what is to come. As Brand matures, grows wiser, gets in tune with his inner-self and aligns with the zeitgeist, he is using his fame to fill a cultural and spiritual void that far too many of us need filling,sexual innuendo aside.
Even the mainstream trendsetting magazine GQ recently gave him the “Oracle award.” Upon accepting the award, he humbly mocked himself and used the speech as a platform to call out the award show sponsors, Hugo Boss, for designing the uniforms that Nazi soldiers wore. Have a look at Russell’s wicked writing talents, as he riffs on the event after being kicked out of it for his “impolite” comments:
“I could see the room dividing as I spoke. I could hear the laughter of some and louder still silence of others. I realised that for some people this was regarded as an event with import. The magazine, the sponsors and some of those in attendance saw it as a kind of ceremony that warranted respect. In effect, it is a corporate ritual, an alliance between a media organisation, GQ, and a commercial entity, Hugo Boss. What dawned on me as the night went on is that even in apparently frivolous conditions the establishment asserts control, and won’t tolerate having that assertion challenged, even flippantly, by that most beautifully adept tool: comedy.
~
The jokes about Hugo Boss were not intended to herald a campaign to destroy them. They’re not Monsanto or Halliburton, the contemporary corporate allies of modern-day fascism; they are, I thought, an irrelevant menswear supplier with a double-dodgy history. The evening, though, provided an interesting opportunity to see how power structures preserve their agenda, even in a chintzy microcosm.
~
Subsequent to my jokes, the evening took a peculiar turn. Like the illusion of sophistication had been inadvertently disrupted by the exposure. It had the vibe of a wedding dinner where the best man’s speech had revealed the groom’s infidelity. With Hitler.”
Then, in riffing on the fact that several politicians were there hobnobbing at this GQ gala, Russell delivers the deep unfashionable truth in style:
“I feel guilty going, and I’m a comedian. Why are public officials, paid by us, turning up at events for fashion magazines? Well, the reason I was there was because I have a tour on and I was advised it would be good publicity. What are the politicians selling? How are they managing our perception of them with their attendance of these sequin-encrusted corporate balls?
~
We witness that there is a relationship between government, media and industry that is evident even at this most spurious and superficial level. These three institutions support one another. We know that however cool a media outlet may purport to be, their primary loyalty is to their corporate backers. We know also that you cannot criticise the corporate backers openly without censorship and subsequent manipulation of this information.
~
Now I’m aware that this was really no big deal; I’m not saying I’m an estuary Che Guevara. It was a daft joke by a daft comic at a daft event. It makes me wonder, though, how the relationships and power dynamics I witnessed on this relatively inconsequential context are replicated on a more significant scale.
~
For example, if you can’t criticise Hugo Boss at the GQ awards because they own the event, do you think it is significant that energy companies donate to the Tory party? Will that affect government policy? Will the relationships that ‘politician of the year’ Boris Johnson has with City bankers – he took many more meetings with them than public servants in his first term as mayor – influence the way he runs our capital?
~
Is it any wonder that Amazon, Vodafone and Starbucks avoid paying tax when they enjoy such cosy relationships with members of our government?
~
Ought we be concerned that our rights to protest are being continually eroded under the guise of enhancing our safety? Is there a relationship between proposed fracking in the UK, new laws that prohibit protest and the relationships between energy companies and our government?
~
I don’t know. I do have some good principles picked up that night that are generally applicable: the glamour and the glitz isn’t real, the party isn’t real, you have a much better time mucking around trying to make your mates laugh. I suppose that’s obvious. We all know it, we already know all the important stuff, like: don’t trust politicians, don’t trust big business and don’t trust the media. Trust your own heart and each other. When you take a breath and look away from the spectacle it’s amazing how absurd it seems when you look back.”
Now, that’s how you awaken the masses. How many celebrities do you know who can turn a glitzy GQ swank-fest gala into an easily understood rant on the corrupting influence of money in politics? The GQ controversy was just one of several recent bursts of radical enlightenment to come from Brand. (See him school MSNBC “news” anchors here and watch this compilation of clips here.)
Russell is the editor the latest copy of the New Statesman. His theme is Revolution of Consciousness; the magazine features the work of some of the world’s most radical thinkers. In a new must see BBC interview discussing the release of the magazine, Russell is in affable battle mode matching wits and mental jabs with veteran “newsman” Jeremy Paxman. (Watch the video to the right to see one of the most radical interviews you will ever see on mainstream television.)
He opens the magazine with a manifesto of sorts, featuring gems such as these:
“Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites….
~
I don’t vote because to me it seems like a tacit act of compliance; I know, I know my grandparents fought in two world wars (and one World Cup) so that I’d have the right to vote. Well, they were conned. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing to vote for. I feel it is a far more potent political act to completely renounce the current paradigm than to participate in even the most trivial and tokenistic manner, by obediently X-ing a little box.
~
Total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic system is what interests me, but that’s not on the ballot….
~
Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels….
~
Along with the absolute, all-encompassing total corruption of our political agencies by big business, this apathy is the biggest obstacle to change…. We have succumbed to an ideology that is 100 per cent corrupt and must be overthrown. The maintenance of this system depends on our belief that “there’s nothing we can do”…
~
We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir….
~
The revolution of consciousness is a decision, decisions take a moment. In my mind the revolution has already begun.”
In my mind, Russell hits the nail on the head when he speaks of a revolution of consciousness in political and spiritual tones with an emphasis on propaganda. To create the revolution that we need to get us off of this disastrous path and out of this obsolete paradigm, people must become aware of the processes that condition our consciousness and contract our awareness. Even the most independent minded people vastly underestimate how propagandized we all are. Just because we have repetitiously been told that we are free, doesn’t mean that we are. We live in a mental prison that we have all been bred into.
As the old line goes, you must first see the walls before you can free yourself. In this regard, Russell is a gladiator of the mind, exposing walls that the propagandized masses have rarely seen. Perhaps his dedication to meditation and yoga has tapped him into a truly divine realm. Just get within his presence, frequencywavelength and watch him flow ~ he radiates a contagious, shockingly uplifting energy ~ and you will feel your own frequency and vibration elevate you into another dimension.
Indeed, the revolution of consciousness has already begun. Enough with the reading, let’s see the mystical maestro work his magic…
~
In spirit of full disclosure, Russell is a brother and co-conspirator. I’ve had the great fortune to collaborate with some of the most inspiring people on the planet, from activists and thought-leaders to celebrities and artists. Everyone has their areas of strength, but when it comes to waking up the masses, which to me is the most vital thing to do right now, Russell has emerged as a mystical force of nature, a true divining rod. This post is more of a tribute and love letter than a critical review, yet it contains my true feelings. It is the first in a series of posts that I will be publishing in tribute to inspiring people who I have developed meaningful relationships with and have earned my respect. Subscribe here to keep in touch.
- See more at: http://daviddegraw.org/russell-brand-radical-prophet-mystical-force-of-nature/#sthash.fEnmuwGC.dpuf

http://daviddegraw.org/russell-brand-radical-prophet-mystical-force-of-nature/

The Empire 944


The World Without US

Saturday, 26 October 2013 09:57By John FefferInter Press Service | Op-Ed
(Image: Picador)(Image: Picador)

In his 2007 bestseller The World Without Us, journalist Alan Weisman describes a planet that regenerates itself after the disappearance of human beings. Skyscrapers crumble and bridges collapse into rivers, but the primeval forests take over and the buffalo return to roam.
It’s an optimistic vision of the future – if you’re a buffalo or a dolphin or a cockroach. No more ranchers. No more huge trawling nets or D-Con.


But it’s not such a great future if you’re a human being. In its dispassionate, non-human-centred perspective, Weisman’s book is designed to shake humans out of our naïve assumption that we will always be around, regardless of the existential threats that drape our shoulders like the cloak of Nessus.
Evolution has, for some reason, made us incapable of facing our own demise. It’s almost as if we wouldn’t be able to balance our checkbook or plan our vacations unless we treated nuclear weapons and climate change and pandemics as just another set of vaporous bogeymen that scare the bejesus out of us but always disappear at morning’s light.

Now let’s turn from the existential to the geopolitical. What would the world be like without the United States?
The recent government shutdown has prompted many to contemplate a world in which the United States hasn’t so much disappeared but collapsed in on itself. Focused on domestic issues, Washington would cancel Pax Americana (or Pox Americana, as anti-imperialists like to say) and step down from its role as the world’s policeman and the world’s financier.
Would the world be better off? As in Weisman’s hypothetical universe, how one answers this question depends a great deal on who one is. Americans certainly profit from our country’s economic and military hegemony: our carbon footprint, our per capita GDP, our mighty dollar, our reliance on English as the world’s default language.
We take these entitlements for granted. Non-Americans, however, might feel a bit differently. Like the buffalo and the dolphins and the cockroaches in a human-free world, everyone outside the United States might very well applaud the end of American superpowerdom.
At the height of the recent political crisis in Washington, an English-language opinion piece from the Chinese news agency Xinhua called “for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world.”
It repeated many familiar arguments. The United States “has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies.”
The solution, according to the widely read piece, is to strengthen the U.N., create a replacement for the dollar as the global currency, and give more power to emerging economies in international financial institutions. These all seem like sensible suggestions.

But as several U.S. commentators have pointed out, this provocative essay doesn’t necessarily reflect Chinese government opinion. Beijing remains dependent on U.S. economic power, whether in the form of American consumers or Wall Street liquidity.
And, to the extent that the United States fights terrorism, polices the world’s sea lanes, and continues to more or less constrain the ambitions of its key allies in the Asia-Pacific, China is also dependent on U.S. military power.
Chinese leadership values domestic, regional, and international stability. It wants, in other words, to preserve an environment in which it can pursue its primary objective: domestic economic growth. If it can hitch a free ride on the gas-guzzling, armour-plated American Hummer, China will gladly get on board.
But if the Hummer starts to mess with its economic growth, political stability, and regional interests, China will bail. For now, after a congressional deal has averted default and ended the government shutdown, Chinese calls for “de-Americanisation” have subsided. But political deadlock in Washington is by no means over. And the structural issues that underlie the relative decline of the United States over the last decade remain in place.
Most observers of U.S. decline, from Paul Kennedy to Fareed Zakaria, have generally shared the same ambivalence as China. They see U.S. decline as relative, as gradual, and as something to be mourned in the absence of a viable alternative.
The same could be said of the Latin American nations that have long decried U.S. imperialism. The latest salvos in this conflict have concerned the Snowden affair and revelations of the NSA’s overseas surveillance. But like China, Latin America is heavily dependent on trade with the United States and thus also ambivalent about U.S. economic decline.

Some participants in this debate, of course, have no ambivalence at all. The 2008 documentary “The World Without U.S.” describes the state of anarchy that would result if a future progressive president trimmed the military budget and withdrew troops from around the world.
The film relies heavily on British historian Niall Ferguson’s rosy descriptions of American hegemony. At one point, Ferguson suggests that U.S. military withdrawal would likely send the world down the same path of destruction that Yugoslavia experienced in the 1990s.
The European Union was feckless back then, and continues to be so today. No other guarantor of peace has stepped forward. Only China looms on the horizon, and the film ends with images of nuclear blasts hitting Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, presumably from Chinese missiles launched in the wake of the U.S. military’s departure from the region.
In Alan Weisman’s book, the primeval forest takes over the once-civilised world. In The World Without U.S., the primeval forces of anarchy take over a world once made stable by U.S. military presence.
It is, in so many ways, a dangerously silly movie. The United States has supported plenty of dictators in the interests of stability. We have generated considerable instability – in Afghanistan, in Iraq – when it has served our interests. Our stability is often unjust; our instability is devastating.

Moreover, we have cut back on our military involvement in Latin America and the region has prospered. We’ve reduced our troop presence in South Korea, including the legendary “trip wire,” and no anarchy has been loosed upon the peninsula. We are finally closing down many Cold War-era bases in Europe, and Europe remains calm.
Remember, the real message of Weisman’s book is that there are still things we can do, as humans, to develop a more cooperative relationship with nature and prevent apocalypse. Similarly, the United States can take positive steps to avoid the global Balkans scenario.
It’s not a matter of appointing a successor as global guardian or duking it out with China to prevent Beijing from stepping into our shoes. It’s not about crawling into our shell and pouting because the world no longer wants to follow our orders.
We are in the world, there’s no escaping that. Just as humans must reconfigure their relationship with nature, the United States must reconfigure its relationship with the world. In both worst-case scenarios, the only winners will be the cockroaches.
Visit IPS news for fresh perspectives on development and globalization.

JOHN FEFFER

John Feffer is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies.
He is the author of several books and numerous articles. He has been a Writing Fellow at Provisions Library in Washington, DC and a PanTech fellow in Korean Studies at Stanford University. He is a former associate editor of World Policy Journal. He has worked as an international affairs representative in Eastern Europe and East Asia for the American Friends Service Committee. He has studied in England and Russia, lived in Poland and Japan, and traveled widely throughout Europe and Asia. He has taught a graduate level course on international conflict at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul in July 2001 and delivered lectures at a variety of academic institutions including New York University, Hofstra, Union College, Cornell University, and Sofia University (Tokyo).
John has been widely interviewed in print and on radio. He serves on the advisory committees of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea. He is a recipient of the Herbert W. Scoville fellowship and has been a writer in residence at Blue Mountain Center and the Wurlitzer Foundation. 
His latest book is Crusade 2.0: The West's Resurgent War on Islam (2012).
His website is: www.johnfeffer.com