September 20, 2013 archive

Sep 20

Exceptional

Will Eric Holder guarantee NSA reporters’ first amendment rights?

John Cusack, The Guardian

Wednesday 18 September 2013 08.30 EDT

Another week and another wave of stories on the NSA and the unconstitutional out-of-control surveillance state hit the digital newsstands, showing once again why the tide is turning. Some revelations are so surreal, it’s hard not to assume they’re satire. NSA chief Keith Alexander seems to be modeling his ambitions and visions for international spying after General Curtis LeMay’s views on nuclear war.

Meanwhile, despite the massive smear campaign against Edward Snowden, opinion polls stand clearly with the truth-tellers. People know they have a right to know what the government is doing in their names. State secrecy is on the run, while American privacy, long rumored dead, is alive and kicking and wants the fight out in the open – in the sunlight and in the public square.



Now, the US owes its citizens and the international community another “heads up”: on whether the United States will do the same to journalists working on NSA stories who are entering the United States. Put simply, will Attorney General Eric Holder, the US State Department, and the FBI promise safe passage to journalists, their spouses and loved ones, and vow not to interfere with their reporting on these NSA stories?

So far, the answer has been far from clear.

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the two American journalists at the center of these stories, have been doing their reporting from Brazil and Germany respectively. The US government has not, so far, stated publicly whether they can enter the country without receiving the same outrageous treatment that Miranda received. Or worse.

Can they practice journalism in the United States, without their hard drives being confiscated, without an unconstitutional search-and-seizure taking place at the border? Are they free to enter the United States without being served a subpoena, or even jailed? Unlike the UK, the United States is supposed to be bound by the first amendment of the constitution, which exists to bar such treatment of journalists.



We recognize that when the individual rights are being violated, that means my rights, our rights, are being violated too. What happens to individuals in the US happens to the first amendment. Our politicians must have forgotten the basics we all learned in high school civics class.

The US needs to take the hint from Dilma Rousseff’s snub

Mark Weisbrot, The Guardian

Wednesday 18 September 2013 11.26 EDT

Tuesday’s cancellation of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s state visit to the White House, scheduled for next month, came as little surprise. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden, and reported by Glenn Greenwald and TV Globo, had caused an uproar in Brazil. According to the documents and reports, the US government had spied on Dilma’s personal communications, and had targeted the computer systems of Brazil’s Petrobras, the big oil company that is majority-owned by the state.



The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize the results of the Venezuelan elections in April of this year, despite the lack of doubt about the results and in stark opposition to the rest of the region, displayed an aggressiveness that Washington hadn’t shown since it aided the 2002 coup. It brought a sharp rebuke from South America, including Lula and Dilma.

Less than two months later, US Secretary of State John Kerry launched a new “detente”, meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Elías Jaua in the first such high-level meeting in memory, and implicitly recognizing the election results. But new hopes were quickly dashed when several European governments, clearly acting on behalf of the United States, forced down President Evo Morales’ plane in July.



It seems that every month there is another indication of how little the Obama administration cares about improving relations.



There are structural reasons for the Obama administration’s repeated failures to accept the new reality of independent governments in the region. Although President Obama may want better relations, he is willing to spend about $2 in political capital to accomplish this. And that is not enough. When he tried to appoint an ambassador to Venezuela in 2010, for example, Republicans (including the office of then Senator Richard Lugar) successfully scuttled it.

For President Obama, there are generally no electoral consequences from having bad relations with Latin America. Unlike Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, or other areas of armed conflict or potential war, there is no imminent danger that something could blow up in his face, and cause political harm to his administration or party. The main electoral pressure comes from those who want to oppose more aggressively the left governments: that is, rightwing Florida Cuban-Americans and their allies in Congress, who currently prevail in the House. Most of the foreign policy establishment doesn’t care about the region at all, and the ones who do mainly share the view that the leftward shift is a temporary thing that can and should be reversed.

In the meantime, Washington is expanding its military presence where it has control (for example, Honduras), and is ready to support the overthrow of left governments when the opportunity arises (Honduras in 2009, and Paraguay last year).

Sep 20

On This Day In History September 20

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 20 is the 263rd day of the year (264th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 102 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1973, in a highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, beats Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked men’s player. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that women were inferior, that they couldn’t handle the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player. The match was a huge media event, witnessed in person by over 30,000 spectators at the Houston Astrodome and by another 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by men dressed as ancient slaves, while Riggs arrived in a rickshaw pulled by female models. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell called the match, in which King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not only helped legitimize women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen as a victory for women’s rights in general.

Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943 in Long Beach, California) is a former professional tennis player from the United States. She won 12 Grand Slam  singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. King has been an advocate against sexism in sports and society. She is known for “The Battle of the Sexes” in 1973, in which she defeated Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon men’s singles champion.

King is the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and World Team Tennis, which she founded with her former husband, Lawrence King.

Despite King’s achievements at the world’s biggest tennis tournaments, the U.S. public best remembers her for her win over Bobby Riggs in 1973.

Riggs had been a top men’s player in the 1930s and 1940s in both the amateur and professional ranks. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title in 1939, and was considered the World No. 1 male tennis player for 1941, 1946, and 1947. He then became a self-described tennis “hustler” who played in promotional challenge matches. In 1973, he took on the role of male chauvinist. Claiming that the women’s game was so inferior to the men’s game that even a 55-year-old like himself could beat the current top female players, he challenged and defeated Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1. King, who previously had rejected challenges from Riggs, then accepted a lucrative financial offer to play him.

Sep 20

Cartnoon

Sep 20

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


Semiprecious

Sep 20

Late Night Karaoke