Tag Archives: holiday

Holiday Santacular!

1284487009_bottom_krampusThe Stranger celebrates the holidays with four hours of radio; celebrating New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Saturnalia, and our recent triumph over Doomsday — all in one! We’ll review the past year’s current events, look forward to the progress of tomorrow, and how we might just be doomed after all. Then, we’ll finally get to hear from the fabled South Side Santa once again, to discuss FOX’s War on Christmas and other festive topics, all set to the traditional sounds of Yule.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-29: Santacular! by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PSIONIC PLAYLIST
Yuri-G – PJ Harvey
Don’t Look Back In Anger – Oasis
Teotihuacan -Noel Gallagher
Christmassteps -Mogwai
Sweet Leaf -Black Sabbath
The Little Drummer Boy -Jimi Hendrix
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen -Dio
He Loved Him Madly (Bill Laswell Mix) -Miles Davis
The Stars Are Projectors -Modest Mouse
Something Bells -Daedelus
Winter in America -Gil Scott-Heron
Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring -Leo Kottke
New Year’s Eve – Tom Waits

STRANGER PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Wagner
O Tannenbaum – They Might Be Giants
Saturn, Bringer of Old Age – New York Philharmonic
Historia Der Geburt Jesu Christi: Recitative: Und Er Stund Auf
Riu, Riu, Chiu
O Viergo Virginum
Winter – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Sinfonia in G (from ‘Christmas Oratorio’) – Johannes Bach
Sonata: Padouana a 5 – Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
Sinfonia – Geza Oberfrank & Hungarian Radio Choir & Failoni Chamber Orchestra
Pavane – Pierre Attaingnant
Christe Redemptor a 4 – William Byrd
Die winter ist Verganghen
Crions Noel – Alexander Agricola
A Mery Moode
Robin Hoode – Mr. Ascue
Twenty Waies Upon The Bells – Thomas Robinson
Nowell
Benedicta Es, Coelorum Regina
O vis aeternitatis – Ensemble Für Fruhe Musik Augsburg
Ave Maria – Franz Schubert
Recessional: “In Dulci Jubilo” – Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
Gloucestershire Wassail – Loreena McKennitt
What Child is This – Vince Guaraldi
I Believe in Father Christmas – Emerson Lake and Palmer
Aud Lan Syne

Our economy won’t grow forever, of course, but we shouldn’t let the maniacs fly us over a cliff of their own making, just because they’re tied to the steering wheel and gas pedal in an insane game of chicken. The bastards will take us all down with them, and the poorest of us will be the first to perish. How’s that for some seasonal tidings?

The Republicans are the worst wagers of this war, and they just don’t care what the nation thinks about them. Their party is in disarray, public opinion of them couldn’t be worse, and they’re still acting like insane, moronic children. They are unfit to govern. While some of them may be beginning to accept reality, they have by and large, “out of touch with the American people,” according to John Weaver, a senior adviser to past presidential candidates John McCain. The polling suggests as much.

And when racists like Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are accepting awards from neo-confederate groups, and others are trying to leave the union, they don’t exactly paint a picture of rationality and moderation.

So people are taking matters into their own hands. Homeowners are threatening to foreclose on the banks. People are finding marijuana to be a much better substitute than risky prescription drugs for weaning themselves off of other dangerous addictions. Direct action and reasonable measures may win the day after all.

Even if the FBI spies on and oppresses progressive protest movements like Occupy. Even if that selfsame spy state tightens its grip. Even if so-called progressive leaders expand those powers and reach.

I believe the children are the future. Unfortunately, President Obama has had 178 children murdered in Pakistan and Yemen by U.S. drone strikes. He believes they are the past.

So our future is doomed. We don’t have to like it. We don’t have to take it sitting down.

It wasn’t all bad news, just look at a few of the things that progressives accomplished in 2012:

  1. Historic progress to end the war on drugs.
  2. New fuel efficiency standards.
  3. Young undocumented immigrants received deportation relief.
  4. Anti-LGBT Senate candidates lost, in large numbers.
  5. President Obama endorsed marriage equality.
  6. Voters rejected anti-choice candidates.
  7. Voter suppression lost.
  8. The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare.

This wasn’t just a great year for Marijuana users, but a harrowing one for synthetic drug users who found the legal or quasi-legal stimulants like bath salts to be cheap alternatives to criminalized plants.

By 2012, amphetamine-type stimulants, including synthetic bath salt derivatives, had become more popular worldwide than either cocaine or heroin, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Then again, it was a tough year for labor, with some of the most contentious battles and anxiety-inducing headlines of the year:

  1. Hostess Blames Workers for Bankruptcy Caused by Executives
  2. Right-to-Work Laws Passed by Spiteful Conservatives
  3. Wisconsin Recall of Scott Walker Failed
  4. American Airlines Employees Rally to Protest Cuts
  5. NFL Referees Replaced by Pathetic Scabs
  6. Apple-Foxconn Factory Workers in China Committed Mass Suicide
  7. Chicago Teacher’s Union Strike
  8. Koch Brothers Funnel Billions into Right-Wing Causes and Candidates
  9. Obama Barely Mentions Labor in Debates
  10. WalMart Workers Protest
  11. Bangladesh Factory Fire Kills Workers
  12. Fast-food Workers Strike

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone announced his pick for ‘Biggest Wall Street Story of the Year’ to the massive Libor scandal.

“If it’s true that the 16 biggest banks in the world were fixing global interest rates, then it’s hard not to argue that that’s not the biggest financial corruption case in history,” Taibbi says in a web exclusive for Current TV. “I fully expect that we’ll find out in the end that American banks were involved in this scandal.”

It was also a big year for Anonymous, with their hacktivism against bad copyright laws, censorship, evil religious zealots and police brutality ending up some of the biggest tech news of 2012.

And WIRED collected their top picks for the biggest tech stories in review:

  1. Government Spybots!
  2. Bradley Manning Gets His Day in Court
  3. SOPA and PIPA
  4. Supreme Court Takes a Stand Against Warrantless GPS Tracking
  5. Megaupload Becomes Mega Headache for U.S. Government
  6. Sabu and the Crackdown on Anonymous
  7. Stuxnet and Flame Viruses
  8. Julian Assange Seeks Asylum
  9. Paula and Petraeus Affair
  10. John McAfee On the Lam!

And some of the most outrageous science fiction stories that became science fact in the news!

  1. A Cyborg Competes Against Able-Bodied Athletes at the Olympics
  2. NASA Starts to Work on a Faster-Than-Light Warp Drive
  3. Scientists Enhance the Intelligence of Primates with a Chip
  4. The Earth Experiences its First True Superstorm
  5. The World’s First Cybernetic Hate Crime Occurs at a McDonalds in France
  6. Augmented Reality Goes Mainstream
  7. Researchers Create a Robot With Legs That Can Run Faster Than any Human
  8. The First Successful Commercial Cargo Delivery to Space Goes Off Without a Hitch
  9. An Electric Car is the Year’s Best
  10. Doctors Communicate With a Man in a Coma
  11. The First Large-Scale Geoengineering Project is Detected Off Canada’s West Coast
  12. A Child Attends School By Sending a Robot in His Place
  13. A Paralyzed Woman Controls a Robotic Arm Using Only Her Mind
  14. Self-Driving Cars Become Legal in Three States
  15. Scientists Create an Artificial Retina
  16. Researchers Create the First Complete Computer Model of a Living Organism

And looking forward, here are the civil liberties cases the Supreme Court may tackle in 2013:

  1. Same-Sex Marriage
  2. Federal Voting Rights Authority
  3. Race in University Admissions
  4. Can Corporations Be Sued For Overseas Human Rights Abuses?
  5. Can For-Profit Corporations Patent Human Genes?
  6. Warrantless Drug Searches By Police
  7. Death Penalty Convicts’ Right To Attorneys
  8. Do Right-To-Know Laws Stop At State Lines?

Non-belief in religion grew to the third largest affiliation in the world, The Washington Post writes:

A new report on global religious identity shows that while Christians and Muslims make up the two largest groups, those with no religious affiliation — including atheists and agnostics — are now the third-largest “religious” group in the world.

The study, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that Christians make up the largest group, with 2.2 billion adherents, or 32 percent worldwide, followed by Muslims, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent. Close behind are the “nones” — those who say they have no religious affiliation or do not believe in God — at 1.1 billion, or 16 percent.

This translates to big problems for United States politicians, where around 20% of the electorate are atheist/agnostic. So if you’re religious, don’t bash or exclude those who aren’t. Stand up for separation of church and state. Stand up for marriage equality and reproductive choice. Stand up for science.

Reject the false prophets like Old Paths Baptist Church Pastor Sam Morris, Franklin Graham, Bryan Fischer of the American family Association, James Dobson who proselytize that atheism is to blame for atrocities like school shootings.

This and much worse discrimination against non-believers is prevalent around the world.

This anti-atheist discrimination is severe. It takes the form of being arrested. It takes the form of being imprisoned for years. It takes the form of being targeted by a mob screaming for your blood… and when the police who should be there to protect you show up, instead they throw you in jail in Egypt, Indonesia, Greece, India, Turkey, Tunisia…

It even takes the form of a powerful Christian majority blasting the atheist minority for waging a non-existent ‘War on Christmas.’ A ridiculous prospect anyway, since many of the holiday traditions we love have Pagan roots.

  1. Celebrating the Winter Solstice with Festivals.
  2. Candles & Lights
  3. Trees
  4. Yule Wreaths 
  5. Santa
  6. Mistletoe
  7. Holly 
  8. Feasting! 
  9. Gift Giving
  10. Hearth Fires and Yule Logs

And who is waging the real war on Christmas, when Santa is arrested for chalking good tidings on public sidewalks? He is a dirty liberal, after all. Ignoring supply-side economics to hand out ‘free stuff.’

A new Public Policy Polling survey found that 44 percent of respondents think Santa is a Democrat, while 28 percent believe he’s a Republican.”*

And to all, a good night!

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-29: Santacular! by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

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War of the Worldviews

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – The Ratmen
Grim Grinning Ghosts – Barenaked Ladies
The Dragon – Vangelis
The War of the Worlds Musical Version – Jeff Wayne
The Horror – RJD2
The Boogie Monster – Gnarls Barkley
Ghost Of Frankenstein – Scientist
Dracula – Gorillaz
Season of the Dead – Gein and the Graverobbers
Haunted House – Lee Oskar

There’s plenty to be frightened of in the real world this Halloween season. Both candidates, in the shameful final debate, expressed their love of drones and Israel‘s war crimes. It wasn’t a debate so much as an agreement.

An Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, sued in Israeli courts to force the release of a planning document  for ‘putting the Palestinians on a diet’ without risking the bad press of mass starvation, and the courts concurred. The document, produced by the Israeli army, appears to be a calculation of how to limit Palestinians’ calories, the Israeli military was actually plotting to keep Palestinians in Gaza (half of them children) permanently on the brink of malnutrition, what health professionals call “food insecurity”. And, it was foreseeable that sometimes they would slip into malnutrition, since not as many trucks were always let in every day as the Israeli army recommended (106 were recommended, but it was often less in the period 2007-2010).

Planning for keeping people on the edge is nearly as bad as planning actually to starve them. And at the same time, both Obama and Romney called for harsher sanctions against Iran, while misleading the American people about a nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

OOOOOH! BE AFRAID!!

Obama, on a recent Daily Show appearance, used the only halfway hard-hitting question (on extending Bush’s illegal wiretapping) to mislead once again:

“The truth is we have modified them and built a legal structure and safeguards in place that weren’t there before on a whole range issues.”

No, the truth is, there’s no indication that the still-active warrantless wiretapping program—a dragnet on millions of innocent Americans’ communications—has significantly changed from the day Obama took office. With regard to the FISA Amendments Act, the Obama Administration has actively opposed all proposed safeguards in Congress, his Administration has been even more aggressive than Bush in trying to prevent warrantless wiretapping victims from having their day in court and has continued building the massive national security infrastructure needed to support it.

The Obama administration is actively opposing any new privacy safeguards or transparency provisions, saying it is their “top priority” to renew it with no changes. He cites State Secrets Privilege, Sovereign Immunity, Secret FISA Court Opinions, and Secret Safeguards.

Via WIRED:

The Obama administration is again arguing that a lawsuit accusing the NSA of vacuuming up Americans’ electronic communications without warrants threatens national security and would expose state secrets if litigated.

“This case may be dismissed on the ground that its very subject matter constitutes a state secret,” the government said (.pdf) in a legal filing in San Francisco federal court.

Brought by the EFF, the case is now four years old and its merits have never been litigated. The civil rights group claims that the major telecoms provided the NSA a warrantless backdoor to the nation’s communication backbone. Despite the government’s protestations that talking about the program would expose national secrets, the program is well-known, well-documented, and as of 2008, partially legalized by a compliant Congress.

Just two weeks ago, the Supreme Court terminated the EFF’s case against the telcos for their participation in the program. The justices declined to review 2008 congressional legislation giving the telcos immunity from being sued for their participation. Congress adopted the law after a federal judge rejected the government’s state-secrets claim.

When Congress passed the law, the EFF targeted the gov instead, accusing it of running a massive dragnet spy operation without warrants. The allegations are based in part on a former AT&T technician who produced internal company documents suggesting that the NSA was surveilling internet traffic from a secret room at an AT&T switching center in San Francisco, and similar facilities around the country.

Via RT:

“Both parties are colluding in denying you your First and Fifth amendment rights under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, and both candidates refuse to discuss this bipartisan assault on civil liberties,” a message posted on the Stop NDAA website reads.

And the rules have been permanently set up by Obama’s overpowered executive branch, that any conservative president that may take office will find himself intrenched in a counterterrorism agenda that includes vague demographic profiling, secret kill lists, and robotic targeted execution. Democrats would rather remain blissfully ignorant of these civil and human rights abuses, and Republicans are drooling over the prospect of getting them for themselves.

Democrats “do not have the foggiest idea what is happening in the White House, and obviously does not care in the slightest, because the person doing it is part of their party.”

Or worse, that supposition that extra-constitutional national security and civil liberties policies are no longer permitted to be part of any “serious” national political discussion.

Luckily, if no one in the United States will step up, the United Nations will.

The United Nations plans to set up a special investigation unit in early 2013 to look at incidents of civilian death in U.S. drone strikes. Speaking Thursday at Harvard Law School, U.N. special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC, who monitors counter-terrorism programs, announced plans for the investigative team, which will be based in Geneva. According to the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “U.N. investigators have been critical ofU.S. ‘extrajudicial executions’ since they began in 2002. The new Geneva-based unit will also look at the legality of the program.”

Emmerson said in his Harvard announcement, “If the relevant states are not willing to establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms … then it may in the last resort be necessary for the U.N. to act.” He noted:

[It is] alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. [U.N. consultant, professor of human rights] Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.

And activist groups like the ACLU, EFF, and Muckrock are continuing the fight against robotic death from above, requesting hundred of public records on surveillance drones.

The very concept is chilling, especially as the drones begin to decide for themselves who to spy on, profile, and kill. And though comparisons may be rife, the thought of hungry alien invaders this Halloween may just have to take a backseat to the reality of unfeeling war machines.

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Tropical Paradise

The stress and anger from the fast-paced world of current events and electoral mudslinging are getting to you, and since we can’t stop those, let us find our exotic escape. A quiet beach on a remote island, with sweet drinks and soft jungle sounds on a moonlit night, relax and melt into your adirondack chair, under your tiki hut near your cabana, and dream that this is how humbly the other half lives. Better yet, dream of the indigenous fauna.

Our problems will still be here when we get back.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-08-18: Tropical Paradise by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – The Mysterions
007 (Shanty Town) – Desmond Dekker
Ebb Tide – Al Caiola & His Islanders
Jungle Madness – Martin Denny
Tiare Anani – Webley Edwards
Chuncho (the Forest Creatures) – Yma Sumac
Island In The Sun – Harry Belafonte
Mucha Muchacha – Esquivel
Bongo Lesson – Jack Costanza
Lambada Timbales – Tito Puente
Corcovado (Quiet Nights) – Sergio Mendes, Cannonball Adderley
Brazil – Django Reinhardt
Agua De Beber – Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
Irene – Caetano Veloso
The Warmth Of The Sun – Beach Boys
Double Naught Spy – Deke Dickerson
The Cannibal Village – Michael Land
Tropicando – Les Baxter
Exotic Guitars – Safari Ways
Pastime Paradise – Ray Barretto
Waves Within – Santana
War – Bob Marley
No Dub Island – Scientist
James Bond Theme – The Skatalites
SPY – Seatbelts
Spygame – Parov Stelar
Jungle Fresh – Gorillaz
Bongo Bong – Manu Chao
Vacation Island – Kid Koala
Manha De Carnaval – Louiz Bonfa
Mana Ma’ohi – Matato’a
Son Of A Son Of A Sailor – Jimmy Buffett

Now, it has officially been eight attacks on houses of worship in eleven days in this country, with distrust, bigotry and racism stirred up by the likes of Islamophobes Michele Bachmann and Peter King. And even demagoguery in the areas where violence would later occur against Muslims:

Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., sowed the seeds of mistrust and suspicion by alleging that “radical Islam” had made a home in the suburbs of Chicago; that ”It’s in Elk Grove, it’s in Addison, it’s in Elgin. It’s here”; and that radical Muslims are “trying to kill Americans every week.” Walsh’s warnings were met with applause.

According to FBI data, hate crimes against Muslims might be rising. The rate of anti-Muslim crimes fell from nearly 500 in 2001 to 107 in 2009. But in 2010 (the latest year for which the FBI has data) the total number of hate crimes jumped 50 percent to 160.

As we discussed last week, our intelligence agencies tasked to protect us have a massive blind spot in the area of homegrown terrorism, but they had been warned.

Daryl Johnson, architect of the infamous 2009 Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism, made headlines last year, when he accused Homeland Security of ignoring the growing threat of right-wing violence due to political pressure. Johnson said DHS employed just one analyst to monitor all non-Islamic extremism, down from eight prior to the report’s release. In stark contrast, the department has at least two dozen personnel assigned to analyzing the threat of homegrown Islamic extremism.

DHS continues to turn a blind eye, says Johnson.

“Right around the time I went public last year, they hired a brand-new person with no experience and no law enforcement connections,” shortly thereafter the new hire was transferred to a different unit, again leaving just one analyst on the beat. A year later, Johnson says, “absolutely nothing has changed.” another former DHS analyst, there have been, at most, two DHS analyst on the non-Islamic extremism beat since he left the agency in 2010. During his time at DHS, he recalls a “3-to-1 ratio” of analysts assessing Islamic extremism versus those covering non-Islamic threats. According to the former analyst, “very few products have been released in the past several years [on right-wing extremism]. A couple, but not much at all.”

What’s worse is that other law enforcement groups rely on DHS threat assessments, and within the halls of power these groups are seen as inconsequential to nonexistent, while Muslims are seen as suspicious to radical. Ignorance has led to our agencies being led by a sham terror expert industry, exaggerating one threat and ignoring others.

Read John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart’s The Terrorism Delusion: America’s Overwrought Response to September 11, in the latest issue of International Security.

Mueller and Stewart analyze 50 cases of supposed “Islamic terrorist plots” against the United States, and show how virtually all of the perpetrators were (in their words) “incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.” They quote former Glenn Carle, former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats saying “we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are,” noting further that al Qaeda’s “capabilities are far inferior to its desires.”

Expenditures on domestic homeland security (i.e., not counting the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan) have increased by more than $1 trillion since 9/11, even though the annual risk of dying in a domestic terrorist attack is about 1 in 3.5 million. Using conservative assumptions and conventional risk-assessment methodology, they estimate that for these expenditures to be cost-effective “they would have had to deter, prevent, foil or protect against 333 very large attacks that would otherwise have been successful every year.” Much of that money ends up going to private contractors.

These are the types of government spending and overreach that policymakers will never criticize Obama for. CIA-perfected torture is normalized as concept with impunity here in the states (by calling it “enhanced interrogation techniques”), and captives are sent face rendition abroad.

President Obama has closed the CIA’s “black sites,” its secret prisons where American agents once dirtied their hands with waterboarding and wall slamming. But via rendition — the sending of terrorist suspects to the prisons of countries that torture — and related policies, his administration has outsourced human rights abuse to Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere. In this way, he has avoided the political stigma of torture, while tacitly tolerating such abuses and harvesting whatever intelligence can be gained from them.

But pundits and politicians would rather focus on the ECONOMY, stupid.

When it comes to fiscal issues, Mitt Romney wants voters to know he’s disgusted by reckless government spending spree under President Obama the past three years, while at the same time also contending that Obama’s government hasn’t stepped in enough to help Americans.

Paul Ryan also slammed President Obama on Thursday for failing to rescue an auto factory in his Wisconsin district — one that closed in 2008, under President George W. Bush. Oopsie! Ryan also got caught misrepresenting his actions when it comes to his handling of Obama’s stimulus package. In an interview this week with WCPO, an ABC affiliate in Cincinnati, Ryan said, “No, I never asked for stimulus … I opposed the stimulus because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work” but it turns out that’s not true. In 2009 and 2010 Ryan sent at least five letters to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis seeking stimulus grants in the millions for two Wisconsin energy conservation companies.

And while avoiding the big deal over his own taxes, Romney attacked the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center’s finding that fulfilling his budget promises would require asking 95 percent of Americans to pay more in taxes. “They made garbage assumptions and they reached a garbage conclusion,” he said. He then used Simpson-Bowles to defend his vague formula, but the commission’s co-chair, Erskine Bowles, has repeatedly said it’s not mathematically possible to meet Romney’s goals without asking the middle class to pay more in taxes.

“The Romney plan, by sticking to revenue-neutrality and leaving in place tax breaks, would raise taxes on the middle class and do nothing to shrink the deficit,” Bowles wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last week.

The Tax Policy Center responded to a number of Romney’s criticisms, claiming that none of the complaints affected the conclusions, which the group said were based on running simple numbers around Romney’s previously stated goal of revenue-neutral tax reform that would lower income tax rates while eliminating tax deductions, starting with those that benefit the wealthiest Americans.

“[I]t remains true — as we showed in our paper — that a reform proposal that meets the five goals stated above would have to raise burdens on middle-class households,” they wrote.

Surely many other scandals will come out concerning Romney’s moneyed storied past, but this week it was Joe Biden who was in the news for his “gaffes”

“Romney wants to let the — he said the first 100 days — he’s gonna let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street,” Biden said at an event in Danville, Va. “They gonna put y’all back in chains.”

Of course, the Republicans lashed out at his racial rhetoric, despite having been all-too-willing to play that card themselves in the past:

“They will put you in chains called ‘Obamacare,’ and you will never break away,” ~Sen. Rick Santorum

“[Obama] does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American. He’d rather you be his slave.” ~Florida Rep. Allen West

But the point still stands, that there are (some) wealthy elites who would reinstate the feudal state, the gilded age, and even serfdom. But what can we do?

Les Leopold, author of The Looting of America, proposes we turn the banks into public utilities. Via Alternet:

The simple truth is our giant banking system is metastasizing throughout our economy. It’s sucking away our wealth. And it’s out of control. We’ve seen our bankers commit every kind of financial crime imaginable. They trade on insider information. They manipulate markets. They rig bets. They fix prices. They sell securities that are designed to fail so that they can bet against them. They launder money for rogue nations. They create too-big-to-fail banks that gamble with impunity knowing that we will bail them out again and again. And they collectively crashed the economy causing 8 million workers to lose their jobs.

No bank CEO can effectively manage the empires they now preside over. No regulator can keep up with the financial games that are played right under their noses. It’s just not possible. Too-big-to-fail also means too-big-to-control. Banks are the predators and we are the prey. We need to end too-big-to-fail, instead of proposing reforms that are too little, too late.

He counters every criticism of his proposal, arguing that it isn’t necessary socialism (about as much as the police force is), that public trusts are more effective, and that losing the “best” Wall Street talent by drastically lowering salaries will be a good thing.

It’s all just in time, too, since privatization is ruining America:

  1. We spend lifetimes developing community assets, then give them away to a corporation for lifetimes to come.
  2. Private systems of health care, schools and prisons are failing us.
  3. Facts about privatization are hidden from the public.
  4. Privatizers have suggested that teachers and union members, public schools, are communists.
  5. Privatization often creates an “incentive to fail” for no-bid contractors.

And, amid journalist harassmentarrests, and criminalizing dissent, private contractors have now dedicated massive, nationwide surveillance networks to watching us.

Via RT:

In a 2005 interview with The Entrepreneur Center, Richard “Hollis” Helms, co-founder of TrapWire developers Abraxas, says the system “can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas… The beauty of it is that we can protect an infinite number of facilities just as efficiently as we can one and we push information out to local law authorities automatically.”

Essentially, siphoning private surveillance camera footage to intelligence agents.  intelligence caught by TrapWire was being fed directly to these high-profile customers, including the NYPD (who lied in denying it), the Pentagon, the Secret Service and the White House. Stratfor, for its part, is keeping quiet about the revealing emails, and won’t comment enough to deny them. Mainstream media (*cough* NYTimes *cough*) whitewashes the facts behind the scandal, and all of this could be for good and more than just classified reasons. This could all be very illegal.

US v. Jones, the recent ruling by the Supreme Court, could mean that using Trapwire to track people is illegal without a search warrant, and would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment

“Regardless of the technology, the government should need a warrant for persistent tracking of individuals” ~The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Well, the government thinks it needs a lot of things, but warrants don’t seem to be among them.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-08-18: Tropical Paradise by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net