Remember this guy?
Yep, that’s John Pike, the infamous pepper spray cop who walked across a group of seated student engaged in an act of peaceful civil disobedience and callously pepper sprayed them in the face. While Pike was eventually fired, an internal investigation found that he “acted appropriately.” For all his troubles, the University has now decided he deserves a $38,000 settlement.
More from the Guardian:
A former University of California Davis police officer who pepper-sprayed a group of Occupy protesters has reached a $38,000 settlement in a workman’s compensation case against the school.
John Pike, who was filmed discharging pepper spray at a line of seated demonstrators in a video that was watched around the world, received the compensation last week.
The Davis Enterprise reported that Pike, 40, had suffered depression and anxiety brought on by death threats to him and his family. The threats followed the 18 November 2011 protest, the newspaper reported.
Bernie Goldsmith, a Davis attorney supportive of the student protesters, told the Associated Press that the settlement “sends a clear message to the next officer nervously facing off with a group of passive, unarmed students: Go on ahead. Brutalize them. Trample their rights. You will be well taken care of.”
Let’s also not forget about the fact that there are 50,000 SWAT team raids in America each year. USA! USA!
Just yesterday, I was taken aback by an article in Time magazine in which Glenn Greenwald was quoted as saying:
The archives are so complex and so deep and so shocking, that I think the most shocking and significant stories are the ones we are still working on, and have yet to publish.
The above statement was expressed during a speech by Greenwald at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This takes on an entirely new meaning now that we know Mr. Greenwald has decided to leave The Guardian. There have been grumblings for several weeks now that the relationship between the journalist and the paper had been strained. Whether or not that is the result of new censorship resulting from government pressure on the paper at this stage is unknown. Either way, I can’t wait to see what new information he has in store for us, whether it will be through a Brazilian news organization or an independent venture.
Below are statements from both Glenn and The Guardian:
Statement of Glenn Greenwald:
“My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved.
“The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline.
“Because this news leaked before we were prepared to announce it, I’m not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture, but it will be unveiled very shortly;”
Statement of the Guardian’s Jennifer Lindauer:
“Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him. Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. We are of course disappointed by Glenn’s decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best.”
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In an interesting twist of irony, one of the Congressman most instrumental in the destruction of civil liberties in these United States due to his authorship of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), is now leading the charge to rein in NSA abuses. His disgust with the NSA became clear back in early June when he wrote an impassioned letter to Attorney General Eric Holder criticizing the illegal NSA activity happening behind the scenes. The key point here is that Mr. Sensenbrenner strongly believes that these guys are misinterpreting the legislation he wrote to justify everything they are doing. As such, he and others are proposing legislation to make it crystal clear what is and what is not appropriate surveillance.
Not only that, he is also calling for the prosecution of James Clapper the current Director of National Intelligence, who perjured himself in front of Congress earlier this year. Mr. Sensenbrenner said:
Oversight only works when the agency that oversight is directed at tells the truth, and having Mr Clapper say he gave the least untruthful answer should, in my opinion, have resulted in a firing and a prosecution.
This guy means business. More from the Guardian:
The conservative Republican who co-authored America’s Patriot Act is preparing to unveil bipartisan legislation that would dramatically curtail the domestic surveillance powers it gives to intelligence agencies.
Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who worked with president George W Bush to give more power to US intelligence agencies after the September 11 terrorist attacks, said the intelligence community had misused those powers by collecting telephone records on all Americans, and claimed it was time “to put their metadata program out of business”.
His imminent bill in the House of Representatives is expected to be matched by a similar proposal from Senate judiciary committee chair Patrick Leahy, a Democrat. It pulls together existing congressional efforts to reform the National Security Agency in the wake of disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
It seeks to limit the collection of phone records to known terrorist suspects; to end “secret laws” by making courts disclose surveillance policies; to create a special court advocate to represent privacy interests; and to allow companies to disclose how many requests for users’ information they receive from the USA. The bill also tightens up language governing overseas surveillance to remove a loophole which it has been abused to target internet and email activities of Americans.
In July, a temporary measure to defund the NSA bulk collection programme was narrowly defeated in a 217 to 205 vote in the House, but Sensenbrenner said the appetite for greater privacy protections had only grown since.
Instead, the main opposition to Sensenbrenner and Leahy’s twin-pronged effort is likely to come from the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, who is supportive of the NSA but who has proposed separate legislation focusing on greater transparency and checks rather than an outright ban on bulk collection.
Of course Feinstein is going to push to block real NSA restrictions, she is one of the most authoritarian members of Congress, not to mention married to a gigantic crony capitalist, fraud artist.
It just keeps getting creepier and creepier. So far, I can’t find many english language articles on this disturbing event, but The Guardian has posted some key information on their website. It informs us that:
A Bulgarian-German novelist and privacy activist was on Monday refused entry to the US, writes the Guardian’s Berlin correspondent Philip Oltermann.
Ilija Trojanow, who had been on his way to a literary conference in Denver, was told at Salvador da Bahia airport, Brazil, that US authorities wouldn’t allow him into the country. He was told his case was “special”, but was given no further explanation for his rejection.
Trojanow was one of the initiators of an open protest letter against NSA surveillance which was signed by 67,407 members of the public and handed over to the German chancellor last month.
We need to change the poetic words on the base of the Statue of Liberty from:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Give me your thieving, your most wretched,
Your parasitic oligarch cronies, longing to steal unmolested
The lowest of the banksters the world can offer
Send them, the sociopaths, looking for ripe pastures of dumbed down slaves
I lift my printing press to thee crony souls!
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The situation below describes something that goes way beyond the usual revolving door that now represents the core characteristic of the crony capitalist, ponzi U.S. economy. No, the likely appointment of Valerie Caproni as a federal judge in one of the most important districts in America represents an even more sinister trend, a trend that is a core characteristic of all totalitarian regimes that have ever existed. What I am referring to is the fact that all deeply corrupt regimes with tyrannical tendencies will promote and embed the nastiest, most flawed characters possible into positions of power because they will do the dirty deeds most normal, decent people would never consider. Basically, you decide to promote those who have the most destructive track records possible to serve as your praetorian guard. It was this signal that demonstrated to me that Obama was a total fraud very early in his Presidency. It was clear the moment he promoted two of the most destructive human beings in the nation to powerful financial and economic positions, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. Well now we can add a new one to the list: Valerie Caproni.
Valerie has an unblemished track record of surveillance abuse appeasement that would make almost any civil liberties tyrant’s mouth water. She was the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003-2011, during which time she objected to the few objections that the secret FISA court offered. Moreover, she seemed to relish in the fact that the government can do whatever it wants in secret. Oh and did I mention she’s an executive a Northrop Grumman? Good times.
She’s scheduled for a vote on her judgeship today, and I have no doubt she will receive the position. Just as I assume Larry Summers will be appointed head of the Federal Reserve. These days, the very worst in America always rise to the top. More from the Guardian:
Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York.
Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the Fisa surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers.
“It is a shame that the White House has chosen to nominate former FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni to a lifelong position as a federal judge given her narrow views of Americans’ privacy rights as demonstrated by her actions in the George W Bush administration,” said Lisa Graves, a Justice Department official in the Clinton and early Bush administrations.
A representative of the defense company Northrop Grumman, where Caproni currently serves as an executive, said Caproni was not available for interviews.
What are you thinking, Mr President?
Is this really the legacy you want for yourself: the chief executive who trampled rights, destroyed privacy, heightened secrecy, ruined trust, and worst of all, did not defend but instead detoured around so many of the fundamental principles on which this country is founded?
And I voted for you. I’ll confess you were a second choice. I supported Hillary Clinton first. I said at the time that your rhetoric about change was empty and that I feared you would be another Jimmy Carter: aggressively ineffectual.
Never did I imagine that you would instead become another Richard Nixon: imperial, secretive, vindictive, untrustworthy, inexplicable.
- Jeff Jarvis in the Guardian
Jeff Jarvis is a journalist, a professor and a self-proclaimed Democrat. While my readers know all too well what I think about these fraudulent political mafias, I mean parties, the older generation still has an archaic attachment to them. I suspect this emanates from some long forgotten time when there was actually a meaningful difference between the two.
Personally, I am quite pleased that pretty much nobody I know from my generation or below identifies with such silly notions as being a “Republican” or “Democrat.” However, I recognize that it does still retain meaning to a majority within the older generations, so when one of of them who identifies with a particular party becomes so disgusted that they turn on their tribal affiliation’s leadership, it can present a significant moment. I believe that Jeff Jarvis has created one of those moments and I strongly suggest you read his op-ed. From The Guardian:
A month ago, I wrote a piece titled: If Flying into the UK, Your Phone Can Be Seized and Data Downloaded Without Suspicion. As you might suspect, the focus of the piece was something called schedule 7 of the UK’s Terrorism Act of 2000, which allows authorities to stop and search people “without prior authorization or reasonable suspicion.” Not only that, they are not automatically permitted access to legal counsel during the interrogation and they must cooperate. Oh, and your electronic devices can be confiscated.
I chose to write that article at the time to highlight the myriad ways it could be grossly abused. Well now we a very high profile example of such abuse as Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda was stopped for nine hours (the maximum allowed), his electronics were confiscated, and we have no explanation from the Home Office as to why he was considered a terrorist threat.
Here’s an idea for investigative journalists and activists worldwide. Do not fly through the UK unless you absolutely have to. More from The Guardian:
The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London’s Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.
David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05 am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.
The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. Accordingto official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.
Miranda was released, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.
“This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process,” Greenwald said. “To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ. The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere.
Back in May, I covered the hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay, which at the time consisted of 100 of 166 detainees. I noted how the American Medical Association (AMA) expressed concern that the force feeding of many of these detainees was contrary to medical ethics. A lawyer for one of the detainees described the force feeding practice thus:
“It can be extremely painful. One of my clients said that it’s like having a razor blade go down through your nose and into your throat,” Remes said.
It’s one thing to read about such practices, but it’s quite another to see them administered on another human being. Famous rapper and actor, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), decided to go through the procedure and videotape it. So here’s a look at what 44 detainees are being subjected to twice a day by the U.S. government. WARNING: the video might make you squeamish so be forewarned.
Conventional airpower or missiles are far less precise than drones, and likely to cause more civilian casualties and local outrage.
- Barrack Obama in a May, 23 2013 speech
I’ve never witnessed a bigger pathological liar in my entire life than U.S. President Barack Obama. Not only has pretty much every word out of his mouth been a complete and total deception since he took office, I firmly believes he fundamentally loves the act of lying. This post covers one of the biggest lies Obama has told the American public, and indeed the world, with regard to drone strikes. This lie is particularly important since I would guess at least 90% of the public believes it to be true.
A recent study by a U.S. military advisor shows that not only are drone strikes more likely to harm civilians per incident, but they are 10x more likely to do so. This lie is right up there with Obama’s recent statement that he “won’t scramble jets to capture Edward Snowden.” Of course, that’s precisely what he did yesterday. Now, from The Guardian:
A study conducted by a US military adviser has found that drone strikes in Afghanistan during a year of the protracted conflict caused 10 times more civilian casualties than strikes by manned fighter aircraft.
The new study, referred to in an official US military journal, contradicts claims by US officials that the robotic planes are more precise than their manned counterparts.
It appears to undermine the claim made by President Obama in a May speech that “conventional airpower or missiles are far less precise than drones, and likely to cause more civilian casualties and local outrage”.
Drone strikes in Afghanistan, the study found, according to its unclassified executive summary, were “an order of magnitude more likely to result in civilian casualties per engagement.”
Larry Lewis, a principal research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses, a research group with close ties to the US military, studied air strikes in Afghanistan from mid-2010 to mid-2011, using classified military data on the strikes and the civilian casualties they caused. Lewis told the Guardian he found that the missile strikes conducted by remotely piloted aircraft, commonly known as drones, were 10 times more deadly to Afghan civilians than those performed by fighter jets.
Barrett Brown is an American political prisoner who’s struggle I have highlighted in the past. Most notably in my article earlier this year, Barrett Brown: A Jailed American Dissident. It was through Barrett’s investigative journalism that I was able to learn about the shadiness of Booz Allen Hamilton and the defense contract industry generally well before Edward Snowden’s leaks came on the scene. Well now he has written a note from prison, published by The Guardian of course. Some excerpts:
It’s a fine thing to see mainstream American media outlets finally sparing some of their attention toward the cyber-industrial complex – that unprecedented conglomeration of state, military and corporate interests that together exercise growing power over the flow of information. It would be even more heartening if so many of the nation’s most influential voices, from senator to pundits, were not clearly intent on killing off even this belated scrutiny into the invisible empire that so thoroughly scrutinizes us – at our own expense and to unknown ends.
Besides, the government to which we’re ceding these broad new powers is a democracy, overseen by real, live Americans. And it’s hard to imagine American government officials abusing their powers – or at least, it would be, had such officials not already abused similar but more limited powers through repeated campaigns of disinformation, intimidation and airtight crimes directed at the American public over the last five decades. Cointelpro, Operation Mockingbird, Ultra and Chaos are among the now-acknowledged CIA, FBI and NSA programs by which those agencies managed to subvert American democracy with impunity. Supporters of mass surveillance conducted under the very same agencies have yet to address how such abuses can be insured against in the context of powers far greater than anything J Edgar Hoover could command.
Many have never heard of these programs; the sort of people who trust states with secret authority tend not to know what such things have led to in the recent past. Those who do know of such things may perhaps contend that these practices would never be repeated today. But it was just two years ago that the late Michael Hastings revealed that US army officials in Afghanistan were conducting psy-ops against visiting US senators in order to sway them towards continued funding for that unsuccessful war. If military and intelligence officials have so little respect for the civilian leadership, one can guess how they feel about mere civilians.