HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » marmar » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next »

marmar

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 72,866

Journal Archives

Totalitarian Paranoia in the Post-Orwellian Surveillance State


Totalitarian Paranoia in the Post-Orwellian Surveillance State

Monday, 10 February 2014 09:15
By Henry A Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed


Surveillance, in any land where it is ubiquitous and inescapable, generates distrust and divisions among its citizens, curbs their readiness to speak freely to each other, and diminishes their willingness to even dare to think freely.

-Ariel Dorfman


The revelations of whistle-blowers such as Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden about government lawlessness and corporate spying provide a new meaning if not a revitalized urgency and relevance to George Orwell's dystopian fable 1984. Orwell offered his readers an image of the modern state that had become dystopian - one in which privacy as a civil virtue and a crucial right was no longer valued as a measure of the robust strength of a healthy and thriving democracy. Orwell was clear that the right to privacy had come under egregious assault. But the right to privacy pointed to something more sinister than the violation of individual rights. When ruthlessly transgressed, the issue of privacy became a moral and political principle by which to assess the nature, power and severity of an emerging totalitarian state. As important as Orwell's warning was in shedding light on the horrors of mid-20th century totalitarianism and the endless regimes of state spying imposed on citizens, the text serves as a brilliant but limited metaphor for mapping the expansive trajectory of global surveillance and authoritarianism now characteristic of the first decades of the new millennium. As Marjorie Cohn has indicated, "Orwell never could have imagined that the National Security Agency (NSA) would amass metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day. Orwell could not have foreseen that our government would read the content of our emails, file transfers, and live chats from the social media we use."

In his videotaped Christmas message, Snowden references Orwell's warning of "the dangers of microphones, video cameras and TVs that watch us," allowing the state to regulate subjects within the most intimate spaces of private life. But these older modes of surveillance, Snowden elaborates, however, are nothing compared to what is used to infringe on our personal privacy today. For Snowden, the threat posed by the new surveillance state can be measured by its reach and use of technologies that far outdate anything Orwell envisioned and pose a much greater threat to the privacy rights of citizens and the reach of sovereign powers. He reiterates this point by reminding his viewers that "a child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all - they will never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought." Snowden is right about the danger to privacy rights but his analysis fails to go far enough in linking together the question of surveillance with the rise of "networked societies," global flows of power and the emergence of the totalitarian state.

The democratic ideal rooted in the right to privacy under the modernist state in which Orwell lived out his political imagination has been transformed and mutilated, almost beyond recognition. Just as Orwell's fable has morphed over time into a combination of "realistic novel," real-life documentary and a form of reality TV, privacy has been altered radically in an age of permanent, 'nonstop' global exchange and circulation. So, too, and in the current period of historical amnesia, privacy has been redefined through the material and ideological registers of a neoliberal order in which the right to privacy has succumbed to the seductions of a narcissistic culture and casino capitalism's unending necessity to turn every relationship into an act of commerce and to make all aspects of daily life visible and subject to data manipulation. In a world devoid of care, compassion and protection, privacy is no longer connected and resuscitated through its connection to public life, the common good or a vulnerability born of the recognition of the frailty of human life. In a world in which the worst excesses of capitalism are unchecked, privacy is nurtured in a zone of historical amnesia, indifferent to its transformation and demise under a "broad set of panoptic practices." Consequently, culture loses its power as the bearer of public memory in a social order where a consumerist-driven ethic "makes impossible any shared recognition of common interests or goals" and furthers the collective indifference to the growth of the surveillance state.

Surveillance has become a growing feature of daily life. In fact, it is more appropriate to analyze the culture of surveillance, rather than address exclusively the violations committed by the corporate-surveillance state. In this instance, the surveillance and security state is one that not only listens, watches and gathers massive amounts of information through data mining necessary for identifying consumer populations but also acculturates the public into accepting the intrusion of surveillance technologies and privatized commodified values into all aspects of their lives. Personal information is willingly given over to social media and other corporate-based websites and gathered daily as people move from one targeted web site to the next across multiple screens and digital apparatuses. As Ariel Dorfman points out, “social media users gladly give up their liberty and privacy, invariably for the most benevolent of platitudes and reasons,” all the while endlessly shopping online and texting. This collecting of information might be most evident in the video cameras that inhabit every public space from the streets, commercial establishments and workplaces to the schools our children attend as well as in the myriad scanners placed at the entry points of airports, stores, sporting events and the like. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21656-totalitarian-paranoia-in-the-post-orwellian-surveillance-state



San Francisco: Pedestrian death nothing new on perilous Sunset Boulevard


from the SF Chronicle:


[font size="1"]The day after a pedestrian was killed crossing Sunset Boulevard at Yorba Street, a woman waits to cross at the same spot. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle[/font]


People who live or work near Sunset Boulevard on San Francisco's western edge were saddened when a 78-year-old man was fatally struck by a car last week while traveling across the street in a crosswalk. But they weren't surprised.

Those who have walked along the 2 1/2-mile corridor that runs parallel to the shore are familiar with the dangers that come with negotiating the busy six-lane thoroughfare - where 44 pedestrians have been struck from 2005 to 2011, according to city records.

The street has been identified by officials as one of the San Francisco's high-injury trouble areas, an outlier on a list of streets closer to downtown. And the city has sought to make it safer.

But as the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the city continues to rise, raising alarm in the streets and at City Hall, pedestrian safety advocates say it's time to take a harder look at problem streets like Sunset Boulevard - and make some drastic changes. ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Pedestrian-death-nothing-new-on-perilous-Sunset-5219707.php



WaPo: Contractor says Silver Line is complete; MWAA now has 15 days to decide




By Lori Aratani, Published: February 7


The contractor building the first phase of the Silver Line submitted documents Friday saying that construction and testing on the rail line is complete, officials said, setting the stage for Metro to take control of the rail line as early as this month.

It will now be up to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to review thousands of pages of documents to see if it agrees. It will have 15 calendar days to decide.

Metro officials, who will manage and operate the Silver Line, also will take part in the review, although they have not yet taken charge of the rail extension.

“We have a daunting task to complete within the next two weeks,” said Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the rail project. “We have to be very thorough to ensure that everything that is required to be there is there.” ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/contractor-says-silver-line-is-complete-mwaa-now-has-15-days-to-decide/2014/02/07/4ac7bba8-9023-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html



Pilots heading to wrong airport -- not as uncommon as you might think.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Do you know the way to San Jose? Quite a few airline pilots apparently don't.

On at least 150 flights, including one involving a Southwest Airlines jet last month in Missouri and a jumbo cargo plane last fall in Kansas, U.S. commercial air carriers have either landed at the wrong airport or started to land and realized their mistake in time, according to a search by The Associated Press of government safety databases and media reports since the early 1990s.

A particular trouble spot is San Jose, Calif. The list of landing mistakes includes six reports of pilots preparing to land at Moffett Field, a joint civilian-military airport, when they meant to go to Mineta San Jose International Airport, about 10 miles to the southeast. The airports are south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley.

"This event occurs several times every winter in bad weather when we work on Runway 12," a San Jose airport tower controller said in a November 2012 report describing how an airliner headed for Moffett after being cleared to land at San Jose. A controller at a different facility who noticed the impending landing on radar warned his colleagues with a telephone hotline that piped his voice directly into the San Jose tower's loudspeakers. The plane was waved off in time. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_289563/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=Q8v7pyKf



Professor Richard Wolff: A Cure for Capitalism





some background on "A Cure for Capitalism", from an earlier interview:

.....(snip).....

Mark Karlin: Refreshingly, you offer a key alternative to capitalism in decline. You promote Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDE) in Part III of your book. What would be a succinct description of a WSDE?

Richard Wolff: Quite simply, a WSDE entails the workers who make whatever a corporation sells also functioning - collectively and democratically - as their own board of directors. WSDEs thereby abolish the capitalist differentiation and opposition of surplus producers versus surplus appropriators. Instead, the workers themselves cooperatively run their own enterprise, thereby bringing democracy inside the enterprise where capitalism had long excluded it.

Mark Karlin: In your sixth chapter, you contrast WSDEs with worker-owned enterprises, worker-managed enterprises and cooperatives. What are the primary differences?

Richard Wolff: Workers have a long history of multiple kinds of cooperatives. That is, workers can cooperatively own (e.g. their pension fund holds shares in the company that employs them), buy (e.g. the many food coops around the country), sell (e.g. grape growers who combine to market their outputs), and manage (e.g. workers take turns supervising themselves). All such cooperatives can and often do co-exist with a capitalist organization of production in the precise sense of workers being excluded from the decisions of what, how and where to produce and what to do with the profits. What makes WSDEs unique is precisely that they are about cooperative production, about ending the capitalist division of producers from appropriators of the surplus, and replacing it with democratic cooperative decisions governing production and the social use of its fruits. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.rdwolff.com/content/democracy-work-cure-capitalism



Robert Reich: Why the Lousy Jobs Report Boosted Wall Street


.......(snip).......

(1) The Fed will now continue to keep interest rates low. Yes, it has announced its intention of tapering off its so-called “quantitative easing” by buying fewer long-term bonds in the months ahead. But it will likely slow down the tapering. Instead of going down to $55 billion a month of bond-buying by April, it will stay at around $60 billion to $70 billion.

(2) The slowdown in the Fed’s tapering will continue to make buying shares of stock a better deal than buying bonds – thereby pushing investors toward the stock market.

.......(snip).......

(4) With the job situation so poor, most workers will be so desperate to keep their jobs, or land one, that they will work for even less. This will keep profits high, make balance sheets look good, fuel higher stock prices.

But what’s bad for Main Street and good for Wall Street in the short term is bad for both in the long term. The American economy is at a crawl. Median household incomes are dropping. The American middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to keep the economy going. And as companies focus ever more on short-term share prices at the expense of long-term growth, we’re in for years of sluggish performance. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_the_lousy_jobs_report_boosted_wall_street_20140210



Chris Hedges: Legalizing Oppression


from truthdig:


Legalizing Oppression

Posted on Feb 9, 2014
By Chris Hedges


The lynching and disbarring of civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart, who because she has terminal cancer was recently released from prison after serving four years of a 10-year sentence, is a window into the collapse of the American legal system. Stewart—who has stood up to state power for more than three decades in order to give a voice to those whom authorities seek to crush, who has spent her life defending the poor and the marginalized, who wept in court when one of her clients was barred from presenting a credible defense—is everything a lawyer should be in an open society. But we no longer live in an open society. The persecution of Stewart is the persecution of us all.

Stewart, 74, is living with her husband in her son’s house in New York City after being released from a Texas prison a month ago. Because she is disbarred she cannot perform any legal work. “Can’t even work in a law office,” she said softly last week when I interviewed her at the Brooklyn home. “I miss it so terribly. I liked it. I liked the work.”

Her career as one of the country’s most renowned civil rights lawyers coincided with the fall of our legal system. She said that when she started practicing law in the 1970s it was a “golden era” in which a series of legal decisions—including rulings affecting police lineups and what information and evidence the government had to turn over to defendants on trial—created a chance for a fair defense. But these legal advances were reversed in a string of court decisions that, especially after 9/11, made the state omnipotent. As citizens were stripped of power, she said, “a death of the spirit of the bar” occurred. Lawyers gave up, she said. They no longer saw defending people accused of crime as “a calling, something that you did because you were answering a higher voice.”

“I don’t want to make anything a kind of religious thing, it wasn’t that, but you know, you defended people because they were up against the mightiest organism in the universe: the government of United States, whether they were state or federal,” she said Thursday evening as we sat with her husband, Ralph Poynter, at her son’s dining room table. .................................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/legalizing_oppression_201402091



Professor Richard Wolff: A Cure for Capitalism




some background on "A Cure for Capitalism", from an earlier interview:

.....(snip).....

Mark Karlin: Refreshingly, you offer a key alternative to capitalism in decline. You promote Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises (WSDE) in Part III of your book. What would be a succinct description of a WSDE?

Richard Wolff: Quite simply, a WSDE entails the workers who make whatever a corporation sells also functioning - collectively and democratically - as their own board of directors. WSDEs thereby abolish the capitalist differentiation and opposition of surplus producers versus surplus appropriators. Instead, the workers themselves cooperatively run their own enterprise, thereby bringing democracy inside the enterprise where capitalism had long excluded it.

Mark Karlin: In your sixth chapter, you contrast WSDEs with worker-owned enterprises, worker-managed enterprises and cooperatives. What are the primary differences?

Richard Wolff: Workers have a long history of multiple kinds of cooperatives. That is, workers can cooperatively own (e.g. their pension fund holds shares in the company that employs them), buy (e.g. the many food coops around the country), sell (e.g. grape growers who combine to market their outputs), and manage (e.g. workers take turns supervising themselves). All such cooperatives can and often do co-exist with a capitalist organization of production in the precise sense of workers being excluded from the decisions of what, how and where to produce and what to do with the profits. What makes WSDEs unique is precisely that they are about cooperative production, about ending the capitalist division of producers from appropriators of the surplus, and replacing it with democratic cooperative decisions governing production and the social use of its fruits. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.rdwolff.com/content/democracy-work-cure-capitalism


Capitalism's Crisis of Value and Imagination


Capitalism's Crisis of Value and Imagination

Saturday, 08 February 2014 09:33
By Max Haiven, Zed Books/Truthout | Book Excerpt


You, dear reader, are on the front lines of a war. It is a war between money and the earth, between capital and people, between the blunt stupidity of greed and the resilient creativity of humanity. Perhaps they have destroyed or will destroy the ecosystem in which you live in the name of profit. Perhaps your body or your soul is wrecked or in the process of breaking down because you must work a meaningless, oppressive job to make enough money to survive – or perhaps you like your job but feel the ever-present shadow of the axe in this age of budget cuts and rationalization. Perhaps you are devalued by the colour of your skin, the country of your origin, or your perceived gender or sexuality and feel that devaluation in the form of prejudice, exploitation, intimidation or xenophobia. Usually you will feel it economically too. Perhaps you are among or will be among those statistics that indicate that the largest single cause of the breakdown of marriages and relationships is financial hardship. Perhaps you can no longer recognize yourself after years of seeking success or enduring failure. Perhaps you feel guilty for the ways your economic privilege is fed by the exploitation of others, the way your (relatively) cheap iPod or clothing depends on the incarceration of young people in factories on the other side of the earth. In any case, unless you are extremely fortunate, or extremely avaricious, what and who you love and value has been or will be undermined by capitalism at some point and in some way.

Of Value and Values

According to free-market ideologues, capitalism is the ultimate system for assigning value to the world's wealth. By bringing people's wants, needs and desires together into an open market, capitalism will accurately and efficiently price things as diverse as the cost of an hour of a shoemaker's time, a loaf of bread, the value of a river, or the price of a song on iTunes. These utopian dreamers, whose thinking has become associated with the term 'neoliberalism', believe that by mobilizing people's competitiveness and inherently acquisitive human nature, capitalism is, ultimately, value-neutral – markets are simply egalitarian arenas of exchange. The truth, of course, is quite different. The value of the market itself has become the overarching and unquestionable arbiter of almost every aspect of human existence today. All social, moral, ethical, and personal values are subordinate to the value of money. The result is a system where, in almost every case, the perceived needs of the market trump any other considerations.

Consider, for instance, the dramatic failure of some of the largest assemblies of world leaders in human history to take meaningful action in the face of global warming and the catastrophic climate change it will unleash. In spite of an unprecedented near-consensus of global scientists, and in spite of the evidence that the continuation of present levels of carbon emissions would lead to the destruction of the lives and livelihoods of millions (perhaps billions) of (mostly poor, brown) people, it was ultimately decided that the perceived needs of capitalist markets were more important, and that no action that in any way impeded or jeopardized 'economic growth' would be taken.

Such a perversion of any reasonable notion of what is valuable is, sadly, neither new nor shocking. It occurs everywhere, all the time. Individuals and communities around the world are left to languish in poverty, ill health and strife because markets demand lower taxes, access to resources and cheap labour. Whole nations and populations are ruined by speculative investment because markets desire the unfettered ability to gamble on currencies, food prices and government bonds. In the age of austerity, hospitals, pensions, mental health services, schools and universities and even civil infrastructure must be abandoned in the name of plugging the bleeding holes in the crisis-ridden market. And everywhere the value of the earth and the value of individuals and their labour is measured exclusively in their capacity to render profit for increasingly uncontrollable and unanswerable corporations and the god-like market they serve. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/21647-capitalisms-crisis-of-value-and-imagination



The Third Way is "concerned" about all this populist talk


MIAMI (AP) — When former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist announced he'd run as a Democrat for his old job in 2014, Democratic leaders rejoiced at the prospect of a pragmatic candidate who could win back centrist Republicans and independent voters who had soured on incumbent Rick Scott.

But Crist is taking a hard turn left as his campaign begins to take shape.

He has embraced President Barack Obama's health care law even as many Democrats distancing themselves from it. He supports efforts to legalize medical marijuana and to overturn the gay marriage ban he initially backed. He has called for an increase in the minimum wage, something he once voted against.

"Tallahassee is out of control," he told hundreds of supporters in declaring his candidacy. "The voice of the people has been silenced by the financial bullies and the special interests."

.....(more).....

Matt Bennett, a co-founder of the centrist Democratic group Third Way, warned that "us-versus-them, people-versus-powerful rhetoric" could hurt Democrats in the most contested states. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/08/charlie-crist-campaign_n_4751598.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next »