Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* ARE “PROFESSIONAL” POLITICIANS THE PROBLEM?
Source: Washington’s Blog
Democracy v. Demarchy
Do we really need politicians?
And American democracy – once a glorious thing – has devolved into an oligarchy, according to two leading IMF officials, the former Vice President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, the the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Moody’s chief economist and many others.
This is not how it was supposed to be. Thomas Jefferson envisioned “citizen farmers” who served in political office for a few years, and then went back to their normal jobs.
Reader Eric H. has a very interesting take on the whole question of politics and democracy:
“I was curious about Athenian democracy, and when I was poking around I was very surprised to find out that traditionally, a state in which the people voted for their public officials was known as an oligarchy. This was because that even if not at first, then eventually the government would devolve to a small, homogenous group that had enough political power to disregard the will of the people. Today we define oligarchy as simply “the rule of the few,” but that’s only the symptom; the Greeks understood that the disease was the delegation of political power through elections. Sounds radical, I know.
Today we call it representative democracy, but that’s just a euphemism (perhaps the most pervasive euphemism in history). It’s hard to understand how giving up the power to make the decisions that affect one’s life could be considered to be any kind of democracy. Even though the definitions have been changed, there is ample evidence to show that the ancients were correct, much of which has been chronicled on your site. And it’s an explanation that makes a lot of sense; rather than a secret conspiracy for world domination, maybe our problems are down to a deluded public repeatedly making the same mistakes.
I think a discussion about whether we should elect our public officials and lawmakers is important because:
1) It’s mind boggling to consider how many people (hundreds of millions? billions?) have been hoodwinked into thinking that because they might occasionally have some (extremely limited) political influence, they have some kind of political power
2) It’s heartbreaking when the first order of business of a people who wrest political power at a terrific cost is to give it away in the hope that this time they will choose the right oligarchs
3) It would make it possible to understand “the end of history” as the emergence of oligarchy as the dominant form of government in the world (great if you’re an oligarch, not so great for the rest of us)
4) It might mitigate the suffering caused by seeing the same often cretinous or senile career politicians year after year
5) The creeping feeling that by bothering less and less with the pretense of democracy, our ruling class feels almost secure enough to drop it altogether and take off the gloves.
The Athenians cured the disease of oligarchy by randomly choosing their public officials and submitting legislation to popular vote. There were other checks and balances, but those were the main features. I think that until we adopt some combination of those two processes, our political situation is unlikely to improve, even if the ills of oligarchy take a long time to manifest themselves. Quite a few people have actually given a lot of thought to how we might adopt aspects of the Athenian system; a web search on sortition and demarchy will yield a lot material.
We really need to challenge our most basic assumptions if we want things to change.” […]
* FOURTH CIRCUIT GUTS NATIONAL SECURITY INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM EVERYWHERE IT MATTERS
By Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel
The Fourth Circuit — which covers CIA, JSOC, and NSA’s territory — just ruled that journalists who are witnesses to alleged crimes (or participants, the opinion ominously notes) must testify in the trial.
There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify by the prosecution or the defense in criminal proceedings about criminal conduct that the reporter personally witnessed or participated in, absent a showing of bad faith, harassment, or other such non-legitimate motive, even though the reporter promised confidentiality to his source.
With this language, the Fourth applies the ruling in Branzburg — which, after all, pertained to the observation of a drug-related crime — to a news-gathering activity, the receipt of classified information for all the states in which it most matters.
The opinion goes on to echo DOJ’s claims (which I recalled just yesterday) that Risen’s testimony is specifically necessary.
Indeed, he can provide the only first-hand account of the commission of a most serious crime indicted by the grand jury –- the illegal disclosure of classified, national security information by one who was entrusted by our government to protect national security, but who is charged with having endangered it instead.
There is no dispute that the information sought from Risen is relevant. Moreover, it “can[not] be obtained by alternative means.” Id. at 1139. The circumstantial evidence that the government has been able to glean from incomplete and inconclusive documents, and from the hearsay statements of witnesses with no personal or first-hand knowledge of the critical aspects of the charged crimes, does not serve as a fair or reasonable substitute.
Risen is the only eyewitness to the crime. He is inextricably involved in it. Without him, the alleged crime would not have occurred, since he was the recipient of illegally-disclosed, classified information. And it was through the publication of his book, State of War, that the classified information made its way into the public domain. He is the only witness who can specify the classified information that he received, and the source or sources from whom he received it.
Clearly, Risen’s direct, first-hand account of the criminal conduct indicted by the grand jury cannot be obtained by alternative means, as Risen is without dispute the only witness who can offer this critical testimony.
This language will enhance the strength of the reservation DOJ made to its News Media Policies, allowing it to require testimony if it is essential to successful prosecution. […]
* FBI DOCUMENT – “[DELETED]” PLOTS TO KILL OCCUPY LEADERS “IF DEEMED NECESSARY”
By David Lindorff, WhoWhatWhy
Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?
Would you be surprised to learn that this intelligence comes not from a shadowy whistle-blower but from the FBI itself – specifically, from a document obtained from Houston FBI office last December, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Washington, DC-based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund?
To repeat: this comes from the FBI itself. The question, then, is: What did the FBI do about it?
Remember the Occupy Movement? The peaceful crowds that camped out in the center of a number of cities in the fall of 2011, calling for some recognition by local, state and federal authorities that our democratic system was out of whack, controlled by corporate interests, and in need of immediate repair?
That movement swept the US beginning in mid-September 2011. When, in early October, the movement came to Houston, Texas, law enforcement officials and the city’s banking and oil industry executives freaked out perhaps even more so than they did in some other cities. The push-back took the form of violent assaults by police on Occupy activists, federal and local surveillance of people seen as organizers, infiltration by police provocateurs—and, as crazy as it sounds, some kind of plot to assassinate the “leaders” of this non-violent and leaderless movement.
But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what the document obtained from the Houston FBI, said:
An identified [DELETED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors (sic) in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary. An identified [DELETED] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [DELETED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles. (Note: protests continued throughout the weekend with approximately 6000 persons in NYC. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests have spread to about half of all states in the US, over a dozen European and Asian cities, including protests in Cleveland (10/6-8/11) at Willard Park which was initially attended by hundreds of protesters.) […]
* LANDSCAPES OF EMERGENCY: MILITARIZING PUBLIC SPACE
Source: Roar Collective
This short documentary reveals the undeclared state of emergency that casts its shadow over the functions of public space in crisis-ridden Athens today.
By the team behind the City at a Time of Crisis research project.
Landscapes of Emergency is a brief glance over the undeclared state of emergency that casts its shadow over the functions and the phenomena of public space in Athens today, at this time of crisis. Relying upon the readings of two lawyers, it attempts a passage through the dark landscapes that the new dogma of public security leaves in its wake. And it chooses to view the crisis as a way of managing urban everydayness, as a way of managing it militarily. It comprises a thematic intervention-deflection as part of The Space That Remains, a research strand of the project The City at a Time of Crisis. Yet through its deflecting characteristics it simply reaffirms the initial fears that led to the creation of this research strand. In other words, it confirms that the space that remains is ever-lessening and that the state of emergency educates us to live, in the end, with this loss. More attempts to articulate these fears are hosted at the The Space That Remains strand on crisis-scape.net.
Produced by Ross Domoney, Christos Filippidis and Dimitris Dalakoglou
Filmed and edited by Ross Domoney
Research by Christos Filippidis
Script editing by Dimitris Dalakoglou and Christos Filippidis
Special thanks to Eleni Vradi
* FUNDRAISER FOR KOSTAS SAKKAS
Via Roberta Gogos
Pumpkin Records + Riot Ska Records Presents A Benefit For Kostas Sakkas: Release Sunday 21st July, loads of bands, loads of unreleased tracks, pay what you want, all money goes towards raising 30,000 Euros for his bail fund.
Please share and re-post.
For more information:
READ Wiki – Kostas Sakkas @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kostas_Sakkas
* DEDICATED TO CARLO GIULIANA – RAGAZZO – 20 JULY 2001
Genoa, 20 July 2001. There is the G8 in the city. The ‘great’ capitalist powers of the world meet to decide the fate of billions of men and women on earth. A huge mass movement opposes. There are some violent clashes. A policeman pulls out his gun and shoots straight in the face Carlo Giuliani. To Carlo Giuliani killed by Gianfranco Fini by order of the great international finance capital.
* FORMER CIA MILAN CHIEF EN ROUTE TO USA AFTER BEING DETAINED IN PANAMA
Robert Seldon Lady was convicted in absentia in Italy four years ago for kidnapping an Egyptian Muslim cleric
Former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, who was convicted in Italy of kidnapping an Egyptian Muslim cleric and recently arrested in Panama, is headed back to the United States, a State Department spokeswoman said on Friday.
“It is my understanding that he is in fact either en route or back in the United States,” said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman.
She said she had no further details on whether he would be questioned by US authorities, or whether the United States would cooperate with Italy on this case.
Italy’s top court last year upheld a guilty verdict against Seldon Lady for the kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr who was snatched from a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation where he says he was tortured.
Seldon Lady was among 23 Americans sentenced in absentia for the abduction of the cleric by an Italian judge in 2009, and he was given a nine-year jail term.
He was quoted as telling Il Giornale newspaper in 2009 that he was not guilty and was carrying out orders from his superiors.
Also in that interview, he said he had wanted to stay in Italy but his retirement villa with vineyards had been seized to cover court costs.
The CIA declined comment. [...]
* I HEREBY RESIGN IN PROTEST EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY
By Brandon Toy, CommonDreams
I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.
I hereby resign in protest effective immediately.
I have served the post-911 Military Industrial complex for 10 years, first as a soldier in Baghdad, and now as a defense contractor.
At the time of my enlistment, I believed in the cause. I was ignorant, naïve, and misled. The narrative, professed by the state, and echoed by the mainstream press, has proven false and criminal. We have become what I thought we were fighting against.
Recent revelations by fearless journalists of war crimes including counterinsurgency “dirty” wars, drone terrorism, the suspension of due process, torture, mass surveillance, and widespread regulatory capture have shed light on the true nature of the current US Government. I encourage you to read more about these topics at the links I have provided below.
Some will say that I am being irresponsible, impractical, and irrational. Others will insist that I am crazy. I have come to believe that the true insanity is doing nothing. As long as we sit in comfort, turning a blind eye to the injustices of the world, nothing will change. It is even worse to play an active part, protesting all along that I am not the true criminal.
I was only a foot soldier, and am now a low level clerk. However, I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.
Brandon M. Toy
Stryker Engineering Project Management
General Dynamics Land Systems
Sterling Heights, Michigan […]