Only Tyrants Ban Journalists From Press Conferences

U.S. politics continues spinning out of control. From The New York Times:

Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.

Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in, chose not to attend the briefing in protest of the White House’s actions.

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

It’s pretty simple: Trump’s administration bars media outlets because media outlets expose their lies and self-interest. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans have been radicalized by right-wing propaganda posing as news (Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson) and nonsense-spouting opportunists (Alex Jones, Ann Coulter, and, back in the day, Glenn Beck).

Politicians and leaders who attack science, journalism, women’s rights, the poor and minorities are the bad guys. Don’t be on the same team as the bad guys.

On Today’s Awful Hate Crime In Orlando

Well fuck this horror. Dan Savage covers the massacre comprehensively here. Jeet Heer weighs in here. The Guardian has its usual excellent coverage here. There’s a candlelight vigil at Q Nightclub in a few minutes (8 p.m., 2070 Broad St.). It’s open to all ages and everyone’s welcome.

A few additional thoughts:

1. On religion Faith-based bigotry has got to end. Doesn’t matter if its Christians, Jews, Muslims or Rastafarians — there needs to be be zero tolerance of any beliefs that any alleged deities oppose LGBTQ equality. We saw again today that bigoted religious ideas have deadly consequences for LGBTQ people. If your church/synogogue/mosque/faith community is prejudiced against queers, leave it for a better one (or if you’re tuff, fight back and change it).

2. On conservatives Both in Canada and south of the border, conservatism has become synonymous with both unrestricted gun owner rights and homophobia. Guns case in point: in 2014 then-Justice Minister Peter MacKay wore a shirt supporting ownership of assault rifles. What an asshole. And homophobia? Two words: Brad Trost. Canada’s Conservatives only reversed their bigoted official position on same-sex marriage a couple of weeks ago — kinda late, guys. I want to live in a country where conservatism is an honourable, reasoned and legitimate political position. It hasn’t been for a long time (with a few rare exceptions). Fix your shit, conservatives.

3. On guns Look at any bullshit situation and it’s almost always about the money. For example, it’s blatantly obvious the National Rifle Association and other lobby groups allegedly fighting for Americans’ “right” to own assault rifles without restrictions are doing it because there’s big money in guns and money matters more to them than people’s lives. They don’t give a shit about anyone’s rights. It’s about profits. That said, it’s also obvious a lot of individual gun nuts support unlimited gun ownership rights because they think the threat of violence their weapons create keeps the socialists, feminists, minorities, atheists, gay agendavists and “libtards” from getting too uppity. Gun nuts want people to be afraid of them. It’s the only way their bigoted ideas can get respect these days. Something to keep in mind. See you at the vigil.

Sunday Reading: Harper’s Reverse Firewall, Killing Kennedy

On Friday the Ottawa Citizen published a great column by editor Andrew Potter on what it was, exactly, that Stephen Harper was trying to do. Potter’s conclusion in a nutshell: the former prime minister wanted to permanently cripple the federal government, preventing it from attempting any Big Socialist Plans. Potter argues that Harper developed this plan after his 2001 “Hey you guys! Let’s build a firewall around Alberta” letter:

Harper also probably realized, even as he was drafting the letter, how little the province could do using its own powers to protect itself from the sorts of things that Liberal Ottawa was inclined to do. Because here’s the thing: To someone with Harper’s ideological convictions, what is truly offensive about Liberal-run Ottawa is not that it controls the Mounties or the CPP or collects Alberta’s income tax. It is that it is inclined to use its capacities to engage in large-scale, centralized social planning (or social engineering, to use the invidious terminology).

And so Stephen Harper probably realized that to properly protect Alberta from an “aggressive and hostile” – that is, socialist – federal government, he would have to go to Ottawa. There, pulling directly upon the levers of federal power, he could build a firewall from the other side. And it could be a far stronger and more effective firewall than you could ever build from Alberta, while having the virtue of being pitched as a principled and patriotic vision of Confederation.

Makes sense to me. Brew a coffee or tea, pull a chair up to the Internet and have a good Sunday read.

Continue reading “Sunday Reading: Harper’s Reverse Firewall, Killing Kennedy”

Election 2015: Conservative Candidate Considers Deporting Mulcair

cdnelxncircleHere’s Brad Butt, Conservative MP for Mississauga–Streetsville, explaining how the Harper government could use Bill C-24 to strip NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair, of his Canadian citizenship. But, hey, they’re not monsters. They’d only do this if Mulcair committed treason.

See? Perfectly reasonable.

Of course, the Conservatives also passed Bill C-51 which is basically a handbook for how to brand environmentalists as terrorists — or, for that matter, anyone else whose actions the police deem interferes in some thoroughly subjective way with Canadian industry. You participate in a blockade that slows truck traffic down a highway? You’re a terrorist. You write a blog post arguing maybe blockading highways is a reasonable form of protest? You’re supporting terrorism. So you’re a terrorist.

And terrorism is treason.

So, Mr Mulcair, if Harper wins on the 19th, you might want to keep a bag packed.

Election 2015: French Language Debate Provides More Proof Canada Is Awful

cdnelxncircleHarper and Duceppe were able to come to common cause in last night’s French-language debate on CBC. I’m sure it gave both men the warm fuzzies to finally get to be such good chums, even if it was over their joint willingness to court the basest, most racist elements in Canadian society.

The question they linked arms and sang anti-Kumbayas over was on niqabs and whether they should be banned during citizenship ceremonies, with both men arguing the government should be in the business of telling women to dress less modestly than they feel comfortable with if they want to be out in public interfacing with our nation’s bureaucracies.

Apparently Quebec at the political level agrees unanimously with them on this — that’d be the entire national assembly and all the province’s big city mayors. Meanwhile, nationally, polls are saying over 70 per cent of Canadians are also niqab-averse.

Taken all together it just adds fuel to my thesis from Monday’s blog post that Canadians are secretly really horrible people at heart. They don’t want to be seen doing or saying horrible things, so they’ll vote Harper into another majority government because he’ll say and do all the horribleness for them.

Nice work Harper and Duceppe at putting yourselves forward as options for the asshole and coward vote.

Continue reading “Election 2015: French Language Debate Provides More Proof Canada Is Awful”

Getting Bribed Is Sweet, I’m SO Voting Harper This Fall*

pierep01Our family received our Universal Child Care Benefit notice yesterday. We’ve two kids — one under six — so our payout is ENORMOUS. Man, being bribed is AWESOME. I had no idea. No wonder FIFA runs on this stuff. And runs like a stallion. Do you know how much beer I can buy with the kind of scratch that’s coming my way all because I reproduced?

Friggin’ loads. Thank you, sperm.

The only disappointing thing about this UCCP mailer is that it doesn’t come with nearly enough Harper Government™ branded advertising material. Considering this payout to Canada’s breeders is costing $3 billion, I was hoping to get a foldout poster of Pierre Poilievre that I could hang on my wall.

Wotta man, that Pierre Poilievre! He’s the minister in charge of this pre-election payday and proof that there’s nothing sexier than naked, naked hypocrisy. Have you checked out his website lately? That’s a screen cap from today at the top of this blog post. But the details can be a little hard to pick out. Here, let me blow it up for you…

Continue reading “Getting Bribed Is Sweet, I’m SO Voting Harper This Fall*”

Harper Jumps The Shark On Pro-Israel Stance

Last summer, we had some coverage of the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement in connection with an ill-advised partnership the University of Regina’s Faculty of Business Administration was contemplating with the Policing and Homeland Security Studies department of Hebrew University’s Faculty of Law to provide an MBA in Public Safety to Regina students.

Patterned after efforts in the 1980s to put economic, political and socio-cultural pressure on South Africa to end apartheid, the BDS movement is non-violent and seeks through moral suasion to pressure Israel to halt the ongoing expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and to enter into constructive negotiations with the Palestinian people to find a way out of the current quagmire in the region. Supporters of BDS in Canada include the United Church of Canada, Canadian Quakers, labour unions, student groups and more.

More recently, we’ve written on Bill C-51, a piece of federal legislation passed last week by the Harper government that would greatly expand the investigative powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and related agencies to ferret out terrorist activity at home and abroad.

Critics of Bill C-51 accuse the Harper Conservatives of gross overeach in the bill, which would broaden the concept of “terrorism” to include pretty much any thought, word or action that the government deems harmful to Canada’s political or economic interests.

Now, CBC journalist Neil Macdonald is reporting that the Harper Conservatives are indicating that they are willing to use provisions in Bill C-51 to charge advocates of BDS with hate crimes against Israel. Any move to do so would be contrary to the constitutional rights of Canadians related to free speech, conscience, assembly and more, but that’s unlikely to deter the prime minister and his followers who have made no secret of their fervent loyalty to the State of Israel.

They may have political and economic reasons for doing so, but as evangelical Christians Harper and his cronies also regard the current conflict in the Middle East as a step toward fulfilling Biblical prophecy tied to armageddon and the second coming of Christ. In essence, they’re totally cool with the idea of the world ending so they can go to their eternal reward, while non-believers, including Jews who fail to convert once Jesus returns to lay a smackdown on everyone, will be dispatched to Hell.

What a joke.

First Nations University: Ten Years After

It was just over 10 years ago that the First Nations University of Canada was plunged into a devastating, nearly fatal, and ultimately needless power struggle at the behest of its political overseers. At the time of the takeover, First Nations University of Canada was one of the most respected aboriginal academic institutions in North America and playing an important role in redeveloping aboriginal society. Now, it’s academically and administratively learning to walk all over again.

It’s interesting to note that many of those on the political right in Canada used the FNUC incident as a lesson that aboriginal governments were/are too immature to be trusted with the future of their societies through such institutions. And, in one perspective they’re right. The allegations of corruption at the top of the college’s administration, made by then FSIN vice chief Morely Watson, were a mere MacGuffin (especially considering that in 2009-10, the college nearly foundered on charges of corruption, incompetent spending, and general stupidity by its administration that dwarfed any alleged (or in the case of Wes Stevenson, a charge for which he pleaded guilty) wrongdoing done by the previous administration the FSIN turfed out. And the FSIN went to the wall to defend their hand-picked administrators, who nearly destroyed the college.

No, the takeover was done for one reason only. Watson’s idea had nothing to do with the academic or intellectual health of the institution – it was to make the college a mere cog in the FSIN patronage machine. To do that, Watson and the FSIN had to ‘make their own reality’ – that the college was biased against the Cree of Saskatchewan, that aboriginal control of an aboriginal education meant aboriginal political control of aboriginal education – which is definitely not the same thing. Inventing one’s own reality – unless you’re a fiction writer, which in that case, have at ‘er – is not only dangerous, it’s a sign of delusion, and mental illness.

But inventing one’s own reality, and the efforts people and governments (in particular) make to live in that alternate reality, aren’t limited aboriginal governments. Anybody who’s watched Stephen Harper in action for the past decade would understand that Harper doesn’t live in the real world, where climate change is a reality, where the oil industry doesn’t have a long-term future, where he’s pissed off the leader of the free world, and where governments now run with no real long-term planning except to say that governments now run for the economic and social benefit of corporations, not for the people who elect the government.

And that’s why, when Canadians confront the mess and havoc that the HarperCons have created this country will be in the same kind of crisis that First Nations University of Canada was in during the ugly time of 2009-10. FNUC was saved by the combination of social media and student activism – the kind of activism, led by the FNUC student council, that put the student radicalism of the 1960s to shame. If it wasn’t for the actions of the student council in protesting the corruption at the top, lobbying the provincial government to assist in changing the structure, and telling the people back home that what was happening was going to destroy the institution if the chiefs wouldn’t reform it, and get themselves out of the way in favour of aboriginal people with academic and administrative expertise – FNUC would have been a memory by Christmas 2010.1

Maybe it’s because it’s my birthday, and I am passing into the netherworld of old fogey-ness, but I wonder whether there’s the same kind of grass-roots political will amongst a younger generation of Canadians are willing to do the same with the HarperCons, whose political cronies they appoint to boards are incompetent at their jobs, who regard the words of their Maximum Leader as unalterable law, who destroy and restrict evidence that doesn’t fit into their world view, and who, as far as actually running a government, are not so much over their heads as they are floundering on the bottom of Challenger Deep. And I also wonder why the HarperCons have it in for aboriginal peoples, since the way they run the Canadian government is almost exactly the way they allege band and tribal council governments are run – corrupt, stupid, and not in the best interests of their people.

1. At the FSIN Chiefs’ congress outside of Saskatoon in February 2010, the chiefs initially threatened to pull FNUC out of its funding operations with the federal and provincial governments and pay for it themselves. Given the only thing that has kept the FSIN and some of its member bands anywhere close to financially solvent during that time (and today) has been gambling revenue from the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority – and considering that money’s pretty much spoken for – I can’t imagine anybody in Ottawa or Regina doing anything but laugh when the chiefs made that threat.

Kill The Messenger

This film, which stars Jeremy Renner, is based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb. In 1996, Webb published a three-part 20,000 word feature in the San Jose Mercury News under the headline “Dark Alliance”.

The investigative series delved into the Iran-Contra affair where the CIA, during the tenure of Ronald Reagan as president, used funds raised through clandestine ties with cocaine traffickers in Central America to support arms shipments to Iran (when it was involved in a war with Iraq) and right-wing Contra rebels fighting to overthrow the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. The drugs that moved into the United States sparked the crack cocaine epidemic that laid waste to minority communities in major American cities.

To publish his expose, Webb endured threats from both Central American drug kingpins and the U.S. government. Kill the Messenger screens tonight at the RPL Theatre at 7 p.m. Here’s the trailer:

Je Suis Charlie

Yeah, I’m pretty pissed off right now. In fact, I was going to use my posting privileges to get on Dog Blog and put up a bunch of Charlie Hebdo covers to show my solidarity with those slain in Paris.

But then I had second thoughts.

It occurred to me that it’d be pretty irresponsible to post cartoons that so offended some Islamic extremists in France that it inspired them to shoot up the office of an alternative newspaper when I’m safely on the other side of the planet.

That’s what it’s come to. I decided to not risk posting some stupid cartoons on Dog Blog because I was worried about what that might open my pals in Regina up to.

I guess the gunmen won. Fuck you, gunmen.

Here, courtesy of Slate, are those Charlie Hebdo covers along with some handy commentary on them.

Weekly Reckoning: Authoritardian Edition

weekly-reckoningGood afternoon, everyone! Can you believe this weather we’re having? No. No, you cannot believe this weather we’re having, because weather is only the visible aspect of a system so complex that it embodies the paradox of chaos as the avatar of such an incomprehensible and terrifyingly sublime order that we can only understand it as transcendent perfection. It may be most useful to say “No, I can’t believe this weather, but I do believe in this weather.” Then, when your friend gives you the quizzical side-eye, hand him or her a little photocopied pamphlet with smeary illustrations and walk on.

Let’s have some news.

1. “CANADA HAS FAILED TO UPHOLD THE HONOUR OF THE CROWN” Strong words from Matthew Coon Come on Canada’s intransigence on aboriginal issues and our ongoing shabby performance on the global stage.

2. A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE AUTHORITARDIAN MENTALITY So it seems that a gay employee at a Taco John’s restaurant in South Dakota was given a name tag that said “GAYTARD” in big block lettering. Note to abusive employers: be subtle about your deranged bullying and don’t leave a paper trail. Which in this case is a name tag.

3. KIRBY ESTATE SETTLES WITH MARVEL Well, that only took forever, but it seems that the estate of the man who helped create of Marvel’s most enduring (and profitable) characters will be getting some piece of the action.

4. “BITTERSWEET,” MRS. FORD MUTTERED, AND DISAPPEARED INTO MEPHITIC CLOUDS OF BARBECUE SMOKE THAT HUNG OVER THE CROWD AND COHERED LIKE SOME GASEOUS ORGANISM OF PURE PROTEIN Rob Ford made his first public appearance since his cancer diagnosis at the annual Ford Fest barbecue. Reporters were on hand to collect comments.

5. PEOPLE STILL AWFUL A Saskatoon church cancelled a funeral after a volunteer told the deceased’s wife that they ‘did not want his kind there’. Apparently the obituary photo of the not-alive and not-likely-to-bother-anyone man depicted him wearing a Sons of Anarchy t-shirt. It’s not clear whether the volunteer mistook the deceased for a gang member or just really disapproved of the creative stagnation that set in on the TV show around season five.

What the Quebec Electoral Commission Is, Harper’s Elections Canada Will Be

I could go on and on about how much I detest the plans Stephen Harper has made in order to prevent people who would more likely than not vote for somebody else but him more difficult. And I could go on about how Pauline Marois’s gambit to make the PQ into a party of racists and bigots undoes all the political and cultural gains made by the peoples of Quebec since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

But nothing I can write will match the short eloquence of the Simple Massing Priest.

Read that entire blog post. Watch the video. Then get mad. Then get even — get yourself ready for a 2015 election which will decide, once and for all, whether Canadians will treat their government as a shopping mall to consume, or as a real community expressing the values and providing for the needs of all.

Cathedral Finds Walking Difficult After Getting Kicked In The Connaughts

Odds are you’ve probably heard that the Regina Public School Board voted last night to shut down Connaught School permanently at the end of this school year. The decision follows from a surprise engineering report in February saying the building had serious foundation and structural problems and would not be safe much beyond June. Plus, the Board received word yesterday that they would not be able to get insurance for the building even if maintenance work was done to extend the building’s life.

So, no insurance, no school.

Pity to see the beloved pile of bricks being prepped for the wrecking ball. If only Regina Public School Board had thought to put out a tender ten or so years back to get foundation and structural work done on the building.

I imagine that tender notice would’ve looked something like this one that ran recently and calls for bidders on work that needs to be done on Lakeview School.

Lakeview TenderBut I mean, how could Regina Public School Board have known 10 years ago that a building like Connaught that was pushing a 100 years in age would need foundation work?

And how could they have known that the Cathedral neighbourhood would want to keep the school?

I mean, seriously. They’re school trustees. Not oracles.

One should read this as an indication of how difficult it can be to work when you only have imperfect information and certainly not as evidence that the Regina Public School Board and/or the provincial Ministry of Education has wanted to find a reason to bulldoze at least one school in the Cathedral Neighbourhood all along, regardless the wishes of the community.

And you certainly shouldn’t look upon the imminent demise of the Connaught School building and then scoff at the Public School administration when they were patting themselves on the back during their AGM about their commitment to preventative maintenance.

I mean, look! They’re going to spend a bundle on preventative maintenance on Lakeview School so that it never needs to be torn down!

As for Connaught… well… god aren’t those Cathedral residents smug? Don’t you just want to punch them right in their brick buildings?

And I’m sure that whichever architectural firm gets the contract to build the new Connaught School *coughp3acough* will build a very shiny industrial box that won’t be a petrie dish in which to culture fascists.

The Method In Rob Ford’s Madness Is So Gay

There’s a certain method to Rod Ford’s latest homophobic madness, whether or not the rest of Canada’s political chattering classes choose to recognize it.

In North America and western Europe, accepting gays and lesbians as part of society is pretty much a given. When the rainbow flag flies at the Legislature, it’s at the behest of a premier whose party 10 years ago railed against Crown corporation sponsorship of a gay/lesbian film festival. We’ve come a long way – or so we’d like to think. Except that when the Regina Leader-Post did an on-line poll asking people what they thought of this, the comments ran about 80-20 against, with most of the opposition wanting the pink triangle brigade stoned in the streets (In yesterday’s editorial, the L-P offered The Wag Of The Finger).

Rob Ford’s district – the base of Ford Nation – is, however, comprised of immigrants from areas of the world – mostly Africa and some from eastern Europe – where homosexuality is still seen as a threat (to whom? Whatever. It’s still a threat to them). So it doesn’t matter whether Rob Ford’s homophobia is part of his neurotic personality, a carefully contrived political agenda, or both. If it gets him votes, he’ll take it. It doesn’t matter that he’ll be bringing embarrassment to a city that’s hosting the World Pride Festival (and, we may add, all the business opportunities and tourist dollars such events bring in).

And one of those who will be watching what effect this will have in next October’s mayoralty election? Stephen Harper, who knows that his party’s re-election will be won or lost in the 905 region – that area that rings Toronto like a ring around a bathtub.

When Ottawa city council voted to fly the rainbow flag last week, one person blasted the mayor for the decision on his Twitter account. Mayor Jim Watson replied that if he feels that way, Watson didn’t want his vote. Rob Ford has no such scruples, and Stephen Harper will be watching from the sidelines, using Toronto’s civic vote next October to decide whether or not to unleash the Reform-A-Tories’ dogs of homophobic war in 2015.

Weekly Reckoning: Carrot Top Edition

weekly-reckoningNo, there’s nothing new to report about Carrot Top. I just wanted to remind you that we live in a world where Carrot Top exists. Not much we can do about it, so let’s just carry on.

1. IT’S TIME TO ADMIT THAT APPLE KNOWS WHAT IT’S DOING WITH ITS iPHONE BUSINESS. Oh, I see you there, laughing at Apple and poo-pooing the 5C. But now you have to admit that Apple was right all along! HAHAHAHHHAAAA oh who cares.

2. ROGER AILES MOVES TO A TINY TOWN IN UPSTATE NEW YORK, TERRIFYING THINGS ENSUE. Here’s a story about the head of Fox News and what happened when he tried to reproduce his peculiar brand of American fantasia in the town of Garrison, New York. Read this story – it lays out the entitlement and paranoia of the ultra-rich in fascinating detail. Ailes comes off like a tin-can William Randolph Hearst in his attempts to control the editorial direction of the local paper, which he transformed from a glue-and-scissors weekly into a conservative rag.*

3. ONCE AGAIN, MAGNETS MAKE US FEEL BETTER. Chief psychiatrist for the Regina-Qu’Appelle health region, Dr. Dhanapal Natarajan, is feeling pretty good about a machine that uses magnets to “induce changes inside the brain that result in improvement of the depression and anxiety symptoms.” It’s being promoted as an “add-on therapy” for sufferers of depression. If magnets can help us overcome the creeping suspicion that we’re leading ghastly imitations of real lives in the 21st century, then I’m all for it. Bring on the brain-altering waves. Or you could just look on the bright side, like Shae Therrien here.

4. DON’T DRINK THE TAP WATER. A state of emergency has been declared in West Virginia, where a chemical spill has left 300,000 people without drinkable water. A foaming agent used in coal processing leaked from a 40,000 gallon tank. Freedom Industries (really?), which owns the coal processing plant, has issued an apology. Residents are currently experiencing freedom from having to drink the local water, bathe in it, or wash their clothes with it. They can still flush their toilets, though.

5. CHEWBACCA WAS GIVEN A CAMERA. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HE DID NEXT. Actually you will believe it: he took tons of behind-the-scenes Star Wars photos. Peter Mayhew, the once and (fingers crossed) future Wookiee, has been posting photos that he took on the set of Star Wars movies. I hope someone can explain Mark Hamill’s weird floral shirt.

*I’ve never written the phrase “conservative rag” before. That was fun.

American Idiot

Released by the American punk trio Green Day in 2004, American Idiot was a concept album in the vein of The Who classic Tommy. It features the anti-hero Jesus of Suburbia and some friends who are going through an existential crisis in post 9-11 America.

Like TommyAmerican Idiot was eventually turned into a stage musical. The first production of American Idiot was held in Berkeley in 2009, and in 2010 the musical debuted on Broadway. American Idiot was nominated for a Tony for Best Musical that year. It lost out to Memphis, but it did pick up two Tonys in design categories.

Thursday and Friday Nov. 28-29 a touring production of American Idiot is running at Conexus Arts Centre. Performances are at 8 p.m. both nights, and tickets range from $37-$75. To give you a taste of the musical delights that await, here’s video of Green Day performing with the Broadway cast from American Idiot:


“There’s No Need To Write Any More.”

Do you like living in a free society with some degree of democracy, political accountability and press freedom? Elements within the U.S. and British governments (and doubtless others) want to take that away. This just in from Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger:

A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”

Also, this:

Britain was facing intense pressure on Monday to give a detailed explanation of the decision to detain the partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald after the White House confirmed that it was given a “heads-up” before David Miranda was taken into custody for nine hours at Heathrow. As the UK’s anti-terror legislation watchdog called for a radical overhaul of the laws that allowed police to confiscate Miranda’s electronic equipment, the US distanced itself from the action by saying that British authorities took the decision to detain him.

More here and here and here. This is like stuff communist China would do. The times are getting worse, people. Thank God we’ve got people like Edward Snowden to blow the whistle on governments that break laws, reporters like Glenn Greenwald to write about them and newspapers like the Guardian to publish it all. You can’t fight back without information.

(Oh! And the U.S. wants to put another whistleblower who released details about political and military crimes in jail for 60 years. And criminals like Dick Cheney and George Bush, who spearheaded an illegal invasion that wasted trillions and murdered hundreds of thousands, enjoy not insignificant public support and sleep on the softest sheets. They’ll never answer for their crimes.)

This Is Why Unchecked Anti-Terrorist Laws Are A Bad Idea

Here’s a super-important story that blew up this weekend: Guardian correspondent Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer-journalist who’s been raising the alarm on the U.S. surveillance state for years and is the most important journo in the NSA spying-on-everyone scandal, has been targeted for intimidation. From the BBC:

Senior politicians and an independent reviewer have said police must explain why David Miranda was detained for nine hours at Heathrow Airport. Mr. Miranda’s partner is a journalist who published documents leaked by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden. Police have not said why Mr Miranda was held, but he said he was kept in a room and quizzed by “six agents”. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said police must explain why terrorism powers were used. Brazil has complained that his detention was “without justification”.The Home Office said it was for the police to decide when to use its powers to stop people. Mr Miranda, 28, was held at Heathrow on Sunday, on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro, where he lives with his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. “I remained in a room, there were six different agents coming and going, talking to me,” Mr Miranda said. “They asked questions about my entire life, about everything. They took my computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory cards, everything.”

Greenwald, not surprisingly, blasts this naked abuse of power:

The stated purpose of this law, as the name suggests, is to question people about terrorism. The detention power, claims the UK government, is used “to determine whether that person is or has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

But they obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot. Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying. They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop “the terrorists”, and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.

More here.

Can we all agree that this detention has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism? As Greenwald says, it’s a clear-cut case of anti-terrorist laws being used to harass a journalist who’s reporting on something the United States doesn’t want him covering. Because this incident happened in Britain and not the U.S., this thing might actually become a scandal and there might even be some laws changed. Or I might be hopelessly naive. Regardless, the U.S., it’s sinking fast into an  authoritarian mire which, combined with the Tea Party’s nascent fascism, is really something its citizens — not to mention the rest of the world — should be alarmed about.

A Good, Long Essay About Police Militarization In The United States That Every Cop, Lawyer, Journalist And Participating Citizen Should Read

Actually, it’s not an essay, it’s an excerpt from journalist Radley Balko’s book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces. Anyway, it’s a compelling read that covers massive, widespread overuse of force by U.S. police against casual small-time gamblers, underage drinkers, protesters, chihuahuas and other dangerous dogs, college students and people who had the misfortune of living at residences SWAT teams mistakenly think house child pornography watchers. Includes a guest appearance by Shaquille O’Neal. Here’s a short excerpt.

The fact that the Postal Service offers such training and most police departments don’t lends some credence to the theory that dog shootings are part of the larger problem of a battlefield mentality that lets police use lethal force in response to the slightest threat—usually with few consequences. “It’s an evolving phenomenon,” says Norm Stamper, the former Seattle police chief. “It started when drug dealers began to recruit pit bulls to guard their supply. These dogs weren’t meant to attack cops. They were meant to attack other drug dealers who came to rob them. But of course they did attack cops. And yes, that’s awfully scary if one of those things latches on to your leg.”

But Stamper says that like many aspects of modern policing, dog shootings may have had a legitimate origin, but the practice has since become a symptom of the mind-set behind a militarized police culture. “Among other things, it really shows a lack of imagination. These guys think that the only solution to a dog that’s yapping or charging is shooting and killing it. That’s all they know. It goes with this notion that police officers have to control every situation, to control all the variables. That’s an awesome responsibility, and if you take it on, you’re caving to delusion. You no longer exercise discrimination or discretion. You have to control, and the way you control is with authority, power, and force. With a dog, the easiest way to take control is to simply kill it. I mean, especially if there are no consequences for doing so.”

This is a great piece of writing and you guys should head over to Salon and read it. And maybe even buy the damn book.