Rene -- Resigning from Afghanistan
"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan."
WASHINGTON — A former Marine who fought in Iraq, joined the State Department after leaving the military and was a diplomat in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan has become the first U.S. official to resign in protest of the Afghan war, the Washington Post reported early Tuesday.
Matthew Hoh said he believes the war is simply fueling the insurgency.
I scanned this letter from a pdf using OCR and opened it as a document with Apple Pages. I do not have time to clear the errors but you get the idea:
Ambassador Nancy J. Powell
Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Ambassador Powell,
It is with great regret and disappointment I submit my resignation from my
appointment as a Political Officer in the Foreign Service and my post as the Senior Civilian Representative for the US. Government in Zabul Province. I have served six of the previous ten years in service to our country overseas, to include deployment as a U.S. Marine officer and Department of Defense civilian in the Euphrates and Tigris River Valleys of Iraq in 2004-2005 and 2006-2007. I did not cnler into this position lightly or with any undue expectations nor did I believe my assignment would be without sacrifice, hardship or difficulty. However, in the course of my five months of service in Afghanistan, in both Regional Commands East and South, I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan. I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end. To put simply: I fail to see the value or the worth in continued U.S. casualties or ell.penditures of resources in sUP)Xlrt of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war.
Chtodelat -- Academy of Fine Arts Vienna Occupied
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna Occupied!
On Tuesday, October 20, 2009, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna was squatted. Here is the statement and the demands of the occupants:
The Bologna process aims at an extensive convergence of European universities with the Anglo-American education system. The aim is to enter competition in the global education market in order to strengthen universities’ economic position and increase their research dependent revenues. The establishment of regulative norms and the harmonization of standards are the basis and at the same time the precondition of this process: without standardization there can be no measurability, without measurability no comparability, without comparability no competition. Economization and the logic of competition are imposed at every level of knowledge production.
The result is intercontinental as well as inter-EU competition, in which single universities and their departments compete amongst themselves for the best results and statistics. The processes involved in the creation of an education economy with knowledge as the commodity correspond to the general tendencies towards privatization and commodification of all spheres of life under neoliberal capitalism. They lead to educational institutions’ increased dependency on their sponsors, cynically defined as the autonomization of universities.
In this context autonomy is a euphemism for the new forms of governing institutions. The autonomized universities are not autonomous in the sense of self-determined at all. They are rather directed to fulfil the needs of economy and industry, as well as to subjugate themselves to market logic: efficiency, competition and managerial ruling structures. The democratisation of universities, implemented in the 1970s, is successively abolished — democratically legitimized bodies are disenfranchised and replaced by top-down hierarchical structures.
In the composition of the Bologna 3-level study model, a paradigm change has manifested itself; in the last few years there has been a shift from a pluralistic ideal of education to an economy-oriented model of education. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna has repeatedly and explicitly positioned itself against this degradation and the establishment of the Bachelor-Master system.
We refuse to subjugate ourselves to the logic of politics and economy!
We’re fighting to define learning, teaching and research for ourselves!
We declare solidarity with the education protests in Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Croatia, Netherlands, Serbia, South Africa, and the USA!
Rene -- Why the Polls on Climate Change Are Wrong
Why the Polls on Climate Change Are Wrong
by Richard Sclove
This Saturday, October 24, is 350.org's International Day of Climate Action. Citizens all over the world will participate in rallies and creative actions to let governments and delegates to the Copenhagen climate change conference know they want real solutions on climate change now, and not incremental steps or half measures that punt to some future day of reckoning.
Here's a little creative action you can do to mark the occasion right now from your computer. Go ahead and News-Google the words: New Survey Climate Change. Watch what happens. At present writing, the top two search results that come up are utterly, irreconcilably contradictory. The first is a writeup of a groundbreaking project that I advised, World Wide Views on Global Warming, which surveyed citizens in the US and 37 other countries; we found that everywhere, including in the U.S., citizens want much more aggressive action on climate change than either the U.S. Congress or the negotiators preparing for the Copenhagen seem prepared to consider. The second is an article about a new Pew poll that shows the number of Americans who see global warming as a threat has fallen 20% in the last two years.
Who's right? It seems that our representatives in Washington and delegates to the UN COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen are eager to believe the second poll. Congressional debate on climate change legislation and preparations for COP15 are both following a similar pattern of lowering ambitions and expectations, focusing on limited areas of current agreement and incremental steps, and deferring more contentious issues of targets, timetables, funding and enforcement until some later date. We are increasingly hearing from climate policymakers that it will take more time to do things right, that we have to meet people where they are instead of imposing radical reforms from above.
But there is reason to believe that they're dead wrong, and that citizens are way ahead of the policy makers, despite what some polls say. Climate change polls typically spend a few minutes on the phone asking a random sample of people a couple of superficial, often leading questions, frequently interrupting dinnertime. The process elicits off-the-cuff reactions to complex issues that are profoundly consequential to life on our planet. It's a dubious way to gather opinion on a sober subject like climate change, and many understandably shrug it off with some cynicism.
EI -- Israel's export of occupation police tactics
Palestine / Israel
Israel's export of occupation police tactics
Jimmy Johnson, The Electronic Intifada, 9 October 2009
Israel's urban police tactics are being exported around the globe. (Mamoun Wazwaz/MaanImages)
Israel's specialized policing and fighting capacity, which it is currently exporting to other countries, including the US, began to take shape after the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In the territories it occupied during the conflict, especially the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, the Israeli government wanted to lay claim, permanently, to specific parts of the occupied area. This desire ran into Zionism's longest-running problem, the presence of Palestinians. As Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky wrote in 1923 about indigenous resistance to colonial projects, "The native populations ... have always stubbornly resisted the colonists."
This resistance would have to be suppressed and the population pacified if the occupation of these lands was to be sustainable. Thus began an evolutionary relationship that continues to this day, that of the Palestinian resistance versus Israel's policy of permanent occupation. Architect Eyal Weizman lays out in great detail the study of urban warfare and urban police actions undertaken by the Israeli military in his book Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation. Importantly, he looks at the ways the army adapts to the dynamics on the ground, explaining that "Indeed, military attempts to adapt their practices and forms of organization has been inspired by the guerilla forms of violence that confront it. Because they adapt, mimic and learn from each other, the military and the guerillas enter a cycle of 'co-evolution.'" This reciprocal cycle of tactical evolution, and intertwined relationship of Israel's police and army, is proving politically valuable to Israel by helping to shape international norms on policing more like its own.
Israel participates significantly in areas of the international political and economic markets of arms, security and policing. It is especially renowned for having a highly developed arms industry. There are significant potential political benefits to be gained by participation in the arms trade, especially in the military interoperability that develops with using the same training and systems of war. Military interoperability often lead to the development of political alliances and close personal relationships between high level defense and commerce officials during the research, bidding and approval processes.
nettime -- Bruce Sterling -- Twitter Revolution made in USA: Tweet about the police, get arrested
This from Nettime about the recent arrests in Queens.
Twitter Revolution made in USA: Tweet about the police, get arrested.
What will the web2.0 visionaries say about this? My hunch: Nothing!
(((Well, I’m kind of a “Web 2.0 visionary,” and I’m American to boot, so I’m gonna horn in and help ol’ Felix out here. There’s a lot of this material available. Ton o’ links. Oodles. More than you wanna see.)))
But, perhaps the even sadder story is that having a picture of Marx and
Lenin at home is taken as ‘evidence’. -- Felix
(((Well, no; I’m pretty sure the federal cops really wanted the backups and hard disks, this being the sort of thing they’ve been into for donkey’s years now.)))
(((American electronic civil libertarians on the case, the EFF being a veritable hive of Web 2.0 visionaries:)))
(((Now for the press coverage!)))
New York man accused of using Twitter to direct protesters during G20
Elliott Madison arrested by FBI and charged with using social networking
site to help demonstrators evade Pittsburgh police
A New York-based anarchist has been arrested by the FBI and charged with hindering prosecution after he allegedly used the social networking site Twitter to help protesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh evade the police.
Elliot Madison, 41, from Queens, had his home raided and was put on $30,000 (£19,000) bail after he and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, were tracked to the Carefree Inn motel in Pittsburgh during the summit on 24 and 25 September.
The pair were found sitting in front of a bank of laptops and emergency frequency radio scanners. They were wearing headphones and microphones and had many maps and contact numbers in the room.
(((If you’re in the movie biz, you have gotta love that image.)))
(((Having the cops show up and bust the living daylights out of computer-toting protesters is not a new deal—even when the hackers are kilometers away from the teargas and not doing anything but moving their fingers up and down. Check out this account from distant 2001, in Genoa.)))
(((You might also note that even the IRANIAN police get it about Twittering.
Heard anything out of the Iranian Twitter Revolution lately?)))
Official police documents allege the two men used Twitter messages to contact protesters at the summit “and to inform the protesters and groups of the movements and actions of law enforcement”.
In all, almost 200 protesters were arrested during the two-day summit, which brought world leaders to Pittsburgh to discuss the global economic meltdown and other matters of common financial interest.
About 5,000 protesters were estimated to have taken part in demonstrations in the city.
Twitter has rapidly established itself as an important tool in the armoury of protest groups and demonstrators. During the summit, the police openly monitored Twitter to listen in to the protesters’ communications.
(((That doesn’t even count the police who like to twitter, and the informants who are infiltrating protest groups and retweeting to the police.)))
The FBI said that as well as the computers and radio scanning equipment discovered at the motel, they also confiscated from Madison’s home 11 gas masks, five pairs of goggles and test tubes and beakers. They said they also took away anarchist books and pictures of Marx and Lenin.
(((Typical computer raid, very old school: take everything. Im Madison’s case, I’d be guessing the five pairs of goggles were BRASS goggles, because Mr Madison is a steampunk activist named “Dr. Calamity.” Really? Why yes!)))
Madison is a social worker with a Manhattan-based programme attached to a psychiatric hospital. He is said to be a member of the People’s Law Collective, a voluntary group that advises protesters on legal issues arising from actions. Wallschlaeger produces a talk show on radio called This Week in Radical History.
(((Are they anarchists? Heaven forfend!)))
ACLU: Arrest of G20 Twitterer part of ‘war on demonstrators’
By David Edwards and Stephen Webster
Monday, October 5th, 2009 -- 7:45 pm
When the FBI staged a terror raid on the New York home of 41-year-old Elliot Madison, they were not looking for weapons of war, deadly chemicals or the keys to unlocking a nefarious terror plot. Instead, they came looking for books, files, data, film and something called the “instruments of crime.”
According to officials, the search was instigated after Madison was found in a Pennsylvania hotel room on Sept. 24, listening to police actions during Pittsburgh’s G20 summit, then Tweeting to protesters seeking to avoid authorities.
Vic Walczak, legal director for the Pennsylvania ACLU, sees the FBI’s action as pure “intimidation,” and part of a “much bigger war on demonstrators” in Pittsburgh.
He made the remarks during a Monday interview on CNN’s Newsroom.
“What you have here is folks who are charged with hindering apprehension of people who were engaging in criminal activities,” he said. “The criminals identified in the warrant are protesters against the G20. Their crime? They were demonstrating in the street without a permit.”
Madison, who has widely been described as an “anarchist” by media parroting FBI claims, (((besides the fact that his chosen handle is “Dr Calamity”—perhaps “Dr Law Abiding Citizen with Friends in the EFF” would have been a cannier tactical choice))) is a social worker in New York who holds two masters degrees from the University of Wisconsin.
Walczak continued: “The police said, ‘Get out of here,’ and apparently they did. Somebody was trying to help them not go where the police are. Instead of saying ‘thank you, you’re helping these folks disperse,’ they now get charged with what is really a felony.”
In other words: “Be careful what you twit for, because your 140 characters could land you in the slammer,” quipped Andrew Belonsky at Vallywag.
“Though the FBI says so, it’s not entirely clear from the complaint that Madison’s tweets were actually illegal,” noted Ars Technica [http://tinyurl.com/yby2axn ]. “Madison’s lawyer told the New York Times [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/nyregion/05txt.html ] on Saturday that he and a friend were merely ‘part of a communications network among people protesting the G-20.’ As implied through the Times piece, Madison’s tweets merely directed protesters as to where the police were at any given time and to stay alert. ‘There’s absolutely nothing that he’s done that should subject him to any criminal liability.’”