Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Spy satellite launched from California into Space August 28, 2013

Transparency has taken on a new meaning after the Snowden revelations. Today a rocket, 23 stories high, carried a spy satellite into space.  The launch of the NROL-65 is being billed as a "hush hush mission" in honor of those who fight for freedom. 

Unfortunately, this episode is not a science fiction tale. It is just another symptom. We humans really are this bizarre.  We'd rather spend our time and money spying on one another than on advancing science (minus war and spying apparatuses), medicine, education and the arts.

How we reached this strange state of being, this unique form of global madness, might be a productive place to begin an open debate with the goal of freeing ourselves from such globally mad behavior.  It's true. In our present mental state, it's mesmerizing to stand around, or sit around tables or on couches, and watch the trajectory without asking how it colors and shapes our daily lives. We should always be looking for the damage, the potential, the loss in the decisions others make for us. This new kind of transparency appears to be replacing our critical questioning. It appears to provide the answers so we don't question. We forget that when the lights of the fireworks disappear, it's the end of the show. How untrue about spy rockets and satellites. The show goes on unseen to influence not just our everyday lives but the unconscious in multiple ways. Oddly, these transparent and momentary glimpses of the tiny edges or small parts of the whole are paraded as acts of liberty and celebration. 

Below is the story from the Guardian.

Boeing Delta 4 lift off
A Boeing Delta 4 rocket flies from Vandenberg Air Force Base over California in 2006. Photograph: Len Wood/AP
A massive rocket carrying a spy satellite for the US government launched from the central California coast on Wednesday.
The Delta IV Heavy rocket soared off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and sped toward low-Earth orbit, officials at United Launch Alliance said.
The rocket carried a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees the nation's constellation of intelligence-gatheringsatellites. Liftoff occurred at 11:03am PDT, about 10 minutes later than planned as engineers dealt with some last-minute minor issues.
Since the mission is classified, no other details were available.
At 23 stories, the Delta IV Heavy is the largest rocket in the country. The last time it launched from Vandenberg – in 2011 – the roar of the engines shook the nearby city of Lompoc. Some people reported hearing the engine roar from 50 miles away.
This time around, the three main engines were ignited one after another to lessen the impact during liftoff.
Air Force security and police closed a nearby beach and evacuated campers as a precaution. About 200 cars lined the access road to the base and spectators gathered at other viewing spots for a glimpse of the rocket cruising through the cloudless sky.
United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corporation and The Boeing Corporation to provide space launch services to the federal government with their Atlas and Delta rocket programs.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Governments Showing Teeth Against Leaks of Surveillance: Miranda, Creon, and Jack in the Beanstock

Update Research (8/20) Update (8/20) Democracy Now!  interviews owner of Lavabit (Snowden's email provider) on shutting down after the government showed its teeth to him.
Even Bloomberg recognizes when the giant, out of control with hubris, goes too far.
Update Research (8/19 9:48 PM): Various comments on the detainment.

8/19/ 4:22 PM 

Governments Show their Acidic Teeth

It appears that the detainment of David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald is an instance of the British and American governments showing their teeth. They don't like they've been awakened from their slumber (secrets) by Snowden and others trespassers, so they plan to put them in the political ovens and cook them publicly.

But what psychological fairy tale underlies this true story? Are Britain/America the giants and Snowden and other trespassers Jacks, who have climbed up the beanstock? Are Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras and others like them in in the clouds running from the giant? Will they escape with the "Golden" Goose? And what is the Golden Goose for Main Street and what shall we do with it if we manage to secure it? These are questions that need to be answered fast before those ruling over Main Street get ahold of the questions and twist them to satisfy their perspective of events along with the future for Main Street. Right now such people in power mine everything to twist it to their advantage.

One thing for certain, if the Golden Eggs from Golden Goose are meant to help Main Street dismantle the bulk of the surveillance powers and its laws as well as dismantle the global austerity programs, we can be sure that anyone promoting either will be running from the teeth of government.

Why are governments finding it necessary to bare their teeth to the public through detainments such as Miranda's? Perhaps it's a kind of instinct of power to do so, a political knee-jerk reaction. Britain officials told the Guardian that "it" (I guess that means most of us) had its "fun" debate on surveillance and should move on. Rugby anyone? But remember Creon in Antigone by Sophocles? Rather than engage in a healthy introspection on his own shortcomings or errors or listen to others or change a bad decree, Creon shows his teeth to Antigone, his son Haemon and all of Thebes. Clinging to his authoritarian rule, he realizes his hubris too late. Tragedy follows.

The detainment of Miranda is similar in nature to the grounding of the plane of Boliva's president when the US and its allies believed Snowden might be on board. It is a signal of what might happen to future planes (including those carrying a president of a weaker country) that might be carrying Snowden. Teeth showing by a giant can be scary. You can't take it lightly. The giant will cook you in the political oven and use you for its food. How tragic that the giant wants to possess power for itself alone and fears equality in economics and liberties. The leadership around the world needs deep analysis and a new job.

But back to Jack and the Beanstock. Now that Main Street has gotten smarter by finding the kingdom in the clouds, its own position has been put on alert. As a result of climbing the beanstock with Jack (Snowden), Main Street is beginning to see the conditions that threaten its hard fought for rights such as freedom of speech, assembly and privacy.

Main Street is also beginning to sense political positions (including that people in power are nothing more than other ordinary people except for their position) and how these privileged ordinary individuals, who happen to be societal decision-makers, can cause not only chaos but terrible damage and destruction to other individuals and even whole societies.

These decision-makers show their teeth like mad dogs if they feel too threatened. They are never wrong. We need only look at Egypt and now countries attempting to protect their surveillance programs (not to mention their austerity programs).

Main Street is beginning to see just how powerful the giants (never sleeping) are against the Jacks. But baring teeth doesn't give the giant the last word. Main Street has a choice. ( Fill in the obvious. ) Whatever the choice it makes, Main Street must believe that the giant's own self-interest and knee-jerk reactions are not enough to prevent Jack from stealing the Goose and its Golden Eggs or get safely away.

Just because the giant is bigger and stronger (has more money or more connections to money and more weapons), the giant certainly is not wiser, more compassionate or more equitable in spirit, the basis for a humane society intent on keeping global strife at a minimum and keeping pursuit of happiness at a maximum.

Let's assume that the giant (in its hysteria) sees Jack as a kind of political terrorist. Let's assume that kings, presidents, and other officials are just ordinary people except for their positions (usually based on or connections to wealth), and these officials (acting in their own self interests) have brought about not only the austerity programs but also the surveillance systems to protect their positions and privileges.  Let's assume any giant can hold a gun or threat over your head or act beastly by threatening to throw you in jail or kill you. It can dismantle your computers and steal your creative ideas. Now what?

To change rusted or destructive systems (in a timely manner) takes a tremendous will. Global Main Street is the only entity capable of bringing about such a change.

Familiarity--the backbone of the status quo--itself  can be a highly tantalizing but destructive force regardless of the security or illusion of security it offers.

We will have to see what happens to Jack, the Beanstock, the Golden Goose and the Giant.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chomsky and America's Capitalist Democracy Ceiling

What is the ceiling of America's capitalist democracy? According to Noam Chomsky, the ceiling has lowered considerably since it peaked in 1949. In his article "The U.S. Behaves Nothing Like a Democracy," he explores the present ceiling level of America's capitalist democracy. He writes,
According to received doctrine, we live in capitalist democracies, which are the best possible system, despite some flaws. There’s been an interesting debate over the years about the relation between capitalism and democracy, for example, are they even compatible? I won’t be pursuing this because I’d like to discuss a different system – what we could call the “really existing capitalist democracy”, RECD for short, pronounced “wrecked” by accident. To begin with, how does RECD compare with democracy? Well that depends on what we mean by “democracy”. There are several versions of this. One, there is a kind of received version. It’s soaring rhetoric of the Obama variety, patriotic speeches, what children are taught in school, and so on. In the U.S. version, it’s government “of, by and for the people”. And it’s quite easy to compare that with RECD.
Read the full article.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

NSA, Snowden, Pressure Cooker, and Quinoa

In my research, I found an interesting story that shows how the NSA has benefited from Snowden's revelations. In discussing the article with a colleague, he reminded me (and I paraphrase) now that we all know the NSA spies on everyone, it will become more and more commonplace for such visits without resistance as Catalano describes below--until at least  people find such visits more dangerous than spectacle. 

Catalano was at work, but her husband was sitting in the living room as the police arrived. She retold the experience in a post on on Thursday. She attributed the raid largely to her ongoing hunt for a pressure cooker, an item used devastatingly by the two Tsarnaev brothers in Boston, but also used by millions across the country to prepare vegetables while retaining most of their nutrients. 
Catalano, a writer for indie music and politics magazine Death and Taxes wrote: 

What happened was this: At about 9:00 am, my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside. He looked out the window and saw three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband's Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving. 
Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house, two toward the backyard on one side, two on the other side, two toward the front door. 
A million things went through my husband's head. None of which were right. He walked outside and the men greeted him by flashing badges. He could see they all had guns holstered in their waistbands. 
"Are you [name redacted]?" one asked while glancing at a clipboard. He affirmed that was indeed him, and was asked if they could come in. Sure, he said. 
They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search. They walked around the living room, studied the books on the shelf (nope, no bomb making books, no Anarchist Cookbook), looked at all our pictures, glanced into our bedroom, pet our dogs. They asked if they could go in my son's bedroom but when my husband said my son was sleeping in there, they let it be. 
At this point, Catalano said, the police were "peppering my husband with questions"."Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked." 

It was at this point that the conversation took a delightfully culinary turn, with quinoa making an unlikely appearance in the FBI's inquiries: 
Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked. 
The joint terrorism task force did not press Catalano's husband on the dilemma facing liberals over whether quinoa consumption is ethically sound – many Bolivians can no longer afford their staple food now everyone in Brooklyn is eating it.

Here's the full story taken from an article at theguardian.