With at least 30 million surveillance cameras watching Americans every day, one aspect of the world of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 has already come to pass, and more is on the way. In the next two years, for example, the FBI plans to test a nationwide database for searching iris scans to more quickly identify persons “of interest” to the government. The human iris, which is the doughnut-shaped, colored part of the eye that surrounds the black pupil, exhibits a pattern unique to each individual, just as fingerprints do, and iris recognition has been a staple of science fiction stories and films for years.
Iris scanning is part of the FBI’s Next-Generation Identification system, a multiyear $1 billion program built by Lockheed Martin and already well underway for several years, which will expand the FBI’s server capacity to allow for rapid matching not only of iris scans, but also of additional physical identifiers, such as fingerprints, palm prints and facial images. The FBI intends to test the system in conjunction with prisons, some of which already use iris scans to track prisoners and prevent mistakes of identification. According to the FBI, the time for urgent criminal fingerprint searches will eventually be reduced from 2 hours to 10 minutes, while the use of iris scans and other markers should ensure greater accuracy.
Although privacy advocates have little criticism of the use of iris scanning in correctional settings, the fact that the FBI and state prison officials are using a database owned and maintained by a private corporation, BI2 Technologies, gives many pause. Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney at the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, points out that privately-run databases, including well-encrypted ones at banks and other financial businesses, have experienced serious data breaches exposing private customer information, and that leaks of fingerprints or iris scans would be potentially much more serious. “You can change your credit card data. But you can’t change your biometric data.”
And in light of the fact that the New York Police Department, in cahoots with major Wall Street banks and finance firms, used security cameras to identify Occupy Wall Street protesters, suspicions that iris scans might be used to target non-criminals who are disliked by powerful cannot be dismissed out of hand.
One of the more pathetically transparent and easily refuted lies told by committed Democratic tribalists is that the outcome of the 2000 election was all Ralph Nader’s fault. The more idiotic Democratic partisans will proclaim that, if only that rotten Ralph hadn’t selfishly and stupidly siphoned votes from the messianic Albert of Gore, Saint Al would have ascended to the White House on gossamer wings, the U.S. never would have gone to war in Iraq, American dependence on oil would have been swept away by the windmills of our minds, we would have rediscovered and recommitted ourselves to “true” American values (which have nothing to do with anything the U.S. has actually done, mind you, but are to be found in the record of the fantasy United States brewed in the shallower pools of the stagnant minds of these professional delusionists), the world would have been born anew — and every single one of us would have our own adorable puppy dog along with a fucking rainbow.
I’ve made the arguments set forth in the linked article many times myself over the years, too many times over too many years. I’m not going to make them any longer.
For all I know, Nader himself may well believe he’s the reason Gore lost. Why do I say that? Because Nader believes several massive boatloads of unmitigated shit.
I am not going to be the only person who must spend half an hour cleaning vomit from his keyboard. So please accompany me on this brief tour of the tortured byways of what passes for Nader’s mind. He begins thusly:
If the Democrats in Congress were all drinking water from the same faucet, there might be a clue to their chronic fear of the craven and cruel corporatist Republicans who dominate them.
But they don’t, so we have to ask why their fear, defeatism, and cowering behavior continues in the face of the outrageous GOP actions as the November election approaches.
Keep in mind that the purpose of Nader’s column is to “save” the Democrats from what he perceives as self-immolation. One might wonder why he believes such a desultory group of gutless, fear-ridden maggots can be “saved” at all. The only reason that he offers is that they still call themselves “Democrats.” How marvelously subtle and unexpected.
Nader’s next paragraph might erroneously lead you to believe that he intends to get to the real problem:
The explanations go back some years. The Democrats have long receded from the Harry Truman days of “give ‘em hell, Harry”. But their political castration occurred in the late seventies when the Democrats were persuaded by one of their own, Congressman Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), to start aggressively bidding for corporate campaign cash.
Ah, so perhaps the Democrats began to pursue an agenda that was notably friendly to corporate interests? But Nader immediately abandons this line of inquiry, to return to the reliable theme of irredeemably loathsome Republicans who “torture” Democrats. No wonder the poor Democrats are dominated by fear and weakness: they’re “tortured daily”!
And then we read a paragraph that reduced me to open-mouthed astonishment. Nader intends the following as an indictment of “the unpopular agendas pitched by these Wall Street puppets” — by which he means “Republican leaders.” This is the paragraph:
One would think that politicians who side with big corporations would be politically vulnerable for endangering both America and the American people. These corrupt politicians promote corporate tax loopholes and side with insurance and drug companies on costly health care proposals. They defend the corporate polluters on their unsafe workplaces, dirty air, water and contaminated food, push for more deficit spending in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, neglect Main Street based public works-repair-America-jobs programs, support high-interest student loans, cover for oil industry greed at the pump, and are hell-bent on taking the federal cops off the corporate crime beats.
There is one slight problem with this analysis: it perfectly describes the Democrats’ program. The abominable — and now constitutional! — health “care” bill was championed not by Boehner or Cantor, but by Barack Obama. The wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and on and on are prosecuted by the Obama administration. The same is true of every item in Nader’s list.
Moreover, the program of systematic assassination by secret decree is not the invention of George W. Bush, but of Barack Obama. As I have noted many times before, this program represents the assertion of absolute power. Absolute power has been claimed and is fervently supported by Democrats. For any semi-decent human being, this should kill the Democratic Party until such time as it renounces the murder program fully and repeatedly, and then acts over a period of years to demonstrate that its renunciation is genuine.
I consider it impossible that Nader just happens to miss these points. I am forced to conclude that either he is now willing to lie across the board, including on every matter of the gravest significance, or he has become the victim of his chosen self-delusions to a degree that renders his brain non-functional in any meaningful sense. See my recent post on self-made stupidity and blindness for more on the latter point.
The column is remarkably and childishly confused. Strewn among the formulaic denunciations of “extremist” Republicans is this admission: “Unfortunately, on military and foreign policy there isn’t much of a difference [between the parties]. So the bright line will have to be on domestic issues.”
But a few paragraphs later, Nader writes:
There are plenty of bright-line issues for the Democrats. Get tough on Wall Street and corporate crime, protect pensions, end the wars, tax the corporate and wealthy tax-escapees, launch community-based public works programs, provide full Medicare for all, expand health and safety programs, to name a few.
Given his own admission, why in the world does Nader include “end the wars” on this list? But it is equally delusional to believe the Democrats will adopt any of the programs he identifies. To the contrary: the Democrats have provided voluminous evidence demonstrating that they feverishly oppose all such programs.
In brief, and as I have also said many times before, the Democrats act as they do because they are pursuing the programs and goals they want to pursue. The evidence is all around us, in the mangled, bleeding bodies of countless victims abroad, and in the increasingly desperate lives of more and more Americans at home. All a person has to do is open his eyes and look at it.
This is precisely what Nader and all those who have similar beliefs refuse to do. Once again, from five goddamn years ago:
[The explanation] is very simple, and it goes to the progressives’ central articles of religious faith: The Democrats aren’t really like this, not in their heart of hearts. The Democrats don’t actually favor a repressive, authoritarian state. The Democrats are good, and they want liberty and peace for everyone, everywhere, for eternity, hallelujah and amen.
People who continue to believe this have evicted themselves from serious political debate, and they have willingly made themselves slaves to their enthusiastically embraced self-delusions. They confess a comprehensive ignorance of history, a stunning inability to understand the political developments of the last century, and a desire to place the story they have chosen, primarily because it flatters their own false sense of vanity and self-worth, above every relevant fact.
So you know what I think, Ralph? Not only do I now think it’s your fault that Gore lost the 2000 election, I think that every terrible thing that has happened in the last half century is your fault!
I also know that it’s your fault I can’t lose 20 pounds. You bastard.
From now on, when idiot Democrats blame you for what are manifestly their own failures, you can defend yourself if you choose to. Good luck with that. You’ll need it.
Parliament Speaker Katatni to issue statement Sunday evening
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi issued a decision Sunday afternoon calling for the dissolved People’s Assembly (the lower house of Egypt’s parliament) to resume its legislative activities. He also called for fresh parliamentary polls to be held within 60 days of the ratification of a new national constitution.
Ahram Online’s correspondent close to the military council said that Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was currently holding an emergency meeting to discuss the surprise development.
Egypt’s military council had dissolved parliament’s freely-elected, Islamist-led lower house in mid-June, based on a High Constitutional Court (HCC) ruling that found Egypt’s parliamentary elections law – which regulated last year’s legislative polls – to be unconstitutional.
Morsi’s presidential decree, however, overturned the military council’s decision to dissolve the assembly and ordered the assembly to resume legislative activities. The president further declared that new parliamentary elections would be held within 60 days of the ratification of the country’s new national charter.
Morsi’s decision comes only one day before the HCC was scheduled to deliver a verdict on an appeal filed by members of the dissolved lower house challenging the decision to dissolve the People’s Assembly.
Mohamed El-Katatni, speaker of the parliament, will be giving a statement on the issue Sunday evening.
Only days after the dissolution of the lower house last month, the military council issued a ‘constitutional addendum’ giving the military full legislative authority until fresh parliament elections could be held.
The constitutional addendum also stipulated that new parliamentary elections be held one month after a new constitution is approved by popular referendum, expected sometime before the end of the current year.
Legal experts, meanwhile, have challenged the decision to dissolve parliament, saying that the HCC verdict only justified the dissolution of one third of the seats in the People’s Assembly.
Last week, Morsi took his oath of office before the HCC, which critics say represented the president’s tacit recognition of the controversial addendum.
TheRealNews| July 7, 2012
Scotland votes on independence in 2014 and may tell UK to remove Trident missiles
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will be forced to complete military or community service with the Israeli army, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party announced it would back a controversial plan for reforming the country’s laws.
Meeting in Jerusalem, the party said it would support the recommendations proposed by the so-called Plesner committee last week which also include forcing orthodox Jews to serve.
“The party this morning discussed and unanimously adopted the principles laid out by the Plesner commission,” Likud spokeswoman Noga Katz said in a statement.
The decision means the government will now move towards drafting a law requiring all sectors of Israeli society to complete either military or community service, with penalties to be levied on those who fail to comply.
There are around 1,500,000 pre-1948 Palestinians, who Israel refers to as Israeli Arabs, inside the Jewish state.
Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman later confirmed that there would be no exceptions for Palestinians, many of whom see the Israeli army as a source of oppression.
The new law will replace the so-called Tal Law, which contained national service exemptions for ultra-orthodox Jews and Palestinians, but was overturned by Israel’s High Court earlier this year.
Likud’s decision to back the recommendations of the commission appeared to head off the possibility of a coalition crisis.
The Kadima party headed by Shaul Mofaz, which joined the government in May giving Netanyahu a massive parliamentary majority, had threatened to quit the coalition over the issue of military service for all.
But after the Likud party decision, Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister and Mofaz had agreed on the formation of a panel to draft the new law.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and vice prime minister Shaul Mofaz are in agreement on the formation of a commission charged with drawing up a law on the equality of service to be presented at the next government meeting,” the statement said.
Military service is compulsory for most Israelis over the age of 18, with men serving three years and women two.
The Israeli army brutally suppresses Palestinians calling for equal rights and was recently accused of aiding fundamentalist Jewish settlers shooting Palestinian protesters.
- Palestinian stabbed, shot in settler attack near Nablus (alethonews.wordpress.com)
RAMALLAH — A number of Palestinian children who were detained in different circumstances have reported their exposure to abuse and maltreatment by Israeli soldiers and interrogators.
In some cases, the interrogators sexually harassed the children and on other occasions they threatened to rape them if they did not cooperate or make certain confessions, according to the children’s testimonies.
Palestinian statistics documented the detention of more than 9,000 children during the past ten years, mostly from occupied Jerusalem and West Bank villages such as Bil’in, Ma’sarah, Kafr Qaddum, Nabi Saleh and Beit Ummar.
A child named Mohamed said an Israeli interrogator threatened to sexually harm him if he refused to confess to throwing stones at soldiers and settlers.
Samer, another child, was given the choice of working as an informer or else he would be tortured, raped and jailed on a charge of throwing a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli patrol in Azzun village near Qalqiliya city.
For his part, director of the Al-Haq organization for human rights Shawan Jabbarin said the Israeli interrogators offer the detained Palestinian children to work for them if they want to get rid of the sexual and psychological pressure inflicted on them.
Jabbarin noted that Israel violates all limitations for the detention of minors under age 18 as stipulated by the fourth Geneva convention.
He stressed the need for the presence of a lawyer or one of the parents during the interrogation of children to prevent violations against them and to protect their rights.
The activist appealed to the UN and human rights organizations to intervene and oblige Israel to respect international law on the rights of children and release them all from its jails.
- UK Report finds Israel breaches International Law in treatment of Palestinian children (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 2 Million Brits Unite As #uk Unions Call for End to Forcible Transfer of Palestinian Children! (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
Israeli officials say a UN fact-finding mission “will not be allowed to enter” the country and its occupied territories. On Friday, the Geneva-based Human Rights Council appointed three officers to probe Israel’s West Bank settlement activity.
The UN’s top human rights body has commissioned three jurists to find out how Israel’s West Bank settlements affect “the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people.” The body called on Tel Aviv “not to obstruct the process of cooperation.”
This resonated harshly with Israel, who took no time to dub the mission “biased and flawed,” vowing not to support the officials.
“The fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel, and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “Its existence embodies the inherent distortion that typifies the UN Human Rights Council’s treatment of Israel and the hijacking of the important human rights agenda by non-democratic countries.”
Israel cut all ties with the council in March after the 47-nation body passed a resolution establishing the settlement probe. Israel accuses the commission of a “disproportionate focus” on Israel.
“The establishment of this mission is another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC,” a Foreign Ministry statement said on Friday.
Now that the team is to be prohibited from Israel, it will have to gain evidence from second-hand sources, like local media.
But even if the mission finds that the settlements violate human rights, any attempts to punish Israel will most probably be defused by the US, Israel’s key ally.
The UN considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law. The Human Rights Council says Israel’s plans to build more houses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermine the peace process and pose a threat to the two-state solution.
The West Bank settlements are at the core of dispute between Israelis and Palestinians. Some 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a territory that Israel expropriated from Jordan in 1967. Palestinians claim the West Bank is part of their future state, and object to any settlements there.
Israel cites historical and biblical links to the West Bank, saying the status of the settlements should be decided in peace negotiations.
- #PHOTOS | Settlers and soldiers attack village near Nablus, injuring 5. Torched trees. Killed sheep (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Israeli noncooperation not to affect UN probe on settlement activities … – Xinhua (news.xinhuanet.com)
The United Arab Emirates has reportedly recruited soldiers form the Colombian army’s special forces units to protect the sheikdom in case of heightened tension in the Persian Gulf or domestic unrest.
According to the daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the oil-rich Arab country offers Colombian soldiers between USD 2,800 and USD 18,000 per year while officers are said to earn USD 550 a month in Colombia.
According to reports, more than 800 Colombian troops and officers have already been brought to the UAE and a total of 3,000 others are planned to be hired.
It is said that the UAE is employing the forces due to concerns in the Arab country regarding a conflict with neighboring Iran which may begin by an attack on Iran’s nuclear energy facilities or as a result of the growing tension over the UAE’s ownership claims on the three Iranian Persian Gulf islands.
On the other hand, the UAE rulers are worried about the public protests and the impact of the Arab Spring in their own territory. Colombian soldiers can then display their power and capability on the streets.
The choice of these soldiers is not surprising at all. Colombian troops have gained international recognition for fighting against underground groups and drug gangs.
According to some reports, the troops have acquired this capability and skill through training they have received from Israeli, US and British experts.
This is why Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in 2009 that Colombia is the “Israel of Latin America” as he was pointing to extensive military ties among Colombia, the US and Israel.
In recent years, the Colombian media have spread numerous reports about Israel’s interference in training the country’s forces in fighting the militia.
Colombia’s FARC rebel group said in 2007 that Israeli commando officers are training the country’s army in the Colombian jungles.
The Colombian Defense Minister Jose Manuel Santos announced that a group of former Israeli intelligence officers advised the Colombian military’s Chief of Staff.
- U.S.’s Post-Afghanistan Counterinsurgency War: Colombia (alethonews.wordpress.com)