Read Our 30 January 2015 Issue Below «

Regimes, #Torture and #HumanRights

@hjbentham .


Wherever there is a regime guilty of torture, the CIA is there... doing it.


We have to put aside the myth that the US is battling tyrants in the third world. The archetype of the third world dictatorship was always a CIA-backed regime as far back as the 1950s, and remains so today. It is important to talk about this, because the US has even turned a once-stable European country, Ukraine, into a similar third world-styled dictatorship in the name of the scandalous farce of so-called "democratization".

The US State Department's social experiment in "democracy" in Kiev since 2014 has become a dictatorship. It is deeply paranoid of critics, guilty of torture and assassination of media and political opposition, and has zero tolerance for dissent in any form. It is the most tin-plated dictatorship that has existed in Europe since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Calling the Kiev regime a "democracy" is a disgrace to all political theory and commentary.


The Senate's torture report exposed that the US bears chief responsibility for the torture it has always accused other regimes of committing. It committed its atrocities at "black sites". Where they are located is classified, but we do know enough about them to realize why they are where they are. They are located in poorer countries with poor human rights records. Locating them there serves no other purpose than to escape US jurisdiction and exploit US prejudices against non-Western societies and regimes. The result the CIA must have wanted is that we might fail to recognize the CIA's central role in a number of regimes' inhumane behavior.

It is not a coincidence that the United States created its "black sites" in the very same countries the US accuses of torture and human rights abuses.


The CIA based its black sites in Eastern Europe and the third world because the CIA already bears primary responsibility for all the torture, human rights abuses and despotism in such regions. The CIA is responsible for training, instituting and normalizing the torture committed by the very same regimes opposed and sanctioned by the US administration on "human rights" grounds. CIA thugs and killers invented and supplied the torture techniques, including Saddam Hussein's famed "rape rooms", that the US administration has used as an excuse to attack or sanction other countries. The reigns of terror that the United States pretended to be "freeing" states like Iraq or Cuba from are nothing more than the atrocities of its own henchmen in those countries.

For all these years the US spent lecturing various third world regimes like Cuba, Chile or Iraq on human rights, its very own CIA "trainers" and "interrogators" were there,  organizing and committing all the torture in these countries.


According to other information, the CIA also liked to hand over prisoners obtained in its wars and repressions to various dictators, whose men would torture the prisoners on America's behalf. One of these dictators was Hafez al-Assad, the father of Bashar al-Assad, the current Syrian President.

So, in effect, all the torture currently mentioned by the media as the crime of the Hafez/Bashar regime in Syria wasn't even Bashar's idea in the first place, but the CIA's. Even in its most exaggerated form, the Assad torture atrocity  is only a fruit of the United States' own evil and meddling in the world.

If we look deep enough, we only find that the CIA trained  interrogators under Hafez al-Assad, just as it did under Nasser in Egypt. And when the  State Department points in glee at the "Assad regime" atrocities, it neglects to mention that it is pointing at its own mess -  the long-term consequence of a country's infestation by the CIA.

This is not an exaggeration, or the vitriolic propaganda it sounds like even as I write it. If we take a sober look back on the historical record, the torturers belonging to Nasser's regime in Egypt - the original Baathist government and prototype of the Baathist regimes in Syria and Iraq - were trained and directed by none other than the CIA.

We aren't hearing where the black sites are because it would shatter the myth that the US is fighting tyrants, and prove that the US and its lackeys are the real tyrants over humanity. The CIA built the rape rooms and prisons of the Third World in its so-called black sites, and instituted the practices of torture in all the countries it accuses of human rights abuses. That's the reason it won't enlighten the public any more about its activities than we are allowed to be shown in the public version of the torture report. Contrary to its propaganda about fighting tyrants and terrorists, the United States invented and holds in place the most degenerate forms misery, emaciation and oppression endured by humanity in the present day.

The US regime is the greatest purveyor of dictatorship and torture in the world.


If American soldiers are truly committed to destroying dictators, thugs and torturers, they would be best advised to turn their weapons and training against the sadists and liars running their own "intelligence" agencies. The CIA gleefully trained and backed the thugs and tyrants of the world's most despotic regions. Their black sites are the black hearts of each region beleaguered by human rights abuses today. How can these hangmen play any legitimate part in a battle against tyranny?

If there's something we can learn from the torture report, it's that the professional psychopaths and mad doctors of the CIA need one more lesson in how to use a rope.

Harry J. Bentham | More articles by Harry J. Bentham



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#POTUS, Chelsea Manning Wants a Word

@nickfnord .


Above: a screen associated with the Collateral Murder video that US political prisoner Chelsea Manning has been detained, tortured and persecuted by regime security forces for disclosing

As usual, the State of the Union address was a top to bottom massacre of verbiage. Every year the English language struggles to survive an onslaught of what can only be described as total verbal hangover from a year of rhetorical binge drinking. Somehow, some way, one man manages to stand on a platform (while two other guys sit awkwardly behind him clapping every now and then) and sum up a bunch of nonsense over the course of an hour or more.


The results are never pretty and picking out something objectionable is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. But if I had to pick one of the most egregious quotes from Obama it’s this: “[W]e defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”

Mr. President, do you know who Chelsea Manning is?


I mean, you seem to know who she is. You’ve said in the past that Manning is guilty of “breaking the law,” thus implying that she deserves her sentence of up to 35 years in prison. And you’ve also commented that the Pentagon assures you that her conditions are “appropriate and are meeting our basic standards” when she was put in solitary confinement.

This, despite the fact that, at the time, she was being “… confined for 23 hours a day to a single cell, measuring around 72 square feet, equipped only with a bed, toilet and sink.” And the fact that it was an illegally lengthy pretrial detention didn’t seem to matter much to Obama either, despite there being pretty good grounds for it being a human rights violation.

As the Center for a Stateless Society’s Nathan Goodman wrote, “UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez investigated the conditions under which Manning was held and concluded ‘that the 11 months under conditions of solitary confinement … constitutes at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture. If the effects in regards to pain and suffering inflicted on Manning were more severe, they could constitute torture.'”

Given this history of knowing ignorance, how could Obama not know about Chelsea Manning? Obama’s history of protecting other big political dissidents is also abysmal. Just ask Edward Snowden, who had to flee the country to make sure he wasn’t detained like Chelsea Manning, before he released information to the public that the government found embarrassing. Is that a sign of a free society?

I suspect Obama does know who Chelsea Manning is, but for some reason she doesn’t count as someone who has been persecuted for her struggles as someone who is transgender — despite the fact that during her pre-trial hearing Marine Corps Master Sgt. Craig Blenis defended the pretrial detention on the basis of Manning’s gender dysphoria because “that’s not normal, sir.”

So does persecution of transgender people only count when governments aren’t the persecutors? Is Chelsea Manning not a victim of persecution much like the inordinate number of other trans people locked in prison? And what is Manning if not a political prisoner who has been locked away for up to 35 years because she helped an undefined enemy in some nebulous and apparently impossible to argue for way?

At the heart of this is Obama’s ability to both recognize and obfuscate. Sure he knows about Chelsea Manning, but the question is whether or not he cares. With statements like the one he made in his address, we can see the answer before us quite clearly.


Nick Ford | More articles by Nick Ford



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Open Call for #Article #Submissions

@ClubOfINFO_Sale .


ClubOfINFO's audience is growing rapidly and presents an excellent opportunity to establish yourself as a writer on important issues affecting society today.


According to our data, our monthly traffic has been increasingly sharply since we first began publishing in March 2014. As we approach the first anniversary of this newsletter's launch, it is clear that a further year of healthily increasing visitors is likely.


We have created a Facebook Page, a Google+ Page and a Twitter account that is very lively and active. If you have not already followed these accounts, we invite you.


Written an article you'd like to add to our conversation on issues affecting technology on the political sidelines? Or draft notes you'd like us to develop, fully credited to you as a member of our team? The result will be getting your name established and respected at our newsletter, and links back to your site from here.

Please put forward all work using our simple submission form. We look forward to hearing from you, and we advise you to consider us as a destination for your articles in the long-term future as we continue to develop our online reach and influence.

Harry J. Bentham

Web Content Editor at ClubOfINFO Circulation

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Read Our 27 January 2015 Issue Below «

“#Terror” as Victim Rhetoric

@RcLibertine .


The entire purpose of the language of terrorism is to cloak the sentiments of war in a victim rhetoric. You see, France isn’t “at war,” they’re merely responding to “terror” attacks. Those wretched, vile gunmen are not warriors or soldiers, they’re madmen, lone wolf terrorists.


The attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s office on January 7 might otherwise be considered an invasion, an attack from outside forces France has declared war on. But war is far too brutish for the 21st century, where of course violence is on an inevitable downturn and world peace is just around the corner if not for a few meddling terror cells.

Calling such events “terrorism” is just a way of defamiliarizing people with the concept of war. No matter what, an attack on any western nation’s soil is terror, wholly undeserved, never the result of an ongoing worldwide conflict but merely the work of crazed individuals.


Delude yourself no longer with these politically correct terms. There’s a war, many western nations are involved in it, and attacks on your home turf are a result of it. Maybe the neocons would be a little less annoying if they stopped trying to dress this up as something else. Maybe people would be more hesitant to simply pick a side and declare the other side nothing more than barbarous lunatics if we actually talked honestly. It would at least do us all the service of clearing up people’s intentions and allow those around us to judge the situation more accurately.

All acts of war involve terror. The horror of war is not a byproduct, it is the intention. One cannot divorce terror from war anymore than one can divorce pleasure from sex. Treating an entire side of a conflict as the mere triggering of emotions among a geopolitical constituency reinforces that society’s self-righteousness and blinds them to the environment of terror present constantly throughout middle eastern nations that the west has established.

Perhaps this victim rhetoric has been generated by western militaries and media mouthpieces because they know the painful truth: Islamic terrorists are simply more efficient in provoking a feeling of helplessness. While the psychological effects of the west’s war of terror on the Arab world (and beyond) cannot be overstated, it is not difficult to notice just how much more reactive and frightened westerners get when these attacks occur, because they have been sheltered from the results of war for so long.

This is not to say their panic is not without justification. It is perfectly normal to become fearful and aggressive when you realize that no public space is safe, that a group of extremists could, at any moment, decide to make you a target of their violent political agenda. But since theirs is an act of terror and ours an act of defensive war, or more sickeningly twisted, a humanitarian intervention, we as a civilization do not have to come face to face in our discourse on this most horrifying of realities.



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Missing Comma: The Pen and the Sword

@illicitpopsicle .


This morning, there are twelve people who are dead who should not be.


Nine journalists, a maintenance worker and two police officers were killed at the Paris headquarters of French satire newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday. Eleven more were injured; four are still in critical condition as of this writing.

Here is a list of the dead (source: The Guardian):

Stéphane Charbonnier, 47, cartoonist and publisher of Charlie Hebdo
Jean “Cabu” Cabut, 76, Charlie Hebdo’s lead cartoonist
Georges Wolinski, 80, Tunisian-born artist
Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac, 57, a member of the group Cartoonists for Peace
Bernard Maris – known as “Uncle Bernard”, 68, economist and Charlie Hebdo columnist
Philippe Honoré, AKA Honoré, 73, Charlie Hebdo cartoonist since the paper’s founding in 1992
Michel Renaud, former journalist and political staffer, visiting Charlie Hebdo
Mustapha Ourrad – Algerian copy editor at Charlie Hebdo
Elsa Cayat – Charlie Hebdo analyst and columnist
Frederic Boisseau – building maintenance worker
Franck Brinsolaro – 49-year-old police officer appointed to head security for Charb and father of a one-year-old girl
Ahmed Merabet – 42 and a French Muslim police officer and member of the 11th arrondissement brigade.

*

This morning you will read countless editorial boards repeating the line about freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Even my local state newspaper, The Oklahoman, has seen fit to take a break from its usual fare to publish an editorial cartoon in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.

You will also read plenty of pieces of analysis from commentators of all stripes — worrying about the fuel this will add to the fire of French nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiments, incensed that journalism has been attacked, perhaps even adding some of that Islamophobic fuel themselves.

All of these columnists, from the left to the right, from the libertarian to the statist, will miss the point.

For all the talk of Charlie Hebdo’s anti-authoritarianism, commitment to freedom of expression, their courage and bravery in the face of Islamic fundamentalism, their “equal-opportunity” sartorial stance, what everyone seems to fail to recognize is that the attack on Charlie Hebdo had nothing to do with Islam, or indeed, religion to begin with.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo was as political as the statements Presidents Obama and Hollande made condemning the actions.


*

Vaneigem once wrote: while it flays us alive, power cleverly persuades us that we are flaying each other.

Charlie Hebdo sometimes mocked French heads of state, sometimes laughed at power, but it never openly challenged it. It was, by all accounts, a paper perfectly willing to engage in satire only so long as it could be allowed to blindly fire in any direction. To this end, it was a useful tool of power.

This should not be taken as a showing of disrespect for the dead. Any time a journalist, or an editorial cartoonist, or a photographer is killed, it is a deep, searing tragedy that fills my — and every fellow journalist’s — heart with rage and anguish. This time is no different. We are an industry that takes to heart “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Recognizing that an outlet — that Charlie Hebdo — serves the interests of power does not reduce the pain or lessen the loss. Even, in this instance, are the deaths of the police officers that were on the scene tragic. That does not change the universal purpose of the police: to serve power.

According to the Guardian, one of the primary suspects in the attack, 32-year-old Chérif Kouachi, was imprisoned in 2008 on terrorism charges for “helping funnel fighters to Iraq’s insurgency. He said at the time he was outraged at the torture of Iraqi inmates at the US prison at Abu Ghraib, near Baghdad.”

Eyewitnesses said one of the suspects proclaimed that they were from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP is based in Yemen, which has, in recent years, been subject to numerous American drone strikes, resulting in the death of numerous men, women and children. If Kouachi and his brother, Said, are in fact the gunmen, and did end up in AQAP, then it is certainly reasonable to surmise that American/coalition foreign policy up to and including drone strikes may have been a motivating factor for them. Of course, this is just an assumption. For now, the gunmen’s motivations are “whatever we write them to be.”

*

Yesterday Laurent Joffrin, the publishing director of Liberation, a French left-wing paper similar to the Guardian, remarked, “The terrorists have not attacked the ‘Islamophobic’ as the enemies of Muslims, those who constantly cry Islamist wolf. They targeted Charlie.”

And yet, today the reactionaries, the National Front and other right-wing nationalist groups, are making their bid for the highest political offices in France, using the Charlie Hebdo attack as their springboard. Did the paper speak for them?


The latest cover of Charlie Hebdo is a lampoon of French author Michel Houellebecq’s upcoming novel, which imagines a France run by a “Muslim Fraternity.” By all accounts, Charbonnier had been attempting to pull the paper back towards its left roots, especially after the 2011 firebombing of their offices. If this is true, then why would the National Front try to use the attack as an electoral boost?

Because the images that Charlie sometimes published, the ones that many label as Islamophobic and racist, have just as much of an audience as the images that attack the rich, powerful, bigoted. Because when something like this happens, it somehow justifies all the twisted logic of modern-day Nazis.

This attack took place in a country whose last several presidents have signed laws into being that actively ban aspects of Muslim life and freedom of expression. It took place in a Europe that has seen increasingly vitriolic anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment, and where, as recently as this month, the state has actually ordered pre-school and daycare teachers to spy on Muslim toddlers. It took place in a world that has been at war for the better part of two decades. Charlie’s work was not being done in a vacuum. It served, and continues to serve, power.



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Linus Torvalds: #Facebook #security, AI

@ScottWNesbitt .


In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at open data not being so open, Facebook releasing more of its tools as open source, and more!


Open source news for your reading pleasure.

January 17 to January 23, 2015


World Wide Web Foundation releases second open data barometer report


In 2013, leaders of the G8 signed the Open Data Charter. The Charter promised to make government data freely available, at no cost, and in a format that anyone could use. There's still a long way to go, according to the second edition the World Wide Web Foundations Open Data Barometer report published last week.

Who is the most transparent government? The United Kingdom, followed by the United States, Sweden, France, and New Zealand. Some of the least transparent governments include those from Myanmar, Morocco, and the Philippines.

According to the report, "much more needs to be done to support data-enabled democracy around the world." Fewer than 10% of the countries surveyed in the report release open data. However, the the Foundation warns that "the trend is towards steady, but not outstanding, growth in open data readiness and implementation."

Facebook artificial intelligence tools made open source


Whether you like or loathe Facebook, you have to agree that the company is committed to open source. It reaffirmed that commitment last week by releasing some of its artificial intelligence tools as open source. The tools will enable developers to build services "involving everything from speech and image recognition to natural language processing."

The tools include modules that can help process natural languages and do speech recognition as well as algorithms that do deep learning. The latter can guess what users will be interested in by analyzing their past habits. It can also do facial recognition. But, as Facebook's Soumith Chintala points out, having the tools isn't enough. He stresses that "someone has to go and implement the algorithm in a program, and that’s not trivial in general. You have to have a lot of skill to implement it efficiently."

Linus Torvalds: security problems need to be made public


At linux.conf.au last week in Auckland, New Zealand, Linux founder Linus Torvalds offended a number of people with his comments about diversity in the Linux world. That controversy drowned out what Torvalds had to say about security issues in the software world, which was important.

In a Q&A session, Torvalds said, "I think you absolutely need to report security issues, and you need to report them in a reasonable timeframe." He disputed the claim that disclosing problems only helps the so-called black hat hackers. Instead, it spurs developers to fix the problems.

Torvalds said that the Linux kernel mailing list reports security issues within five working days. He added, "In other projects it might be a month, or a couple of months. But that's so much better than the years and years of silence which we used to have."

U.S. digital team shares code and best practices with U.K. counterpart


Strong ties of cooperation between the U.S. and the U.K. date as far back as 1941. That trend is continuing, with the U.S. Digital Service working with the U.K.'s Goverment Digital Service to "work together to share best practices and tackle shared challenges."

Dubbed a digital partnership, the relationship between the two services has deepened as of late with both sides "now sharing open source code they develop as part of their digital projects." The teams also hope to collaborate on improved ways to digital services, to train future experts, and to further open data and open government initiatives.

A second life for out-of-print books


That's the aim of the $1 million Humanities Open Book grant program run by the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program "will give grants to publishers to identify great humanities books, secure all appropriate rights, and make them available for free, forever, under a Creative Commons license."

The goal of the grant, according to William Adams who heads the NEH, is to "widen access to the important ideas and information they contain and inspire readers, teachers and students to use these books in exciting new ways." The funding will allow publishers to convert worthwhile out-of-print books to EPUB files that anyone can read with an existing eReader.

If you're a publisher, or work for one who may be interested in this program, you can find the application guidelines at the NEH website.

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