Name: Christine

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    The Saudi Standard

    September 12th, 2016

    By Christine Axsmith.

     

    War!  Again! Against an evil enemy, of course.  While we chart the offenses of our putative enemies, the crimes of our solid allies are ignored.

    Before we find ourselves lost in yet another desert storm, let’s objectively state how bad a country has to be before we attack them with military force, including bombing.

    I nominate the Saudis. As in, the United States does not go to war with any nation unless they act worse than the Saudis.  Let’s recap the crimes of Saudi Arabia: 

    encouraging and funding radical Islamic terrorists 

    aiding the 9/11 attack on New York City 

    slavery and public beheadings for minor crimes and non-crimes imprisoning women, all women, with travel, money and clothing restrictions

    use of chemical weapons. See video below:

     


    The Saudi Standard is that a country would have to be at least as bad as the Saudis for the United States to declare war, provide military support, or use drones.  There.  Finally we have an objective, independent standard for decisions of military aggression.

     

    Sins of the Saudis


    The real weight in the Saudi Standard is the “aiding the 9/11 attack” part of the test.  Besides Japan bombing Pearl Harbour, no country has behaved worse towards the United States.  Now, the Saudi Arabian monarchy did not attack the United States as a country. But Saudi money and radical interpretation of Islam supports terror groups all over the world. Those groups carry out terror attacks against us and our allies. And because of the oil, we look the other way.

    The latest news is a bill passed in Congress allowing families of people killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue to Saudi government.  Their claim is based on the participation of Saudi officials in preparing for the World Trade Center attack in 2001. See video below:

    The Saudis are allies you could say only wish on your enemy.  If we can fight wars to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraqi invasions, then the nations we declare war on should at least be worse than them.  All that is aside from their monarchy system of government, which our soldiers died to protect.

    It is our civic duty to ask for an accounting of our military decisions, and the real reason we are attacking, or supporting the attack, of other countries. It certainly can’t be human rights violations, as almost no one is as bad as Saudi Arabia.

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    “Making a Murderer” is Not Entertainment

    August 21st, 2016

     

    By Christine  Axsmith.

     

    “Making a Murderer” crept up on me…

     

    It’s one of those things. You notice it slowly, as it pokes at your attention from one website, then your Facebook feed.  No one you actually talk to mentions it at all.  Finally, after a Slate article, you start to watch.

     

     

    An addictive personality, like mine, will find itself in familiar woods.  You start to pay attention, and then you dive in, resentful of needing to breathe because of the breaks it causes in your new interest.  The frame of reference for your whole life changes.  Everything is repainted into a new portrait of the world.  I have focus.  I have drive.  I have a mission.

    As someone who is familiar with my own mental tricks, I have learned a healthy dubiousness of my own reactions – which keeps me from moving across the country to pursue my latest obsession.  It doesn’t stop me from detaining friends and acquaintances and telling them about the Making a Murderer documentary, its implications and frauds.  My friends, and husband, are tolerant and kind.  (I haven’t tried this on my sisters yet.)

    I am not alone.  The gripping Netflix series “Making a Murderer” is shocking the English-speaking world.  UK, South Africa, Hong Kong subscribers to Netflix share horror at what they see.

    But what, exactly, are they seeing?

     

    “Making a Murderer” Debates

     

    Allison Hope Wiener, host of YouTube‘s CrimeTime on TheLipTV Channel, insists there is an entertainment element to “Making a Murderer.”  Love you, Allison, but I disagree.  Her opinion is bolstered by the entertainment news coverage of “Making a Murderer.”  Again, I disagree.  They may see the ratings, but none of them got the message.

    We aren’t just entertaining ourselves during this show.  In fact, “Making a Murderer” is not entertaining at all.  It is a difficult watch, and many report needing to walk away from it for a while because of the feelings it evokes.

    We, the watchers of “Making a Murderer,” are participating in a political movement.  The easy communication of ideas through the Internet has led to shifts in political power.  Before the Internet, local sheriff departments had little worry about their decisions being questioned.  Power like that was local, and only a reporter or a state-level or Federal prosecutor could change it.  These were the gatekeepers of appeal.  You had to convince one of them to follow your story before improper, or even illegal, actions could be confronted.  One person, or even a group of people, without the power of these gatekeepers, had no chance to affect the status quo.

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant, supposedly.  And the power to expose bad practices is a power in itself.  But the virtual world goes further.  It permits people to act.  It permits people to gather together and push in the same direction at the same time.  Their opinions and money can be directed very specifically towards a goal or idea.  Witness Bernie Sanders and his famous “let’s have a fundraiser” speech that raised millions of dollars.  That effect is possible because the information highways built to facilitate commerce are the same roads used to communicate information.

     

    The Evolution of News

     

     

    Remember when we were young?  We ingested awful news, Mad Men style, while sitting in our living rooms.  Very passive, and powerless.  Reporters, the gatekeepers of knowledge, decided what we needed to know.  Then it was written down and read to us by some old man with white hair.  Eventually a blonde female was added.  An example of that dynamic in action is the information that smoking causes cancer, which had been discovered many years before being reported in the mainstream press.  Another is negative information about Scientology.  When there was a choke point in the news, and only a few people chose your information, the Church of Scientology could intimidate them with lawsuits and stalking.

     

     

    Beginnings of the Information Tidal Wave

     

     

    This process started to break during the Clinton Administration.  Local t.v. news teams began to do their own national stories, which differed from what was considered “the news” before.  The types of news that would never be reported: an affair with an intern, or that a murderer/rapist had a high level job on the Hill, were driving headlines.  The former gatekeepers began to lost their hold on American opinion, and lamented it loudly.

    If they only knew.

    At the time, one reporter actually said that he, and everybody else, knew of the powerful Administrative Assistant who was convicted of rape and attempted murder, but that it “just wasn’t news.” Can you imagine someone saying that now?  More than that, it speaks volumes about the disconnect between those choosing the headlines and those reading the headlines.

    Not coincidentally, in the Nineties the Internet started becoming an important means of commerce and communication.  It was clear that a whole lot of money was going to pass through those wires, and everybody better get prepared for it.  What no one anticipated was the same “Information Superhighway” would be a conduit for information.

     

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    News Aggregation

     

    Then came the Drudge Report.  Matt Drudge famously worked at the gift shop at CBS Studios and fished discarded news stories from the trash and published them via email, and then later on a web site.  During the later Nineties, The Drudge Report became a pillar of news and information that other outlets had to follow, especially for salacious sex scandals of the kind ignored by the Washington press for decades.

     

    The Great Cat Incident

     

    “Making a Murderer” is all about political power.  It is the latest in a developing political trend that started with Anonymous uncovering the identity of two teenage cat abusers.

    At some point, the Information Age gave all of us a way to act, as well as know.

    It started with the boys who filmed themselves kicking their cat and posted it on YouTube.  The soon-to-be-notorious cat lovers of Anonymous tracked them down and outed them.

    This video is an example from 2010, when users from 4chan became enraged at a video of cat abuse on YouTube.

    It showed a young man abusing a family cat.  We know it is a family cat because Anonymous went on a mission to find out who hurt this cat, to get revenge.  That’s right Kenny Glenn, I’m looking at you.  And see http://www.kenny-glenn.net/.

    In what has become a familiar story, the personal information on Kenny Glenn, his family, and workplace of his parents were publicized to everyone in the world.  It was a new level of public shaming.

    Bile was thrown at Glenn and his family for years afterwards.

    The public expression of outrage morphed into a vigilante groups.  That’s not a criticism.  The global online marketplace provided the same path to political expression as buying a pair of shoes.  The ability to remotely shop for linen meant that groups could now politically galvanize on a worldwide basis using the same electronic pathways.

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    4chan‘s Great Cat Incident was not entertainment, any more than popular outrage about the Steven Avery case is entertainment.  It is a political expression.  It is power in a new context: global.  Before then, political power had geographic limitations.  The local sheriff, aside from rarely being trumped by the Governor or State Police or the FBI, usually enforced crime as he saw it.  That happened in the Glenn case.

    After the identity of the abuser and the health of the cats were known, follow-up outrage targeted the decision of local law enforcement to keep the cat in the same house.  Not for long, though.  People didn’t just shrug and leave after the initial outing.  They followed the status of the cat and shrieked when they found out it had been returned.  Only then was Dusty the cat was moved to a safe home in March, 2010.The attention had forced a reaction from local officials where previously there might have been one article in the paper, but then it would have died down.  This time there was no gatekeeper to decide there were other stories to report.  So the unilateral decision of authorities was not the final word, the activists on the Internet were.

    Before the information superhighway, no one would have found out who hurt that cat.  If it was discovered, the original law enforcement decision to not press charges would have ended the matter. What the Information Age gives us is the ability to reframe raw power.  A local guy, in his position of sheriff, has a wide range of reviews of his decisions.  It has never been that way before without a reporter from a powerful newspaper supporting you.  The revolution of ideas, consumerism is also a revolution of power.  You may have been king of your valley, but not any more.  People everywhere can see into your locale and hurt you if they don’t like what they see.  They can get you fired, as has happened to more than one YouTuber.  They can put your information on the internet so teen boys can threaten you with sex crimes.
    It’s the democratization of power.  You used to need a media outlet to agree with you before you could trump local power brokers.  No more.
    The next case to look at is the Stuebenville rape case.

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    Trump Is No Hitler – Explained

    August 20th, 2016

    By Christine Axsmith.

    Trump is No Hitler

    You can tell the level of Trump panic by the number of comparisons to Hitler in your Facebook feed. I call it the Hitler index. Not to worry, Trump is not another Hitler, will not become another Hitler, and could not become another Hitler even if he wanted to, because of the issues outlined below.

    My reasoning is based on the book “Hitlerland” by Andrew Nagorski which drew on unpublished manuscripts of Americans who actually witnessed Hitler’s rise to power, knew Hitler and other German politicians in the mid-1920s through 1942.  It is a very good book and worth reading.

    Racial Purity

    From the beginning, Hitler was clear that impurities in the German race needed to be rooted out. By this, he meant primarily Jews, but others as well. Americans who met Hitler during his rise to power remember him referencing a “final solution” to the “Jewish problem.” Of course at the time, they had no idea what he meant.

    Trump does not define anything in terms of racial purity. He never suggests that the American “race” needs to be purified from Mexicans. First of all, there is no American race. The idea would be a non-starter as there are many people of Hispanic origin here. Mexico is only one place where they originate. Trump does not claim that all Mexicans need to be removed from the U.S., as Hitler did. Trump’s focus is illegal immigrants, not Mexicans in particular, no matter how offensively he sells the idea.

    In Germany, Jews were beat up in the streets, as were women who were engaged to Jewish men. These women were shaved bald, dragged through the streets half naked, and crowds of people would laugh at them and call them names as they were beaten. Nothing like this is happening now to women engaged to Mexican men.

    More than that, there is a country for people to go to for safety: Mexico. There was no such place for Jews in Nazi Germany. From the beginning, concentration camps and mass extermination were Hitler’s plan to rid Germany, and Europe, of Jews. Safety for Jews living in Nazi-controlled territory was non-existent because no other country wanted to take them. Sure, a few hundred were accepted by Switzerland and other countries, but on the whole, there was no safe place for the Jews to live.

    Readers may react to this reasoning by saying that the sentiments Trump calls out in his followers are eerily similar to those Hitler aroused in his followers. It’s a good point, and a correct one. However, xenophobia, racism and fear of social change are not new political weapons, and politicians who use them are not all little Hitlers. The degree to which Trump does this is nowhere near that of Hitler.

    Brownshirts

    From Wikipedia: The Sturmabteilung; literally Storm Department, functioned as the originalparamilitary wing of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Their primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Slavic and Romani citizens, unionists, and Jews – for instance, during theNazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

    There were hundreds of Brownshirts who followed the directives of the Nazi party. They wore uniforms and marched in pseudo military formations and pretended to be a military in its own right. Upon suggestion, they smashed windows, shouted and beat people up. Again, no reasonable argument could be made that Trump is doing the same thing.  Yes, Trump has strongly implied that people should be beaten, but there are no roving gangs of young people in America who are beating up Mexicans in every town and smashing up their businesses. That’s what happened to the Jews.

    For the Brownshirts to act with such violence and get away with it, there had to be tacit approval from authorities. Remember, the Brownshirts were active for ten years before Hitler came to power. Also remember, they were all killed once Hitler secured the support of the military.

    Donald Trump supporters do not act like this. They probably couldn’t even if they wanted to, which they do not. The Republican Party is an already-established political party, not an insurgent one like the Nazis. The most you will see is ugly insults and thrown refuse at rallies.

    To get to the level of German politics in 1920s, each political group would have its own gang that oversaw “security” for its rallies and attacked gangs from other political parties. Now this is a point of some worry. The fights between supporters of each political candidate are escalating. There is increasing fear of violence, but more than the actual violence that has occurred. Yes, there have been some assaults. But again, the level of it nowhere near reflects what was happening in Germany during the rise of Hitler.

    Hyperinflation

    Germany was suffering from a severe financial crisis – much worse than the one in 2008. It caused blind panic and almost universal suffering. Veterans from World War I were left begging on the street, a source of national shame to compound the loss of World War I. Germany was forced to pay reparations to France, England and the United States which was a further insult to them, even if they did start the war.


    German hyperinflation before World War II

    Like people everywhere, Germans were looking for a group to blame. They blamed the Jews. Similarities to Trump’s discourse are obvious: he blames Mexicans for our economic troubles.

    There is no hyperinflation in the United States. We are not in a state of economic collapse. In 1930s Germany, people used wheelbarrows of cash to buy one loaf of bread because inflation was that bad. No one is doing that now.

    Should the U.S. economy collapse, there would be a reason to be concerned about Trump’s rhetoric. But that hasn’t happened.

    Hitler Was Insane

    And let’s not forget: Hitler was insane. Trump may be offensive and absurd, but he is not insane. Reports from Americans who met Hitler during his rise to power describe him as a person that was unable to have a conversation, as he had no interest in listening to anyone. He disliked anyone who tried to interject even a few words for “talking too much.” Meeting with Hitler meant being a one person audience to one of his speeches. He never looked at people with whom he was having a conversation. Not to mention his meth addiction.

    Trump is not an addict of any sort. He does not drink, smoke or do drugs. In fact, Trump’s brother died of a drug overdose, and I think it’s the real reason he wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Trump has managed to swindle scores of people over a long period of time. You don’t do that if you are insane. Trump is noted as a very personable guy, and has many friends. You may not be one of them, but they are out there.

    trump-celebrity-econo-girl

    Boycotts

    The Nazis led a nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses. And if you didn’t want to take part in it, the Nazi Brownshirts would make it very unpleasant for you if you stepped into a Jewish-owned store. Nothing like this is happening to Mexicans or anybody else because of Trump.

    Weak Institutions

    The democratic institutions that could put a limit on Hitler were overwhelmed by his popular and political support. Hitler was forced to be a witness in a trial of one of his Brownshirts for murder. We would call it a hate crime. The man was found not guilty.

    Hitler had tacit support from the Bavarian political establishment, such that his niece was shot under suspicious circumstances and Hitler was not even questioned about it. Or hisBeer Hall Putsch, which was open treason against the German government and for which he only spent nine months in prison out of a five year sentence. If Donald Trump shot someone, there is no jurisdiction in the country that would look the other way. If Trump engaged in an open, armed revolt against the U.S. government, no political establishment would shield him from his full sentence.

    Defendants on trial for treason for Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch

    So, Trump is No Hitler

    Much of what allowed Hitler to grab political power were the political and economic conditions in Germany in the 1920s.  Those conditions do not exist in the United States right now, nor are they likely to in the future.  Trump’s style of political rhetoric, and its content, are troubling.  The answer to that is the ballot box.

    Are you registered to vote?

    Are you registered to vote?

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    Cocaine Banking – review of Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano

    August 19th, 2016

     

    By Christine Axsmith.

     


    The Story of Cocaine in our World

    Everyone Does Cocaine

    The book first assaults our misperceptions. To dismantle general denial about the levels of popular drug use, the author takes us through a catalog of who in our lives is using cocaine. And I have to admit, when the idea that everyone uses cocaine was introduced, I laughed. I mean, it sounds absurd. No one I know uses cocaine, I thought. Then he takes you through the list of people you casually know, and the people they know, and the people who work at the businesses where those people get their dry cleaning done. And then you realize: I have no idea if any of these people use cocaine.

    Going through the numbers Mr. Saviano presents, you see that somebody is doing all this cocaine. The alternative is to believe that there’s a vast oversupply of cocaine all over the world, being produced and trafficked, but not bought. We know that is not true. So people really are using this drug, and heroin, to the extent the author asserts. It is really tough to internalize, though. I really think I don’t know anybody who does cocaine. Really. And that no one I come into contact with knows anyone who does, either. I comfort myself in thinking that the purchasers of this drug are all those people, those other, vacuous, soulless suburban types who watch tv every night. Of course, I watch tv every night too, but somehow everyone I know is different from these cocaine-purchasers who are tacitly destroying the world. Or propping up the international banking system with liquidity, if Mr. Saviano is to be believed.

    The Trail of Cocaine

    Zero Zero Zero takes the reader through the financial and logistical roads that act as veins to the body Cocaine. Its delivery system, innovations in transport, sea shipping, hidden in fruit imports, are interesting as well as plausible. I always said that Donald Trump’s real interest in Mexico has to do with drugs, as his brother died of a drug overdose, and those walls and stops he wants to put in place are coming from a desire for revenge.

    Zero Zero Zero is well-researched and a well-told story. The detailed recounting of modern drug-dealing history is impressive and depressing at the same time. But at the end of it, certain conclusions pull at my sleeves:

    People do drugs.

    People always will try to sell drugs to the people who do drugs.

    Successful sellers of drugs are always murdered.

    Zero Zero Zero is quite the eye-opener about how heroin and cocaine find its way around the world. No doubt there. But the book never takes a step back from all the blood to analyze the entire system.

    Demand Demand Demand

    Mr. Saviano details the supply part of the illegal drug businessinsightfully. It is interesting, though, that he ignores other side of the economic equation: demand for drugs.

    Maybe the problem is that people do drugs. For it is the demand for cocaine and heroin that spurs all this other illegal activity. Eloquent descriptions of the history and shifts in drug cartels and their methods are informative. It is even skin-crawling at times. But the primary engine of all this destruction is never addressed: people want to do drugs.

    Is it Mr. Saviano’s contention that the fight against this corruption can only take place through supply side attacks? We don’t know because he never tells us. In reading this book, it becomes clear that demand is the only thing can be attacked in this War on Drugs. And yet, demand is not written about at all. It is the cause and the reason for every bloody act described in the book, and nothing is said about its role in stopping the overall system.

    An historical look at other invasive crime syndicates would have been helpful. After all, there were criminal gangs before. Did they last for thousands of years to continue to feed off the misery of others? No. They fell. How did that happen? A detailed listing of gory crimes does little to enlighten the reader, and only convinces me more that I should never become a drug dealer.

    Of course, the rebuttal will be that this is the beginning of a truly worldwide criminal enterprise. I don’t believe it. If 300-year-old Chinese pottery shards can be found at the Londontown archeological dig in Maryland, United States, globalism has been with us for a very long time.

    The Cost of Truth

    Roberto Saviano confesses his personal and emotional journey for this truth-telling, asking himself why would he do this, subject his wife and family to stress and worry, and possible danger themselves. He discusses the reality of being under police protection 24 hours a day for years as a result of his reporting on organized crime in Italy. And yet he cannot stop looking and telling us about it. And his research is thorough. It starts in the Eighties and explains how the Columbian cartels were displaced by Mexican ones, the trans-Atlantic alliances for the shipment of Columbian cocaine, and how American demand for illegal drugs feeds this violent and awful business.

    I can relate to truth-telling as a role and a duty, but have never made the sacrifices of Roberto Saviano. He must love his country very much to sear truth into its skin at such a cost.

    Cocaine Banking

    Hearing the hopelessness in the author’s words, the reader could reasonably start feeling a little depressed themselves. The story is presented as a fait accompli. There is no going back now, we are all under the thumb of illegal crime lords who are using their cash to prop up post-Great Recession banks and small businesses that require a boost in these economic times.

    Rather than a catalog of torment, the author could have looked to the weaknesses in the system. Instead, all the reader is left with is stomach pains and a dull wish for death.

    Aside from that, this blood-dripping tale offers no solution, no hope. So this humble blogger will put up her interpretation for the way forward.

    Cheer Up, Mr. Saviano!

    The book is excruciating in its descriptions of the role of illegal drug profits in a post-2008 cash-strapped banking system. The facade of our financial system is held together by the raw cash of illegal drug sales, it argues. I am not in a position to dispute that, and will not bother.

    Even if true, Mr. Saviano still has reason to hope. See, I know something about these upper class types of international finance and banking. Not as one of them, but better, as one who worked for them. I can assure Mr. Saviano the this current system of reliance on the liquidity of drug money will not last beyond its need. When the international economy gets its footing again, the uber-elites will turn and cut the throats of the thugs whose money they happily take now. And probably keep their money, too. It will be done as it always is, through law enforcement.

    In exchange for cooperation, banking leaders will be allowed to go on banking, and the drug dealers and producers will be either dead or in prison. American prison. So I do not lose hope, and ask Mr. Saviano that he not lose hope either. In America, the toughest, meanest gang is the middle class. And they always win in the end. The thugs are being used, lured into a belief of their power. Instead, they are like a cat on a bed, preening and unaware they are about to be thrown to the floor. But for the now, for the minute, they think they are in charge.

    I debated before writing out this balm, believe me, Roberto. Why warn them? Then I realized it didn’t matter. They were already dead.

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    Ask Sen. Rand Paul Questions About Bilderberg Group

    August 3rd, 2012

    By Christine Axsmith.

    U.S. Senator Rand Paul doesn’t like questions about the Bilderberg Group. So much so, he tried to get RT America and MediaRoots.org journalist Abby Martin arrested for asking them.

    That’s right, Sen. Rand Paul tried to have a journalist arrested for asking pesky questions after one of his media events. More than that, he tried to get the press credentials for the entire RT America news station revoked, even though Ms. Martin wasn’t even working for them while asking the questions. Essentially, that equates to getting Ms. Martin fired by putting pressure on RT America.

    This harassment was done through the Senate Media Relations Committee staffer Mike.

    The start of the problem was when a young journalist named Abby Martin asked Sen. Rand Paul about Sen. Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney in light of Gov. Romney attended a Bilderberg meeting. Wow. He must have really not liked that question.

    Idea! Let’s ask Senator Rand Paul that question all the time! Every time he goes into public. Every time he plays golf. OCCUPY SENATOR RAND PAUL!

    WeAreChange.org has a video here.

    Rand Paul Tries To Bully Young Female Journalist

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    DHS Tracks Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party Twitters – Against Their Stated Policy

    August 3rd, 2012

    By Christine Axsmith.

    The Department of Homeland Security has been accused of following private citizen Tweets through government contractors. DHS strongly assures people that although one report like this has been done, that report violated their privacy policies and has been destroyed.

    A report was written by a government contractor that did use private social media communications, including Twitter, in violation of DHS policy. DHS wants to assure everyone that they do not spy on U.S. citizens as a practice.

    Enter the glory of the Information Age.

    Wikileaks has published internal emails from Stratfor. Stratfor does work for DHS. DHS, it seems, had quite a fit about that report based on Americans’ Twitter accounts, as can be read in emails released to Wikileaks.

    This all leads to DHS officials emailing each other about a YouTube channel called The Young Turks.

    Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, a YouTube news and politics show, describes how his YouTube interview of Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings was monitored by DHS here. Apparently, there was high level DHS talk about reaching out to Michael Hastings to get him to understand that this monitoring-of-U.S.-citizen-Twitter-and-Facebook-account thing was a mistake that was corrected.

    Mr. Uygur is quite animated that private citizens’ Twitter accounts were being followed by Homeland Security. Although this seems to have happened once, was recognized as a mistake, and was immediately corrected, there is still cause for concern.

    Remember when law enforcement targeted Occupy almost simultaneously across the United States? Later we learned that there was indeed communications between cities about cracking down on Occupy.

    Remember when New York City police raided an apartment housing Occupy leaders just prior to a big protest? It’s not inconceivable that reading private Twitter and Facebook accounts contributed to those actions.

    But even if it didn’t, with American teenagers being executed without a trial, or even without belief they committed a crime, there is cause to worry about this troubling report.

    It demonstrates that the surveillance mechanisms are in place, just waiting for the key to turn.

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    Mob Wives of Chicago – A Ballet of Guilt

    July 23rd, 2012

    By Christine Axsmith.

    Whenever you have a “Wives of” show, it is usually a parade of untreated alcoholics. Mob Wives of Chicago is no different. The big difference is that no one on this show is a mob wife. They are mob daughters.

    The sanest, most mature and most likable person is the stripper Pia – which tells you a lot about the show right there. She strips to support her daughter. Pia’s father was a corrupt Chicago cop who testified in exchange for immunity and the witness protection program. Pia hates her father and is ashamed of his “being a rat.” That would explain her self-destructive career choices.

    Christina is a “girl from Taylor street” who, it seems, never learned that screaming and pulling hair is not acceptable on other streets. She enters therapy, where we all get to watch her therapist’s eyebrows jump when Christina talks about physically fighting with her friend. Christina’s father was arrested over 20 times. Her upset that two of the other women have defriended her on Facebook is touching, as is her struggle to make sense of the relationships in her life.

    When the girls all get together at some classy place, it is Christina who brings up a sore topic – that Nora’s father was a hit man for the mob.

    Nora does not believe that her father, the man she adored, killed people for a living. I’m not saying he did, mostly because I don’t want her taking a plane out here to scream, drink and pass out in front of my apartment building. Nora is confronting her past through investigating the suspicious circumstances of her father’s burial.

    The past, and how the women dance around it, is the most interesting part of the show. I see an intense guilt in all of them. Each handles it in a different way. Nora acts like a child and threatens to hold her breath and censure anyone who states the obvious. Pia takes her clothes off for money in what may be an outward display of humiliation that she feels inside. Still, she is the sanest and classiest of the bunch, in my opinion. Renee dresses in expensive clothes and mistakes that for class and manners. Renee taunts Pia for her career choices. Generally, Renee is a spoiled jerk whose judgement of others hides that everything she owns is dripping in blood. Christina jabs people in sore spots and wonders why they get angry.

    Underlying all this interpersonal tension is something more interesting than the usual drunk fools in these types of shows. They are all trying to deal with the truth in their own way. The past for them and their families is always in the room, poking its head out from behind them, no matter how far they go to avoid it.

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    Aba Monsour al Amriki: Alabama Man Becomes Jihadist in al Shabab in Somalia

    July 12th, 2012

    By Christine Axsmith.

    Aba Monsour Al Amrikiwaswas born and raised in Alabama as a Southern Baptist. In 2006, he went to Somalia to join al  Shabab, a radical and violent Islamic group.

    His role in the group was to create recruiting videos for the Islamic jihad that targeted Americans. The value of this function should not be dismissed. He was capable of packaging the message of a particularly radical and violent Islam for Western, and especially American, audiences. This was not a common skill set in Somalia.

    Right now, al Amriki seems to be dead. His life devolved from being a key member of al Shabab to hiding from his own terror group, African troops and U.S. drones. Out of this entire story, that is the point I want to bring across. A member of a violent terror organization will eventually be targeted by his former friends. Almost all of them die violently. There’s no such thing as an old terrorist. They either get killed by their friends, a government or a rival terror group that used to be friends. Terrorists can seek sanctuary in a country that is willing to offer protection, until the country changes its mind. And if a terror group achieves its objectives, the individual members turn to crime or suicide. A very small percentage of them become politicians.

    There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

    The video link above is from Current TV online.

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    Wikileaks: Togo, Boko and Nine Dead French Soldiers

    June 27th, 2012

    By Christine Axsmith.

    Arms Trafficking in the Ivory Coast

    The released Wikileaks cable below basically alleges that nine French soldiers and an American citizen were killed by an attack on a French airbase by the Government of the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast got the military weapons and airplane from Belarus through a French mercenary named Robert Montoya.

    The planes allegedly arrived in Togo unassembled, but handily came with Belarus technicians and pilots to put the plane together in Togo and fly it into the Ivory Coast. After the killings of the French soldiers and the unnamed American, Togo’s Interior Minister at the time, Francois Boko, had the Belarus technicians and workers arrested, waiting for the French to come pick them up. It seems, according to Mr. Boko, the French were less interested pursuing those responsible for the deadly attack on their soldiers than it’s good relationship with Belarus.

    Very cloak and dagger, no?

    The problem with this report is the sole source for this information. As we learned in the runup to the second Iraq war, reliance upon a single source can lead to bad decisions. Further, the source is in exile and fighting for relevancy. See below for the story about hiding in the German Embassy until getting into France for safety. This report has interesting information that warrants further checking, but alone is not the basis for any action.

    EXCERPT
    ” ¶2. (C) At his invitation, we met on January 31 with
    Francois Boko, who had served as Togo’s Interior Minister
    until April 2005, when he was removed from office, took
    refuge in the German Embassy, and then left for exile in
    France. Boko had broken ranks with the GoT (Government of Togo) by calling for
    the postponement of elections in Togo in view of the
    instability building during the pre-election period (Ref A).

    TOGO-COTE d’IVOIRE ARMS TRAFFICKING
    ———————————–
    ¶3. (C) Boko commented extensively on the links between Togo
    and the November 6, 2004, bombing in Cote d’Ivoire, when GOCI
    forces attacked a French military base, killing nine French
    soldiers and an Amcit civilian. He said that the two
    Sukhoi-25 aircraft used in the bombing had been provided to
    the GOCI by former French gendarme Robert Montoya (Refs B and
    C). Montoya had obtained these and other aircraft and
    military equipment from Belarus and had also engaged
    Belarusian pilots and technicians. The planes had arrived
    unassembled in Togo, where they were assembled and then flown
    to Cote d’Ivoire. Boko said that the GoT leadership and
    military were aware of the presence of the planes and
    pilots/technicians in Togo. Boko said that French forces
    also had to be aware of their presence because the Belarusian
    planes were kept at the same Lome air facility the French
    were using to operate their own air missions in support of
    French forces in Cote d’Ivoire.

    ” ¶4. (C) After the November 6 bombings, Boko said that he had
    had the Belarusian pilots/technicians arrested when they
    returned to Togo from Cote d’Ivoire. He said that there were
    nine of them. Boko said he furnished details about their
    identities and activities to the French, through France’s
    Embassy in Lome and also through direct contact with General
    Poncet, who then commanded France’s Operation Licorne in Cote
    d’Ivoire. Boko thought there would be high French interest
    in the information he had conveyed but was surprised when the
    French did not express much interest. After holding the nine
    Belarusians for about two weeks, Boko was told by the French
    (including General Poncet, who communicated directly with
    Boko) to release them. The only explanation he received
    (again including from General Poncet) was that France “was
    not looking to complicate relations with Belarus over this
    matter.” “

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