Archive for January 13, 2012


FBI Spies on Prisoner Advocates

Deborah Dupre

January 11, 2012

http://www.examiner.com/human-rights-in-national/fbi-spies-on-prisoner-advocates

Spying, mass surveillance and data collection leave no peaceful human or Earth rights defender behind according to new Freedom Of Information documents.

As Iran condemns to death an alleged CIA spy, possibly due to his link to a video game called “Assault on Iran,” Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) documents obtained by a rights group this week reveal that the FBI, in Cointelpro and Phoenix Program modus operandi, is listing and possibly investigating and targeting innocent peopleof goodwill who write to eco-prisoners being tortured in the U.S. prison-industrial-complex. The rights group is urging the public to take a stand for First Amendment human rights and urging prisoner advocates to not allow fear of being spied on prevent them from their humanitarian work.

“For years people have been speculating that writing political prisoners would result in a person being ‘put on a list.’ Unfortunately, it seems that those speculations were not unfounded,” stated North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network after obtaining FOIA documents this week.

The Network had filed FOIA to learn about Eric McDavid who was arrested (with Zachary Jenson and Lauren Weiner) on January 13, 2006, as part of the government’s ongoing Green Scare campaign it says. After entrapment, all three were charged with “Conspiracy to damage and destroy property by fire and an explosive.”

[McDavid’s] arrest was the direct result of a government informant – known only as “Anna,” who spent a year and a half drawing him in and working with the FBI to fabricate a crime and implicate Eric in it, explains the advocacy group.

According to Walsh, Denny Walsh in his 2007 article, “Leader or led by the FBI?”. The Sacramento Bee (The McClatchy Company), “Anna” encouraged the activities of the three young people and provided them with bomb-making information, money to buy the raw materials, transportation and a cabin to work in, and produced consensual audio and video recordings of their activities.

According to “Anna,” McDavid threatened to kill her if he found she was working for the government. Anna was paid over $65,000 for her work with the FBI.

“Eric was imprisoned for what amounts to thought-crime – no actions were ever carried out, and Eric was charged with a single count of ‘conspiracy,’ a powerful legal tool often used by the state to crush dissent,” asserts the Prisoners Network.

The North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network filed FOIA to learn about “We will not allow the FBI to stop us from writing those who have given so much for the Earth. Don’t let them stop you either,” responded one of many prisoner advocate groups, Deep Green Resistance Massachusetts, in a written statement this week.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states on its “Spy Files” web page, “The erosion of reasonable restrictions on government’s power to collect people’s personal information is putting the privacy and free speech rights of all Americans at risk.”

(Watch the YouTube on this page left the Global Report about spying on innocent human rights, animal rights and other peace workers)

American spies and spying are not taken lightly by other countries. Iran has just convicted Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a former Marine from Flint, Mich. now on death row in an Iranian prison for allegedly spying for the C.I.A.

Hekmati is connected to a computer game that officials say “was to convince the people of the world and Iraq that what the U.S. does in Iraq and other countries is good and acceptable.”

Prisoner advocates call for increased advocate courage despite being spied on

On the domestic front, after receiving FOIA documents about political prisoners and secret spying on their contacts, the North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network stated, “We are not sharing this information to raise alarm or spread fear. We have every intention of continuing to write political prisoners, and we urge others to do the same.
 
“That said, we hope to expose the FBI’s politically motivated investigations and, unlike the FBI, we believe people have a right to know when they have been spied on.
 
 
“This kind of government intrusion could cause the ‘chilling effect’ so often thrown about in conversations about 1st amendment activities. But when we give in to those fears, political prisoners are the ones who suffer. And this is exactly what the government wants.”
 
In its statement, the North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network reminds the reader that Cointelpro of yesteryear is active today, with implications for all peaceful human and Earth rights defenders.
 
“The state is constantly trying to expand its reach by gathering information about social movements and those who participate in them.”
 
“Instead of letting this new information scare us into silence, we should use it to make informed decisions about how we support and prioritize political prisoners. “This kind of repression has implications for more than just people involved in ‘activism.’
 
“Millions of people are incarcerated in this country.
 
“It is possible that the government uses similar tactics to investigate other communities that they actively repress,” the prisoner support group stated. (Emphasis added)
 
In the article, “‘State Secret’: Persecute innocent Targeted Individuals, 8000 watch-listed,” this author reported that heavily redacted F.B.I. documents obtained by the human rights group, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) show 8000 American targeted individuals are being secretly persecuted because their names are on a strictly confidential government watch list, including people who never committed a crime.”
“Targeted Individuals on the watch list can be kept off of planes and be ‘subjected to delays and greater security at airports, border crossings and traffic stops.”
“Writing our friends, family members and comrades should not be a justified excuse for investigation – no matter who our friends are,” says Prisoners Support Network.
 
Nevertheless, people throughout the nation report being targeted and thus experiencing ongoing persecution: spying that many call “multi-stalking” or gang-stalking,” unforced house entries, mail tampering plus some allege being targeted with directed energy weapons assaults including shocks, stings, burning, nausea and disorientation.
 
A notice issued December 21, 2010 to field officers from “Counterterrorism” stated in capital letters: “DO NOT ADVISE THE SUBJECT THAT THEY MAY BE ON A TERRORIST WATCHLIST.”
 
The Prisoners Support Network says it received hundreds of pages documenting inmate Eric McDavid’s correspondence and that these letters are not just kept on file.
 
“[T]he Sacramento County Main Jail forwarded all of these letters to the Sacramento FBI field office, which then forwarded them to local field offices around the country (and to law enforcement internationally) to warn the FBI in other cities of a ‘possible environmental/animal rights extremist’ or ‘a possible anarchist extremist’ in their community.
 

ELF Destroys Ski Lodge Built on Lynx Territory, Vail Colorado, 2008

 
“Originally, the FBI’s communications included a statement that ‘Sacramento is forwarding this communication for information purposes only.’
 
“But later, they began including a much longer statement which read, in part: ‘this information has been determined to be of such a nature that some follow-up as to the possibility of criminal activity is warranted…’
 
The advocacy groups says these statements were included regardless of the content of the letter and that “often, the documents include the statement that the letter was ‘benign in nature.’”
“We are attaching three documents. The first is typical of the documents the FBI sent towards the beginning of Eric’s time at Sac County. The second is an example of what they sent to international law enforcement agencies. The final document is an example of the later version with the language about “follow up” being “warranted.”
ABC News reported in Sept. 2010 that the “FBI improperly targeted Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and two antiwar groups in domestic terrorism investigations between 2001 and 2006″ according to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice.

“The IG found there was ‘little or no basis’ for the terror investigations, and that they were ‘unreasonable and inconsistent with FBI policy.’

“At least two of the investigations resulted in innocent people being placed on the domestic terror watch list for years, and one resulted in FBI Director Robert Mueller providing Congress with ‘inaccurate and misleading information,’ according to the report.”

Motive for the baseless persecution of progressives is provided by independent researcher Marshall Thomas, who has documented the history of today’s Phoenix Program and its computerized database program and persecuting innocent people in his documentary, “Monarch, the New Phoenix Program.”
 
In the article, “Shocking state secrets: Patriot ACT illegal spy domestic terror campaign, the author detailed how the new Phoenix Program has secretly escalated since September 11, 2001.
 
Two years ago, to expose names and halt the illegal spying on innocent people, a nation-wide effort called Expose and Expunge was initiated by the public interest legal organization, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).
 
“Some of these illegal spying programs were suspended and yet the government maintains the illegally collected data. These databases should be expunged,” PCJF asserted in a statement to President Barack Obama. “We also oppose the continuation of other programs initiated during the Bush era which continue on in wholesale data collection and mass surveillance, unchecked and unabated.
 
“For instance, federal agents, local law enforcement and U.S. military personnel, with input from private right-wing political groups, continue to collect and report surveillance data, including fabricated disinformation, to the 72 government Fusion Centers around the United States.”
 
The ACLU notes how the FBI is directly connected to multiple agencies, each of which spies on innocent people and shares that information with the click of a mouse.
“The FBI, federal intelligence agencies, the military, state and local police, private companies, and even firemen and emergency medical technicians are gathering incredible amounts of personal information about ordinary Americans that can be used to construct vast dossiers that can be widely shared with a simple mouse-click through new institutions like Joint Terrorism Task Forces, fusion centers, and public-private partnerships.
“Fusion Centers have been found to target political, student, and religious organizations and activities,” explains PCJF.
“The people of the United States have a legal right to be free from government surveillance, the type of which was initiated by the Bush administration on an enormous scale. Using the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext, the Bush White House permitted the FBI, the National Security Agency, the CIA, Pentagon and other law-enforcement and military agencies to conduct unprecedented data collection against the people.

The PCJF campaign, thus far dismissed by President Obama, includes a sign-on letter with initial signers including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark plus many others representing a broad and diverse cross-section of leaders, human rights advocates, attorneys and legal scholars.

Learn more

To learn if the FBI has been collecting information on you, the website explaining how to request information under the Freedom Of Information Act is: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/press/information/topic.aspx?topic=how_to_FOIA

Navigate ACLU links below for updated information on spying conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the military, intelligence agencies, state and local police, and even private companies. Read about specific spying platforms, such as fusion centers, Joint Terrorism Task Forces and Suspicious Activity Reporting programs.

Spy Files: FBI

Spy Files: Department of Homeland Security

Spy Files: Department of Defense and NSA

Spy Files: Intelligence Agencies

Spy Files: State and Local Law Enforcement

Spy Files: Fusion Centers

Spy Files: Joint Terrorism Task Forces

Spy Files: Suspicious Activity Reporting Programs

Additional Resources

MAP: Spying on First Amendment Activity State-by-State

ACLU of Massachusetts’ log and document resources

http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/monkeys-found-have-used-tools-escape-zoo-brazil.html

It is said that the ability to use tools is an important commonality shared between humans and non-human primates — likewise, so it seems, is the desire to be free. In the early hours of the morning yesterday, a group of eight capuchin monkeys made a remarkably clever escape from a zoo in Brazil. Much to the surprise of staffers at the small facility, the daring monkeys appear to have used a stone tool to break the locks of their enclosure before fleeing into the surrounding forest.

Of the eight monkey to escape the facility in the Brazilian state of Paraná, officials have only managed to capture four so far. Zoo coordinator Gladis Dalamina told Globo that fruit-lined cage traps were successful in capturing three of the monkeys in the hours after the break out. The forth was found a day later after it broke into a nearby restaurant.

“It was a surprise because this isn’t the jungle here, and to have [a monkey] enter my establishment,” said the restaurant owner. “It was fun.”

Dalamina says that he and his staff will continue to try to track down the rest of the escapees, but that he thinks he’s already nabbed the brains of the zoo-break — an older monkey named Ceará, along with his girlfriend Amarela. According to officials, this isn’t the first time monkeys have tried to escape the small community zoo, though using a stone tool has been their most surprising and effective method yet.

“Their job is to run. Our’s is to catch.”

Capuchin monkeys are thought to be the most intelligent of the New World monkeys, exhibiting a remarkable ability to use stone tools. Researchers have observed capuchins in the wild gathering rocks, often collected from great distances away, to help them to crack open hard nuts. This skill is passed on generationally as younger monkeys learn by watching their elders.

Applying this same tool usage to the novel task of breaking locks, however, indicates an extraordinary use of logic to solve the unnatural dilemma of their captivity. But what’s more, perhaps, is the fundamental desire which guided their actions: the longing to be free.

*************************************************

See “Animal Agency: Resistance, Rebellion, and the Struggle for Autonomy”

https://drstevebest.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/animal-agency-resistance-rebellion-and-the-struggle-for-autonomy/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/us/more-conflict-seen-between-rich-and-poor-survey-finds.html

Conflict between rich and poor now eclipses racial strain and friction between immigrants and the native-born as the greatest source of tension in American society, according to a survey released Wednesday.

About two-thirds of Americans now believe there are “strong conflicts” between rich and poor in the United States, a survey by the Pew Research Center found, a sign that the message of income inequality brandished by the Occupy Wall Street movement and pressed by Democrats may be seeping into the national consciousness.

The share was the largest since 1992, and represented about a 50 percent increase from the 2009 survey, when immigration was seen as the greatest source of tension. In that survey, 47 percent of those p/olled said there were strong conflicts between classes.

“Income inequality is no longer just for economists,” said Richard Morin, a senior editor at Pew Social & Demographic Trends, which conducted the latest survey. “It has moved off the business pages into the front page.”

The survey, which polled 2,048 adults from Dec. 6 to 19, found that perception of class conflict surged the most among white people, middle-income earners and independent voters. But it also increased substantially among Republicans, to 55 percent of those polled, up from 38 percent in 2009, even as the party leadership has railed against the concept of class divisions.

The change in perception is the result of a confluence of factors, Mr. Morin said, probably including the Occupy Wall Street movement, which put the issue of undeserved wealth and fairness in American society at the top of the news throughout most of the fall.

Traditionally, class has been less a part of the American political debate than it has been in Europe. Still, the concept has long existed for ordinary Americans.

“Americans have always acknowledged that there are Rockefellers and the lunch-bucket guy,” said Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center, based at the University of Chicago. “But they believe it is not a permanent caste, but a transitory condition. The real game-changer would be if they give up on that.”

Going by the survey’s results, they have not. Forty-three percent of those surveyed said the rich became wealthy “mainly because of their own hard work, ambition or education,” a number unchanged since 2008.

The survey’s main question — “In America, how much conflict is there between poor people and rich people?” — was based on language used by Mr. Smith’s center at the University of Chicago, Mr. Morin said.

Mr. Smith said the question was often understood to mean, “Do the rich and the poor get along?” and “Do they have the same objectives?”

The issue has also become a prominent part of the political debate. President Obama has pressed the case that income inequality is rising as election season has gotten under way.

It has even crept into the Republican presidential primary race. At a debate in New Hampshire last Saturday, Rick Santorum criticized Mitt Romney for using the phrase “middle class,” dismissing the words as Democratic weapons to divide society. And conservatives have been wringing their hands over Newt Gingrich’s recent attacks on Mr. Romney’s past in private equity, saying they are a misguided assault on free-market capitalism.

Independents, whose votes will be fought over by both parties, showed the single largest increase in perceptions of conflicts between rich and poor, up 23 percentage points, to 68 percent, compared with an 18-point rise among Democrats and a 17-point rise for Republicans. Sixty-eight percent of independents believe there are strong class conflicts, just below the 73 percent of Democrats who do. (The survey’s margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the total sample.)

“The story for me was the consistency of the change,” Mr. Morin said. “Everyone sees more conflict.”

The demographics were surprising, experts said. While blacks were still more likely than whites to see serious conflicts between rich and poor, the share of whites who held that view increased by 22 percentage points, more than triple the increase among blacks. The share of blacks and Hispanics who held the view grew by single digits.

What is more, people at the upper middle of the income ladder were most likely to see conflict. Seventy-one percent of those who earned from $40,000 to $75,000 said there were strong conflicts between rich and poor, up from 47 percent in 2009. The lowest income bracket, less than $20,000, changed the least.

The grinding economic downturn may be contributing to the heightened perception of conflict between rich and poor, said Christopher Jencks, a professor of social policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“Rich and poor aren’t terribly distinct from secure and unemployed,” he said.

The survey attributed the change, in part, to “underlying shifts in the distribution of wealth in American society,” citing a finding by the Census Bureau that the share of wealth held by the top 10 percent of the population increased to 56 percent in 2009, from 49 percent in 2005.

“There are facts behind it,” Mr. Smith said of the findings. “It’s not just rhetoric.”

Robert Rector, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, took issue with that, arguing that government data routinely undercounted aid to the poor and taxes taken from everyone else.

To him, the findings did not mean much, “other than that the topic has been in the press for the last two years.”

 

By ERIC PFANNER

The New York Times,  January 11, 2012

http://tiny.cc/3saeg

Severe income disparity and chronic fiscal imbalances are the top two risks facing business leaders and policy makers this year and over the next decade, the World Economic Forum said in a report Wednesday.

If these problems are not addressed, a result could be a “dystopian future for much of humanity,” according to the report, which was published in preparation for the group’s annual meeting of business leaders, policy makers and academics in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25 to 29.

Signs of discontent with growing income gaps and economic problems stemming from the global debt crisis were already on the rise in 2011, as evidenced by the Occupy movement that began on Wall Street and quickly spread to other cities in the United States and around the world. Yet that might be only the beginning.

John Drzik, chief executive of the management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, said that deeper problems could be brewing in much of the developed world, where overextended governments face political, economic and demographic pressures to reduce social protections, pensions and other commitments.

“When it becomes clear that promises can’t be met, you could have social unrest increasing widely,” said Mr. Drzik, who contributed to the report. “People aren’t happy when they think they have something and they’re told that it’s not there anymore.”

Athens

Other risks highlighted by the forum include the potential problems stemming from greenhouse gas emissions, computer attacks and water supply disruptions.

The emphasis on economic and social risks is a big shift from the focus of a year ago, when the group’s annual report on potential disruptions highlighted natural disasters, a threat that materialized when a devastating earthquake struck Japan last March.

The earthquake quickly became a human, environmental and economic disaster, spawning a tsunami that killed thousands of people in Japan and setting in motion events that resulted in a meltdown in several reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor

The economic ripple effects from the tremor spread throughout the world when manufacturing plants in Japan were shut down, causing widespread supply disruptions. It became a political event when, in the aftermath of the nuclear accident, Germany announced that it planned to shut down its nuclear plants within a decade.

“It was the world’s first trillion-dollar disaster,” said Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan, managing director of the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who contributed to the forum’s report. “It’s one of the flip sides of globalization. A local event can become a global event much more quickly.”

As a result, a number of risk analysts — not just those at the forum — are looking less at the specific nature of individual disasters and more at potential connections between them. These have become increasingly evident in a variety of shocks in the last decade or so, including the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the global financial crisis that began in 2007 and the eruption of a volcano in Iceland in 2010, which produced a huge ash cloud that disrupted air travel across Europe for about a week.

“It seems like we are facing a lot more disasters,” said Bernice Lee, research director for energy, environment and resource governance at the British research organization Chatham House. “But it may just be that we are feeling their impacts more because they are more globalized.”

Kannagi Nagar slum, India

In a separate report for Chatham House, Ms. Lee argues that the world has grown more vulnerable to such events in recent years because of various factors, including the rise of the Internet and the popularity of the so-called just-in-time model of supply-chain management in business.

Under this system, many companies stock only enough parts to keep assembly lines running for a few days. In normal times, this cuts costs and makes manufacturers more flexible. When disaster strikes, however, businesses may be more vulnerable than in the days when warehouses stocked months of supplies.

The Internet, meanwhile, can magnify and spread the effects of a disaster in other ways. Rumors, even if incorrect, spread quickly on social networking sites — sometimes more rapidly than emergency services can communicate accurate information. As word of disasters like the terror attacks of Sept. 11 or the earthquake in Japan spreads globally, consumers hunker down in front of their computer screens or televisions, rather than going about their daily lives. This increases the economic effects of a crisis, even in areas far removed from the source.

Howard Kunreuther, professor of decision sciences and business and public policy at Wharton, said that after the earthquake in Japan, researchers noticed an increase in sales of earthquake insurance, even in places at little or no risk of earthquakes.

“Before an event, nobody thinks something will happen to them,” he said. “After an event, people sometimes act equally irrationally.”

While scientists can predict the probability — if not the exact timing or scale — of certain natural disasters, the ability to read a crystal ball may be more helpful than complex calculations in determining risks stemming from human events.

Leading many forecasters’ worries is an escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran. In addition to political turmoil, military action between the United States — or Israel — and Iran could cause a sharp increase in oil prices, especially if the Strait of Hormuz were blocked.

Ed Yardeni, an independent economist in New York, lists this as one of his “four horsemen of the apocalypse” for 2012. The others, cited in a note to clients, are: a severe global credit squeeze stemming from the crisis in the euro zone; social upheaval in China and India; and a severe global recession emanating from Europe.

Graham Hutchings, director of analysis at Oxford Analytica, adds to these the uncertainty caused by elections in a number of countries, including France, Russia and the United States, as well as a leadership transition in China.

Leadership changes can also come as a surprise, as they did to several heads of state in the Arab world last year, with a speed and suddenness that startled the experts. How the Arab Spring evolves, and how far the protests spread in the Arab world and beyond — as old assumptions about geopolitical alignments are being cast aside — are among the big uncertainties of 2012.

Egyptian anti-government protest, July 2011

“This is an uncharted world, one that we’re not familiar with, one that is not populated by two or three big powers and the other countries aligning themselves with one or another of those,” Mr. Hutchings said. “It is one that is marked by a dissolving of certainties, one that is more dependent on culture and context.”

And, in what might turn out to be the most accurate prediction of 2012, he added, “Attempts to predict the affairs of humankind are marked by a kind of arrogance and are bound to fail.”

 
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