Friday, September 19, 2014 / PROGRESSIVE JOURNALISM FOR POSITIVE ACTION
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Burkely Hermann
NOC Featured Blogger
Published: Saturday 6 September 2014

In order to inform the present, one must know the past. On the GOP's website they write about the party's history, claiming that the party “began in a little schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, in 1854 [when] a small group of dedicated abolitionists gathered to fight the expansion of slavery, and they gave birth to a Party dedicated to freedom and equal opportunity.” Beyond the name of the party as “Republican” which was supposedly inspired by the Democratic-Republican Party which lasted from 1789 to 1825, and which conveyed “a commitment to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” they write that the party was formally organized “by thousands of anti-slavery activists at a convention in Jackson, Michigan” and its convention happened two years later. From here, they give a rosy history, writing about the presidencies of Lincoln, McKinley, Grant, T. Roosevelt and Taft, Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush I and II, how the early women's right's movement was supposedly tied to the GOP, and declaring that “Republicans believe individuals, not government, make the best decisions; all people are entitled to equal rights; and decisions are best made close to home.” Beyond this view which obviously supports the GOP, it is important to question the roots of the party itself. Was it really organized by a small group of abolitionists? Or was there someone else there as well? These questions, among many others is what this this article attempts to answer. The first book I turn to is John Nichols's book, titled The “S” Word, who even spoke about his book to a meeting of the Socialist Party South Central Wisconsin back in February 2012. This was also a book I vaguely remember ...

Published: Saturday 30 August 2014

Across the political spectrum, there is outcry against drones. In Kansas, libertarians, peace activists and a local republican party joined together to request that “Lawrence city government officials to protect residents from drones and legislate against their local use” in order secure “citizens’ civil liberties.” Almost one year later, in Texas's western Brewster County, commissioners “passed a resolution plainly stating that unmanned aerial systems are not welcome in their skies, citing a lack of public input in the state’s drone plans,” which Vice Magazine said was not only the “third such resolution passed by local Texas officials since November” but that it underscored “underscoring a growing anti-drone sentiment that has taken hold around the state, particularly in rural areas.” The sentiment against drones is growing and has moved to state legislatures. This article will examine the groups that support anti-drone resolutions in state legislatures no matter the ideology. So far, fourteen states have passed anti-drone resolutions and seven states have proposed legislation on the topic. In Virginia, groups including the “ACLU, the Tea Party Federation and agriculture groups supported” a measure proposed by a Democratic state senator that put in place “a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by police and government agencies.” As of now, the law has been enacted and is part of Chapter 755 of the Virginia code. However, this law has some ...

Published: Wednesday 20 August 2014

Recently, President Obama declared that “we tortured some folks” admitting that the CIA engaged in torture following 9/11, and then he went on to defend the practices as necessary. As Kevin Gosztola noted on Firedoglake, Obama’s statements echoed those of Cheney following 9/11, including his infamous statement that “we have to work toward the dark side, if you will.” Through some searching on YouTube I found a video of Obama in 2009 declaring that the US will not torture, and another two years earlier of Bush saying that the US doesn’t torture people. As the record has shown, we as a collective do not torture people; rather the US government tortures people. As Obama admitted, he only banned some of the torture techniques. The story doesn’t stop here. Newspaper headlines told how the CIA was apologizing to Congress for spying on the committee compiling the report on the agency’s torture. Still, like Obama decriminalizing the agency’s crimes in the past, most likely no one will be held accountable for this crime since the Justice Department already said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to investigate it, further proving the idea of what Glenn Greenwald calls “public-sector immunity.” After all, whistleblower John Kiriakou who revealed CIA torture is in prison rather than the torturers themselves. Lest us forget that the CIA

Published: Saturday 2 August 2014

Over 1200 Palestinians massacred, and 53 Israeli soldiers are dead, which is twenty times less deaths than Palestinians. These deaths were not due to a set of attacks by rogue, paramilitary elements. Rather they were caused by the military of what FLAME, a pro-Israeli group, even calls, “America’s unsinkable aircraft in the Middle East,” in a recent ad in The Nation: Israel. Since June, the Israeli military has pummeled the citizens of the Gaza Strip with bombs, naval bombardment, mortars, white phosphorous, and more. As a result, thousands have been displaced, six UNRWA schools have been bombed, Gaza’s only power plant has been destroyed, meaning the thousands will not have electricity and are plunged into darkness, andhospitals have been bombed. On July 22nd, the UN’s Office of Humanitarian Affairs painted a bleak picture of conditions in the Gaza Strip, saying there is “no safe place for civilians,” and that there are “critical shortages of hospital supplies and medicines,” at least 107,000 children requiring “specialized psychosocial support to deal with the trauma” from the attacks, “no or limited access to water” because of power systems being destroyed or “no fuel to generate them,” and reports “of sewage flooding.” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Published: Monday 4 November 2013

I have been deeply troubled by the recent statements that Mel Watt should be confirmed as the next Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) which oversees 60% of the country’s loans. I have had two conversations on twitter about this very subject with a user calling themselves ‘snapdragon’ (@dravazed) as shown here and here. This article is meant to provide a counterpoint and show why Mel Watt is someone who should be opposed. The first of these articles was by Richard (RJ) Eskow of the Campaign for America’s Future (CAF). What is CAF anyway other than being a ‘progressive’ organization? A 2005 Washington Post article that was noted by CounterPunch but missed by many, noted that: “at least 80 wealthy liberals have pledged to contribute $1 million or more apiece to fund a network of think tanks and advocacy groups to compete with the potent conservative infrastructure built up over the past three decades…The Democracy Alliance will act as a financial clearing house…The alliance is the brainchild of longtime Democratic strategist Rob Stein…Jockeying for cash among possible recipient organizations has already begun. Robert L. Borosage, director of the liberal Campaign for America's Future, said the alliance will fund a "set of institutions in this city to be in the national debate, and we would like to be one of them."” Additionally, their board of directors ...

Published: Sunday 28 July 2013

“The objective of Sweden's contribution is to help stabilise the situation in Mali.”- Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt as noted by the APO. Sweden is held up as a welfare state that benefits its people. After all, while the “working class did indeed win very substantial gains in Sweden after World War II. They made Sweden a "good capitalist" nation...[and] did not...abolish capitalism” which is part of the reason for the current unrest. The Guardian notes that “the country...is becoming polarised, and is surrendering more of its public services over to private businesses” and that the “"Nordic model" of progressive politics, low unemployment and a generous social safety net appears to have been singed in the flames.” Taking this all into account, we cannot be mislead to think Sweden is a socialist country as closeted progressive Democrat Bernie Sanders puts it. Per Olsson wrote on socialistworld.net that “what is sometimes called the ‘mixed economy’ in Sweden was never a mix of public and privately owned companies...big monopolies...dominate the economy...the concentration and centralisation of capital probably went further in Sweden than in most other advanced capitalist countries.” All of these factors come into play when one considers how Sweden is helping maintain the imperialist UN-enforced occupation of Mali, after a war that ...

Published: Tuesday 9 July 2013

“This is only the first phase. It is going to take time. I think people should not be into the illusion that it is going to be quick. It is going to take a long time and time means that it could take several years. And you got do it right.”- Don Yamamoto, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs at the State Department speaks to the Associated Press about the French mission, Operation Serval, in January 2013 The next stage of the imperialist intervention and current occupation of Mali has begun. The country's state of emergency has been lifted while a UN force has been brought to the country to officially bring stability with the upcoming vote. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird spoke to a parliamentary hearing on Mali in February 2013 that the country was not “going to get into another Afghanistan in this region” on quick notice, which could allude to the fact that maybe Mali will become another Afghanistan, another Vietnam. As I wrote on twitter, now the “UN imperialist occupation has begun” while in Operation Serval, headed by France,  660 'militants' have been killed while less than 100 soldiers of the invading countries have died. Let us not forget the imperialist war for oil in Libya which caused the war in Mali which will cause horrible blowback. The U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilised Mission in Mali or MINUSMA has interesting origins. A press release from the UN News Centre notes: that “the transfer of authority from the forces of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) to....MINUSMA took place during a ceremony in Bamako, capital of the West ...

Published: Tuesday 11 June 2013

At a recent DNC fundraiser 56- year old LGBTQ advocate Ellen Sturt heckled Michelle Obama  to ask for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to be signed via executive order. This was a simple demand, as she notes in her Washington Post op-ed where she says she could no “longer remain silent.” Although this was brave, what about famed gay whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning? Would he get the same treatment? Glenn Greenwald wrote that Chair of the San Francisco Pride Parade overode the board's decision declaring that Manning would not be one of the Grand Marshals of the parade while huge corporations like AT&T, Verizon, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, sponsored the Parade. What he wrote next was a bombshell: “[the] remarkable shift in public opinion on gay equality…is less significant than it seems because...gay equality poses no real threat to elite factions...If anything, it bolsters those power structures.” One must ask: does the cause of gay equality “pose no threat” to the ruling elite?First one, one must understand, that the LGBTQ rights movement has changed over time. BusinessWeek calls the gay rights movement, “one of the most successful political enterprises in history” because of its contributions in the last 40 years. However, this “enterprise” has led people to worry: lesbian host Ellen DeGeneres is perceived as the mainstream gay perspective, that there is a

Published: Sunday 9 June 2013

We information renegades have been fighting for free information and an open net free of censorship. But, those wanting to control information have struck back. The digital imperialists are those companies that exploit our online information and gather it to blast advertising at us while violating the basic right to privacy at the same time which is part of the globalization of the surveillance state. As the late Aaron Swartz said in a speech at the Freedom to Connect Conference in 2012, “The enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared. The fire in those politicians’ eyes hasn’t been put out. There are a lot of people, a lot of powerful people, who want to clamp down on the Internet. And to be honest, there aren’t a whole lot who have a vested interest in protecting it from all of that.”I was reminded of this reality when AnopsLegion tweeted that “Liberty Reserve's domain has been officially seized,” in this case by the dirty five: the Secret Service, the DHS, the Treasury Department, DOJ and the Global Illicit Financial Traffic Team. To give some background, I used the Internet Wayback Machine and found an archived page from April, in which the site defines itself as “an account-based payment system where you can store value in U.S. Dollars, Euro or Gold Grams and transfer payments to others and receive payments from others. It is safe, reliable and confidential. Payments are irrevocable...In just minutes, you can send and receive payments from anyone, anywhere on the globe!” A BBC article on the subject noted that “Authorities in the Central American country said Arthur Budovsky [the founder of the Liberty Reserve] had been taken into custody in Spain on suspicion of money laundering...[but that] the closure of Liberty Reserve has the potential to "cause a major upheaval in the cybercrime economy" [and that while] there had been "anxious discussions" about ...

Published: Wednesday 22 May 2013

 I was searching around the internet for the full video of the recent hearing on the Authorization of Military Force where Pentagon officials said the “war on terror” would last another 10-20 years and claimed powers beyond the constitutional requirements set under the War Powers Clause and elsewhere. Eventually, I watched the video on Democracy Now! and another one on The Pentagon Channel which just happens to be run by the Pentagon. The videos were very different as one was propagandistic and another was not at all. That is what inspired me to write this article. Usually when propaganda is talked about it is either emanating from the corporate mass media, covert operations or otherwise. But with the recent changes to the Smith–Mundt Act, which specifies which global audiences will receive US propaganda officially called "public diplomacy," the dissemination ban on distributing this information domestically was eliminated. Those outlets affected by this act and other similar ones must be discussed. The reason for this, is that information from such government outlets is either white or gray propaganda. Wikipedia on their page titled CIA influence on public opinion they write that: "white [propaganda] is acknowledged as an official statement or act of the U.S. Government, or emanates from a source associated closely enough with the U.S. Government to reflect an official viewpoint. The information is true and factual. It also includes all output identified as coming from U.S. official sources." However, there is likelihood that some of the outlets are spreading gray propaganda or when “the true source (U.S. Government) is not revealed to the target audience. The activity engaged in plausibly appears to emanate from a non-official American source, or an indigenous, non-hostile ...

ABOUT Burkely Hermann
Burkely Hermann is a writer, activist, and researcher who tries to challenge perceptions about the world we all live in and pushing for the creation of discussion spaces to talk about pertinent issues. In doing this, Burkely has not only written articles but also used his tech savvy skills to aggressively fight for an internet that serves the masses.
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