This is also from the
“Recording,” says an unseen man behind the camera.
“This video is to all the Muslim youth and to all the
Muslims worldwide,” Osmakac says, looking straight into the lens. “This
is a call to the truth. It is the call to help and aid in the party of
Allah … and pay him back for every sister that has been raped and every
brother that has been tortured and raped.”
goes on for about eight minutes. Osmakac says he’ll avenge the deaths
of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere. He refers to
Americans as kuffar, an Arabic term for nonbelievers. “Eye for
an eye, tooth for a tooth,” he says. “Woman for a woman, child for a
Osmakac was 25 years old on January 7, 2012, when he filmed
what the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice would later call a “martyrdom
video.” He was also broke and struggling with mental illness.
There is a whole lot more that
I leave to your interests - but yes: "Osmakac was a deeply disturbed young man", and to abuse him as he was abused is sick.
But if Osmakac was a terrorist, he was only one in his
troubled mind and in the minds of ambitious federal agents. The
government could not provide any evidence that he had connections to
international terrorists. He didn’t have his own weapons. He didn’t
even have enough money to replace the dead battery in his beat-up,
green 1994 Honda Accord.
Osmakac was the target of an elaborately orchestrated FBI
sting that involved a paid informant, as well as FBI agents and
support staff working on the setup for more than three months. The
FBI provided all of the weapons seen in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. The
bureau also gave Osmakac the car bomb he allegedly planned to detonate,
and even money for a taxi so he could get to where the FBI needed him
to go. Osmakac was a deeply disturbed young man, according to several
of the psychiatrists and psychologists who examined him before trial.
He became a “terrorist” only after the FBI provided the means,
opportunity and final prodding necessary to make him one.
And all I am saying here is that an FBI who misleads crazy
people - Oskamac
is diagnosed as a schizophrenic - to pose as if they are terrorists,
with weapons, bombs and money all supplied by the FBI, seems pretty
and illegal to me.
open in Israel at end of bitter election campaign
item is an article by Peter Beaumont on The Guardian:
This starts as
Israeli voters headed to
the polls on Tuesday at the end of a close fought and bitter election
With Binyamin Netanyahu trailing in the last
opinion polls to his main rival, Yitzhak Herzog of the opposition
Zionist Union, today’s election has been presented to Israelis - some
5.8 million of whom are eligible to vote - as a choice over the
country’s future direction.
That was underlined on
the eve of the polls when Israel’s Netanyahu unequivocally ruled out
the establishment of a Palestinian state as he vowed to strengthen
construction of settlements in occupied east Jerusalem should he be
Polling stations opened
at 7am with the first exit polls due to be published at 10 pm (8pm GMT)
this evening ahead of the publication of official results next week at
the beginning of efforts to form a coalition government.
Election analysts are
predicting one of the largest turn outs since 1999 with up to 80
percent of eligible Israelis expected to vote.
Incidentally, according to
Wikipedia (quoted minus note numbers):
Herzog born 22 September 1960), known in English as
Isaac Herzog, is an Israeli
politician and lawyer. He is currently a member of the Knesset,
chairman of the Labor Party, and Leader of the Opposition.
I listed this to give
some background information. There is considerably
more about him under the first link, and it includes also this bit:
In June 2014, Herzog
criticized PM Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to
engage the international community, failing to present a proposal for
peace with Palestinians, and failure to work effectively with the
President of the United States, Barack
Obama. Herzog declared that Netanyahu's "loathing and hostility for
Barack Obama” was one of his greatest failures, since it put Israel's
security at risk.
Here is another item on the
same subject, namely Juan Cole on Truthdig:
This starts as
polling is suggesting that Binyamin Netanyahu’s party might
get only 21 seats or less in the 120-seat Israeli parliament, with his
rivals, the Zionist Union, getting 24 or 25. There is even the
possibility of the gap between the two widening and Netanyahu doing
The party that gets the
most seats will have the opportunity to try to put together a
government coalition of 61 seats or more– a majority that can survive a
vote of no confidence.
Although Netanyahu tries
to make the issue far-away Iran, which is bogged down in Iraq now, the
Israeli public is on the whole not buying his scare-mongering.
Economic issues like high rents and a growing wealth gap and undue
influence of billionaires such as Sheldon Adelson on the Likud Part of
Netanyahu all loom larger as issues than does Tehran.
Anyway... there is
more under the previous two dotted links. And I do hope
Netanyahu will be
3. After Swedish Prosecutors Back Down, Is
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Close to Freedom?
item is an article by Amy Goodman on truth-out (originally on Democracy
This starts as
Today marks the 1,000th
day WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spent in political asylum
inside Ecuador's London embassy. For the first time, Swedish
prosecutors have opened the door to Assange's departure with a request
to question him in London. Assange has never been charged over
allegations of sexual assault, but has been holed up in the embassy
since 2012, fearing a Swedish arrest warrant could lead to his
extradition to the United States. We speak with Assange attorney,
Michael Ratner, who says an interview with the prosecutor may result in
no charges, and even if Assange were convicted of these allegations,
"he has done all the time he would have to do... so the whole case is
essentially a bogus way of keeping him in that embassy."
Yes, indeed. And here
is Per Samuelson, who is Assange's attorney in Sweden:
SAMUELSON: A bottom line
is, after the autumn of 2010, the prosecutor did nothing for more than
four years. That's clear breach of Swedish law. That has hurt Mr.
Assange severely. And it has also hurt both the women, who have not had
their case tried for over four years. And it hurts the court, because
There is a lot more
in the article, also with other links, although the question in the
title - not surprisingly, at this stage - is not answered.
“iEverything” and the Redistributional Imperative
item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
In fact, this "ratio of producers to customers" is very important, as Reich
is going to explain. But first there is this:
It’s now possible to sell
a new product to hundreds of millions of people without needing many,
if any, workers to produce or distribute it.
At its prime in 1988,
Kodak, the iconic American photography company, had 145,000
employees. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.
The same year Kodak went
under, Instagram, the world’s newest photo company, had 13
employees serving 30
The ratio of producers to
customers continues to plummet. When Facebook purchased “WhatsApp” (the
messaging app) for $19 billion last year, WhatsApp had 55
employees serving 450
New technologies aren’t
just labor-replacing. They’re also knowledge-replacing.
The combination of
advanced sensors, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, big data,
text-mining, and pattern-recognition algorithms, is generating smart
robots capable of quickly learning human actions, and even learning
from one another.
If you think being a
“professional” makes your job safe, think again.
And that (plus more, that
you can find under the last dotted link) results in this:
We need a new economic
The economic model that
dominated most of the twentieth century was mass production by the
many, for mass consumption by the many.
Workers were consumers;
consumers were workers.
That virtuous cycle is now
falling apart. A future of almost unlimited production by a handful,
for consumption by whoever can afford it, is a recipe for economic and
It may be that a
redistribution of income and wealth from the rich owners of
breakthrough technologies to the rest of us becomes the only means of
making the future economy work.
I basically agree,
though Robert Reich is none too clear about the "redistribution" he has
in mind, nor indeed about the "new economic model".
Here are a few of my
First, about the "ratio of producers to customers".
What seems to be
happening, on a large and rapid scale also, is that the
economic schema that was behind the twentieth century's economy is
changing from "mass
production by the many, for mass consumption by the many" to mass production by the few, for mass consumption by the many
- except that this will rapidly fail to work for the
many, because the many have no more work that gave them the
money to buy the products for "mass consumption":
they are ousted by computers and algorithms.
And Reich is quite right in
expecting "economic and social
collapse" from this schema: Mass
consumption requires well-paid masses, not starving
Second, about "a redistribution of income and wealth from
the rich owners of breakthrough technologies to the rest of us".
Robert Reich gives no
details of any kind, but I think I can, and indeed my inspiration is a
of my marxist past and the finding that most Americans seem to believe
distinction of roughly 1 : 7 is the proportion that should hold
poorest and the richest.
What I propose is the
- With the exception of truly
exceptional individuals in the arts, the sciences and sports
incomes must be re-regulated so that the richest
get not more than 20 times of what the poorest get (which used
in Holland, for some 30 years also, under - regulated - capitalism, but
indeed for salaries only, and not for inherited or
otherwise acquired wealth, that also should come under the
- This can be achieved -
relatively easily also, that is: apart from the wild objections
from the extremely rich 1% - by a renewed steeply progressive tax
regime, that taxes away everything earned over around 250.000 or 300.000 dollars a year, and
redistributes the surplus to the rest (and indeed mostly to better
infra-structure and much better education for all).
- Otherwise, little needs
to change: Fairness for all, poverty for none. One still can be
a top-manager and earn a top-income and have top-status - except
that the top is capped to something like 250.000 or 300.000 dollars a year maximally, so as to give everyone
a fair chance, and not heap nearly all the
wealth that all of
society produces on very few of the very wealthiest.
- There are some
exceptions, but these must be true exceptions, and not merely
clever managers: Really excellent artists, scientists and
sportsmen may earn more, but only because they are widely
agreed to be truly excellent in science, arts or sports (which never
can be more than 1 in a 1000 similarly employed).
I think the above is
fair; can be relatively easily implemented; is conceivably unjust only
to the very rich, who have been very unjust to the many anyway;
does not require a radical alteration of the modes of
production or ownership;
and evidently will serve the large majority by increasing their incomes
and decreasing their work loads.
Will it happen? Greed and egoism are very common human properties, and
especially move the very rich - they say so, and are proud
of their greed and egoism! - who also have enormous amounts of money,
can be used for a lot of propaganda, so it will probably need another
But as I said: The above schema is doable, relatively easy
because it in fact only amounts to two radical changes: (1) a
re-regulated steeply progressive tax regime, and (2) a renewed sense of
fair sharing - for which I quote Dr. Johnson, the 18rh Century
Christian conservative genius:
"as no man is good
but as he wishes the good of others, no man can be good in the highest
degree, who wishes not to others the largest measures of the greatest
-- Boswell, The Life of Dr. Johnson, vol I p. 329
Quite so, and
to help men do so, all that is required is that their earnings
be capped decently (which also allows that they may try to excel in far
more and far other ways than in merely becoming the richest amidst a
society of many poor).
5. ACLU Targets Obama with New Lawsuit Over
Drone Wars, 'Kill List'
The last item
today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
am sorry I missed this in The Guardian, but The Guardian's website has
been thoroughly destroyed and has been
changed into an
exta-ordinary silly text site
where one is forced to
page through page after page after page of mostly emptiness
Colors!); forced to read everything; and is denied the luxury of seeing
more than three or four photographs, and is given half-see-through
(?!?!) without any ionformation .... I am sorry, but I am not
masochistic enough to spend much time on it: this is a screaming shame,
just as is the total lack of discussion with which this has
been implemented, and indeed I am using it very little.
The American Civil
Liberties Union has filed a new lawsuit against the Obama
administration over continued secrecy surrounding its controversial use
of armed drones to carry out lethal strikes and assassinations across
was the first to report
news of the fresh lawsuit earlier on Monday.
to journalist Spencer Ackerman, who was given advance notice of the
suit, the ACLU is seeking disclosure from the White House of legal
documents and internal memos relating to Obama's use of drones, with
specific attention to how individuals end up on what has become known
as the president's "kill list."
"Over the last few years,
the US government has used armed drones to kill thousands of people,
including hundreds of civilians. The public should know who the
government is killing, and why it’s killing them," Jaffer told the Guardian.
The official complaint
filed by the ACLU is here
and the original FOIA request referenced in the suit is here.
So while I am really very sorry that the once very good
site of The Guardian has been completely destroyed, I am not
sorry for avoiding most of it: The present site is extremely
ugly, quite useless and ought to be avoided.
Anyway - back to Common Dreams (who still have an excellent
website, even though that was also recently tuned up, though
not - God be thanked for his mercies! - by Wolfgang
Blau), that also has this:
While lawyers for the
Obama administration have argued that national security prevents
further disclosures and President Obama has said that internal changes
have enhanced the safeguards surrounding the selection of targets and
the execution of drone strikes, the ACLU argues the level of secrecy
around a program of such profound importance is simply unacceptable in
a representative democracy.
As Jaffer explained,
there is no "legitimate justification" for the Obama
administration to keep secret the number of civilian casualties and the
procedures by which individuals, including U.S. citizens, can find
themselves on a secret government "kill list."
"The categorical secrecy
surrounding the drone program doesn’t serve any legitimate security
interest," Jaffer told the Guardian. "It serves only to skew
public debate, to obscure the human costs of the program, and to shield
decision-makers from accountability."