Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Normally, I’d be obliged to write my own material concerning the auto industry’s bailout (well, that’s for tomorrow!), but this piece (that was on the Delicious popular page) was way too good to pass up.

Linked from here.

…The lesson here: Unlike their counterparts GM and Ford, Toyota has always taken a long-term strategic view about their employees. Toyota understands that laying off thousands of employees for slowdowns or plant retooling is counter productive. They wisely utilize the time to redistribute their workforce to understaffed plants, provide additional training for the new products, and leverage their workforce to speed the transition for newer products. Their philosophy has avoided labor disputes and staffing shortages. It has kept the company as a leader in quality and profitability over its shortsighted competitors….

Check it out!

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A week or so ago, thebeadden posted a comment on MusEditions’s blog, lamenting the corruption in charity and “every social structure” in the world. This post is intended to be a response to that comment.

I’ll tackle bead’s argument point for point, doing the best I can (you can read the full comment/post here!). The first part:

The only problem I have is that when we start donating aid and money, it doesn’t always go to helping the people it is meant for. Believe me when I say that a lot of money goes to the wrong hands. I work around people from many different countries and some of them tell me about the scams, some of them have opened businesses here with that money. And I have been told how I can get in on it too. I just about choked try to keep my mouth shut but inside I was seething.

Totally agreed, and this points to a lack of morality on the scammer’s part, and a lack of discretion on the donator’s. While it seems like whoever is donating to these NGOs and charitable organizations is getting scammed when the funds do indeed get scammed (and they are!), a chunk of the responsibility is the donor’s, no ifs, ands, or buts. It is the donor’s responsibility to exercise serious discretion when selecting a charity to donate to, just for this reason – one should check exactly where the funds go and who sponsors the charity for the sake of security. If the charity doesn’t seem legitimate, nobody should donate to it; no one’s holding a gun to the head of the donor and saying they have to donate to any charity at all.

Another reason is that there are people out there just dying for a one world government. I wish with all my heart that it could happen and be a good thing. Small movements are started, and everyone on the lower level thinks they are doing this for all the right reasons. In truth many of these efforts are only stepping stones to pave the way for people to give in to the bigger plan.

One world government would end the world, or at least set the stage for a dictatorship of the majority, whatever that happens to be. There are simply too many voices on this earth for a single, unified government to work — think of how many political parties there would be. With that many parties, all the voices would be drowned out in the white noise.

You allude to some movements losing their integrity after they assume control. Yes, while there are cases of corruption destroying a leader/movement, more often is the fact that what works in theory doesn’t necessarily work in practice. As things start to go wrong with their agenda, it appears that the movement is self-destructing, and, as that happens, leaders turn dictatorial.

And the ones running the show don’t have the goodness in their heart that all these people have. All that has to happen is one of them getting to be the one running the show. We elect people who don’t know anything put power, corruption and greed.

Not necessarily – there are some who are indeed good people. In fact, I’d wager that most of the elected officials are good people. But, the System has constraints, and these people have to keep their jobs by being in bed with corporate interests and especially the military-industrial complex. The people at the tops of those ladders are the ones who need replacing with able-minded and pure people, not those in government. It’s the corrupt lobbyists and corporate infrastructure that corrupts the legislative process with their “gifts” to the legislative bodies (also known as bribes).

Part 2 is coming tomorrow. Stay tuned.

We left off with the invasion of Afghanistan under false pretenses.

Our government’s fear mongering continued with the passing of The USA PATRIOT Act, or the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (Worst. Acronym. Ever.). PATRIOT was highly controversial and fueled “Big Brother” comparisons as in George Orwell’s 1984 (more on the War on Terror : 1984 comparison in part 4). In particular, Title II of the act gives the government the authority to:

  • Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism
  • Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses
  • Authority to share electronic, wire and oral interception information
  • Roving surveillance authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978
  • Seizure of voice-mail messages pursuant to warrants
  • Pen register and trap and trace authority under FISA
  • Access to records and other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
  • Immunity for compliance with FISA wiretap

So, what’s this FISA you keep hearing about? It’s the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was created in 1979 to surveil “foreign powers” and “foreign agents”, meaning people of other countries’ governments were fair game with our without a warrant (if there was no warrant, the Attorney General could authorize surveillance for one year as long as it pertained to foreign intelligence). This act was recently amended.

The Patriot Act is in conflict with the 4th amendment of the U.S. constitution; that is, the article that prevents unauthorized search and seizure. With the government’s ability to surveil anyone and listen to their phone calls (though it only pertains to terrorism/national security), they are, plainly, spying on their citizens in the name of “National Security”. In addition, in 2007, an audit found that the FBI misused and, at times, illegally used the Patriot Act in order to get information on citizens. It also underreported how many times it went to businesses telling them to hand over customer data. The DOJ audit also found 26 violations in its use of national security letters. How did we come to let our government agencies spy on citizens illegally? Were our elected officials asleep on the senate floor?

Turns out they were. What’s shocking is that the bill was passed with surprisingly fast speed through the Senate, with our Senators probably believing that anything that would combat terrorism would be welcome in the wake of the September 11 attacks. In Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11, he recorded a senator saying that “no Senator read the bill”. We elect these people into office, and they don’t read a bill that’s infringing on our constitutional rights? How could this have happened?

To add insult to injury, the NSA warrant-less wiretapping program (yet another program to illegally spy on people, with at least one of them being overseas) was implemented for… You guessed it, “national security”. This caused quite a stir in the media and the Justice Department (and deservedly so) because anonymous sources came forward and said the NSA tapped “domestic calls” (i.e. had nothing pertaining to terrorism or issues of national security). Another day, another American citizen’s liberties get thrown out the window. Totally routine with this administration. And here’s the best part: the buffoon we elected into office to run this whole shebang, going by the alias of “Dubya”, said this:

This authorisation is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States.

That is insane. Bush has no awareness of what’s actually in the constitution and what constitutes “civil liberties”, does he? I’ll tell you this much: Bush does not care about the civil liberties of the American people or people in other countries. He thinks you’ve got civil liberty if you’re alive, have a “God Bless America” or “Support the Troops” bumper sticker on your Hummer, and go to church every Sunday.

* * * * *

Another massive controversy is the use of CCTV in cities, and especially in the UK. They have been in the UK for quite a long time (London has 500,000 cameras), and exist in huge numbers, drawing yet more comparisons to “Big Brother surveillance”. Can anyone guess why they’re installed in the first place?

That’s right, “security”.

The problem is, they don’t do anything to deter crime, at all. There is no hard evidence to support that they’ve helped lower crime rates, and probably wouldn’t do anything in the event of a terrorist attack. The irony is that the cameras have grown in popularity since the September 11 attacks for obvious reasons: people are scared of a terrorist attack and think that the cameras would do some good. Wrong.

Here’s the kicker: a UK watchdog has said that up to 90% of the CCTV cameras in the UK (there’s 1 camera for every 14 people, astonishingly) are illegal.

Our research shows that up to 90 per cent of CCTV installations fail to comply with the Information Commissioner’s code of practice, and that many installations are operated illegally. That has profound implications for the reputation of the CCTV and camera surveillance industry and all concerned with it.

* * * * *

The worst part is that someone who supports the PATRIOT Act will inevitably say, “Well, no terrorist attacks have happened since 2001, so the acts are doing their jobs, right?”

Again, wrong. There’s no proof whatsoever that the provisions of the Patriot Act have actually let the government catch terrorists or people planning an attack. All acts like PATRIOT do are take away our freedoms, very slowly, until we realize that they’re gone. As much as I hate to sound like a right-wing radio host, our freedom is our most powerful right and tool. If they take that away, what are we?

In fear and faith, we lose our freedoms.
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While the Iraq War is drawing to a close, due to the announcements this week of a planned withdrawal of troops, some people have gotten out their confetti and said, “THE WAR IS OVER!!!!!! WE’RE DONE FIGHTING!!!!”

They seem to forget we’ve got another, arguably bigger war going on right now: The War on Terror(ism). Well, friends, unfortunately, we’ll never be able to celebrate that war’s end, for The War on Terror(ism) is a perpetual war, that is, it won’t end. No matter who you vote for in November, we’re going to be in this one for a long time, and it has and will serve as the catalyst that will allow our leaders to strip us of our freedoms. 

Let’s go back to September 11, 2001 – the day that changed the makeup of U.S. foreign policy forever, to sound cliché. In an instant, this country suddenly turned incredibly “patriotic” and nationalistic — with their “God Bless America” bumper stickers and the like. People’s fear of another terror attack had many consequences, including the support of a war (Iraq) in a country that posed no threat to us, and the ability to swallow laws that encroached upon our freedoms.

Within a few days of the attacks on 9/11, the U.S. government and British intelligence found that Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were connected to the terrorist attacks. Bin Laden, on September 16, went on the Al Jazeera network and denied that he had any involvement in the attacks, saying:

I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons. I have been living in the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan and following its leaders’ rules. The current leader does not allow me to exercise such operations.

Still, the Bush administration declared Osama the “prime suspect” for the attacks on the World Trade Center, citing evidence that Bin Laden had tried to attack the WTC before. The US started to plan for a preemptive attack in Afghanistan to usurp the oppressive Taliban regime and take out Bin Laden to suppress Al Qaeda’s activity, and gave the Taliban an ultimatum: turn over Bin Laden and all other terrorists or they’ll invade. The Taliban government declined, saying that they didn’t have any evidence in their possession that would indicate that Bin Laden was connected to the attacks. On September 21, 2001, a Taliban spokesman said:

Our position is that if America has evidence and proof, they should produce it. We are ready for the trial of Osama bin Laden in the light of the evidence.

Of course, our government refused to provide the Taliban with the evidence, and commenced with the plans to invade Afghanistan. Where were the American people during all of this? They were blinded by nationalism and rage, which made them see Bin Laden as the criminal, just because our government said so. If we were so sure that Bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, why not tell the Taliban why? We would’ve avoided the whole invasion to begin with. 

On October 7, 2001, the American/British coalition started bombing Afghanistan, and within 7 days, on October 14, the Taliban made an offer: if the Americans stopped bombing Afghanistan and presented evidence for Bin Laden’s guilt, then they’d hand Bin Laden over to a neutral country. Again, our government refused, with President Bush saying, “There’s no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty.” Again, why would they pass up an opportunity to capture public enemy number one?

The most likely scenario is that the American government wanted to use Bin Laden as a false pretense to invade Afghanistan to usurp the oppressive and barbaric Taliban government. With bin Laden admitting that he was in Afghanistan on television, it was a perfect fit: they thought the American public would support a war as long as they were going after the person thought responsible for the 9/11 attacks. It was unlikely that the public would’ve supported a war on the Taliban just because they were oppressing their people; Americans were too worried about avenging the victims of the 9/11 attacks. With Bin Laden in Afghanistan, it killed two birds with one stone.

In November 2001, US forces reportedly “recovered” a tape of Bin Laden speaking with Khaled al-Harbi about the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that he has knowledge that the attacks were going to occur, and thus, proving that he was connected with the attacks. However, the “Bin Laden” in the video looked very different than the real Bin Laden, and the translation has been disputed, with a few Arabic professors saying that the translation does not match the spoken Arabic. The tape also has subpar audio quality, which makes the plausibility of the translation doubtful. However, the drastic change of appearance from “real” Bin Laden to the Bin Laden in the tape makes it likely that the tape was doctored in an effort to prove that Osama was indeed connected with the attacks. For one, the video Bin Laden has a much larger face and darker skin than Bin Laden does, and he wears a gold ring on his right hand, which had not been seen before, and, in addition, the FBI’s file on Bin Laden says that he is left-handed. These facts make it apparent that the tape was probably a fake.

 

Two Men Enter... One is a Poser.

Two Men Enter... One is a Poser.

 

This false “linking” of Bin Laden was the first time that our government used false pretenses to invade another country in the name of national security, taking advantage of the fear of the American people. It would not be the last time they took advantage of our fear.

Check back for Part Two tomorrow — The Stripping of Freedom.

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