Friday, December 16, 2005

NSA spying, Patriot Act, WTO and more

Good evening. Cold enough for you? I want to start with shout outs to Wally and C.I. and Gina and Krista for getting the word out on the Patriot Act vote today. A lot of other people did too so shout outs to them too. But in this community we all pushed NOW because that's a great organization. And I don't think you could read the discussion in the gina & krista round-robin this morning and not think, "Okay, I need to call my senators." And Gina and Krista gave phone numbers and e-mails. They weren't able to push it through today. Who knows what happens next time but this time you had us working together as a community and you had people working together in their communities to stand for freedom.

Let's go to Democracy Now! and I'll pick up there.

Report: Bush-Enacted NSA Program Monitors Phone Conversations, E-Mails
The New York Times is reporting the National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals without court-approved warrants. Under a Bush administration directive enacted in 2002, the agency has monitored the international phone calls and e-mails of hundreds, and possibly thousands of people inside the country. The National Security Agency’s mission is to spy on communications abroad. Although officials said the program had helped thwart at least two potential attacks, most people monitored by the N.S.A. have never been charged with a crime.
The Times says it delayed publishing details of the program after a request from the Bush administration at least one year ago. At the request of the White House, the Times also says it has omitted information administration officials said could be useful to terrorists. The disclosure comes two days after NBC News revealed the Pentagon has kept detailed records on the events and meetings of anti-war groups across the country.

C.I. wrote about this early this morning and my prof said to pass on that he thinks it was "a powerful motivator" to tie the N.S.A. spying in with the vote today for the Patriot Act and that he passed it on to some of the other profs.

Here's what C.I. wrote about the Times' report:

That's the spotlight story. James Risen and Eric Lichtblau's "Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say" in this morning's New York Times. And let's put that with what's waiting in the Senate, and could come up for a vote, the renewal of the Patriot Act.
Does Hatch-et face want to cop to knowing about the above? What about John Corny? I know members in his state aren't pleased with this. They're wondering where Corny was on this?
So maybe the things is Hatch-et and his other boy toys who echo every word and dance everytime he pulls the string didn't actually know about it?
So that might indicate that *they need to pause* before they attempt to force through a vote in the Senate to reauthorize an act that they have been woefully negligent in providing oversight on, an act whose impact they've been happy to take the White House's word on.

That story just brought it home if people wanted to make the connections. We talked about the vote today and how it went. Most of the people in class think that Bully Boy & Congress will just try to pull something when no one's watching and that may be but we had a win today.

WTO Talks At Standstill in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, considerable divisions between industrialized and developing countries at the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization are lowering expectations for significant agreements before talks end Sunday.
European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson: "It is hard to see where progress can be achieved in Hong Kong if talks continue in their present direction. I do not want to contemplate failure at Hong Kong. So much is at stake. Equally, I see no point in an outcome here that simply locks in low ambition, diminishes benefits for developing countries and falls short of our responsibilities to the global economy."
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. Negotiations have stalled on a number of key trade issues. On Thursday, the Group of 77 -- the coalition of 132 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the Third World -- announced they would reject any deal that eliminates protections for their farmers and access to foreign markets. Another group of developing nations, the Group of 20 -- which represents half the world’s population -- accused the US and European Union of holding up talks by refusing to cut state agricultural subsidies.
Meanwhile, outside the meetings, thousands of protesters continue to make their voices heard.
Oxfam’s Alison Woodhead: "The system in theory should work, but at the moment it's riggedin favour of the richest countries. The rich countries benefit from the trade rules as they exist at the moment. They're able to protect their own markets and destroy the markets of poorer countries."

There's so much going on these days that it can be hard to follow everything and Elaine said C.I. was wondering how to work in what's going on here because there had been a lot of interest in it from members. They've been focused on Iraq which is so important and some other really impotant issues. So me and Elaine are members and we can highlight this stuff. There's only so much that The Common Ills can cover.

So what do I say about it? I say if you're going to treat "free markets" like your God, it's strange that you don't really believe in your God. If you did, you wouldn't be screaming for subsidies. This is just one more to screw over developing countries and keep them from being on a fair playing field. You could respect other countries markets or you could open your own but it's nonsense to pretend like just because you keep preaching "free market" that you really believe in it.

Be sure to check out Elaine's comments at Like Maria Said Paz.

Now be sure to check out Cedric (he wrote about megachurches and megabullies) and be sure to check out Rebecca (she wrote about customer service) and be sure to check out Seth (he wrote about retail during the holidays). And if I didn't note her yesterday, be sure to check out Kat who's weaving music and her sharp eye to make an insightful critique. This is real popular on campus and I kept getting stopped by women on campus saying, "Tell Kat not to stand for this crap!" Nina was elbowing me and going, "See! See!" Kat won't take any crap, don't worry.

It's sort of weird because I'll mention my site and all and Tony and Nina will talk about it and all but I didn't know that many people knew I was part of The Common Ills community. Nina and I were outside the library and this woman stops by us and goes, "Is Kat as cool as she sounds?" and before I could answer, Nina goes, "A thousand times cooler."