SOPA/PIPA Update and Reminder…

Good Late Evening or Early Morning…depending on when you read this!

This post is just a reminder that Sky Dancing is participating in the web blackout scheduled for Wednesday. We will have a protest static post up and the comment section will be shut down in spirit of the 12 hour strike.

Here are some of the latest reports and news items discussing the SOPA/PIPA legislation and strike.  The links sorted in order of newest to oldest. (The oldest being published a few hours ago…) I figured it is the best way to get you caught up.

I have a big Wednesday Reads Round Up scheduled at 8 pm…there will be lots to talk about!

So, see you after the blackout at 8pm!

This is an open thread…


The Tide Could Be Turning on SOPA/PIPA

This morning I got a “breaking news” e-mail from Politico reporting that the White House had come out with a (somewhat wishy-washy) statement on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Here’s the text of the e-mail:

Obama administration officials said in a blog post today that they would “not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” The White House did not take a definite position on SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act, but said “the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online.” The officials said, however, that legislation is needed to combat online piracy.

A number of sources are reporting this now as Obama “coming out against SOPA and PIPA. For example, at Slate, Matthew Yglesias writes:

SOPA/Protect IP fights are turning into an example of how the political system sometimes does work correctly after all. The con forces on these bills initially looked numerically overwhelmed in congress and hugely outspent. But opponents really mobilized vocally, got people and institutions who don’t normally focus on politics to write about this, and perhaps most important of all demonstrated that more people genuinely cared about this issue than most members of congress initially realized. Now the momentum has slowed incredibly and the White House technology policy team has come out against these bills.

Still, even Yglesias admits the WH statement is qualified.

To look a gift horse in the mouth for a second, however, I note that the White House statement does contain a “reasonable” to-be-sure line stating that “online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, and threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs.”

Politico calls it “walking a thin line.”

In a blog post penned by three administration officials, the White House said it opposes any bill that would make it easier for government to censor the Web or make the Internet less secure, but it stopped short of saying whether that includes two bills that have sent the tech industry into a panic.

If that sounds like a careful effort to walk a thin line, it is: Some of the president’s biggest supporters in Hollywood and Silicon Valley and beyond are sharply divided over the bills, and the White House needs a way to keep both sides happy.

The Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and Protect IP Act in the Senate are an attempt by business interests led by Hollywood to crack down on people pirating movies and music and stop the sale of knockoff goods.

But Web companies and Internet freedom activists have cried foul, saying the bills would put restrictions on the Web in a way that could destroy the fundamental openness of the Internet and prevent the next generation of Facebooks or eBays from getting off the ground.

At Ars Technika, Timothy B. Lee reports that Congress is feeling the heat. They provide a number of examples of powerful legislators who are now having second thoughts–including Pat Leahy (one of the prime movers of the bills), Paul Ryan, Orrin Hatch, and Lamar Smith, who

announced that he would be pulling the DNS-blocking provisions from his own bill. “After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision,” Smith said in a Friday statement.

DNS blocking would basically impose the kind of censorship used by China to block internet users from foreign websites that provide information the government doesn’t want people to be able to read. It would really kill what’s left of the First Amendment.

In addition, Lee notes in an update that Eric Cantor has said there will be no vote on SOPA until there is a “consensus.”

On the WH announcement, Lee writes:

The statement was made in response to a petition on the White House’s “we the people” site asking the president to veto SOPA if it reached his desk. The officials—IP enforcement coordinator Victoria Espinel, CTO Aneesh Chopra, and cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt—did not commit the president to vetoing SOPA. However, they laid out criteria for an anti-piracy bill that seems to clearly rule out SOPA and the Senate’s Protect IP Act in their current form.

Also reported in the Ars Technika story,

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a SOPA opponent, announced Saturday that he is postponing hearings on SOPA’s DNS provisions that had been slated for Wednesday, January 18 before his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” Issa said. “Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”

All this seems to bode well for the anti-SOPA/PIPA fight, along with the escalation in pushback by opponents that I posted in a comment yesterday that Anonymous has revealed the personal information of some powerful men in the media and Hollywood who are pushing for the bill.

Power to the People!


Copyright Protection vs Big Brother Howling at the Door

The United States Congress has been racking up historically low approval ratings, numbers bouncing from 3-9% over the last year.  Why?  Our legislative process has become paralyzed by partisan politics and perhaps, more importantly, the influence of massive amounts of money.  When lobbyists outnumber our representatives in the Halls of Congress by 5-1, the current inability and/or refusal to work in the interests of the American public is a given.

Money speaks.  Even the Supreme Court agreed in their disastrous Citizens United decision.  The more money, the bigger the noise.  The Do-Nothing Congress has earned its title.

Yet with all the pressing problems facing the Nation, one piece of legislation was kicked through the process and then flown, until recently, under the radar.  Specifically, that’s SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act, and its kissing cousin IPPA, Protect IP Act.

Last October, I wrote about this legislation here.  With a quick followup here.

On the face of it, copyright concerns are absolutely legitimate.  Any artist, musician, writer, etc., wants and expects protection of his/her creative efforts from rip-off artists.  You create something, it takes off, you expect the financial and psychic reward from that success.  There have been [and probably will continue to be] amoral individuals who plagiarize [steal] with abandon.  Corporations–those that still develop ideas and products–are also open to thievery by competitors.  Governments are vulnerable as well, which if anything [at least in my pea brain] demands that security measures around highly sensitive material be strong and effective, including careful clearance of those working with said materials.  Regardless of where one falls on the Manning case [hero or villain], anyone ever wonder how Bradley Manning, a private first class, was able to so easily tap records for Wikileaks, particularly after several red flags were ignored by Army personnel?

Accountability for lousy security anyone?

However, are we as a population willing to accept the radical tradeoff that SOPA represents, a serious curtailment of free expression and innovation, a barrier in the exchange of information between individuals and groups around the world to protect the financial and security issues of other entities?  And if so, what will the Internet be reduced to?

Think about the information that has circulated on the Net, regarding corrupt practices on Wall St. that led to the financial meltdown, the collusion of political partners, the failure of government bodies to investigate and prosecute guilty parties.  Do you think this information would have been disseminated as widely without the Internet access? Have we heard much about it in the mainstream press/newscasts?  Beyond Dylan Ratigan, that is, a MSNBC commentator.  Or, the ongoing global protests—The Arab Spring, the European Summer, the American Autumn, the Russian Winter.  Do you think these Movements would have gotten off the ground without Facebook and other social media outlets? Do you imagine we would have known of subsequent police over reactions?

Here’s the scoop from Techdirt on the byproduct of this asinine proposal, which is now suppose to be cleaned up and improved—the 2.0 version:

End result: SOPA 2.0 contains a crazy scary clause that’s going to make it crazy easy to cut off websites with no recourse whatsoever. And this part isn’t just limited to payment providers/ad networks — but to service providers, search engines and domain registrars/registries as well. Yes. Search engines. So you can send a notice to a search engine, and if they want to keep their immunity, they have to take the actions in either Section 102(c)(2) or 103(c)(2), which are basically all of the “cut ’em off, block ’em” remedies. That’s crazy. This basically encourages search engines to disappear sites upon a single notice. It encourages domain registries to kill domains based on notices. With no recourse at all, because the providers have broad immunity.

Look, I’m all for protecting the copyright of artists and other creators.  But not at the expense of free speech, open channels of communication and political discourse.

Here’s another question—do you not find it odd that so little time [make that anytime at all] has been spent by the mainstream press to discuss the problems with this legislation?  This is the same mainstream press that is suppose to be ‘free’ but has been consistently found wanting in actual reporting the news or investigating much of anything.  Yes, there are exceptions [Dylan Ratigan and recently 60 Minutes].  But by and large, the press today is held captive by the very forces paralyzing the government and buying off politicians.  These forces are keenly aware that restriction of a free-information vehicle, the Internet, is in their best interests.  There’s no doubt major news outlets are concerned by online sources ripping off their reports word-for-word.  But as far as distribution, information sharing and dissemination?  They’ve lost that battle to the Electronic Age.  And frankly, if the MSM had been doing their jobs–speaking truth to power–instead of playing lapdogs, their market share would not be as dismal.

In addition to the music and movie industries supporting this legislation [which at least makes sense], the American Bankers Association is a sponsor as well.  In fact, here’s a list of sponsors [interested parties].

If that link turns to gobblety-gook on you, check here at Wikipedia:

The link turning to gibberish was pretty weird—maybe a sign of things to come.  It worked perfectly fine the first time I checked it.

We do not need a bazooka to bring down a mouse.  The collateral damage can be significant, sometimes worse than the original problem.  That’s what this legislation represents.  And by collateral damage, I mean you, me and anyone plugged in at moment.  Sorry, but there’s something very disturbing that a complaint against a website can result in that site being ‘disappeared’ without explanation or appeal.

Consider this the ‘indefinite detention’ for objectionable sites on the Internet.

For additional information on the legislation itself, go here, here, here, and here.  Note that numerous online bigwigs [Google, Facebook,  Amazon, etc.] strongly oppose SOPA and have threatened a boycott/blackout, most likely on January 23rd in opposition to the upcoming cloture vote on the 24th.  Yves Smith has a good essay on what we’re looking at in terms of implications.

This is an important issue.  Citizen/online pressure can bring results.  Paul Ryan, for instance, stepped back just this past Monday from his initial support.  Resistance is everywhere and comes in many forms.  Here’s a boycott of another flavor.

An informed public is the best weapon against Big Brother and the invisible supporters of authoritative repress-freedom-for-the-sake-of-security measures.  We need to protect access to information to protect the present and future. We need access to information to save and preserve the core of our freedoms.


Late Evening News Reads: Iran…Israel…US…Timing is everything.

Good Evening

Today was a busy news day, as far as the number of unread feeds in my reader…However, for tonight’s evening reads I am going to stick with Iran, Israel and the US.

Quixote sent me this link earlier this evening.

Iran explosions prompt speculation of secret attacks | McClatchy

Unexplained attacks in Iran

View larger image

JERUSALEM — A series of mishaps at Iranian nuclear facilities and weapons sites may be part of a covert organized attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, according to Western intelligence officials.

An explosion last week outside Iran’s third largest city, Isfahan, is thought to be the most recent strike, though details on the intended target are still unclear. A sprawling military base and nuclear facilities are outside Isfahan, and intelligence officials across the Middle East said there was strong evidence that the explosion had done some “significant structural damage.”

“We have seen enough evidence to know something has happened, but we are unclear on what at this point,” said one Western diplomat whose work includes the region, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “There are a number of parties interested in sabotaging and weakening the Iranian regime.”

This is where the article takes an expected turn, as Dakinikat has speculated early last week, there are suggestions that Israel is behind these explosions.

The second such incident in as many weeks cast doubt on Iranian claims that these were “accidents” and “coincidences,” and it set off speculation of a coordinated attack by Israel, whose officials long have threatened a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli officials denied direct involvement, but the growing number of mysterious or unexplained blasts and deaths has many suspecting an official program of sabotage.

Israeli newspapers declared last week that Israel’s war with Iran already had begun, but that the Jewish state, rather than launch massive airstrikes, had decided on a method of covert action in cooperation with other groups. Statements by current and former Israeli officials were being parsed for clues but did little to clarify the issue.

Tell me if these responses don’t give you pause…

“There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God,” said Israel’s former head of internal security, Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: “We are not happy to see the Iranians move ahead on this (program), so any delay, be it divine intervention or otherwise, is welcome.”

Divine intervention…or did the dog do it?

It just seems like relations in the area have gone from bad to worse. This possible coordinated attacks from Israel may explain Panetta’s harsh language a few days ago:

Panetta to Israel: ‘Get to the Damn Table’ for Peace Talks « VOA Breaking News

The top U.S. defense official is warning Israel it cannot afford to further isolate itself from Arab neighbors in the Middle East.

During a forum in Washington late Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Israel needs to start by getting back “to the damn table” and negotiating peace with the Palestinians. He also called on Israel to mend its fraying relationships with traditional partners like Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.

Some Israeli leaders have viewed the Arab Spring, and uprisings like the one that toppled long-time Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, as a threat to regional stability as well as to Israel’s security. But Panetta urged Israeli officials to reject that way of thinking.

Panetta said Israel has no choice but to take some risks to ensure a safer future, starting with resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, a process that Panetta said has “effectively been put on hold.”

In this Reuters India link, they published a bit more of Panetta’s comment to Israel:

Panetta: Israel must get to damn peace table | Reuters

Panetta, addressing a forum in Washington, also made one of his most extensive arguments to date against any imminent military action against Iran over its nuclear program, saying he was convinced that sanctions and diplomatic pressure were working.

“You always have the last resort … of military action. But it must be the last resort, not the first,” Panetta said.

[…]

He said Israel needed to take risks, including by breathing new life into moribund peace talks with Palestinians. When asked by a moderator what steps Israel needed to take to pursue peace, Panetta said: “Just get to the damn table.”

“The problem right now is we can’t get ’em to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences,” Panetta said.

Panetta said the United States would safeguard Israel’s security, ensure regional stability and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — a goal Tehran denies having.

“Israel, too, has a responsibility to pursue these shared goals — to build regional support for Israeli and United States’ security objectives,” Panetta said.

“I believe security is dependent on a strong military but it is also dependent on strong diplomacy. And unfortunately, over the past year, we’ve seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow.”

Also heating up the already tense situation, is the recent US drone spy plane that was “brought” down by Iran…not by shooting it down, it looks like Iran was able to “hack” the drone. Reports are that Iran is in possession of the super secret spy plane.

Military sources confirmed that the Iranians have the RQ-170 drone, which is so advanced that the U.S. Air Force has not distributed even a photo of it. However, they did not say that the Iranians shot down the spy plane, as was reported by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

I realize that link goes to Fox, but JPost.com and Reuters are reporting this news as well.

Iran is still sticking with the “shot down” story for now, there is also a warning from the Iran military, from FARS News Agency: Fars News Agency :: Iran Warns of Wider Response to US Spy Missions

“Given the flagrant violation of our country’s borders, the electronic and operational actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces against the enemy planes will not be limited to the country’s borders,” an Iranian official told FNA.

The official had also informed FNA on Sunday afternoon that the country’s forces had downed a US RQ-170 Sentinel drone over the Eastern parts of the country.

“An advanced RQ-170 unmanned American spy plane was shot down by Iran’s armed forces. It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran’s Armed Forces,” a military official told FNA on Sunday.

In similar remarks, military sources told Iran’s Arabic language Al Alam television that Tehran will intensify its response to the United States’ spying operations.

“The Iranian military’s response to the American spy drone’s violation of our airspace will not be limited to Iran’s borders any more,” a military source told Al Alam, without giving details.

After a day of silence, both Pentagon and NATO officials acknowledged the shooting down of their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in eastern Iran, alleging that the aircraft with a mission to fly over western Afghanistan had gone astray.

The drone had been downed with help from the Iranian military’s electronic warfare unit.

The military official warned of a strong and crushing response to any violations of the country’s airspace by American drone aircraft.

Then there is this bit of news from The Telegraph: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards prepare for war – Telegraph

An order from Gen Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the commander of the guards, raised the operational readiness status of the country’s forces, initiating preparations for potential external strikes and covert attacks.

Western intelligence officials said the Islamic Republic had initiated plans to disperse long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.

The order was given in response to the mounting international pressure over Iran’s nuclear programme. Preparation for a confrontation has gathered pace following last month’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that produced evidence that Iran was actively working to produce nuclear weapons.

The Iranian leadership fears the country is being subjected to a carefully co-ordinated attack by Western intelligence and security agencies to destroy key elements of its nuclear infrastructure.

Recent explosions have added to the growing sense of paranoia within Iran, with the regime fearing it will be the target of a surprise military strike by Israel or the US.

Now, I realize the Telegraph and Fox News have their particular bias…but the story from FARS shows that relations between Israel, Iran and the US are getting more heated.

Of course, I have not mentioned the recent attack on the British Embassy in Iran.  It all just makes me very uncomfortable…and also at the heart of all this mess…is oil.  Iran, Facing New Sanctions, Warns of Oil at $250 a Barrel – NYTimes.com

Alarmed by the possibility of new Western penalties that could abruptly reduce or even halt its oil exports, Iran issued a warning on Monday that crude oil prices could more than double to $250 a barrel if such sanctions were given serious consideration.

The warning, issued by the Foreign Ministry, appeared to be part of an attempt by Iran to intimidate its adversaries as tensions grow. Western nations stepped up their efforts to isolate Iran diplomatically after mobs stormed and vandalized Britain’s diplomatic facilities in Tehran less than a week ago, evoking stark images of the United States Embassy takeover after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The assault was widely criticized, even by some of Iran’s friends.

The price of oil today did not “jump” because of this threat…there was little change in trading today.

Iran is the third-largest exporter of oil, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. Its biggest customers —China, the European Union, India, Japan, and South Korea — together account for two-thirds of total Iranian oil exports, according to an analysis published by the Energy Information Administration in the United States. Reduced orders from just one of those customers could be disruptive for Iran, where the economy is already suffering from the accumulated effects of other sanctions.

After the assault on the British Embassy, European Union ministers said they would give serious consideration to an oil embargo at a meeting in January, and the United States Senate voted 100 to 0 for legislation that would penalize any foreign bank that does business with Iran’s central bank.

The Senate measure, meant to use access to the United States market as leverage in isolating Iran, is not yet law and could be modified. But analysts said that such a measure, if enforced, could wreak havoc on Iran’s oil industry, because the central bank is the main conduit for receipts from oil sales.

“At some point, sanctions become an act of war,” said Vali Nasr, a professor at Tufts University and an expert on Iranian affairs. “If you cut Iran out of the oil market, this is no longer economic pressure.”

What do you all think? It is making me a little nervous. With tensions escalating in Pakistan, and the Afghani president talking about resurgence of the Taliban…

The United States is vacating an air base in Pakistan at Islamabad’s request following a NATO attack that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told Pakistan’s Waqt TV on Monday that the United States is leaving Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan Province southwest of Quetta. U.S. drones have taken off from the base and refueled there for operations against Islamic militants, according to sources familiar with U.S. drone operations in Pakistan.

The order to clear out of the base comes in the aftermath of a November 26 incident in which a NATO airstrike killed 24 Pakistani troops.

The Taliban could make a comeback and take over Afghanistan again, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned on Monday at the Bonn Conference. “If we lose this fight, we are threatened with a return to a situation like that before Sept 11, 2001,” Karzai said.

There has been progress in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in the wake of the hijacked plane attacks on the United States, he said. But, he warned: “Our shared goal of a stable, self-reliant Afghanistan is far from being achieved”.

Seems like all the “alert” messages are being sent.

And what does the US Main Stream Media have to say about all this drone business…Don’t worry…the drone fell to earth from such a high altitude…it must be in little, tiny pieces…so Iran can’t get much insight or information from that. Experts: Iran capture of stealth drone no worry – CBS News

“This is a high-flying unmanned aircraft that malfunctioned and then fell to earth. It’s likely to be broken up into hundreds of pieces.”

[…]

“Are we going to stop flying them? No. Was it a secret we were flying them? No,” said Pike. “Did Iran shoot it down? Probably not. Because Iranian air defenses are not very good, and it is a good stealth vehicle. And did Iranian hackers hack into it and bring it down? No. It’s just too hard to do.”

So say the “experts.”

This is a serious situation, and I worry it will be just another reason to step up the US military presence in the region, especially now that we are winding down in Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2012 election is also in the back of my mind…the timing seems to be one of the key coincidences in all this. We also have the triggered spending cuts that should be cutting into the military budget, so again my thoughts go back to the timing.

Timing is everything.

The European Union and its growing money troubles, austerity and cut backs…the US Economy and the corruption of  back room secret deals…people are going to need something to make them forget the elected (and not elected) people and corporations that got us into this mess.

But what do I know, I am just someone who lives in a small town in the American South.  I see all the things going on in the world from my laptop…things that I know are wrong or corrupt or manipulated to get the planned responses. Whether it be a rise in fear, so that more military spending is accepted, or the planned trillion dollars in bailouts, both public and secret, that “pay off” all those fat cat campaign contributors….or the possible terrorist attacks that bring about the acceptance of security measures so that more 85-year-old grandmothers can be striped search. (Yes, that now brings the total to three old women getting stripped searched at the same JFK terminal.)

Every day I feel more and more dejected and despondent and depressed. What makes it even worse is the feeling of abandonment from politicians and elected  officials that are supposed to act in our best interest…like sheep being led to slaughter, we are just wandering down the turnstiles and being directed which ever way the controlling class and media want us to move.

I wish I could have a better post for you tonight, that link Quixote sent was a good one, and I fear that I did not do it justice.

I’m just a silent sheep in Banjoland, no expert in foreign policy or military matters…and Iran and Israel are half a world away…but from the screen of my laptop, I see the problem growing…and I see all the ways it can be manipulated and used for other people’s advantage, and that makes me a little more concerned for what is coming…and my fear is that it will be something big.


SDB Evening News Reads for 120111: Good Golly Miss Molly…

Good Evening!

Let’s get right down to it, shall we?

Boston Boomer sent me this little nugget from Library Grape: Occupiers Finally make their demands:  Archives

After months of hassling by basically a bunch of people who want to pin them down to have something to use against them, the Occupy Movement seems to be coalescing around some specific policy goals:

  • Impose a 1 percent “Robin Hood” tax on large financial transactions, and use the money to support social programs.
  • Reinstate portions of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act that were repealed in 1999. The act had prevented bank holding companies from getting into certain other types of financial ventures, effectively separating investment banking and commercial banking.
  • Freeze all property foreclosures; cap interest charges at 6 percent or less.
  • Reduce military spending; stop wars that drain financial resources.
  • Reparations; make government payments to the descendants of African slaves to reset a broken, unbalanced economy.
  • Ban big corporate donations to campaigns and set equal spending limits.
  • Instill a fair conscience and a sense of morality into the minds of big decision makers.
  • Revamp the tax code to take a higher percentage of multimillionaires’ earnings. Ensure that Wall Street and big companies pay higher business taxes.
  • Equalize public education by paying fairly and proportionately for the entire U.S. population, regulating spending by student and not by school district.
  • Pass congressional legislation that returns bankruptcy protection to student loans.
  • End corporate personhood.
  • Ensure equal-access health care for all Americans.

Those look like a decent list, although I feel some are unattainable in the short term…A few that are definitely doable, in that Congress could get rolling would be the to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, imposing a tax on the wealthy, return bankruptcy protection for student loans and placing a moratorium on foreclosures. But here is what the Library Grape had to say about the list:

This is…overall a pretty good list, actually. A financial transaction tax would have a couple of nice effects, namely raising revenue and cutting down on some of the compulsive, supercomputer-driven trading that has been in vogue for some time now. Glass-Steagall reinstatement wouldn’t just fix everything like some would believe (like the LaRouchies hanging out in front of my post office), but it ought to be reinstated in a modernized form, as most everyone would agree that “gamble with your own money” is a pretty solid principle to have. (Good slogan, that.) Imposing campaign finance limits is a no-brainer, higher taxes for the wealthy are good, equalizing public education funding is a good and fair idea that will never, ever, ever, ever happen, and corporate personhood is a ludicrous concept in general.

[…]

But, wait…reparations? Did not expect that one. FOX News is definitely not going to be able to do any sort of spinning/impugning of the movement with that! Of course, FOX already seem to have gone with characterizing the movement as a white-kid slacker camp sort of a thing, presumably to raise the ire of “damn kids and their Faceyspaces!” types, so rebranding the thing now as some sort of young bucks phenomenon might be too late. Though considering that black people have been undergoing a full-blown depression while the rest of us have just been suffering a deep recession, maybe it would actually be a useful stimulus project to consider. At the very least, unlike cutting taxes for “job creators,” the money might actually get spent.

Now this next idea for Occupy is something I am glad to see. From Justin Elliot at Salon:  Occupy’s next frontier: Foreclosed homes

Occupy Wall Street is promising a “big day of action” Dec. 6 that will focus on the foreclosure crisis and protest “fraudulent lending practices,” “corrupt securitization,” and illegal evictions by banks.

The day will mark the beginning of an Occupy Our Homes campaign that organizers hope will energize the movement as it moves indoors as well as bring the injustices of the economic crisis into sharp relief.

Many of the details aren’t yet public, but protesters in 20 cities are expected to take part in the day of action next Tuesday. We’ve already seen eviction defenses at foreclosed properties around the country as well as takeovers of vacant properties for homeless families. Occupy Our Homes organizer Abby Clark tells me protesters are planning to “mic-check” (i.e., disrupt) foreclosure auctions as well as launch some new home occupations.

This is a shift from protesting Wall Street fraud to taking action on behalf of people who were harmed by it. It brings the movement into the neighborhoods and gives people a sense of what’s really at stake,” said Max Berger, one of the Occupy Our Homes organizers and a member of Occupy Wall Street’s movement-building working group.

Love this! And what a coincidence that the date for the Occupy Our Homes campaign is December 6th….the day my folks home goes up for grabs on the courthouse steps.

The backdrop for all this is a new study suggesting the foreclosure crisis is only half over, with 4 million homes in some stage of foreclosure. Meanwhile, reports of illegal or questionable behavior by banks and mortgage lenders continue to stream in.

[…]

Occupy Our Homes’ website (which was registered by a former SEIU official staffer) has the trappings of a slick professional campaign, with videos featuring the stories of families facing foreclosures and a pledge visitors are encouraged to sign stating:

… that until the banks do their part to help homeowners and to fix the economy, by writing down mortgage principal to current home values, I will:

  • I will support homeowners resisting wrongful foreclosure evictions.
  • I will resist any attempt by the bank to take my home.
  • If they come to foreclose, I will not go.

Elliot will be following up on this new dynamic in the Occupy movement and I will be sure to keep you all up to date on it as well.

Keeping with the Foreclosure theme a moment more, from Maddow: Welcome home

Sickening isn’t it?

The next two articles are dealing with an issue I touched on earlier this week.

Obama lawyers: Citizens targeted if at war with US

U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday.

The lawyers were asked at a national security conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure. He died in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone strike in the mountains of Yemen.

The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, did not directly address the al-Awlaki case. But they said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States.

Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.

Hmmm…let me just let you all digest that a bit…and while you’re doing that, this op/ed can be considered your desert?   Drone Attacks, The French Revolution & President Obama

Forecasting a future of robotic warfare in which perverted science is put at the service of its Empire, the U.S. has built 60 bases around the world for its unmanned, remotely controlled killer drone warplanes. And more bases are under construction. “Run by the military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and their proxies, these bases…are the backbone of a new robotic way of war,” writes Nick Turse, an investigative journalist for AlterNet and TomDispatch.

The bases “are also the latest development in a long-evolving saga of American power projection abroad—in this case, remote-controlled strikes anywhere on the planet with a minimal foreign “footprint’ and little accountability,” Turse points out. He notes that there may be even more than 60 bases since the Pentagon has dropped a “cloak of secrecy” over its operations. With the recent murder of American citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen, the drones are now assassinating suspects in no fewer than six countries, Turse says.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post also reports the Obama Pentagon is building a constellation of secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen. A number of the drone bases are located in the U.S., centered at Creech Air Force base outside Las Vegas, Nev., where “pilots” seated in front of computer screens can direct the unmanned drones and command them to launch a Hellfire missile on a suspect in Afghanistan, 7,500 miles away. At Ft. Benning, Ga., a new, advanced drone is being tested that the Washington Post reports is the next step toward a future in which drones will “hunt, identify, and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans.”

Okay…that one about killing based on computers and not humans is freaking me out.

In the first 10 months of his administration, President Obama vastly increased the number of drone attacks in the Middle East, assigning the CIA the role of launching them in Pakistan. It should be noted that Obama is a former CIA employee and approved an Agency drone strike during his first week in office. The New Yorker magazine reported in its edition of October 25, 2009, that since taking office up to that time President Obama sanctioned at least 41 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan that killed between 326 and 538 people, many of them, critics say, “innocent bystanders, including children.”

In fact, the first two strikes took place on Jan. 23, the President’s third day in office and the second of these hit the wrong house, that of a pro-government tribal leader that killed his entire family, including three children, one just five years of age. The magazine noted that when another suspect was attacked while sunning himself on his roof, the missile also demolished his house wiping out his entire family.

Let’s not forget the recent events in Pakistan this week. Many of you have made comments regarding Obama’s passive aggressive actions…

In short, President Obama’s enemies are being assassinated with absolutely no pretense of a legal proceeding. Webster’s dictionary defines assassination as “to kill suddenly or secretively, especially to murder a politically prominent person” and also “to destroy or harm treacherously and viciously,” which describes the Pentagon-CIA attacks perfectly.

Well, that link I gave you before pretty much explains the Obama’s Administrations views on legal proceedings when it comes to US Citizens, do you think foreign “enemies” have a better chance at getting a trial before the drone attack?

At least in the Terror spawned by the French Revolution, the accused came before a sort of mob called the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal, which is more that can be said for the drone strike victims. In Paris, the accused could not hire a defense lawyer or call witnesses and the only sentence that could be passed was death. This same despicable standard is being applied in today’s drone attacks with the approval of President Obama, who has turned back the clock of international jurisprudence by 200 years. Why does he not qualify to be called the American  Robespierre?

Last thing tonight, is a link to Larry’s List over at Truthdig: Social Media in the Post-Arab Spring

He has a great list of links that you may be interested in…

Facebook and Twitter posts have been used to expel liberal students from universities in the Middle East; a neo-Nazi terror cell is evidence of Germany’s deep-rooted xenophobia; and readings of the New Testament reveal that Apostle Paul did not denounce homosexuality. These discoveries and more below.

Please give it a click, the one about St. Paul is my personal favorite.

Have a wonderful evening and take it easy!


Saturday Reads: Taking Aim and Hitting the Target

Good Morning!

I have some juicy links for you this morning…so go get your cup of coffee, cause it’s gonna be a long post.

There is a lot going on in Egypt…Egypt new PM claims more powers than predecessor – Yahoo! News

 Egypt‘s military rulers picked a prime minister from ousted leader Hosni Mubarak‘s era to head the next government in a move quickly rejected by tens of thousands of protesters, while the United States ratcheted up pressure on the generals to quickly transfer power to a civilian leadership.

[…]

Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister between 1996 and 1999 and was deputy prime minister and planning minister before that. He also was a provincial governor under the late President Anwar Sadat.

In a televised statement, he said the military has given him greater powers than his predecessor and he wouldn’t have accepted the job if he believed military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi had any intention of staying in power.

“The powers given to me exceed any similar mandates,” he said, looking uncomfortable, grasping for words and repeatedly pausing as he spoke. “I will take full authority so I’m able to serve my country.”

He also spoke about not being able to form a government in time for elections that were scheduled for Monday. The US issued a statement:

“We believe that Egypt’s transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation,” The White House said in a statement. “Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible.”

The stance is significant because the Egyptian military has over the past 30 years forged close relations with successive U.S. administrations, receiving $1.3 billion annually in aid.

El-Ganzouri’s appointment was announced by state TV following a meeting late Thursday between him and Tantawi. Tantawi was Mubarak’s defense minister of 20 years and served in el-Ganzouri’s earlier government.

Almost forty people have been killed in the last five days as protest turned violent against the military’s actions regarding a formation of a government. The generals apologized for the deaths, but their choice of prime minister angered the Egyptian people whose uprising earlier in the year brought about the ouster of dictator Hosni Muburak. Many believe that Egypt’s military has hijacked the revolution…by placing a member of Mubarak’s regime in control. Protestors have vowed not to leave Tahrir Square until the military resigns and is replaced by a civilian presidential council.

But not all of Egypt is angry at the military, it seems a bit like perfect timing. Egypt’s military leaders are bringing their own show of support.  Egypt Military Tries to Woo Wider Public Beyond Protesters – NYTimes.com

Some call it the silent majority. In Egypt these days, the preferred term is the Party of the Couch. And in that ill-defined constituency, sometimes more myth than reality, Egypt’s ruling military has staked its credibility as it seeks to fend off the greatest challenge yet from protesters seeking to force it from power.

Drawing on sentiments pronounced Friday in the grittier parts of Cairo, even just a few blocks from the protests in Tahrir Square, and in a defiantly nationalist rally near the Defense Ministry, the military is offering either a canny read of Egypt’s mood or yet another delusional estimation of its popularity, a mistake that has bedeviled so many autocrats. With a mix of bravado and disdain, it has hewed to a narrative first pronounced after it seized power from President Hosni Mubarak in February: It bears the mantle of Egypt’s revolution.

“Egypt is not Tahrir Square,” Maj. Gen. Mukhtar el-Mallah, a member of the 20-member military council ruling since February, said in a news conference this week. “If you take a walk on other streets in Egypt, you will find that everything is very normal.”

In much of Cairo, and elsewhere in Egypt, the military has found a receptive audience for that message in a country buckling under a stagnating economy and a lurking insecurity. Even as it promises to surrender power by June, it has deployed all the platitudes of authoritarian Arab governments: fear of foreign intervention, fear of chaos, and fear of the rabble. One doctor quipped Friday that the sole change since the revolution was an extra digit added this year to cellphone numbers.

The concern seems to fall on who will lead Egypt’s government,  if not the military…then who will it be.

“They think they can fill up a square?” asked Marwan Helmy, a 65-year-old high school teacher at a boisterous pro-military rally that convened Friday in Abassiya, a few miles from the far bigger antimilitary demonstration in Tahrir Square. “We will fill all the streets of Egypt and support the military. We can’t be silent any longer, the country is unraveling. Who gave them the right to represent us? Tahrir is not Egypt!”

Thousands turned out for the Abassiya rally, waving flags, chanting slogans more visceral than meditated and crowding overpasses and the square below. In its ardor, it seemed to manifest a militant nationalism that added a new wrinkle to all the divides in Egypt pitting Islamist against secular, rich against poor, and city against countryside.

It is going to get more contentious in the coming weeks. When Mona Eltahawy writes up her experiences being arrested and assaulted by the police and Ministry of the Interior…I am sure the truth will eventually come out.

Next up are some articles about present day slavery. First is a link to an Al Jazeera video report: The Al Jazeera slavery debate – Slavery: A 21st Century Evil – Al Jazeera English

Why, hundreds of years after it was legally abolished, does slavery persist? The last episode of Slavery: A 21st Century Evil is a televised debate in which this question, among others, was posed to a panel of those who direct or seek to influence government policies on slavery across the world.

The debate was held at Decatur House on Washington’s Lafayette Square – the site of the only remaining physical evidence that African Americans were once held in bondage within sight of the White House – as an iconic venue for the debate on a trade that refuses to die.

Moderator Rageh Omaar was joined by: Luis C d’Baca from the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Kevin Bales, the president of Free the Slaves; David Batstone, the president of Not for Sale; and Joy Ezeilo, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.

This next link is to the State Department Blog, as it connects us to modern day slavery in a very personal way.  One Million Footprints on the Path to Freedom | U.S. Department of State Blog

Screenshot of Slavery Footprint website, as seen on November 22, 2011. [State Department image]

Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca directs the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Two months ago, the Fairtrade Fund launched Slavery Footprint, a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives intersect with modern slavery. Through a grant from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, the Fairtrade Fund developed this tool to help more people understand the way their lifestyles and consumption habits fuel the demand for forced labor and sex trafficking.

The app works by asking users to complete a quick survey about where they live and what they buy and eat. That information is processed in an algorithm that analyzes the 400 most common consumer items and determines the likelihood that those items were tainted by modern slavery somewhere along the supply chain.

The goal announced at the time of the launch was to register 150,000 people having taken the survey by September 22, 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Twelve months to get 150,000 people engaged. What’s been revealed instead in the last two months is that people care about this issue, and aren’t going to wait on our timetable to join the modern abolitionist movement. On November 11 , only six weeks after the site launched, the millionth Slavery Footprint survey was completed. And it’s not just Americans — people from a hundred different countries have taken the quiz.

[…]

By taking the survey, they have learned that human trafficking doesn’t just affect people in faraway parts of the world. We touch this crime in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the technology upon which we rely — and we can do something about it. Slavery Footprint and its partners like MTV have made it possible to take action by letting companies and universities know that you care about modern slavery and that you hope they do as well.

The road to freedom is long and hard, but there are now millions of footprints on that path. I encourage you to visit www.slaveryfootprint.org, take the survey yourself, and join us as we seek to deliver on the promise of Emancipation.

I took the survey and here was my results:

That figure is shocking, my numbers were higher than an average single person because I included my two kids in the survey. This really puts the issue of slavery directly on me, and how my family is connected to the modern slave trade. I urge you to take the survey, it will make you think about things from a different perspective.

Moving on from slavery to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Here is Hillary Clinton on the importance of eliminating violence against women.

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 25, 2011

Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we are reminded of the horrific acts of violence against women that take place every day around the world and pledge to recommit ourselves to changing attitudes and ending all forms of violence against women and girls.

Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that cuts across all borders and impacts all peoples and societies – regardless of ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, or religion. One in three women around the world will experience some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime. The medical, security, and legal costs to countries are incalculable. It dampens economic development and tears at the fabric of societies. The health costs to women includes not only the detrimental impact on their physical well-being, such as increased susceptibility to HIV infection, but also mental health costs for both women and their children.

We need to improve our efforts to prevent and respond to this crisis. When women are afforded their rights and given the chance to pursue education, employment, and political participation, they drive social and economic progress. They lift up themselves, their families, communities, and their nations. But to build this future girls must be able to learn without fear and women must be able to make decisions about their own lives and the future of their families.

Prevention, protection and prosecution are essential to combating this violence. But we must add a fourth “P” as well – Priority. Empowering women and girls is already a priority of the United States, but we need more countries to step up and take on this challenge. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 days Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence is an opportunity to renew the commitment to free women and girls from the nightmare of violence, because the future safety and security of our world depends on it.

Geez, I can’t help but think just how much better off we would all be if she was in the White House.

You probably have to go get another cup of coffee, so go ahead…there is more after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: You move…you lose!

Good Morning!

I’m not sure where my brother got that phrase, “you move…you lose” but he always says this when someone gets up and he gets their seat…or if one of the kids doesn’t grab their plate of cake and ice cream quick enough…he will snatch it and say the same thing. Well, I guess now California’s Governor Brown can say it to Florida’s Rick “Voldemort” Scott. Rejected rail funding becomes California’s gain, yup…Florida’s residents have lost big time.

High-speed rail funding rejected by Florida Gov. Rick Scott officially became California’s gain Tuesday as the Department of Transportation granted nearly $1 billion to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

In February, Scott rejected about $2.4 billion from DOT for a $2.6 billion high-speed train line from Tampa to Orlando, declaring in April that the money should go back to taxpayers or be used for deficit reduction.

So instead of creating jobs for his state, Scott just kicked his constituents in the ass and poked his fingers into the eyes of Floridian workers who need jobs.

 It’s not the first time California has profited from a Republican governor’s decisions to reject rail funding. After Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich tossed back a combined $1.2 billion in 2010, more than $610 million of that money was redirected to California’s high-speed rail.

The total federal commitment to California’s high-speed rail projects is now about $3.9 billion, $3.5 billion of which is specifically for an initial 130-mile segment in the sparsely populated Central Valley. Combined with about $2.6 billion in state funds, CHSRA says it has enough money to design and complete the Central Valley portion, which is projected to create about 100,000 jobs over five years on the way to producing a rail system that can achieve 220 mph train speeds.

Well, at least the funds aren’t disappearing into thin air… like those non-Koch investment accounts at MF Global.

Speaking of Koch…and their 1% brethren, Grover Norquist hails victory after supercommittee deal fails. Take a look at this interview Norquist gave the Guardian while he was on the road to Florida for Thanksgiving.

The lobbyist, who runs Americans for Tax Reform, has a tight hold on the Republican party, having secured written pledges from almost all its members of Congress that they will not vote for a single tax rise. Any Republican who fails to sign that pledge faces a tough primary challenge. Any Republican contemplating supporting even a minimal increase will be reminded of that written promise.

All six Republicans on the supercommittee were signatories.

It was the tax issue that broke the supercommittee. The Democrats insisted on increases: the Republicans refused. It was the tax issue that led one of the Democrats, John Kerry, the 2004 presidential candidate, to describe Norquist as the 13th member of the committee.

Norquist, who boasts of having ensured that Republicans have not voted for tax increases for at least the last two decades, recalled running into Kerry in the Senate, and the Democrat asked him to chat about a possible deal. “Kerry spoke about tax rises and I thought ‘Good luck with that. It is not happening.'”

How can someone have so much control over elected officials?

Back to the Guardian article, Norquist then takes the conversation to a flashback, where Grover is a kid, and gets the brilliant idea for his diabolical plan to destroy any American who is not filthy rich.

Norquist, aged 55, has been in politics since childhood. Both his parents were Republicans but more moderate than their son. At an age when other children were still watching cartoons, he said he bought the entire works of Hoover from the local library. He took the train from his home in Weston, Massachusetts, to Boston to work in the Nixon campaign office in 1968.

Returning from school one day, he had the idea that has dominated the Republican party for nearly 30 years, the single most important dividing line between Democrats and Republicans. “The thought I had when I was 12 was that the Republicans should brand themselves as the party that would not raise taxes.”

Can you see Lil’ Norquist plotting his ambush…I imagine him as a young Mr. Burns rubbing his hands together and saying… “I’ll be the most powerful political puppet master that ever lived. Splendid.”

The article ends with an acknowledgement that of all the GOP candidates, only Huntsman has not signed Grover’s Pledge.

All the Republican presidential candidates have signed it, with the exception of former diplomat Jon Huntsman, an outsider who has never managed to get above single digits in polling. Norquist blames his poor showing on failing to sign the pledge, describing it as a strategic mistake to show a willingness to compromise on tax. Other Republicans seeking office show little inclination to make the same mistake of crossing Norquist.

Sickening isn’t it?

Well, let’s move on to some encouraging news, this executive decision out of Oregon about Capital Punishment: Oregon Executions to Be Blocked by Gov. Kitzhaber – NYTimes.com

Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon on Tuesday said he would halt the execution of a death row inmate scheduled for next month and that he would allow no more executions in the state during his time in office.

“It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach,” Gov. Kitzhaber, a Democrat elected last fall, said in remarks delivered in Salem on Tuesday afternoon. “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor.”

Kitzhaber, who has served two previous terms as Governor, talked about the execution orders he signed when he was Governor:

“They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years,” Gov. Kitzhaber said. “I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society. And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong.”

He did not commute the sentences of the inmates on death row, so they are just getting a bit of a reprieve, until the next Governor takes office and starts the execution clock running again.

There is another Oregon politician in the news today, Boston Boomer sent me this link last night: Senator plans first ever Internet-fueled filibuster | The Raw Story

In the coming weeks, a new and unprecedented thing just might happen in the U.S. Senate: the Internet will filibuster a bill.

Specifically, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) will filibuster a bill — the Protect IP Act, which aims to fundamentally change the structure of the Internet — with a little help from his friends and admirers online.

In a website launched this week by the left-leaning political action committee Demand Progress, Wyden promises that if the Protect IP Act comes up for a vote in the Senate, he will stage an old-school standing filibuster and speak for as long as his lungs have wind.

You may find his plan interesting…

To bolster his speech, Wyden plans to read off the names of people who stand united with him against proposed rules that would fundamentally change the structure of the Internet.

So far, over 60,000 petition signatures have been collected, his staff said, and that number is growing quickly.

He is planning to do a standing filibuster, they do not have the votes to sustain it, so they are hoping to slow down the process, and make members of Congress think about the consequences of their actions. Any names that are not read will be added later to the congressional record.

The Protect IP Act is heavily sponsored by the entertainment industry and the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying group, which sees it as a means to prevent online piracy, which they claim costs jobs.

But its detractors, companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Aol, see the bill a little differently. While Protect IP — and its House version, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) — would make it easier for U.S. authorities to crack down on websites accused of pirating movies, television shows and music, it would also allow the government and copyright owners to disable credit card processing for sites they claim are engaging or enabling copyright infringement, all without a court hearing.

The legislation is so broad it could be used to target online anonymity tools used by human rights activists, according to technology advocacy group The Electronic Frontier Foundation. The software Tor, for instance, which has been used to protect activists in Tunisia and Egypt, could be targeted because it can be used to hide one’s IP address when illegally downloading copyrighted content.

But wait…there is more…

Corporations could also use SOPA claims to force companies to stop processing donations to whistleblower sites like WikiLeaks that post documents protected by copyright or containing trade secrets. The bill would additionally require Internet service providers to “take technically feasible and reasonable measures” to block “rogue” sites from their customers, essentially creating a massive Internet blacklist.

So give that website a look-see: Stop Censorship — Take Action Before Senate Vote | Demand Progress

One last link for you today. I was thinking about the intricate artistic beauty of Japan’s Kimono the other day. I remember there was an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that had many vintage Kimono on display. So when I saw this link in my Reader last night, I had to include it in today’s post.  Kimono culture – a dying art?

Beautifully patterned kimonos may be enduring cultural symbols of Japan, but the industry that produces the garments is in steep decline – and it is feared that soon there could be no craftsmen left with the skills to make them.

In “Mastering the Art of the Kimono” – for BBC Radio 4 – the BBC’s Japan correspondent Roland Buerk investigates the crisis facing the industry, and meets some of the people who make, sell and wear the colourful gowns.

There is a slideshow video preview at the link… the last few images are amazing.  If you want to see some of the various techniques used in Kimono Design, take a look here: Japanese Kimono Design Techniques. Kimonos with Painted, Embroidered, Kasuri, Shibori, and Gold Foil Designs

This site by Marla Mallett has pages and pages of information on textiles, and lots of images to look through.  If you have some time check it out!

Well, that is it for me, I’ll see you all later today for the Evening News Reads, I’ve been looking forward to getting back to my regular blogging schedule. So what are you reading and blogging about today?