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Daily Archives: 01/08/2011

(japanfocus.org) Koide Hiroaki began his career as a nuclear engineer forty years ago drawn to the promise of nuclear power. Quickly, however, he recognized the flaws in Japan’s nuclear power program and emerged as among the best informed of Japan’s nuclear power critic. His cogent public critique of the nuclear village earned him an honourable form of purgatory as a permanent assistant professor at Kyoto University. Koide would pay a price in career terms, continuing his painstaking research on radio nuclide measurement at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute (KURRI) in the shadows. Until 3.11.

Since the earthquake tsunami and nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, he has emerged as a powerful voice and a central figure in charting Japan’s future energy course in the wake of disaster: in scores of well attended public lectures, in daily media consultations and interviews, in his widely read posts and in three books that have helped to redefine public consciousness and official debate.

On May 23, 2011, the Government Oversight Committee of the House of Councillors (the Upper House) invited four guests to address members of the Diet – Koide, Ishibashi Katsuhiko, a seismologist who has long warned of the reactors’ vulnerability to quakes, Goto Masashi, a former Toshiba nuclear engineer who now defies the industry, and Son Masayoshi, President of telecommunication giant Softbank and, since 3.11, an outspoken proponent of renewable energy. The unprecedented government effort to seek advice from staunch critics of nuclear power policy is indicative of fresh winds blowing at a time when the government is calling for a sharp increase in renewable energy and curbing of nuclear power and the nuclear power giants and their supporters in the bureaucracy are fighting back.

Thousands across the nation and overseas watched Koide’s criticism of the government being webcast, sharing through Twitter the excitement of seeing their best kept secret being unveiled in a grey business suit, at the centre of Japanese politics – the very centre he has exposed throughout his career. At the same time, a human chain was being formed around the building of the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) where Fukushima parents and their supporters rallied to protest against the ministry’s decision to raise the allowable radiation exposure level.2 Viewers of the two simultaneous events had one eye on the relentless Koide, and the other on teary and angry Fukushima parents.

Read more, watch the lectures: http://japanfocus.org/-Koide-Hiroaki/3582

(anonlg.com) The US government has begun a War on Information, arresting those who fight for freedom of information as well as their supporters. This brutal crackdown on “hackers,” “leakers,” and “hacktivists” is occurring throughout the United States and internationally.

There is maybe nothing in life as stomach-churningly terrifying as feeling or even anticipating the weight of the US Government coming down on you… but you do NOT stand alone. You have help. You have lawyers who believe in the cause.

You are part of a tradition of freedom fighters and their advocates that stretches back through history. The National Lawyers Guild is here for you. Please contact us, or your attorney, BEFORE you talk to law enforcement- BEFORE you say ANYTHING to law enforcement.

The National Lawyers Guild stands with those who aim to shine a light on corruption. We stand with those who stand against corporate bullying, and with those who understand that sharing knowledge is critical to a democracy.

The NLG has a 75 year history of defending those who are attacked in the pursuit of justice, equality, and freedom, and we are ready to defend Anons and others who have been targeted for their pursuit of knowledge and the freedom of information.

In fact, we are already helping connect some of those targeted by the government with legal help, and we have more lawyers at the ready. Call us at 888-NLG-DANK to reach a hotline operator, or email help@anonlg.com. Of course we don’t have lawyers EVERYWHERE, but we will try to find a lawyer in your jurisdiction.

Read more: http://anonlg.com/

From Chomsky’s book, “9-11.”

“When countries are attacked they try to defend themselves, if they can. According to the doctrine proposed, Nicaragua, South Vietnam, Cuba, and numerous others should have been setting off bombs in Washington and other U.S. cities, Palestinians should be applauded for bombings in Tel Aviv, and on and on.

“It is because such doctrines had brought Europe to virtual self-annihilation after hundreds of years of savagery that the nations of the world forged a different compact after World War II, establishing – at least formally – the principle that the resort to force is barred except in the case of self-defense against armed attack until the Security Council acts to protect international peace and security.

“Specifically, retaliation is barred. Since the U.S. is not under armed attack, in the sense of Article 51 of the UN Charter, these considerations are irrelevant – at least, if we agree that the fundamental principles of international law should apply to ourselves, not only to those we dislike.” Chomsky, 9-11, p.66

He also points out that Bush rejected the offer by the Taliban to turn over bin Laden:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bush-rejects-taliban-offer-to-su…

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV7UYj-4mTE

(commondreams.org) The paranoid style in politics often imagines unlikely alliances that coalesce into an overwhelming threat that must be countered by all necessary means.

In Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington conjured an amalgamated East – an alliance between “Confucian” and “Islamic” powers – that would challenge the West for world dominance. Many jihadis fear the Crusader alliance between Jews and Christians. They forget that until recently, historically speaking, populations professing the latter were the chief persecutors of the former.

Now Anders Breivik has invoked the improbable axis of Marxism, multiculturalism and Islamism, together colonising Europe. As he sees multiculturalism as essentially a Jewish plot, Breivik has managed to wrap up the new and old fascist bogies in one conspiracy: communists, Jews and Muslims.

Like his terrorist counterparts who kill in the name of various Islamic sects, Breivik is willing to slaughter people for an invented purity. Modern Norway is a latecomer to the world of nations, becoming sovereign only in 1905. Vikings, Arctic explorers and international humanitarians all went into imagining the place.

Given how readily jihadi texts are dismissed as ravings, it is notable how much attention has already been paid to Breivik’s wacky ideological brew. This is a worrying portent of the line of analysis that says that the “root causes” of Breivik’s madness – immigration and cultural difference – must be addressed. Otherwise, European societies will lose their social cohesion, to choose one current euphemism for the Volk.

To the extent such a view takes hold, the far right may be forgiven for concluding that terrorism works. As for the rest of us, now facing terrorist re-imaginings from both sides of obscure battles in a mythic past, we may long for the leftist and anti-colonial insurgents of bygone days. They at least could offer plausible accounts of what they were up to.

To be sure, tactically speaking, Breivik thought through his operation. Unlike many jihadis, however, he lacked the courage to face men armed like him, and to offer his own life for his beliefs as well as the lives of others. Nonetheless he wanted at his court appearance to strut about in some kind of military uniform.

Smartly tailored uniforms, an abhorrence of cultural difference, and a desire for racial purity are all of a piece with fascist mysticism. As with jihadi ideology, it is precisely the non-rational elements of fascism that give it emotive, and hence political, power. For what Breivik and others see as under threat in the West is the vital source of meaning, of ultimate values, which they associate with the communion of a purified people.

Since the West faces no obvious threat of such existential scale and significance, one must be fabricated. It is here that the unlikely alliance of left wing parties and Islam plays its role, purportedly importing on a mass scale Muslims to colonise Europe. In Norway, Muslims account for less than three per cent of the population; in the UK, less than five per cent. Even so, the fantastical fear of the “loss” of Europe to Islam animates many on the right. It is part of mainstream electoral politics in Europe, and has long been an element of right wing discourse in the US.

In this vision of danger, multiculturalism plays a key role. Many will have noted Breivik’s odd invocation of “cultural Marxists”, folks I have only spotted in small numbers in university departments and cafes frequented by graduate students. Breivik’s reference is in part to the Frankfurt School, a group of German Jewish scholars who fled Hitler for the Western cosmopolis of New York.

The idea is that “Jews” have encouraged cultural mixing in the West, fatally compromising its purity and thus its values, while Muslims and Jews retain their cultural strength and identity. Europe must therefore declare “independence” and fight the Muslim-Jewish-Marxist hordes, apparently starting by killing their children.

We can only assume that Breivik has confused the computer fantasy games he played – using a busty blonde avatar named “conservatism” – with political analysis. What is truly frightening, however, is that the core of this vision of multiculturalism as a threat to the West is shared by leading political parties in the France, the UK, Germany and Italy, among others. This is why there is every chance that Breivik’s murderous and cowardly rampage will achieve some of its aims. Immigration, it will be argued, has unbalanced “our” people. It is already being curtailed in all the leading Western powers.

Shut up, obey, and collaborate

The irony is that the West brought us empire on a global scale and drew its cultural, economic, and political strength from interconnections with all parts of the world. The cosmopolis of New York, London and Paris – a “brown” not a “white” West – are more appropriate beacons of a West flush with power and confidence in its values than the imaginary purification achieved through concentration camps and closed borders.

But just what might be corroding values in the West?

This was one of the questions that animated the Frankfurt School and those who influenced it. They focused on the interaction between capitalism and culture. They noted the ways in which capitalism progressively turned everything into something that could be bought or sold, measuring value only by the bottom line. Slowly but surely such measures came to apply to the cultural values at the core of society. Even time, as Benjamin Franklin told us, is money, a doctrine which horrified Max Weber in his searing indictment of the capitalist mentality as an “iron cage” without “spirit”.

Note for example the ways in which the great professional vocations of the West – lawyers, journalists, academics, doctors – have been co-opted and corrupted by bottom line thinking. Money and “efficiency” are the values by which we stand, not law, truth or health. Students are imagined as “customers”, citizens as “stakeholders”. Professional associations worry about the risk to their bottom line rather than furthering the values they exist to represent. Graduates of elite Western universities, imbued with the learning of our great thinkers, are sent off to corporations like News International. There they learn to shut up, obey, and collaborate in the dark work of exploitation for profit, for which they will be well rewarded, at least financially speaking.

Thanks in part to the grip of corporate power on the media and on political parties, few today in the West can imagine any other politics than those of big money. In the US, and increasingly even in Europe, the income differential between the poor and the wealthy already resembles that of banana republics. The downtrodden are asked to bear the burden of a financial crisis created by bankers. America’s wealthy fly their children to summer camp in tax-free private jets amid a real rate of unemployment of over fifteen per cent.

Neoliberalism has only accelerated these processes at the heart of capitalist society. Here is a far more convincing threat to Western values and “social cohesion” than the lunatic fears of fascists. Notably, this is a threat that emanates from within, not without. It is precisely social democratic parties like Norway’s Labour Party – Breivik’s target – which have sought to contain the corrosive effects of capitalism and ensure the survival of the West’s most humane values.

by Tarak Barkawi

Source: http://www.commondreams.org/author/tarak-barkawi

(guardian.co.uk) Islamist terrorists also mentioned in briefing, as anarchists complain of being criminalised for their beliefs

What should you do if you discover an anarchist living next door? Dust off your old Sex Pistols albums and hang out a black and red flag to make them feel at home? Invite them round to debate the merits of Peter Kropotkin’s anarchist communism versus the individualist anarchism of Emile Armand? No – the answer, according to an official counter-terrorism notice circulated in London last week, is that you must report them topolice immediately.

This was the surprising injunction from the Metropolitan Police issued to businesses and members of the public in Westminster last week. There was no warning about other political groups, but next to an image of the anarchist emblem, the City of Westminster police’s “counter terrorist focus desk” called for anti-anarchist whistleblowers stating: “Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police.”

The move angered some anarchists who complained that being an anarchist should not imply criminal behaviour. They said they feel unfairly criminalised for holding a set of political beliefs.

The feeling of disproportion was compounded by the briefing note author making a similar request about Islamist terrorists a few lines further down. Under an image of flag with a gold dot beneath some Arabic script it added: “Often seen used by al-Qaida in Iraq. Any sightings of these images should be reported to your local police.”

“It unfairly implies that anyone involved in anarchism should be known to the police and is involved in an dangerous activity,” said Jason Sands, an anarchist from South London. “There is nothing inherently criminal about political philosophy whatever it is. The police work under the convention on human rights which disallows discrimination against people because of their political beliefs and even the request for information would seem to be in breach of that. It also seems to be a bit useless as a way of gathering intelligence. It isn’t focused on anything specific and they are just asking for general information. Imagine calling up and saying ‘there’s an anarchist in my building. What should I do?’ It doesn’t make sense.”

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/31/westminster-police-anarchist-whistleblower-advice

(geekwire) A developer who specializes in the Bitcoin digital currency says he was sent back to China last week after he arrived at Sea-Tac Airport with only $600 in cash and wasn’t able to convince U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents that he would be able to fund his two-month visit using Bitcoin.

The developer, who goes by the alias “Doctor Nefario,” identifies himself as the founder of the Global Bitcoin Stock Exchange. He was coming to the U.S. to work with entrepreneurs Mike Koss and Peter Vessenes at theStartPad offices in downtown Seattle, said Koss, the StartPad director. Koss has been contemplating Bitcoin-related projects, and Vessenes has been working on one.

Koss says “Nefario” even paid StartPad in advance for a desk at the co-working space … in Bitcoin.

“With three of us in the office working on or thinking about Bitcoin projects, we thought we’d have a quorum to have a ‘Bitcoin Development Center’ based out of StartPad,” explains Koss via email. “With Nefario’s turn back at customs, we’ve lost some momentum on that.”

Nefario (whose alias is a reference to a “Despicable Me” character), gave more of his background in this interview with Bitcoin Weekly in June, describing himself as a cypherpunk. He chronicles his recent attempt to come to Seattle in this blog post, saying that the custom agents were courteous but highly skeptical about his explanation of how he would be paying for his travel and accommodations.

I was put into a small office when the five to six hours questioning began,did I have a credit card? How come I ony had $600? What the hell is bitcoin?

Although I was cash poor I had more than enough bitcoin to cover all the costs of my trip and stay, I was going to be meeting with bitoption later that morning in Seattle, he had $1500 of cash to exchange. I explained this to the agents and then the topic of the questioning turned to how bitcoin worked.

After about an hour of that, they took my iPad and brought back my phone, asked if either of them were locked, and then made copies of what was stored on both. They searched me, and my bags, I was questioned and cross examined on who I would be visiting, what I would be doing, and how I exchange bitcoin for dollars or services , how I got the bitcoins… for hours.

Nefario describes himself in the post as Irish and British and says he was travelling to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. In the end, customs agents informed him he wouldn’t be entering the U.S. and sent him back to China, telling him that he could apply for a Visa to return in the future.

Koss has refunded Nefario’s rent money, transferring the Bitcoin back to him, but the StartPad guys are still hoping to collaborate remotely with him on Bitcoin-related projects.

Source: http://www.geekwire.com/2011/bitcoin-befuddles-customs-agents-thwarting-seattle-visit-digital-currency-guru