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Al-Vogue

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Al-Vogue


Letter to the Editor

Friday, February 4th, 2011

This letter is in response to the articles covering the civil unrest occurring in Egypt.

As a citizen of and believer in democracy, I applaud the efforts of the Egyptian people. Their efforts are similar to what happened following the election in Iran and the most recent revolution in Tunisia.

Believe it or not, one thing that trumps capitalism and political correctness in the United States is the right to have one’s voice heard. This is the foundation of which our democracy is built on. The Egyptian people should continue to defy President Hosni Mubarak’s powerful security forces so that Egyptian democracy can begin to thrive. It is unfortunate that the United States compromised on one of its most fundamental values in order to protect its economic interests in the Middle East; something that
happens all too often domestically as well. It is not the Egyptian people that are attempting to seize power but rather it is those currently in power who have engaged in intimidation to prevent the will of the people from being heard. Why else would they stoop to such underhanded tactics to block various means of communication among the citizens of Egypt? Why is the government in power utilizing such political strong-arm tactics as the use of violence?

President Mubarak, you have had thirty years to lead Egypt and have failed them by your own choosing. The days of the puppet regime are finally coming to an end as it appears the desire for freedom will continue to sweep among the Arab nations. Accordingly, let the call go forth among all citizens of Egypt that your brothers and sisters of democracy from all over the world are with you during every trial and tribulation you may encounter during this crisis. To the people of Egypt, the trumpet of freedom beckons you to rise in protest and ensure your voice to preserve your sacred heritage, promote your children’s future and obtain the blessings of liberty we all cherish. As was spoken to an Egyptian Pharaoh many years ago {by another enslaved people}: Let my people go!

JOE BIALEK
Cleveland, OH USA


Has the White House Violated Our Humanity?

Monday, November 29th, 2010

by Nat Hentoff
from HUSTLER Magazine November 2010

AS BIG BROTHER GETS BIGGER AND BOLDER, AMERICANS ARE ONCE AGAIN LIVING IN “TIMES THAT TRY MEN’S SOULS.”

Many years ago I went to a conference on privacy at Harvard University. The keynote speaker, a high-level assistant to then- FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, was unusually frank for an FBI official. He bellowed, “Privacy? It’s gone.” Even Hoover himself had no idea of how deep and continuing that loss would become. Last year the Electronic Privacy Foundation—the premier defender of our digital civil liberties—accused the U.S. government of engaging “in a massive program of illegal dragnet surveillance of domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001.”

Our home and business phones and e-mails are, of course, porous. But federal eyes and ears have moved on to cell phones, texting, Twitter and their ever-more-sophisticated progeny, while also increasing experimentation with methods of mind control through behavioral modification techniques and beyond. (For details, see “Obama Interrogation Official Linked to U.S. Mind Control Research” at PubRecord.org, May 25, 2010.)

James Bamford, the most informed investigator of our cavernous Big Brother—the National Security Agency, known for its limitless databases—reveals in his 2008 book The Shadow Factory : “NSA is also developing another tool that Orwell’s Thought Police might have found useful—an artificial intelligence system designed to know what people are thinking.”

I’ve written about our vanishing privacy in this column and in my books, but never with such penetratingly profound awareness as the Wall Street Journal ’s Peggy Noonan in her article “Our Lives Laid Bare”: “When we lose our privacy, we lose some of our humanity; we lose the things that are particular to us, that make us separate and distinctive as souls, as actually children of God.”

Actually, I’m an atheist, but I do have a secular soul with what once were secret compartments that may now be in “persons of interest” files at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Also, as an unremitting critic of Bush and Cheney and now Obama—the continuer of their anti- Constitutional legacy—I’m not unmindful that were there another 9/11 or worse, I might have a compulsory change of address. So far I’ve not been able to get my actual current FBI files; but the one I saw years ago had me at a North Africa meeting of purportedly dangerous radicals.

I have never been to Africa, North or South. I did meet Che Guevara once, at New York’s Cuban Mission to the United Nations, and I had the irreverent nerve to ask him if Cuba would ever have free elections. He laughed sardonically, obviously not regarding me as a dependable revolutionary.

But there are millions of Americans without a tinge of radicalism or libertarianism (my core belief) in their past who are disquieted at being part of a society under ceaseless surveillance. They hear about current cases like that of Bruce Shore, who caught Kentucky Republican Senator Jim Bunning on C-SPAN complaining about having missed a basketball game to vote on unemployment benefits and then delaying the vote. Shore, a 51-year-old unemployed resident of Philadelphia, sent critical e-mails about Bunning to members of the senator’s staff, including “No checks equal no food for me. DO YOU GET IT?”

This citizen, supposedly protected by the First Amendment, was soon visited by United States marshals, who presented him with a grand jury indictment for violating the Communications Decency Act. His alleged crime? Shore, as this law spells out, “did use a telecommunications device, that is, a computer, whether or not communication ensued, without disclosing his identity, to annoy, abuse, threaten and harass any person who received the communication.”

Whether or not Shore is eventually found guilty, he is now in a stream of government databases, where he will probably remain for the rest of his life—unless we get a President whose bible, whatever his religion, or none, is the Constitution. If Shore is convicted, he faces up to two years in the slammer and a $250,000 fine.

As for many of the rest of us who could be ensnared in this federal dragnet, Peggy Noonan writes that “Americans, as a people, are not really suited to the age of surveillance, the age of no privacy. There is no hiding place now, not here.”

Can we ever get our privacy back? Not unless we fight for it. A movement has begun. According to the Wall Street Journal, such abusers of our privacy as Microsoft, Google, Intel and AT&T “are pushing for more stringent regulations on government ability to access electronic communications.”

They are seeking a basic reform and updating of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which “extended restrictions on government wiretaps to data transmissions as well as phone calls” and “regulated privacy in stored data.” But these so-called restrictions have gone with the Presidential winds and whims. Therefore, this coalition—whose ultimate aim is to restore personal privacy—calls itself Digital Due Process.

Congressman John Conyers Jr. (DMichigan), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says he will lead these attempts to rescue privacy. I know that Conyers is deeply into our American music of individual liberty— jazz—but he needs help. Although it may take some courage after what happened to Bruce Shore, notify your representatives in the House and Senate that you demand your privacy back. Peggy Noonan reminds us: “There are cameras all over. No terrorist can escape them, but none of the rest of us can either.”

Nat Hentoff is a historian of the Constitution, a jazz critic and a columnist for the Village Voice and Free Inquiry. His incisive books include The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America ; Living the Bill of Rights ; and the forthcoming Is This America?


GOVERNMENT BAILOUT OF THE ADULT ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Hustler’s Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis Ask For Government Bailout Of The Adult Entertainment Industry

As the 2009 AVN Adult Expo opens in Las Vegas this week, Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis and HUSTLER magazine publisher Larry Flynt are petitioning the newly convened 111th Congress to provide a financial bailout for the adult entertainment industry along the lines of what is being sought by the Big Three automakers, a spokesperson for Francis announced today.

Adult industry leaders Flynt and Francis sent a joint request to Congress asking for $5 billion in federal assistance, “Just to see us through hard times,” Francis said. “Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation’s most important businesses, we feel we deserve the same consideration. In difficult economic times, Americans turn to entertainment for relief. More and more, the kind of entertainment they turn to is adult entertainment.”

But according to Flynt the recession has acted like a national cold shower. “People are too depressed to be sexually active,” Flynt says, “This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex.”

While not to the degree felt by banks and automakers, the Adult Entertainment industry has been hit by the effects of the economic downturn. DVD sales and rentals have decreased by 22 percent in the past year as viewers turn to the internet for adult entertainment. It is estimated that roughly half of all internet users visit adult sites, with the number of unique visitors to adult websites (including GirlsGoneWild.com and Hustler.com) has grown to more than 75 million per month.

But the “saltpeter” effect remains.

“With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind,” Flynt says, “It’s time for congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly.”

“The popularity of adult entertainment in America has grown steadily for the past half century,” Francis says. “Its emergence into the mainstream of popular culture suggests that the US government should actively support the adult industry’s survival and growth, just as it feels the need to support any other industry cherished by the American people.”


EXCUSE ME? PARDON WHO? PRESIDENT BUSH’S PARDONS

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

President Bush pardoned 19 more people before leaving for his holiday vacation, which brings his total pardons up to 191 according to the Associated Press.

What do you think about the people he pardoned? Who should and shouldn’t be on that list?

MSNBC has the list in the middle of this article of the 19 he pardoned: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28368672/

Also, Wikipedia is trying to keep a tally: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_pardoned_by_George_W._Bush


PAT ROBERTSON SPEAKS ABOUT BUSH AND OBAMA

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

What Pat Robertson says may surprise you. It’s refreshing to see independent thought, thinking about the actions of the candidates and not standing blindly with or against them just because of their party affiliation.

What do you think about what he said?


SHOES THROWN AT PRESIDENT BUSH

Monday, December 15th, 2008


THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Thursday, December 11th, 2008


WORKERS STANDING STRONG FOR THEIR RIGHTS

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

From Yahoo! News:

The creditor of a Chicago plant where laid-off employees are conducting a sit-in to demand severance pay said Tuesday it would extend loans to the factory so it could resolve the dispute, but the workers declared their protest unfinished.

A resolution seemed nearer as Bank of America, which yanked the plant’s financing last week, announced it sent a letter to Republic Windows and Doors offering “a limited amount of additional loans” to resolve its employee claims.

About 200 of the 240 laid-off workers had responded to their three days’ notice of the plant closing by staging a sit-in and vowing to stay put until assurances they would get severance and accrued vacation pay.

Continue Reading at Yahoo.com…

View pictures of sit-in at Yahoo! News.


GOVERNOR BLAGOJEVICH ARRESTED

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

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The Chicago Tribune covers in depth the Blagojevich arrest and his history in office.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested Tuesday for what U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald called a “political corruption crime spree” that included attempts to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Blagojevich and Harris were named in a federal criminal complaint that alleged a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy aimed at providing financial benefits to the governor, his political fund and to his wife, First Lady Patricia Blagojevich.

Blagojevich was taken into federal custody by FBI agents at his North Side home Tuesday morning—one day shy of his 52nd birthday.

Continue reading at the Chicago Tribune…


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