Posts Tagged: the state

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"In the great majority of cases, the real purposes of a war and the ostensible reasons a state gives as its pretext are entirely different things. Utah Phillips (“I learned in Korea that I would never again, in my life, abdicate to somebody else my right and my ability to decide who the enemy is)” had the right idea."

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Scratching By: How Government Creates Poverty as We Know It

American state corporatism forcibly reshapes the world of work and business on the model of a commercial strip mall: sanitized, centralized, regimented, officious, and dominated by a few powerful proprietors and their short list of favored partners, to whom everyone else relates as either an employee or a consumer. A truly free market, without the pervasive control of state licensure requirements, regulation, inspections, paperwork, taxes, “fees,” and the rest, has much more to do with the traditional image of a bazaar: messy, decentralized, diverse, informal, flexible, pervaded by haggling, and kept together by the spontaneous order of countless small-time independent operators, who quickly and easily shift between the roles of customer, merchant, contract laborer, and more. It is precisely because we have the strip mall rather than the bazaar that people living in poverty find themselves so often confined to ghettoes, caught in precarious situations, and dependent on others—either on the bum or caught in jobs they hate but cannot leave, while barely keeping a barely tolerable roof over their heads.

The poorer you are, the more you need access to informal and flexible alternatives, and the more you need opportunities to apply some creative hustling. When the state shuts that out, it shuts poor people into ghettoized poverty.

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NSA reportedly tracking any internet users who research privacy software online

Any internet users who use or even read about privacy services online will be targeted for surveillance by the NSA, according to a new report from German broadcaster ARD.

According to leaked source-code of the US spy agency’s ‘XKeyscore’ software, individuals who search for information about anonymising services such as Tor have their IP addresses logged by the NSA and can be flagged for further monitoring.

Tor, sometimes known as The Onion Router, is perhaps the most popular form of anonymising software used online. It bounces users’ browsing activities around a large network of computers known as nodes making it difficult to trace.

The free software was originally funded by the US military and still receives money from the US State Department. It’s used worldwide by political dissidents, human rights activists, journalists and the merely privacy-conscious. …

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At every step of the way, the state steps in to subsidize the operating costs of the fossil fuel industry, steal land for it to build pipelines on, and indemnify it against liability through regulatory preemption of tort law or even flat out statutory caps on liability for damage. And yet self-proclaimed libertarians like the Koch Brothers and much of the right-wing libertarian think tank and periodicals establishment loudly proclaim their support for fracking and Keystone in the name of the “free market.”

Sorry, folks. Fracking and pipelines have nothing to do with the free market. They’re creations of the state from beginning to end.

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Modern Commerce

… Such an organization of industry can be accomplished only in a condition of freedom.

While government lasts commerce will continue to pillage and rob; to cause the young to look old; to furrow with care the brows of those who should be careless; and, while it fills the halls of some with splendor, it fills the cots of others with woe.

Away with the parent of monopoly — government — and all other monopolies will vanish like fog before the morning sun, and the re-organization of industries upon a sane and rational basis will proceed apace, and gaunt destitution be known no more in all the land.

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"Underneath the veneer of common interest between the government, big business, and the general public provided by the legitimizing ideology of “patriotism”, there is and always has been a symbiotic corporate-state alliance parasitic on the latter. The state provides corporations such favors as liability shields, regulations keeping out new competitors, and labor laws preventing workers from holding out for higher wages. In return, the corporations — as Martin Short’s satirical lobbyist Nathan Thurm put it when pressed to defend the vast amounts of corporate welfare received by his clients from the government — “give a lot of that money back”."

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This Rule About Drone Surveillance Is Just Plain Absurd -- And Scary

Right now, in the United States, law enforcement can put you under drone surveillance without a warrant — as long as the drone never lands on your property. What the hell is going on here? How can this be legal?

First of all, let me assure you that this kind of surveillance is going on right now. Law enforcement can choose to watch you with a drone, and they don’t have to get permission from a judge (AKA a warrant) to do it.

The FBI recently sent a letter detailing their drone surveillance practices to Senator Rand Paul. Paul wanted to know how the agency justified using drones in this way under current privacy law. The FBI’s Stephen D. Kelly replied that the FBI believes that people watched by drones do not have “reasonable expectation of privacy” because “there is no physical trespass involved.” So if a drone hovers quietly above your backyard, filming everything you do, it’s just fine — because it never actually touched your personal property. …

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Proletarian Blues

So if Ehrenreich’s solutions are the wrong ones, what are the right ones? Here I would name two.

First: eliminate state intervention, which predictably works to benefit the politically-connected, not the poor. As I like to say, libertarianism is the proletarian revolution. Without all the taxes, fees, licenses, and regulations that disproportionately burden the poor, it would be much easier for them to start their own businesses rather than working for others. As for those who do still work for others, in the dynamically expanding economy that a rollback of state violence would bring, employers would have to compete much more vigorously for workers, thus making it much harder for employers to treat workers like crap. Economic growth would also make much higher wages possible, while competition would make those higher wages necessary. There would be other benefits as well; for example, Ehrenreich complains about the transportation costs borne by the working poor as a result of suburbanisation and economic segregation, but she never wonders whether zoning laws, highway subsidies, and other such government policies have anything to do with those problems.

Second: build worker solidarity. On the one hand, this means formal organisation, including unionisation – but I’m not talking about the prevailing model of “business unions,” conspiring to exclude lower-wage workers and jockeying for partnership with the corporate/government elite, but realunions, the old-fashioned kind, committed to the working class and not just union members, and interested in worker autonomy, not government patronage. (See Paul Buhle’s Taking Care of Business for a history of how pseudo-unions crowded out real ones, with government help.) On the other hand, it means helping to build a broader culture of workers standing up for one another and refusing to submit to humiliating treatment.

These two solutions are of course complementary; an expanded economy, greater competition among employers, and fewer legal restrictions on workers makes building solidarity easier, while at the same time increased solidarity can and should be part of a political movement fighting the state.

That’s the left-libertarian movement I’d like to see. And people keep telling me it doesn’t exist. Good lord! I know it doesn’t exist; why else would I be urging that it be brought into existence? …

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Electronic Communications Surveillance - Lauren Regan | Monthly Review

“I think you’re misunderstanding the perceived problem here, Mr. President. No one is saying you broke any laws. We’re just saying it’s a little bit weird that you didn’t have to.”—John Oliver on The Daily Show1

The government is collecting information on millions of citizens. Phone, Internet, and email habits, credit card and bank records—virtually all information that is communicated electronically is subject to the watchful eye of the state. The government is even building a nifty, 1.5 million square foot facility in Utah to house all of this data.2 With the recent exposure of the NSA’s PRISM program by whistleblower Edward Snowden, many people—especially activists—are wondering: How much privacy do we actually have? Well, as far as electronic privacy, the short answer is: None. None at all. There are a few ways to protect yourself, but ultimately, nothing in electronic communications is absolutely protected.

In the United States, surveillance of electronic communications is governed primarily by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), which is an extension of the 1968 Federal Wiretap act (also called “Title III”) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Other legislation, such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), supplement both the ECPA and FISA.

The ECPA is divided into three broad areas: wiretaps and “electronic eavesdropping,” stored messages, and pen registers and trap-and-trace devices. Each degree of surveillance requires a particular burden that the government must meet in order to engage in the surveillance. The highest burden is in regards to wiretaps. …

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Journalist Handcuffed by ICE Agents for Photographing U.S. Border Fence in New Mexico - Photography is Not a Crime: PINAC

Andy Beale’s goal was to create a photo project comparing the fence between the U.S. and Mexico and the wall between Israel and Palestine.

On June 6, 2014, Beale arrived at the Santa Teresa border checkpoint in New Mexico with a friend to take pictures of the fence. As Beale started taking pictures, a Federal Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) officer drove up and asked Beale what he was doing, and for identification. ICE agents then escorted Beale and his friend inside the immigration building, and promptly handcuffed the two of them to a bench.

For the next three hours, Beale and his friend waited as ICE officers told them, “They’re on their way, they want to question you.”

Finally, an FBI agent and a Department of Homeland Security officer showed up and handed Beale a copy of federal statute 41 CFR § 102-74.420, which states:

What is the policy concerning photographs for news, advertising or commercial purposes?
Except where security regulations, rules, orders, or directives apply or a Federal court order or rule prohibits it, persons entering in or on Federal property may take photographs of—
(a) Space occupied by a tenant agency for non-commercial purposes only with the permission of the occupying agency concerned;
(b) Space occupied by a tenant agency for commercial purposes only with written permission of an authorized official of the occupying agency concerned; and
(c) Building entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors, or auditoriums for news purposes.

The government agents claimed that because Beale hoped to sell his photos, he could be charged with a felony for photographing the border fence. The agents then asked Beale to sign a consent form allowing them to search his camera. When Beale refused, he was told, “Well, we’re going to be here for awhile then.”

According to Beale, the DHS agent made a call or a fake-call to discuss what kind of charges they could bring against Beale. …