December 10, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
Wikileaks continues to release classified US embassy cables on a daily basis, and I am continuing to read them on a daily basis. At the current rate a release, it will take about 8 months for all the cables to be released, and that is a rate that is just fine with me. This staggered release makes it very easy to pay attention to each daily release and gives the reader ample time to look at each cable, draw some conclusions and write up some well thought out blog posts and articles about them. This really does help to quantify an old adage that answers the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time.
Speaking of eating, the batch of Wikileaks US embassy cables released today contained one little gem that (mercifully) has nothing to do with the United States of America doing something scandalous or illegal. It has to do with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez doing something for the people of his country in an effort to sell them on and demonstrate the benefits of socialism.
According to the leaked Wikileaks cable sent from the American embassy in Caracas to the US State Department on January 19, 2010, Hugo Chavez opened the first in what will be a chain of government subsidized restaurants called, “Arepera Socialista.” They serve only “arepas” which are a native sort of bread made of ground corn, water, and salt which is fried into a pancake-like bread. It’s either topped or filled with meat, eggs, tomatoes, salad, cheese, shrimp, or fish. This restaurant sells their arepas for about one quarter of their regular price, thanks to hefty the subsidies. They idea is to put these restaurants in working class neighborhoods so working class people can have a good, cheap breakfast (the restaurants are only open in the morning) while demonstrating with a tangible, tasty and affordable item what their socialist government is able to do for them. I suppose the logic from there would be, “Stick with this Bolivarian revolution and one day you will be able to eat an affordable government subsidized lunch and dinner too.” Whatever the logic is, the cable contained a note that I just found to be funny:
LET THEM EAT AREPAS
This parody of the famous line, “Let them eat cake” seems to me to be very telling, and I’ll explain why. For the purpose of this post, it doesn’t matter who said this line first or when, it’s about the context that it has come to be associated with; a leader that is out of touch with reality. As the story goes, in 1769 a princess was told there was a famine and that her people were starving because they had no bread, to which the princess replied, “Then let them eat cake.” With Venezuela facing high inflation, electricity and water rationing, failing public services and a lack of international partnerships to extract their oil, “Arepera Socialista” is what Hugo Chavez’s government came up with in order to make socialism easier to swallow.
I think the diplomat that slipped the note, “Let them eat arepas” into the cable was really saying (or wanted to say) something like this:
“Hugo Chavez and his top advisors have launched a new “Socialism Wow!” campaign they hope will win the hearts and minds of their countrymen and help to remove the dogmatic stigma that seems to surround socialism. They opened a restaurant that is only open on weekdays, only serves one item and is only open during one meal. The item: Arepas. The meal: Breakfast. That is the beginning, middle and end of the “Socialism Wow!” campaign. The boys and I checked it out this morning on our way to the embassy, and it looks like a crappy McDonalds that only has Egg McMuffins without any eggs and usually without muffins. In other words, Venezuela is no longer a threat on the international scene because the president just got into the food service industry. LOL! ”
This is my third article discussing a Wikileaks leak, the first being a piece about Bradley Manning and the second one being about Hillary Clinton clearing the way for a US airstrike on Iran. They are interesting reads in which I draw my own conclusions from information made available by Wikileaks. Right or wrong, these leaked documents are at least getting people reading, digging and blogging about foreign policy, and that’s something no high school teacher has ever been able to do. An interesting and funny footnote to this story is that last month, 6 “Arepera Socialista” employees, including the company coordinator were arrested for stealing money from the till.
November 28, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
According to a cable sent from Secretary Of State, Hillary Clinton on February 18, 2009 to the American ambassadors at the embassies of Jordan, Kuwait, The Untied Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Israel, the US state department wants the diplomats of these countries to tell their host countries to tell Russia that they (Russia) should not deliver S-300 air defense systems and missiles to Iran.
The reasoning that Hillary Clinton instructs her lap-dog diplomats to use in selling this to their host countries is very strange. She says that this defensive system could be used to support offensive operations, and that the range of the missiles would reach beyond Iranian airspace. From the cable, “The most modern variant of the S-300, high-performance surface-to-air missile system would greatly improve Iran’s ability to defend large regions of its airspace up to 200 km beyond its borders.”
So let me get this straight Hillary Clinton, you non-elected politician… The reason you think Iran should not be entitled to defend itself from
American bombers an attack from the air is because they might use them in support of offensive action? I don’t think so. I think Hillary Clinton is doing everything she can to minimize the risk to American bomber pilots when the order is given to start dropping bombs on Iran.
There is one and ONLY one reason for the United States of America to keep Iran from defending it’s airspace from an attack by air… Because America is going to attack Iran from the air. So, here is my prediction for the press conference that will take place the day after the attack: The White House spokesperson will say blah blah blah about this and that and then will also say something else. He or she will talk about how no American bomber pilots were shot down during the raid, and will allude to the fact that through good intelligence and planning, America managed to cripple Iranian air defenses with a computer virus or something. What the White House spokesperson will NOT say during the press conference is that America made sure, thanks to Hillary Clinton back in February 2009, Iran didn’t even HAVE an air defense system to cripple.
My source for this article comes from a secret cable from Hillary Clinton to 7 American ambassadors posted in Middle East countries that Hillary Clinton felt hold more than average sway with Russia. The cable is just one of about 250,000 American embassy and State Department cables released by Wikileaks today. I urge every person on the planet to read through the cables and report about what you find.
November 27, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
1. eBay – Because selling things online has been my bread and butter since 2002. If I want to sell or buy anything, eBay is the yardstick I use to determine an objects worth. eBay is my 24/7 personal convenience store that makes the internet profitable and legitimate.
3. Photography Is Not A Crime – Back on September 5, 2009 I filmed San Diego trolley security guards as they tackled and arrested a man for smoking inside the 12th & Imperial transit station. Ultimately, the guards told me (on camera) that I was not allowed to take pictures in that particular public space. I shopped my video around so NBC picked it up at aired the story, along with an apology by then Heritage Security CEO Ken Moller. This event lead me to Carlos Miller’s website Photography Is Not A Crime, which is an aggregate of instances where photographers are harassed, detained and imprisoned for doing nothing more than engaging in photography in a public place.
4. Photo Attorney – Great resource for photographers that are facing legal trouble or want to know what to do if they engage in an activity that may land them in legal trouble.
5. Mark J. Rebilas’s Blog – Mark is a sports and action photographer that has a life I wish I had. He jet-sets around the country shooting things that travel at least 200MPH, and makes money doing it. He is a photographer that is known ONLY for his photography and nothing else. He doesn’t host podcasts, seminars, workshops or dinners. He just makes incredible photography.
6. New York Portraits– This is a blog that does something I would eventually like to do. The photographer of this blog lives in Brooklyn and she takes and at least one photo per day in one of the five boroughs of New York and blogs about it. What I really like about this blog is that the photographer fearlessly shoots people candidly.
7. Digital Photography School – No matter what you think your skill level of photography is, this site has information that will make your next photo-shoot better.
8. America’s Test Kitchen – If you cook your own food, if you want to know the best way to make ANYTHING, if you live in a place that has an oven, burners, or a microwave, you should spend time looking over their website. They test and rate everything they buy, everything they cook and everything they present, so we get nothing but succinct, perfect recipes to create at home.
9. Wikileaks – I really can’t believe this is a website I didn’t create. Wikileaks is everything I never knew I always wanted to do. I discovered the site in the wake of the Bradley Manning incident. As an ex-military person that served in the United States Navy in the age BEFORE the internet, I was made to take part in things that were immoral and illegal, and then made to lie about it. In the pre-internet days, that’s as far as criminal activity by the military would go because there was no way to tell the world. Now the internet and Wikileaks has American generals and politicians shaking like little girls during a thunderstorm. Why? Because now they can be held accountable. Thanks to Wikileaks having the balls to publish crimes committed by American military personnel at the behest of our American politicians, the playing field has been leveled, so the rest of us can play now too. Ultimate democracy.
10. Netflix – I hate TV, the news, commercials, sitcoms and the film industry, but I like movies. So, I don’t go to the theater, watch privacy invading TV shows or listen to anything network TV has to tell me. Netflix allows me to watch movies without interacting with or paying money to the people that created it. It’s not that I don’t think they’re due, but they are millionaires that live in paid for mansions, so they don’t need my money.
October 21, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
Last month, I wrote an article that got picked up by Wikileaks.org, so my website was famous until today. Now, the worthless Technorati algorithm that determines the worthless Technorati rank has crashed me down… Big time. Above you see me now and below you see me then.
September 21, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
San Diego Stands With Bradley Manning
Why was there no media coverage of the rally held outside Horton Plaza, in San Diego this past Sunday? Bradley Manning has been incarcerated since early July by the United States government because he released a classified video to Wikileaks.org that shows agents of the United States government committing the act of multiple murders. In the same way that Enron’s own falsified accounting books were used as evidence to prove deceit & fraud, a government’s own video was used to show an act of government sanctioned murder.
This is big news, so why is there no mainstream media coverage of the situation or the rallies? I think it’s because the video in question was classified, which makes Bradley Manning a technical criminal for releasing it, and the network television stations just don’t have the sand to say a man that broke the law, in order to expose a government crime can be a hero. Think about it like this: If the dominant media in the country were to actually admit that Bradley Manning did the right thing, they would also be saying the content of the video he released would have to be, in some way… Wrong.
Releasing classified government property to unauthorized parties is wrong. Exposing murder is right. Bradley Manning did something wrong (by releasing a classified video to Wikileaks.org) in order to expose something wrong (the shooting of 2 children and murder of 11 people). Did I mention that Bradley Manning is and active duty US Army intelligence analyst? He is. This story has all the makings of a Hollywood action flick:
1. US Army Apache helicopter pilots want to kill some people in Baghdad, 2007 so they lie about the people having weapons in order to get permission to engage.
2. The helicopter pilots receive permission to engage, based on the false intelligence the pilots provided, so they fire the 30mm cannon mounted under the fuselage of their choppers, killing 11 people.
3. The crawling, wounded men are shot.
4. A minivan happens on the scene, wherein a Good Samaritan attempts to evacuate the wounded.
5. The minivan is the shot up with 30mm fire from the Apache helicopter.
6. Ground troops arrive and discover the van’s driver is dead, and his two children are wounded, from bullets and shrapnel inside the van.
7. No weapons are found, only the camera equipment of the two Reuters employees that were among the victims.
8. The Army classifies the video and releases a statement about the incident: “American troops were conducting a raid when they were hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The American troops called in reinforcements and attack helicopters. In the ensuing fight, the two Reuters employees and nine insurgents were killed.”
9. Bradley Manning discovers the video and understands what it shows, so he gives it to Wikileaks.org, who subsequently releases it on the internet and introduces the attack to the world.
10. The American military is forced to acknowledge a cover-up.
11. Bradley Manning is arrested by the United States government under suspicion of releasing the video, but not charged with any crime. Those IN the video, committing murder, are neither charged nor arrested.
12. A movement begins around the world that calls for the release of Bradley Manning, saying he has been unjustly arrested because he should be protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
13. Rallies are held in at least 19 cities around the world in to call for the release of Bradley Manning.
14. The rallies are attended but not reported.
15. Bradley Manning lives the rest of his life in jail.
That is a tragic movie that is playing out right now. It has a beginning, middle and end, and it is a very crappy ending. We must force the mainstream to acknowledge this story, and carry it.
September 20, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · 4 Comments
Free Bradley Manning Rally – San Diego, CA, September 19, 2010
On April 5, 2010, Wikileaks.org released an Apache helicopter’s 30mm cannon gun-sight video that shows US military personnel in Baghdad in 2007 kill 2 Reuters reporters, 9 other men, and then shoot up a van that happened to contain 2 children and their father. The video includes audio from the radio chatter between ground forces that came onto the scene following the attack and the two Apache helicopters that carried out the attack display an amazing amount of disrespect to the people they had just, and were about to kill, and not caring at all that two children had just been subjected to the 625 round per minute spray of 30mm bullets from the cannon of the Apaches’ fuselage gun. The audio also lets us hear the Apache pilots say that the men they want to open fire on are holding AK-47 machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. The only problem is that this video, which has come to be named, “Collateral Murder” shows the men were actually unarmed, and were just talking in the street when the Apache pilots asked for permission to engage. The boiled down, succinct version, complete with subtitles is below, and I would advise that you watch it if you are not familiar with it and it will also help to give some context to this post because the content of the video is only the first part of this story.
Who Can Argue With That?
So now the world has a video that shows Apache helicopter pilots lying about circumstances in order to… Well, murder some people. This is why the man pictured above had this sign at the rally. Truth equals democracy. That means that everyone, including the government has to be held accountable for the truth. If these helicopter pilots, working as agents of the government lied to facilitate killing people, then as a democracy, we the people have the right to know the truth and the truth should also be used to meter out justice. Simple, right?
Flags At The San Diego Rally To Free Bradley Manning
So why is it then that people are gathering under so many different and colorful flags in sunny San Diego, holding signs reminding us that the government isn’t allowed to lie to us and to “Free Bradley Manning”, and who is Bradley Manning? He is in the United States Army and he is the man that gave the video above to Wikileaks.org, who subsequently decrypted and released the video to the world.
Who Is Bradley Manning And Why Does He Need To Be Freed?
You see, back in 2007, before the video was released, the United States military said the following about the attack:
“American troops were conducting a raid when they were hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The American troops called in reinforcements and attack helicopters. In the ensuing fight, the two Reuters employees and nine insurgents were killed.”
Bradley Manning is the young intelligence analyst who saw this was a video that showed Apache pilots lying in order to kill unarmed people, and that also disputed the official story released by the Army. He had evidence of multiple murders and a cover-up, so he gave the video to Wikileaks.org.
Three months after the video was released on the internet, Bradley Manning was arrested and charged with releasing the video. But why? Why would agents of the federal government arrest a United States army analyst for releasing a video that shows a war crime in the form murder, and subsequently exposing the lie that covered it up afterward? Because the video was CLASSIFIED. That means that Bradley Manning broke the law by giving classified US government property to an unauthorized person, in the form of Wikileaks.org. People on both sides of the fence are very unhappy about this. Because of the video, the world has seen US Army personnel kill unarmed people, and the world also now knows that the American government covered it up afterward. To the government, the content is not the issue, it’s the fact that the video is a piece of classified government property they take umbrage at.
What that means is that there is a young man in jail right now because he blew the whistle on the whole thing, and there are a lot of people that believe he should be protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act, including the good San Diego people featured in this post. This is a very odd situation since classified government property (as opposed to corporate, private sector property) were the tools used.
I will just go ahead and say it… I think the video was classified in the first place because it shows Apache helicopter pilots committing multiple murders. Rather than have an incident that could damage the war effort, the military stamped it as classified never to be seen again and released their cover story.
If the video had come from anywhere other than the depths of the United State’s military industrial machine, Bradley Manning would be regarded as a hero by all, instead of incarcerated by his own government. The government does not like that they will have to answer questions like why the video was classified to begin with and why they want to prosecute a man that brought transparency to an event should never have happened.
Is it all right to commit a crime in order to expose a crime? Releasing classified government videos is a crime, we all know that, just like we know murdering people is also a crime, but in this case, only the person that released the video and not the person committing murder IN the video has been charged with a crime. That does not seem right. To me, this is not a case of the ends justifying the means or justifying one crime with another… This is about making the United States, my country, accountable for something we did that was wrong. If our government would just own up to a mistake in a timely manner and then take steps to prevent the mistake from happening again, we would earn some worldwide credibility, and that is something America needs right now. When you are big and tough, as America has become, you can forget that it makes you a much bigger person to admit when you’re wrong.
America – We Need To Learn From Our Mistakes
This brings us to the Free Bradley Manning rally all the photos for this post came from, one of 19 held worldwide to show support for and call for the freedom of Bradley Manning. It was held on the north side of Horton Plaza, right in the middle of downtown San Diego on September 19, 2010. It was well attended and it was very interesting to listen to what the speakers had to say. There were a lot of veterans and San Diego’s LGBT community was also well represented. There were many calls for the need for transparency in the government on all levels, and calls to keep politicians accountable and to actually do what is best for the country, not most profitable. One common theme that I think all the speakers stressed was the need to organize. The way location is most important in real estate, getting organized is most important for grassroots movements like this. Forcing the United States to release some one from custody will not be easy and it will be impossible if the movement is not organized. That is what I took away from the rally most, so that is what I am going to say now… After you read this blog, do what you can to help the movement get organized so we can get Bradley Manning out of custody and allow him to receive the credit he deserves.