Film on Edward Snowden wins Academy Award

Featured photo - The Intercept’s Laura Poitras Wins Academy Award for ‘Citizenfour’

Laura Poitras, a founding editor of The Intercept, won an Academy Award tonight for her documentary “Citizenfour,” an inside look at Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower; with Glenn Greenwald, journalist who reported many of the Snowden exposés.

[The annual Academy Awards (“Oscars”) are selected by secret/anonymous votes of the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures (previous winners of Oscars).  So, on occasion, the awards are given to a film which rebukes unpopular government policies.  And that is definitely the case with the award of “Best Documentary” to Citizenfour, which described the path of the world’s most famous whistleblower, Edward Snowdon who, at great personal cost and risk, exposed the NSA and the most intrusive government betrayal of privacy rights in history.  Though vilified and threatened by the government and politicians, Snowdon has won popular praise and accolades to such an extent that even the filmmakers of Hollywood chose to reward Laura Poitras, director, and the film Citizenfour, with the highest honor.  We urge everyone to seek out and spread the word about this film.  —  Frontlines ed.]

“The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” Poitras said in her acceptance speech. “Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistleblowers.” Snowden, in a statement released after the award was announced, said, “My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

The film, which has been hailed as a real-life thriller, chronicles Snowden’s effort to securely contact Poitras and Glenn Greenwald in 2013 and meet them in Hong Kong, where Poitras filmed Snowden discussing the thousands of classified NSA documents he was leaking to them, and his motives for doing so. The film takes its title from the pseudonym Snowden used when he contacted Poitras in encrypted emails that were revealed in her documentary.

US: The Torture of Democracy

The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’

  • Exclusive: Secret interrogation facility reveals aspects of war on terror in US
While US military and intelligence interrogation impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles and even a cage – focuses on American citizens, most often poor, black and brown. ‘When you go in,’ Brian Jacob Church told the Guardian, ‘nobody knows what happened to you.
’ 
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

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Ferguson: Thug Illusion in a Media Revolution

[In the US in recent years, the prominence of the repressive arm of the state has grown to a larger scope than ever before.  The occupation of Black and Brown communities, migrant communities, of increasingly and permanently vulnerable communities of occasional and unstable work, of displaced and homeless communities, youth castaways from schools and jobs, from broken families and internally abusive communities, have all suffered from repeated rounds of criminalization, police violence and mass incarceration.  Such attacks have been endorsed, promoted and justified in daily hysterical media accounts, in political and religious and cultural campaigns for ever-enlarging police forces, for overt and covert racist profiling, for militarization of police, and for multiplying the surveillance and snitch networks.  Opposition to these measures has also grown, and protest movements have also become major targets for political suppression and for beatings, arrests, and killings by cops, all reaching epidemic levels.

Not only does this repression hit at the increasingly re-proletarianized sections of the so-called “middle class” but many from the most oppressed peoples have joined the new and recurrent protest movements, at great personal risk.  Those who have histories of arrests and imprisonment and participation in many illegal and semi-legal pursuits have along with other sectors become politicized and have joined together to change the system.  In a number of cities, gang members have pointedly and significantly stood together, in de facto truces with each other, to defend their communities from attack – a pattern rarely, if ever, reported.  If anything, the twisted reports which occur in the media, are always of the horrifying and frightening “thuggishness” of protest movements.  This is a central ingredient of the media assault on all militant protest movements which now terms such protests as “terrorist.” 

The following article from revolution-news.com, describes these features as they have been seen in Ferguson, Missouri, and in the protest movements that have grown nationwide in recent months.  A largely untold story, we appreciate the courage of revolution-news in bringing it to light.  —  Frontlines ed.]

2/16/2015, Revolution News

“The revolution won’t be televised ya’ll know that.
And if it does get televised they gonna make it look as bad as possible.” – Shoota

The nationwide protests after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson have brought much needed attention to issues of institutional racism, police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men across the US. The #BlackLivesMatter protests have also brought people together and created unity in black communities throughout the country.

Mainstream media (MSM) broadcast images from Ferguson of stores being looted and buildings up in flames. The images shown in MSM succeeded in creating a massive media spectacle. MSM combined with some elements in social media also managed to push false narratives into the public discourse regarding who exactly was in the Ferguson streets and what they were doing there. The narrative that “thugs” were causing destruction and mayhem in Ferguson was amplified in MSM in attempts to smear and discredit the #BlackLivesMatter protests. But who are these so-called “thugs” running amok in Missouri? Continue reading

What Would Malcolm X Think?

An Opinion column in the New York Times, February 21, 2015

By ILYASAH SHABAZZ

Malcolm X — Credit: Associated Press

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — FIFTY years ago today my father, Malcolm X, was assassinated while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. I think about him every day, but even more in the last year, with the renewed spirit of civil rights activism after the tragic events in Ferguson, Mo., on Staten Island and in countless other parts of the country. What would he have to say about it?

People still look to Malcolm as a model for strident activism. They lament the lack of such a prominent, resonant voice in the modern dialogue about race. But they might not like some of the critical things he would have to say about the strategies of today’s activists.

Of course, my father would be heartened by the youth-led movement taking place across the nation, and abroad, in response to institutional brutality. And he would appreciate the protesters’ fervor and skillful use of social media to rapidly organize, galvanize and educate. In a sense, his ability to boil down hard truths into strong statements and catchy phrases presaged our era of hashtag activism. Continue reading

Breaking News: “Maoists in Kerala write slogans against Obama visit”

[DNA, an Indian financial paper which diligently gives voice to police disinformation campaigns, now reports that sneaky Maoists have attacked a tourist resort and left grafitti against Barack Obama.  And they report, the police are busy tracking them down. — Frontlines ed.]

Maoists in Kerala write slogans against Obama visit

dnaindia, Sunday, 25 January 2015
Suspected Maoists attacked a state-run tourist resort in Wayanad in north Kerala on Sunday and escaped into forests after vandalising the premises and writing slogans against US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.
The six-member group carrying fire arms and wearing masks barged into the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation’s resort located in the forests and damaged computer and glass panes at the reception in the wee hours, District Police Superintendent P Vimaladitya said. They also wrote slogans against Obama on the walls of the resort, he said.

As per the information provided by the security guard at the resort, the gang entered the building around 3 AM, shouted slogans condemning the policies of the Central and State governments, littered the premises with Maoists literature before vandalising the reception and fleeing into the forests. They had raised slogans condemning the government policy of promoting tourism “trampling” over the rights of tribals and marginalised sections over traditional means of livelyhood. The gang, however, did not harm two groups of tourists who were staying in the resort, Vimaladitya said.

The posters and Maoist literature thrown around the premises carried the name of CPI(Maoists) Western Ghats Regional Committee. Police have launched a search for the group who had ran into deep forests of the area located on Kerala-Karnataka borders.

This was the latest in a series of attacks carried out by suspected Maoists in different parts of Kerala since last year, especially on the slopes of the Western Ghats.

Earlier this month, a group attacked a private stone-crusher unit in Kannur district. These attacks came at a time when the Kerala government had stepped up security following intelligence reports that Moists had sneaked into forest-fringe tribal settlements in the hill areas of Kerala, close to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu borders.

India: New Arrest in Kerala Spurs Broad Protests

[Continuing the ever-intensifying state repression of democratic and dissenting activists, the recent arrests in Kerala State of India have brought new waves of angry protest and demands for the release of political prisoners.  See the following statements from the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), followed by the statement from the Democratic Student Union (DSU).  —  Frontlines ed.]

Release Thusar and Jaison Cooper!

release1Statement by the Committee for the release of Political Prisoners

31 January 2015

Condemn the arrest of Thusar Nirmal Sarathy, Secretary Kerala Chapter, CRPP and Jaison Cooper, People’s Activist.

Release Thusar Nirmal Sarathy and Jaison Cooper Immediately, Unconditionally

Friday, the 30th January turned out to be a day when the Kerala state machinery and its lawless police brazenly demonstrated yet again that they can’t for once uphold the law of the land while dealing with political dissent of any nature. If post-1947 India have demonstrated that successive governments at the centre or the states used its police and the state machinery for targeting political rivals from different political combinations of the day, it is incriminating to note that all the governments that occupied power throughout the last 68 years have been unequivocal in maintaining the state of permanent emergency for tackling political dissent of the people!

On the 30 January 2015, the Kerala police and the special branch arrested Jaison Cooper in Ernakulam from his work place and Adv. Thushar Nirmal Sarathy from Calicut while he was addressing the press about a protest programme to be held there the following day against the increasing violations of the fundamental rights of the people in the state. At the same time, the police raided the residences of Thushar Sarathy, Advocate Manuel Joseph who is a people’s activist, Ms. Jolly Chirayath, convener of the Women’s Collective, and a artist activist. From the residence of Thushar Sarathy the police took away several case files without even bothering to record the list of the ‘seizures’ that they have done. Even the search was conducted without any warrant being shown to the custodians of the residences.

As increasing instances of impunity have become the hallmark of the police and investigating agencies in the Indian subcontinent with the Kerala police refusing to be different, one can only foresee a motivated police out to incriminate, frame those who are critically looking at the policies of the government. For the police, the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the constitution of the largest democracy seemed to, for every practical purpose, remain in permanent suspension, all in the name of ‘national interest’, ‘national security’ and last but not the least that weapon of mass destruction—‘development’.

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Chris Hedges: Malcolm X Was Right About America

[Journalist Chris Hedges describes his personal views on the life and teachings of Malcolm X, whose life was stolen with his assassination 50 years ago. — Frontlines ed.]

Our refusal to face the truth about empire, our refusal to defy the multitudinous crimes and atrocities of empire, has brought about the nightmare Malcolm predicted.
By Chris Hedges  truthdig.com  February 1, 2015

Malcolm X about two weeks before he was murdered in 1965. AP/Victor Boynton

NEW YORK—Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience. For him there was no great tension between the lofty ideals of the nation—which he said were a sham—and the failure to deliver justice to blacks. He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed.


“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck,” Malcolm said. “Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

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