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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter

October 24, 2015

Whistleblowers and the murky world of national security

As Noam Chomsky has said, governments use the spectre of threats to ‘national security’ to justify secrecy, attacks on civil liberties, and the relentless build-up of the national security state. In reality, says Chomsky, the main enemy, in the eyes of the state, is its own population. Whistleblowers -- people like Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden -- play a vital role in letting the public know what governments are really doing. At great risk to themselves, they tell the truth which governments seek to hide.

In his article The Fog of Intelligence, Tom Engelhardt examines the contradictions of the American intelligence apparatus: a vast bureaucracy with more than a million employees and a budget of $70 billion a year which is continually unable to foresee developments which are perfectly obvious to journalists and others who have no access to secret information.

Another illustration of the national security mindset comes in the reaction of the British media – shocked! aghast! -- to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that as Prime Minister he would not order the launch of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

Also in this issue of Other Voices, we recall the day -- October 27, 1962 -- when the world was seconds away from nuclear war. After an American warship attacked a Soviet submarine – an act of war in itself, as well as an act of insanity – two of the three commanders on the submarine were prepared to launch a nuclear weapon, as they were authorized to do if they came under direct attack while unable to communicate with their military high command. The third commander on the submarine, Vasili Arkhipov, refused to agree, and because the unanimous of all three commanders was required, the missile was not launched.

Arkhipov’s split-second decision reminds us all that we are all confronted with moral choices, and that those choices can have far-reaching consequences.As always, we invite you to share this newsletter with your friends. You can forward this email, or send them the link to the Other Voices home page on the Connexions website at www.connexions.org/Media/CxNewsletter.htm.

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Topic of the Week: Whistleblowers

The topic of the week is Whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are people who witness illegal or unethical behaviour taking place in the organization they work for – be it government or corporate – and who report what is going on. Whistleblowing can occur within the confines of the organization, by reporting wrongdoing to management. Commonly, though, it is those in positions of power who are the very ones engaged in unethical or illegal behaviour, and then the only option is to go public, typically through the media.

Governments and corporations may often pay lip service to the importance of protecting whistleblowers, but in reality they are almost always persecuted. Repercussions can range from being fired to being imprisoned.

The Connexions Subject Index features a range of materials – articles, books, films -- on whistleblowers. Explore them here

Shadow government

This Week on Connexions.org

The Fog of Intelligence

Tom Engelhardt asks why it is that the United States, with an enormous intelligence apparatus comprising 17 agencies, more than a million employees, and a budget of $70 billion annually, and with access to data from satellites and from communications surveillance of pretty much everyone on earth, can so consistently and spectacularly get it wrong. Read more

Keywords: Military Intelligence - Security & Intelligence

Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers

The Obama administration has waged a war on whistleblowers – and journalists who reveal ‘secrets’ -- that is unparalleled in the history of the U.S. government. The whistleblowers’ treatment “serves as a warning to all potential apostates. Edward Snowden remains in Moscow. Julian Assange is still holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Chelsea Manning is in prison, serving a 35-year sentence. Jeremy Hammond, Jeffrey Sterling, and Barrett Brown all face years of jail time. Indeed, under Obama, whistleblowers face a total of 751 months behind bars -- compared to 24 months for all other whistleblowers combined since the American Revolution.” Read more

Keywords: Abuse of Power - Whisteblowers

A Short History of U.S. Bombing of Civilian Facilities

The recent U.S. attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, is by no means an isolated incident. The U.S. has a long history of bombing civilians facilities including hospitals The Intercept has compiled a list. Read more

Keywords: Bombing - War Crimes

Jeremy Corbyn

Nuclear War and Corbyn – The Fury And The Farce

In the eyes of the mainstream media, Britain’s new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has committed the ultimate faux pas, even worse than failing to sing ‘God Save the Queen’. Corbyn has unequivocally stated that as Prime Minister, he would under no circumstances issue an order to launch nuclear weapons. The media are portraying his unwillingness to incinerate tens of millions of people as the height of irresponsibility. Read more

Keywords: Media Bias - Nuclear War

Global wealth pyramid

Top 1 percent own more than half of world’s wealth

A new report issued by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse finds that global wealth inequality continues to worsen and has reached a new milestone, with the top 1 percent owning more of the world’s assets than the bottom 99 percent combined. Of the estimated $250 trillion in global assets, the top 1 percent owned almost exactly 50 percent, while the bottom 50 percent of humanity owned collectively less than 1 percent. The richest 10 percent owned 87.7 percent of the world’s wealth, leaving 12.3 percent for the bottom 90 percent of the population. Read more

Keywords: The Superrich - Wealth Accumulation

Karl Marx Workers of the World Unite


Organizers worth their salt

A few unions are recruiting salts these days, usually young people who apply for low-wage jobs in retail, hospitality, or logistics. But unions are reluctant to talk about salting, not wanting to alert management to look out for suspicious characters. Read More

Keywords: Labour Organizing - Workplace Organizing

Vasili Arkhipov

People’s History

October 27, 1962 – Cuban missile crisis

On October 27, 1962, the world came to the very brink of nuclear war. It escaped only by a hair’s breadth, thanks to a life-and-death decision by a Soviet naval officer.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, which has been building since October 14, was in danger of spiralling out of control because of the illegal and high-risk U.S. naval blockade of Cuba. On this day, reckless U.S. Navy commanders decided to drop depth charges on a Soviet submarine (B-59) present in the area. The targeted submarine is armed with a nuclear torpedo which it is authorized to launch if it is directly attacked. The three senior officers on the submarine are required to agree before a nuclear weapon is launched. Two of them want to launch, but the third, Vasili Arkhipov, refuses to agree, and so the launch is averted. Had the submarine fired its nuclear weapon, it is a virtual certainty that the United States and the Soviet Union would have been plunged into all-out nuclear war.

On the next day, U.S. President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev agree to an end to the crisis. Read more

Keywords: Cuban Missile Crisis

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs, Legendary Activist, Dead At 100

Grace Lee Boggs was a revolutionary who spent her life working and organizing in Marxist, civil rights, labour, Black Power, and community organizations. Read more

Rosalyn Baxandall

Remembering Rosalyn Baxandall

Rosalyn Fraad Baxandall, who died October 13, was a pioneering figure of socialist feminism in the United States. Read more

From the Archives

170,000 pictures of Depression-era America

A new gallery has been opened with pictures of the Great Depression in the US, depicting the everyday lives and struggles of people. Read more

Ansel Adam’s lost internment camp photo

The photographer Ansel Adams made a series of trips in 1943 and 1944 to the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California, one of 10 Japanese internment camps across the U.S. during World War II. Some of his photos are now going on display. Read more

Website of the Week: Wikileaks

WikiLeaks is an international, non-profit, journalistic organisation, that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. www.wikileaks.org

Keywords: Leaks - Whisteblowers

Wikileaks files
Book of the Week:
The Wikileaks files: The World According to the US Empire

By Julian Assange and others

A compilation of contributions from WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, WikiLeaks section editor Sarah Harrison, and a team of journalists, professors, and writers. The book is full of eye-opening scholarly analysis of the diplomatic cables made public by the WikiLeaks group, focusing on the 2010 - 2011 'Cablegate' disclosures. It takes on a huge amount of data and delivers a thorough introduction to the narratives of U.S. policy that the cables reveal. Read more

Keywords: U.S. Foreign Policy - Wikileaks

Citizenfour poster
Film of the Week: Citizenfour

Citizenfour is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Keywords: National Security - Whisteblowers

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Connexions Calendar

October 24 - 30: Disarmament Week

November 2: International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

The Connexions Calendar is an online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password.

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Seeds of Fire

October 27, 1864: The First Workers' International
The founding convention of the International Workingmen’s Association (the First International) adopts its “General Rules” which will express the basic orientation of the International and guide its actions. Written by Karl Marx, they begin with the unequivocal statement “the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves” – an insistence that liberation can only be self-liberation, that it cannot be imposed or bestowed by an outside organization or leader.

October 25, 1917: Outbreak of Russian Revolution
For several weeks Bolsheviks and ordinary workers, soldiers, sailors, and peasants have been carrying on extensive campaigns of agitation throughout the country against the Provisional Government, which is determined to keep Russia in the war. When the Provisional Government attempts to shut down the Bolshevik newspaper and take over the headquarters of the Bolshevik Central Committee, Red Guards and soviet workers take control of bridges and key positions in the city, including the power stations, the central telephone exchange, the General Post Office, the State Bank, and major government buildings. The Revolutionary Military Committee then publishes a manifesto proclaiming victory.

Oct 23, 1956: Outbreak of Hungarian Revolution
Outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution. Demonstrations of students and workers march through Budapest. In the evening, police fire on unarmed demonstrators; demonstrators start seizing weapons, and fighting breaks out. The result is a revolution which overthrows the Hungarian government but is eventually crushed by the Soviet Union.

Oct 22-27, 1996: Ontario Days of Action
The Days of Action, a series of demonstrations against the extreme-right Ontario government led by Premier Mike Harris.

Ellsberg: Don't Do What I Did

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This issue was edited and produced by Ulli Diemer.


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