Rothbard on Power to the Neighborhoods 6

Another Rothbard classic.

My long term goal is to have ATS and ATS-allied groups operating in cities, towns, counties, and regions all over the USA, and working in tandem to advance ideas like this in their own local areas. The rest of my work is simply about developing an intellectual counter-elite and theoretical foundation for these ideas, developing a workable strategy, cultivating constituents for such a project and developing viable activist endeavors towards such an end.

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This article first appeared in the May 15, 1969, issue of The Libertarian Forum.

Norman Mailer’s surprise entry into the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York City, to be held on June 17, provides the most refreshing libertarian political campaign in decades. Mailer has taken everyone by surprise by his platform as well as his sudden entry into the political ranks. The Mailer platform stems from one brilliantly penetrating overriding plank: the absolute decentralization of the swollen New York City bureaucracy into dozens of constituent neighborhood villages. This is the logic of the recent proposals for “decentralization” and “community control” brought to its consistent and ultimate conclusion: the turmoil and plight of our overblown and shattered urban government structures, most especially New York, are to be solved by smashing the urban governmental apparatus, and fragmenting it into a myriad of constituent fragments. Each neighborhood will then be running its own affairs, on all matters, taxation, education, police, welfare, etc. Do conservative whites object to compulsory bussing of black kids into their neighborhood schools? Well, says Mailer, with each neighborhood in absolute control of its own schools this problem could not arise. Do the blacks object to white dictation over the education of black children? This problem too would be solved if Harlem were wholly independent, running its own affairs. In the Mailer plan, black and white could at long last live peacefully side-by-side, with each group and each self-constituted neighborhood running its own affairs.

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Rick Perry’s Vulnerabilities with the Right 1

From the National Journal.

 

“The US ruling class has continually drifted leftward over the last century to the point where the “Old Left”, the Marxist/Trotskyist/New Deal intellectual Left of the 1930s, are now the ostensible conservative Republicans while the Marcusean cultural Marxists of the 1960s “New Left” are now the liberal Democrats. If this historical pattern continues, then an on-going leftward drift will mean that within a couple of decades the ostensible “conservatives” or “right-wing” will be the present day reactionary liberalism of Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Albert Gore, John Kerry, Michael Moore and Morris Dees. We can easily envision an ideologically and intellectually decrepit lot such as these presiding over the final days of the crumbling US empire.”

-Keith Preston

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By Alex Roarty
National Journal

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has taken the Republican presidential field by storm since declaring his candidacy on Saturday, winning widespread praise for his outspoken conservative positions. But Perry has served 26 years since first winning election, as a Democrat, to the Texas state House in 1984. That means he carries a record — a long record — containing a few conservative blemishes that his leading rivals in the GOP field can seize upon.

Indeed, in an interview with a Des Moines radio station on Monday, Perry was deluged with questions from informed Republican voters about potential conservative heresies on his record — from his enthusiastic backing of an unsuccessful superhighway proposal that critics claimed was a land grab, to his support for Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic presidential primary.

Wondering about the playbook of attacks his Republican rivals may be digging from in the coming months? Here’s an overview:

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The Regionalist: Stormin’ Norman, Decentralist Reply

Article by Bill Kauffman.

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In 1969, Norman Mailer, the dukes-up bard of Brooklyn and a self-proclaimed “left conservative,” undertook a campaign for mayor of the city that had, seven decades earlier, swallowed his borough of homes and churches. Competing in the Democratic primary against a quartet of machine hacks and standard-brand liberals, the novelist-pugilist got clobbered. What do you expect of an electorate that has filled Gracie Mansion with the likes of Abe Beame, Ed Koch, and Rudy Giuliani? But Mailer ran a race that carved out a path that we would do well to follow today. I don’t believe that any municipal campaign of the last century has been packed with such radical spirit and reactionary sense.

Mailer averred that he was to the left of the liberals and to the right of the conservatives: wisdom’s place! He diagnosed the modern malady: “The style of New York life has shifted since the Second World War (along with the rest of American cities) from a scene of local neighborhoods and personalities to a large dull impersonal style of life which deadens us with its architecture, its highways, its abstract welfare, and its bureaucratic reflex to look for government solutions which come into the city from without (and do not work). . . . Our authority has been handed over to the federal power. We expect our economic solutions, our habitats, yes, even our entertainments, to derive from that remote abstract power, remote as the other end of a television tube. We are like wards in an orphan asylum. The shaping of the style of our lives is removed from us—we pay for huge military adventures and social experiments so separated from our direct control that we do not even know where to begin to look to criticize the lack of our power to criticize. . . . [O]ur condition is spiritless. We wait for abstract impersonal powers to save us, we despise the abstractness of those powers, we loathe ourselves for our own apathy.” Has any candidate in postwar America been as eloquent? (Mailer’s essay, “An Instrument for the City,” reprinted in Existential Errands, is a brilliant and shamefully neglected decentralist manifesto. If only NYC had listened to Mailer, Paul Goodman, and Dorothy Day instead of John Lindsay, Robert Moses, and the New York Times.)

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Anarchism 3

Article by Bill Kauffman.

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Perhaps no political term is quite so misunderstood as “anarchy.” In the popular press, it is a synonym for disorder and chaos, not to mention looting and pillage: countries like Haiti are always being “plunged into anarchy.” The anarchist, meanwhile, is frozen into a late-nineteenth-century caricature: he is furtive, hirsute, beady-eyed, given to gesticulation, gibberish, and, most of all, pointless acts of violence. Yet anarchy, according to most of its proponents through the years, is peaceable, wholly voluntary, and perhaps a bit utopian. The word means “without a ruler”; anarchy is defined as the absence of a state and its attendant coercive powers. It implies nothing about social arrangements, family and sexual life, or religion; and in fact the most persuasive anarchists, from Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy to Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, have been Christians.

Under anarchy, wrote its advocate Prince Peter Kropotkin in the Encyclopedia Britannica(1910), “the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state in all its functions.” From alms to arms, “an anarchist is a voluntarist,” explained Karl Hess, the speechwriter for Barry Goldwater who chucked it all to live as a husband, neighbor, and welder in rural West Virginia. Anarchists would separate state from church, state from education, state from welfare, even state from justice. (Murray N. Rothbard and David Friedman, among others, have explored how courts and policing might work in a stateless society.)

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Contentment Without Religion 1

Article by Russell Longcore.

I don’t generally post articles about religion here, as I like to keep religion and politics separate. I also consider the militant atheism of some strands of classical anarchism (and today’s “New Atheists”) as archaic and largely irrelevant to modern societies. I also don’t want religion to be a divisive force in the movement I am trying to develop.

But this piece by a former fundamentalist turned deist is an excellent introduction to the anti-clerical outlook that is a big part of the anarchist tradition. “Unbelievers” are the fastest growing religious perspective in the U.S. today, and religious dissent often correlates with political dissent. Criticizing Christian orthodoxy and embracing alternative religious perspectives like deism and entirely skeptical positions like atheism were an essential and primary part of the cultivation of the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment. It is out of this intellectual milieu that political philosophies of the kind we discuss here emerged: classical liberalism, classical anarchism, libertarian socialism, and modern libertarianism.

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An undercurrent of comments began after I ran Laurence Vance’s article Are Evangelical Christians Warmongers? One reader calling himself “Anubis” (the jackal-headed Egyptian god) started it by commenting “Another reason I’ve become an atheist. If there was a God he would…”

I took the bait and replied “Being an atheist is unintelligent and flies in the face of reason. Being a-religious makes sense. You can acknowledge God’s existence and have a relationship with Him without embracing any particular religion.”

“Nathan McMurray” added this: “Careful Russ, you don’t know the specifics of why this reader chose atheism over theism. If it was based on “unintelligent” presuppositions then yes, his choice would be unintelligent and, therefore, fly in the face of reason. But there are many of us atheists that have examined the facts of the various Holy Scriptures and found that none of them point to anything that would resemble an all-knowing creator entity; much less an entity that has taken a keen interest in a certain species of upright walking apes and with whom they copulate. At best, all anyone can say with certainty is they are a hopeful agnostic.”

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Are We At War With Pakistan? Reply

Article by Justin Raimondo.

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In the days before the Empire, generals – particularly Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs – kept their mouths shut. The Founders’ justified fears of military intrusion into the political realm were still present in the American consciousness, and the idea that an American general might try to influence policy directly, by making public statements on controversial political topics, was considered outside the norm. Today, however, no one is shocked by Admiral Mullen’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that we are, for all intents and purposes, already at war with Pakistan:

“Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network – which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency – is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“There is ample evidence confirming that the Haqqanis were behind the June 28th attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and the September 10th truck bomb attack that killed five Afghans and injured another 96 individuals, 77 of whom were U.S. soldiers. History teaches us that it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today. The Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network are hampering efforts to improve security in Afghanistan, spoiling possibilities for broader reconciliation, and frustrating U.S.-Pakistan relations. The actions by the Pakistani government to support them – actively and passively – represent a growing problem that is undermining U.S. interests and may violate international norms, potentially warranting sanction. In supporting these groups, the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Army, continues to jeopardize Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected and prosperous nation with genuine regional and international influence.”

If the evidence is so “ample,” why didn’t Mullen reveal any of it during the course of his testimony? It’s “classified,” which means we ordinary mortals aren’t entitled to see it: we just have to take their word for it. In this context, however, their word isn’t worth a hill of beans.

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One Cheer for the DADT Repeal Reply

Article by Kevin Carson.

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With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the U.S. armed forces ceased at least a major part of their official discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Since the Congressional deal last Fall — one of Obama’s promises he actually followed through on — the gay and lesbian community has been counting down the months, days and hours until the repeal took effect.  MSNBC resounded with cries of “Nunc dimittis!”  So I’ll add my own congratulations for the gay service members — I guess.

At first glance, this story would seem like a big win for anyone who hates seeing large, powerful institutions walk all over people’s human dignity and treat them like dirt.  But at second glance, what do you think the state’s armed forces are all about, anyway?

Thanks to this recent blessed occasion, we’ll have the pleasure of knowing the torture at Gitmo — the closing of which is a promise Obama didn’t follow through on — is being conducted by a military that’s integrated not only by race but by sexual orientation.  And the “extraordinary renditions,” the “harsh interrogation techniques” at Baghram AFB, and God knows what at the network of black sites around the world — stuff Obama never even promised to stop — will all be carried out by gays and straights alike.  O happy day!

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Thugs of the Organized Criminal Class Reply

Article by David D’Amato.

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The fact that “we live in a post-9/11 world” has become a convenient refrain for law enforcement over the past decade — and one that can apparently be called upon to justify limitless growth of the American police state.

This week, reporting on the protests still underway on Wall Street, the New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein noted that the “police’s actions suggested the flip side of a force trained to fight terrorism.” That’s because the NYPD have dealt with demonstrators with all of the characteristic brutality that we’ve come to expect from our cities’ militarized patrols.

A quick search in YouTube is enough to reveal the kinds of excessive, violent tactics that the police have employed, arresting many protestors without cause under the thin pretense of “disorderly conduct.” The story reminds us that today police departments are more often a greater threat to peaceful society than the criminals they ostensibly protect us from.

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Another Illinois Arrest for Recording a Cop Reply

Article by Radley Balko.

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It’s interesting that the local DA dropped the charges in this case. But only after the guy spent a night in jail.

“I’m just an ordinary citizen. I was on my way to the movies, and all of a sudden I’m facing a felony and 15 years in prison,” Frobe told ABC7.

Frobe calls it the worst experience of his life. He was on his way to a late evening movie on an August night last year when he was stopped for speeding in far north suburban Lindenhurst. He didn’t believe he was in a 35-mile-an-hour zone, and he figured if he was going to get ticket he wanted to be able to document his challenge with video evidence, so he got out his flip camera, which he was not very adept at using.

At one point he held it out the window trying to record where he was. When the officer, being recorded on his squad dash cam, walked back to Frobe’s car, the officer saw Frobe’s camera.

Officer: “That recording? Frobe : “Yes, Yes, I’ve been… Officer: “Was it recording all of our conversation? Frobe: “Yes. Officer: “Guess what? You were eavesdropping on our conversation. I did not give you permission to do so. Step out of the vehicle.”

Louis Frobe was then cuffed and arrested for felony eavesdropping.

“I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. I was begging him, I said I didn’t know about this law. Would you please take the camera – this is no big deal – and smash it. You know I didn’t know about the law,” Frobe told ABC7.

Frobe spent a night in the Lake County jail and was released on bond the next day. Later the charges against him were dropped, but so angry was Louis Frobe that he decided to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s eavesdropping law.

“And they had audio and they had video on me, but I’m not allowed to do it to them. I’m in a private car on a public street and it’s a public official. Why shouldn’t I be able to record what’s going on to prove my innocence?” he said.

Ralph Nader’s Grand Alliance Reply

Article by Michael Tracy.

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It’s no secret that Ralph Nader has held the Democratic Party establishment in low regard for decades now: the marginally more palatable alternative in an ugly duopoly, he claims, is still quite ugly. But lately Nader’s disdain has reached a new high. “It’s gotten so bad,” he tells me, “that you can actually say a Republican president—with a Democratic Senate—would produce less bad results than the present situation. That’s how bollixed stuff has gone.”

Not that he was  ever particularly optimistic about the Obama administration, especially its potential to make headway on curtailing corporate welfare, now Nader’s signature policy objective. But in that, as with so many aspects of Obama’s presidency, the adjectives “disappointing” or “inadequate” don’t even begin to capture the depths of progressive disillusionment. Looking ahead to the 2012 presidential race, one might assume that Nader has little to be cheerful about.

Yet he says there is one candidate who sticks out—who even gives him hope: Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

That might sound counterintuitive. Nader, of course, is known as a stalwart of the independent left, having first gained notoriety for his 1960s campaign to impose greater regulatory requirements on automakers—a policy act that would seem to contravene the libertarian understanding of justified governmental power. So I had to ask: how could he profess hope in Ron Paul, who almost certainly would have opposed the very regulations on which Nader built his career?

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Ralph Nader Hearts Ron Paul, Hails Potential Left-Libertarian Alliance Reply

Article by Matt Welch.

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Michael Tracey, who wrote about restrictive teen-driving laws in the June issue of Reason, catches up with the consumer crusader for The American Conservative:

Looking ahead to the 2012 presidential race, one might assume that Nader has little to be cheerful about.

Yet he says there is one candidate who sticks out—who even gives him hope: Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. […]

“Look at the latitude,” Nader says, referring to the potential for cooperation between libertarians and the left. “Military budget, foreign wars, empire, Patriot Act, corporate welfare—for starters. When you add those all up, that’s a foundational convergence. Progressives should do so good.”

I thought I’d bring up the subject of Ron Paul with Nader after seeing the two jointly interviewed on Fox Business Channel in January. Nader had caught me off guard when he identified an emergent left-libertarian alliance as “today’s most exciting new political dynamic.” It was easy to foresee objections that the left might raise: if progressives are in favor of expanding the welfare state, how well can they really get along with folks who go around quoting the likes of Hayek and Rothbard?

Ron Paul and Ralph Nader sit next to each other on TV“That’s strategic sabotage,” Nader responds, sharply. “It’s an intellectual indulgence….If they’re on your side, and you don’t compromise your positions, what do you care who they quote? Franklin Delano Roosevelt sided with Stalin against Hitler. Not to draw that analogy, I’m just saying—why did he side with Stalin? Because Stalin went along with everything FDR wanted.” […]

“Libertarians like Ron Paul are on our side on civil liberties. They’re on our side against the military-industrial complex. They’re on our side against Wall Street. They’re on our side for investor rights. That’s a foundational convergence,” he exhorts. “It’s not just itty-bitty stuff.” […]

There are nascent movements underway to bring disaffected progressives into Ron Paul’s fold. A new organization called Blue Republican, advertised on the Huffington Post and elsewhere, urges Democrats to pledge their support for Paul. While Nader isn’t willing to endorse Paul’s candidacy at this point, during our interview his praise grew increasingly effusive. “Ron Paul has always been anti-corporate, anti-Federal Reserve, anti-big banks, anti-bailouts,” Nader says. “I mean, they view him in the same way they view me on a lot of these issues. Did you see the latest poll? He’s like two points behind Obama.”

Whole thing here, including some interesting Ron Paul quotes about his approach to religion.

Reason on Ralph Nader here, on Ron Paul here.

Man, 26, charged in plot to bomb Pentagon using model airplane Reply

From CNN.

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Model planes used as attack drones?

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, a U.S. citizen, is charged in plot to bomb Pentagon and Capitol
  • He was allegedly going to use a $6,500 remote-controlled plane laden with explosives
  • He is accused of pledging jihad against the United States
  • But authorities say he had no real ties to al Qaeda and wasn’t a real threat

(CNN) — A 26-year-old Massachusetts man with a physics degree was arrested and charged Wednesday with plotting an attack on the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol with a remote-controlled model aircraft, authorities said.

Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen from Ashland, Massachusetts, planned to use model aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives, authorities said.

As a result of an undercover FBI investigation, Ferdaus, who has a physics degree from Northeastern University in Boston, was charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda for attacks on U.S. soldiers overseas, authorities said.

His federal public defender couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.

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7-Eleven stores in Taiwan pull Hitler lookalike items 1

From CNN.

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7-Eleven stores in Taiwan pull Hitler lookalike items

These items were pulled from 7-Eleven stores in Taiwan after complaints about their resemblance to Adolf Hitler.

In Taiwan, 7-Eleven stores have pulled products featuring a cartoon vampire that bears a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler after receiving complaints from the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei (ISECO) for selling the items, according to several media reports.

The convenience store chain, whose 4,400 Taiwanese locations are owned by the President Chain Store Corp., has suspended sales of the key chains, USB drives and magnets sporting the apparent caricature of the Nazi dictator. Company officials originally denied that the cartoon was meant to depict Hitler, first calling the black square on the figure’s face a tooth, then a nose, rather than a mustache. But on Wednesday, the company acknowledged that many saw the image as offensive and said that it did not intend to be insensitive by selling the items.

“Because there are people with doubts, we’ve stopped selling the products for now,” a representative from 7-Eleven told the German Press Agency, according to an Israeli newspaper.

The ISECO, which is Israel’s de facto embassy to Taiwan, since China does not allow its diplomatic allies to have official ties with the island, says that while it does not think the products were meant to be a show of support for anti-Semitic ideology, the cartoon figure does signify a lack of understanding of the Nazi party’s history.

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A $64 million runway for no one in Alaska? Reply

From CNN.

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A $64 million runway for no one in Alaska?

A $64 million runway for no one in Alaska?

The route a hovercraft would take between the village of Akutan and the runway on Akun Island.
September 28th, 2011
12:56 PM ET

 

Remember Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere,” a $400 million span that was supposed to connect Ketchikan to its airport on sparsely inhabited Gravina Island? The project gained infamy in 2005 as a waste of taxpayer dollars and the funds earmarked for it were withheld. The 8,000 residents of Ketchikan continue to be connected to their airport by ferry.

Fast forward six years and another remote Alaskan airport project is raising questions about how the government spends money.

The price this time is $77 million and the place is Akutan, a remote island village in the Aleutian chain, according to a report from the Alaska Dispatch.

By next winter Akutan is scheduled to have a 4,500-foot-long runway, built at a cost of $64 million ($59 million in federal and $5 million state funds), the Dispatch reports. The problem is, the runway is on Akun Island, 6 miles from the village across the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea. Plying those waters can be tricky with seas over 6 feet and winds above 30 mph.

Original plans called for using a hovercraft – at a cost of $11 million – to ferry passengers from Akutan to Akun. But, the Dispatch points out, the same model hovercraft planned for the route has proven unreliable under similar conditions elsewhere in Alaska. And when it did run, operating losses were in the millions.

Now, transportation officials are considering using a helicopter to ferry passengers from Akutan, according to the Dispatch report. Cost of that is still being determined.

Should officials get it all figured out and funded, who’ll benefit? Akutan has a year-round population of 100, but that spikes to about 1,000 in the summer when Trident Seafoods processing plant, the largest seafood processing plant in North America, is in operation, the Dispatch reports. Trident is contributing $1 million to the project, the Dispatch says.

And why is this necessary? Air service to Akutan is now provided by World War II-era amphibious aircraft operated by Peninsula Airways. Those are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, Peninsula Vice President Brian Carricaburu told the Dispatch.

Carricaburu also says the runway could cut the government’s costs in one way. Peninsula Airways routes to Akutan are now subsidized by about $700,000 annually under the federal Essential Air Service program. Using bigger, more efficient aircraft could bring that cost down, he told the Dispatch.

But to reach that point, it looks like a lot of figurative bridges have to be crossed.

South Florida ICE official arrested on child porn charges Reply

From CNN.

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updated 2:51 PM EST, Wed September 28, 2011
Anthony Mangione faces three charges related to child pornography, the Justice Department says.
Anthony Mangione faces three charges related to child pornography, the Justice Department says.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Report: Anthony Mangione will undergo a psychological evaluation
  • NEW: He pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court
  • Mangione’s indictment was unsealed Wednesday, authorities say
  • If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison

Miami (CNN) — The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for South Florida has been arrested on child pornography charges, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Anthony Mangione, 50, of Parkland, Florida, was charged in a three-count indictment unsealed Wednesday with transportation of child pornography, receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography, authorities said in a statement.

“According to the indictment, between March 2010 and September 2010, Mangione allegedly transported and received visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” the statement said. “The indictment also alleges that Mangione possessed electronically stored messages that contained additional images of child pornography during the same time period.”

Mangione was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents and made an initial appearance Wednesday in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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Banned in the US: the Film You Won’t See Reply

Article by Stuart Bramhall.

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Banned in the USBanned in the US

 

Film Review

The War You Don’t See

Produced and directed by John Pilger

Americans now have the opportunity of seeing John Pilger’s critically acclaimed The War You Don’t See as a free download at http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/war-you-dont-see/ The groundbreaking documentary was effectively banned in the US when Patrick Lannan, who funds the “liberal” Lannon Foundation, canceled the American premier (and all Pilger’s public appearances) in June 2010. Pilger provides the full background of this blatant act of censorship at his website www.johnpilger.com. After seeing the film, I believe its strong support of Julian Assange (who the US Department of Justice is attempting to prosecute) is the most likely reason it’s not being shown in American theatres.

Pilger’s documentary centers around the clear propaganda role both the British and US press played in cheerleading the US/British invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. It includes a series of interviews in which Pilger confronts British and American journalists (including Dan Rather) and news executives regarding their failure to give air time to weapons inspectors and military/intelligence analysts who were publicly challenging the justification for these invasions. The Australian filmmaker focuses heavily on the fabricated evidence (Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and links to 9-11) that was used to convince American and British lawmakers to go along with an illegal attack on a defenceless nation (Iraq).

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The Nazi Obession: It's Time to Move On 5

Hear, hear! Article by Simon Jenkins.

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What is the matter with us? We seem unable to get the Nazis out of our system. Earlier this summer the curtain rose on Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust at the London Coliseum, and my heart sank. The stage was alive with stormtroopers and jackboots. The banality was crashing: Faust, the Devil … Hitler, get it? By act two we were deep in the Holocaust. This week the same opera house launched Weinberg’s The Passenger. It is set in Auschwitz.

At the same time ITV is fighting the first world war from Downtown Abbey. The BBC has spent the week immersed in Stalin, Spitfires and “Entertaining the Troops”. Radio 4 has decamped to the eastern front where we must hear the Ukrainian novelist, Vasily Grossman, enduring unimaginable privations. Monday’s entire edition of Start the Week was devoted to presenting his Life and Fate as a 1940s War and Peace.

Small wonder Hitler is now the ruling obsession of the national curriculum. I remember my son asking me, after a punishing term of the Weimar republic, if there was a second world war when was there a first? The GCSE history website scores 417,000 mentions of Hitler against just 157,000 for Henry VIII and the Tudors.

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