NSA Leak; Turkey; Transition to a Sustainable Economy

Interview with Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, conducted by Scott Harris

Revelations about the U.S. government’s covert surveillance apparatus has been the focus of attention in American media and the around world since the British Guardian newspaper and the Washington Post released previously unknown details of the massive collection of phone and Internet communications. The disclosure of this top secret information, sent to Guardian journalist and civil liberties advocate Glenn Greenwald, was made by Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and recent employee of the government defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

It was Greenwald who first broke the story about the National Security Agency’s program that secretly collects phone data from millions of Verizon customers. The Guardian published an order by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which granted the government unlimited authority to obtain the data of phone calls made within the U.S. and between the US and nations abroad for a three-month period. Through information provided by Snowden, a second story soon broke detailing the NSA’s Prism program, which collects data directly from the servers of the nation’s nine largest Internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facbook.

Obama administration officials and legislators serving on congressional intelligence committees, assure the public that the government’s data mining programs are legal, subject to checks and balances and necessary to prevent future terrorist attacks on America. But critics declare that President Obama has institutionalized the worst aspects of President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program, with little meaningful oversight and open to serious abuse. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, who explains her alarm and opposition to the government’s massive domestic spying program.

Heidi Boghosian is author of the book, “Spying on Democracy.” Find more information on the National Lawyers Guild at NLG.org.

Related Links:
mp3 Interview with Heidi Boghosian, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, June 10, 2013 (22:35)
“NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program,” The Washington Post, June 6, 2013
“Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations,” The Guardian (UK), June 9, 2013
“Glenn Greenwald: Edward Snowden Fled U.S. Fearing Unfair Trial,” Huffington Post, June 10, 2013
“NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily,” The Guardian (UK), June 5, 2013
“Edward Snowden NSA: Guardian Reveals Identity Of Whistleblower Behind NSA Revelations,” Huffington Post, June 9, 2013
“When Will the Other Shoe Drop? More To Come’ in NSA Leaks: Save your energy, Greenwald warns – you will need it,” Common Dreams, June 11, 2013

Interview with Asli Bali, assistant professor at the UCLA School of Law, conducted by Scott Harris

As the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan entered his 10th year in power, the streets across his nation have exploded into angry protest. The May 31 violent police repression of a peaceful demonstration in Istanbul’s Gezi park, organized to oppose government plans to develop the green space, triggered demonstrations in 60 cities across Turkey.

The nearly two weeks of protests, which grew out of the Gezi Park confrontation, have developed into a broader rejection of what many Turks judge to be Prime Minister Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule and imposition of conservative religious values on Turkey’s secular society.

On June 11, just one day after Erdogan agreed to meet a delegation of protest organizers, Turkish police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to chase activists out of Istanbul’s Taksim Square. In a televised speech to members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan said his government would no longer tolerate the protests and vowed to crackdown on activists who remained on the streets, whom he labeled as provocateurs and terrorists. The Turkish Human Rights Foundation reports that three protesters and one policeman have died in the clashes, with nearly 5,000 protesters and 600 police suffering injuries. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Asli Bali, assistant professor at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law, who reports on the pent-up grievances against the government which led to the explosion of angry protests across Turkey.

For more information about Asli Bali’s background on Turkey and the Middle East, see her bio at UCLA.

Related Links:
mp3 Interview with Asli Bali, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, June 10, 2013 (26:53)
“In Search of the Building Blocks of Opposition in Turkey,” Middle East Research Project, June 10, 2013
“Occupy Gezi: A Roundtable Discussion and Podcast,” Jadaliyya, June 11, 2013
“Turkey protests: PM Erdogan issues stern warning,” BBC, June 11, 2013
“Protest Crackdowns Test Obama Ties With Turkish PM,” ABC News, June 11, 2013
“Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismisses Turkey protesters as vandals,” The Guardian, June 9, 2013
“Turkey’s PM to meet protest leaders,” Al Jazeera, June 11, 2013

Excerpt of speech by environmental activist James Gustave “Gus” Speth, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus

For more than 40 years, James Gustave “Gus” Speth has been one of America’s environmental leaders as co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute, as environmental adviser to Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and as dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Speth, who’s now 73, teaches at the Vermont School of Law. But over the past several years, he’s broadened his focus to construct an overall critique of 21st century society, and the deep changes required if humans – and many other species – are to survive on Earth.

Speth was one of the keynote speakers at the Slow Living Summit in Brattleboro, Vt., from June 5-7, a gathering focused on sustainable living, resilient communities and the personal, inner transformations that are necessary for both. What follows is an excerpt of Speth’s talk on transitioning to a new economy.

GUS SPETH: We know that the country today isn’t delivering – socially, environmentally, politically, economically – for us. And when we have encompassing problems across such a broad spectrum, it can’t be for small reasons. We have encompassing problems because we live and work in a system of a political economy that’s wired for certain priorities and not others. So let’s define this new economy we want in contrast to the political economy we have today. We can define the new economy that we want as one where the true and actual purposes of economic life are to sustain and strengthen people, place and planet, and no longer to give overwhelming priority to profit and product – as in gross domestic – and power, the projection of international power. If we take that definition, if you will, of the economy that we want and should be striving for, the question comes up: How do we transition to it? And I haven’t been able to find a better way to describe this mega-transition, this daunting and very large transition, except by doing the following: and that is to first identify what are the features of the current system that are giving rise to the problem, and secondly, how do we change those features into something, into a set of arrangements and policies and institutions that really do prioritize people, place and planet?

And the best way to do that, I think, is to identify a set of sub-transitions, so to speak, of transformations that undermine these current structures and replace them with new structures, and when we do it that way it becomes a more tangible and workable project. For example, I want to list some of these now in this transition that are part of this meta-transition.

First, in economic growth, we need to move from our current growth fetish to a post-growth society, from focusing on mere GDP growth to concentrating on growth of human welfare and democratically determined priorities. A transition in the market from this market fundamentalism and this near laissez-faire that we have to powerful market governance in the public interest, from dishonest prices to honest ones, from commodification to reclaiming the commons. A transition in the corporation from shareholder primacy to stakeholder primacy, from mainly one ownership and motivational model to alternative business models and the democratization of capital and wealth – co-ops. A transition in money and finance, from Wall Street to Main Street, from money created almost all by bank debt to money created by government. A transformation in social conditions, from economic insecurity to real security, as Franklin Roosevelt urged strongly in his final State of the Union address in his second Bill of Rights. From these vasts inequities that we have today to fundamental fairness. In indicators, from GDP – that’s Grossly Distorted Picture – to accurate measures of social and environmental conditions and the quality of life. In our consumerism and our affluenza, to move from that to sufficiency, and mindful consumption and from more to enough. In our communities, where many of you are currently engaged, from runaway enterprises and throwaway communities to vital local economies, from social rootlessness to rootedness and solidarity at the community level.

In our dominant cultural values, from having to being, from getting to giving, from richer to better, from separate to connected, from apart from nature to part of nature, from transcendent to interdependent, from near-term to long-term. In our politics, from weak democracy to strong, from this creeping corporatocracy and plutocracy to true popular sovereignty, and in foreign policy and the military, from this runaway American exceptionalism to America as a normal nation, from hard power to soft, from military prowess to real security.

Gustave Speth’s most recent book is titled, “America the Possible.” This segment was recorded and produced by Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus. For more information on the Slow Living Summit, visit SlowLivingSummit.org/.

Related Links:
“Charting a New Course for The U.S. and the Environment,” Environment 360, Jan. 23, 2013
“Gus Speth: ‘Ultimate insider’ goes radical,” TGrist, Sept. 27, 2012
“America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part I,” Orion Magazine, March/April 2012
“America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part II,” Orion Magazine, May/June 2012
“Interview with Gus Speth: Communicating environmental risks in an age of disinformation,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 19, 2011


For decades, the Masai have used a 600 sq. mile “wildlife corridor” near Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to graze cattle. In late March, Tanzania’s Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki announced 30,000 Masai would be evicted from the corridor.
The drama of Argentina’s 2002 default on $100 billion dollars worth of debt is back in a U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. A small group of holdout creditors, led by a hedge fund are seeking full re-payment of Argentine bonds, long after most other creditors settled..
As the Occupy Wall Street movement was expanding nationwide in the fall of 2011, the top security manager at JP Morgan Chase in Arizona, Dan Grady, contacted the Homeland Security bureau of the Phoenix police department. He was worried about a bank company gathering at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The big event would feature JP Morgan CEO Jamie Diamond and thousands of bank employees.

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