Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 26th, 2015

Bored to Tears by a Do-Nothing Dream Job

More than a decade ago, I was in the type of job where, if I had sat down at my desk and worked for 100 hours straight, I would be only slightly less behind than when I started.

I was a newspaper editor, stuck in the type of never-ending grind that caused me to begin having a regular daydream.

Wouldn’t it be nice, I would tell myself as I rushed to meetings and faced down one deadline after another, if I had a job where I could just sit completely still for eight hours a day.

No duties, no meetings, no responsibilities — just enter some kind of building, sit down at a desk and collect a paycheck at the end of the week.

I wanted to do absolutely nothing.

Of course, at the time I never believed such a job existed, except perhaps in a few dusty corners of the government.

But then, after suffering complete burnout in my newspaper job and finding myself back on the market, I discovered firsthand that it was possible to end up with such a position in the private sector.

Based on the advertisement, the job I applied for and got appeared to require actual work.

I was to be an editor for a company that produced in-house publications for associations.

My task would be to work with the members of the various associations to edit and prepare monthly magazines and annual directories. It sounded like just what I was looking for — no daily deadlines and far less stress.

I arrived on the agreed-upon Monday morning at 8:30, and soon learned that I had struck gold. The business model was explained to me: The company’s sales staff approached and signed up various associations across the country, then editors like myself produced their publications.

But — and this was the most important detail — editors had to be hired before the associations were on board, so the company would be ready to go as soon as a deal was signed.

A typical editor at the company managed 15 to 20 publications, but as a new hire I would start out as the editor of zero.

(Editors earned cash bonuses for each magazine or directory they completed, so nobody wanted to pawn off any of their accounts to newbies.)

On my first day, I was given an employee handbook, a thick, three-ring binder of boilerplate company material; shown to a cubicle; and told to wait. For days? Weeks? Nobody I asked could be sure.

I approached my supervisor and several co-workers about how I was expected to fill my time.

Should I assist other editors? No, I was told, they work independently with their associations, so that wouldn’t be necessary.

Should I study up on the publications I would produce? No, each association was different, so that would serve no purpose. My supervisor pointed to my cubicle and the employee manual, making it clear that at this point I was infringing on her valuable time.

The first thing you deal with in a work environment with no work to do is the insecurity that comes from the peering eyes of your co-workers. Even though you have been told to do nothing, it still feels wrong to graze on the Internet or read a book at your desk while, all around you, actual work is being done.

The company occupied an extended single-story building in a small industrial park. The building backed up to a retention pond, and in front of the pond was a grassy area with a few picnic tables that served as a smoking section for the nicotine-inclined sales staff.

To create a little separation from the actual workers, I began to make my way outside to the picnic tables, a newspaper under my arm.

At first, I would sit at the table for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, chat with the smokers, relax by the pond and then brace myself for another hour in the cubicle.

Quickly, 15 turned to 30, and 30 turned to 60. Nobody needed me, so nobody came looking for me.

Soon, the smoking salesmen began to notice that each time they cycled through for another cigarette, I just happened to be on a break too, sitting comfortably at the picnic table.

Between puffs, one of them casually broached the subject. “What, exactly, do you do here?” he asked. (Most of the public servants in Lebanon don’t even have to show up to their supposed work)

The company was very successful, and much of the success was attributed to the military-type discipline that was imposed on its sales staff. Ten new people were brought in and trained each month, and about 10 unproductive ones were shoved out the door, like so much grass spit out of a lawn mower.

Those in sales would hit their mark of 60 cold calls per day or face consequences. All employees were required to be at their desks at 8:30, precisely. (For some reason, the rule was in place at the end of the day as well; at 5:32, the building was a ghost town.)

One morning, I entered the cubicle at 8:35 to find a note on my desk from my supervisor. “We expect everybody here on time,” she told me. “Please don’t make me ask you again.” My idle presence would apparently be needed for the full eight hours.

With no way to shorten the endless hours of nothing, I began to create activities to pass the time. The company had a new health policy that encouraged walking.

Pedometers were distributed. To capitalize on this, I tried to organize walking groups among the other editors. A few of them agreed to walk around the industrial park for 15 or 20 minutes in the afternoon.

When a few of them began to beg off because of work, I became desperate and began pleading with them. Before long, the walking group was defunct.

I started calling in to midday radio contests. “The 23rd caller wins lunch for the entire office!” Nineteen of the first 23 calls were from me. With unlimited time to call in, I won several lunches for my co-workers. They were underwhelmed.

I’ve often wondered why the so-called Masters of the Universe, those C.E.O.s with multimillion-dollar monthly paychecks, keep working. Why, once they have earned enough money to live comfortably forever, do they still drag themselves to the office? The easy answer, the one I had always settled on, was greed.

But as I watched the hours slowly drip by in my cubicle, an alternative reason came into view.

Without a sense of purpose beyond the rent money, malaise sets in almost immediately. We all need a reason to get up in the morning, preferably one to which we can attach some meaning. It is why people flock to the scene of a natural disaster to rescue and rebuild, why people devote themselves to a cause, no matter how doomed it may be. In the end, it’s the process as much as the reward that nourishes us.

Eventually, associations were signed and work began to appear on my desk. But by that time, my need for purpose had jumped the line. I had begun taking graduate school classes, and they did not fit into the strict 8:30-to-5:30 company schedule. No exceptions would be made.

I stuck with the classes, and in short order I was out, just another blade of grass spit onto the sidewalk.

I took a part-time job at a newspaper.

The first day, my supervisor asked me to edit a page of church announcements, the most menial of tasks in the newsroom. I lunged for it as if I were dying of thirst.

As my workload grew and again began to eclipse the number of hours in the day, I held on to the cubicle experience. It was a blessing to have fulfilling work, to be a cog in an important machine, to have a reason for being.

Still, it wasn’t long before, on those days when the work was piled high, with no end in sight, I began to slip into a familiar daydream. “Wouldn’t it be nice, if. …”

 Andrew Bossone shared this link

We all need a reason to get up in the morning, preferably one to which we can attach some meaning.

It is why people flock to the scene of a natural disaster to rescue and rebuild, why people devote themselves to a cause, no matter how doomed it may be. In the end, it’s the process as much as the reward that nourishes us.”|By Ted Geltner

FBI strategy is creating US-based terrorists?

The FBI is responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than any other organization.

More than al Qaeda, more than al Shebaab (Somalia), more than the Islamic State (ISIS), more than all of them combined.

00:26 This isn’t likely how you think about the FBI. You probably think of FBI agents gunning down bad guys like John Dillinger, or arresting corrupt politicians.

00:36 After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI became less concerned with gangsters and crooked elected officials. The new target became terrorists, and the pursuit of terrorists has consumed the FBI.

00:47 Every year, the Bureau spends $3.3 billion on domestic counterterrorism activities. Compare that to just 2.6 billion dollars combined for organized crime, financial fraud, public corruption and all other types of traditional criminal activity.

01:01 I’ve spent years pouring through the case files of terrorism prosecutions in the United States, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the FBI is much better at creating terrorists than it is at catching terrorists.

01:14 In the 14 years since 9/11, you can count about 6 real terrorist attacks in the United States. These include the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, as well as failed attacks, such as the time when a man named Faisal Shahzad tried to deliver a car bomb to Times Square.

In those same 14 years, the Bureau, however, has bragged about how it’s foiled dozens of terrorism plots. In all, the FBI has arrested more than 175 people in aggressive, undercover conterterrorism stings.

01:43 These operations, which are usually led by an informant, provide the means and opportunity, and sometimes even the idea, for mentally ill and economically desperate people to become what we now term terrorists.

01:57 After 9/11, the FBI was given an edict: never again. Never another attack on American soil. FBI agents were told to find terrorists before they struck.

To do this, agents recruited a network of more than 15,000 informants nationwide, all looking for anyone who might be dangerous. An informant can earn 100,000 dollars or more for every terrorism case they bring to the FBI.

That’s right, the FBI is paying mostly criminals and con men six figures to spy on communities in the United States, but mostly Muslim American communities.

02:29 These informants nab people like Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh. Both are mentally ill. Abdul-Latif had a history of huffing gasoline and attempting suicide. Mujahidh had schizoaffective disorder, he had trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy.

In 2012, the FBI arrested these two men for conspiring to attack a military recruiting station outside Seattle with weapons provided, of course, by the FBI. The FBI’s informant was Robert Childs, a convicted rapist and child molester who was paid 90,000 dollars for his work on the case. This isn’t an outlier.

03:04 In 2009, an FBI informant who had fled Pakistan on murder charges led four men in a plot to bomb synagogues in the Bronx. The lead defendant was James Cromitie, a broke Walmart employee with a history of mental problems. And the informant had offered him 250,000 dollars if he participated in that plot. There are many more examples.

03:25 Today, The Intercept published my new story about a counterterrorism sting in Tampa involving Sami Osmakac, a young man who was living near Tampa, Florida.

Osmakac also had schizoaffective disorder. He too was broke, and he had no connections to international terrorist groups. Nonetheless, an FBI informant gave him a job, handed him money, introduced him to an undercover agent posing as a terrorist, and lured him in a plot to bomb an Irish bar.

03:51 But here’s what’s interesting: The lead undercover agent you can see him in this picture with his face blurred — would go back to the Tampa field office with his recording equipment on.

Behind closed doors, FBI agents admitted that what they were doing was farcical. A federal judge doesn’t want you to hear about these conversations. He sealed the transcripts and placed them under a protective order in an attempt to prevent someone like me from doing something like this.

Behind closed doors, the lead agent, the squad supervisor, described their would-be terrorist as a “retarded fool who didn’t have a pot to piss in.” They described his terrorist ambitions as wishy-washy and a pipe dream scenario.

04:29 But that didn’t stop the FBI. They provided Sami Osmakac everything he needed. They gave him a car bomb, they gave him an AK-47, they helped him make a so-called martyrdom video, and they even gave him money for a taxi cab so that he could get to where they wanted him to go.

As they were working the sting, the squad supervisor tells his agents he wanted a Hollywood ending. And he got a Hollywood ending. When Sami Osmakac attempted to deliver what he thought was a car bomb, he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

05:04 Sami Osmakac isn’t alone. He’s one of more than 175 so-called terrorists, for whom the FBI has created Hollywood endings.

U.S. government officials call this the War on Terror. It’s really just theater, a national security theater, with mentally ill men like Sami Osmakac unwitting actors in a carefully choreographed production brought to you by the FBI.

05:40 Tom Rielly: So, those are some pretty strong accusations, pretty strong charges. How can you back this up?

05:47 Trevor Aaronson: My research began in 2010 when I received a grant from the Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley, and a research assistant and I put together a database of all terrorism prosecutions at the time during the first decade after 9/11.

And we used the court file to find out whether the defendants had any connections to international terrorist groups, whether an informant was used, and whether the informant played the role of an agent provocateur by providing the means and opportunity.

And we submitted that to the FBI and we asked them to respond to our database. If they believed there were any errors, we asked them to tell us what they were and we’d go back and check and they never challenged any of our findings.

Later, I used that data in a magazine article and later in my book, and on appearances on places like CBS and NPR, they were offered that opportunity again to say, “Trevor Aaronson’s findings are wrong.” And they’ve never come forward and said, “These are the problems with those findings.”

So the data has since been used by groups like Human Rights Watch on its recent report on these types of sting operations.

And so far, the FBI has never really responded to these charges that it’s really not catching terrorists so much as it’s catching mentally ill people that it can dress up as terrorists in these types of sting operations.

06:56 TR: So The Intercept is that new investigative journalism website, that’s cofounded by Glenn Greenwald. Tell us about your article and why there.

07:05 TA: The Intercept seemed to be the most logical place for this because my article is really leveraging the fact that a source had leaked to me transcripts of these private FBI conversations that a federal judge had sealed based on the government’s claim that their release would irreparably damage the U.S. government’s law enforcement strategy.

So a place like The Intercept was set up to protect journalists and publish their work when they’re dealing with very sensitive matters like this. So my story in The Intercept, which was just published today, tells the story of how Sami Osmakac was set up in this FBI sting and goes into much greater detail. In this talk, I could only highlight the things that they said, such as calling him a “retarded fool.”

But it was much more elaborate, they went to great lengths to put money in Sami Osmakac’s hands, which he then used to purchase weapons from the undercover agent. When he went to trial, the central piece of evidence was that he paid for these weapons, when in truth, these transcripts show how the FBI orchestrated someone who was essentially mentally ill and broke to get money to then pay for weapons that they could then charge him in a conspiracy for.

08:05 TR: One final question. Less than 10 days ago, the FBI arrested some potential ISIS suspects in Brooklyn, saying that they might be headed to Syria, and were those real, or examples of more of the same?

08:18 TA: Well so far, we only know what’s come out in the court file, but they seem to suggest it’s another example of the same.

These types of sting operations have moved from flavor to flavor. So initially it was al Qaeda plots, and now the Islamic State is the current flavor.

What’s worth noting about that case is that the three men that were charged only began the plot to go to Syria after the introduction of the FBI informant, and in fact, the FBI informant had helped them with the travel documents that they needed.

In kind of a comical turn in that particular case, one of the defendant’s mother had found out that he was interested in going to Syria and had hid his passport. So it’s unclear that even if he had showed up at the airport, that he ever could have gone anywhere.

So yes, there are people who might be interested in joining the Islamic State in the United States, and those are people that the United States government should be looking at to see if they’re interested in violence here.

In this particular case, given the evidence that’s so far come out, it suggests the FBI made it possible for these guys to move along in a plan to go to Syria when they were never close to that in the first place.

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.
There’s an organization responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS combined: The FBI.|By Trevor Aaronson

Cop in the Hood: Calling out Trump on his racist lies  November 26, 2015

Buy Cop in the Hood. Cops like the book, Cop in the Hood:
“Should be made mandatory reading for every recruit in the Balto. City Police Academy

Here are the (approximate, but true) numbers (which, like Trump, omits Hispanics):

Blacks killed by whites: 11%
Blacks killed by police: 4%
Whites killed by police: 10%
Whites killed by whites: 84%
Whites killed by blacks: 15%
Blacks killed by blacks: 89%

Can people really believe that 4 in 5 murdered whites are killed by blacks?

Or is just something the fearful Right wants to believe?

Either way, such a belief, with no basis in truth, is somewhat between ignorant and terrifying. (Also, there is no “Crime Statistics Bureau — San Francisco”)

When the leading Republican candidate for President has behavior entirely consistent with fascist thuggery, I think he needs to be called out.

Whether it’s Trump’s thinking that it might be good for his white mob to rough up a minority protester, his openness to the concept of registering all Muslims in America, him calling Mexicans rapists, his lies about Arabs in Jersey City cheering the fall of the World Trade Center, or his overall tone of lies and fear mongering.

I don’t know if Trump is a fascist. I think he’s more just an attention whore than an ideologue.

But maybe he really does believe what he’s saying. Certainly his followers love it.

America has a long and ugly history of Nativism.

And while not all Nativists are fascists, there is a bunch of overlap.

Buy Cop in the Hood. Cops like the book, Cop in the Hood:
“Should be made mandatory reading for every recruit in the Balto. City Police Academy. … I am so…

Source: (an actual real one) UCR, 2010-2013. Yearly police-involved shootings extrapolated from the Washington Post. Hispanics in the Post are reclassified as 86 percent white and 12 percent black. This is to be consistent with the UCR, which does not count Hispanic as a race.




November 2015

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