June 24, 2009 archive

Bagram Detainee Abuse

Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse

Monaco And Nice (Photo Blog)

Monaco

Monaco is a tiny independent nation, tucked into the southern French coast. Its national defense is the responsibility of France, but it is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by the Grimaldi family since 1297, and a full member of the United Nations. The vast majority of its population is wealthy foreigners, who live there because it is a tax haven. Its chief industry is tourism, and its botanic gardens and casino are world famous.

We stopped in for just a couple hours, on a drive from Torino to Nice, and the gardens already were closed.

(Photo-intensive after the jump…

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports Documents link Saudi royal family to al Qaeda. “Documents gathered by lawyers for the families of Sept. 11 victims provide new evidence of extensive financial support for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups by members of the Saudi royal family, but the material may never find its way into court because of legal and diplomatic obstacles.” The Obama administration is saiding with the Saudis seeking “kill further legal action.”

    “Internal Treasury Department documents obtained by the lawyers under the Freedom of Information Act, for instance, said that a prominent Saudi charity, the International Islamic Relief Organization, heavily supported by members of the Saudi royal family, showed “support for terrorist organizations” at least through 2006.”

  2. BBC News reports ‘Dozens dead’ in Baghdad bombing. “At least 60 people have been killed by a bomb blast in the eastern Sadr City area of Baghdad, say officials. Iraqi police said the bomb went off in a market place in the predominantly Shia area of the Iraqi capital. More than 130 people were also reported to have been injured in the blast, one of the worst in Iraq this year.”

  3. The NY Times reports a U.S. drone missile strike is said to have killed 60 people in Pakistan attending “a funeral for a Taliban fighter in South Waziristan”. Details are sketchy.

    If the reported death toll is correct, the drone “strike could be the deadliest since the United States began using the aircraft to fire remotely guided missiles”.

    According to DAWN Media, ‘There were two attacks.’ “The first strike by an unmanned drone killed six militants in Shubi Khel, a remote area under the control of Mehsud’s Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), about 65 kilometres north of the main district town of Wana. As mourners gathered for funeral prayers, another drone unloaded three more missiles into the crowd, officials and residents said.”

  4. According to The Guardian, a UN report shows fall in opium and cocaine production. “People who take drugs need medical help, not criminal retribution,” said Antonio Maria Costa, director of UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Costa called “for universal access to drug treatment. Since people with serious drug problems provided the bulk of drug demand, treating this problem was one of the best ways of shrinking the market.”

    Opium cultivation in Afghanistan, where 93% of the world’s opium is grown, declined 19% in 2008, according to the UN world drug report. In Colombia, which produces half of the world’s cocaine, cultivation of coca fell 18% while production declined 28% compared with 2007. Global coca production, at 845 tonnes, was said to be at a five-year low, despite some increases in cultivation in Peru and Bolivia.

Iran’s shattered myth.

None of these are original thoughts, but I wanted to share what is on my mind…

The Iranian government seems well on the way to prevailing in the current crisis. Their brutal crackdown has — in an immediate sense — worked: the crowds of protestors are down from hundred of thousands to hundreds of people. At the moment, the crowds are looking for leadership before they act, but Mousavi and all the other famous names are under house arrest, (their immediate staff have been arrested long since) and the few statements they issue are growing more and more timid. Soon things will quiet down, and soon after that every identifiable leader of this uprising will likely vanish and never be heard from again. Without leadership, crowds will be small and easily dispersed, and the proposed strikes will, perhaps, not congeal.

It looks to me that in a month or two, Iran will return back to “normal”.

And yet, the gays still can’t get married?

You know, first we had Sen. Ensign, now Governor Sanford.  Am I the only one here that is tired of the hipocracy of the social conservatives in regards to marriage?  I’m gonna keep this short and sweet, but I really want to get this off my chest.

Personal Leave

I had planned to ‘tough it out’ and not mention it, but I am going to be on the road for about a week. But it occurs to me that I may not be as tough as I think! So there may be some noticeable gaps or ….something, especially with ek out, and y’all deserve to know why. Though I will be around, and though I am sure the rest of the crew will do a great job when I can’t be..

My Mom is getting ready to pass over and I am heading up to see her for the last time.

This is one of those deals where it is not a shock, she has been ‘out of it’ for a long time, and it was only question of when not if, and it looks like the when is now. It is also one of those deals where her passing, at this point, will be more of a mercy than anything.

As a “tough guy” it will  be tougher for me to deal with sympathy than with the the events, lol, I have known lots of death and, of course, have an ‘unconventional view of it.

This is a time of deep emotion, but not one of sorrow. This is a passage, and my last words to my Mom will be in celebration of her life celebration of her and  passage, not grief for her not being around anymore. It is easier in her case, since she has not been around for a long time anyway.

So if I may be so bold, I would ask you in the comments to celebrate her life, and perhaps the life of all of our mothers, who bring life onto the planet, and who like all of us, eventually move on, rather than sympathize with ‘my loss.’

I will of course miss her, but this time is about her, not me…..thanks.

Scientists warn: Farmed fish possibly = mad cow disease

Scientist Warns that Farmed Fish Could be a Source of Mad Cow Disease


In a paper that shows just how strange our modern world has become, Robert P. Friedland, neurologist from the University of Louisville, warns that farmed fish could be at risk of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, or mad cow disease.

Currently, farmed fish are fed cow byproducts-a food source they would never find natural environment (unless society started dumping cow carcasses in oceans or lakes).

Friedland and co-authors raise the issue in the Journal of Alzhemier’s Disease and call on food regulators to ban feeding cow bone or meat to farmed fish until it can be determined if the practice of feeding fish cow-parts is safe.

“We have not proven that it’s possible for fish to transmit the disease to humans. Still, we believe that out of reasonable caution for public health, the practice of feeding rendered cows to fish should be prohibited,” Friedland said. “Fish do very well in the seas without eating cows.”

Great, just another thing to avoid.  Pretty soon it seems we’ll all be starving out of a vain attempt to eat only good clean food.

This latest is from The Organic Consumers Association, and I heartly recommend everyone sign up for their e-mail service, where you can learn about these sorts of things, seeing as how they are completely unreported in the mainstream Corporate Mouthpiece Media.

Iran: This Is What Violent Repression Looks Like

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Iran’s Government has decreed that the demonstrations must end.  And if the Government kills many of its citizens, and assaults and imprisons and threatens numerous others, that’s apparently just fine with the Government.

The New York Times story is chilling in its understatement and lack of descriptions:

Hundreds of protesters clashed with waves of riot police and paramilitary militia in Tehran on Wednesday, witnesses said, as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted the authorities would not yield to pressure from opponents demanding a new election following allegations of electoral fraud.

It was impossible to confirm first-hand the extent of the new violence in the capital because of draconian new press restrictions on coverage of the post-election mayhem. But the witnesses reached by telephone said the confrontation, outside the national Parliament building, was bloody, with police using live ammunition.

Defying government warnings, the witnesses said that hundreds, if not thousands of protesters, had attempted to gather in front of the parliament on Baharestan Square. They were met with riot police and paramilitary militia, who struck at them with truncheons, tear gas, and guns. One witness said he saw a 19-year-old woman shot in the neck.

Truncheons, tear gas, and bullets. Riot police and paramilitary militia.  And, of course, suppression of the press.  Not only will the Iranian government not yield, it’s evident that it intends to end all demonstrations with deadly force, which it naively hopes will not be widely reported. And, of course, it plan on massive incarceration:

A New York-based human rights group, International Campaign for Human Rights, listed the names Wednesday of 240 of the 645 people the Iranian state media has reported detained in the crackdown. The total number of detained, the organization said, citing human rights activists in Iran, may be as high as 2,000.

Among them are people arrested in a Monday night raid of a campaign office for Mr. Moussavi in Tehran, Press TV, state television’s English-language satellite broadcaster, reported Wednesday… snip

The detained, most of whom are being held incommunicado, also include students picked up at their dormitories, dozens of street demonstrators, and “targeted, politically motivated arrests of intellectuals, civil society leaders, political campaigners, journalists, and human rights campaigners,” said Aaron Rhodes, a consultant with the organization in Vienna.

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Tomorrow is Torture Accountability Action Day

A reminder from the good folks at AfterDowningStreet.org

Photobucket

Thursday, June 25th Is Torture Accountability Action Day

A large coalition of human rights groups has planned rallies and marches in major U.S. cities, including a rally in Washington, D.C.’s John Marshall Park at 11 a.m. followed by a noon march to the Justice Department where some participants will risk arrest in nonviolent protest if a special prosecutor for torture is not appointed.

Events are planned in Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, CA; Pasadena, CA; Thousand Oaks, CA; Boston, MA; Salt Lake City, UT; Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; Las Vegas, NV; Honolulu, HI; Tampa, FL; Philadelphia, PA; and Anchorage, AK, with details available online:

http://tortureaccountability.w…

In Pasadena at 12 p.m. PT citizens will submit a formal judicial misconduct complaint against 9th Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, former Assistant Attorney General.

Whether or not you can make it to one of the events, please do these things on Thursday:

Phone Attorney General Eric Holder and ask him to appoint a special prosecutor for torture: 202-514-2001

Email him the same request: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

Fax it to him too: 202-307-6777. To easily send a fax for free, go here: http://www.peaceandjustice.it

Please do these things now:

Sign a petition to Eric Holder if you haven’t already:

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Get Badge

Twitter this: Rallies all over US on 6/25 demanding accountability for torture: http://tr.im/pppa

Making a killing in the free market

Call it Personal Disaster Capitalism

   If Reform Costs X and Fighting it costs Y – choose the lesser of the two everytime.

   

    Executives of three of the nation’s largest health insurers told federal lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that they would continue canceling medical coverage for some sick policyholders, despite withering criticism from Republican and Democratic members of Congress who decried the practice as unfair and abusive.

crooksandliars.com

    Why? Why would they do this?

    Because it is profitable, of course.

    The line between taking a profit and making a killing is where ethics ends and Super Profits begin. There are thousands of examples we can find in our economy today where taking a profit is not good enough, and thus making a killing is what we do.

    It seems as though once the line between making a profit ethically is crossed there is no going back. Once the people who profit by stepping over the line and making a killing have gone there, the damage is already done and it is too late. What good is it to us if we fine a polluter some millions they can afford after they have made the Super Profit and ripped the resources out of the bare earth, or by denying someone Health Care they paid the Insurance for, or by ginning up a war fro their contractor buddies. The war still happens, people die of preventable disease and no one can put the environment back together again.

   This is how our economy works. Whoever can fuck over the most people the best win. You can be too big to fail but if there is any competition to worry about, don’t worry, the Government will take care of it for you, but if average Joe Sixpacks demand the same thing that is socialism, and that is bad.

    So what is a person to do?

    The first step to fighting the Class War is to know your enemy.

   

    An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period.

    It also found that policyholders with breast cancer, lymphoma and more than 1,000 other conditions were targeted for rescission and that employees were praised in performance reviews for terminating the policies of customers with expensive illnesses.

crooksandliars.com

    You see, if they actually provided the health care insurance policy holders are paying for, they would not make such a big profit. It is as simple as that. $300,000,000 over 5 years is hard for a Board of Directors to turn down.

    The Murder By Spreadsheet Industry is not alone here. Many industries and big businesses claim they can not survive without there special little exceptions around basic decency and common sense.

    Some examples are

    Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining

    You can call this Environmental Disaster Capitalism

    First off, these companies will NEVER invest in Green Technology and Green energy, because that costs money and any initial investment towards progress will hurt their profits, and that makes Executives cry.

    Never mind the fact that there are other, less destructive ways to mine for coal, but that costs money, and is less profitable than the Super – Profits that can be made by wrecking the place. Never mind the fact that coal is toxic, toxic to the air, the rivers, everything around it. That is not important, making money, now that is what is important.

    Labor Unions

    If companies do not have the ability to bust unions, how will they make their Super Profits? Can large employers like WalMart get by when their employees can demand better wages and benefits? Of course.

    Will they admit that? Hell no!

    What costs more, making TV ads or actually paying employees more? Do the long term benefits to society and our economy outweigh the initial costs? Of course not, that would get in the way of making a killing. What are you, some kind of socialist?

    Well, yes, if by socialist you mean something other than an unfettered free market capitalist. If that is what you mean by socialist I am guilty as charged.

    Wall St

    This one is so big I will not get into it too much, suffice it too say that they are certainly making a killing on Wall St. I have yet to hear when the Wall St Bailout will be paid back

    No matter how bad the risk, the people who take those risks never feel the pain of their failure. They are Too Big To Fail. You are not.

    Socialism for the rich is fine, just don’t go getting socialist on the rest of the proletariat. If you feed them once you will never get rid of them.

    War and The Military Industrial Complex

    This is true Disaster Capitalism at work, and the heart of all class warfare. War is class warfare.

    If we do not have wars to fight how will we ever justify spending a quarter of our federal budget on our military, plus supplemental spending and all the other goodies we hand out to the MIC year to year?

    And if there are no actual wars to fight, we can just invent them with a little help from the Corporate controlled media

   

Bad News For The President’s Indefinite Detention Idea

The Dog writes about law a lot, mostly because it fascinates him, the way it evolves and changes based on new information or new ways of viewing our basic Constitutional rights. One of the areas of particular concern is, of course, the torture of prisoners and the holding of them without charge or trial, whether they are designated as “enemy combatants” or not. On May 21st the President gave a policy address about the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison camp. In this speech he mentioned there were likely to be prisoners who, in his words could not be released but also could not be tried.

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

It came from a blogger …

Yesterday, President Barack Obama had a daytime press conference that is being viewed with outrage by many in the media world.  That ‘outrage’ is manufactured and displaying ignorance.

Obama presaged the questioning with a statement that included much discussion of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act which is going to be up for a vote this Friday in the House.  This is a massive bill, with significant implications.  Was the media outrage because no journalist got around to asking a question to this significant piece of legislation?  No.  Energy and Environment evidently aren’t on the table either for the White House press corps or other journalists around the country.

No, instead, the “outrage” derives from what might be seen as some mishandling of President Obama’s turning to the second questioner, Nico Pitney of The Huffington Post.  Obama turned to Nico with the following:

Obama said to Pitney, “Nico, I know that you, and all across the Internet, we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. … Do you have a question?”

From Faux News to the pages of The Washington Post the outrage skyrockets from people who, pointedly, ignored the fact that the Bush Administration planted a Republican gay prostitute operative posing a journalist in press conference after press conference.  They are misrepresenting, repeatedly, something that just a little honest searching of the ‘google tubes’ would provide value.

Dana Milbank attacks the Obama team and Pitney as posturing some form of daytime soap opera in Stay Tuned for More of “The Obama Show”.

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