Saturday, April 25, 2009

What are they then?

Appeals court rules Gitmo detainees are not 'persons' from Raw Story.

the Court reaffirmed its decision from last year that detainees are not “persons” for the purposes of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was enacted in 1993 to protect against government actions that unreasonably interfere with religious practices. Last year, Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a member of the Court of Appeals panel who issued the decision today, referred to the Court’s holding that detainees are not “persons” as “a most regrettable holding in a case where plaintiffs have alleged high-level U.S. government officials treated them as less than human.” This statement is noticeably absent from Judge Brown’s substantively identical concurring opinion issued today.
-- Center for Constitutional Rights Press Release in the same link as above.

Not persons? What are they then, dogs? No, they can't be dogs, because we'd never allow dogs to be tortured like this. Just go ask Michael Vick about how we react when we find dogs are being tortured and abused. Well, some dogs. As long as the dog is being tortured for corporate profit, we don't seem to mind. Then we call any who object 'terrorists' and put them on the FBI most wanted list.

Note also, that Obama's DOJ was in this court arguing for just such a ruling.

This is the first step towards torture. The first step towards torture is to deny the humanity of the victim. To torture someone, we have to make up dismissive names. We have to call them 'ragheads' or 'sand-niggers' or 'gooks'. To torture someone, we have to first convince ourselves that they are not human. If a torturer was thinking of their victim as the son of a mother who is grieving her missing boy, or as the missing father to children who want their daddy home, then its much harder to throw the switch that sends the electricity to the electrodes and makes the victim scream. The first thing that most people have to do in order to torture is to convince themselves that the victim is not human. That's not a father in front of you, that's a 'terrorist'.

If Obama really wants to end torture, then one thing that must occur is that we must acknowledge our victims as fellow 'persons'. Instead, Obama's administration is working hard to deny the basic religious rights that we'd recognize in any person.

To me, the following is the fundamental statement of what it is to be an American. The following is the idea upon which America was founded. We've come a very long way, and in the wrong direction, if we now construct legal arguments in order to declare that some people are 'not persons' and thus have no rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security

Friday, April 24, 2009

Republican wish list.

Obama legal team wants to limit defendants' rights by AP via

The case at issue is Michigan v. Jackson, in which the Supreme Court said in 1986 that police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one, unless the attorney is present. The decision applies even to defendants who agree to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

Anything police learn through such questioning cannot be used against the defendant at trial. The opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the only current justice who was on the court at the time.

The justices could decide as early as Friday whether they want to hear arguments on the issue as they wrestle with an ongoing case from Louisiana that involves police questioning of an indigent defendant that led to a murder confession and a death sentence.

The Justice Department, in a brief signed by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said the 1986 decision "serves no real purpose" and offers only "meager benefits."

A person's life hangs in the balance. A person sits on death row waiting for the Supreme Court to hear their case. And the Obama administration calls this a right that 'serves no real purpose', and has only 'meager benefit'. This article comes from the AP, so they would never think to ask the prisoner on death row whether he feels this right to be of 'meager benefit' right now.

If you watch any detective shows on TV, and they seem to be on every channel 24/7 these days, you've seen this scene. The police have arrested someone. They have them in for questioning. They are trying every trick they can think of to make the suspect confess. They lie. They lie about what the suspects co-defendants are saying. They lie about the law and the possible penalties. They do everything they can do to get a confession, and only one thing stops them. There's only one thing that scares them. Has the suspect asked for an attorney? If the suspect asks for an attorney, they have to stop questioning until this person, who presumably knows what's going on and would better question the police tricks, comes into the room.

Obama wants to take away that right. Obama thinks that if you are arrested, you should be allowed to be questioned without an attorney present, even if you've already asked for one. Obama's administration calls this a right with 'no real purpose' and 'meager benefits.'

The Democrats are very dangerous when in power, because they will do things that the Republicans could never get away with. Suddenly, all the 'liberals' support the most fascist, police-state type of laws because they 'support their President'.

I have a fundamental belief that the best thing that any American citizen can do is to leave MORE rights for the following generations. If you want to tell me about a "greatest generation", to me it would be a generation that leaves more rights for the generations to follow. It would be a generation that expands liberty in this land.

Its been a long time since I've seen liberty expanded in this country. Our rights always seem to shrink. We are constantly being told that we must give up this right or that right. To me, that means we are failing in the duty we have as American citizens. Our ancestors passed us a torch of liberty. Instead of using it to light other torches that spread the light of liberty, we are letting it slowly burn out on our watch.

PS ... if you follow the link to the article, note the mention in it for the Southern Center for Human Rights. That's a great little crew of people in Atlanta, who mainly do a lot of fighting in death penalty cases. But they also do little things as well. For instance, I'll never forget the day I was being hassled by the APD during the aftermath of an antiwar protest at the start of the Iraq war. A vigil was being held outside the jail for those arrested during the protest, and the cops were out harassing everyone outside the jail. That is, until the lawyer from SCHR showed up.

If you know the feeling of relief of having a friendly lawyer appear when you are being harassed by the police, then you understand the importance of this right that Obama wants to take away.


Democratic Lobbyists Key to Fight Against Employee Free Choice Act by Chris Kronm via Counterpunch

A little ways down the page, you'll find a link to a Naomi Klein article where she starts to create a new lexicon for dealing with what maybe I'll start calling Post-Obama-Traumatic-Hope-Syndrome.

Maybe we should add something like 'hopefraud' to the list. This what happens when Democratic politicians make promises to get elected, then renege on those promises once in office.

But Frank points to an important and under-reported piece of the story -- lobbying firms with strong ties to Democrats who are helping deep-six labor's agenda. After asking why Democrats seem treat labor like an ATM machine for campaign cash, only to turn their backs on them in Congress, Frank offers these devastating set of facts:

Follow the link above to read more, too long to quote here. But here's the key point. The Democrats made what I felt was a rather weak promise to labor to gain their support in the last election. The Democrats promised to support a bill that made some reforms that would make the action of workers forming a union a little fairer. At the time, my reaction was more along the lines of 'is that all labor got in the deal?', especially when there were other candidates in the race promising a repeal of Taft-Hartley and a general overhaul of labor law in this country. But, at least you could say labor got something that would make organizing a little easier in this country.

Not! The problem was, it was all a lie. The Democrats had no intention of ever passing the EFCA. Don't believe me. Take a look at how much effort the Democrats have put into passing this act. They did propose it, put a bill into the hopper. And they announced their own token and very weak support of the bill. But, you might ask yourself how much of a push was there to pass this bill quickly. After all, at this point with employment collapsing and debts exploding, anything that might help to give workers a little more leverage and put a few more dollars in their pocket is just what this country needs. EFCA could have been pushed with great urgency. It could have been presented as a key reform this country needs to start to pull out of this mess, and moved rapidly on the calendar. After all, during the campaign, the Democrats promised this would be one of the first things they did once elected.

We know the Democrats can do just this. After all, this sense of crisis and urgency surrounded the passing of both the Bush and Obama 'stimulus' bills by the Democratic Congress. The nation was told with loud voices that these bills, which have pumped trillions of dollars into the finance industry, must pass immediately or else we are all doomed. And the Democratic leadership pushed those bills through the Congress just as fast as they could.

But, when it comes to rights for workers, when it comes to EFCA, the bill languishes in committee. The difference in how the bills are handled by the Democrats is obvious. Key Democratic Senators 'defect' to the Republican side (as if most Democrats weren't there already), and now we learn that the lobbying effort against the bill is led by the beltway lobbying firms with Democrat connections.

Hopefraud. The pumping up of the hope of workers that electing a candidate might make things better. Followed by the continuation of the same old, same old. In other words, most major Democratic political campaigns.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Selling Out Single Payer

Selling Out Single Payer
by Helen Redmond at CounterPunch

Helen Redmond has a nice piece up on CounterPunch about the effort Democrats are putting into killing single-payer/national health insurance. Which of course is also an effort they are putting forth to protect private insurance companies and their ability to gouge profits out of the sick and injured.

Its a nice piece, but there seems to be a basic misunderstanding on one point.
So the question becomes why don’t the Democrats and HCAN fight to get rid of the parasitic private health insurance industry (the source of the crisis) once and for all instead of constantly and unsuccessfully, decade after decade, trying to rein in, regulate, and do an end run around them?

For the Democrats, with the exception of John Conyers and a few others, they simply don’t want to abolish the private insurance industry. They are capitalists and believe in the capitalist system that makes health care a commodity to be bought and sold. For them, health care is not a human right. And importantly, they don’t want to take on President Obama who is opposed to single-payer. Like the true cowards they are, they will not oppose Obama on health care reform even though they disagree with him.

Actually, its a lot simpler than that. Why don't the Democrats fight to get rid of the parasitic private health insurance industry? Its because they are well paid by that industry to do no such thing. A trip to reveals the following total contributions (to all of Congress) from the 'health' industry since mid-2003.

Health Professionals$118,553,725301
Health Services/HMOs$15,485,89775
Hospitals/Nursing Homes$31,366,80154
Misc Health$6,939,60126
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products$39,181,95967

$200,000,000.00 buys a lot of support, from both parties. This is a fundamental problem that people on the left tend to have. They tend to believe the Democratic propaganda that says the Democrats are on our side. This leads to all sorts of twisted reasoning being produced as to why they don't ACT like they are on our side. The problem is, people just don't realize that the Democrats are not on our side. They are on the side of the people who pump millions of dollars into their accounts.

Have you pumped millions of dollars into their accounts? If not, then the Democrats are not on your side. The key is to realize this, and thus not to listen to them when they spin their line of bull about how they are on our side. Don't fall for it. Vote for candidates that really are on your side.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Do you know what you need to know?

‘Superweed’ explosion threatens Monsanto heartlands by France24

In late 2004, “superweeds” that resisted Monsanto’s iconic “Roundup” herbicide, popped up in GM crops in the county of Macon, Georgia. Monsanto, the US multinational biotech corporation, is the world’s leading producer of Roundup, as well as genetically engineered seeds. Company figures show that nine out of 10 US farmers produce Roundup Ready seeds for their soybean crops.

Superweeds have since alarmingly appeared in other parts of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, according to media reports.


And, of course, no real surprise to anyone with any sense. If you overuse antibiotics, you get resistant bacteria. The way it works is that all you need is one random genetic mutation to occur to create the resistant types. They then have a massive competitive advantage in a field where all other weed plants die off in a field because of the pesticides. Soon, you have a field full of the resistant weeds.

Like I said, obvious to anyone with any sense. And companies like Monsanto do pay big bucks to keep at least some people with some sense around, albeit twisted to an evil purpose. Monsanto patented their proposed solution to the problem in 2001, three years before the superweeds appeared in the fields of Georgia.

According to the UK-based Soil Association, which campaigns for and certifies organic food, Monsanto was well aware of the risk of superweeds as early as 2001 and took out a patent on mixtures of glyphosate and herbicide targeting glyphosate-resistant weeds.

“The patent will enable the company to profit from a problem that its products had created in the first place,” says a 2002 Soil Association report.

But what really struck me was that the story came from France 24, apparently a French TV network. Since this is happening in America, why wasn't this from an American network? Thinking that maybe it was just because I'd followed that link from Progressive Review, I did a Google search on "monsanto superweed". I read through 3 pages of search results without seeing the name of a single major US media company. No CNN articles or FoxNews articles on the problem. Nothing from the NY Times or any American paper who's name I could recognize. The Independent over in England did show up on the results. Everything else seemed to be blogs or small groups. Nothing from any American media shows up.

By comparison, I typed "Rev. Wright" into Google, and ABCNews was second on the list. CNN, FoxNews, Newsweek, and MSNBC all made the first page of results.

Monsanto buys a lot of ad time on network news shows. Or at least they did the last time I watched any. I'm guessing it hasn't changed. There has been at least one credited case in Florida of reporters being fired from a local Fox affiliate for pursuing a story Monsanto wanted killed.

All of which leads to some questions:

  • Why I am seeing this story only from a French TV network?
  • If the telecoms like AT&T, Comcast, and TimeWarner get their way, and are able to impose limits on what I can see over the internet, would I still be able to see this story from a French TV network? Or, would I then be limited to only what CNN and the other American companies decide I need to know?
  • Today, do we know what we need to know?
  • If network neutrality dies in the Democratic Congress bought off by the telecoms, will we know what we need to know tomorrow?

Chernobyl Could Happen Here ... Not!

Chernobyl Could Happen Here by Harvey Wasserman via

In general, I'm on the same side as Mr. Wasserman. And, I try not to follow the leftist tradition of shooting at your allies. But, as someone with a nuclear engineering degree, I have to admit that when I read pieces like this, although I agree with the general purpose, I find myself thinking "Bullshit" as I read it.

There are enough good arguments against nuclear power, without creating misleading BS like this article.

Mr. Wasserman manages to write this article without talking about, or demonstrating any knowledge of the different types of nuclear reactor design. Chernobyl was a design known as 'graphite-moderated'. In a reactor, you need something to slow down the neutrons that are released from fission. In most, but not all, American designs, water is used for this purpose, as well as for cooling. In the Chernobyl design, graphite blocks were use, while water was still used for cooling. This is not that uncommon in some early American reactors. The first reactor under Chicago Stadium used graphite blocks, as did the early DOE, plutonium making reactors at places like Savannah River. But, almost all American commercial reactors used water as the moderator.

Why is that important? Because, as a reactor starts to overheat, the water turns to steam. If that water had been playing an important role in slowing down the neutrons to keep a chain reaction going, then having that water disappear helps keep the reactor under control. In the Chernobyl design, it was graphite blocks that moderated the speed of the neutrons, and thus the reactor could go massively out of control, and do so very quickly. At Chernobyl, the sequence from "uh-oh" to "Oh Shit!" to "Boom!" took only seconds.

If you look closely, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were different. At Chernobyl, the reactor literally blew up in a nuclear explosion. A massive, many-ton, metal lid on the reactor chamber was blown up into the air, the roof of the reactor building was destroyed. Nuclear materials from the core were blown up into the air and landed all around the reactor site. This required brave fire fighters to run out with shovels to keep these highly radioactive bits from burning down the control building before the other reactor could be shut down. They died horrible deaths over the next few weeks from high does of radiation, but they kept Chernobyl from maybe being twice as bad with two exploding reactors. From the one explosion, a plume of hot radioactivity blew tens of thousands of feet up into the air and traveled the world. It was first detected by the rest of the world (after the usual government denials) when workers coming into work at a Swedish nuclear power plant set off the radiation alarms. Crops across Europe were destroyed because of the radiation that rained down.

At TMI, it was much worse than the people were told. The core did melt. And I have some sympathy when reading Mr. Wasserman's claims that more radiation was released than announced. If you read this blog, you'll know I'm not a big believer in government and corporate pronouncements. But there was not this nuclear explosion that blew nuclear materials around the site and send huge radioactive plumes up into the air. These two events are quite different.

Mr. Wasserman has a way of taking a few facts, that are probably correct, then spinning them into pieces that read as total BS to someone like me who knows a bit about nuclear engineering. In this piece, he makes an incredible stretch to problems back in the 1960's with a radically different, experimental reactor design that used liquid sodium. This was tried once and abandoned, and has nothing to do with commercial power reactors in the US today. He also fits in the claim, quite possibly true, that more radiation was emitted at TMI than was announced. Mr. Wasserman uses some facts that are probably correct, but the overall argument of the piece is still total bullshit.

There are plenty of good reasons for not building more nuclear power plants. They are horribly expensive, and not commercially viable without government subsidies in the billions. We don't know a thing about what to do with all this nuclear waste we are building up. And they are not as entirely safe as the nuclear industry would have us believe. Anything humans are involved in will have mistakes. Most good engineers are strong believers in Murphy's Law. And Murphy's law around a nuclear power plant is a scary proposition.

But, it doesn't help the cause to spread nonsense BS around like Mr. Wasserman does. Writing pieces that anyone with any knowledge reads and immediately cries "BullShit!" does not help advance a cause.

To be clear, I'm not saying another nuclear accident can't happen again in the US. In fact, if we keep building more reactors and operating the aging reactors we have, its rather likely that someday we'll have another accident. That whole bit with Murphy's Law is bound to bite us again someday. But, it won't be Chernobyl. It won't be a graphite cored reactor doing its own little impersonation of a nuclear bomb.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Most people believe that the 20th century was a death struggle between Communism and Capitalism, and that Fascism was but a hiccup. But today we know better. Communism was a fool's errand. The followers of Marx gone from this earth, but the followers of Hitler abound and thrive. Hitler, however, had one great disadvantage. He lived in a time when Fascism, like a virus... like the AIDS virus... needed a strong host in order to spread. Germany was that host. But Germany did not prevail. The world was too big. Fortunately, the world has changed. Global communications, cable TV, the internet. Today the world is smaller and a virus does not need a strong host in order to spread. The virus... is airborne.
-- the character Dressler in the movie, "The Sum of All Fears".

Bonus Man

The poster on YouTube put in this following text.
are you sick and fucking tired of executive pay? executive bailouts? SO ARE WE! we are sick and tired of a lot of things -- join us at! music & lyrics: jackie sheeler vocals...

Another forbidden voice

While on the topic of voices that are forbidden for the corporate media to let the American people hear, Counterpunch has this piece from Fidel Castro. (remember, you read these in the opposite order from how I create them)

Neither represented nor excommunicated, only today could I learn what was discussed at the Summit of Port of Spain. They led us all to entertain hopes that the meeting would not be secret, but those running the show deprived us of such an interesting intellectual exercise. We shall get to know the substance but not the tone of voice, the look in the eyes or the facial look that can be a reflection of a person's ideas, ethic and character. A Secret Summit is worse than a silent movie. For a few minutes the television showed some images. There was a gentleman on Obama's left whom I could not identify clearly as he laid his hand on Obama's shoulder, like an eight-year-old boy on a classmate in the front row. Then, another member of his entourage standing beside him interrupted the president of the United States for a dialogue; those coming up to address him had the appearance of an oligarchy that never knew what hunger is and who expect to find in Obama's powerful nation the shield that will protect the system from the fearsome social changes.

Mr. Castro later also passes along another voice banned in the US. Daniel Ortega, leader of Nicaragua.

We left the government in 1990 with 12.5 percent illiteracy in the country and on January 2007 we received back the country with 35 percent illiteracy.

This data have not been made up by the government; they have been released by agencies specialized in education and culture.

That is the result of the neoliberalism applied in Nicaragua; the result of privatizations in Nicaragua where healthcare and education were privatized and the poor were left out. For others it was a good change because they amassed fortunes; the model has proven successful to concentrate riches and extend poverty. It is a great concentrator of riches and a great multiplier of poverty and destitution.

It is an ethical problem, a moral problem, and the future lies on it; not only the future of the most impoverished countries --as the five countries of Latin America and the Caribbean I have mentioned—that have little else to lose other than our shackles, if there is not a change of ethics, a change of moral, a change of values that will enable us to be really sustainable.

It is no longer a matter of ideology, it's not a political issue; it's a matter of survival. And this applies to all, from the G-20 to the G-5 who are the most impoverished in Latin America and the Caribbean.

I think that this crisis that is affecting the world today and that is leading to discussions, debates, and to a search for solutions we should approach it bearing in mind that the current development model is no longer possible, no longer sustainable.

The only way to save us all is to change the model.

The only way to save us all is to change the model. That's what they don't want us to hear. Note the words 'save us all'. That's the difference. The goal isn't to save an elite few who can live behind walls and security forces in luxury. The goal is to save us ALL. Any moral person would side with that goal of trying to work for the betterment of all humans.


The western corporate media today is full of stories about about Ahmadinegad's 'vile and hateful' speech to the UN conference on racism. What people need to learn is to go look for the text of such a speech and read it themselves. Here's two links to what is supposed to be the English text of the speech.

President Ahmadinejad's speech at the Durban Review Conference on racism
from the Iranian press agency.
The Guardian has a scan of the text handed out by Iranian officials at the event.
(added - 4/22) Voters For Peace now has a transcript up also

Now, one thing about public speeches. What's handed out is what is written before hand. Its not always exactly what speaker really says, as ad-libs are possible both adding and skipping to the prepared text. And also, both of these are Iranian translations. But, the Guardian article says (by inference) that it is pretty accurate. That article points out that Mr. Ahmadinejad skipped some sections, but doesn't point out that interpreters find any other errors. From what I can tell, the portions the Guardian says were omitted are not in the version from Iranian PressTV.

So, what are these 'vile and hateful' comments? Here's what I can find in the printed, prepared text.

Following World War II, they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering and they sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine. And, in fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.

The Security Council helped stabilize the occupying regime and supported it in the past 60 years giving them a free hand to commit all sorts of atrocities. It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defending those racist perpetrators of genocide while the awakened-conscience and free-minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutalities and the bombardment of civilians in Gaza. The supporters of Israel have always been either supportive or silent against the crimes.

Ok, he calls the Israeli government 'racist'. Is that offensive? The Israelis proudly refer to their state as 'a Jewish state.' This Jewish state routinely uses racial criteria to discriminate against some of its citizens. Its citizens of Arab descent are routinely discriminated against. Is a state that proudly associates itself as the state for a particular race, and which discriminates in its laws and actions against people of other races 'racist'?

Then there is this section further down ...
World Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religions and abuses religious sentiments to hide its hatred and ugly face. However, it is of great importance to bring into focus the political goals of some of the world powers and those who control huge economic resources and interests in the world. They mobilize all the resources including their economic and political influence and world media to render support in vain to the Zionist regime and to maliciously diminish the indignity and disgrace of this regime.

This is not simply a question of ignorance and one cannot conclude these ugly phenomena through consular campaigns. Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and their political and international supporters and in respect with the will and aspirations of nations. Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism and to move towards reform in current international mechanisms.

There is no doubt that you are all aware of the conspiracies of some powers and Zionist circles against the goals and objectives of this conference. Unfortunately, there have been literatures and statements in support of Zionists and their crimes. And it is the responsibility of honorable representatives of nations to disclose these campaigns which run counter to humanitarian values and principles.

It should be recognized that boycotting such a session as an outstanding international capacity is a true indication of supporting the blatant example of racism. In defending human rights, it is primarily important to defend the rights of all nations to participate equally in all important international decision making processes without the influence of certain world powers.

OK, now where are the parts that are 'vile and hateful' and are worth walking out of or boycotting an important UN meeting on racism? Is it just referring to the Israelis as racist? Is it referring to Zionism, and calling it a racist belief?

Its interesting how there appears to be no attempt to refute these claims. False claims can usually be addressed with facts. There's no need to walk out or boycott the speaker. And perhaps a path towards peace and understanding would be to start such a discussion about what Mr. Ahmadinejad is claiming. But, instead we don't see that. We see a great deal of bombast about the speech from the US, Israel and the corporate media. But, very little that tries to point out where Mr. Ahmadinejad is incorrect.

Do you see anywhere in the western media either video of this speech, or translations of the transcript? Isn't it interesting how its totally blacked out? When I googled to find the transcript, I found no western references. When I removed the word 'transcript' and just searched on 'ahmadinejad geneva', the only stories that I found on the first pages of the search refer to jewish protesters who tried to interrupt the speech, and to the western walkout during the speech.

One good rule to learn. When people don't want you to hear or read a person's words, go find them and read them. Doesn't mean I agree with everything he says. But, its usually worth going and finding.

Maybe this is the section that they don't want you to hear or see?

Dear friends, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen. What are the root causes of the US attacks against Iraq or the invasion of Afghanistan?

Was the motive behind the invasion of Iraq anything other than the arrogance of the then US administration and the mounting pressures on the part of the possessors of wealth and power to expand their sphere of influence seeking the interests of giant arms manufacturing companies affecting a noble culture with thousands of years of historical background, eliminating the potential and practical threats of Muslim countries against the Zionist regime or to control and plunder the energy resources of the Iraqi people?

Why, indeed, almost a million people were killed and injured and a few more millions were displaced? Why, indeed, the Iraqi people have suffered enormous losses amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars? And why was billions of dollars imposed on the American people as the result of these military actions? Was not the military action against Iraq planned by the Zionists and their allies in the then US administration in complicity with the arms manufacturing countries and the possessors of wealth? Did the invasion of Afghanistan restore peace, security and economic wellbeing in the country?

The United States and its allies not only have failed to contain the production of drugs in Afghanistan, but the cultivation of narcotics has multiplied in the course of their presence. The basic question is that what was the responsibility and the job of the then US administration and its allies?

Did they represent the countries of the world? Have they been mandated by them? Have they been authorized by the people of the world to interfere in all parts of the globe, of course mostly in our region? Are not these measures a clear example of egocentrism, racism, discrimination or infringement upon the dignity and independence of nations?

Ladies and gentlemen, who is responsible for the current global economic crisis? Where did the crisis start from? From Africa, Asia or from the United States in the first place then spreading across Europe and their allies?

For a long time, they imposed inequitable economic regulations by their political power on the international economy. They imposed a financial and monetary system without a proper international oversight mechanism on nations and governments that played no role in repressive trends or policies. They have not even allowed their people to oversea or monitor their financial policies. They introduced all laws and regulations in defiance of all moral values only to protect the interests of the possessors of wealth and power.

They further presented a definition for market economy and competition that denied many of the economic opportunities that could be available to other countries of the world. They even transferred their problems to others while the waves of crisis lashed back plaguing their economies with thousands of billions of dollars in budget deficit. And today, they are injecting hundreds of billions of dollars of cash from the pockets of their own people and other nations into the failing banks, companies and financial institutions making the situation more and more complicated for their economy and their people. They are simply thinking about maintaining power and wealth. They could not care any less about the people of the world and even their own people.


A Lexicon of Disappointment by Naomi Klein via Znet.

Ms. Klein is being brilliant and witty again ... as usual.

All is not well in Obamafanland. It's not clear exactly what accounts for the change of mood. Maybe it was the rancid smell emanating from Treasury's latest bank bailout. Or the news that the president's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, earned millions from the very Wall Street banks and hedge funds he is protecting from reregulation now. Or perhaps it began earlier, with Obama's silence during Israel's Gaza attack.

Whatever the last straw, a growing number of Obama enthusiasts are starting to entertain the possibility that their man is not, in fact, going to save the world if we all just hope really hard.

She goes on to define a new language for Obamabots. Including "hopeover", "hopebreak", "hoper-coaster", "hope-sick" and others. Follow the link as its worth reading.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama Stands Nuremberg on Its Head

Obama Stands Nuremberg on Its Head by Mike Farrell at

Mr. Farrell quotes Justice Robert Jackson, a US Supreme Court Justice who served as the lead US prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.

As Jackson said, “Crimes always are committed only by persons. … The Charter [of the tribunal] recognizes that one who has committed criminal acts may not take refuge in superior orders nor in the doctrine that his crimes were acts of states.” “International Law,” he went on, “is more than a scholarly collection of abstract and immutable principles. It is an outgrowth of treaties and agreements between nations and of accepted customs. The law, so far as International Law can be decreed, had been clearly pronounced when these acts took place.”

That was then, this is the US today

Obama goes to the CIA to assure them that no one would be prosecuted for crimes like torture.

"Don't be discouraged by what's happened the last few weeks. Don't be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we have made some mistakes - that's how we learn," Mr Obama said in a speech at the agency's headquarters.

"So I want to make a point that...I understand that it's hard when you are asked to protect the American people against people who have no scruples and would willingly and gladly kill innocents."
- Barrack Obama speaking at CIA HQ according to the Telegraph.

"One must bear in mind that in the countries affected, human life has absolutely no value...[t]he troops are, therefore, authorized and ordered to take any measures without restriction, even against women and children."

-- That last bit is German Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, while issuing orders that called for the murder of 50 Russian civilians for any German death caused by partisans ... or 'terrorists' as the Nazis referred to them. That's him in the picture, shaking hands with Hitler. Keitel's defense at Nuremberg was that he was following orders.

The whole point of Nuremberg was to put into place a democratic defense against the horrors the world in 1945 had just witnessed. Thus, they denied the 'following orders' defense. No person has a right to inflict pain and suffering on another simply because they were ordered to do so. And importantly, it becomes each person's responsibility to make sure they don't act illegally. This is the key reform of Nuremberg because now each of us has an obligation to keep our own rears out of prison by always making sure we act morally and legally. Justice Jackson deliberately tried to take the power to commit awful war-crimes out of the hands of leaders.

Barrack Obama just overturned all of this. Barrack Obama is on the side of the war-criminals. He is on the side of the leaders who wish to order others to commit awful acts. Obama is on the side of the Lt Calley's of the world (of Mai Lai massecre infamy), who used this defense to avoid justice for the hundreds of deaths. By this reasoning, Barrack Obama would have deemed it unwise to convict the Nazi's at Nuremberg who claimed that they only 'followed orders'.

And with this, Obama said that at best his own prohibitions against torture are only temporary. With another election, torture can begin again. And those who wield the thumbscrews and the electrodes can rest assured that they won't be held to account for their crimes.

I continue to say you know someone by their actions. Obama's actions on this issue were reprehensible. In cases of the torturer versus their victims, Obama is foursquare on the side of the evil torturer. Who's side are you on?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wonder which is true?

From the AP ... Shells hit Baghdad's Green Zone after 3-month lulldated April 18, 2009. (via

Suspected militants shelled Baghdad's protected Green Zone on Saturday in the first such bombardment in more than three months.

The back-to-back strikes reverberated across the Tigris River to a popular promenade, sending families packing up from fish restaurants and abruptly halting a party at a club.

From Dahr Jamail ... Iraq in Fragments, dated April 18, 2009, via Znet.

Having recently returned from Iraq, I experienced living in Baghdad where people were dying violent deaths on a daily basis. Nearly every day of the month I spent there saw a car bomb attack somewhere in the capital city. Nearly every day the so-called Green Zone was mortared. Every day there were kidnappings. On good days there were four hours of electricity on the national grid, in a country now into its seventh year of being occupied by the U.S. military, and where there are now over 200,000 private contractors.

Read the two stories, and you get two radically different views of like in Iraq. One describes a city that is still a very violent place to live. The other paints images of a popular promenade and families in fish markets.

Given their histories, I tend to disbelieve pretty much anything the AP prints unless corroborated by independent sources. Their story reeks of the official US government viewpoint. Lets look at the 'sources' for the AP story.

"The US military said"... wow, all the people and equipment rose up and spoke with one voice. Just stopping and reading that phrase should scream BS at any reader. Presumably, this instead is some unnamed source within the US military. Not the whole institution. The phrasing seems designed to make it appear more official than it really is, and seems designed to mislead the reader.

"A police official says" ... well, at least its not the whole police force. But, more reliance on anonymous 'official' sources.

"where authorities fear" ... wow, couldn't get more specific than that?

"said the city's police chief, Col. Mahmoud al-Issawi." Well, at least someone went on the record. The only attributed source in this whole piece, and its a police official.

"said police and hospital officials." More anonymous sources. Interesting since they are describing what should be a crime and one where you should be able to get the police to go on the record. Wonder why no one is willing to go on record.

"Iraqi security forces said" ... More anonymous sources.

And that's it. One police official on the record. Lots of unattributed anonymous sources. The one thing that is abundantly clear is that the AP reporter only speaks with government officials. The people of Baghdad, like those families in the fish market, are just props to his storytelling. The reporter doesn't bother to go interview any of them, and then pass along to the readers what they think.

Meanwhile, Dahr Jamail is an independent reporter who is telling us his personal experiences after just returned from a trip to Iraq.

All of the recent talk of withdrawal from Iraq is empty rhetoric indeed to most Iraqis, who see the giant "enduring" U.S. military bases spread across their country, or the U.S. "embassy," the size of the Vatican City, in Baghdad. The gulf between the rhetoric of withdrawal and the reality on the ground spans the distance between Iraq and the United States, while the reality is pressed in the face of the Iraqi people each day the occupation continues.