April 16, 2008 archive

The invisible fatality toll; 150,000 US dead in 5 years

Imagine not 4,000+ Americans dead, but 150,000 American fatalities in the last five years.

Thirty or more American deaths on the average day, week in and week out, with no end in sight.

Would that be enough to arouse the citizenry, to demand an end to the killing and bloodshed?

You’d think so.  But the answer is no.

The 4,000 US fatalities in Iraq pale beside the 150,000 Americans killed by firearms in this country over a five-year period.

Wednesday, the first anniversary of the massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech, the media paid a little bit of attention to memorials and observances around the country.

But there is no real outcry and no concerted national effort to end firearms violence, even though 32 — the number of people killed by gunfire at Virginia Tech — is also the number of gun homicides recorded on an average day in the United States.

That’s because many gun-toting Americans seem to think we have a constitutional right to kill each other with firearms, or at least to be free of any sensible restraints that might limit or prevent gun violence.


From TPM. More Infuriating Video of Bushco Idiocy, Lies

From Talking Points Memo a compilation of Doug Feith’s recent appearance on the talk shows, trying to make money of off Iraq hawking his book. Or, as TPM titled it: Stupidest Guy on Earth Speaks Out. Some things videos are just better for, the impact of this editing is pretty damn stunning…and pretty damn damning. Stuff we all knew, but cut together so well……well, just watch it!

But have something non-breakable nearby to throw! (I use rolled up socks!)

Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection

In a 7-2 decision today the US Supreme Court upheld Kentucky’s method of execution by lethal injection.  This will permit Kentucky to resume executions. And, worse, it will end the unofficial moratorium in the 35 other states that use lethal injections in their executions.

The decision is here.  It’s long. And it is not uplifting.

Justice Stevens concurred but wrote that he now believes capital punishment itself is unconstitutional.  It’s about time.  Only Justices Ginsberg and Souter dissented.  There were seven votes to permit the killing to continue.

This is awful news for the hundreds of prisoners facing execution on death rows across America.

This isn’t much of an essay.  I’m disgusted.  I feel gullible to have believed that the death penalty would be abolished by the Supreme Court because of the means the state uses to exterminate its prisoners. This, at best, seemed to me to be a nice flanking attack, but hardly one we could expect to end a barbaric practice that was created by legislative action and has been practiced since before the Constitution itself.  

At the very most, those who battle against this barbarism and fight for abolition have been given a slight breather, a chance to catch their breath.  The battle now resumes.  Again.  Every death penalty case has to be fought and fought hard.  Every state where abolition can be won in the legislature needs to be organized.  Every organization that funds anti death penalty litigation and organizing needs to receive your funds.  We all need to add our voices to the call to abolish the death penalty in all cases.

I’d like to think that the 7 months we’ve had of de facto moratorium have taught us one important thing.  We can live without the death penalty.


Four at Four

  1. Here are some examples of what its like to work in Iraq. The Associated Press reports AP photographer freed by US military after 2 years. “The U.S. military released Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein on Wednesday after holding him for more than two years without filing formal charges… The U.S. military had accused Hussein of links to insurgents, but did not file specific charges.”

    In New York, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, said the group was “thrilled” by Hussein’s release.

    “He now joins a growing list of journalists detained in conflict zones by the U.S. military for prolonged periods and eventually released without any charges or crimes ever substantiated against them,” said Simon. “This deplorable practice should be of concern to all journalists. It basically allows the U.S. military to remove journalists from the field, lock them up and never be compelled to say why.

    BBC News reports on an Indonesian Worker ‘tricked into going to Iraq’. “Darmianti binti Jaba Saleh… was having her medical check-up prior to being placed as a domestic worker in the Kurdish north of Iraq. The only problem was that she had not been told she was going to Iraq at all… When she found out where she was, she said, she felt completely deceived… Darmianti said the agency she worked for refused her permission to leave Iraq unless she paid US$2,500… But after three months in Arbil, she escaped with the help of an international aid organisation and has now brought her former agent to court in Jakarta.”

    The Guardian reports Iraqi commanders recalled after failed Basra mission. “The Baghdad government today recalled the top military and police commanders in the southern city of Basra, after a botched offensive against Shia militias. Iraqi officials said Lieutenant General Mohan al-Furaiji and police Major General Abdul-Jalil Khalaf would be given senior staff positions in Baghdad as a “reward for their successful mission against the criminals in Basra“. That just drips with sarcasm.

    So, it’s probably no wonder that once again, Secretary of Torture Condoleezza Rice has Warned diplomats of possible mandatory service in Iraq, according to the Washington Post. “The State Department has warned U.S. diplomats that they may be required to serve in Iraq next year if there are insufficient volunteers to fill job openings there… The possibility of “directed assignments” was first raised last fall, when State projected a shortfall of about 50 volunteers for positions at the Baghdad embassy and other locations in Iraq in 2008. Although those jobs eventually were filled without compulsory postings, the possibility of being forced to serve in a war zone caused deep unease at State.”

OR-Sen Candidate Live Blogging at EENR at 12 pdt / 3 edt

Coming up very soon, Oregon Senate candidate and current House Speaker will be live blogging over at the EENR Blog! This will be our second live blog at EENR, and we’re happy to be able to interact with Democratic candidates this way. It gives us all an opportunity to get to know the candidates better and it’s an opportunity for the candidates to hear the concerns of progressive activists from across the country. So come on over and join us in asking OR-Sen candidate Merkley questions!

What do you know about the Oregon Senate race? If you’re stumped, please follow me below the fold to learn about the race and the candidacy of Jeff Merkley.  

Report: Netanyahu says 9/11 terror attacks good for Israel

I mostly stay out of the great I/P debate, because I am a nation-state kind of guy. While I see cultural mandates for land based on history and tradition, I view the premises of nation-states being the key to stability in any region. Be it the Middle East, Africa or South Asia.

But when another nation-state, especially a former leader of that nation-state, comes out and says one of our national tragedies was of great benefit to them, I begin to wonder where their allegiance really lies. These are not the kind of statements allies make.

From Haaretz:

Report: Netanyahu says 9/11 terror attacks good for Israel

By Haaretz Service and Reuters


   The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Wednesday reported that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan university that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks had been beneficial for Israel.

   “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” Ma’ariv quoted the former prime minister as saying. He reportedly added that these events “swung American public opinion in our favor.”

Every candidate, and American, should demand that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu apologize for his statements. How dare he dance on the corpses ashes of 9/11 to score cheap political points. How can he possibly cheer lead on this issue, one of the great tragedies in American history.

If Hugo Chavez had said this, we would be rolling tanks into Caracas by sundown. I hold the leaders of Israel to a high standard, which makes this even a lower blow.

Demand Netanyahu apologize, and demand your candidate denounce such rhetoric.

Report Says Climate Change Happening NOW in Western States

We have been warned for years that global warming will happen at some distant time in the future.  Today, a report was released which concluded that human activities have already caused increased temperatures in the Western states. This follows on the heels of another report that decreased mountain snowpack is also due to global warming.  This presents a dilemma for California: Should the limited water supplies be used for people or endangered species?  Today, courts are correctly following the law by mandating that water projects maintain instream uses for species, which means less water available for people. In fact, last year, one judge issued an injunction to turn off the pumps that divert the water which supplies people in order to maintain instream uses of water.  Soon, the state or water purveyors will be lobbying Congress to change the Endangered Species Act so that protected species can die. Soon, the state or water agencies may be arguing that water infrastructure should be constructed without regard for environmental impacts.  Yet, Congress is not taking action to address global warming now.  

BlogSwarm! CondiMustGo.com

A new campaign and brilliant video from TrueMajority.org, Brave New Films, and Democracy for America. Get thee thither and sign!


   America will not stand for a Secretary of State who approved torture and then misled Congress. We call on the Presidential candidates to ask Secretary of State Rice to resign

  1. ABC Broke the Story on Torture

  2. We’re running a 30 second version of the torture video on ABC right after the debate in Philly

  3. ABC is hosting the debate tonight.

Please REC this diary so we can create a blog swarm and get ABC to ask this question at tonight’s debate.

Via Dkos and Ilya Sheyman. (Online Organizing Manager at TrueMajority.org) Please go recommend!

From serendipity in the comments: Pfiore8  suggested that I post these links here, so here they are: Contact ABC  and, for good measure, this link to the  Senate Intelligence Committee.

Iraqi Army Unit Flees Post, Despite American Pleas to Stay

‘As Iraqis Stand Up, We Will Stand Down,’ Bush Tells Nation

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2005 – On the one-year anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq to a transitional Iraqi government, President Bush tonight promised that U.S. forces would remain in Iraq until the job is complete, “but not one day longer.”

“The principal task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists,” he said. “And that is why we are on the offense. And as we pursue the terrorists, our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so that they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”

American Forces Press Service, June 28, 2005

They still are not standing up nearly three years later.  The New York Times today reports that Iraqi soldiers abandoned their positions in Sadr City, “defying American soldiers who implored them to hold the line against Shiite militias.”

More after the fold

Also in orange: http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

Updated (2x) – Ties That Bind: China, US, Torture and the Death Penalty

Amnesty International reported yesterday that China is the world’s top executioner. From ITN News in the UK:

But as with everything else in life, there are unseen ties that link China’s use of the death penalty with the United States’ use of torture in conducting the “war on terror”.

Pony Party, A Little Good News

Sometimes, I just have to go to The Good News Network and see if anything positive is actually happening in the world.  Just one of their current stories:  

One year ago today.

Carry on.

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