January 24, 2009 archive

Infamous Iraqi Prison Set to Reopen

They say a picture speaks a thousand words.

Well we got rid of all those Saddam pictures around the country, now didn’t we!!

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Top chefs push Obama to improve food policy

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer

Sat Jan 24, 10:05 am ET

WASHINGTON – Visiting one of his favorite Chicago restaurants in November, Barack Obama was asked by an excited waitress if he wanted the restaurant’s special margarita made with the finest ingredients, straight up and shaken at the table.

“You know that’s the way I roll,” Obama replied jokingly.

Rick Bayless, the chef of that restaurant, Topolobampo, says Obama’s comfortable demeanor at the table – slumped contentedly in his chair, clearly there to enjoy himself – bodes well for the nation’s food policy. While former President George W. Bush rarely visited restaurants and didn’t often talk about what he ate, Obama dines out frequently and enjoys exploring different foods.

History rewritten by the “winners”

The NY Times had a front page piece recently on a new cop show called “Life On Mars”. The premise is that an NYPD detective is in a car accident (which happens while the David Bowie song of the same name is playing on the radio) and is bamphed (as we say in MMORPG-speak) back to the NYC of 35 years ago. The article was accompanied by a sordid picture of the South Bronx as it looked in 1973.

I realized immediately when I started reading the story that this show, and by proxy the article about it, had a not-so-hidden agenda. It’s spin is designed to make America feel more comfortable with it’s new status as a police surveillance state. The idea is to point to how bad things were crime-wise on the streets of NYC in 1973 and say, “See? Aren’t you glad those problems don’t exist now?”

Except that the foundational issues still DO exist. NYC was near bankruptcy not because there were hookers, pimps and johns on 42nd Street or fires and drug wars raging in the South Bronx but because there was corruption and graft at the highest levels of it’s government – in particular, it’s police department.

A major red flag in the NY Times piece (which was since taken down and seems mysteriously hard to find in their database) was the treatment of Serpico, a well-known movie that came out of that era, as the last in a long list of cop movies and TV shows popular at the time.

Frank Serpico was and is a real man, a real NYPD detective who fought very real corruption and graft within the NYPD. He blew the lid off the “omerta” – yes, there’s that word again – that surrounded the NYPD and the sheer proliferation and matter-of-fact attitude toward graft in the department. Ironically, at first Frank Serpico was ostracized for simply refusing to play the game. He remained silent about what was going on around him – his only initial offense was to refuse to take the money. But that was enough to send the majority of the guilty police into paroxysms of paranoia. (Words with a “P” this time, she wrote, smiling gently…)

Serpico nearly died at the hands of his fellow cops when he was set up by them. Sent to arrest a drug dealer and given absolutely no backup, he was shot in the face. His so-called “brother officers” were the ones who stood with their arms folded, nearly as guilty of murder as the dealer they’d gone to arrest, who was quite happy to do their dirty work for them.

But the genie was out of the bottle by then. The press, a more responsible and less timid press than the examples we have before us 35 years later – had the story and was breaking it to the public. The media – a slightly more responsible and less desperate and greedy media than the examples we have today – produced that book and that documentary which today is being passed off in the NY Times as just another cop action movie from the 70s.

My father handed me a copy of the Peter Maas book in 1973. He wanted me to read that book very, very badly. My dad wasn’t usually the kind of person who tried to do more than mildly influence my reading habits, so when he took pains to do so I tended to pay attention, even if I was a 12 year old kid with ADD. I asked him why he felt it was so important to read this book, and he explained.

Just The Facts, Ma’am

From the evidence gathered by various sources, including foreign and domestic investigative news reports and media leaks, whistleblowers, the Red Cross, the United Nations, internal reports from the Army and DoD, independent investigations from the ACLU and Human Rights watch, bi-partisan Congressional reports and the principles own confirmations that they authorized certain measures intended to keep our nation safe…it appears possible that the Bush Administration might have at some points in our nations vital Global War on Terror, barely crossed over a few legal lines here or there, maybe.


That would be a shame. The Bush Administration was confronted with a difficult situation after 9/11, how to protect America (fortunately the Bush Administration had already started wiretapping every American before 9/11, to keep us safe.) from the threat of terrorists destroying America from their caves in Afghanistan.

George Bush and Dick Cheney went about this task with exactly the same integrity, intelligence, honesty and competency that marked every act and aspect of their time in office.

It is possible that, as in other Republican Administrations, some mistakes were made.

Nobody, of course, wants to punish well meaning public servants with such a distinguished record of honesty and integrity with pesky and possibly unnecessary investigations into the past. We need to move forward.  There is simply too much that we need to accomplish to get our country back on track to concern ourselves with minor transgressions. That would be no more than petty vengeance and a politicizing of valid policy decisions such as alleged torture and war crimes, allegedly exposing vital intelligence networks, allegedly manufacturing evidence to present before Congress and the United Nations, allegedly illegal domestic wiretapping, and allegedly corrupting the entire Department of Justice for political ends. No one wants that.

All we want is the facts. Just a clear statement of the facts, so that we can then move forward into a bright and prosperous future, knowing that these charges are unfounded.

Unfortunately, due to partisan concerns and the confusion they have caused over the facts…that will surely vindicate our President…it seems necessary to put any question of possible wrongdoing to rest. In order to take politics out of the equation, it seems that the best way to proceed is to appoint a Special Prosecutor (despite the unfortunate implications of prosecution implied) to merely investigate these obviously spurious charges. And clear the good name of the Bush Administration once and for all.

Just an investigation. Just the facts.

Once any questions of wrongdoing have been addressed, then we can move forward as a nation knowing that the record is clear and complete. Our nation can move on, and all of the officials of the Bush Administration can live out their lives in exactly the fashion they have so richly earned and so richly deserve, after their years of service.

We MUST clear our former presidents good name.  

To that end, I ask you to go and sign a petition to appoint a Special Prosecutor, so that we can put any doubts about the past behind us…and move forward.

Thank You!

Real News: Michael Ratner (CCR) On Obama’s Executive Orders

On Thursday January 22, 2009 President Barack Obama issued one of the first Executive Orders of his presidency, ordering the establishment of a Special Interagency Task Force to be composed of the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense as co-chairs, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other federal employees as determined by the co-chairs.

The Task Force will…

…develop policies for the detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations that are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, I hereby order as follows:

  Section 1. Special Interagency Task Force on Detainee Disposition.

  (a) Establishment of Special Interagency Task Force. There shall be established a Special Task Force on Detainee Disposition (Special Task Force) to identify lawful options for the disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations.


(e) Mission. The mission of the Special Task Force shall be to conduct a comprehensive review of the lawful options available to the Federal Government with respect to the apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations, and to identify such options as are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder, and Obama in another Executive Order on January 22, 2009, have indicated that the Army Field Manual, which as Valtin explains and Patriot Daily has also written so well about, codifies coercive psychological torture under the name of “Restricted Interrogation Technique – Separation” in Appendix M.  will be the Obama administrations baseline guide for detainee interrogation policies, taking us back to pre-Bush days on the question of torture but in no way ending the practice.

This morning Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, talks with The Real News, comments on Obama’s executive orders, loopholes, and says Obama must still take up the prosecution of Bush/Cheney for war crimes, specifically torture of detainees…

Open Letter To President Obama: Free Leonard Peltier (Update)

Mr. President,

It is with a great sense of urgency that I ask you to free Leonard Peltier. Peltier was recently attacked,   was prevented from speaking to his attorney on January 23 after he was attacked, and he is now just permitted one phone call every thirty days. Honestly Mr. President, this does not surprise me. Before proceeding, I honor you for and am grateful beyond words for the immediate changes you have made.

Releasing the Grief

Over years of watching and listening, I’ve learned just a bit about the many large and small ways that people of color in this country have to swallow the rage they feel and experience on a daily basis. It seems to lay there just below the surface. But as Clarence Paige wrote, people of color are taught from a young age to not show their color when they’re out and about in the world at large.

If you listen, sometimes you can get hints of the emotional burden people of color bear. Like the time a few months ago when an African American mother told me that she made her son cut his dreadlocks when he turned 13…she was afraid of the attention they might draw. Or the young African American man who still has his dreadlocks and tells me that he gets pulled over by the cops about once a week for “driving while black.” The fear that fuels this reality that most African Americans live with daily was realized this month when Oscar Grant didn’t survive just such a confrontation with the police. So the burden of rage and pain is built one (sometimes small) brick at a time over years and must be managed in order to survive in this culture.  

The New York Times and Obama’s inauguration

Original article, by David Walsh, via World Socialist Web Site:

The inaugural address delivered by Barack Obama Tuesday has elicited a torrent of commentary, in the US and around the world. Some of the most deluded and dishonest comments issue from the pages of the New York Times, the “newspaper of record” and voice of American liberalism.

Docudharma Times Saturday January 24

How Much Do The Republicans

Love Torture?

A Lot  

Saturday’s Headlines:

Google ready to pursue its agenda in Washington

Desperate Children Flee Zimbabwe, for Lives Just as Bleak

Rumours persist of uranium smuggling at Shinkolobwe mine in Katanga

Culture clash: Kashmiri militant takes on Bollywood

Tamil Tigers’ leader Vellupillai Prabakharan vanishes in army assault on last stronghold

Iran in scramble for fresh uranium supplies

Israel admits using white phosphorous in attacks on Gaza

Some Analysts Believe Europe at an Economic Turning Point

Britain on the brink of an economic depression, say experts

Mexico man ‘dissolved 300 bodies’

Downturn Accelerates As It Circles The Globe

Economies Worse Off Than Predicted Just Weeks Ago

By Anthony Faiola

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, January 24, 2009; Page A01

The world economy is deteriorating more quickly than leading economists predicted only weeks ago, with Britain yesterday becoming the latest nation to surprise analysts with the depth of its economic pain.

Britain posted its worst quarterly contraction since 1980 on the heels of sharper than expected slowdowns reported from Germany to China to South Korea. The grim data, analysts said, underscores how the burst of the biggest credit bubble in history is seeping into the real economies around the world, silencing construction cranes, bankrupting businesses and throwing millions of people out of work.

Children of Gaza: stories of those who died and the trauma for those who survived

Rory McCarthy reports from Gaza City on the individual stories of some victims and the physical and psychological toll on an estimated 350,000 youngsters


Amira Qirm lay on a hospital bed today with her right leg in plaster, and held together by a line of steel pins dug deep into her skin. For several days after her operation Amira, 15, was unable to speak, and even now talks only in a low whisper.

In her past are bitter memories: watching her father die in the street outside their home, then hearing another shell land and kill her brother Ala’a, 14, and her sister Ismat, 16, and then the three days that she spent alone, injured and semi-conscious, trying to stay alive in a neighbour’s abandoned house before she could be rescued last Sunday.

Ahead of her, she has a long recovery. First there is an imminent flight to France for the best possible medical treatment, many more operations and then months of rehabilitation and psychiatric care.



Firms That Got Bailout Money Keep Lobbying


Published: January 23, 2009

WASHINGTON – The financial giant Bank of America says it is no longer lobbying the federal government about its unfolding bank bailout. After receiving $45 billion in bailout money, lobbying was just too unseemly.”We are very sensitive to the fact that we have taxpayer money,” said Shirley Norton, a spokeswoman for the company.

Citigroup, recipient of another $45 billion, made the opposite call. While trying to keep a low profile, the company is still fielding an army of Washington lobbyists working on a host of issues, including the bailout. In the fourth quarter, it spent $1.77 million on lobbying fees, according to its lobbyists’ filings.

Late Night Karaoke

Mothers In Music

 Ozzy Osbourne – Mama I’m Coming Home

Random Japan

?In with the new

A record 99,390,000 people made traditional hatsumode (New Year’s visits) to shrines and temples this year, according to the National Police Agency, which for some reason keeps track of these things.

The most popular destinations were Meiji Jingu (3.19 million visitors), Chiba’s Narita-san Shinsho-ji (2.98 million) and Kawasaki Daishi (2.96 million).

This being Japan, some 342,000 people also prayed at the altar of Tokyo Disney Resort.

Upscale department store Takashimaya announced a 5 percent increase in the number of post-holiday shoppers this year, but sales actually fell because most people were just looking for “food and fukubukuro.


The future is looking better.

May you live to see it.



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