February 7, 2009 archive

Random Japan

Up, up and away!

Japan launched the world’s first satellite devoted to collecting data on greenhouse gas emissions. The unimaginatively named orbiter is called the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, or GOSAT.

The Yokohama Marine Accident Tribunal ruled that the high-tech destroyer Atago, which was on its way back to Japan from Hawaii at the time, was largely to blame for a fatal collision with a tuna fishing boat last year that killed the captain and his son.

Former bikini model Minako Komukai was arrested in Roppongi on suspicion of drug possession, which she denied. Cops maintain that the bikini babe and a male friend had some illegal stimulants on them in Shinjuku last June.

The Justice Ministry said it’s planning to eliminate a law requiring foreign students to renew their visas after two years. That means foreigners studying in Japan will be able to complete a four-year program without the hassle of getting a new visa.

In another sign of the bleak economic times, Kyoto University will not renew contracts of about 100 part-time employees whose five-year contracts expire in 2010, university officials said.

The Japanese movie Okuribito was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film, while Tsumiki no Ie was nominated in the animated short film category.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshitaka Konoike, already in trouble after a magazine said he let a married woman stay at his Diet dorm room, was in more hot water after being accused of a possible security breach for letting a third person, probably the same woman, use his cellphone.

Idiot Wind

An Idiot Wind has been blowing, it’s been blowing across America for a generation.  The Idiot Wind never stops blowing, it gusts every time the lips of a Republican start flapping, it blows harder every time the lips of corporate media hacks flap in praise of Republican lip flapping . . .

The Idiot Wind is everywhere, there’s no escape from it, there’s no escape from the damage it inflicts, there’s no escape from the Category Five propaganda it peddles, it’s unrelenting, it’s deafening, I haven’t known peace and quiet for so long I can’t remember what it’s like.  

Can anyone here remember what peace and quiet is like?  

Can anyone here remember what media integrity is like?  

Can anyone here remember what responsible journalism is like?

Can anyone here remember?  

Panetta: No Prosecution Of… CIA Interrogators

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will not prosecute CIA officers who participated in harsh interrogations that critics say crossed the line into torture, CIA Director-nominee Leon Panetta said Friday.

Asked by The Associated Press if that was official policy, Panetta said, “That is the case.”

It was the clearest statement yet on what Panetta and other Democratic officials had only strongly suggested: CIA officers who acted on legal orders from the Bush administration would not be held responsible for those policies. On Thursday, he told senators that the Obama administration had no intention of seeking prosecutions for that reason.

Panetta, in an interview with the AP after a second day of confirmation hearings with the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that he arrived at that conclusion even before he began meeting with CIA officials.

“It was my opinion we just can’t operate if people feel even if they are following the legal opinions of the Justice Department” they could be in danger of prosecution, he said.

Panetta demurred on saying whether the Obama administration would take legal action against those who authorized or wrote the legal opinions that, for a time, set an extremely high legal bar for an action to constitute torture.

“I’ll leave that for others,” Panetta said

There’s more…

Why Panetta? Since when does Panetta make the call for DOJ? Where is confirmation from Holder?

Friday Night at 8: Love

In the Wilhelm translation of the I-Ching, in the hexagram of “Grace,” there’s a line that always fascinated me.

Love is the content, justice the form.

I’m probably paraphrasing that, but am too dulled out from the Big Apple Cold Snap of 2009 to go look it up.

Love is the content, justice the form.

I’ve written a lot about justice, about social justice, about accountability for the crooks who stole power in the US, all that.

Haven’t written a lot about love, though, about why justice has anything to do with love.  What it is we’re trying to create in our culture, our society, our government, that we can love?  Hard to even imagine loving anything right now about our laws and how they are enforced, about politicians, the media, so hard to see through the “chatter” of our corporate run discourse what is really going on, what there is to love.

And why is it, I wonder, that I can be so moved in my heart by love, by caring about my neighbors, my brothers, my sisters, and then someone says something hateful or does something destructive and that bright light of love is so easily overshadowed and replaced by pain and rage?

Love is the content, justice the form.

And why is it, I wonder, that such a seemingly small thing as that bright point of love, surrounded too often in a sea of hatred and destructiveness, why does it keep returning just as I despair of ever feeling it again?  How can something be that strong, so strong against even annihilation, destruction?

Pony Party Marley

Rasta Pony

It take a joyful sound

To make a world go ’round

Come with your heart and soul

Come ‘a come and rock your boat

Cause it’s a punky reggae party

And it’s tonight

it’s a punky reggae party

Punky Reggae Pony Party

Saving 49 Lives (Part 7)

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

For most of my life, I’ve been passionately opposed to state killing.  I remember as a child knowing that California’s gas chamber execution of Caryl Chessman was unjust.  I remember hearing with horror about the federal electric chair executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.  And I admit that since I was 10 I have never understood how civilized people could justify state killing.  From the beginning, state killing has appeared to me to be barbaric and horrific.  Yes, there are lots of other barbaric things in the world, you could make a long, annotated list of them, but for one reason or another, despite all of the other terrible things in the world, something about state killing deeply appalled me.  And eventually, the fight to end state killing spoke to me, so I took it up.  That was a long time ago.

It’s probably my feelings about barbarism that are driving me today to try to save the 49 people facing the federal death penalty.  I know we are better than this.  I know we are not killers.  I know we are more compassionate than that.  I know we are more just than that.  It’s my feelings about barbarism that have me writing an essay every day about the same thing.  That’s what has me asking you over and over again to email Attorney General Eric Holder at Whitehouse.gov or at askDOJ@doj.gov.  That’s what has me asking you to sign a petition.  In short, I’m appalled by state killing, and I want to stop it.

What’s necessary now in my opinion is to ask Attorney General Eric Holder please to review all of the decisions made by his predecessors in office that directed federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty in federal cases and to determine whether he agrees with those decisions.  If he does not think that the death penalty is entirely appropriate, he should withdraw authority for federal prosecutors to seek death.  It’s really quite simple.  I’m not asking him to dismiss the indictments.  I’m not asking him to drop cases.  I’m not asking him to perform acts of mercy.  I’m just asking him whether the United States can be satisfied asking for a maximum of life without parole and not death in these cases.  That’s all I’m asking for.

It’s not much to ask for.  Really it isn’t.  What, if anything, is the government giving up by not asking for death and asking instead for life without parole?  In my view the government gains in stature and it gives up nothing of value.  What it does give up are things it should have abandoned decades ago.  In my view, by not asking for death, the government gives up some of its inhumanity, it gives up a horrific difference from other civilized nations, it abandons an old harbor for its racism, it leaves behind its most unenlightened, violent, hypocritical aspect.  It emerges wiser, more powerful, more human, more compassionate, and more just.  It acknowledges that humans are imperfect and that there are weapons that should never be used.  

IOKIYMS – It’s OK if You’re Microsoft

When a $230 Billion multi-national corporation mugs one of the little guys – is it even a crime in this day and age?  Not if you ask the multi-national corporation it ain’t.  The corporate gangsters at Microsoft seem to think that their immensity grants them impunity.


Friday Philosophy: How small is the universe in universal?

Debbie and I were informed about a week ago that our doctor was changing locations, leaving the Family Health Center in Montclair for another practice a half hour away.  We are left with the decision of whether to follow her or keep going to the Family Health Center.

For me, that’s not as straightforward a decision as it would be for most people.

Treatment by medical personnel, doctors, nurses and office staff can be a critical issue or transfolk.

Of course, I can only speak for myself and my experience should not be deemed universal.  That could be the point…or at least one of them.

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