April 25, 2009 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

Now with World and U.S. News.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 WHO warns of flu pandemic as Mexico City frets

By Catherine Bremer, Reuters

44 mins ago

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A new flu strain that has killed up to 68 people in Mexico could become a pandemic, the World Health Organization warned on Saturday, as the nation’s crowded capital hunkered down in fear of the disease.

Hospitals tested patients with flu symptoms for the never-before-seen virus, which has also infected eight people in the United States. There have been no further deaths in Mexico City since Friday, but 24 new suspected cases were being tested and officials warned the strain was spreading fast between people, meaning there was a risk of a major outbreak.

“It has pandemic potential because it is infecting people,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in Geneva.

Justice Action Brainstorm: May 29th Memorial Day

Just had the idea… May 28th is the deadline of when we expect the release of 2,000 new photos from the Pentagon (ACLU)… that is Memorial Day weekend!?! Anyone have any ideas of some kind of online ACTION we can organize around this ironic convergence?  

I feel strongly that it is important to honor the service of our servicemen and women, and especially honor the memory of those who have fallen. Yet, these photos, on that weekend, will likely be plastered everywhere.

Brainstorm ideas here.


Mystery explained: the Bybee Memo

How is this for motivation?

Bybee’s friends said he never sought the job at the Office of Legal Counsel. The reason he went back to Washington, Guynn said, was to interview with then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales for a slot that would be opening on the 9th Circuit when a judge retired. The opening was not yet there, however, so Gonzales asked, “Would you be willing to take a position at the OLC first?” Guynn said.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/…

After Bybee approved the torture memo, he was made a Federal Judge by Bush. Is there now any longer a mystery about how an ambitious lawyer would authorize a memo legalizing torture of captives? This is how legal corruption works: all you have to do is make the quid pro quo tacit, and the devil’s work gets done.

The Brass Ring: Prosecuting Bush, Cheney, et al

Crossposted from Antemedius

The brass ring is never so close as when it seems so far away and out of reach?

Or never farther way than when it is closest?

Over the past few months we’ve seen what appears to be an enormous shift or widening of the Overton Window of political possibilities from nearly zero chance to a sudden flood of public and media attention on the possibility of prosecution of the war crimes of George W. Bush and cronies.

Attention. And some soft polling indicating that it may include public demand.

Either way, it has resulted in incredible pressure on the Obama Administration to take a firm stand and make a hard choice either way, to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute the crimes, or to sweep them under the rug in some nebulous fantasy of “moving forward” to escape having to prosecute.

It seems apparent that the wave of attention, not yet defined demand, but attention may soon start to eat away at Obama’s approval ratings, thus forcing him to make a choice.

What actions by Obama and others in the administration can we look at that might indicate which course of action he is leaning towards?

Fox News Confidential: The Truth Behind Its Secret Mission

Ever since October of 1996, Fox News has been regarded by serious media analysts as a somewhat less than objective mouthpiece for conservative propaganda. From the start they adopted a posture that appeared to be bent on shilling for Republicans by drenching their reports with partisan disinformation.

       (Stickers of the above image can be purchased at Crass Commerce)

The intent couldn’t have been more transparent. This was a network birthed by the planet’s most notorious practitioner of tabloid piffle, Rupert Murdoch, who adorned it with a spritz of soft-core porn, and masqueraded it across America’s TV screens as if it were actually news.

But the real intent was something else altogether…


Appeals court claims detainees are not people.

Cross-posted from www.progressive-independence.org.

A court of appeals claims that prisoners held at Gitmo are not people, and therefore have no rights – much less the right to sue their torturers, according to the following article from the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Full article reproduced below.

In Their Boots: Fractured Minds

Four soldiers navigate the difficult path to recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI), the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Season 2, Episode 2: In Their Boots: Fractured Minds

Related Organizations

Disabled American Veterans

TIRR Foundation / Project Victory

Wounded Warrior Project

HomePage, In Their Boots: Watch the first and second episodes of this years series, second is the one above. And watch the episodes from last year at the site, as well as all the referring links for veterans, military, military families and civilians.

Docudharma Times Saturday April 25

 Torture Leads Straight To Cheney

He Has Committed War Crimes


Saturday’s Headlines:

Alaska’s drilling debate moves offshore

Iceland’s left coalition poised for historic election victory

The Irishman and the ‘plot’ to kill the Bolivian President

Jacob Zuma’s South Africa election win increases pressure on Robert Mugabe

Muslims and Christians in Kenya argue over Barack Obama’s grandmother

Taliban fighters still swagger in Buner’s fear-filled streets

Pleas for ceasefire with Sri Lanka Tamils as civilian deaths increase

In Iraq, Clinton says country on right track

Is Hezbollah poised to win in Lebanon?

Flu virus outbreak in Mexico kills 70 and causes fear

The head of the World Health Organisation arrived in Geneva today for an emergency meeting as concern mounted over a frightening new flu strain.

By Sunday Telegraph reporter and agencies in Mexico

Last Updated: 9:43AM BST 25 Apr 2009

The outbreak of swine fever in Mexico has killed nearly 70 people and spread into the United States, raising fears of a global pandemic.

In Mexico, sports stadiums have been empty, schools and museums have shut and public events cancelled. Mexicans have started wearing surgical masks which soldiers handed out in the streets.

Margaret Chan, head of the WHO, broke off a visit to Washington to return to the agency’s headquarters in Switzerland to coordinate a response to the emergency.

Experts stopped short of declaring a pandemic but warned that there would probably be more cases of the swine flu, a mixture of viruses which has not previously been seen.

Officials from the WHO said the virus from 12 of the Mexican patients was the same genetically as a new strain of swine flu, designated H1N1, seen in eight people in California and Texas who later recovered.

Indonesia’s Voters Retreat From Radical Islam


Published: April 24, 2009

JAKARTA, Indonesia – From Pakistan to Gaza and Lebanon, militant Islamic movements have gained ground rapidly in recent years, fanning Western fears of a consolidation of radical Muslim governments. But here in the world’s most populous Muslim nation just the opposite is happening, with Islamic parties suffering a steep drop in popular support.

In parliamentary elections this month, voters punished Islamic parties that focused narrowly on religious issues, and even the parties’ best efforts to appeal to the country’s mainstream failed to sway the public.

The largest Islamic party, the Prosperous Justice Party, ran television commercials of young women without head scarves and distributed pamphlets in the colors of the country’s major secular parties. But the party fell far short of its goal of garnering 15 percent of the vote, squeezing out a gain of less than one percentage point over its 7.2 percent showing in 2004.


In 2002, Military Agency Warned Against ‘Torture’

Extreme Duress Could Yield Unreliable Information, It Said

By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick

Washington Post Staff Writers

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as “torture” in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon’s chief lawyer and warned that it would produce “unreliable information.”

“The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel,” says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. Parts of the attachment, obtained in full by The Washington Post, were quoted in a Senate report on harsh interrogation released this week.

Late Night Karaoke

 Its Radioactive  

Why We Don’t Torture

This diary title has been sitting in my drafts folder for at least two months.  Slippery assignment, it turns out.  It would be easier to explain “Why Love is Enjoyable.”  General answer?  For several reasons, most of them obvious to normal humans.  If it comes to  “Why Do News Need Programs Need Facts” or “Why Do Poor People Need Food,” I’ll probably throw up my hands.  For now, I’m determined to give this one a shot.

The apparently confusing question of our country’s relation to torture is made perfectly clear when we realize that the answer has everything to do with “us” and nothing whatsoever to do with “them.”  Our country was founded on a belief in the rights and dignity of every human being.  Since our founding, we have been striving toward a more perfect realization of this cornerstone ideal.

Random Japan

Give a little, take a little

Immediately after depositing the federal government’s cash handouts into the bank accounts of 50 local residents, officials in Tsushima, Nagasaki, then seized overdue taxes from them.

It was reported that police in Ichikawa, Chiba, busted a forgery ring specializing in fake alien registration cards. Over 1,300 documents were recovered, worth an estimated ¥12 million on the black market.

Twenty-eight Japanese World War II veterans were joined by 20 vets from the US for a softball game at an elementary school in Hiroshima where 400 children were killed in the 1945 atomic bombing.

Neighbors expressed shock that a three story building in a densely packed Osaka residential area was being used as a “marijuana factory.” Cops arrested two men and seized over 350 plants worth an estimated ¥500 million.

Extreme Justice vs. Equal Justice

Today’s Republican noise machine is busy broadcasting that those people who want accountability for torture are just the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party.  If the Obama justice department investigates and prosecutes former Bush administration officials, Obama will lose the support of moderates.

Here’s what a former Republican Presidential candidate said about extremism versus moderation:

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” Barry Morris Goldwater 1964.

Now I’m no extremist.

An extremist would insist George, Dick and Don get water-boarded over one hundred and eighty times in thirty days.

You know… Justice biblical style – an eye for an eye.

Nope, I’ll settle for a fair trial and if convicted of a crime, sending them to jail.

The real question is, in this new Obama era, will there still be two systems of Justice and two Americas?    

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