May 4, 2009 archive

Feinstein’s Secret Torture Probe May Nix Public Hearings

Sen. Feinstein’s ongoing, secret torture probe is ostensibly only a 1-year “review” or “study.”  In reality, these proceedings are a functional equivalent of proposed public Congressional inquiries. The Feinstein probe covers the same substantive issues that would be investigated by Congressional probes that are still languishing in the debate stage.  The Feinstein probe will review classified CIA documents and “interview” witnesses so that it can formulate US torture policy. CIA witnesses will be key to both the Feinstein probe and any Congressional hearings. Given the number of pressing issues and crises facing the US, will Congress be motivated to conduct a public investigation after Feinstein’s probe is completed? If not, then the Feinstein probe will be the only torture investigation. Moreover, the Feinstein probe will formulate US torture policy in secret without public knowledge or participation and a report from this probe may never be released to the public. In short, some in DC have may have decided to implement the move-forward policy whether you like it or not.  

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports Pakistan’s expanding nuclear projects raise fears. “Pakistan is continuing to expand its nuclear bomb-making facilities… The Khushab reactors are situated on the border of Punjab and North-West Frontier province, the scene of heavy fighting between Taliban and government forces. Another allegedly vulnerable facility is the Gadwal uranium enrichment plant, less than 60 miles south of Buner district, where some of the fiercest clashes have taken place in recent days.”

    McClatchy adds the U.S. is still confident that “the Pakistani military, which maintains a special 10,000-man force to guard its nuclear facilities, is taking extraordinary steps to protect its nuclear sites, as well as the warheads themselves.” But, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thinks the Taliban’s advance is a “mortal threat” to the United States and the world.

    “If the worst, the unthinkable, were to happen, and this advancing Taliban encouraged and supported by al Qaida and other extremists were to essentially topple the government for failure to beat them back, then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan,” she said…

    “‘There is a rising tide of jihadist sympathizers within the Pakistani military,’ asserted the U.S. defense official.”

    Spiegel reports on The battle for control of Pakistan.

    A British regional expert with top intelligence agency connections recently told an exclusive circle of members of parliament in London: “The ally Pakistan does not share our interests.” He said Islamabad intends “to topple Afghanistan’s President Karzai, install a Pakistan-friendly Pashtun government and drive the British, the Americans and NATO out of the country.”

    …Pakistani courts have not convicted a single prominent Islamist since 2001…

    Pakistan’s key vulnerability may not actually lie with the security system for its nuclear warheads. A greater threat to the 166 million Pakistanis appears to emanate from the country’s immeasurably corrupt society, with its stark class differences. The rich elite ignore the miseries of the poor, and there is no compulsory education or functioning health-care system. This makes society’s underprivileged particularly receptive to any form of attention, even from the otherwise dreaded Islamists. The militants at least offer income and opportunities to rise through the ranks…

    By contrast, the powerful army is more concerned with pursuing its own business deals than with protecting the Pakistanis from Islamist aggressors.

    The NY Times adds Pakistan’s Islamic schools fill a void, but fuel militancy. “With public education in a shambles, Pakistan’s poorest families have turned to madrasas, or Islamic schools, that feed and house the children while pushing a more militant brand of Islam than was traditional here.”

    “We are at the beginning of a great storm that is about to sweep the country,” said Ibn Abduh Rehman, who directs the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent organization. “It’s red alert for Pakistan.”

    Even if the madrasas do not make militants, they create a worldview that makes militancy possible. “The mindset wants to stop music, girls’ schools and festivals,” said Salman Abid, a social researcher in southern Punjab. “Their message is that this is not real life. Real life comes later” – after death.

Four at Four continues with Iraq, U.S. collapsing from debt, swine flu ebbs in Mexico, and crowded oceans.

Did you say “crabby”…?

Crabby music Monday remedy pick up effort HERE.

Just for you.

Weekly Torture Action Letter 9 – China And Rule Of Law

Welcome to the 9th in the Dog’s letter writing campaign series. This series is dedicated to taking action (even if it is a small action) every week on the issue of torture. Here is how it works, each week the Dog writes a letter highlighting some aspect of the torture issue and making the point this requires investigation. The Dog sends these letters to the President, the Supreme Court, AG Holder, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and Rep. John Conyers, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Your part, if you chose to act is pretty easy. Simply cut and paste the letter and send it under your own name.  

The war on small scale food producers moves into brewing

Not for the first time, craft brewing is under attack by the big boys. The Brewer’s Association, a consortium of professional and home brewers and the parent organization of the American Homebrewing Association, has formed a coalition to bring national awareness of issues concerning this industry to the general public. The AHA sent a disturbing message out this morning to it’s members living in the State of New York, which I’ve cut and pasted because it puts it more succinctly than I can. I’ve put it below the fold as non-New Yorkers might not be interested and it’s pretty space intensive. This IS an action alert, so if you live in NY State please take a look.

We Need Someone To Take On Torture Apologists.

It’s Monday so usually the first thing the Dog writes is the weekly torture letter,that is going to be a little later but there is something going on that he thinks the DD crew is uniquely suited to address. We are seeing a massive increase in the number of torture apologist articles in the newspapers and on the Web. This is the an attempt by the pro-torture camp, aided by the weakest kneed of the pundocracy to set the frame for the issue with the vast majority of population who are troubled about torture but not yet on board with investigations and prosecutions.  

The Henny Penny Acid Kool-Aid Tea Party



Southwest Shots

America is not a suburb or a strip mall. It contains some vast unfathomable places. Places that evoke timelessness and spirituality regardless of one’s specific beliefs. As I hiked my middle aged self down and up trails I was struck by the way my petty thoughts, the ones that entertain me, the ones that occasionally obsess me, came to mean fundamentally nothing against the landscape.

Most of these pictures where taken at Zion, Bryce, and a few other parks and trails in and around Utah. Sadly, my talent does not match the majesty of the scenery but I hope they bring a slight sense of wonder and invoke my appreciation for a world that doesn’t change even as humanity swirls in confusion.


Docudharma Times Monday May 4

Misha Lerner has a question

for  Condoleezza Rice  

What did Rice think about the things President Obama’s

administration was saying about the methods the Bush administration

had used to get information from detainees?

Monday’s Headlines:

For her an uproar, for him a whisper

Slash fees to save education, Zimbabwe minister tells schools

Doh! Pirates captured after attacking the wrong ship

China’s quake cover-up

Hamid Karzai gets clear road to re-election as challengers fall by wayside

Elite police in France complain of being used as dog walkers

Fiat could buy Vauxhall and Opel

An interview with a jailed Somali pirate leader

Is the Darfur bloodshed genocide? Opinions differ

Cuban Zeal: Revolutionary art and artists

Pakistan Strife Raises U.S. Doubts on Nuclear Arms


Published: May 3, 2009

WASHINGTON – As the insurgency of the Taliban and Al Qaeda spreads in Pakistan, senior American officials say they are increasingly concerned about new vulnerabilities for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, including the potential for militants to snatch a weapon in transport or to insert sympathizers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities.The officials emphasized that there was no reason to believe that the arsenal, most of which is south of the capital, Islamabad, faced an imminent threat. President Obama said last week that he remained confident that keeping the country’s nuclear infrastructure secure was the top priority of Pakistan’s armed forces.

But the United States does not know where all of Pakistan’s nuclear sites are located, and its concerns have intensified in the last two weeks since the Taliban entered Buner, a district 60 miles from the capital.

Mexico complains of swine flu backlash

• Travellers isolated under ‘unacceptable’ conditions

• Four Latin American countries restrict Mexico flights

Rory Carroll in Mexico City and Tania Branigan in Beijing

Mexico has protested about an international backlash against Mexican travellers who have been quarantined and banned from several countries as suspected flu carriers.

Mexican authorities tonight singled out China for its draconian measures and criticised four Latin American countries for restricting air links. More than 70 Mexican travellers were quarantined in hospitals and hotels in China as part of sweeping measures against swine flu.

“Mexican citizens showing no signs at all of being ill have been isolated under unacceptable conditions,” said Patricia Espinosa, Mexico’s foreign minister. “These are discriminatory measures, without foundation. The foreign ministry recommends avoiding travelling to China until these measures are corrected.”


4th-Grader Questions Rice on Waterboarding

Ex-Secretary of State Stresses Legality

By Alec MacGillis

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, May 4, 2009

Days after telling students at Stanford University that waterboarding was legal “by definition if it was authorized by the president,” former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was pressed again on the subject yesterday by a fourth-grader at a Washington school.

Rice, in her first appearance in Washington since leaving government, was at the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital before giving an evening lecture at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. She held forth amiably before a few dozen students about her love of Israel, travel abroad and the importance of learning languages, then opened the floor to their questions.

Obama’s 100 Days – The Mad Men Did Well

from John Pilger, April 30, 2009

The BBC’s American television soap Mad Men offers a rare glimpse of the power of corporate advertising. The promotion of smoking half a century ago by the “smart” people of Madison Avenue, who knew the truth, led to countless deaths. Advertising and its twin, public relations, became a way of deceiving dreamt up by those who had read Freud and applied mass psychology to anything from cigarettes to politics. Just as Marlboro Man was virility itself, so politicians could be branded, packaged and sold.


Much of the American establishment loathed Bush and Cheney for exposing, and threatening, the onward march of America’s “grand design”, as Henry Kissinger, war criminal and now Obama adviser, calls it. In advertising terms, Bush was a “brand collapse” whereas Obama, with his toothpaste advertisement smile and righteous clichés, is a godsend. At a stroke, he has seen off serious domestic dissent to war, and he brings tears to the eyes, from Washington to Whitehall. He is the BBC’s man, and CNN’s man, and Murdoch’s man, and Wall Street’s man, and the CIA’s man. The Madmen did well.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XXIX

Art Link

Trapping the Demon

Emerson or Thoreau?

I am not

devoid of feelings.

I can be

hurt by words.

I can feel

anger at slights.

A stick swung

at someone else

will still hurt

if I am

the one stricken.

A stone thrown

at someone else

will do me damage

if me it strikes.

I can and do

feel outrage

when any group

is disparaged



This place

is not immune.

Where is the honor

in attacking

a Phelps of Topeka

for bigotry

if we practice

the moral equivalent

in this virtual realm?

Where is

the high ground?

Where is

our center?

Is the tent

in this place

too small

to contain

people like me?

Where is

your outrage?

Where is

your anger?

What is

your response?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–December 8, 2005


Late Night Karaoke

Rush Moving Pictures

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