June 8, 2009 archive

State Killing: Travesties of Justice Just Keep On Coming

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Today’s New York Times tells the story of yet another travesty of justice from Alabama in a death penalty case.  This is the kind of thing that unfortunately is no longer a revelation.  It’s what you might expect.  And it’s happened over and over again.

Please join me in the Death Belt.

Four at Four

World spends wastes $1.46 trillion on M-I-C in 2008

  1. The Guardian reports Global military spending hits record levels and the United States accounts for more than half the total increase. Overall, the U.S. accounted for 42 percent of the world’s total military spending at $607 billion. China has the second highest amount of military expenditures at $84.9 billion.

    “Global military expenditure has risen by 45% over the past decade to $1.46tn, according to the latest annual Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).”

    BBC News adds Military spending sets new record. “In contrast with civilian aerospace and airlines, the defence industry remains healthy… In total, the 100 leading defence manufacturers sold arms worth $347bn during 2007, the most recent year for which reliable data are available. Almost all the companies were American or European. Some 61% of the total was accounted for by 44 US companies, with 32 West European companies accounting for a further 31%. Other companies were Russian, Japanese, Israeli and Indian.”

  2. The NY Times reports Supreme Court tells elected judges not to rule on major backers.

    In a closely watched case involving the confluence of justice, politics and money, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution can require an elected judge to step aside in a particular case based on campaign spending in state judicial races.

    In a 5-to-4 decision released on Monday, the high court found that the circumstances surrounding Justice Brent D. Benjamin of the West Virginia Supreme Court and a lawsuit involving the Massey Energy Company, his major campaign contributor, were so “extreme” that there was no question that Justice Benjamin should have disqualified himself…

    “The facts now before us are extreme by any measure,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. “The parties point to no other instance involving judicial campaign contributions that presents a potential for bias comparable to the circumstances in this case.”

    Since judges may be influenced by large campaign contributions, why are politicians immune? Why should elected politicians be allowed to sponsor and vote on legislation on behalf of their major campaign contributors?

Four at Four continues with analysis on Pakistan, trouble for trust-funders, and why the private health insurance wants mandatory insurance.

ABC News Exclusive: Ex-Gitmo Prisoner

Recently Released Gitmo Detainee Talks to ABC News

Held Seven Years, Former Aid Worker Tells ABC News He Was Tortured

This report is up at ABC News site and probably will be telecast tonight.

Two Torture Protests Upcoming…The Torture Awareness Movement Builds

On this upcoming Thursday, June 11th, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture is staging a protest and ceremony outside the White House.

You can help us send a strong and clear message to the President by joining eight heads of faith groups and other religious institutions in Lafayette Park across from the White House at noon on Thursday, June 11. Come urge President Obama to create a Commission of Inquiry to investigate U.S torture practices since 9/11.  

NRCAT is organizing this major event as part of our national organizing for Torture Awareness Month.  Our goal is to have 1,000 people of faith join us.  

The list of confirmed senior national religious leaders who will provide leadership during the witness at the White House on June 11, other details about the event, along with promotional fliers, a bulletin insert and a media advisory, are all available here.

In his recent speech on Guantanamo and torture, the President reiterated his opposition to appointing such a commission.  We are disappointed and believe he is wrong.  By making our position visible, we seek to change his mind.

And then on June 25th a nationwide Torture Accountability Day is planned!


June 25th in Washington, DC, and across the USA !

Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Anchorage, Pasadena, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Charlotte

Sponsored by:

After Downing Street, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Democrats.com, Indict Bush Now, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Progressive Democrats of America, Torture Abolition & Survivor Support Coalition, Veterans for Peace, Washington Peace Center, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait, Amnesty International, US Labor Against the War, Historians Against the War, NJ Peace Action, NJ People’s Organization for Progress, National Accountability Network, We Are Change LA, Action Center for Justice, Peace Action, Consumers for Peace, High Road for Human Rights, BuzzFlash, Individuals for Justice.

You can contact the organizers to support or participate in the protest here

Luke Cole: An Appreciation

It is with broken heart that I report the death of one of this nation’s most important and innovative environmental attorneys.

Luke Cole graduated with honors from Stanford, and cum laude from Harvard Law School. He could have done anything. He could have gone to work for any law firm in the country, and made a fortune. Instead, he moved to San Francisco and co-founded the non-profit Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. As described on their website:

The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment is an environmental justice litigation organization dedicated to helping grassroots groups across the United States attack head on the disproportionate burden of pollution borne by poor people and people of color. We provide organizing, technical and legal assistance to help community groups stop immediate environmental threats. In the 16 years that CRPE has been helping the poor and people of color resist toxic intrusions and protect their environmental health, among our many victories we have beaten toxic waste incinerators, forced oil refineries to use cleaner technology, beaten a 55,000-cow mega-dairy, stopped numerous tire burning proposals, helped bring safe drinking water to various rural communities, stopped a garbage dump on the Los Coyotes reservation in southern California, and empowered hundreds of local residents along the way.

His recent work included a groundbreaking case that is succinctly explained by his law school classmate, Ann Carlson:

Cole was well-known for his work on numerous leading environmental justice cases, including as counsel for the Native Village of Kivalina in its pathbreaking case seeking damages from large greenhouse gas emitters from the melting away of their Alaskan village.

If that sounds like he was tilting at windmills, you didn’t know Luke. He wouldn’t have pursued such a case if he hadn’t believed he could win it. His successful pioneering work, taking on the California dairy industry, made him the cover boy of the February, 2002 issue of California Law Magazine, in an article titled: Got Manure? How Environmental Lawyer Luke Cole Brought Dairy Construction in the San Joaquin Valley to a Standstill.

To the Barricades of Heaven

Running down around the towns along the shore,

When I was sixteen and on my own.

No, I couldn’t tell you what the hell those brakes were for,

I was just trying to hear my song . . .

Now I’m sitting by the highway,

Down by that highway side.

Everybody’s going somewhere,

Just as fast as they can ride.

I guess they’ve got a lot to do,

Before they can rest assured.

Their lives are justified.

I’ve been up and down that highway,

But no matter what I see,

I can’t help feeling,

We’ll never get where we want to be.

A friend said, close your eyes, and try a few of these,

I thought I was flying like a bird,

So far above my sorrow,

But when I looked down,

I was on my knees.

RePugs said close your eyes, America . . .

reaganomics Pictures, Images and Photos

And try a few of these tax cuts for the rich, the wealth will trickle down.  And America believed them.  

ABC Telling the Truth (finally)…?

“I’m a normal man,” said Boumediene, who at the time of his arrest worked for the Red Crescent, providing help to orphans and others in need. “I’m not a terrorist.”

Ah ha! Greenwald links to a 3 minute youtube of the interview:

In an ABC News EXCLUSIVE today, Jake Tapper has an interview with Lakhdar Boumediene. It has aired in part on Good Morning America and will hopefully be seen far and wide.

Glenn Greenwald has more with good info and lots more links.

Lakhdar Boumediene is an Algerian who, while living in Bosnia working for the International Red Crescent, was arrested by the Bosnian government (at the behest of the Bush administration) shortly after 9/11 on charges of plotting to blow up a U.S. and British embassy, but was then quickly cleared by Bosnian courts of any wrongdoing and ordered released.  But as he was about to be released — in January, 2002 — he was abducted by the U.S. military inside Bosnia and shipped to Guantanamo, where he remained without charges for the next almost 8 years, and was clearly tortured.

Will we finally get some sanity from an “informed citizenry” now?

I suggest you call or email any of your “moderate” friends and family and urge them to watch it.

Also jimstaro has posted about this at l’orange, go give him some love over there (if you dare make the trip!).

Forgive me, not an Essay just some Very Funny News

Only in FOx may one find something this funny

Here is the sub-headline:

Organizers of a big GOP fundraising dinner still don’t know whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will attend, with the event just hours away.  

and the headline is even funnier:

After Mixed Signals, Palin May Try to Upstage Gingrich at GOP Dinner

No need to comment at length – I love circular firing squads – just read – and laugh:


Desperate, As Usual

Ridiculous, outrageous, intolerable… there are a host of adjectives – some much more colorful than the mere Chinese curse of “Interesting Times” – that could be used to describe the current state of affairs in the United States as well as the rest of the world. But the best description I’ve ever heard about the general situation came to me by way of a now-retired foreign service officer who at the time was Deputy Undersecretary of State for Peacekeeping (ha!) during the Balkan ugliness, not long after the demise of the old USSR.

I asked, at my father’s funeral, which was the first time I’d seen him in years, “How’s the world situation?” He answered immediately and without hesitation or even a trace of irony:

“Desperate, as usual.”

No, it wasn’t just incurable barbarians in Bosnia or Croatia or Whateverstan or deepest, darkest Africa that he was talking about, as incurable barbarians waging pointless genocidal wars against their one-time friends, neighbors and countrymen in obscure corners of the globe is something that has been endemic throughout the entirety of history and will probably keep right on going as far into the future as human beings dare to look. It was a very pointed indictment of the craft this man practiced – as a certifiable ‘expert’ functionary in the wider world – for We Who Rule The World. And cause, fix or maintain the situations. The world situation is desperate, as usual, because it’s kept that way on purpose.

…the better to control you with, my dear.

How Many More Times…

McClatchy HAMMERS Cheney:

If former vice president Darth Cheney had been arrested for any of his multiple felonies, he might remember the most important of the Miranda rights that the arresting officer would have read to him: You have the right to remain silent.

These days, you can’t turn on your television without finding Cheney’s doughboy face on the screen, alternately repeating old lies, mouthing new lies or defiantly confessing to yet another criminal act.

Wow. A mainstream press outlet finally grew a pair. Awesome.

In other news, Sarah Palin might decide to present a facile “I’m so compassionate” front by claiming to support the developmentally disabled, but this gal who happens to have been slapped with that label is not and never will be so broken in the head that I’d EVER vote for her – or ANY Republican under the current circumstances. Shitfire, if these wingnuts had their way everyone with ADD would either be paying big pharma for the dubious privilege of serving as their guinea pigs while they throw “chainsaw juggling” antidepressant comorbidity MK-ULTRAesque cocktails at us, or serving time in the “arbeit macht frei” prison industry. They don’t even dare put us in the military anymore – and they sure won’t put us anywhere else where we might make the wrong people look bad. ;-7

Yeah, Republitards, you won’t get my vote any time soon – or Thom Hartmann‘s either, I’m thinkin’. There’s another guy with ADD who can kick your asses around the block all day long and never get tired. He’s even happy to explain why and how in clear, concise terms.

See, here’s the current state of affairs, ReThugs: if you really want to support the disabled, you’d best look a bit closer to home. While we’re on the subject, when you’re shooting critters out of that helicopter, don’t hang your foot out the door if you want to come back home with all ten tootsies. And don’t aim for your friend’s face, either.

You folks seem to have a serious problem with “friendly fire” when it comes to “protecting America”, and as the list gets longer people are finally starting to catch on. Some of them are even your own people. Want some reminders from that list? Pat Tillman, Mike Connell, Enron, Worldcom, Securacom, Lehman Brothers… do you want some more well here’s some more!

Yeah, with “support” like this who needs the mafia… well payback’s a bitch…

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Just as a mother would protect her only child

even at the risk of her own life,

even so, one should develop unbounded love

towards all beings in the world

–Sutta Nipata

Phenomena XVI: defending

Shades of Gay


How can parents

stop loving a child

simply because

that child is gay?

And if parents

love their gay child

whence comes your right

to hate that child?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 17, 2008

Docudharma Times Monday June 8

  Media attempts to contact

MIC to establish why it was taking

an apparently defiant stance were rebuffed,

but the Guardian managed to grill MIC’s marketing

president, John McNelis.

“I would think [Burger King] would run from any form of controversy

kinda like cockroaches when the lights get turned on,”

said Mr McNelis. “I’m not aware of any direction

that they gave the franchisee and

I don’t think they have the authority to do it.”    

Monday’s Headlines:

For U.S. Autoworkers, Future Hinges on Adaptability

Zimbabwe regime verdict: must do better

Gabon president Omar Bongo Ondimba dies

Lebanon’s ruling coalition claims election victory over Hezbollah

Mud, mud, glorious mud. Nothing quite like it for beating the Israeli blockade

Opus Dei lets film director in on some of its secrets

Stunning reversal of fortunes for Ireland’s Fianna Fáil

‘Pakistan has awakened’: Locals fight back against Taliban

Putting the Brakes on India’s Young Consumers

Acapulco Gun Battle Leaves 18 Dead

U.S. Weighs Intercepting North Korean Shipments


Published: June 7, 2009

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration signaled Sunday that it was seeking a way to interdict, possibly with China’s help, North Korean sea and air shipments suspected of carrying weapons or nuclear technology.The administration also said it was examining whether there was a legal basis to reverse former President George W. Bush’s decision last year to remove the North from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.

The reference to interdictions – preferably at ports or airfields in countries like China, but possibly involving riskier confrontations on the high seas – was made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

N. Korea sentences U.S. journalists to 12 years

Country’s top court convicts Laura Ling and Euna Lee of ‘grave crime’

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea said its top court convicted two U.S. journalists and sentenced them to 12 years in labor prison Monday, intensifying the reclusive nation’s confrontation with the United States.

The North’s Central Court tried American TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee during proceedings running from last Thursday to Monday and found them guilty of a “grave crime” against the nation, and of illegally crossing into North Korea, the country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

It said the court “sentenced each of them to 12 years of reform through labor.” The KCNA report gave no other details.


U.S. Will Let Some Banks Repay Aid

Move Doesn’t Signal Economic Recovery, Officials Caution

By Binyamin Appelbaum and David Cho

Washington Post Staff Writers

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Obama administration plans to announce as soon as today that some of the nation’s largest banks can repay billions in federal aid, but some officials caution that the show of progress is being underwritten by multiple layers of less visible government support.

Through cheap loans, debt guarantees and a promise that big banks will not be allowed to fail, these officials say the government has created an artificial environment in which profits and stock prices have rebounded, helping banks in recent weeks to raise about $50 billion from private investors.

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