June 25, 2009 archive

A simple story about a boy

(Please rec at dkos too)

Michael is nineteen years old. He lives in Tennessee, otherwise known as hell on Earth for transgender people. He goes to school in a relatively more liberal part of the state but things are still ridiculously hard on him. Add to that the fact that his parents don’t really accept or care about him the way he is.

His parents, if you can call them that, are your typical homophobic conservatives who are not adaptive to any sort of change whatsoever. He came out to them as a boy four years ago, and you’d think by now they’d gain some sort of understanding or at LEAST want to learn more about being transgender, but that’s not the case with those people. His dad recently told him, paraphrasing, he is a GIRL and his dad will never recognize him as a boy. Ever. In case you haven’t figured it out already, this is mind-numbingly stupid.

It doesn’t help that there are so many misconceptions about transgender people, but honestly, it doesn’t help that they won’t take the time to learn about it and rid themselves of their incorrect views on it. His parents seem to think that transgender and intersex are the same, and that he’s somehow trying to say that he has ambiguous genitalia or looks. He looks like a guy, because, you know, he IS, but they argue that he doesn’t and they also argue that if he does, it doesn’t matter because he’s not a boy. They argue that he’s been constantly indoctrinated and brainwashed by people and by “facts” he read on the internet. Michael is a really smart guy. Probably the most intelligent guy I’ve ever met, really. When he first realized something was off with his body, he started reading about it. He posted on transgender internet forums and met people who were the same, so he could learn about what’s making him feel that way. This is a logical step for anyone. This isn’t some sort of secret plan to turn oneself into a boy. He wanted to understand and to be closer to people. He wanted to stop feeling so alone and scared.

Report from Pakistan: Now we see you, now we don’t

By Kathy Kelly

June 25, 2009

In early June, 2009, I was in the Shah Mansoor displaced persons camp in Pakistan, listening to one resident detail the carnage which had spurred his and his family’s flight there a mere 15 days earlier.  Their city, Mingora, had come under massive aerial bombardment. He recalled harried efforts to bury corpses found on the roadside even as he and his neighbors tried to organize their families to flee the area.  

“They were killing us in that way, there,” my friend said. Then, gesturing to the rows of tents stretching as far as the eye could see, he added, “Now, in this way, here.”  

So, I didn’t get a Netroots Scholarship, but Heather DID!

Today they announced the winners of round two of the Democracy For America Netroots Scholarships. The Dog did not make the cut, but it is kind of hard to be upset as one of our own Heather/Chacounne did!

She is a tireless worker for torture accountability and frankly if the Dog had do pick between the two of us, well, it would have been her. She is going to have a great opportunity to go to Pittsburgh and network with other activists and learn. The Dog is really happy she is going!

As for the old hound, well there is still round three! 10 more scholarships are available and being the optimistic guy the Dog is, he is sure he is going to get one!

In any case lets here if for Chacounne! Congrat Doll, you deserve it!  

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports Limits on greenhouse gas emissions have wide support. “Three-quarters of Americans think the federal government should regulate the release into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with substantial majority support from Democrats, Republicans and independents.”

    “But fewer Americans — 52 percent — support a cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions similar to the one the House may vote on as early as tomorrow.”

    Earlier this week, the Union of Concerned Scientists selected essays and photos from 67 Americans and published them in a new online book, Thoreau’s Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming. In her introduction, novelist Barbara Kingsolver writes:

    Even the architecture of our planet-climate, oceans, migratory paths, things we believed were independent of human affairs-is collapsing under the weight of our efficient productivity. Twenty years ago, climate scientists first told Congress that carbon emissions were building toward a disastrous instability. Congress said, We need to think about that. Ten years later, the world’s nations wrote the Kyoto Protocol, a set of legally binding controls on our carbon emissions. The United States said, We still need to think about it. Now we watch as glaciers disappear, the lights of biodiversity go out, the oceans reverse their ancient order.

    Back in Washington the House is scheduled to vote on cap-and-trade legislation said to be aimed at reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emission. McClatchy adds Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) is confident the Climate bill will pass the House on Friday. Markey believes the legislation will lead to a “green revolution”. “Republicans, with few exceptions, oppose the bill.”

    The Guardian reports Markey as having said, “this legislation is a game changer of historic proportion… The whole world is waiting to see if Barack Obama can arrive in Copenhagen as a leader of attempts to reduce green house gas emissions.”

    “The bill, now swollen to about 1,200 pages, would bind the US to reduce the carbon emissions from burning oil and coal by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020 and more than 80% by 2050.”

Four at Four continues with greenhouse gas emissions slowed by cut in oil use, an update from Iraq, and sharks are in a world of hurt.

Iran: This Is What Lack Of Accountability Looks And Feels Like


Today is Torture Accountability Day.

Events in Iran yesterday show exactly what lack of accountability looks and feels like. It’s not a pretty picture.  And it hurts. CNN provides this small vignette:

On Wednesday afternoon, security forces used overwhelming force to crack down on protesters who had flocked to Baharestan Square near the parliament building in Tehran, according to more than a half-dozen witnesses.

Police charged at the gathering — clubbing demonstrators with batons, beating women and old men, and firing weapons into the air to disperse them, witnesses said.

“They were waiting for us,” one witness said. “They all have guns and riot uniforms. It was like a mouse trap.” …

“They emptied buses that were taking people there and let the private cars go on … and then, all of a sudden, some 500 people with clubs of wood, they came out of the Hedayat Mosque, and they poured into the streets and they started beating everyone,” she said.

Government-run Press TV gave a starkly different account, saying about 200 protesters had gathered in front of the parliament and 50 others in a nearby square. All were dispersed by a heavy police presence, it said.

This is what happens when there is no accountability.  The Government gives a “starkly different account.”  Deadly force dictates the events.  Demonstrators are clubbed.  Women and old men are beaten.  Government approved goons launch surprise attacks.  Government approved media say nothing happened.  Repeat as necessary.

There is no official reckoning of events, there is no real investigation, there is no trial, there is nothing but official minimization and silence.  Crickets.  Silence until the next demonstration appears, then they do it again.  Intense and brutal violence, followed by official silence.  Repeat as necessary.

My heart goes out to the demonstrators in Iran.  Because their Government shuns accountability, they are, each of them, in mortal danger.  Their Government believes that it is appropriate to use deadly force to shore up a stolen election.  It believes that violence will end civil unrest.  And if the present level of violence proves to be insufficient to bring compliance, even greater violence is threatened.  No other course is contemplated.

Of course, lack of accountability is nourished by lack of reporting, by officially imposed silence.  It’s important to the Iranian government to make sure that the whole world isn’t watching (except on Twitter).  It’s important to Governments that are not accountable to thwart all inquiries about their activities, to impose secrecy, to resist disclosure, to disrupt investigations, to shield past misdeeds, to hide the truth.

The New York Times reports the difficulties in knowing what is happening in Iran and a different version of the same Wednesday afternoon brutality:

The government also stepped up its efforts to block independent news coverage of events all across the country. The government has banned foreign news media members from leaving their offices, suspended all press credentials for foreign correspondents, arrested a freelance writer for The Washington Times, continued to hold a reporter for Newsweek and forced other foreign journalists to leave the country.

That made it difficult to ascertain exactly what happened when several hundred protesters tried to gather outside the Parliament building Wednesday afternoon. Witnesses said they were met by a huge force of riot police officers and Basij vigilantes, some on motorcycles and some in pickup trucks, armed with sticks and chains. Witnesses said people were trapped and beaten as they tried to flee down side streets.

“It was not possible to wait and see what happened,” said one witness who asked for anonymity out of fear of arrest. “At one point we saw several riot police in black clothes walk towards a group of people who looked like passers-by. Suddenly they pulled out their batons and began hitting them without warning.”

The authorities said they were moving to impose order and secure the rule of law. “I was insisting and will insist on implementation of the law,” Ayatollah Khamenei said on national television. “That means we will not go one step beyond the law. Neither the system nor the people will yield to pressure at any price.”

That is what lack of accountability looks like.  This is what it feels like.  First it’s the crime, the brutality, the torture, the violence.  Then it’s the lie, “We will not go one step beyond the law.”  That echoes previous official posturing in Washington, “The United States does not torture.”  That’s what lack of accountability looks like.   The Government can and does say anything it wants to about its activities.  It lies when it wants to.  And nobody dares to lift the curtain to see whether it’s true.  That’s what lack of accountability is.

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles



Twitter Creator On Iran: ‘I Never Intended For Twitter To Be Useful’

Creator Jack Dorsey was shocked and saddened this week after learning that his social networking device, Twitter, was being used to disseminate pertinent and timely information during the recent civil unrest in Iran.

“Twitter was intended to be a way for vacant, self-absorbed egotists to share their most banal and idiotic thoughts with anyone pathetic enough to read them,” said a visibly confused Dorsey, claiming that Twitter is at its most powerful when it makes an already attention-starved populace even more needy for constant affirmation.

“When I heard how Iranians were using my beloved creation for their own means-such as organizing a political movement and informing the outside world of the actions of a repressive regime-I couldn’t believe they’d ruined something so beautiful, simple, and absolutely pointless.”

Dorsey said he is already working on a new website that will be so mind-numbingly useless that Iranians will not even be able to figure out how to operate it.

From here.

My Itchy Nose: The Sanford Affair

As I’ve been basking in the drama of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s epic Fail, my curiosity was peaked by some comments on the FDL post, How Stupid Does Erick Erickson Feel Today? As well as posts on TPM, DU, Kos and other sources, all of which make vague connections and toss flimsy innuendo, but none of which actually make the suggested connections overtly.

Having spent a little over 30 years in news/publishing (and having done a bit of investigative journalism in my prime), I found it all just so… fascinating! There are things here that need some firmly supported answers. Disjointed factoids garnered thus far:

Sanford, sans written statement or even notes, appears late to his own press conference, also sans wife (now said to be with kids at beach house) and personal assistant. Sanford began with a rambling extemporaneous exposition on the joys of hiking, as if he intended to defend that story, not realizing that the press corps already knew where he’d been (and who he was with). He didn’t begin apologizing and whimpering until ~4 minutes in. When he asked for that female personal assistant, realized she wasn’t there, knew he was busted.  A pitiful performance.

MSNBC reported that an SC newspaper has been sitting on “the” story (the emails of love) for months. Because The State newspaper is a right-wing rag, it’s not hard to figure why they sat on the info, though it also makes me wonder about who the anonymous person who forwarded them to the newspaper might be. Mrs. Sanford? She managed his campaigns, may have access to his emails. His personal assistant who abandoned him yesterday? These two might also have access to his personal email, at least via forwards he may have sent them and a basic knowledge of his range of rememberable passwords. Someone else in the office?  

Torture: “These Weren’t the Kind of Men You Send to Jail”

(Crossposted from Orange)

Today is Torture Accountabilty Day.  There will be events across the country, American citizens making the case that those who committed the moral crime against humanity of torture be held accountable for their actions.

Holding those in the highest positions of power to the law, what a notion.  We know the politics that prevents this, the powers who want these crimes once again swept under the rug.

We heard on Monday from the Supreme Court that Valerie Plame’s suit against Cheney, et al., will not be allowed to go forward.  Scooter Libby was found guilty of obstruction of justice.  Mister Bush commuted his sentence.  And surprise, surprise, there now is no case, even as we all know what happened.  There is no accountability.

From Kai over at Zuky:


On this day in 1982, Chinese American immigrant Vincent Chin was beaten to death with a baseball bat, at his own bachelor party, by racist white auto workers in Detroit who blamed Japan for layoffs in the US auto industry. The murderers, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, were convicted of manslaughter. They served no jail time, were given three years probation, fined $3,000 and ordered to pay $780 in court costs. Wayne County Circuit Judge Charles Kaufman said, “These weren’t the kind of men you send to jail.”

On July 14, 2008, Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez was beaten to death by racist white teens shouting anti-Mexican epithets, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. The murderers, Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak, were convicted of simple assault. Two days ago, they were respectively sentenced to 6 and 7 months in county jail. Piekarsky’s lawyer Frederick Fanelli said, “You would be proud to have any of these kids in your classroom, and any of them as your children.”

And what does all this have to do with holding those in power accountable for torture?  What are these connections I am making?

Forced to drop abuse charges or face indefinite detention

Please support Torture Awareness Day

Simulposted at Daily Kos


Medical reports corroborated the detainee’s account, stating that the detainee had a broken nose, fractured leg, and scars on his stomach. In addition, soldiers confirmed that Task Force 20 interrogators wearing civilian clothing had interrogated the detainee. However, after initially reporting the abuse, the detainee said that he was forced by an American soldier to sign a statement denouncing the claims or else be kept in detention indefinitely. He agreed.

    An investigator who reviewed the signed statement concluded that “[t]his statement, alone, is a prima facie indication of threats.” However, despite the medical report and testimony from other soldiers, the criminal file was ultimately closed on the grounds that the investigation had “failed to prove or disprove” the offenses.


    Does anything stand against the American concept of the rule of law more than this?

Mr. President, The Dead Cry Out For Justice

The Dog usually writes in the 3rd person, but this is too serious a topic for that. That bit will be back tomorrow.

Dear Mr. President;

I write you on Torture Accountability day to ask in the names of those whose voices have been silenced for justice. I write today in the names of the men in the CIA Inspector Generals report who died while in our custody and under interrogation. This report was prepared five years ago now, and in this report the IG forwarded eight cases for criminal investigation to the Department of Justice. Since that time no action has been taken on deaths of these men. Mr. President, this can not be allowed to continue.

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

Docudharma Times Thursday June 25

He apologizes to everyone including the ‘moral people of the nation.’

To Bad

Mark Sanford

Doesn’t Have

Any Of Those

Thursday’s Headlines:

Steve Jobs’s health: A personal or public matter?

Eight years and counting …

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo formally arrested

Now Mousavi’s family feels force of crackdown

Security fears over US pullout as market bomb kills more than 60 in Baghdad

Exclusive: The return of blood diamonds

Somalia amputations carried out

Silvio Berlusconi: court orders villa party pictures seized

Croatia’s bid to join the EU suffers a blow

Peru’s indigenous people win one round over developers

Limits on Emissions Have Wide Support

By Steven Mufson and Jennifer Agiesta

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Three-quarters of Americans think the federal government should regulate the release into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with substantial majority support from Democrats, Republicans and independents.

But fewer Americans — 52 percent — support a cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions similar to the one the House may vote on as early as tomorrow. That is slightly less support than cap and trade enjoyed in a late July 2008 poll. Forty-two percent of those surveyed this month oppose such a program.

Tehran ‘like a war zone’ as ayatollah refuses to back down on election

• Reports militia drafted in and paid to beat protesters

• Ministers threaten to cut diplomatic ties with UK

Mark Tran, Robert Tait and agencies in Tehran

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 25 June 2009 06.02 BST

Bloody clashes broke out in Tehran yesterday as Iran’s supreme leader said he would not yield to pressure over the disputed election. The renewed confrontation took place in Baharestan Square, near parliament, where hundreds of protesters faced off against several thousand riot police and other security personnel.

Witnesses likened the scene to a war zone, with helicopters hovering overhead, many arrests and the police beating demonstrators.

One woman told CNN that hundreds of unidentified men armed with clubs had emerged from a mosque to confront the protesters.

“They beat a woman so savagely that she was drenched in blood and her husband fainted. They were beating people like hell. It was a massacre,” she said.


GOP to press Sotomayor on gun rights

Republicans say they will question the Supreme Court nominee on the divisive issue at her confirmation hearings in hopes of weakening her support among moderate Democrats.

By James Oliphant and David G. Savage

June 25, 2009

Reporting from Washington — Senate Republicans said Wednesday they would press Judge Sonia Sotomayor on gun rights, a politically divisive issue that they hope could weaken Democratic support for the Supreme Court nominee.

Though Republicans are a pronounced minority in both the House and Senate, they have used the gun issue to their advantage to divert the legislative agenda, forcing Democrats from moderate and conservative states to take politically risky votes on gun provisions.

Sotomayor’s judicial record appears to provide the GOP with another opportunity to bring the issue to light. Since the Supreme Court decided in a landmark case last year that restrictive laws in Washington, D.C. — a federal entity — infringed on a constitutionally protected right to own a handgun, the debate has shifted to whether that ruling also affected handgun control laws in individual states.

Dignity in the protest

Utrecht is a lively university town in The Netherlands. The medieval warehouses at canal level have been turned into cafes and above, are shops, street musicians, and a constant swirl of people.

One of Utrecht’s great landmarks is its Dom Tower, a surreal computer-generated-like gothic tower that dominates the landscape and the sky. As I said to my nephew, visiting me from NY, you don’t see this in Poughkeepsie. No, he said, you don’t.

Perhaps just as unlikely, in Poughkeepsie, would be running into a small band of Iranians seeking solidarity in another revolutionary attempt. Yesterday, though, there were 11 Iranians standing in front of St. Martin’s Cathedral in Utrecht, each holding the picture of someone killed in the protests in Iran. One of those faces was Neda, perhaps this century’s Anne Frank. Anne was on my mind, having been at the Secret Annex the day before and still thinking about Primo Levi’s observation . . .

One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did… Perhaps it is better that way: If we were capable of taking in the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live.”

Primo Levi

cross posted at Daily Kos

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