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For Your Consideration: War Crimes Continued

Anybody remember this?

Monday, April 14, 2008 Obama would ask his AG to “immediately review” potential of crimes in Bush White House

Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to “immediately review the information that’s already there” and determine if an inquiry is warranted — but he also tread carefully on the issue, in line with his reputation for seeking to bridge the partisan divide. He worried that such a probe could be spun as “a partisan witch hunt.” However, he said that equation changes if there was willful criminality, because “nobody is above the law.”

The question was inspired by a recent report by ABC News, confirmed by the Associated Press, that high-level officials including Vice President Dick Cheney and former Cabinet secretaries Colin Powell, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, met in the White House and discussed the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques on terrorism suspects.

Or this

Turley: Obama ‘owns’ Bush ‘war crimes’ if he looks the other way

David Edwards and Muriel Kane

Raw Story

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

President George W. Bush’s offhand acknowledgement in an interview Sunday with Fox’s Brit Hume that he personally authorized the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed may create thorny legal and moral problems for incoming President Barack Obama.

Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Monday, “We now have President Bush speaking quite candidly that he was in the loop, we have Dick Cheney who almost bragged about it. The question for Barack Obama is whether he wants to own part of this by looking the other way.”

Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, “We have not made final decisions, but my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing. That doesn’t mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation’s going to be to move forward.”

All most bragged about it? How about admitted it. Not only did the media “yawn”, so did the Obama and the Justice Department

I’m Still Not Ready To Make Nice

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.

A family takes shelter in one of several extremely crowded displaced persons camps in and around Port-au-Prince.

Haitians Facing ‘Intolerable Breach of Human Dignity’

Colette Gadenne, who has been managing Doctors Without Borders/Médecins San Frontières (MSF) activities in Haiti over the last few weeks, and Christopher Stokes, General Director of MSF in Brussels, recently returned from Haiti. Almost two months after the devastating earthquake, they gave their views on the situation and stressed “broadly insufficient” aid on the ground.

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.  

Afternoon Edition

C’est moi, encore. ek is still resting from two weeks of boycotting NBC, so I am attempting to take his place. My version of the Afternoon Edition may not be as colorful but, hopefully, at least as informative.

The search for news about Haiti in the media is getting scarcer except for the rare analysis and comparison to the earthquake that occurred in Chile. Some of the analysis is thoughtful and well done, some of it is, well, tripe. The rains have arrived early and it has been raining everyday filling the streets with contaminated water and flooding the make shift camps that are home to over a million displaced people. The rain also adds to the difficulty of distributing food, clean water, shelter material and medical aid. If we thought it was bad in January, the early rains have compounded the misery.

Children’s Messages of Hope for Haiti

Haiti’s Futile Race Against the Rain

There were floods on Saturday in Les Cayes, in southwestern Haiti. It rained in Port-au-Prince on Thursday, and again on Saturday and Sunday night, long enough to slick the streets and make a slurry of the dirt and concrete dust. Long enough, too, to give a sense of what will happen across the country in a few weeks, when the real storms start.

Mud will wash down the mountains, and rain will overflow gutters choked with rubble and waste, turning streets into filthy rivers. Life will get even more difficult for more than a million people.

New misery and sickness will drench the displaced survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake – like the 16,000 or so whose tents and flimsy shacks fill every available inch of the Champ de Mars, the plaza in Port-au-Prince by the cracked and crumbled National Palace, or the 70,000 who have made a city of the Petionville Club, a nine-hole golf course on a mountainside above the capital.

The rainy season is the hard deadline against which Haiti’s government and relief agencies in Port-au-Prince are racing as they try to solve a paralyzing riddle: how to shelter more than a million displaced people in a densely crowded country that has no good place to put them.

This is an Open Thread.

Weekend News Digest

Once again I have the helm of the good ship Weekend News Digest while our erstwhile Editor-in-Chief, ek hornbeck, is off resting and plotting revenge on NBC for its less than stellar coverage of what looked like a really exciting Winter Olympics.

While the big news story is the earthquake in Chile and the tsunami that it generated, the disaster in Haiti is now being exacerbated by the early arrival of the spring rainy season. The Haitian people and those trying to aid them cannot catch a break. The world cannot lose sight of this continued catastrophe.

Deadly Floods Swamp Haiti

The traditional rainy season has come early to Haiti, bringing with it floods that have killed 11 people in the south-eastern port city of Les Cayes and the surrounding area.  The city had not been affected by the devastating January 12th earthquake – which killed 230,000 and left a million people homeless – but its population had swelled recently as survivors moved in from the earthquake-hit areas.

Rain triggers deadly floods in Haiti

The deaths occurred in or near the southeastern port city of Les Cayes which was swamped by more than 1.5m (5ft) of water.

Officials said buildings affected included a hospital and a prison where more than 400 inmates were evacuated.

About a million Haitians are still homeless following January’s earthquake which killed up to 230,000 people.

The floods have come several weeks ahead of Haiti’s traditional rainy season.

“The situation is grave… whole areas are completely flooded. People have climbed on to the roofs of their homes,” local senator Francky Exius told AFP news agency.

    Link contains video from the BBC.

A heads up to everyone, some of the links contain videos. I’ll put a warning on those links. This is an Open Thread

For Your Consideration: Two Can Play the Same Game

Jim Bunning Repeatedly Blocks Unemployment Benefits Extension, Tells Dem ‘Tough Shit’

Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, is single-handedly blocking Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million American workers from prematurely losing their unemployment benefits next month.

As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Bunning refused to go along.

And when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Politico reports, Bunning replied: “Tough shit.”

Bunning was more concerned about missing a basketball game than taking care of the unemployed in his state. The Senate went into recess for the weekend. without taking action.

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.

Many staff members of most NGO’s that work in foreign countries are citizens if those countries. Such is the case with Haiti, where over 85% of MSF’s staff, medical and non-medical, are Haitian. They did so despite the losses they and their families suffered. Geraldine Augustin is one of those who is caring for her fellow Haitians.

Like thousands of Haitians, Geraldine Augustin started helping people just after the disaster. She is a young, passionate and energetic medical student who has just joined MSF. She belongs to the almost 1,500 Haitian staff employed by MSF in the country and who make our medical activities possible. She works in an MSF post-operative structure set in what used to be a girls school. She tells us about her life and work after the earthquake:

“I am Geraldine Augustin and I am finishing my medical studies. On the 12th January I was headed to university for a class. Suddenly the earth started to shake and the next second all the houses were under the earth, there were dead and injured people everywhere. I was lucky enough not to get hurt, but my mother was killed.”

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.  

Under the Radar

A one year extension was quickly passed via voice vote in the Senate minus any protections for the privacy of US citizens because of a threatened filibuster by Republicans. The bill now goes the the house. Let’s see of they have more spine that the Senate and let parts of the Patriot Act slip into the sunset.

Patriot Act Elements Extended

The Senate on Wednesday extended for a year key provisions of the nation’s counterterrorism surveillance law that are scheduled to expire at the end of the month. One provision authorizes court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones. A second allows court-approved seizure of records and property in antiterrorism operations. A third permits surveillance against a noncitizen suspected of engaging in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group. In agreeing to pass the bill, Senate Democrats retreated from adding new privacy protections to the USA Patriot Act. The Senate approved the bill on a voice vote with no debate. It now goes to the House.

Will we continue to kiss out 4th Amendment Rights good-bye? Or will the house tell the Senate “forgettabouit”?

For Your Consideration: Negotiating

One of the important points of  negotiating that I learned early was that you take nothing off the table, no matter how outrageous or unobtainable. You come to the table with everything you want, EVERYTHING. One of my favorite bloggers is Hecate, a Wiccan lawyer who works in DC. Her comments on “Yes We Can!”

It’s probably just me, but I’m a huge negotiation geek. It was my favorite class in law school. Every single exercise, my partner and I got buckets and buckets more than anyone else. As we were doing one of the exercises, someone in the class sighed out loud, “They’re doing it again.” There’s an art to negotiation, and a huge part of that art is going in knowing who and what you’re up against. Plus, negotiation is great fun. I’ve made a very respectable living for years based, inter alia, on my ability to negotiate (and to go for the jugular when people won’t negotiate with me). So it’s driven me batshit insane to watch the Obama administration and the Senate Dems “negotiate” and I use that term loosely, themselves into a losing position on health care reform.

For Your Consideration: Social Networking and Trolls

Stephen Fry attacks ‘malevolent’ comments following Twitter spat

“I don’t know about you but whenever I read a blog I do not let my eye drop below half the screen in case I accidentally hit the bit where the comments reside. Of all the stinking, sliding, scuttling, weird, entomological creatures that inhabit the floor of the internet those comments on blogs are the most unbearable, almost beyond imagining,” he added, getting into his stride and echoing comments made by fellow  comedian David Mitchell earlier this year about the standard of online commentary.

Afternoon Edition

ek is busy plotting his next take over of the internet, so I am your substitute host of the Afternoon Edition. This is also an Open Thread

Outside Haitian capital, survivor settlements sprout

BAS CANAAN, Haiti (Reuters) – At the foot of rocky hills north of Haiti’s earthquake-shattered capital Port-au-Prince, new settlements are sprouting as survivors flee the claustrophobic, rubble-clogged chaos of the stricken city.

Led by evangelical pastors, several thousand quake victims, some with little more than the clothes they stand in, have thrown up flimsy dwellings of wooden frames draped in cloth or plastic in plots marked out in the dry earth with machetes.

“There’s nothing here, it’s a desert, but we feel safer,” said Jean Oswald Estcyr, as members of his family put up the stick supports that will frame their new home. In the hills around, hundreds more such crude homes are going up.

The shanties look the same as the sprawling crowded tent encampments that cram every space and cranny of the wrecked capital — except that they are sited several miles (kilometers) outside the city in a parched no-man’s land not far from where mass graves hold the bodies of thousands of quake dead.

Haitian President Rene Preval now says the final toll from the catastrophic January 12 quake, one of the most lethal natural disasters in modern history, could reach 300,000.

Breaking News: Aftershock causes panic in Haiti

For Your Consideration: Is Rahm on His Way Out?

Dana Milbank penned an op-ed piece in the Washington Post lavishing praise on President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. He argues that Obama needs Rahm at the top

Obama’s first year fell apart in large part because he didn’t follow his chief of staff’s advice on crucial matters. Arguably, Emanuel is the only person keeping Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter.


The president would have been better off heeding Emanuel’s counsel. For example, Emanuel bitterly opposed former White House counsel Greg Craig’s effort to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year, arguing that it wasn’t politically feasible. Obama overruled Emanuel, the deadline wasn’t met, and Republicans pounced on the president and the Democrats for trying to bring terrorists to U.S. prisons. Likewise, Emanuel fought fiercely against Attorney General Eric Holder’s plan to send Khalid Sheik Mohammed to New York for a trial. Emanuel lost, and the result was another political fiasco.


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