Friday, April 25, 2008

Torture Continues

Our global gulag system hasn't gone away:
The Central Intelligence Agency knew from the beginning that its secret detention and torturous interrogation tactics probably bordered on illegal from the start, according to new documents identified through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

In a filing yesterday, the CIA said it had identified 7,000 pages of classified memos, emails and other records relating to President Bush’s secret detention and interrogation program. Human rights groups quickly jumped on the filing — which came after their own Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information about those detained.

The CIA also acknowledged in their filings that the program “will continue.” Terror suspects detained or “renditioned” by the United States are transferred to third party countries that allow torture which gives the US a legal loophole to allow harsh interrogation without being legally liable. Such suspects, who effectively disappear, are held without access to courts.

The US has refused to produce a list of the suspects it is holding in sites overseas, and only recently provided a list of those held captive at Guantánamo Bay.


More Disinformation

Can Cheney ever NOT lie?

Israeli jets bombed the alleged site in Syria's eastern desert last September.

Today, after months of whispers, the White House publicly claimed that the target of the strike was a nuclear reactor.

It said the reactor was being built with North Korean help and was not intended for peaceful purposes.

US intelligence officials said the reactor had been close to becoming operational when it was destroyed.

But Mike Chinoy, from the Pacific Council on International Policy, says the claim needs to be taken in its political context, as North Korea's denuclearisation reaches a critical stage.

"Everything I'm hearing from my own sources in Washington is that what you have now is a kind of push back by Vice-President [Dick] Cheney and his office and other hardliners who are opposed to diplomatic dealings with North Korea," he said.

"[They are] hoping that by making public these allegations of nuclear cooperation it will torpedo the diplomatic process."


Thursday, April 24, 2008


Once again, the Pentagon is seeking to hide the costs of this stupid war:
"There is no epidemic in suicide in VA," Katz told Keteyian in November.

But in this e-mail to his top media adviser, written two months ago, Katz appears to be saying something very different, stating: "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities."

Katz's e-mail was written shortly after the VA provided CBS News data showing there were only 790 attempted suicides in all 2007 - a fraction of Katz's estimate.

"This 12,000 attempted suicides per year shows clearly, without a doubt, that there is an epidemic of suicide among veterans," said Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense.

And it appears that Katz went out of his way to conceal these numbers.

First, he titled his e-mail: "Not for the CBS News Interview Request."

He opened it with "Shh!" - as in keep it quiet - before ending with
"Is this something we should (carefully) address … before someone stumbles on it?"


12th Year Running

Russia once more proves its homophobic bigotry:
Moscow Mayor Yuri Lushkov has banned pride celebrations in Moscow, scheduled for next month - the twelfth year in a row the city has refused to issue permits to LGBT rights groups.

Pride organizers have planned to hold a civil rights conference and a march on May 31, the 15th anniversary of the abolishment laws against homosexuality in Russia. The sodomy law was revoked on May 27, 1993.

"The [city] council will act decisively and uncompromisingly to prevent attempts to hold such events because society is overwhelmingly opposed to the gay lifestyle and philosophy," Lushkov's spokesperson Sergei Tsoi told the Interfax news agency.

Tsoi said the council was concerned about threats of violence made by ultra-nationalist and radical Orthodox groups.

"There could be bloodshed and no one wants that," Tsoi said.


In a Nutshell

Tom Hayden sums it up:
It is as if Hillary Clinton is engaged in a toxic transmission onto Barack Obama of every outrageous insult and accusation ever inflicted on her by the American right over the decades. She is running against what she might have become. Too much politics dries the soul of the idealist.

You really should read the whole thing.


You Gotta Love Her

Helen Thomas
calls the White House out once again:

During this afternoon’s White House press briefing, reporter Helen Thomas noted that Bush “has admitted that he did sign off on torture” saying it damages “the credibility of this country.” But press secretary Dana Perino denied that the United States has ever tortured detainees and referred to testimony from CIA Director Michael Hayden as evidence:

THOMAS: The president has said […] we do not torture. Now he has admitted that he did sign off on torture, he did know about it. So how do you reconcile this credibility gap? […]

PERINO: The United States has not, is not torturing any detainees in the global war on terror. And General Hayden, amongst others, have spoken on Capitol Hill fully in this regard. […] And you can go back through all the public record.

In fact, during a February 5 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Hayden said outright that “waterboarding has been used” on three detainees in U.S. custody. But Hayden has refused to label waterboarding “torture,” calling it a “legal term” which seems to fit nicely with the Bush administration’s self-serving narrowed legal definition.

But waterboarding is torture and illegal under both U.S. and international law – with experts, government officials and those who have been subject to the harsh treatment all agreeing.

Seeming to acknowledge her colleagues’ absence on this story, an exasperated Thomas said out loud after her exchange with Perino: “Where is everybody? For God’s sakes.”


Clinton's Gay Problem

It seems as though she may have some issues, as Aravosis notes:
Obama mentions us in his speeches, a lot. And yes, Hillary will say those are just words. But you know, Obama was willing to chastize his own community for their homophobia in a speech given on Martin Luther King's birthday in MLK's own church to thousands of black leaders. Those are words that matter. Here's to hoping that Hillary can find it in herself to utter the word gay (and even lesbian) in a setting that isn't limited to a gay audience.

One more thing, watch this interview Hillary did with the gay cable network, Logo. First, the issue comes up about her never using the g-word, and she does use it, once during an entire 5 minute interview with a gay station about gay issues, while mentioning "gay organizations." But notice how repeatedly in the interview Hillary hesitates and stumbles at places where you would naturally expect her to say the word "gay" - she doesn't say it - she kind of stops, doesn't say gay, then moves on. Watch the video for yourself. She's not comfortable saying the word. Obama is.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Worst. President. Ever.
President Bush has set a record he'd presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.


Carceral Society

Land of the Free
, my ass:

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.

Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.


Monday, April 21, 2008


I reckon Ratzi will miss him.

But I certainly will not
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the man in charge of leading the attack on same-sex marriage and use of condoms to fight HIV/AIDS died Monday in a Rome hospital. He was 72.

A hardliner who was president of the Pontifical Council for the Family Trujillo frequently spoke out against the legalization of same-sex marriage and criticized governments in those countries that passed marriage equality legislation.

In 2006 under his direction the Pontifical Council issued a 57-page document in which it said the traditional family has never been so threatened as in today's world. It also lashed out against contraception, abortion and in-vitro fertilization.


Pro-Chicken Little

PETA appears to be following Pohl:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants to pay a million dollars for fake meat - even if it has caused a "near civil war" within the organization.

The group said it would announce plans today for a $1 million prize to the "first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012."


Happy 4/20

As always:

A crowd of about 10,000 people collectively began counting down on the University of Colorado's Norlin Quadrangle just before 4:20 p.m. Sunday.

Yet the massive puff of pot smoke that hovers over CU's Boulder campus every April 20 -- the date of an annual, internationally recognized celebration of marijuana -- began rising over the sea of heads earlier than normal this year.

"Oh forget it," one student said, aborting the countdown to 4:20 p.m. and lighting his pipe early. He closed his eyes, taking a deep, long drag.


Although it's become an annual and renowned event at CU, this year's 4/20 celebration was different in some ways than in many previous years: The crowd was so large it migrated from the long-traditional site of Farrand Field to the larger Norlin Quad; festivities kicked off earlier than normal with daytime concerts; and CU police handed out zero citations.