Sunday, October 31, 2010

Money for Basic Education in Imperial Times

A crisis in education because $4 to 6 trillion will be spent on the Iraq and Afghan wars? No worry, so long as Reba McEntire’s on the case. The Spavinaw, OK school district was on the verge of closing pre-K through 8th grade, being $60,000 in the hole. But in flew fairy godmother Reba, and all was well.
What? Other schools are also war-shorted? Not to worry.
Reba. Reba! Reeeeeeebaaaaa!
Well, we can turn to athletics for the money for education. In Arkansas 4 of the 10 public universities funded more than 20% of their athletic programs with state revenue and student tuition, 2009-10. And athletic spending at Arkansas’ 2-year colleges and 4-year universities grew 11% from the previous over $116 million. What? They won’t give up their money for other schools warred out?
What shall we do?
The Pentagon? What? Its $600 billion 2009-10 budget was not enough for a year of the Afghan-Iraq wars? They needed more? They cannot share? And there’s the invasion of Pakistan to consider. And the 900 military bases around the world. We have to find our own money for education?
(ADG 10-25-10)

Empire or Democracy

I am reading Chalmers Johnson's Dismantling the Empire, an addition, really a 4th volume of his "blowout" trilogy, and each essay relates closely to one or more of the trilogy. It seems an important book for his insistent message that our imperial overreach is destroying us, our democracy and our economy. And it's short and easy to read--a source perhaps by which a large number of formerly silent people can become informed about US militarism and empire and take action. If you have time to read it, I hope you will tell your lists and friends about it.
And Gary Younge's one-page essay in The Nation (Nov. 8) is excellent. Here's one sentence from it: "Remembering the war....would force Americans to remember what Afghans cannot forget--the sheer brutality, incompetence, futility and recklessness of an invasion and occupation that have achieved neither peace nor democracy nor security."
Our Saturday tabling continues. We have mailed the petitions on leaving Afghanistan and ending drones, and are now collecting signatures against our violations of our best traditions-- torture, assassination, secrecy, foreign bases, and nuclear weapons--, and for WikiLeaks, open government,the START Treaty, nonviolence. For last Saturday Julie made an excellent poster on these subjects.

On warming we have several handouts and a petition in support of the Clean Air Act to regulate C02.

And we are talking to people.

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his speech against the Vietnam War and wars in 1967 at the Riverside Church said above all we must never be silent against the atrocious wrongs of wars. Join us next Saturday.


Corporate Crime: Cost of Doing Business?



“CVS Fined for Sale of Meth Ingredient: Pharmacy Agrees to Pay $75 Million,” ADG (10-15-10). CVS Pharmacy Inc. “agreed to pay $75 million in fines for allowing repeated purchases of a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine in at least five states that also led to a spike in Southern California drug trafficking….the largest civil penalty ever assessed under the Controlled Substances Act,” according to federal prosecutors. No executive was imprisoned. What was CVS’s income? How significant a fine is this, when nobody goes to jail? How just is a system that might send a person to prison for many years for selling a few ounces of mushrooms or growing an acre of marijuana, but no corporate exec goes to jail huge crimes?

“Judge OKs Dell Fraud-Claim Settlement,” ADG (10-14-10). Dell Inc., the world’s third-biggest maker of personal computers, was fined $100 million and its founder Michael Dell $4 million, its former CEO and former Chief financial officer $4 million and $3 million respectively for accounting-fraud. Schneider was suspended from appearing or practicing before the SEC as an accountant for five years. Dell was allowed to remain chief executive officer. How punitive are these fines, compared to going to jail. How much did the fraud enrich Dell as a corporation and the three executives? “The “exclusivity payments” kept secret from investors “helped Dell reach earnings targets from 2001 to 2006.” How big were the earnings? And comparatively speaking, how much are peanut fraud criminals punished? Our justice system is unfair partly because comparative contexts are not central to sentencing, and this should include global comparisons, particularly in a country like the US where profits are so huge, not only for executive salaries and bonuses, but for fixing the laws to favor corporations and the rich.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Are They Silent?

One writer suggests they are bored with the wars. “Like a reality show that’s gone on too long, it ceases to shock, shame, or even interest.” (Gary Younge, “Forgetting Afghanistan,” The Nation, Nov. 8, 2010). But can that be, when violence attracts millions to dozens of TV shows? In Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, full of hatred for the Afghan “savages,” allegedly ordered murder of civilians, and then posed with his fellow soldiers with the corpses. Back in February a US raid killed two pregnant women, a teenage girl, and a police commander, all innocent of any crime And just after Christmas last year eight teens and preteens in Kunar province were murdered execution-style. Plenty of reality there. So the people of the US are bored with war violence but not TV violence? In a September poll, when asked “what the most important problems facing the country are, just 3 percent mentioned Afghanistan.” They are bored? Or do they want to forget that their leaders and they themselves supported the war? A Crusade for Security against the Vicious Muslims! Only one Representative, Barbara Lee, voted against it. And then bin Laden was never arrested. The Afghan killed have been literally countless because so many were never counted, and now US killed have doubled under Obama. So they are silent because ashamed? Are they? Or because their fundamental commitment to the myth of US war and empire has been shown to be so mistaken? The US is not so perfect that no matter how many crimes it commits against the vulnerable of the world the results will be benign? US leaders and populace had alternatives to the horrific brutality of invading and occupying a third-world country, without achieving democracy or security? Barbara Lee was right? If not boredom or shame or belief in US exceptionalism, why are the majority silent? Dick


NEW BOOK BY CHALMERS JOHNSON focuses entirely upon the harmful consequences TO THE US caused by our imperial overreach--Pentagon trillions, 900 bases abroad, millions displaced--, and the remedies. Read DISMANTLING THE EMPIRE. Join OMNI at the Farmer's Market Saturday mornings. Dick

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October Freethinkers

On Wed, Oct 27, 2010 at 8:07 PM, Darrel Henschell wrote:

Hello, freethinkers! It's time for our October meeting of the Fayetteville
Freethinkers. We have some interesting topics for you this month, just on the eve of Halloween. If you think vampires, werewolves, and zombies are scary, you should see how folks at the local churches jump at the sight of freethinkers!

On the agenda so far:

Our main event will be watching a little known gem we discovered. It's a documentary entitled "Marjo" which is about an evangelical prodigy who was pushed into preaching at age four but eventually had a crisis of conscience and gave it up. He spills the beans about what a scam it all is and gives a behind the scene view of it all. It won Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (1972) and it didn't play in the South (other than Texas) because the distributor was afraid it would cause outrage in the Bible Belt. We think it's been long enough.

With the current buzz about geocentrism making a come back (in "certain circles") we will have Felix, our resident aerospace engineer, give us few reasons to believe we are not at the center of the universe.

Michael will step us through some freethinker forum basics. He can even sign you up and get you started.

Of course, we'll have a few other things to share as well.

Meeting Details:

When: Saturday, October 30, 2010.

Where: The Fayetteville Public Library. 401 W. Mountain
St. (two blocks west of the town square). Library phone: 571-2222.

Time: 2:00-4:30 pm.

The Walker Room. This is the main meeting room. Go in the front door, through the lobby and go to your right. Feel free to grab a snack or coffee from Arsaga's in the library lobby.


We'll go for dinner afterward at... a location we'll figure out after the

Questions? Drop us an email, or call Doug: 479-443-2867

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Statistics on Soldier Deaths: Add Suicides

WAR'S HIDDEN DEATH TOLL: After Service, Veteran Deaths & Suicides Surge
From Democracy Now
As of this month, over 5,700 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. That count does not include those veterans who commit suicide or die from war-related issues after returning home from military service. Well, a new investigation into California veterans and active service members reveals that three times as many veterans are dying soon after returning home than those being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. According to the report published in the Bay Citizen and the New York Times, more than 1,000 California veterans under 35 died between 2005 and 2008. For more go to: Soldier Suicides
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Guest: Aaron Glantz, reporter with the Bay Citizen. His article 'After Service, Veteran Deaths Surge' appeared in the New York Times. He is the author of three books, most recently, The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle against America’s Veterans.
Related stories
• "Operation Recovery": On 9th Anniversary of Afghan War, Veteran-Led Campaign Seeks to End Deployment of Traumatized Soldiers
• With Military Suicides on the Rise, Parents of Two Soldiers Who Took Their Own Lives Say Obama’s Words Ring Hollow
• "I Have No Regret to Anybody in the Military. This Is Clearly a Failure of Our Government"–Iraq War Vet Dan Choi Discharged Under "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell"

“Why Are Troops Killing Themselves?” by Martha Rosenberg, originally on (Aug. 3, 2010), reprinted in PublicCitizen Health Letter (September 2010). Examines the link between health and mental health effects of psychoactive drugs--antidepressants, antipsychotics, and antiseizure drugs--and soldier suicides. “Like the Army report, the Juvenile Justice report ignores the pharmaceutical elephant in the room and the tax dollars and human costs of feeding it.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wikileaks Releases Iraq Documents, Daniel Ellsberg Comments

Renew Calls for Truth and Accountability: Wikileaks shows the war was worse than we knew
Voters for Peace to jbennet
Photo Gallery: Images of a Bloody War | Take Action Now
Dear Dick,
The publication of nearly 400,000 Iraq War documents over the weekend by Wikileaks shows the Iraq War was worse than we even knew.

There have been more civilian deaths, with U.S. helicopters shooting at buildings for little reason, failing to investigate the killing of reporters, killings at checkpoints, and killing of civilians trying to surrender.

There has been more abuse of prisoners, including beatings, burnings, electrocution, and rape.

There has been more torture and a U.S. military order not to investigate torture.

There have likely been war crimes committed by the United States.

The United States remain cannot silent as these truths become known. If the people who committed crimes are not held accountable is that not the de facto approval of those crimes? If the leaders who violated U.S. law and allowed the mistreatment of civilians are not held accountable, why will future leaders obey the law?

Manfred Nowak, the chief U.N. investigator on torture, says that under international law the United States is obliged to examine claims that our military handed over Iraqi detainees knowing they might be killed, tortured, or abused.

As bad as the facts are, Americans do not even know the worst of it. Early in his presidency, President Obama reversed course and decided not to release photographs and videos showing U.S. soldiers' abuse of prisoners. The evidence contained in this material is even worse than what we have already seen and read about Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, Bagram, and other U.S. prison sites.

Join us in calling for truth and accountability. We cannot become a more perfect union, we cannot achieve the best hopes we have for ourselves as a nation, if we allow the truth to be hidden and potential war crimes to remain uninvestigated and unprosecuted. Without truth and accountability the United States will continue in a direction of abuse, war, and occupation.

Wikileaks' publication is an opportunity to tell our elected leaders to act against abusive militarism. It is a chance to tell them to investigate, hold public hearings, bring out the truth, and hold people who committed crimes accountable. Please take action now and write your elected officials, President Obama and Attorney General Holder. Click here to write them now.

Thank you for continuing to speak out. Silence in the face of the ugly reality of American militarism only ensures it continues.
Sincerely,Kevin Zeese Executive Director


Voters for Peace is a nonpartisan organization that does not support or oppose candidates for office.

Voters for Peace

2842 N. Calvert St.

Baltimore, MD 21218


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Charter Schools

.The Myth of Charter SchoolsNovember 11, 2010Diane Ravitch.E-mail Single Page Print Share More by Diane Ravitch
23→Waiting for “Superman”
a film directed by Davis Guggenheim

Paramount Pictures

Anthony, a fifth-grade student hoping to win a spot at the SEED charter boarding school in Washington, D.C.; from Davis Guggenheim’s documentary Waiting for ‘Superman’
Ordinarily, documentaries about education attract little attention, and seldom, if ever, reach neighborhood movie theaters. Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for “Superman” is different. It arrived in late September with the biggest publicity splash I have ever seen for a documentary. Not only was it the subject of major stories in Time and New York, but it was featured twice on The Oprah Winfrey Show and was the centerpiece of several days of programming by NBC, including an interview with President Obama.

Two other films expounding the same arguments—The Lottery and The Cartel—were released in the late spring, but they received far less attention than Guggenheim’s film. His reputation as the director of the Academy Award–winning An Inconvenient Truth, about global warming, contributed to the anticipation surrounding Waiting for “Superman,” but the media frenzy suggested something more. Guggenheim presents the popularized version of an account of American public education that is promoted by some of the nation’s most powerful figures and institutions.

The message of these films has become alarmingly familiar: American public education is a failed enterprise. The problem is not money. Public schools already spend too much. Test scores are low because there are so many bad teachers, whose jobs are protected by powerful unions. Students drop out because the schools fail them, but they could accomplish practically anything if they were saved from bad teachers. They would get higher test scores if schools could fire more bad teachers and pay more to good ones. The only hope for the future of our society, especially for poor black and Hispanic children, is escape from public schools, especially to charter schools, which are mostly funded by the government but controlled by private organizations, many of them operating to make a profit.

The Cartel maintains that we must not only create more charter schools, but provide vouchers so that children can flee incompetent public schools and attend private schools. There, we are led to believe, teachers will be caring and highly skilled (unlike the lazy dullards in public schools); the schools will have high expectations and test scores will soar; and all children will succeed academically, regardless of their circumstances. The Lottery echoes the main story line of Waiting for “Superman”: it is about children who are desperate to avoid the New York City public schools and eager to win a spot in a shiny new charter school in Harlem.


For many people, these arguments require a willing suspension of disbelief. Most Americans graduated from public schools, and most went from school to college or the workplace without thinking that their school had limited their life chances. There was a time—which now seems distant—when most people assumed that students’ performance in school was largely determined by their own efforts and by the circumstances and support of their family, not by their teachers. There were good teachers and mediocre teachers, even bad teachers, but in the end, most public schools offered ample opportunity for education to those willing to pursue it. The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

Waiting for “Superman” and the other films appeal to a broad apprehension that the nation is falling behind in global competition. If the economy is a shambles, if poverty persists for significant segments of the population, if American kids are not as serious about their studies as their peers in other nations, the schools must be to blame. At last we have the culprit on which we can pin our anger, our palpable sense that something is very wrong with our society, that we are on the wrong track, and that America is losing the race for global dominance. It is not globalization or deindustrialization or poverty or our coarse popular culture or predatory financial practices that bear responsibility: it’s the public schools, their teachers, and their unions.

The inspiration for Waiting for “Superman” began, Guggenheim explains, as he drove his own children to a private school, past the neighborhood schools with low test scores. He wondered about the fate of the children whose families did not have the choice of schools available to his own children. What was the quality of their education? He was sure it must be terrible. The press release for the film says that he wondered, “How heartsick and worried did their parents feel as they dropped their kids off this morning?” Guggenheim is a graduate of Sidwell Friends, the elite private school in Washington, D.C., where President Obama’s daughters are enrolled. The public schools that he passed by each morning must have seemed as hopeless and dreadful to him as the public schools in Washington that his own parents had shunned.

Waiting for “Superman” tells the story of five children who enter a lottery to win a coveted place in a charter school. Four of them seek to escape the public schools; one was asked to leave a Catholic school because her mother couldn’t afford the tuition. Four of the children are black or Hispanic and live in gritty neighborhoods, while the one white child lives in a leafy suburb. We come to know each of these children and their families; we learn about their dreams for the future; we see that they are lovable; and we identify with them. By the end of the film, we are rooting for them as the day of the lottery approaches.

In each of the schools to which they have applied, the odds against them are large. Anthony, a fifth-grader in Washington, D.C., applies to the SEED charter boarding school, where there are sixty-one applicants for twenty-four places. Francisco is a first-grade student in the Bronx whose mother (a social worker with a graduate degree) is desperate to get him out of the New York City public schools and into a charter school; she applies to Harlem Success Academy where he is one of 792 applicants for forty places. Bianca is the kindergarten student in Harlem whose mother cannot afford Catholic school tuition; she enters the lottery at another Harlem Success Academy, as one of 767 students competing for thirty-five openings. Daisy is a fifth-grade student in East Los Angeles whose parents hope she can win a spot at KIPP LA PREP, where 135 students have applied for ten places. Emily is an eighth-grade student in Silicon Valley, where the local high school has gorgeous facilities, high graduation rates, and impressive test scores, but her family worries that she will be assigned to a slow track because of her low test scores; so they enter the lottery for Summit Preparatory Charter High School, where she is one of 455 students competing for 110 places.

The stars of the film are Geoffrey Canada, the CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which provides a broad variety of social services to families and children and runs two charter schools; Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public school system, who closed schools, fired teachers and principals, and gained a national reputation for her tough policies; David Levin and Michael Feinberg, who have built a network of nearly one hundred high-performing KIPP charter schools over the past sixteen years; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who is cast in the role of chief villain. Other charter school leaders, like Steve Barr of the Green Dot chain in Los Angeles, do star turns, as does Bill Gates of Microsoft, whose foundation has invested many millions of dollars in expanding the number of charter schools. No successful public school teacher or principal or superintendent appears in the film; indeed there is no mention of any successful public school, only the incessant drumbeat on the theme of public school failure.

The situation is dire, the film warns us. We must act. But what must we do? The message of the film is clear. Public schools are bad, privately managed charter schools are good. Parents clamor to get their children out of the public schools in New York City (despite the claims by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the city’s schools are better than ever) and into the charters (the mayor also plans to double the number of charters, to help more families escape from the public schools that he controls). If we could fire the bottom 5 to 10 percent of the lowest-performing teachers every year, says Hoover Institution economist Eric Hanushek in the film, our national test scores would soon approach the top of international rankings in mathematics and science.

Some fact-checking is in order, and the place to start is with the film’s quiet acknowledgment that only one in five charter schools is able to get the “amazing results” that it celebrates. Nothing more is said about this astonishing statistic. It is drawn from a national study of charter schools by Stanford economist Margaret Raymond (the wife of Hanushek). Known as the CREDO study, it evaluated student progress on math tests in half the nation’s five thousand charter schools and concluded that 17 percent were superior to a matched traditional public school; 37 percent were worse than the public school; and the remaining 46 percent had academic gains no different from that of a similar public school. The proportion of charters that get amazing results is far smaller than 17 percent.Why did Davis Guggenheim pay no attention to the charter schools that are run by incompetent leaders or corporations mainly concerned to make money? Why propound to an unknowing public the myth that charter schools are the answer to our educational woes, when the filmmaker knows that there are twice as many failing charters as there are successful ones? Why not give an honest accounting?

The propagandistic nature of Waiting for “Superman” is revealed by Guggenheim’s complete indifference to the wide variation among charter schools. There are excellent charter schools, just as there are excellent public schools. Why did he not also inquire into the charter chains that are mired in unsavory real estate deals, or take his camera to the charters where most students are getting lower scores than those in the neighborhood public schools? Why did he not report on the charter principals who have been indicted for embezzlement, or the charters that blur the line between church and state? Why did he not look into the charter schools whose leaders are paid $300,000–$400,000 a year to oversee small numbers of schools and students?

Guggenheim seems to believe that teachers alone can overcome the effects of student poverty, even though there are countless studies that demonstrate the link between income and test scores. He shows us footage of the pilot Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, to the amazement of people who said it couldn’t be done. Since Yeager broke the sound barrier, we should be prepared to believe that able teachers are all it takes to overcome the disadvantages of poverty, homelessness, joblessness, poor nutrition, absent parents, etc.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Letter-writers especially, but also columnists, and even AP and other news reporters use the terms left and leftist too often without definition. Take the cartoon of President Obama pulling the Democrat Party donkey labeled "The Left" toward the "Obamamania 2010" goal line. What was the cartoonist thinking? Consider foreign policy. For 70 years, the Democrats and Republicans have jointly pursued war after war into permanent war--Cold War, Drug War, War on Terror, Culture War; WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, in all, according to William Blum, forty-three invasions or interventions, with each Party trying to outdo the other in patriotic rhetoric and votes for military budgets. Dr. Strangelove , that great satire of US/USSR Cold War madness, was specifically about liberals as embodied in the Democrats. So what is liberal? I'll return to this subject. Dick

More on WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs

On Friday October 22nd WikiLeaks released the "Iraq War Logs," in what they are calling “the largest classified military leak in history” with 391,832 reports. The logs document the war and occupation in Iraq between 2004-2009 “as told by soldiers in the United States Army.” ZNet is featuring our coverage of this event and so far we have a number of items on the site. These include articles and video by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Josh Stieber who was deployed in Iraq, and whose Infantry Company was shown in the Wikileaks’ “Collateral Murder” video released April this year, and finally, by legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971.
Here are a few items that we have published so far:
Julian Assange: Explaining the Logs (Video)
Assange: Defending the Logs (Video)
Josh Stieber: Responding to the Leak (Article)
Daniel Ellsberg: Logs Released (Video and Article)
We hope you find these useful. Please check the site for more news and analysis over the coming days.
Thank you,ZCom

Saturday, October 23, 2010

FAIR: Media Criticism

FAIR Blog:!yGvcqUNUUxexhZxijtQ2ZD67Ss7O1ywZjD28M3WEJ6UQIrNqTk_J&search=inbox&th=12bd60634468048a&cvid=1
Best of the Blog--Weekly Roundup
The FAIR Blog provides a daily forum for media criticism and discussion by FAIR's media analysts--as well as commentary by readers like you. Here are some recent highlights:
'Capitalism Saved the Miners'? Part Two
NYT Investigation: Union Leader NOT Satanic Beast
The Great Non-Debate on China Trade of 2000
Eleanor Clift: Doing the Deficit Rag
Pat Moynihan's Non-Vindicating Vindication
NewsHour Fails French Public, Too
When Limbaugh Demonizes Obama, Some Listeners Take Him Literally
Dropping Fox: A Thought Experiment
At WPost, Everyone's a 'High Earner'--When It Comes to Benefit Cuts
Juan Williams: NPR Worse than Nixon
With Juan Williams, the Question Is Not Objectivity, but Bigotry
LA Public TV, Direct From--WHOSE Studios??
Help promote the FAIR Blog: Use the "share" link at the bottom of each post to recommend FAIR's work through social networking sites--and spread the word to new readers.

Repressive US Government: Illegal Detention and Wiretapping

Supreme Court Will Hear ACLU Case Against Former Attorney General Ashcroft
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, the ACLU's case against former Attorney General John Ashcroft on behalf of Abdullah al-Kidd.
>> Learn more about al-Kidd v. Ashcroft.

>> Learn more about other Supreme Court cases the ACLU is involved with this term.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, the ACLU's case against former Attorney General John Ashcroft on behalf of Abdullah al-Kidd, a Kansas-born U.S. citizen who was wrongly arrested and detained as a material witness in 2003.

The federal material witness statute allows law enforcement to detain a witness whose testimony prosecutors believe is material at a criminal trial if it believes that witness won't testify voluntarily. Al-Kidd was arrested and detained ostensibly so he'd testify as a material witness in the trial of Sami Omar al-Hussayen, who attended the same university as al-Kidd and was charged with visa fraud.

During his 16-day detention, al-Kidd was moved to three separate federal detention facilities in three different states—and was sometimes held naked and shackled hand-and-foot. After he was released, al-Kidd's travel was restricted to only four states, and he had to surrender his passport and report to probation officers.

But al-Kidd was never asked to testify against al-Hussayen. And al-Kidd himself was never charged with a crime. So, why was he being treated like a criminal?

Prior to 9/11, the material witness law was used sparingly to ensure witnesses would be available to testify in criminal cases. After 9/11, Attorney General Ashcroft retooled the law into an investigative detention statute, allowing the government to arrest and detain individuals for whom they lacked probable cause to charge with a crime. Our lawsuit charges that this Ashcroft policy violates fundamental constitutional principles and that al-Kidd was a victim of that policy. The district and appellate courts agreed.

>> Learn more about al-Kidd v. Ashcroft. >> Learn more about al-Kidd v. Ashcroft.

>> Learn more about other Supreme Court cases the ACLU is involved with this term.

Expanded Wiretapping Capabilities = Potential For Abuse

>> Sign the ACLU's petition to Attorney General Holder: Rein in FBI surveillance power.
According to a report in The New York Times this week, the Obama administration will be submitting proposals to Congress next year seeking to expand its wiretapping capacity by overhauling the law requiring telecommunications companies to ensure their networks can be wiretapped.

The administration claims that Congress must rework the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)—which compels telecommunications and broadband companies to ensure their services are wiretap-ready—in order to keep up with technological changes in the companies' services. The administration is also asking that the government's power to enforce compliance by companies with the law be strengthened. However, the government's authority under CALEA to lawfully collect information from telecommunications and broadband companies is currently sufficient, as is its ability to enforce penalties for noncompliance.

Does this sound familiar? In 2007 and 2008, in an analogous situation, the Bush administration pushed to "modernize" the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by claiming technological changes had made it more difficult for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor foreign communications. The former administration successfully used the opportunity, under the guise of a technical fix, to radically expand the government's power to monitor Americans' international communications through passage of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) in July 2008. The ACLU is challenging the constitutionality of the FAA in federal court.

>> Take action: Sign the ACLU's petition to Attorney General Holder: Rein in FBI surveillance power.

LGBTQ and Jobs

October 23, 2010
What's Next for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?"
Tell President Obama to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" once and for all.
The military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy is in the news a lot these days. And it seems as if this discriminatory and unconstitutional policy is teetering—ready to fall.

As you know, the courts keep striking serious blows against DADT. Recently, the ACLU won a major victory when a judge ordered the reinstatement of an Air Force Major wrongfully discharged under DADT. And a federal court in California, in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, ordered an end to enforcement of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

But, our elected leaders—starting with the President—have to stop avoiding efforts to end DADT and, instead, start seizing them.

It is time for President Obama to lead by putting a decisive end to DADT, and he should seize this opportunity by making clear that he will not take any further steps to try to reinstate this discriminatory policy. The president recently said he cannot end this policy with the stroke of a pen, but the Obama administration can set this right if Attorney General Eric Holder simply refrains from pursuing the appeal of the judicial order ending the policy. Our men and women in uniform deserve to serve their country with dignity, and the time to act is now.

>> Take action: Tell President Obama to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

The Best Person for the Job...Fired for Being Gay.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Andre Cooley, a corrections officer for the Forrest County Sherriff’s Department who was fired when his supervisors discovered that he was gay.
>> Watch the video to learn more.
Andre Cooley, a corrections officer with an exemplary record for the Forrest County Sherriff's Department in Mississippi, was fired when his supervisors discovered that he was gay. The ACLU filed a lawsuit this week on his behalf.

This past June, while at home and off-duty, Cooley called 911 after his boyfriend became physically violent. When police officers arrived at the house in response to the emergency call, Andre's boyfriend "outed" him to one of his superiors. The next day, the Staff Sergeant of Jail Operations informed Andre that he was being permanently terminated. Andre asked the staff sergeant if he was being fired because he was gay, and the staff sergeant responded, "Yes."

"Andre's sexual orientation has no bearing on his ability to perform the job of a corrections officer," said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. "It is well established that a public employer cannot fire an employee based on irrational fears and prejudices against gay people. But Andre's case is also a reminder that people in Mississippi who work for private companies are left almost entirely unprotected from anti-gay discrimination. There is currently no state or federal law protecting against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would make it illegal to discriminate against an employee for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. President Obama has said he will sign ENDA if it passes Congress, but even though ENDA was first introduced over 16 years ago and has broad support in both the Senate and the House, it still has not passed Congress.

Take action: Urge Congress to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Join us on... American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor New York, New York 10004-2400

Returned Vets' Deaths

Subject: Fw:3 times the number of soldiers killed in battle die after returning home
From: IVAW
To: Date: Thursday, October 21, 2010, 12:52 PM

Read the NY Times article by Aaron Glantz: After Service, Veteran Deaths Surge and send it to your friends.
Donate to IVAW
In an effort to raise awareness about our Operation Recovery campaign to stop the deployment of traumatized troops, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be exposing information about the different forms of trauma troops and veterans experience. Each week, between now and Veterans Day, we will share information with you about the realities of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST), conditions that affect hundreds of thousands of military members and veterans.
This week, we are focusing on PTSD.
Forward this email in its entirety, or click here to send a NY Times article about the surge in veteran deaths once they get home.

The Link Between PTSD and Suicide
Every 36 hours, a military member commits suicide
The occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan are continuing by the use of exhausted troops who are sent to war over and over again on multiple deployments. Common sense as well as the Pentagon's own study tells us that increased exposure to traumatic events increases the likelihood of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A dangerous symptom of PTSD is suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
Last week, in an effort to de-stigmatize the issue of mental health within the military, the American Psychiatric Association initiated a call to reverse the policy of the President not sending condolence letters to families who have lost a service member due to suicide. This is one step in addressing an overall military culture that stigmatizes those who seek help for mental or emotional distress, but there is a lot more work to do.
Veteran death rate is 300% higher than rate of those killed in combat
A recent study of veteran deaths in California reveals startling figures - between 2005 and 2008, three times more veterans died at home than died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan during the same period. The results of the study, described in a recent NY Times article by Aaron Glantz, counted the deaths of veterans by suicide, drug overdoses, motorcycle accidents, and other risky behaviors linked to PTSD. While the study was done just in California, there is no reason to think that similar death rates of veterans would not apply across the country. The government isn't counting these numbers, thus keeping under wraps the human costs of the ongoing occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You can share this article with a friend by clicking here or forward this email in its entirety.
By spreading the word about the effects of redeploying traumatized troops you can help us stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thank you for your continued support.
In Solidarity, The Campaign Team
Iraq Veterans Against the War is a 501(c)(3) charity,
and welcomes your tax deductible contributions

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wikileaks Releases Iraq Documents, Daniel Ellsberg Comments

October 22, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: WikiLeaks Prepares Largest Intel Leak in US History with Release of 400,000 Iraq War Docs
The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks is preparing to release up to 400,000 US intelligence reports on the Iraq War. The disclosure would comprise the biggest leak in US history, far more than the 91,000 Afghanistan war logs WikiLeaks released this summer. We speak to the nation’s most famous whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971, just before he heads to London to participate in the WikiLeak press conference. [includes rush transcript]
Real Audio Stream
Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower.
Related stories
•Iraq War Veteran Who Rescued Wounded Children in 2007 Apache Attack Describes Emotional Toll of Witnessing Infamous Killings
•"This Is How These Soldiers Were Trained to Act"–Veteran of Military Unit Involved in 2007 Baghdad Helicopter Shooting Says Incident Is Part of Much Larger Problem
•Families of Victims of 2007 US Helicopter Killing React to Leaked Video
•EXCLUSIVE: One Day After 2007 Attack, Witnesses Describe US Killings of Iraqi Civilians
•Massacre Caught on Tape: US Military Confirms Authenticity of Their Own Chilling Video Showing Killing of Journalists
Rush Transcript
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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•"The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
JUAN GONZALEZ: The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks plans to release the largest cache of classified US documents in history tomorrow. The group is expected to post up to 400,000 intelligence reports on the Iraq war. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is holding a press conference in London on Saturday morning to make the announcement.

The disclosure of the documents would comprise the biggest leak in US history, far more than the 91,000 Afghanistan war logs WikiLeaks released this summer.

The US government is racing to prepare for the fallout. A team of more than a hundred analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency have been combing through classified Iraq documents they think will be released.

AMY GOODMAN: WikiLeaks sparked condemnation from the US government when it released the 91,000 Afghan war logs in July. The White House and the Pentagon accused the website of irresponsibility. They claimed they were putting people’s lives in danger. But the Associated Press recently obtained a Pentagon letter reporting that no US intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the leak.

Nevertheless, WikiLeaks says it’s been targeted by the US government. In the aftermath of the Afghan war logs leak, the US reportedly asked Britain, Germany, Australia and other Western governments to open criminal investigations into Julian Assange and severely restrict his international travel. Most recently, WikiLeaks accused the US of targeting it with financial warfare. Last week, Julian Assange said the company responsible for collecting the WikiLeaks’ donations terminated its account after the US and Australia placed the group on blacklists. Meanwhile, Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning has been in prison since May, when he was arrested on charges of leaking a video of a US military helicopter killing a group of innocent Iraqis in Baghdad.

For more, we’re joined here in our New York studio by Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower. He leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971. He’s flying to London tonight. He’ll take part in the WikiLeaks news conference on Saturday.

Dan Ellsberg, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about this 400,000 pages or documents that are expected to be released?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Four hundred thousand documents, allegedly. It is, of course, a leak on a scale that I couldn’t have done forty years ago without scanners and digital capability. I used the most advanced technology at that time, Xerox, and I couldn’t have done what I did ten years before that.

AMY GOODMAN: You xeroxed 7,000 pages?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. It took a long time, one page at a time. So I’m quite jealous of the current capabilities. But I’m glad to express my support of what WikiLeaks is doing and its sources, in particular. Whoever gave this information to WikiLeaks obviously understood that they were at risk of being where Bradley Manning is now: accused, in prison. We don’t know—I don’t know who the source was. And if Bradley Manning is shown by Army, beyond a reasonable doubt, to have been the source, he’ll have my admiration and thanks for doing that. I’ve faced that kind of risk myself forty years ago, and it always seemed worthwhile to me to be willing to risk one’s life in prison, even, to help shorten a war, like Afghanistan or Iraq. That’s what we were suffering then in Vietnam. And it was really a secrecy—it’s the secrecy, the wrongful secrecy, of information like this that got us into Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq, or has kept the war going in Afghanistan. So if there’s any chance of shortening that, it’s certainly worth a person’s life.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the extent of damage control that the military is apparently—the mode that it’s in, in preparation for the release of these documents, does it surprise you at all?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, they know what—they think they know what’s coming out. They’re crying alarm over this, as they always do in the case of every case of a leak. Certainly they did with the Pentagon Papers. In fact, in that case, they said that the damage to national security was so great that they had to stop the presses for the first time in our history, that the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, having heard testimony on that. And the seventeen—in fact, nineteen newspapers, altogether, decided otherwise and did print the papers, in what amounted to civil disobedience against the warnings of the attorney general. In no case was there any harm discovered in that case. And as for the releases in July, with all the warnings we heard passed on by the media, quite uncritically, no damage has been reported. So I think that one should take their warnings now with a lot of salt.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, at a Pentagon news conference in August, Defense Secretary Robert Gates denounced the leaking of the Afghan war logs.

DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world. Intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures, will become known to our adversaries. This department is conducting a thorough, aggressive investigation to determine how this leak occurred, to identify the person or persons responsible, and to assess the content of the information compromised.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking at the same news conference, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused WikiLeaks of having blood on its hands.

ADM. MIKE MULLEN: Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family. Disagree with the war all you want, take issue with the policy, challenge me or our ground commanders on the decisions we make to accomplish the mission we’ve been given, but don’t put those who willingly go into harm’s way even further in harm’s way just to satisfy your need to make a point.

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, the Associated Press obtained this Pentagon letter reporting no US intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the leaks. Dan Ellsberg?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: You know, for all that the admiral, Mullen, or for that matter Presidents Bush or Barack Obama, tell us of the good that they hoped to accomplish, we haven’t seen any evidence of that, I would say. And in terms of blood on their hands, I’m sorry to say, a lot of actual blood has been spilled, as opposed to this hypothetical possible blood, of which none has been reported, from the WikiLeaks.

Actually, the demands they’re making of the press to stay away from this story, or even readers not to read it—and they’re talking about returning the material—seems absurd on its face. Returning released material, released into cyberspace, seems rather absurd. They’re obviously threatening prosecution, because they’re using the words of the charges that were first used against me, the Espionage Act, which was not intended as an Official Secrets Act, but it uses language like "returning the information," "d) and (e)." I was the first person to have the experience of having those charges made. In this case, there have some credibility of prosecution, because President Barack Obama has already brought as many prosecutions for leaks to the American public as all previous presidents put together. It’s a small number: it’s three. But since he didn’t have a really law intended to do that, no other president has brought one—more than one prosecution. He’s brought three. And clearly what he’s threatening here with the press, including you and even your readers, for not returning the information that they’re not authorized to receive, is a clear warning, I’d say, of prosecution, which means that I think this administration is moving toward really aggressively using the Espionage Act as an Official Secrets Act, in which case we’ll know even less than we do about the lies that prolong wars and get us into wrongful wars.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But what about that policy, given the fact that President Obama came into office talking about a more transparent and open government and appears to be going in the opposite direction?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, that promise has gone the way of his promise to close Guantánamo and a number of other promises. In no way, in the general defense and homeland security area, is he less opaque, more transparent, than Bush. And as I say, he’s being even more aggressive in pursuing prosecution.

One other aspect of that is that—my understanding—is that the impression he’s giving that he’s ending the war in Iraq, or that it has ended even, the war described by these 400,000 documents, is, I think, a conscious lie. I think it’s as much of a lie as Lyndon Johnson’s, when I was working for him and he underestimated for the public the scale and the duration of the war we were getting into. I’ll predict, without having seen these documents—I will make a bet here, I’ll stick my neck out—that there’s no hint in those 400,000 documents, which go up into this year, that President Barack Obama intends to remove our bases from Iraq, next year or the year after or any time in his term. I’ll bet there isn’t even a contingency plan for turning over those bases to Iraqis. And that means that rather than doing what he’s promised, which is to get all American troops out by the end of next year, I think there will be tens of thousands there whenever he leaves office, whether it’s in 2013 or four years after that.

AMY GOODMAN: And we should say you were a high-level—you were a high-level Pentagon official working for the RAND Corporation.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: That’s right. I spent years keeping—I worked for the Pentagon and the State Department. I spent years keeping my mouth shut as presidents lied to us and kept these secrets. I shouldn’t have done that. And that’s why I admire someone even who’s accused, like Bradley Manning, if he is the source, or whoever the source was, of actually risking their own personal freedom in order to tell the truth. I think they’re being better citizens and showing their patriotism in a better way than when they keep their mouths shut.

AMY GOODMAN: Dan Ellsberg, can you go back to the language of 793, the law that goes after whistleblowers—


AMY GOODMAN:—and how it can go after journalists, as well?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: It actually can apply—the words are so broad, because they really were intended for espionage, for people who are secretly giving information to an enemy, so they weren’t designed to protect, let’s say, First Amendment or freedom of speech when it comes to giving information to the public. So they talk about wrongfully receiving or holding information that is not authorized for release or giving it to people who are not authorized to receive it. And the people who get it are subject to charge under that.

It often has been said that the AIPAC case, the case of the Israeli lobby here, people who were accused of receiving information, were for the first—who did not have clearances—who were being charged under this law. Barack Obama, by the way, dropped that case, which was brought under Bush. Actually, that was not the first case. In my case, my co-defendant, Anthony Russo, was in exactly the same position. He didn’t have a clearance at that time. He was just receiving the material. He held it; he didn’t return it. At least at that time they had paper he could have returned, in principle, as did the New York Times.

But the wording of the law could apply to readers of the New York Times, which I believe is coming out with this information. They’re not authorized to receive this classified information, even though they may very well have a need, as citizens, to have it. It’s being wrongfully withheld from them, but they’re not authorized to receive. Unless they return it, they are subject—now, that’s not going to happen. But the journalists, indeed, are being put on warning that they may be subject to this.

JUAN GONZALEZ: What about the issue of the government raising the specter of attempting to prosecute Julian Assange, when the reality is he is not doing this in the United States? He is releasing documents in another country. And—

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, they’re trying to get the other countries to prosecute him under their laws, which are, in many cases, of course, more stringent than ours. Even Britain, where I’ll be going tomorrow, has an Official Secrets Act, which we don’t. We had a revolution and a war of independence and a First Amendment, which they don’t. But if these prosecutions proceed and if they’re successful, if they’re carried—if they’re held up, if they’re supported by this Supreme Court, which might well not have been the case forty years ago, then we’ll have an Official Secrets Act, and the effect of—in effect.

And the effect of that will be that they won’t have to conduct investigations of leakers, after all, or who did it; they’ll just have to pull in the person whose byline is on that story, the journalist, and say, "Who committed the crime? We’re not after you. We’re just after the person who violated this law." And if the reporter doesn’t give the name up, they’ll go to jail, like Judith Miller for ninety days, before she did in fact cooperate. Some will go to jail, and many will not. And I think the sources, from then on, will have no basis, other than WikiLeaks, to—which protects their anonymity, to get this information out that we need. So I think WikiLeaks is actually becoming more indispensable even than it was in the past.

It occurred to me that if Bob Woodward, who really gives us a lot of information in his new book, based on classified documents that he was shown in the administration—I would urge him to put those documents into WikiLeaks anonymously. Put them on the line. Let us all read the documents and form our own opinion. Then we’d have something like the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan, which these documents will not be. It remains, really, to come out, the higher-level documents. And I hope people who have access to those in the White House, in the Pentagon, but—in the CIA, in the State Department, will take advantage of WikiLeaks, as a matter of fact, and give us the information we need in order to end these wars.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, in the last release of documents, there were 91,000 documents, but—

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Of which they’ve withheld so far one out of five, 15,000, for damage control. WikiLeaks has not yet released those. They’re working over them to redact.

AMY GOODMAN: Which is the point I wanted to make, released around 75,000—


AMY GOODMAN:—that WikiLeaks is withholding documents, concerned about issues of—

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. And moreover, they let the Pentagon know what they were releasing. They gave them the files in code to them and asked them actually to identify people that they hoped to be redacted from those. Now, the Pentagon refused, meaning they prefer to bring charges into—both in court and in the press, of—endanger, rather than actually to protect these people, showing the usual amount of concern they have over other humans.

AMY GOODMAN: Has the same been done with these 400,000 documents?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. That’s why they’re going over them now. They know what’s coming out. And they have every ability, if people are endangered—which actually is in question to this point. The fact that there’s been no damage up ’til now really strongly questions the claims that were made earlier and, as I say, passed on by most of the mainstream press, very uncritically, that there was danger. But if there was, it may well have been in those 15,000 which WikiLeaks is properly going over still.

JUAN GONZALEZ: So, what you’re saying is that WikiLeaks has let the Pentagon know precisely what it is about to release?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: To my understanding, they have. I’m not in the process. But I understand that they’ve said that they did make them aware of what it is and have invited them to cooperate in protecting those names. But as I say, the Pentagon, if there are such names, has preferred to make charges.

AMY GOODMAN: And are they releasing them with other papers, as they did last time—the New York Times, Der Spiegel and The Guardian?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes, yes. And I must say, I give credit to the Times, as I understand it, and Der Spiegel and The Guardian, who are resisting, as did the Times forty years ago, the demand or the request that they desist and that they return and that they stop serving their function: to protect the public.

AMY GOODMAN: So they’re doing it again on this 400,000-document leak?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: They’re doing it again, and it’s much to their credit, and I appreciate it. I’ve waited forty years for a release on this scale. I think there should have been something on the scale of the Pentagon Papers every year. How often do we need this kind of thing? We haven’t seen it. So I’m very glad that someone is taking the risk and the initiative to inform us better now.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I mean, it would seem to me—I think this is an important point to make. As a journalist who has many times not provided the subject of the articles I’m going to write a complete view of what I have, this is—it seems to me that WikiLeaks has gone to extraordinary lengths to allow the Pentagon to respond and to signal to it, look, if there’s anything in particular here that you think endangers an individual that—or an operation, let us know.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: They haven’t given a veto to the administration, as far as I’m concerned, of anything that they might raise an alarm about, but they have said, "Bring it to our attention, and we’ll responsibly look at that." And they are redacting names, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you for being with us, Dan Ellsberg. And I guess you could compliment the New York Times for something else, as well, because now they no longer say, after decades, "the man who claimed he gave us the Pentagon Papers," but they actually admit you did.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes, they’ve actually acknowledged at last that I was the source. They’re very reluctant to tell their sources, but since I was the one who was prosecuted, I claim special relation to them on that.

AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Ellsberg was a high-level official in the Pentagon and was—is the country’s most famous whistleblower. He released the Pentagon Papers. This is Democracy Now!, Dan Ellsberg now heads to London. He’ll be at the WikiLeaks news conference that releases, well, what we believe is something like 400,000 documents on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Iraq, essentially. Iraq.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pro-Life: Help These Victims

Pakistan Flood Victims Tell of Suffering, Unfolding Disaster in Southern Sindh Province (from Democracy Now 9-10-10)
Pakistan is still reeling from the worst floods in its history. Some 21 million people have been affected even as the flooding continues. Forty villages were submerged in the past few days, and a fifty-foot breach in an embankment this morning has sent flood waters surging toward three more towns. Independent journalist Madiha Tahir was in the flood-ravaged Sindh province last week and filed this report from Sukkur.
Madiha Tahir, freelance journalist currently based in Karachi, Pakistan. Her work has appeared in The National, Columbia Journalism Review, Global Post and Current TV.
Related stories
• Fatima Bhutto on the Floods in Pakistan, the Government Response and Her Memoir, Songs of Blood and Sword
• Holbrooke Says World Cannot Foot Entire Bill for Pakistan Flood Recovery as US Spends Billions on Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan
• "This Is the Worst Catastrophe to Hit Any State Since Biblical Times"–Just Back from Pakistan, Feryal Ali Gauhar Describes the Suffering from the Flood
• Activists Go on Trial in Nevada for Protesting Obama Admin Drone Program
• Flood Refugees in Karachi Relief Camp Complain of Government Corruption and Inefficiency

Rape Survivors in the Congo Recall Horror (from Democracy Now 9-10-10)
Rape survivors in the village of Luvungi in the Democratic Republic of Congo have begun describing the recent horrors they suffered when rebel forces mass-raped hundreds of women over a two-month period. Zaina Nyangoma is one of the rape survivors who has talked about her ordeal.
Zaina Nyangoma: "After they raped us, they would walk out, and we would do our best to escape into the bush. And sometimes we would have to crawl on the ground, while they would rape others until dawn. They would also sometimes follow us into the bush or wherever we were hiding at night, and if we were found, they would then rape us again. And that’s how they managed to rape all the women of Luvungi."

Marian Wright Edelman lays out the grim truth of how many children are not given the opportunity for growth and development. The statistics she uses are national numbers (one in six). Shockingly, the rate of poverty of children in Arkansas now exceeds one in four!
I hope you will mark your calendar and attend this month's LWVWC member meeting to learn more about Rising Child Poverty in Northwest Arkansas. We cannot continue to ignore this problem without recognizing the consequences it will bring to our future.
Go to our website for program details.
Joyce Hale, President 10-14-10

Health in Cities Author at Nightbird Nov. 6

Kevin Fitzpatrick - Unhealthy Cities: Poverty, Race, and Place in America
Saturday November 6th, Nightbird Books, tentatively 7pm - check our calendar or call
The purpose of this book is to show the important role that space and place plays in the health of urban residents, particularly those living in high poverty ghettos. The book brings together research and writing from a variety of disciplines to demonstrate the health costs of being poor in America's cities. The authors are committed to raising awareness of structural factors that promote poverty and injustice in a society that proclaims its commitment to equality of opportunity. Our health is often dramatically affected by where we live; some parts of the city seem to be designed to make people sick. The book is intended for those interested in urban sociology, medical sociology, public health, and community planning.

UN Promotes Gender Equality

“Star Power at the UN,” Los Angeles Times (ADG 9-26-10)
Michelle Bachelet, single mother, survivor of prison torture, pediatrician, first female president of Chile, is an excellent choice to lead the newly created UN agency to promote gender equality around the globe. Fifteen years ago UN members in Beijing dedicated themselves to ending discrimination against women and closing the gender gap in a dozen areas. Yet women still suffer higher rates of poverty and illiteracy than men, and they face forced marriages, sexual enslavement, and rape as a weapon of war, which the UN Security Council recognized as a crime against humanity (e.g. the DR of Congo). See: --Kristof, Nicholas and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Vintage, 2009. Give Bachelet your support.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Solar Energy Film

The OMNI-UA Students for Peace Justice and Ecology will hold a free screening of the fascinating PBS-NOVA documentary "Solar Energy, Saved by the Sun" on Wednesday, October 27th at 6:30 pm.
Come learn about a growing movement in clean, sustainable energy!
Please invite friends, family, professors, etc!

FREE FOOD and DRINKS (provided by Ozark Natural Foods) will be served at 6:30 pm; the film will start at 7:00pm, and lasts about 50 mins....

Is it time to take solar energy seriously? Many people, from experts to homeowners, think the answer is a definitive yes. "Saved By the Sun" probes how innovative technologies, new business models, increasing financial incentives, and a growing grassroots commitment to solving the climate crisis are driving a renaissance in solar energy around the world. Worldwide, solar energy is expected to be a $50 billion industry within a decade. While some remain skeptical, others see a blazing future through new solar technologies. The program introduces several passionate pioneers, including Sarah Kurtz, one of the forgers of the "multi-junction solar cell,"; Nathan Lewis at Cal Tech, who foresees nanotechnology changing the solar landscape; and one of America's most creative thinkers on energy issues, Amory Lovins, who has a goal of getting the U.S. off fossil fuels by 2040. Is such a goal really possible? Come see the film and decide for yourself!

An ASG-Funded Event.
For more information, contact Andie Duplantis (

US Goes to War: Spanish American and Iraq Wars

--The War Lovers The psychology of war fever in the Spanish American War and the US invasion of Iraq 2003. How otherwise decent and intelligent people can be whipped up into a fervor to invade and kill. Interview on PBS “Need to Know” Evan Thomas and “The War Lovers” July 23rd, 2010 As the old adage goes, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” “The War Lovers” is a new book aimed at helping us avoid that fate, by revealing the parallels between the Spanish-American War and the U.S. invasion of Iraq — from red herrings to screaming headlines. Evan Thomas, the author of “The War Lovers,” is a journalist and historian. He is also one of Jon Meacham’s colleagues at Newsweek. Need to Know’s Alison Stewart sat down with Thomas to learn more about how two wars, separated by a century, could have so much in common.

Joseph Stiglitz on the Wars and the US Economy

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz: Foreclosure Moratorium, Government Stimulus Needed to Revive US Economy
As the Obama administration rejects a foreclosure moratorium and austerity protests grip Europe, we assess the state of the US and global economy with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, author of Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy. Stiglitz backs calls for a foreclosure moratorium and says opponents of a new government stimulus "don’t understand basic economics."

On war, Stiglitz says Iraq and Afghanistan are "the first wars in America’s history financed totally on the credit card." [Unforthunately the transcript breaks off before his discussion of the impact of the wars on the economy. From my notes: Wars fought on credit create only liabilities without creating assets, a recipe for financial disaster, especially when the two wars may cost $4 to $6 trillion dollars. In his The Three Trillion Dollars War he (with Linda Bilmes) estimated $3 to $5 trillion, but the expenses of ongoing medical expenses for physically and mentally disable vets are more than they could measure when doing research for the earlier book.
Amy asked him why the wars were not part of the economic discussion in the US. Instead of anwering the question directly, he replied that because the wars do not strengthen but only weaken the economy, and he was for stimulating the economy, he advocated re-allocating the war budget to domestic needs.]

PBS News Programs for the Public?


“Major FAIR Exposé on PBS: Taking the Public Out of Public TV;
PBS fare differs little from commercial TV” 10/19/10

A multi-part FAIR exposé of PBS's most prominent news and public affairs programs demonstrates that public television is failing to live up to its mission to provide an alternative to commercial television, to give voice to those "who would otherwise go unheard" and help viewers to "see America whole, in all its diversity," in the words of public TV's founding document.

In a special November issue of studies and analyses of PBS's major public affairs shows, FAIR's magazine Extra! shows that "public television" features guestlists strongly dominated by white, male and elite sources, who are far more likely to represent corporations and war makers than environmentalists or peace advocates. And both funding and ownership of these shows is increasingly corporate, further eroding the distinction between "public" and corporate television. There is precious little "public" left in "public television."

FAIR undertook the examination following news last fall that PBS was canceling Now and that Bill Moyers was retiring from Bill Moyers Journal. PBS announced that it was replacing the two shows, which exemplified the public broadcasting mission, with Need to Know, a news magazine launched in May and anchored by two journalists from the corporate media world.

FAIR's findings reveal:

* Need to Know. FAIR's study of the first three months of Need to Know's guestlist and segments finds that its "record so far provides little encouragement that it will ever serve as an adequate replacement for Now and the Bill Moyers Journal."

The program's heavily white (78 percent) and male (70 percent) guestlist failed to "break out of the narrow corporate media box." Corporate representatives outnumbered activists 20 to 12. And black people appeared overwhelmingly on stories on drugs and prisons.

* PBS NewsHour. If PBS's signature news show is any indication, the system is doing little to help us "see America whole, in all its diversity."
-- The NewsHour's guestlist was 80 percent male and 82 percent white, with a pronounced tilt toward elites who rarely "go unheard," like current and former government and military officials, corporate representatives and journalists (74 percent). Since 2006, appearances by women of color actually decreased by a third, to only 4 percent of U.S. sources.

-- Women and people of color were far more likely to appear as "people on the street" providing brief, often reactive soundbites, than in more authoritative roles in live interviews.

-- Viewers were five times as likely to see guests representing corporations (10 percent vs. 2 percent) than representatives of public interest groups who might counterweigh such moneyed interests--labor, consumer and environmental organizations.

-- While Democratic guests outnumbered Republican guests nearly 2-to-1 in overall sources, Republicans dominated by more than 3-to-2 in the program's longer format, live segments. (FAIR's 2006 NewsHour study, which examined a period when Republicans controlled the White House and Congress, showed Republican guests outnumbering Democrats in both categories: 2-to-1 among all sources, 3-to-2 in the longer live interviews.)

-- On segments about the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the most frequent story of the study period, viewers were four times as likely to see representatives hailing from the oil industry (13 percent of guests) as representatives of environmental concerns (3 percent).

-- On segments focusing on the Afghan War, though polls show consistent majorities of Americans have opposed the war for more than a year, not a single NewsHour guest represented an antiwar group or expressed antiwar views. Similarly, no representative of a human rights or humanitarian organization appeared on the NewsHour during the study period.

** The NewsHour, "public TV's nightly newscast," is actually privately owned. For-profit conglomerate Liberty Media has held a controlling stake in the NewsHour since 1994. The company is run by industry bigfoot John Malone, who has declared that "nobody wants to go out and invent something and invest hundreds of millions of dollars of risk capital for the public interest." Public dollars still support the NewsHour, and former PBS president Ervin Duggan declared the show "ours and ours alone," but Liberty CEO Greg Maffei refers to the program as "not our largest holding," but "one we're very proud of."

And it's not just the NewsHour. The Nightly Business Report was sold earlier this year by public station WPBT to a private company. The details of the deal--which shifts the most-watched daily business show on television into private hands--are mostly unknown.

** The Charlie Rose Show--a show produced outside the PBS system but widely carried on public television stations--boasts a remarkably narrow guestlist. FAIR found the most common guests (37 percent) were reporters from major media outlets, and corporate guests, well-known academics and government officials also made frequent appearances. Of the 132 guest appearances, just two represented the public interest voices that public television is supposed to highlight (equaling the number of celebrity chefs who appeared). Eighty-five percent of guests were male, and U.S. guests were 92 percent white.

** Washington Week, the longest-running public affairs show on public television, suffers from similar problems--which would seem to be by design, given the show's inside-the-Beltway focus. In four months of programs (5-8/10), Washington Week presented 29 reporter guests; only one did not represent a corporate-owned outlet. Only four of 64 appearances by guests were by non-white panelists (6 percent), and the guestlist was 61 percent male.
For the full NewsHour and Need to Know reports, click on the links above. For all other content, please subscribe to Extra! today and receive the special PBS issue instantly.

See Dick Bennett’s articles: “The Public Broadcasting System,” Freedom of Speech Newsletter (13.1,1987); “The Public Broadcasting System: Bibliography of Criticism,” Journal of Popular Film and Television (15.2, 1987), which corroborate FAIR’s report up to 1986. And his books Control of Information in the United States (1987)and Control of the Media in the United States (1992).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Congo Atrocities, Congo Awareness Week

The First Christian Church admirably offers a week of informative events about the horrors in the Congo. The 17th the filmmaker and Director of the film, "The Street Children of Kinshasa," spoke. Monday his film was shown. Tuesday a prayer vigil at St. Joseph's Catholic Church 6-7 pm. Wednesday Oct. 20, noon to 1:00 silence of cell phones to recognize the relation of the violence and the resources war (coltan). Friday Oct. 22 Congolese Meal 6-7 fundraiser for Congolese. Saturday Oct. 23 9-11 Walk for Congo Women, Gulley Park: Entry $10.

Accountability for Torture

David Cole, “Time for the Reckoning.” The Nation (May 25, 2009). Eric Holder said there should be a reckoning for Bush Admin. detention without trial and torture. Obama has not done it, but “accountability for torture is not going away.

Eric Alterman, “David Broder: Eyes Wide Shut.” The Nation (May 25, 2009). Criticizes Broder’s rejection of accountability.

Abolish US Prsons Industrial Complex

FSTV 7-31-09 Meshe Monge Ingirray?? Critical Resistance,

Perkinson, Robert. Texas Tough: the Rise of America’s Prison Empire. Metropolitan, 2010. Rev. Columbia Journalism Rev. (May/June 2010).
Kerman, Piper. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. Spiegel & Grau, 2010. Rev. CJR (May/June 2010).
Kerman and Perkinson give “two takes on the folly of our prison policies.”

Democracy Now (10-19-10) Amy Goodman interviewed Angela Davis for most of the hour, much of it about Davis’s experience with, views about, and advocacy of abolishing prisons. Prisons reflect a failed society. A genuinely caring society would largely eliminate prisons, as in Finland. Prison abolition is part of “building a new world,” as in the UN's phrase, A Culture of Peace.
Ms. Davis referred to the book Instead of Prisons. Here's information about it:
Search Results
1. Instead of Prisons Table of Contents
A Handbook For Abolitionists, Online book, Originally published 1976.
Show map of 3049 E Genesee St, Syracuse, NY 13224
2. Instead of Prisons Chapter 2
[47] "By freely giving out ... drugs, wardens and guards keep many prisoners ...
3. Instead of Prisons Chapter 6
4. We should further reduce our excessive reliance on prisons by making ... - Cached - Instead Of Prisons: A Handbook For Abolitionists :: AK Press
From discussions on the range of voices that comprise the movement for prison abolition to demystification of the myths surrounding the justification of ... -
5. Treatment Instead of Prisons
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
Treatment Instead of Prisons: A Roadmap for Sentencing and Correctional Policy Reform in Wisconsin. This report would not have been possible with- ... - Similar
6. States Eye Drug Treatment Instead of Prisons - 018751
Oct 31, 2006 ... The use of drug treatment instead of incarceration by states in order to cut costs is examined. For ... - Cached
7. Treatment Instead of Prisons | Justice Strategies
RESEARCH. BY STATE • BY ISSUE • BY PUBLICATION. Treatment Instead of Prisons. Treatment Instead of Prisons. CONTACT: Justice Strategies / A Tides Center ... - Cached - Similar
8. Building Schools Instead Of Prisons | Education
Aug 27, 2010 ... This could serve as a model for the rest of the country as to how communities can effectively build schools instead of prisons. ...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Solar Energy

HERMANN SCHEER DIED, leader of German solar movement. Amy Goodman devoted entire program to him 10-15-10
Hermann Scheer (1944-2010): German Lawmaker, Leading Advocate for Solar Energy and "Hero for the Green Century" in One of His Final Interviews (if link fails, google Democracy Now and click on Browse recent programs.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Film on US Empire, Foreign Military Bases

From Dud Hendrick, 10-17-10 (Dud visited the Marshallese and spoke at OMNI in early 2010 or late 2009)
Knowing that you each have some interest in our work I'm writing to update you on the status of our project, a documentary, the working title of which is, In Search of Monsters.
In the spring and early summer we received a grant of $10K each from the Rubin Foundation and the Tides Foundation. We're extremely grateful for their support. Now that the summer has passed we can turn from other commitments (For me, the Veterans for Peace national convention was essentially a full-time endeavor.) "We" now are my brother and I. Dick Hendrick is an established film-maker who, as writer, director and/or producer has several documentaries to his credit. Also on our team, as advisers, are two incredible Marshall Island advocates, Holly Barker (Ph.D) and Grace Donoho (Ed.D). Holly is an anthropologist and author of two definitive works, Bravo for the Marshallese and, The Consequential Damages of Nuclear War. Grace has been a long-time friend and crusader for the Marshall Island immigrant community of Springdale, Arkansas.
Our project (Note: The title is a reference to a John Quincy Adams speech warning against America going abroad, "in search of monsters to destroy".) will take a hard look at America's vast network of military bases abroad and ask whether their costs, social, environmental and financial, are justified. A basic question we will address is, "Does this 'imperial' array make us safer?" The funding, at this point, will not enable us to investigate and relate the stories of Diego Garcia, of Thule, Greenland, and the Marshall Islands in much depth. But, In Search of Monsters will introduce viewers to these sad and disturbing histories and will be used as a tool through which to raise the necessary funds to give those stories a full airing.

Several prominent scholars have agreed to be interviewed for In Search of Monsters--Andrew Bacevich, Noam Chomsky, Joseph Gerson, and Catherine Lutz. We expect to be meeting with each in the coming weeks and are, as you might expect, excited about these conversations. Our intent is to have a finished product by the middle of 2011.
The consequences of the displacements of the Chagossians of Diego Garcia, the Inughuit, and of the Marshallese continue today. I will continue my near-obsessive pursuit of each story. As some of you know I have personal relationships with representatives of each of these victimized populations, friendships that make me all the more committed to "staying the course". With perseverance and a little good fortune in the quest for grant assistance, In Search of Monsters will enable us to tell the rest of the story.
Thanks for your help and for your interest. Dud
P.S. In the interim one of us, Dick or I, would be happy to speak of the issue, our project, and our progress. If you would be interested please let me know.

Guantanomo Injustice, More Cases

Law: US Court Denies Justice To Men Who Died At Guantanamo
By Andy Worthington The Public Record Oct 4th, 2010

Last week, in the District Court in Washington D.C., Judge Ellen Huvelle turned down (PDF) a second attempt by the families of Yasser al-Zahrani, a Saudi, and Salah al-Salami, a Yemeni (two of the three men who died in mysterious circumstances in Guantánamo on June 9, 2006, along with Mani al-Utaybi, another Saudi) to hold US officials accountable for the circumstances in which their family members were held and in which they died.

Permanent War of US NSS

I got your Tweedledum and Tweedledee, right here, Preznit Change-O: Eh, I mean your "War of Terror" and your "War on Drugs," buddy. OK, so maybe I should have said "Tweedeledum" and Tweedledumber." But you're a big picture man. Don't sweat this small stuff! These guys are Siamese twins, separated at birth. Glenn Greenwald gets it: As he says, "Both wars rely upon cartoon depictions of Scary Villains (The Drug Kingpin, Mexican Cartels, the Terrorist Mastermind) to keep the population in a state of heightened fear and thus blind them to rational discourse. But both wars are not only complete failures in eradicating those villains, but they both do more to empower those very villains than any other single cause - the War on Drugs by ensuring that cartels' profits from the illegal drug trade remain sky-high, and the War on Terror by ensuring more and more support and recruits for anti-American extremists. And both, separately and together, endlessly erode basic American liberties by convincing a frightened public that they can Stay Safe only if they cede more and more power to the state. Many of the civil liberties erosions from the War on Terror have their genesis in the War on Drugs." Most important is that these two wars continue and will continue for reasons unrelated to their stated intents. In fact, both "wars" ensure an unlimited stream of $$$ into the private war-making industries which fuel them. Add in a political fear that officials have of being perceived as abandoning any war before it is "won," and these two unwinnable wars - unwinnable by design - seem destined to endure forever, or at least until some sort of major financial collapse simply permits them no longer.
Wow, Slick: It's the perfect scam! In an endless loop, these wars sustain and strengthen the very menaces which, miraculously, justify continuous escalation. These wars manufacture the very dangers they are supposedly designed to combat. Meanwhile, the industries which fight them become richer and richer. The political officials those industries own become more and more powerful. Brutal drug cartels monopolize an unimaginably profitable, no-competition industry, while Terrorists are continuously supplied - the perfect rationale for persuading huge numbers of otherwise unsympathetic people to join them or support them. Everyone wins - except ordinary citizens, who become poorer and poorer, more and more imprisoned, meeker and meeker, and less and less free. Damn, Preznit Change-O, you promised us change - and you sure gave it to us: strong and hard.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Death Penalty for the Innocent: New Book

--Petro, Jim. False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent. (2010). Rev. In These Times (2010)by Steve Weinberg: “ In my years of research, I have heard only a few prosecutors acknowledge the breadth and depth of the problem [of false convictions]. In his new book False…, Petro outdoes them all.”

Torgure from Sumerians to Americans

NANCY SPERO’S “Torture of Women” (1976), 125-foot scroll in 14 panels, now published (2010). Rev. In These Times (Nov. 2010): Begins with torture in Sumerian myth and moves through a history of squalor, fear, agony, resistance. Book includes the essay “Fourteen Meditations on Torture of Women by Nancy Spero” by Diana Nemiroff, and “Symmetries,” a short story by Luisa Valenzuela.

Reader Supported News | 09 October 2010
Tim Rutten, “Unraveling the Torture Knot,” Los Angeles Times
"President Obama pledged a return to constitutionality, but the case of Faisal Shahzad shows how difficult that will be and how ambivalent the Obama administration seems to be."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

aubunique: Fayetteville's David Whitaker's debate with mayor ...

aubunique: Fayetteville's David Whitaker's debate with mayor ...: "John Gray debated Blanche Lincoln, John Boozman and Trevor Drown for a Senate seat from Arkansas yesterday. Link to video on AETN Web site. ..."

US Foreign Bases

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The Declaration from the International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases indicates what the Network stands for and its purpose. The final approval was on March 9, 2007 in Manta, Ecuador.

We come together from 40 countries as grassroots activists from groups that promote women’s rights, indigenous sovereignty, environmental justice, human rights, and social justice. We come from social movements, peace movements, faith-based organizations, youth organizations, trade unions, and indigenous communities. We come from local, national, and international formations.

United by our struggle for justice, peace, self-determination of peoples and ecological sustainability, we have founded a network animated by the principles of solidarity, equality, openness, and respect for diversity.

Foreign military bases and all other infrastructure used for wars of aggression violate human rights; oppress all people, particularly indigenous peoples, African descendants, women and children; and destroy communities and the environment. They exact immeasurable consequences on the spiritual and psychological wellbeing of humankind. They are instruments of war that entrench militarization, colonialism, imperial policy, patriarchy, and racism. The United States-led illegal invasions and ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan were launched from and enabled by such bases. We call for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from these lands and reject any planned attack against Iran.

We denounce the primary responsibility of the U.S. in the proliferation of foreign military bases, as well as the role of NATO, the European Union and other countries that have or host foreign military bases.

We call for the total abolition of all foreign military bases and all other infrastructure used for wars of aggression, including military operations, maneuvers, trainings, exercises, agreements, weapons in space, military laboratories and other forms of military interventions.

We demand an end to both the construction of new bases and the reinforcement of existing bases; an end to and cleanup of environmental contamination; an end to legal immunity and other privileges of foreign military personnel. We demand integral restauration and full and just compensation for social and environmental damages caused by these bases.

Our first act as an international network is to strengthen Ecuador’s commitment to terminate the agreement that permits the U.S. military to use the base in Manta beyond 2009. We commit to remain vigilant to ensure this victory.

We support and stand in solidarity with those who struggle for the abolition of all foreign military bases worldwide.

Foreign Military Bases Out Now! Manta Si! Bases No!


Welcome to the new website of the No Bases Network!

Apart from information about the Network, this website aims to be a source of information for anyone who wants to know about bases and no-bases campaigns.

The website also links to the No Bases Network blog and to two databases: one on bases and the other to on-line documentation on bases.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cuban/US Cultural Exchanges

Cuba/US Political Thaw: Cultural Exchange, Jazz
Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra spent the weekend jamming with Cuban musical greats ahead of a concert series together. The American Ballet Theater will perform next month in Havana in honor of Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso. Cuban musicians are traveling to the US. President Obama relaxed the US visa policy. (Dick, from ADG 10-5-10)

Guatanamo, a Judge's Ruling, and?

A Tale of 2 Gitmo Opinions: Ruling Altered to Hide Evidence of Dead, Tortured Witnesses
The investigative news website ProPublica has revealed shocking details in the case of Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, a Guantánamo prisoner ordered freed earlier this year. A day after the March 16 order was filed on the court’s electronic docket, the opinion vanished. Weeks later, a new ruling appeared in its place. While it reached the same conclusion, eight pages of material had been removed, including key passages in which Kennedy dismantled the government’s case against Uthman.
Dafna Linzer, senior reporter at ProPublica.
Related story
•Military Psychologists Face Complaints with Licensing Boards over Roles at Guantánamo
From Amy Goodman, Democracy Now (FSTV)

Don't Ask, Don't Tell and Other LGBT Issues

While Celebrating Halt to "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," Gay Rights Movement Confronts Teen Suicides, Homophobic Electioneering, and Violent Attacks
The Nation's Richard Kim joins us to discuss some of the major issues facing the gay rights movement in America today, including Tuesday's decision by a federal judge to end the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy; the surge in gay teenagers committing suicide; the homophobic remarks of politicians ahead of the midterm elections; and the recent brutal beatings and torture of three New York men because of their sexual orientation. [includes rush transcript]
Related stories
•In Landmark Ruling, Judge Rules "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" Policy Is Unconstitutional
•Federal Judge Strikes Down California Same-Sex Marriage Ban in Major Victory for Gay Rights Advocates
•"I Have No Regret to Anybody in the Military. This Is Clearly a Failure of Our Government"–Iraq War Vet Dan Choi Discharged Under "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell"
From Democracy Now 10-13-10


Sentimentality has several meanings, so it is attractive or abhorrent depending on the way it is defined and perceived. Nothing wrong with being sentimental, having feelings, feeling tender emotions, nostalgia. What warps sentiment is disproportionate feeling, such as strong grief over a cat in a tree when half the town is burning down. A present example of sentimental disproportion is the present (October 2010) obsession over the 35 miners trapped underground in Copiapo, Chile. The Weather Channel, for example reported it day after day, and during the final rscue hour after hour, man after man. Certainly pulls the heart strings. But consider information about females from the book Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn: “…thirty-nine thousand baby girls die annually in China because parents don’t give them the same medical care and attention that boys receive.” Nothing on the Weather Channel about that, or that: “Every year, at least another 2 million girls worldwide disappear because of gender discrimination.” Where are the tears for them? And let us ask what is the social function of such disproportionate concern? What does massive media attention to the rescue of a handful of miners lead to? To a national campaign for truly safe mining conditions? I doubt it. We haven’t seen that happen in the United States. Rather, it is a sentimental distraction for people from the real problems of the world. Think in contrast of the results of similar attention to the wrongs against girls and women in the world. That would be a jolt of truth-lightning. An earthquake disturbance of business as usual. Possibly a world revolution. Maybe even Wake Up With Al would wake up. Dick

Cause of World War II in the Pacific?

Who started WORLD WAR II IN THE PACIFICE? What caused Pearl Harbor?
Howard Zinn in his last book, The Bomb, quotes Bruce Russett’s No Clear Danger that SE Asia held significant economic potential for the US: “at the time most of America’s tin and rubber came from there, as did substantial quantities of other raw materials.” So the US began an embargo on Japan to stop its expansion into SE Asia. It was a colonial war. But also racist: the US had not opposed British, Dutch, and French colonization of SE Asia. A Russett also quotes a State Dept. memorandum on Japanese expansion that “did not talk of the independence of China or the principle of self-determination,” but declared: “our general diplomatic and strategic position would be considerably weakened” by the loss of those resources and “loss of the Japanese market for our goods,” while Japan would become stronger. (The Bomb pp. 31-32). The best explanation of the shared blame in this colonial and racist war over territory and resources is No Choice But War by Roland Worth, Jr., who also traces in detail the increasing stranglehold of Japan by the US embargo. Pearl Harbor was Japan’s effort to make the US back off.