Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* US TORTURE ‘INDISPUTABLE’, CNN’s HUMILIATION, AND IRAN SANCTIONS
By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian
Two separate bipartisan reports with surprising pronouncements, and a cable news debacle, highlight similar themes
Today is a travel day for me, so I’ll use this opportunity to note some brief though significant items:
(1) It’s hardly news that the US instituted and for years maintained a systematic torture regime, but the success of the Obama administration in blocking all judicial proceedings has meant there has been no official decree that this is so. A comprehensive report just issued by a truly bipartisan group of former high-level Washington officials (including military officials) is as close as we are likely to get to such an official proclamation.
The Report explains that the impetus behind it was that “the Obama administration declined, as a matter of policy, to undertake or commission an official study of what happened, saying it was unproductive to ‘look backwards’ rather than forward.” It concludes – in unblinking and definitive fashion – that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture”; this finding is “offered without reservation”; it is “not based on any impressionistic approach” but rather “grounded in a thorough and detailed examination of what constitutes torture in many contexts, notably historical and legal”; and “the nation’s highest officials bear some responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of torture.” It also debunks the popular claim that torture was confined to three cases of waterboarding, documenting that more than three people were subjected to that tactic and that the torture includes far more than just waterboarding.
This is not only a historical disgrace for the US and the responsible officials, but, as the New York Times article on this report inadvertently suggests, also shames two other institutions:
(1) the New York Times itself, which steadfastly refused to use the word “torture” to describe what was being done (unless it was done by other countries) and continues to justify that refusal through its then-Executive Editor Bill Keller (Andrew Sullivan ably demolishes Keller’s reasoning, while the paper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote this week that this choice merits “some institutional soul-searching”); and,
(2) President Obama, who barred all criminal prosecutions for Bush officials and other torturers and thus brazenly violated at least the spirit and probably the letter of the Convention Against Torture. That treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988 (exactly 25 years ago to the day: Happy Anniversary!), compels all signatories who discover credible allegations that government officials have participated or been complicit in torture to “submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution” (Art. 7(1)). It also specifically states that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture” and “an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture” (Art. 2 (2-3)).
The disgrace of the American torture regime falls on Bush officials and secondarily the media and political institutions that acquiesced to it, but the full-scale protection of those war crimes (and the denial of justice to their victims) falls squarely on the Obama administration. […]
* THE GOAL IS TO DESTROY ALL CONSTITUTIONAL CULTURE
By Brandon Smith, Alt-Market
In America, our cultural method of debate tends to divide individual issues into carefully separated spheres of discussion. This hyperfocus on single issues, from gun rights to illegal wars to invasion of privacy, draws us away from looking at the bigger interconnected picture, otherwise known as the “macro.” Each social or political conflict is compartmentalized by the mainstream, the dots are left isolated and the overwhelming overall threat to our foundational principles is marginalized.
The problem with this civic philosophy is that the general public is left without peripheral vision and unequipped to comprehend that there is a process in motion, an overarching plan that is eating away at the edges of our liberty from every angle, one small piece at a time. That is to say, we have been conditioned to obsess over the pieces and ignore the plan.
I want you to imagine the globalist establishment and the useful socialist idiots it employs as a hive of ants lurking in the grass around a bountiful picnic basket you (or your forefathers) worked very hard to procure. Now, one ant snatches a single crumb and races away, and you think to yourself that losing that one crumb is not such a sacrifice. A few more ants pilfer crumbs, and you shrug it off. A dozen more arrive, and you start to worry a little but are still too lazy to pull out the Raid. The rest of the hive sees your apathy and attacks, gobbling everything in a swarm of single-minded destruction. Left with nothing, you sit dumbfounded and hungry, wondering where you went wrong. The truth is, you went wrong with the first ant.
Not only are personal wealth and property ransacked by the collective in this way, but also personal freedom.
Every time a smaller attack on liberty is exposed or openly announced by the cult of statism, elitists invariably respond with a false face of rationality and common sense. They claim that they respect the line. They claim that they will take only the minimum. They claim that they are pursuing only a reasonable compromise. They expound on the “virtues” of their motives. They sing songs of unity, brotherhood and the greater good. They appeal to our diplomatic side; and if that doesn’t work, they try to shame us instead for being “selfish” or “ignorant” of so-called “social progress.” But this never has been and never will be about social progress.
Their goal is not to introduce greater understanding or awareness. It is not about public good or public safety. And at the very core, it is not about truth. If they cared about truth or principle and if their objectives were honorable, they would not feel the need to constantly lie, cheat, steal, manipulate and threaten in an effort to impose their own worldview on the rest of us. If their purpose was as righteous as they pretend, then deceit and subversion should be beneath them. Their philosophy should be able to carry itself, without their convoluted efforts.[…]
* WHEN SUCKERS FINALLY REALIZE
Source: Pelerin’s World
The fleecing of the American public continues.
The theft takes different forms, but it all serves one purpose — to transfer wealth from the average Joe to the crony corporatists and their political lackeys. Here are but a few examples of how this has been accomplished:
- Bailouts for the wealthy and well-connected are paid for by the unconnected middle class.
- Subsidies are provided for unworkable schemes submitted by political donors and favorites. These schemes inevitably fail and the tax-payer is left holding an empty bag.
- Laws are routinely ignored when “friends” need help. In identical circumstances, would you receive the same treatment as Jon Corzine?
- Despite the biggest theft in world history, no one was prosecuted. The Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980s was trivial in comparison to the recent financial crisis. More than a thousand S&L executives were prosecuted.
- Ever-increasing sacrifices in the form of higher taxes from the productive sector are demanded to continue the plush living of the ruling class.
Capitalism and free markets depend upon trust, integrity, property rights and the rule of law. Without these, there are no advantages to free markets. Nor are there any incentives to create wealth. Instead, an economy becomes little more than a massive plunder scheme where the powerful exploit the weak. No economic recovery is possible under such circumstances. […]
* CISPATRIOT ACT: US REPS APPROVE CISPA CYBERSECURITY BILL
* DIGITAL DISCONNECT: ROBER McCHESNEY ON “HOW CAPITALISM IS TURNING THE INTERNET AGAINST DEMOCRACY
Source: Democracy Now!
Longtime media-reform advocate Robert McChesney looks at how the future of American politics could be largely determined by who controls the Internet in his newest book. Digital Disconnect talks about the difference between the mythology of the Internet, the hope of the Internet, that it would empower people and make democracy triumphant, versus the reality, which is that large corporate monopolies and the government, working together, are taking away the promise of the Internet to suit their interests,” says McChesney, the co-founder of Free Press and the National Conference for Media Reform. His book begins with a simple claim: “The ways capitalism works and does not work determine the role the Internet might play in society.”
* DOMINATION SYSTEMS
Domination systems as revealed by language
“…By systems I mean governments, organizations, institutions that regulate human affairs. In his books, The Powers That Be and Engaging the Powers, theologian Walter Wink talks about domination systems being ones in which a few people control [many] to their own advantage. In domination systems you have to train people to think in ways that support the system, so they fit the system.
Domination systems require:
1. Suppression of self
2. Moralistic judgments
3. Amtssprache (This expression was used by Nazi officials to describe a bureaucratic language that denies choice, with words like: should, have to, ought.)
4. The crucial concept of deserve”
The above quote was taken from an edited transcript of a 1999 workshop Rosenberg gave on anger entitled “Anger and Domination Systems.”
Let me explain what Rosenberg means by these 4 characteristics of domination systems as revealed in the language we use:
1. Suppression of self means you deny your own feelings and needs. Before being exposed to Rosenberg’s work in nonviolent communication, I had great difficulty revealing how I was feeling and what I was needing. I lacked a language for feelings and the ability to ascertain what I was needing. I was not alone. Once, I asked a psychologist, who I presumed would be an expert in this area “How do you feel?” His reply was “I feel fine.” I asked him to be more specific, and to use some feeling words, because I said that I wanted to learn how to identify my own feelings more precisely and would like his assistance. He was unable to answer my question, so I told him that this was going to be my last appointment with him. I then asked him again how he felt, and you know what his response was? He said “I feel fine,” but the look on his face was not congruent. In fact, he got rather angry with me.
For the majority of us, the reason why we find it so hard to express our feelings and needs is because we are educated by our society to ignore them so we can become some kind of interchangeable part in a vast money making machine, where feelings and needs are not important. In a domination system, the language of feelings and needs is not necessary, only obedience to authority. My boss just wants me to come to work and do the job. If I don’t feel like it, well too bad because there are plenty of people waiting in the wings to take my place. […]
* MORE CHILDREN IN GREECE ARE GOING HUNGRY
By Liz Alderman, NYTimes
ATHENS — As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.
“He had eaten almost nothing at home,” Mr. Nikas said, sitting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class suburb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the playground. He confronted Pantelis’s parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed but admitted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and ketchup.
“Not in my wildest dreams would I expect to see the situation we are in,” Mr. Nikas said. “We have reached a point where children in Greece are coming to school hungry. Today, families have difficulties not only of employment, but of survival.”
The Greek economy is in free fall, having shrunk by 20 percent in the past five years. The unemployment rate is more than 27 percent, the highest in Europe, and 6 of 10 job seekers say they have not worked in more than a year. Those dry statistics are reshaping the lives of Greek families with children, more of whom are arriving at schools hungry or underfed, even malnourished, according to private groups and the government itself.
Last year, an estimated 10 percent of Greek elementary and middle school students suffered from what public health professionals call “food insecurity,” meaning they faced hunger or the risk of it, said Dr. Athena Linos, a professor at the University of Athens Medical School who also heads a food assistance program at Prolepsis, a nongovernmental public health group that has studied the situation. “When it comes to food insecurity, Greece has now fallen to the level of some African countries,” she said. […]
* GREEK AUSTERITY IS KILLING PEOPLE
By Andy Dabilis, Greek Reporter
There’s new evidence that austerity measures being imposed by the government on the orders of international lenders to write down the country’s crushing debt is adding to the toll of suicides, murder and other health problems in Greece.
A study conducted by a team of Greek clinicians and American researchers has found when Greece’s economy began to collapse three years ago that murders and disease rates soared, suggesting the the effect of pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions is worse than believed.
Suicide and murder rates climbed from 2007 to 2009, particularly among men, and unusual outbreaks of malaria, West Nile virus and HIV took clinicians by surprise, said the findings in the American Journal of Public Health.
The decline in health came as Greece’s once robust economy collapsed into recession following the global economic crisis of 2007, with unemployment rising from 7.2 percent in 2008 to 22.6 percent in early 2012, and as austerity began in 2010 and continues today with more to come to satisfy the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that is putting up $325 billion in two bailouts to rescue the country’s economy.
Among the big cuts made by the government was at the Ministry of Health, although some sectors remain protected, such as Parliament workers who were exempted from more austerity after threatening to stop work if their pay was cut. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras gave in to them. Meanwhile, health spending fell 24 percent from 2009-2011 and is taking more hits.
For patients, the cuts meant many services that were once free now cost money out of pocket. There were salary freezes and layoffs in the health sector, and many preventive programs were halted. That led to the joint Greek-American study.
“We were expecting that these austerity policies would negatively affect health services and health outcomes, but the results were much worse than we imagined,” said lead author Elias Kondilis, a researcher at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki.
Among the general population of some 11 million people, suicide rates rose 16 percent and murders climbed nearly 26 percent from 2007 to 2009, said the findings, which draw on Greek government data. Meanwhile, deaths from infectious disease increased 13 percent in those two years. […]
* VENEZUELA ACCUSES U.S. OF PLOTTING COUP AFTER DEADLY POST-ELECTION PROTESTS
Source: Democracy Now!
Venezuelan President-elect Nicolás Maduro has accused the United States and opposition of planning a coup against him after seven government supporters were killed and 60 people were injured in clashes after the election. Venezuela’s National Electoral Council has certified Maduro’s victory, but opposition candidate Henrique Capriles is refusing to accept the results. The Venezuelan opposition says it has collected more than 3,200 reports of problems and campaign violations that could have swayed the vote, but the Union of South American Nations said Sunday’s election was free and fair. Several Latin American nations have already congratulated Maduro on his victory, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba and Nicaragua. We go to Caracas to speak to Alex Main of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He served as an election monitor in Venezuela. […]
* ARGENTINA REVOLTS AGAINST THE GOVERMENT PUSH TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
By Tyler Durden, zerohedge
The streets of Buenos Aires are full of revolting Argentinians this evening as they protest President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s (CFdK) plans to ‘increase’ state control of the court system. CFdK’s proposal looks to limit the judicial system’s ability to bring actions against the state, as Bloomberg reports, leaving citizens and companies unprotected against state actions affecting their finance or assets (i.e. mass nationalization or confiscation). As the images below show, the people are angry, exclaiming “No to impunity.” CFdK’s actions follow previous attempts to take action against companies have failed or taken too long; but acting behind a facade of “increasing democracy and transparency,” it appears her intent is clear as the bankrupt nation struggles on. “The reform will do great damage,” warned one business leader, adding that limiting these injunctions, “undermines individual’s rights and freedom.”
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s proposals that would increase state control over courts are set to be approved by Congress as lawmakers ignore protests planned for later today.
Fernandez, 60, sent a bill to Congress on April 8 to limit injunctions against the state, which would only be applied in case of risk to someone’s life or health and would have a limit of six months. That would leave people and companies unprotected in attempts to seek an injunction against state actions if a law affects their finances or assets, said Gregorio Badeni, a professor of Constitutional Law at University of Buenos Aires.
… “This means a step back of 70 years.”
Fernandez’s proposal also seeks to expand the council of magistrates, a body that selects, monitors and evaluates the nation’s judges, to 19 from 13. The planned changes to the justice system come four months after the government failed to impose a deadline for Grupo Clarin SA, the country’s largest media group, to sell assets that exceed limits set in a 2009 media law. The opposition will protest in the streets of major cities today, the third nationwide protest against Fernandez’s government in eight months, to voice disapproval over the changes and what they see as the government’s increasing state control.
“The reform is a serious threat to constitutional guarantees,” said the Argentine Business Association in a in an e-mailed statement. “It would do great damage to Argentina’s investment environment and the creation of new jobs.” […]