* THE SAGA OF BRADLEY MANNING, JULIAN ASSANGE, AND WIKILEAKS
“If Manning had committed war crimes in Iraq instead of exposing them, he would be a free man today”
By William Blum
“Defense lawyers say Manning was clearly a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there … They say he was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay soldier at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.” (Associated Press, February 3)
It’s unfortunate and disturbing that Bradley Manning’s attorneys have chosen to consistently base his legal defense upon the premise that personal problems and shortcomings are what motivated the young man to turn over hundreds of thousands of classified government files to Wikileaks. They should not be presenting him that way anymore than Bradley should be tried as a criminal or traitor. He should be hailed as a national hero. Yes, even when the lawyers are talking to the military mind. May as well try to penetrate that mind and find the freest and best person living there. Bradley also wears a military uniform.
Here are Manning’s own words from an online chat: “If you had free reign over classified networks … and you saw incredible things, awful things … things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC … what would you do? … God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms. … I want people to see the truth … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
Is the world to believe that these are the words of a disturbed and irrational person? Do not the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Geneva Conventions speak of a higher duty than blind loyalty to one’s government, a duty to report the war crimes of that government?
Below is a listing of some of the things revealed in the State Department cables and Defense Department files and videos. For exposing such embarrassing and less-than-honorable behavior, Bradley Manning of the United States Army and Julian Assange of Wikileaks may spend most of their remaining days in a modern dungeon, much of it while undergoing that particular form of torture known as “solitary confinement”. Indeed, it has been suggested that the mistreatment of Manning has been for the purpose of making him testify against and implicating Assange. Dozens of members of the American media and public officials have called for Julian Assange’s execution or assassination. Under the new National Defense Authorization Act, Assange could well be kidnapped or assassinated. What century are we living in? What world? […]
* WHAT AMERICA LOST WHEN DENNIS KUCINICH LOST
By John Nichols, The Nation
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a two-time presidential candidate who for the past decade has been the most consistent critic of war and militarism in the US House of Representatives, was defeated Tuesday in a Democratic primary that pitted him against fellow progressive Marcy Kaptur.
Kucinich was the first electoral victim of the current round of redistricting, which saw congressional districts redrawn in states across the country after the 2010 Census. A Republican governor and legislature carved up northern Ohio districts with an eye toward eliminating at least one Democratic seat, and they achieved their goal by forcing Kucinich and Kaptur into the same district.
That district favored Kaptur and, after a hard-fought race she prevailed by a fifty-six to thirty-nine margin, with the remainder going to a third candidate.
Though the race in Ohio’s 9th District received scant attention compared with the Republican presidential contest in the state, the result will have national consequences. […]
* VIRGINIA VOTES TO REFUSE NDAA
Although Congress approved this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers on another level continue to find faults with its nasty detainment provisions. Virginia is now the latest state to consider laws that nix some of the NDAA.
When US President Barack Obama signed his name to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, he authorized the US military to detain and torture anyone on Earth — Americans included — without charge. Opposition was widespread even before the commander-in-chief put pen to paper, but critics are continuing to condemn the legislation only two months after Obama approved it. So weary of the NDAA are lawmakers in Virginia, in fact, that a recent vote within the state’s House of Delegates led to the passing of a counter-act that will keep those detainment provisions out of VA.
A recent meeting of lawmakers in the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly yielded an impressive 96-to-4 approval for HB 1160, a bill that will ban state officials from abiding by some elements of the NDAA. Should the act see similar support in the state’s Senate, Virginia will be spared from the detainment provisions that have garnered opposition against Congress and the Obama White House over the NDAA’s passing. […]
* UTAH ASKS FOR REPEAL OF NDAA’s INDEFINITE DETENTION PROVISIONS
Utah is now the latest state to draft legislation specifically condemning the provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that allow the president to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge.
The Utah House is currently considering legislation that would publically put down Congress for drafting the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or the NDAA. The United States House and Senate passed the NDAA late last year before sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama to approve on December 31, 2011. Although the legislation legitimizes the use of funds for the US military to spend throughout 2012, it also includes some controversial provisions that grant the Executive Branch the power to indefinitely detain Americans considered terrorists in the eyes of the government.
Unfortunately, how the government goes about defining a terrorist is vaguely explained, which has many Americans concerned that they could someday find themselves forever behind bars in a military prison for expressing discontent with their country. […]
* INSIDE POWER, INC.
By David Rothkopf, Foreign Policy
[…] We have since gone from a battle between capitalism and communism to something even more complex: a battle between differing forms of capitalism, in which the distinction between each is in the relative roles and responsibilities of public and private actors. As the freewheeling market model promoted by Washington is reeling from self-inflicted wounds, other approaches are gaining ground. Rising models are vying with one another for influence — from Beijing’s “capitalism with Chinese characteristics” to the “democratic development capitalism” of India and Brazil, from Northern European economies with strong fiscal discipline but also a strong public-private compact to the small state “entrepreneurial capitalism” of places like Israel, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.
In the United States and in other countries that have adopted the U.S. model, the sense that the heavy thumb of the economically empowered rests on the legal, legislative, and regulatory scales fuels complaints that the balance has tilted too far in favor of private power. Inequality has grown in terms of both economic outcomes and apparent privileges of a super-empowered elite within — and beyond — the law. Nothing has illustrated flaws in the American system so well as the recent financial crisis, in which a few big institutions shrugged off regulation, abused their freedoms, persuaded the government to bail them out (but not their victims), and then managed to forestall real reform and return to almost all the practices that got them in trouble in the first place. The result is a backlash seen in everything from Occupy Wall Street to nationalist protests against globalization. […]
* KALAMAZOO RIVER TAR SANDS OIL PIPELINE SPILL
Michigan residents discuss the ongoing cleanup of the 2010 Kalamazoo River tar sands pipeline oil spill.
* THE BIG FRACKING BUBBLE: THE SCAM BEHIND THE GAS BOOM
It’s not only toxic – it’s driven by a right-wing billionaire who profits more from flipping land than drilling for gas
By Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone
Aubrey McClendon, America’s second-largest producer of natural gas, has never been afraid of a fight. He has become a billionaire by directing his company, Chesapeake Energy, to blast apart gas-soaked rocks a mile underground and pump the fuel to the surface. “We’re the biggest frackers in the world,” he declares proudly over a $400 bottle of French Bordeaux at a restaurant he co-owns in his hometown of Oklahoma City. “We frack all the time. What’s the big deal?”
McClendon dominates America’s supply of natural gas the same way the Tea Party-financing Koch brothers control the nation’s pipelines and refineries. Like them, McClendon is an influential right-wing power broker – he helped fund the Swift Boat attacks against John Kerry in 2004, donated $250,000 to the presidential campaign of Rick Perry, and contributed more than $500,000 to stop gay marriage. But unlike his fellow energy czars, McClendon knows how to tone down his politics and present a friendlier, less ideological face to the public. He secretly gave $26 million to the Sierra Club to fight Big Coal, and built a Google-like campus for Chesapeake’s 4,600 employees in Oklahoma City, complete with a 63,000-square-foot day care center, a luxurious gym and four cafes manned by cook-to-order chefs. He even voted for Barack Obama because he thought the country needed “an inspirational figure.”
At 52, McClendon still looks like the whip-smart accountant he once aspired to be – crisp white shirt, polished shoes, a toss of white hair. To hear him tell it, the cleaner-than-coal fuel he produces will revive our faltering economy, free us from the tyranny of foreign oil and save the planet from global warming. “I have a fossil fuel that makes other fossil fuels obsolete,” he boasts. By McClendon’s estimate, the industry has drilled more than 1.2 million wells nationwide, yet so far there have been only a few confirmed cases where things have gone wrong – despite dire warnings from scientists and environmentalists that fracking pollutes rivers and streams, contaminates drinking water and turns large swaths of farmland into industrial moonscapes. “Where is the mushroom cloud?” McClendon asks. “Where are the dogs with one leg? Where are the people that have been maimed or hurt?” […]
* TSA AIRPORT SCANNER OPERATORS SUFFERING FROM CANCER
By Luis R. Miranda, The Real Agenda
It took only a few years for the consequences of exposure to airport scanner radiation to come out. TSA airport scanner operators and other personnel discovered what are called clusters of cancer in their bodies after only a decade or so of working with these machines. The discovery of this information was done after the Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained documents that show how TSA workers got sick with cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Instead of providing the workers with proper medical attention and actually evaluating the safety of the machines, the TSA sought to keep this matter quiet in order to avoid an even greater opposition to the full body scanners installed in many airports around the US and the world. It is the proximity and continuous exposition to body scanner radiation what caused that several airport workers who first began using the scanners back in the early 2000′s now suffer from irreversible medical conditions.
Even when employees and supervisors frequently requested radiation meters in order to realistically gauge how much radiation they were being exposed to, the TSA never honored those requests. In fact, the TSA never even had the scanners tested for safety. Although US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said several times that the machines were safe, the truth is that a study cited by the TSA and Homeland Security was bogus. The study that according to Napolitano had been conducted by NIST regarding airport scanner safety never actually took place. NIST came out recently ‘washing its hands’ and stating the the National Institute of Standards and Technology never conducted any safety tests on the full body scanners. […]
* “WHY WE OCCUPIED OUR HOSPITAL” – AN OPEN LETTER BY A HOSPITAL DOCTOR AT THE WORKERS-RUN HOSPITAL OF KILKIS
Source: FROM THE GREEK STREETS
The following letter has been circulating around the Greek web; one version is here.
Previous article on the Kilkis hospital occupation, here.
The occupation of our hospital in Kilkis by its workers began on Monday, February 20. This occupation does not merely concern us, the doctors and the workers at the Hospital of Kilkis. Nor does it only take place in response to the greek National Health System (ESY), which is indeed collapsing.
We are undertaking this struggle because what is under threat today is human rights. And this threat is not even made against one nation, or a bunch of countries, or social groups: it is a threat made against the lower and middle classes in Europe, America, Asia, Africa; across the entire world. Greece’s today is the tomorrow of Portugal, Spain, Italy and the rest of the countries around the world.
The workers at the hospital of Kilkis and most hospitals and health centres around Greece are not paid on time, while many of them see their wages being slashed, to reach practically zero on a practical level. One colleague of mine was rushed to the heart clinic in a state of shock when he realised that instead of receiving his usual monthly cheque of 800 euros (yes, that is his monthly salary) from the state, he received a notice saying that not only was he not going to be paid for that month, but that he had to return 170 euros instead. Other workers were paid only 9 (nine) euros for that month. Those of us who continue to receive some wage will support them in any way we can.
This is a war against the people, entire the entire community. Those who claim that the public debt of Greece is a debt of the greek people are lying. It is not a debt owned by the people. It was amassed by the governments, in cooperation with the banks, with the aim of the enslavement of the people. The loans toward Greece are not used to pay wages, pensions or public healthcare. The exact opposite is happening: wages, pensions and healthcare cuts are used to pay the bankers.
They are lying. In opposition to what they are declaring, they do not wish to see a society free of debt. They are creating debt themselves (with the aid of corrupt governments and politicians) for their own benefit. They gave a banker to Greece for prime minister, to ensure that the “job” will be executed correctly. Our prime minister Loukas Papadimos has not even been elected. He was appointed by the ECB and the bankers, with the aid of European and Greek corrupt politicians. This is their own interpretation of the word ‘democracy’.
Debt is caused by bankers, who create money out of thin air and receive interest, merely because the governments gave them the right to do so. And they continue to say that those who are called to pay the debt are you, and me, and our children and grandchildren; with personal and national wealth, with our lives. We owe them nothing. To the contrary, they owe to the people a large part of their wealth, which they amassed thanks to political corruption.
If we do not open our eyes to this truth, we shall soon all turn into slaves, and we will be working for 200 euros or less per month. Those of us, that is, who would be able to find a job. Without healthcare, with no pensions, homeless and hungry, just like it’s already happening with my fellow inhabitants in Greece. Thousands of these live in the streets and are going hungry.
We do not have any intention to paint any gloomy picture; this is the truth. The current situation has not been caused by a financial or monetary accident or error. It is the beginning of the ugly stage of a long procedure following a carefully designed plan, a procedure that started decades ago.
We must fight together against this neoliberal plan. And this is what we are doing here, in Kilkis, this is what people are doing in many, many cities around the world.
For the time being we are not considering launching an account for financial support. It is possible, however, for this to become necessary in a few months or weeks even, if the situation worsens. For the time being, what we need first and foremost is moral support and publicity. Local struggles around the world must spread and gain mass support, if we want to win the war against this corrupt system. If you can think of additional means through which to spread the news and our ideas, that would be wonderful.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, we cannot than you enough for your kind thoughts and words.
Leta Zotaki, Director of the Radiological Unit of the Hospital of Kilkis
Member of the General Assembly of Workers
President of the Union of Hospital Doctors of the Prefecture of Kilkis