May 152013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* WE CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH – OUT WITH IT

By James Traub, Foreign Policy

Americans deserve to hear the dirty secrets of the CIA’s war on terror. We’ll all be better off with the truth.

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In April 1975, Sen. Frank Church impaneled a special investigative committee to look into shocking accounts of CIA dirty tricks. The Church Committee ultimately published 14 reports over two years revealing a clandestine agency that was a law unto itself — plotting to assassinate heads of state (Castro, Diem, Lumumba, Trujillo), carrying out weird experiments with LSD, and suborning American journalists. As a result, President Gerald Ford issued an executive order banning the assassination of foreign leaders, the House and Senate established standing intelligence committees, and the United States set up the so-called FISA courts, which oversee request for surveillance warrants against suspected foreign agents.

But the war on terror unleashed the CIA once again to carry out dark deeds against America’s enemies — torture, secret detention, and “rendition” to “black sites” across the world. How have Americans reckoned, this time, with the immoral and illegal acts carried out in their name? They have not: the CIA has retained control over the narrative. As the Constitution Project’s Detainee Treatment report describes in great detail, the CIA falsely reported — to the White House as well as to the public — that torture “worked” in wresting crucial information from high-level detainees, and thus needed to be an instrument available to interrogators. Officials like Vice President Dick Cheney repeated ad nauseum that the CIA’s dark arts had saved thousands of lives. Is it any wonder that a plurality of Americans think the United States should torture terrorists?

I wrote last month about the detainee treatment report, but I find it incredibly frustrating — and all too telling — that the findings were overwhelmed by the tidal wave of coverage of the Boston bombing. Because we fear terrorism far more viscerally than we feared communism — certainly by 1975 — we are all too susceptible to the view that America cannot afford to live by its own professed values. But of course that’s what Chileans and Brazilians thought in the 1970s. That’s why Sri Lankans have granted themselves the right to slaughter homegrown terrorists wholesale, and react furiously to any hint of criticism.

People give themselves a pass unless and until they are forced to face the truth, which is why a public airing of history is so important — and so politically fraught. There’s always a compelling reason to avoid facing the ugly truth. In early 2009, Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for an independent commission to investigate allegations of torture.  But President Barack Obama’s spokesman said that the proposal would not be “workable.” We know what he meant: you can hardly blame the president for avoiding a colossal fight with Republicans over the past, especially, when he had so many fights he needed to wage over the future. […]

READ @ http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/05/10/dirty_secrets_CIA_war_on_terror

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* MURDER IS OUR NATIONAL SPORT

By Chris Hedges, Truthout

Image: Jailed hands via Shutterstock

Image: Jailed hands via Shutterstock

Murder is our national sport. We murder tens of thousands with our industrial killing machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. We murder thousands more from the skies over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with our pilotless drones. We murder each other with reckless abandon. And, as if we were not drenched in enough human blood, we murder prisoners—most of them poor people of color who have been locked up for more than a decade. The United States believes in regeneration through violence. We have carried out blood baths on foreign soil and on our own land for generations in the vain quest of a better world. And the worse it gets, the deeper our empire sinks under the weight of its own decay and depravity, the more we kill.

There are parts of the nation where the electorate, or at least the white electorate, routinely and knowingly puts murderers into political office. Murder is a sign of strength. Murder is a symbol of resolve. Murder means law and order. Murder keeps us safe. Strap the criminal into the gurney. Plunge the needles into veins. Haul away the corpse. It is our Christian duty. God Bless America! And one of the next on the list to be murdered in Florida—a state that has decided, under its new and cynically named “Timely Justice Act,” that it needs to accelerate its execution rate—is William Van Poyck. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. June 12 at Florida State Prison. He is a writer who has spent years exposing the cruelty of our system of mass incarceration. On June 12, if Gov. Rick Scott has his way, Van Poyck will write no more. And that is exactly how our political class of murderers wants it.

“Only God can judge,” Matt Gaetz, a Republican who sponsored the Timely Justice Act in the Florida House of Representatives, said during the debate. “But we sure can set up the meeting.” […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/16337-murder-is-our-national-sport

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* GUANTANAMO BAY: INSIDE A LEGAL NIGHTMARE

By John Knefel, Rolling Stone

'The Terror Courts' by Jess Bravin, Yale University Press

‘The Terror Courts’ by Jess Bravin, Yale University Press

As the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay enters its fourth month and pressure to close the prison mounts, it’s easy to forget that Guantanamo is not only a detention facility but also the site of a unique legal experiment that has no direct precedent in U.S. history. At times, it can be difficult to keep track of the tangled mess of authorities claimed, cases appealed and lives destroyed with Guantanamo at its center. Those looking for clarity on these issues have a new, important resource in author Jess Bravin’s book The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay, which tells the story of the evolution of Guantanamo’s legal universe in captivating detail, and provides the reader with a clear picture of just how we arrived at this bizarre moment in our history.

Bravin, who is also the Supreme Court correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, populates his narrative with memorable characters, like Charlie Swift, the defense attorney in Navy whites who pulls a surprise Columbo moment before an early commission. Or Tom Umberg, who can’t believe that some of his fellow prosecutors want to push forward with the case against a detainee named Salim Hamdan despite a federal judge ruling it would be unlawful. “Guys, this is huge,” Umberg says in disbelief. “This is Marbury v. Madison.” Stu Couch, a prosecutor who refused to bring charges using evidence he thought was obtained through torture, plays a prominent role in the book as well.

Modern military commissions began as the result of an executive order signed by George W. Bush in November 2001. They were later approved by Congress in 2006, and again in 2009. Among other things, Bravin’s book examines the potential lasting implications of such commissions being formally approved by statute – rather than as the ad hoc, temporary authority they had always held in past wars. As they currently operate, they’re a mix of the civilian court and military court martial systems, a hybrid with very little case law and precedent to offer as guides.

Especially fascinating is Bravin’s description of the overlapping theories the government has used to justify detention. “From the perspective of the U.S. government, both in the Bush and Obama administrations, there are two separate and virtually unrelated legal rationales for holding people at Guantanamo,” the author says in a new 30-minute interview. First, “the government has asserted that under the laws of war it can detain people who are fighting against the United States for preventative reasons” – that is, to keep them from committing acts in the future. Bravin refers to this as “prospective detention,” and says “that premise has explained the imprisonment of everyone who has ever been held at Guantanamo Bay.” […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/guantanamo-bay-inside-a-legal-nightmare-20130513

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* JUSTICE DEPARTMENT’S PURSUIT OF AP’s PHONE RECORDS IS BOTH EXTREME AND DANGEROUS

By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian

The claimed legal basis for these actions is unknown, but the threats they pose to a free press and the newsgathering process are clear

Attorney General Eric Holder was required by DOJ regulations to personally approve efforts to obtain phone records for AP journalists. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder was required by DOJ regulations to personally approve efforts to obtain phone records for AP journalists. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Associated Press on Monday revealed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) “secretly obtained two months of telephone records of [its] reporters and editors”, denouncing it as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into the news gathering process. In a letter sent yesterday to Attorney General Eric Holder, AP’s President, Gary Pruitt, detailed that the phone records cover more than 20 telephone lines used by AP journalists, including their homes, offices and cell phones. He said the phones for which the DOJ obtained records also include ones at the AP bureaus in New York City, Washington DC, Hartford, and at the House of Representatives.

Pruitt wrote that “we regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.” He added that while AP is “evaluating its options”, he “urgently request[ed]” that the DOJ “immediately return to the AP the telephone toll records” obtained by the DOJ “and destroy all copies.” AP learned of the DOJ’s acquisition of these records only after the fact, and thus had no opportunity to raise legal and constitutional objections nor attempt to negotiate to narrow the scope of the records to be sought. Pruitt’s letter uses some inflammatory language as it is designed to advance the AP’s case and to generate public anger, but that’s entirely appropriate. The phone records reveal, at a minimum, all of the telephone numbers called by those AP journalists over the course of two months.

The ACLU last night condemned the DOJ’s acts as “press intimidation” and said it constitutes “an unacceptable abuse of power”. The Electronic Frontier Foundation denounced it as “a terrible blow against the freedom of the press and the ability of reporters to investigate and report the news”. The New York Times’ Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal called the DOJ’s actions “outrageous” while Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said they were “shocking” and “disturbing”. Even Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said: “I am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government’s explanation.” […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/14/justice-department-ap-phone-records-whistleblowers

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* 5 MILLION FARMERS SUE MONSANTO FOR $7.7 BILLION

Source: Why Don’t You Try This

Go home Monsanto, you're drunk! - 5 Million Farmers Sue Monsanto for $7.7 Billion

Launching a lawsuit against the very company that is responsible for a farmer suicide every 30 minutes, 5 million farmers are now suing Monsanto for as much as 6.2 billion euros (around 7.7 billion US dollars).

The reason? As with many other cases, such as the ones that led certain farming regions to be known as the ‘suicide belt’, Monsanto has been reportedly taxing the farmers to financial shambles with ridiculous royalty charges.

The farmers state that Monsanto has been unfairly gathering exorbitant profits each year on a global scale from “renewal” seed harvests, which are crops planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest.

The practice of using renewal seeds dates back to ancient times, but Monsanto seeks to collect massive royalties and put an end to the practice. Why? Because Monsanto owns the very patent to the genetically modified seed, and is charging the farmers not only for the original crops, but the later harvests as well. Eventually, the royalties compound and many farmers begin to struggle with even keeping their farm afloat. It is for this reason that India slammed Monsanto with groundbreaking ‘biopiracy’ charges in an effort to stop Monsanto from ‘patenting life’.

Jane Berwanger, a lawyer for the farmers who went on record regarding the case, told the Associted Press:

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production.”

READ @ http://www.whydontyoutrythis.com/2013/03/5-million-farmers-sue-monsanto-for-7-billion.html#sthash.NhB2VpH5.RTbxUKZF.dpbs

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* MONSANTO HAS TAKEN OVER THE USDA

By David Swanson, Nation of Change

Clearly, an investigation of large-scale government corruption by this singularly destructive corporation is long overdue.

bio650

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been taken over by an outside organization.  RootsAction has launched a campaign demanding a Congressional investigation.

The organization is called Monsanto.

Monsanto is, of course, the world’s largest biotech corporation.  These are the people who brought us Roundup weed killer and the resulting superweeds and superbugs, along with growth hormones for cows, genetically engineered and patented seeds, PCBs, and Agent Orange — which Monsanto now wants us to use as herbicide on genetically engineered corn and soybeans.

This chemical company — responsible for environmental disasters that have destroyed entire towns, and a driving force behind the international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has helped ruin — has monopolized our food system largely by taking over regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

recent study links Roundup to autism, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

While Hungary has just destroyed all Monsanto genetically engineered corn fields, the USDA takes a slightly different approach toward the chemical giant.  The USDA has, in fact, never denied a single application from Monsanto for new genetically engineered crops.  Not one.  Not ever. […]

READ @ http://www.nationofchange.org/monsanto-has-taken-over-usda-1368111215

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* VANDANA SHIVA – ENVIRONMENTAL CAMPAIGNER

Source: BBC

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2OJPFSZ4OE&feature=youtu.be

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* VANDANA SHIVA ON THE PROBLEM WITH GENETICALLY-MODIFIED SEEDS

By Vandana Shiva interviewed by Bill Moyers

Bill talks to scientist and philosopher Vandana Shiva, who’s become a rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds. These seeds — considered “intellectual property” by the big companies who own the patents — are globally marketed to monopolize food production and profits. Opponents challenge the safety of genetically modified seeds, claiming they also harm the environment, are more costly, and leave local farmers deep in debt as well as dependent on suppliers. Shiva, who founded a movement in India to promote native seeds, links genetic tinkering to problems in our ecology, economy, and humanity, and sees this as the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth.

VIDEO @ http://vimeo.com/45691238

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* ALL IN IT TOGETHER: HOW GOVERNMENT IS HANDING THE OWNERSHIP OF OUR SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS TO BANKS

Source: Scriptonite Daily

pfi2

There is a scandal unfolding quietly in this country which poses an existential threat to our most critical public services.  It is called the Private Finance Initiative.  Today, we look at the dangerous circle of self-interest which means our government is making the tax payer pay the bill for private service providers and banks to take over our schools, hospitals and other core public services.

What is PFI?

PFI stands for Private Finance Initiative.  The schemes were initially designed by Tory Chancellor Norman Lamont in 1992 and were rapidly expanded under New Labour.  They are touted as a form of Public Private Partnership.  The government uses private finance, rather than borrowing in the usual way, to raise funds for projects.  Since 1992, our hospitals and schools have been built this way.  PFI loans are at least twice the rate of interest of ordinary government loans, and repaid over 25-30 years.

The Truth about PFI

A recent report by the Treasury Committee condemned the Private Finance Initiative, as “always…more expensive than government borrowing”.  Furthermore, the report continues “we have not seen clear areas of savings and benefits in other areas…quality was lower in PFI buildings (and)…PFI is also inherently inflexible, especially for NHS projects”.

The report did identify major benefits to PFI unrelated to absolute costs or value for money.

  1. The majority of PFI debt does not appear in government debt or deficit figures – the government can therefore use it to bury the true debt burden.
  2. Government departments can use PFI to increase their own budgets without dipping into their allotted funds for capital investment. […]

READ @ http://scriptonitedaily.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/all-in-it-together-how-government-is-handing-ownership-of-our-schools-and-hospitals-to-banks/

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* HOW AUSTERITY KILLS

By David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, NYTimes

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EARLY last month, a triple suicide was reported in the seaside town of Civitanova Marche, Italy. A married couple, Anna Maria Sopranzi, 68, and Romeo Dionisi, 62, had been struggling to live on her monthly pension of around 500 euros (about $650), and had fallen behind on rent.

Because the Italian government’s austerity budget had raised the retirement age, Mr. Dionisi, a former construction worker, became one of Italy’s esodati (exiled ones) — older workers plunged into poverty without a safety net. On April 5, he and his wife left a note on a neighbor’s car asking for forgiveness, then hanged themselves in a storage closet at home. When Ms. Sopranzi’s brother, Giuseppe Sopranzi, 73, heard the news, he drowned himself in the Adriatic.

The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the 19th century. People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs.

In the United States, the suicide rate, which had slowly risen since 2000, jumped during and after the 2007-9 recession. In a new book, we estimate that 4,750 “excess” suicides — that is, deaths above what pre-existing trends would predict — occurred from 2007 to 2010. Rates of such suicides were significantly greater in the states that experienced the greatest job losses. Deaths from suicide overtook deaths from car crashes in 2009. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1&

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* AUSTERITY AND THE UNRAVELING OF EUROPEAN UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE

By Adam Gaffney, Dissent

From the “Block the Bridge, Block the Bill” rally, October 9, 2011. Photo: Loz Pycock/Flickr

From the “Block the Bridge, Block the Bill” rally, October 9, 2011. Photo: Loz Pycock/Flickr

A great human disaster is now unfolding in the many Eurozone countries that have agreed to slash spending, wages, and living standards to meet the demands of fiscal austerity. One facet of this story that has received far too little attention, however, is the effect of these measures on the health of these nations.

Austerity derives from the Greek austeros, for harsh or severe; but, in the area of health care, it has veered into the cruel: health expenditures dwindle, hospital budgets shrink, health care needs rise, and human suffering worsens. Suicide is on the rise; basic hospital supplies are missing; potentially life-saving surgeries are delayed; the rate of new HIV infections increases; drug shortages are ubiquitous; the prevalence of mental illness spikes. And these are just the obvious results.

The effects of austerity on health care are both immediate and long reaching. Deep cuts in public health spending clearly exacerbate the suffering caused by the prolonged economic depression. At the same time, the cuts contribute to a more pernicious, slow-moving, and decidedly political process.

For austerity is being wielded to initiate the unraveling of one of the great and humane achievements, indeed inventions, of modern Europe: the universal health care system. To understand why this is the case, let us take a brief look at how Europe came to have what it has today, before we return to the dangers of the present course. […]

READ @ http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/austerity-and-the-unraveling-of-european-universal-health-care?utm_source=Daily+Digest&utm_campaign=cad965a51b-DD_5_13_135_13_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e4428ba350-cad965a51b-10857025

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