release your inner troll…
Who said revolutions can’t be fun?
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This channel’s upload has been limited…
…along with the lecture by Aaron Swartz this made me think, there doesn’t seem to be any real way for the common people to communicate with You Tube – I’m hoping there are people out there who are familiar with everything You Tube who are willing to share.
I’m going to start a list of complaints and hopefully solutions on this thread. Please share yours in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If you respond add the number of the topic, I suspect the list will be long.
1.You Tube will allows corporations to claim false copyright infringement: thys often do this against their own users, thus not only sharing ad revenue with this corporations, but not compensating the user for doing the research that proves the claim wrong. Let me paint that picture for you.
a. you upload public domain content.
b. some corporation claims copyright.
c. it is now your responsibility to prove and dispute that claim.
d. that involves your time, unpaid.
e. once proven, there is no penalty against the corporation for their false claim, however, if you were to do what the corporation did you could lose your you tube channel and all your work.
f. further, once proven that the corporation does not have the rights to the content do they still reap the ad revenue? no one seems to know, there isn’t any transparency from you tube or the company making a false claim, how come?
2. Contacting You Tube Google via e-mail reply – your message has been sent to our spam folder. How it that this company can not tell the difference between the email addresses they require you to have in order to sign up and spam? In many cases Google You Tube email requires you to give them your phone number. Are they unable to communicate like the FBI an CIA c. 2001?
3. You Tube Contact Numbers:
4. The Orchard:
President Barack Obama (Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
A few days ago, I participated in a debate with the legendary antiwar dissident Daniel Ellsberg on Huffington Post live on the merits of the Obama administration, and what progressives should do on Election Day. Ellsberg had written a blog post arguing that, though Obama deserves tremendous criticism, voters in swing states ought to vote for him, lest they operate as dupes for a far more malevolent Republican Party. This attitude is relatively pervasive among Democrats, and it deserves a genuine response. As the election is fast approaching, this piece is an attempt at laying out the progressive case for why one should not vote for Barack Obama for reelection, even if you are in a swing state.
There are many good arguments against Obama, even if the Republicans cannot seem to muster any. The civil liberties/antiwar case was made eloquently a few weeks ago by libertarian Conor Friedersdorf, who wrote a well-cited blog post on why he could not, in good conscience, vote for Obama. While his arguments have tremendous merit, there is an equally powerful case against Obama on the grounds of economic and social equity. That case needs to be made. For those who don’t know me, here is a brief, relevant background: I have a long history in Democratic and liberal politics. I have worked for several Democratic candidates and affiliated groups, I have personally raised millions of dollars for Democrats online, I was an early advisor to Actblue (which has processed over $300 million to Democratic candidates). I have worked in Congress (mostly on the Dodd-Frank financial reform package), and I was a producer at MSNBC. Furthermore, I aggressively opposed Nader-style challenges until 2008.
So why oppose Obama? Simply, it is the shape of the society Obama is crafting that I oppose, and I intend to hold him responsible, such as I can, for his actions in creating it. Many Democrats are disappointed in Obama. Some feel he’s a good president with a bad Congress. Some feel he’s a good man, trying to do the right thing, but not bold enough. Others think it’s just the system, that anyone would do what he did. I will get to each of these sentiments, and pragmatic questions around the election, but I think it’s important to be grounded in policy outcomes. Not, what did Obama try to do, in his heart of hearts? But what kind of America has he actually delivered? And the chart below answers the question. This chart reflects the progressive case against Obama.
The above is a chart of corporate profits against the main store of savings for most Americans who have savings — home equity. Notice that after the crisis, after the Obama inflection point, corporate profits recovered dramatically and surpassed previous highs, whereas home equity levels have remained static. That $5-7 trillion of lost savings did not come back, whereas financial assets and corporate profits did. Also notice that this is unprecedented in postwar history. Home equity levels and corporate profits have simply never diverged in this way; what was good for GM had always, until recently, been good, if not for America, for the balance sheet of homeowners. Obama’s policies severed this link, completely.
This split represents more than money. It represents a new kind of politics, one where Obama, and yes, he did this, officially enshrined rights for the elite in our constitutional order and removed rights from everyone else (see “The Housing Crash and the End of American Citizenship” in the Fordham Urban Law Journal for a more complete discussion of the problem). The bailouts and the associated Federal Reserve actions were not primarily shifts of funds to bankers; they were a guarantee that property rights for a certain class of creditors were immune from challenge or market forces. The foreclosure crisis, with its rampant criminality, predatory lending, and document forgeries, represents the flip side. Property rights for debtors simply increasingly exist solely at the pleasure of the powerful. The lack of prosecution of Wall Street executives, the ability of banks to borrow at 0 percent from the Federal Reserve while most of us face credit card rates of 15-30 percent, and the bailouts are all part of the re-creation of the American system of law around Obama’s oligarchy.
The policy continuity with Bush is a stark contrast to what Obama offered as a candidate. Look at the broken promises from the 2008 Democratic platform: a higher minimum wage, a ban on the replacement of striking workers, seven days of paid sick leave, a more diverse media ownership structure, renegotiation of NAFTA, letting bankruptcy judges write down mortgage debt, a ban on illegal wiretaps, an end to national security letters, stopping the war on whistle-blowers, passing the Employee Free Choice Act, restoring habeas corpus, and labor protections in the FAA bill. Each of these pledges would have tilted bargaining leverage to debtors, to labor, or to political dissidents. So Obama promised them to distinguish himself from Bush, and then went back on his word because these promises didn’t fit with the larger policy arc of shifting American society toward his vision. For sure, Obama believes he is doing the right thing, that his policies are what’s best for society. He is a conservative technocrat, running a policy architecture to ensure that conservative technocrats like him run the complex machinery of the state and reap private rewards from doing so. Radical political and economic inequality is the result. None of these policy shifts, with the exception of TARP, is that important in and of themselves, but together they add up to declining living standards.
While life has never been fair, the chart above shows that, since World War II, this level of official legal, political and economic inequity for the broad mass of the public is new (though obviously for subgroups, like African-Americans, it was not new). It is as if America’s traditional racial segregationist tendencies have been reorganized, and the tools and tactics of that system have been repurposed for a multicultural elite colonizing a multicultural population. The data bears this out: Under Bush, economic inequality was bad, as 65 cents of every dollar of income growth went to the top 1 percent. Under Obama, however, that number is 93 cents out of every dollar. That’s right, under Barack Obama there is more economic inequality than under George W. Bush. And if you look at the chart above, most of this shift happened in 2009-2010, when Democrats controlled Congress. This was not, in other words, the doing of the mean Republican Congress. And it’s not strictly a result of the financial crisis; after all, corporate profits did crash, like housing values did, but they also recovered, while housing values have not.
This is the shape of the system Obama has designed. It is intentional, it is the modern American order, and it has a certain equilibrium, the kind we identify in Middle Eastern resource extraction based economies. We are even seeing, as I showed in an earlier post, a transition of the American economic order toward a petro-state. By some accounts, America will be the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world, bigger than Saudi Arabia. This is just not an America that any of us should want to live in. It is a country whose economic basis is oligarchy, whose political system is authoritarianism, and whose political culture is murderous toward the rest of the world and suicidal in our aggressive lack of attention to climate change.
Many will claim that Obama was stymied by a Republican Congress. But the primary policy framework Obama put in place – the bailouts, took place during the transition and the immediate months after the election, when Obama had enormous leverage over the Bush administration and then a dominant Democratic Party in Congress. In fact, during the transition itself, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson offered a deal to Barney Frank, to force banks to write down mortgages and stem foreclosures if Barney would speed up the release of TARP money. Paulson demanded, as a condition of the deal, that Obama sign off on it. Barney said fine, but to his surprise, the incoming president vetoed the deal. Yup, you heard that right — the Bush administration was willing to write down mortgages in response to Democratic pressure, but it was Obama who said no, we want a foreclosure crisis. And with Neil Barofsky’s book ”Bailout,” we see why. Tim Geithner said, in private meetings, that the foreclosure mitigation programs were not meant to mitigate foreclosures, but to spread out pain for the banks, the famous “foam the runway” comment. This central lie is key to the entire Obama economic strategy. It is not that Obama was stymied by Congress, or was up against a system, or faced a massive crisis, which led to the shape of the economy we see today. Rather, Obama had a handshake deal to help the middle class offered to him by Paulson, and Obama said no. He was not constrained by anything but his own policy instincts. And the reflation of corporate profits and financial assets and death of the middle class were the predictable results.
The rest of Obama’s policy framework looks very different when you wake up from the dream state pushed by cable news. Obama’s history of personal use of illegal narcotics, combined with his escalation of the war on medical marijuana (despite declining support for the drug war in the Democratic caucus), shows both a personal hypocrisy and destructive cynicism that we should decry in anyone, let alone an important policymaker who helps keep a half a million people in jail for participating in a legitimate economy outlawed by the drug warrior industry. But it makes sense once you realize that his policy architecture coheres with a Romney-like philosophy that there is one set of rules for the little people, and another for the important people. It’s why the administration quietly pushed Chinese investment in American infrastructure, seeks to privatize public education, removed labor protections from the FAA authorization bill, and inserted a provision into the stimulus bill ensuring AIG bonuses would be paid, and then lied about it to avoid blame. Wall Street speculator who rigged markets are simply smart and savvy businessmen, as Obama called Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, whereas the millions who fell prey to their predatory lending schemes are irresponsible borrowers. And it’s why Obama is explicitly targeting entitlements, insurance programs for which Americans paid. Obama wants to preserve these programs for the “most vulnerable,” but that’s still a taking. Did not every American pay into Social Security and Medicare? They did, but as with the foreclosure crisis, property rights (which are essential legal rights) of the rest of us are irrelevant. While Romney is explicit about 47 percent of the country being worthless, Obama just acts as if they are charity cases. In neither case does either candidate treat the mass of the public as fellow citizens.
Now, it would not be fair to address this matter purely on economic grounds, and ignore women’s rights. In that debate with Ellsberg, advocate Emily Hauser insistently made the case that choice will be safe under Obama, and ended under Romney, that this is the only issue that matters to women, and that anyone who doesn’t agree is, as she put it, delusional. Falguni Sheth argued that this is a typical perspective from a privileged white woman, who ignores much of the impact that Barack Obama’s policies have on women, and specifically women of color. And even on the issue of choice, you could make a good case, as she does, that there’s less of a difference between Obama and Romney than meets the eye.
Sheth’s piece is persuasive. Barack Obama is the president who hired as his lead economic advisor Larry Summers, a man famous for arguing that women are genetically predisposed to being bad at math. Unsurprisingly, Anita Dunn, a White House adviser, later called the Obama White House a “hostile work environment” for women, in large part because of the boys club of Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers. Obama is the president who insisted that women under 17 shouldn’t have access to Plan B birth control, overruling scientists at the FDA, because of his position ”as a father of two daughters.” Girls, he said, shouldn’t be able to buy these drugs next to “bubble gum and batteries.” Aside from the obvious sexism, he left out the possibility that young women who need Plan B had been raped by their fathers, which anyone who works in the field knows happens all too often. In his healthcare bill, Obama made sure that government funds, including tax credits and Medicaid that are the key to expanding healthcare access to the poor, will be subject to the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits their use for abortion. It’s not clear what will happen with healthcare exchanges, or how much coverage there will be for abortion services in the future.
As Sheth also notes, there is a lot more to women’s rights than abortion. Predatory lending and foreclosures disproportionately impact women. The drug war impacts women. Under Obama, 1.6 million more women are now in poverty. 1.2 million migrants have been deported by the Department of Homeland Security. The teacher layoffs from Obama’s stimulus being inadequate to the task disproportionately hit women’s economic opportunity. Oligarchies in general are just not good for women.
In terms of the Supreme Court itself, Obama’s track record is not actually that good. As a senator, Obama publicly chided liberals for demanding that Sen. Patrick Leahy block Sam Alito from the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Obama-appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor has in her career already ruled to limit access to abortion, and Elena Kagan’s stance is not yet clear. Arguing that Romney justices would overturn Roe v. Wade is a concession that Senate Democrats, as they did with Alito and Roberts, would allow an anti-choice justice through the Senate. More likely is that Romney, like Obama, simply does not care about abortion, but does care about the court’s business case rulings (the U.S. Chamber went undefeated last year). Romney has already said he won’t change abortion laws, and that all women should have access to contraception. He may be lying, but more likely is that he does not care and is being subjected to political pressure. But so is Obama, who is openly embracing abortion rights and contraception now that it is a political asset. In other words, what is moving women’s rights is not Obama or Romney, but the fact that a fierce political race has shown that women’s rights are popular. The lesson is not to support Obama, who will shelve women’s rights for another three years, but to continue making a strong case for women’s rights.
The Case for Voting Third Party
So, what is to be done? We have an election, and you probably have a vote. What should you do with it? I think it’s worth voting for a third party candidate, and I’ll explain why below. But first, let’s be honest about what voting for Obama means. This requires diving into something I actually detest, which is electoral analysis and the notion of what would a pragmatist do. I tend to find the slur that one need be pragmatic and not a purist condescending and dishonest; no one ever takes an action without a reason to do so. Life is compromise. Every person gets this from the first time he or she, as a kid, asks his or her dad for something his or her mom won’t give him. If you are taking action in politics, you have to assume that you are doing it because you want some sort of consequence from it. But even within the desiccated and corroded notion of what passes for democracy in 2012, the claims of the partisans to pragmatism are foolish. There are only five or six states that matter in this election; in the other 44 or 45, your vote on the presidential level doesn’t matter. It is as decorative as a vote for an “American Idol contestant.” So, unless you are in one of the few swing states that matters, a vote for Obama is simply an unabashed endorsement of his policies. But if you are in a swing state, then the question is, what should you do?
Now, and this is subtle, I don’t think the case against voting for Obama is airtight. If you are willing to argue that Obama, though he has imposed an authoritarian architecture on the American system, is still a better choice than Romney, fine. I can respect honest disagreement. Here’s why I disagree with that analysis. If the White House were a video game where the player was all that mattered, voting for Obama would probably be the most reasonable thing to do. Romney is more likely to attack Iran, which would be just horrific (though Obama might do so as well, we don’t really know). But video game policymaking is not how politics actually works — the people themselves, what they believe and what they don’t, can constrain political leaders. And under Obama, because there is now no one making the anti-torture argument, Americans have become more tolerant of torture, drones, war and authoritarianism in general. The case against Obama is that the people themselves will be better citizens under a Romney administration, distrusting him and placing constraints on his behavior the way they won’t on Obama. As a candidate, Obama promised a whole slew of civil liberties protections, lying the whole time. Obama has successfully organized the left part of the Democratic Party into a force that had rhetorically opposed war and civil liberties violations, but now cheerleads a weakened America too frightened to put Osama bin Laden on trial. We must fight this thuggish political culture Bush popularized, and Obama solidified in place.
But can a third-party candidate win? No. So what is the point of voting at all, or voting for a third-party candidate? My answer is that this election is, first and foremost, practice for crisis moments. Elections are just one small part of how social justice change can happen. The best moment for change is actually a crisis, where there is actually policy leverage. We should look at 9/11, Katrina and the financial crisis as the flip side of FDR’s 100 days or the days immediately after LBJ took office. We already know that a crisis brings great pressure to conform to what the political establishment wants. So does this election. We all know that elites in a crisis will tell you to hand them enormous amounts of power, lest the world blow up. This is essentially the argument from the political establishment in 2012. Saying no to evil in 2012 will help us understand who is willing to say no to evil when it really matters. And when you have power during a crisis, there’s no end to the amount of good you can do.
How do we drive large-scale change during moments of crisis? How do we use this election to do so? Well, voting third party or even just honestly portraying Obama’s policy architecture is a good way to identify to ourselves and each other who actually has the integrity to not cave to bullying. Then the task starting after the election is to build this network of organized people with intellectual and political integrity into a group who understands how to move the levers of power across industry, government, media and politics. We need to put ourselves into the position to be able to run the government.
After all, if a political revolution came tomorrow, could those who believe in social justice and climate change actually govern? Do we have the people to do it? Do we have the ideas, the legislative proposals, the understanding of how to reorganize our society into a sustainable and socially just one? I suspect, no. When the next crisis comes, and it will come, space will again open up for real policy change. The most important thing we can use this election for is to prepare for that moment. That means finding ways of seeing who is on our side and building a group with the will to power and the expertise to make the right demands. We need to generate the inner confidence to blow up the political consensus, against the railings of the men in suits. If there had been an actual full-scale financial meltdown in 2008 without a bailout, while it would have been bad, it probably would have given us a fighting chance of warding off planetary catastrophe and reorganizing our politics. Instead the oligarchs took control, because we weren’t willing to face them down when we needed to show courage. So now we have the worst of all worlds, an inevitably worse crisis and an even more authoritarian structure of governance.
At some point soon, we will face yet another moment where the elites say, “Do what we want or there will be a meltdown.” Do we have enough people on our side willing to collectively say “do what wewant or there will be a global meldown”? This election is a good mechanism to train people in the willingness to say that and mean it. That is, the reason to advocate for a third-party candidate is to build the civic muscles willing to say no to the establishment in a crisis moment we all know is coming. Right now, the liberal establishment is teaching its people that letting malevolent political elites do what they want is not only the right path, it is the only path. Anything other than that is dubbed an affront to common decency. Just telling the truth is considered beyond rude.
We need to build a different model of politics, one in which people who want a different society are willing to actually bargain and back up their threats, rather than just aesthetically argue for shifts around the margin. The good news is that the changes we need to make are entirely doable. It will cost about $100 trillion over 20 years to move our world to an entirely sustainable energy system, and the net worth of the global top 1 percent is $103 trillion. We can do this. And the moments to let us make the changes we need are coming. There is endless good we can do, if enough of us are willing to show the courage that exists within every human being instead of the malevolence and desire for conformity that also exists within every heart.
Systems that can’t go on, don’t. The political elites, as much as they kick the can down the road, know this. The question we need to ask ourselves is, do we?
A few questions must be asked of those who are considering joining the military. These are very fair and practical questions. I encourage everyone to spread these questions so that they may be asked of those who are contemplating enlisting in the military.
To All High School and College Students:
After you enlist are you ready to die within a year?
Is your mother ready to let you die?
For Older and Already Committed Americans:
Are you ready to let your children grow up without a father?
Are you ready to allow another man in your bed?
Please make sure these young people are given the opportunity to hear those words before they sign on the dotted line-
The Immediate Problem
One change we will have to make is the classification of a new, but old mental disorder that has spread within the banking community on Wall Street and now around the world. It is called excessive greed, it is a disease.
This disease stems from what once was recognized in scientific circles as extreme antipathy and falls under the modern category of a compulsion – like an addiction to gambling, or the urge to pull out one’s own hair – this disease effects people differently, it is either external or internal.
We all suffer from this condition to some extent, but like heavy drinking or jumping off a cliff most of us have our stop measures intact; we know when to quit.
Some people don’t. It’s apparent that the smartest guys on Wall Street don’t know when to stop and they have proven this time and time again.
However, I believe the condition “excessive greed” is too common a term as a description for such a devastating disease – I suggest, acute gula avaritia – (extreme gluttony and avarice) and further, rank the extent of this compulsion by degrees.
Of course, many compulsion are often accompanied by other maladies, if you suffer from acute gula avaritia you are most likely to also suffer from superbia – a.k.a. hubris – the common and most popular term for this malady is known as bullying.
- acute ire gula avaritia -
Again, this compulsion also ranks in matters of degrees. In extreme cases a person suffering from a combination of these two compulsions will go to excessive measures to hide their disease – they become very secretive and will go to great lengths to cover their tracks. Of course, this mask or behavior only deceives those who do not understand the signs of the disease, and there are those who clearly see the symptoms, but do not know what the disease is called.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – there is a cure and it is simple and very cost effective; although it may take years or a life time, like any addiction, for the patient to overcome or control acute ire gula avaritia. This treatment or practice the consumed must adhere to is called, empatheia a.k.a. empathy.
When more science blogs and psychologist focus their writings on this diseases, when they publish, with fanfare, the conclusive data we have so far, when every day people learn the language and are educated enough to recognize and spot a loved one who suffers from this malady we could have acute ire gula avaritia under control in no time.
Catch it now, before it becomes an epidemic.
In the meantime, and in keeping with the simplicity popular culture demands (that’s another topic) I find that it is best to call this malady in a recognizable term that people throughout the world will understand, The Wall Street Disease.
the year long poetry project “Poieo” comes to an end with gratitude.
words on a page are dead until they are read – poieo a 365 day poetry project: anonymous strangers reading poems out loud and on the spot – Enjoy the art of poetry. Read a poem out loud to yourself and give it life –
I took the book and the camera and went outside. I walked the streets and no matter where I went I asked people if they would like to read from this book of poems while I filmed them.
To my pleasant surprise most people said yes.
What I like best about this project is at the very end, when people finish reading the poem, there is a wonderful expression on their face – there is a look of something genuine and innocent, something pure meeting threads of the self-conscience.
It’s nice to see people trying hard, struggling a bit, reflecting in the moment as they read and then seeing the transition from introspection clashing gently with reality.
I think this is why people like poetry, it lifts one up and out of the self – there’s just no helping it.
and they’ll grow…
sound advice – stop supporting war mongers, bank bailouts, the prison and insurance industrial complex.
all you have to do is think
“Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.” -Henry David Thoreau
June 1, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20050
Dear President Obama:
On June 5, 2012, hundreds of thousands of your supporters, including firefighters, police, nurses and teachers will go the polls to recall Governor Scott Walker, the arch-reactionary, the opponent of the basic right of collective bargaining and many other decent, established policies.
Political observers are saying that if the Republicans defeat your Democratic Party on Tuesday, it will have wide ramifications throughout the country and will probably cost you Wisconsin this November. Last year I noticed how quiet you were about the large and resourceful demonstrations in Madison that were so inspiring to many of your supporters around the country. You did not go to speak to these good Democrats. Your political operatives in the White House even turned thumbs down on the request by the Wisconsin state federation of labor that Vice President Joe Biden – a self-styled “union man”- address one hundred thousand working people and students before the state capitol in Madison.
So the main public organizations and demonstrations against the draconian Republican assault on your constituents and on long-standing Democratic Party policies – their rights and their livelihoods – were not supported by either you or an otherwise eager Joe Biden at any of those Madison turnouts.
Are you a leader? Or are you a calculator? Either way your status as “missing in action” in Wisconsin, as writer Paul Hogarth put it yesterday, is not even smart, expedient politics. It is one thing not to champion the priorities of your labor supporters – such as pressing to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, which you promised in 2008. It is quite another to betray these working and unemployed people to the cruelties of a massively funded Walker campaign which, if it wins, promises to turn Wisconsin into WisKochsin.
Perhaps you have private polls that support your absenteeism from the state. Perhaps you have other calculations not shared by the legendary calculator-in-chief Bill Clinton who is going to Wisconsin tomorrow to support the workers.
Whatever your hidden motivations are for inaction in situ, people will be asking over and over again whenever you go to fat cat fundraisers, to foreign countries promoting Harley Davidson motorcycles, to ESPN knowledgeably picking the winners for each level of the March Madness basketball tournaments, to business gatherings on Wall Street and elsewhere, this question:
Barack Obama did not have the time nor the interest to come and help us during the last days of our historic struggle against the cruelest, most craven, most corporatist-indentured Republican Party in history. Where was he?
Unless you fly to Wisconsin before Tuesday, you’d better HOPE that the polls CHANGE and the good people of Wisconsin turn out Governor Walker. Otherwise, you’ll be up against the memories of your abandonment all the way to November that will not be restricted to the boundaries of the Badger State.
P.O. Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036
While the Obama Administration continues to block any independent investigation in this country or by other countries, Britain has angered Obama officials by confirming that a suspect was tortured as part of his interrogation by the United State in Morocco. The use of other countries to torture U.S. detainees through “extraordinary renditions” is well documented. However, the Obama Administration reportedly threatened to cut off Britain from access to intelligence if the country told the truth about the torture of Binyam Mohamed. Thus, while publicly condemning the desecration of dead Taliban as “deplorable” and promising an investigation (after the photos were published by the media), the Administration continues to use classification laws to prevent the truth from being revealed about American involvement in potential war crimes. What is particularly disturbing is that this story has received relatively little attention in the United States media, which appears to have “moved beyond” torture in favor of Tebow as a worthy subject of coverage.
Mohammed was interrogated by U.S. officials and tortured during the two years he was held in Morocco. He was picked up in Pakistan in 2002 after American officials claimed that he was al-Qaeda training and preparing to detonate a “dirty bomb” in the United States. If you recall, the Bush Administration also made such a claim against Jose Padilla — a statement by John Ashcroft later retracted by the White House.
The CIA reportedly transferred Mohamed to Morocco after 18 months of interrogation — transported on CIA-chartered aircraft as part of the Bush Administration’s “extraordinary rendition program.” e was later taken to Guantanamo.
During his torture sessions, Mohamed was hanged from a wall with his feet unable to reach the floor and his chest and genitals were cut with a razor. Pictures, Mohammed said, were taken by a woman with an American accent. While the British government opposed release of evidence in the case, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) confirmed the allegation of torture. They further said the torture resulted in the provision of “information to the US authorities about Mohamed and supplied questions for the US authorities to put to Mohamed while he was being detained.”
What is most striking here is that it is the Obama Administration that is fighting the release of this information and threatening England — as it earlier threatened Spain when a court in that country sought to investigate our torture program.While President Obama has admitted that waterboarding is torture, he promised CIA employees that they would not be prosecuted for such a war crime. Not only has his Administration protected such individuals from prosecution, but it has opposed the release of evidence that confirms torture even worse than waterboarding. This is why so many civil libertarians have pledged not to support Obama. Even if Obama insists on violating treaty obligations to prosecute torture, there is no principled reason to refuse to acknowledge such crimes in past cases and to withhold confirmation of such practices. Obama has long sought to give the impression of someone concerns about torture while avoiding any responsibility or accountability for such crimes. This case shows how far Obama officials have gone to conceal our violations of international and domestic laws.
If this man’s account is true (and clearly Scotland Yard has supported the thrust of the allegations), American officials participated in a horrific interrogation involving cutting a detainee and other acts of classic torture. There may be photographic evidence of such crimes. They should be made public. His name and case are already public. The classification of such evidence is being used solely to shield officials from accountability and to protect the Administration from embarrassment.
When injustice becomes law, revolution becomes our duty! – Thomas Jefferson
- - -
Fallujah babies: Under a new kind of siege
Doctors and residents blame US weapons for catastrophic levels of birth defects in Fallujah’s newborns.
Fallujah, Iraq – While the US military has formally withdrawn from Iraq, doctors and residents of Fallujah are blaming weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous used during two devastating US attacks on Fallujah in 2004 for what are being described as “catastrophic” levels of birth defects and abnormalities.
Dr Samira Alani, a paediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has taken a personal interest in investigating an explosion of congenital abnormalities that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges since 2005.
US invasion leaves lasting Iraq scars
“We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine,” Alani told Al Jazeera at her office in the hospital, while showing countless photos of shocking birth defects.
As of December 21, Alani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997, told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009. Just eight days later when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.
“There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we’ve never seen them until now,” she said. “So when I describe it all I can do is describe the physical defects, but I’m unable to provide a medical term.”
‘Incompatible with life’
Most of these babies in Fallujah die within 20 to 30 minutes after being born, but not all.
Four-year-old Abdul Jaleel Mohammed was born in October 2007. His clinical diagnosis includes dilation of two heart ventricles, and a growth on his lower back that doctors have not been able to remove.
Abdul has trouble controlling his muscles, struggles to walk, cannot control his bladder, and weakens easily. Doctors told his father, Mohamed Jaleel Abdul Rahim, that his son has severe nervous system problems, and could develop fluid build-up in his brain as he ages, which could prove fatal.
“This is the first instance of something like this in all our family,” Rahim told Al Jazeera. “We lived in an area that was heavily bombed by the Americans in 2004, and a missile landed right in front of our home. What else could cause these health problems besides this?”
Dr Alani told Al Jazeera that in the vast majority of cases she has documented, the family had no prior history of congenital abnormalities.
Alani showed Al Jazeera hundreds of photos of babies born with cleft palates, elongated heads, a baby born with one eye in the centre of its face, overgrown limbs, short limbs, and malformed ears, noses and spines.
She told Al Jazeera of cases of “thanatophoric dysplasia”, an abnormality in bones and the thoracic cage that “render the newborn incompatible with life”.
Rahim said many of his relatives that have had babies after 2004 are having problems as well.
“One of them was born and looks like a fish,” Rahim said. “I also personally know of at least three other families who live near us who have these problems also.”
For now, the family is worried how Abdul will fare in school when he is enrolled next year. Maloud Ahmed Jassim, Abdul’s grandfather, added, “We’ve seen so many miscarriages happen, and we don’t know why.”
“The growth on his back is so sensitive and painful for him,” Rahim said. “What will happen in school?”
Jassim is angered by a lack of thorough investigations into the health crisis.
“Why is the government not investigating this,” he asked. “Western media seem interested, but neither our local media nor the government are. Why not?”
In April 2011, Iraqi lawmakers debated whether the US attacks on the city constituted genocide. Resolutions that called for international prosecution, however, went nowhere.
Alani, along with Dr Christopher Busby, a British scientist and activist who has carried out research into the risks of radioactive pollution, collected hair samples from 25 parents of families with children who have birth defects and sent them to a laboratory in Germany for analysis.
Alani and Busby, along with other doctors and researchers, published a study in September 2011 from data obtained by analysing the hair samples, as well as soil and water samples from the city.
Mercury, Uranium, Bizmuth and other trace elements were found.
The report’s conclusion states:
“Whilst caution must be exercised about ruling out other possibilities, because none of the elements found in excess are reported to cause congenital diseases and cancer except Uranium, these findings suggest the enriched Uranium exposure is either a primary cause or related to the cause of the congenital anomaly and cancer increases. Questions are thus raised about the characteristics and composition of weapons now being deployed in modern battlefields.”
“As doctors, we know Mercury, Uranium and Bismuth can contribute to the development of congenital abnormalities, and we think it could be related to the use of prohibited weapons by the Americans during these battles,” Alani said.
“I made this link to a coroner’s inquest in the West Midlands into the death of a Gulf War One veteran… and a coroner’s jury accepted my evidence,” he told Al Jazeera.
“It’s been found by a coroner’s court that cancer was caused by an exposure to depleted uranium,” Busby added, “In the last 10 years, research has emerged that has made it quite clear that uranium is one of the most dangerous substances known to man, certainly in the form that it takes when used in these wars.”
In July 2010, Busby released a study that showed a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in Fallujah since the 2004 attacks. The report also showed the sex ratio had declined from normal to 86 boys to 100 girls, together with a spread of diseases indicative of genetic damage similar to but of far greater incidence than Hiroshima.
Dr Alani visited Japan recently, where she met with Japanese doctors who study birth defect rates they believe related to radiation from the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
She was told birth defect incidence rates there are between 1-2 per cent. Alani’s log of cases of birth defects amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the affected areas of Japan.
A contaminated country?
In Babil Province in southern Iraq, the head of the Babil Cancer Centre, Dr Sharif al-Alwachi, said cancer rates have been escalating at alarming rates since 2003, for which he blames the use of depleted uranium weapons by US forces during and following the 2003 invasion.
“The environment could be contaminated by chemical weapons and depleted uranium from the aftermath of the war on Iraq,” Dr Alwachi told Al Jazeera. “The air, soil and water are all polluted by these weapons, and as they come into contact with human beings they become poisonous. This is new to our region, and people are suffering here.”
The US and UK militaries have sent mixed signals about the effects of depleted uranium, but Iraqi doctors like Alwachi and Alani, and along with researchers, blame the increasing cancer and birth defect rates on the weapon.
Abdulhaq Al-Ani, author of Uranium in Iraq, has been researching the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqis since 1991. He told Al Jazeera he personally measured radiation levels in the city of Kerbala, as well as in Basra, and his Geiger counter was “screaming” because “the indicator went beyond the range”.
Alani explained that she is the only doctor in Fallujah registering cases of congenital abnormalities.
“We have no system to register all of them, so we have so many cases we are missing,” she said. “Just yesterday a colleague told me of a newborn with thanatophoric dysplasia and she did not register it. I think I only know of 40-50 per cent of the cases because so many families have their babies at home and we never know of these, and other clinics are not registering them either.”
The hospital where Alani does her work was constructed in the Dhubadh district of Fallujah in 2008. According to Alani, the district was bombed heavily during the November 2004 siege.
“There is also a primary school that was built nearby, and from that school alone three teachers developed breast cancer, and now two of them are dead,” Alani said. “We get so many cases from this area, right where the hospital is.”
Even with a vast amount of anecdotal evidence, the exact cause of the health crisis in Fallujah is currently inconclusive without an in-depth, comprehensive study, which has yet to be carried out.
But despite lack of governmental support, and very little support from outside Iraq, Alani is determined to continue her work.
“I will not leave this subject”, she told Al Jazeera. “I will not stop.”
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me —
and there was no one left to speak for me. – Rev Martin Niemöller
Discontinuance of M3
On March 23, 2006, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System will cease publication of the M3 monetary aggregate. The Board will also cease publishing the following components: large-denomination time deposits, repurchase agreements (RPs), and Eurodollars. The Board will continue to publish institutional money market mutual funds as a memorandum item in this release.
Measures of large-denomination time deposits will continue to be published by the Board in the Flow of Funds Accounts (Z.1 release) on a quarterly basis and in the H.8 release on a weekly basis (for commercial banks).
M3 does not appear to convey any additional information about economic activity that is not already embodied in M2 and has not played a role in the monetary policy process for many years. Consequently, the Board judged that the costs of collecting the underlying data and publishing M3 outweigh the benefits.