Solly Mack's Journal
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Current location: Back of Beyond
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 64,404
Current location: Back of Beyond
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 64,404
Busy observing the group dynamics of dust bunnies.
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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos offered a positively Orwellian explanation Monday of why historically black colleges and universities were created in the United States. Incredibly, she suggested that they were “real pioneers” in the school-choice movement and “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education.”
But the truth about school choice is:
Once schools were desegregated, white people would start inexpensive private schools to keep their white children from attending public schools with black children.
And - this is the actual birth of "school choice" - those all white segregation academies demanded taxpayer vouchers to pay their tuition.
Same thing DeVos supports now. Taking money away from public schools to fund vouchers in the name of "school choice".
So, school choice began as a racist response to school desegregation. White people not wanting their kids to attend public schools with black students.
Betsy DeVos told a huge lie about HBCU and school choice and she knows she lied because she knows the racist history of school choice/vouchers in America, but pretends she doesn't. I don't think she would have tried to link "school choice" with HBCU if she didn't know the racist history of school choice - in an attempt to downplay that racist history. Which makes her statement that much more egregious.
Segregation Academies and Other History Stuff by me
And, to add, because my research was used by a school district in New Jersey to fight against vouchers and taking public school funds away from public schools.
More on Segregation Academies.
In Southern Towns, 'Segregation Academies' Are Still Going Strong
Posted by Solly Mack | Wed Mar 1, 2017, 12:21 PM (6 replies)
it is presidential by definition, since the word presidential can simply mean, relating to a president.
So if a president does it, it's presidential.
Now, you and I, and everyone else hears - acting in a manner befitting the office of president.
But that's not the meaning she is going with.
So, when Trump breaks law after law after law, and lies and steals, and whatever, Conway will continue to use the simple definition. Because a president does it, it's presidential. She's taking the Nixonian stance and expandng it out to include everything - not just breaking the law. Recall how Trump has already said as much - "‘the president can’t have a conflict of interest’".
People read that statement and think of course a president can have a conflict of interest - anyone can. But Trump means it the way Nixon did it. As president, he is above such considerations. Why? - because he's president and anything a president does is, by definition, presidential.
And around and around we go!
Oh, and yeah - she is full of shit but that won't stop anything.
Posted by Solly Mack | Sun Dec 4, 2016, 04:21 PM (0 replies)
I wrote this in 2005. I am including both the link to the original article and the article itself.
June 8 2005
A question was recently posed asking at what point do American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan cross the line and go "from duty to brutality."
It's an excellent question and one that needs to be asked. More importantly, it needs to be answered. Yet Americans can't look to the office of the president for the answer, because the president is too busy denying that there is a problem. The president believes that reports of torture and abuse are "absurd" and that a "few bad apples" are to blame.
What he ignores are the horrors of war for both the civilian and the soldier. What he ignores are the crimes being perpetuated in every American's name. What he ignores is the damage caused by his personal quest for glory and a place in history.
George Bush's illegal war has brought not just death, but with his lies and denials, George Bush has given America yet another dark stain on her short history as a nation - the consequences of which have yet to be fully realized. George Bush will tell you he is keeping America safe. I will tell you that he is bringing death and destruction to all involved that will be felt for years to come.
While Bush is busy ignoring and denying war crimes - and not because such things speak ill of America, but because of his own involvement in those crimes - American troops have been learning, first-hand, what causes a soldier to cross the line between doing their duty and becoming a war criminal.
But I can't live in George Bush's denial. I can't embrace his lies. You see, my husband is a soldier. He spent a year in Iraq.
The question of soldiers crossing the line and becoming war criminals comes up a lot in our home. We talk about this all the time. My husband was lucky - not just because he survived, though I'm not discounting that in the least, but because when he saw other soldiers crossing that line, he told his command. He kept his humanity.
My husband has never killed anyone. Odd statement that. It's not a brag, it's a sigh of relief. I'm not sure how to help others feel the emotion those words can bring. "He never killed anyone." It's like missing the collision but still being on the highway driving at top speed with no brakes. Every close call is punctuated by "this time."
So we talk.
"Why do some soldiers cross the line?"
Because some soldiers are already crazy, and some soldiers go crazy during war. Because some soldiers just don't care and they buy the lies and the hate, and because some soldiers just go along with the crowd. Some soldiers are just so scared, they don't think.
"But when it comes to war, you aren't trained to think, you're trained to react."
That's not true. The catch is, if you react without thinking you'll endanger everyone (civilian and soldier alike). Those are the worst soldiers - the ones who do not think. They might survive the war but they'll lose the battle - they have become damaged humans.
"What makes the difference?"
The character you carry within you. That moment of choice - and you choose the right path. You never know really. Different things for different people keep them from crossing the line. Some would never think to cross it and some have to fight that struggle each and every moment. Some are just lucky.
I don't know. Some things just never cross your mind. I didn't think of why I didn't do something, I just didn't do it.
"And what is your lasting memory of Iraq?"
The little girl.
The little girl had leprosy. He met her early on. Her disease was so advanced she was dying from non-treatment. In her entire short life, she got next to no treatment. My husband carried her dying body, along with her mother and father, through three cities seeking help for her. He couldn't find it. Iraqi doctors too scared or wanting money (to survive with) and American medics not concerned.
He finally reached into his wallet, took out all his cash, then gave it to an Iraqi doctor. The doctor helped the child die comfortably because that's all they could do for her by then.
That's what my husband brought home. That's what he remembers most about Iraq.
He still twitches in his sleep. He still cringes when we drive near a bridge. Narrow roads make him jumpy - but all that's gotten better over time. It used to be way worse. It's the little 7-year-old girl that will haunt him forever.
What makes a soldier cross that line?
I don't know but some do, and they have gone to a place inside themselves I can't begin to understand. But it's the ones that don't cross that line that live with heartaches that I'll never be able to imagine, and they are the ones you and I will never hear about. Their pain doesn't make the news.
Those soldiers come home from George Bush's illegal war, to the lies and the cover-ups and the denials, and will be forgotten and overlooked because our president doesn't just ignore the "bad apples" and deny the torture, he ignores and denies all of the troops.
October 4, 2016
I wished it took a special kind of callous indifference to the pain and suffering caused by war (as displayed by Trump), but it has been my experience that far too many people willingly embrace any excuse to forget or downplay the horrors that war can bring. Both during and after, the toll on the human body, both mentally and physically - crippled by the unrelenting fear and terror, the anguish that stays with you, and a sorrow so deep a person never really feels whole again - can't be bargained away by treaty or set right by diplomacy.
For those who have suffered the cruelties of war, the end is seldom the end.
You carry it with you always.
A very human reaction to the inhumanity of war is something Trump will never understand. He can't.
To do so would require him to tear down the braggadocian facade he hides behind and admit he's afraid. Make no mistake, Trump is afraid. Everything and everyone he attacks is a source of nightmares for Trump. Persons of color and women cause him to feel great fear. For anyone to even question that he might not do everything (or anything) particularly well is seen as an attack against his character and his abilities. And like any all-too-typical coward, he's a bully who hopes his bravado will disguise his weaknesses.
It doesn't. It never will.
My husband still dreams of that little girl. He always will.
Posted by Solly Mack | Tue Oct 4, 2016, 03:48 PM (20 replies)
Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot is the true story of the forgotten heroes in the fight for voting rights—the courageous students and teachers of Selma, Alabama, who stood up against injustice despite facing intimidation, arrests and violence. By organizing and marching bravely, these change-makers achieved one of the most significant victories of the civil rights era.
The sacrifices of those who fought so hard for equality should never be forgotten. In the 2012 presidential election, more than 90 million eligible voters did not go to the polls. In the 18–24 age group, only six out 10 voted. And, in 2014, voter turnout dropped to a 72-year low.
This 40-minute film, narrated by Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, is a crucial reminder that each of us has the ability to bring about powerful social change and will help inspire young people and communities across the nation to exercise their right to participate in our democracy.
Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot
Brought to you by
If you are an educator or part of a civic group you can order this free film as a teaching aid. March 25, 2016 (March 25, 1965) marks the anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery. Get the film, then host a screening as both a celebration and a reminder of how important it is to vote, the struggle to vote, and to never stop fighting against voter suppression.
I've ordered mine.
Posted by Solly Mack | Wed Mar 23, 2016, 02:46 AM (2 replies)
by anonymous, 1987, after the Forsyth County, Ga. Civil Rights marches. I was there.
My skin, my skin it burns... you
But my skin, my skin it burns
Your hate will never define me
Your violence will never confine me
I shall be...
...all that is inside me
You are broken
you won't break me
Posted by Solly Mack | Thu Jun 18, 2015, 02:52 PM (8 replies)
Without torture prosecutions, we can't claim to be a nation of laws
Imagine what the U.S. reaction -- from government officials to everyday people -- would be if we learned that agents of another country had grabbed people from outside its borders, spirited them away to clandestine chambers in third countries, and tortured them. Special forces would be deployed. The United Nations Security Council would convene. Sanctions would be imposed amid talk of isolating a rogue nation from the civilized world.
But because it was the U.S., it's likely nothing will happen despite calls for prosecutions. The Justice Department, which has already passed on prosecutions once, affirmed Tuesday that it will not reopen investigations into possible illegal acts committed by CIA agents and officials, or the people hired by them (yes, the U.S. even outsources torture).
Torture is illegal. Letting those responsible for such inhumane acts slip away without being brought to justice compounds the crime. We like to think of ourselves as a nation governed by laws, but to shrug off torture by agents of our own government tells the world that we not only find the crimes inconsequential, but we’ve turned off the international beacon of justice.
“The CIA detention and interrogation program was immoral, illegal, out of control and (the committee persuasively argues) unnecessary. President Obama's admission this summer that "we tortured some folks" doesn't begin to convey the appalling violations of human rights and international law cataloged by the Intelligence Committee. The officials who carried out these acts shamed themselves and their country.”
Posted by Solly Mack | Fri Dec 12, 2014, 07:03 PM (2 replies)
US hid UK links in CIA torture report at request of British spy agencies
References to Britain’s intelligence agencies were deleted at their request from the damning US report on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11, it has emerged.
A spokesman for David Cameron acknowledged the UK had been granted deletions in advance of the publication, contrasting with earlier assertions by No 10. Downing Street said any redactions were only requested on “national security” grounds and contained nothing to suggest UK agencies had participated in torture or rendition.
However, the admission will fuel suspicions that the report – while heavily critical of the CIA – was effectively sanitised to conceal the way in which close allies of the US became involved in the global kidnap and torture programme that was mounted after the al-Qaida attacks.
On Wednesday, the day the report was published, asked whether redactions had been sought, Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters there had been “none whatsoever, to my knowledge”.
Posted by Solly Mack | Fri Dec 12, 2014, 08:24 AM (3 replies)
Redha al-Najar, Detainee in Torture Report, Released to Afghan Government
The United States has handed over to Afghanistan a suspected al Qaeda militant named in a U.S. Senate report as one of the first objects of harsh interrogation techniques in a CIA "dungeon" near Kabul, his lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday.
Redha al-Najar, a Tunisian who is one of the longest-serving detainees from the U.S. "war on terror", was captured as a suspected bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden in May 2002.
He has never been charged or had the chance to prove his innocence in court, and does not have prisoner of war status. The Senate report said he had been subjected to a psychological ordeal that had left him a "broken man".
His lawyer, Tina Foster, said the U.S. government had notified her that Najar had been transferred from the U.S.-run detention center at Bagram Airfield on Tuesday, six days before the government was due to make a submission to the Supreme Court about his treatment.
U.S. Closes Bagram Detention Center, Hands Over Last Afghan Prisoners
The U.S. has closed its controversial detention center near Bagram Air Base, leaving it with no prisoners in Afghanistan, after it turned over two Tunisian prisoners mentioned in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA interrogation techniques to Afghan authorities, defense officials told NBC News on Wednesday.
The Pentagon told NBC News that it "no longer operates detention facilities in Afghanistan nor maintains custody of any detainees" after the final handover. Under Washington's agreement with Kabul, the handoff to Afghanistan wasn't due to go into effect until Jan. 1. Defense officials said they couldn't explain why the U.S. was getting out three weeks early.
A spokesperson for the State Department would neither confirm nor deny the detainees' identities. The spokesperson told NBC News that the transfers were due to the Jan. 1 deadline and were "not linked to the release of the Senate committee report on detention and interrogation."
But Tina Foster, al-Najar's attorney, said her client — one of the first detainees to have been subjected to the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" — and other detainees were shuttled among various detention centers for years "to avoid scrutiny by U.S. courts." She said al-Najar was turned over less than a week before the U.S. government was to have filed a response to the Supreme Court about his treatment.
Posted by Solly Mack | Thu Dec 11, 2014, 05:14 AM (0 replies)
CIA torture report: Europe must come clean about its own complicity
Under President Bush the CIA used a web of European airports and bases for its extraordinary rendition flights, secretly transferring terror suspects across borders for interrogation. Some European states helped the CIA to carry out kidnappings. Others hosted CIA “black sites” – in effect, torture chambers – on their territory. The 600-page redacted summary of the 6,000-page report, published on Tuesday by the Senate intelligence committee, will no doubt be scrutinised to see what it may reveal of the continent’s involvement in these abuses.
In 2007 a special investigator for the Council of Europe, Dick Marty, concluded that there was “enough evidence to state” that American secret prisons existed in Poland and Romania. He added that the “illegal deportation of suspects by CIA kidnapping teams in Europe” amounted to “a massive and systematic violation of human rights”.
After 9/11 the CIA reached out to its European allies as it embarked on its detention and extraordinary rendition operation. The aim was to place detainees beyond the reach of law. The active participation of dozens of foreign governments made both the renditions and interrogations possible. How many in Europe will now be pressed to disclose the full extent of their involvement in these operations?
To this day the exact scale of European complicity remains unknown. This is because of the secrecy maintained for years by the US and its partner governments. Washington has never confirmed the location of secret CIA prisons, nor named the governments that cooperated, and nor indeed does the material just published. A decade on, there is still no public comprehensive account.
Posted by Solly Mack | Wed Dec 10, 2014, 02:43 AM (10 replies)
Just a blast from the past. 2009 Senate Armed Services Committee Report on Treatment of Detainees
To hear former President Bush tell it, you would think the United States only turned to the techniques in desperation. When Bush announced the existence of the CIA’s interrogation program in September 2006, for example, he argued that suspected al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah stopped cooperating with interrogators after his capture on March 28, 2002, forcing the agency to get rough. “We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives,” Bush said. “But he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation,” the president said. “And so, the CIA used an alternative set of procedures.”
Not to worry, the president explained. “The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively, and determined them to be lawful.”
But that’s not how it happened
To set up the torture program, the Department of Defense and the CIA reverse engineered something called SERE training, which was conducted by the JPRA. Based on Cold War communist techniques used to force false confessions, in SERE school elite U.S. troops undergo stress positions, isolation, hooding, slapping, sleep deprivation and, until recently, waterboarding to simulate illegal tactics they might face if captured by an enemy who violated the Geneva Conventions.
In either December 2001 or January 2002, two psychologists affiliated with the SERE program, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, developed the first written proposal for reverse engineering the training for use on al-Qaida suspects. Their paper made its way to the Joint Staff. (Salon first zeroed in on the pair in a June 2007 article.) The military also then began discussions at that time about using the ideas at Guantánamo.
In early March 2002, Jessen began two-week, “ad-hoc ‘crash’” courses for training government interrogators slated for Guantánamo. The courses therefore began before the allegedly uncooperative Zubaydah was ever captured, and Zubaydah was the first allegedly high-level al-Qaida operative in U.S. custody after 9/11.
Torture planning began in 2001, Senate report reveals
Posted by Solly Mack | Tue Dec 9, 2014, 05:27 PM (28 replies)