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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 44,684

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THE POPE STRIKES AGAIN!---White House Credits Pope Francis For Facilitating Cuba Deal

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis was instrumental in facilitating the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, a senior White House official said Wednesday.

President Obama is expected to announce a deal with the Caribbean nation Wednesday afternoon that will pave the way for the first U.S. embassy on Cuban soil since the Kennedy administration and a relaxing of many of the American economic and travel restrictions on Cuba that have defined the relationship between the two nations for decades.

Francis played a big role in bringing the longtime rivals to the negotiating table, the official said. Francis sent what was characterized as an extraordinary personal letter to Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro over the summer, urging both parties to end their frosty relationship. Following the letter, and the negotiations, Obama and Castro had a phone conversation that helped lead to Wednesday’s announcement.

The letter “gave us greater impetus and momentum for us to move forward,” the administration official said. The Vatican was the only government that participated in the negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba. Vatican officials were “in those meetings,” the official said.


"What Are YOU In For?"


About Time-Congress Is Finally Going to Make Local Law Enforcement Report How Many People They Kill

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of marchers rallied against police brutality, standing in solidarity with families who have lost loved ones to police violence. With public scrutiny zeroed in on deaths at the hands of law enforcement, one thing is noticeably missing: A federal record of just how many people die in police custody each year.

This, however, could be changing. Last week, Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013. Currently awaiting Obama's signature, it mandates that states receiving federal criminal justice assistance grants report, by gender and race, all deaths that occur in law enforcement custody, including any while a person is being detained or arrested. This would include events like the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, says Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a sponsor of the bill, in an interview with Mother Jones.

The bill also mandates that federal law enforcement agencies annually gather and report these deaths to the US attorney general, who in turn has two years to analyze the data, determine if and how it can be used to reduce the number of such deaths, and file a report to Congress.

The bill is backed by groups like the NAACP, which argue that it will increase accountability and transparency. The process it envisions would collect more data than the FBI's existing Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which only tallies what are considered "justifiable" homicides by police, a designation that can criminalize victims of police killings. As DIY databases have cropped up—the Killed By Police Facebook page, for instance, gets its stats by aggregating news stories—the bill could establish a more accurate and official repository.


Jeb Bush may be 'the smart brother' – but he's as much of a climate denier as any conservative


Jeb doesn’t just want to keep burning fossil fuels while the planet burns. He’s an out-and-out flat-earther – just like the other Republicans seen as leading contenders in the 2016 presidential race – and he’s been on the record denying climate science for years.

“I think global warming may be real,” Jeb Bush said in 2011, in what seemed like a promising start to the subject in a Fox interview. But he followed it up with the false statement that there is some kind of dispute among scientists about the causes of climate change – which there is not:

It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.

Those comments put Jeb Bush in lock-step with the other climate deniers in the Republican party – and now that he has become the party’s first (almost) declared candidate, they should help set early battle lines for climate change as a major campaign issue.


Rodriguez & CIA Lawyer REMOVED Sentence about Torture Illegality from Pelosi, Goss Briefing Record


The sentence Jose Rodriguez and his lawyer eliminated — the day after folks at CIA discussed destroying the torture tapes showing they had already used this torture — recorded that one or both of Pelosi and Goss noted that these techniques would be illegal in another country

In early September 2002, the CIA briefed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) leadership about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. Two days after, the CIA’s (redacted)CTC Legal , excised from a draft memorandum memorializing the briefing indications that the HPSCI leadership questioned the legality of the program by deleting the sentence: “HPSCI attendees also questioned the legality of these techniques if other countries would use them.”2454 After (redacted) blind-copied Jose Rodriguez on the email in which he transmitted the changes to the memorandum, Rodriguez responded to email with: “short and sweet.”

At least one of these members of Congress (or their staffers) got briefed on torture and said the torture would be illegal if other countries used it, according to CIA’s own records. So CTC’s lawyer eliminated that comment from the CIA’s record, with Jose Rodriguez’ gleeful approval.

And yet he says Congress approved of these techniques from the start.

Much More:

Stephen Colbert: No One’s Going to Pay Me to Watch Bill O’Reilly Anymore, So Fuck That Noise

Stephen Colbert: No One’s Going to Pay Me to Watch Bill O’Reilly Anymore, So Fuck That Noise

During a segment of “Formidable Opponent," in which the "real" Stephen Colbert debates the fictional Colbert, the two Colberts watched a clip of the Fox News host defending the use of torture as a means to protect Americans.

"Oh, I am going to miss that good man," Colbert said after the clip.

"Stephen, he's not going off the air," the other Colbert replied. "You are!"

"Yeah," said Colbert, "but no one’s going to pay me to watch him anymore, so fuck that noise."

VIDEO: Skip to the 3-minute mark for the good stuff.

A Message From The First President Of The United States Re: TORTURE

"Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any (prisoner). . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country."

-- George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

Inside Wall Street’s new heist: How big banks exploited a broken Democratic caucus

Inside Wall Street’s new heist: How big banks exploited a broken Democratic caucus
Want to really know how that provision watering down bank reform got in the CRomnibus? Here's the ugly truth

....this shows real dysfunction in how Democrats work. Giving Mikulski carte blanche led to an embarrassing deal that revealed real fissures within the party caucus. The leadership should have seen this coming, but either let it happen or actively participated in the rollback (a claim from the Wall Street Journal editorial board that Chuck Schumer “engineered” the swaps provision had to be retracted within hours).

More important, the leadership failed to listen to the liberal wing, who were loudly and publicly opposed to the swaps rider. This is a familiar refrain from liberal congressional aides; their side of the argument never gets represented at the negotiating table.

The hardening conventional wisdom is that Wall Street lost more than it won with its power play on the CRomnibus, because it revealed itself as a giant liberal target. Mainstream Democrats definitely underestimated the strength liberal reformers brought to the fight, so maybe future actions will be undertaken with that in mind.

But it’s just as likely that the establishment didn’t mind the outcome, letting them look like the sensible centrists “getting something done.” That was probably the motivation behind President Obama ultimately endorsing and even whipping for the bill.

Whatever the outcome, we know that Wall Street exploited a fractured Democratic caucus to restore a big subsidy to its profits. And if Democrats don’t contend with that – or worse, if they don’t want to – you can expect many more congressional victories for the financial sector.

the rest:

"Impersonating An Officer"

Did CIA torture violate Nuremberg ban on human experimentation? Physician's group thinks so.

WASHINGTON — CIA health professionals may have committed war crimes by collecting and analyzing data on brutally interrogated detainees in potential violation of U.S. and international bans on research on human subjects without their consent, a human rights organization said Tuesday.

Physicians for Human Rights called on President Barack Obama and Congress to establish a commission of inquiry to examine the participation of CIA and private medical personnel in the interrogation program, including possible breaches of domestic and international laws.

“The CIA relied upon health professionals at every step to commit and conceal the brutal and systematic torture of national security detainees,” the organization said in an analysis of a four-year study of the agency’s interrogation program released last week by the Senate Intelligence Committee. “While most of the acts detailed . . . violate international human rights and domestic laws prohibiting torture, several of these alleged violations can also constitute war crimes.”

In raising possible war crimes by medical personnel, the analysis cited bans on experimentation on prisoners that grew out of the trials of Nazi officials and doctors held in Nuremberg, Germany, after World War II.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/12/16/250260_did-cia-torture-violate-nuremberg.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
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