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Current U.S. treatment of our most vulnerable workforce isnít exactly an exemplar:
Social workers said the disabled men had been denied bathroom breaks, locked in their rooms, kicked in the groin and, in one case, handcuffed to a bed.
DAVENPORT, Iowa ó A jury on Wednesday awarded a total of $240 million to 32 mentally disabled turkey processing plant workers in Iowa for what an expert witness described as years of ďvirtual enslavementĒ by the Texas company that oversaw their care, work and lodgingÖ
During the weeklong trial that ended Wednesday, officials testified about the squalid conditions they found during a 2009 inspection of the bunkhouse where the men were housed. The building, which was in a rural area several miles from the West Liberty Foods turkey processing plant where they worked, was falling apart, infested with rodents and full of fire hazards.
Social workers spoke of the physical and verbal abuse the men said they had been subjected to by the Henryís supervisors who oversaw their work and care. They said they had been forced to work through illness and injuries, denied bathroom breaks, locked in their rooms, kicked in the groin and, in one case, handcuffed to a bedÖ
ďIf these men had not been virtually enslaved, they could have enjoyed productive lives with the support of community,Ē she said. ďIt was only because they were disabled.Ē
Posted by kpete | Wed May 1, 2013, 11:16 PM (1 replies)
Published on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 by Creators
George W Bush's $250 Million Can of Whitewash
by Jim Hightower
Big doings in Big D ó the George W. Bush Presidential Library is open for business!
Somewhere in Texas an idiot has opened his library. (Vernon Bryant, Dallas Morning News)
What a piece of work it is: a $250 million, 226,000-square-foot edifice on 23 acres in Dallas. His brick-and-limestone structure is certainly imposing, but once inside, you quickly see that it's a $250 million can of whitewash. Of course, all ex-presidents want libraries that show their good side, and Bush himself was organizer-in-chief of this temple to ... well, to himself. What's most striking is not what's in it, but what's not.
For example, where's that "Mission Accomplished" banner that he used as a political prop in May 2003, when he strutted out so fatuously on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln wearing a flight suit to pretend like he had won the Iraq war? And how about a video loop of him finally showing up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, cluelessly praising his infamously incompetent emergency management honcho with the now notorious shout-out: "Heck of a job, Brownie."
Also, while there are 35 featured videos, a replica of W's oval office, narrated presentations by top Bush officials and even statues of the family dogs ó where's Cheney? Shouldn't there be an animated exhibit of the perpetually snarling veep in his dark chamber, scheming to shred our Constitution and set up an imperial presidency (or, more accurately, an imperial vice presidency)?
Another essential element of George's tenure that goes unportrayed could be called "The Dead Garden of Compassionate Conservatism." It could feature such mementos as him cutting health care funding for veterans, closing of the college gates for 1.5 million low-income students and turning a blind eye as 8 million more Americans tumbled down the economic ladder into poverty on his watch.
Posted by kpete | Wed May 1, 2013, 09:45 PM (8 replies)
Gitmo Torture Memoir of Mohamedou Ould Slahi
by Taylor Marsh on May 1, 2013
SLATE has published excerpts of a Gitmo torture memoir that should be required reading in Congress and in the Obama administration. It should then be passed to Ron Fournier who recently wrote a sloppy love poem to George W. Bush. The first installment of the torture memoir is here, but hold on, because it unmasks, yet again, our countryís leaders as not fit for their jobs.
Hereís an excerpt on the background on the torture memoir by Mohamedou Ould Slahi:
Mohamedou Ould Slahi at GuantŠnamo
Courtesy of the International Committee of the Red Cross
What followed was one of the most stubborn, deliberate, and cruel GuantŠnamo interrogations on record. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally signed Slahiís interrogation plan. Like Mohamed al-Qahtani, the Pentagonís other ďSpecial Project,Ē Slahi would be subjected to months of 20-hour-a-day interrogations that combined sleep deprivation, severe temperature and diet manipulation, and total isolation with relentless physical and psychological humiliations. He was told his mother had been detained and would soon be at the mercy of the all-male population at GuantŠnamo. He was threatened with death and subjected to a violent mock rendition. Declassified files, including the Defense Departmentís Schmidt-Furlow Report, the Justice Departmentís investigation of FBI involvement in GuantŠnamo interrogations, and the Senate Armed Services Committeeís report on the treatment of detainees, document the Pentagonís plan and its meticulous and malicious implementation.
That all this abuse was fruitless is clear from the 2010 decision of U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson granting Slahiís habeas corpus petition and ordering his release. Once there had been talk of trying Slahi as a key 9/11 recruiter, a capital crime, but no criminal charges were ever prepared against him. The man first assigned to prosecute him, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, withdrew from the case when he discovered Slahi had been tortured. When Couchís boss, former GuantŠnamo chief prosecutor Col. Morris Davis, met with the CIA, the FBI, and military intelligence in 2007 to review Slahiís case, the agencies conceded they could not link him to any acts of terrorism. During Slahiís habeas corpus proceedings, the government still alleged he played a role in recruiting the 9/11 hijackers, though by then it was acknowledging, as Robertson notes in a footnote to his opinion, ďthat Slahi probably did not even know about the 9/11 attacks.Ē The only evidence the government offered to support allegations of Slahiís involvement in terrorist plots came, Robertson found, from statements he made in the course of his brutal interrogation.
Slahi testified by closed video link to Washington during the habeas corpus proceedings. What he said remains classified. Until now, one of the few documents we had of Slahi describing his ordeal, in his own words, is the declassified transcript of his November 2005 Administrative Review Board hearing. The document is remarkable for the characteristic clarity and sly humor of Slahiís voice; a masked interrogator, he tells the board, ďhad gloves, OJ Simpson gloves on his hands.Ē It is also exceptionally earnest. Early in his statement, he tells the board, ďPlease, I want you guys to understand my story okay, because it really doesnít matter if they release me or not, I just want my story understood.Ē
The disgrace is on every single politician in Washington, including President Obama, a man who was supposed to make things different, especially on torture and Guantanamo Bay. It hasnít happened.
We used to be better than this. We used to have leaders that were better than this.
Posted by kpete | Wed May 1, 2013, 09:39 PM (22 replies)
Capitalism is killing our morals, our future
Paul B. Farrell
Commentary: In a Market Society, everything is for sale
ďWithout being fully aware of the shift, Americans have drifted from having a market economy to becoming a market society ... where almost everything is up for sale ... a way of life where market values seep into almost every sphere of life and sometimes crowd out or corrode important values, non-market values.Ē
America transforms from mere market economy to new market society
Sandelís core message is simple: ďThe good things in life are degraded if turned into commodities. So to decide where the market belongs, and where it should be kept at a distance, we have to decide how to value the goods in question ó health, education, family life, nature, art, civic duties, and so on. These are moral and political questions, not merely economic ones.Ē
Unfortunately, we never had that debate during the 30-year rise of ďmarket triumphalism. As a result, without quite realizing it ó without ever deciding to do so ó we drifted from having a market economy to being a market society.Ē
And ďthe difference is this: A market economy is a tool ... for organizing productive activity. A market society is a way of life in which market values seep into every aspect of human endeavor. Itís a place where social relations are made over in the image of the market.Ē The difference is profound.
Posted by kpete | Wed May 1, 2013, 09:24 PM (5 replies)
Source: Huffington Post
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of his party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn't want to "be seen helping the president."
Two weeks ago, only three Republican senators voted for the bipartisan background checks amendment sponsored by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), despite overwhelming popular support for such a measure.
"In the end it didnít pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it,Ē Toomey admitted on Tuesday in an interview with Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pa.
The Times Herald noted that in "subsequent comments," Toomey "tried to walk that remark part-way back by noting he meant to say Republicans across the nation in general, not just those in the Senate."
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/01/pat-toomey-background-checks_n_3192690.html
Posted by kpete | Wed May 1, 2013, 08:30 PM (16 replies)
Posted by kpete | Wed May 1, 2013, 11:10 AM (0 replies)
Jason Collins Inspires A Young Sportswriter To Come Out Of The Closet
By Outsports on Apr 30 2013, 8:44a
"Iím tired of putting on the charade of being straight," the writer says, inspired by Jason Collins' coming out.
By Tony Jovenitti
There, I said it.
Well, I didnít say it. I wrote it.
I was always better at writing than speaking, anyway. So itís only fitting that Iím doing this in writing. Iíve been a writer my whole life, throughout high school and into college. Iíve also known I was gay for a good portion of my life. But I did my best to hide it, quell my emotions and lie to myself and everyone around me.
I got into sports writing during my junior year of college after writing for the music section and the news section of my college newspaper. I covered NCAA football and basketball before landing an awesome internship with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
So naturally, Iíve been paying close attention to the You Can Play project and the amazing work that Patrick Burke has done. And then, yesterday, the inevitable finally happened. An active player in one of the four major North American professional sports came out of the closet.
I was overjoyed to see Jason Collins invite us to know the real Jason Collins. I posted it on my Facebook to let my friends hear the news, but thanks to my internal censor, I couldnít really reveal just how excited I was. I couldnít let people know exactly how much this meant to me, they might find out my secret!
But then I thought about it for a while. The thing I admired most about Collinsí story is that he came out in his own words, by writing his own story.
Now, I love sports, but I donít really care for the NBA. Iíve never even heard of Collins. I honestly thought that, with all the work Burke has been doing, the NHL would have the first openly gay athlete. But here we are, an NBA player blazing the trail. (Did Collins ever play for the Trailblazers? No? Bummer.)
The fact that he wrote his coming out story so elegantly and in such a matter-of-fact way inspired me. Iím nowhere near as big of a deal as Collins. Heck, Iím barely a sportswriter anymore; I just do it on the side. But I want to tell my story and tell the truth to anyone who cares to listen Ė if only for my own sake.
Iím tired of putting on the charade of being straight. I grew up in a very small town that isnít too accepting of diversity. There was one gay kid and one black kid in my school and both were bullied mercilessly. I didnít partake in the bullying Ė Iím the kind of person who stays away from conflict, even when I probably should confront something Ė but I just stood by and let the jocks tease the only gay person in town who had the guts to be himself. For that, Iím ashamed. I wish I could go back and do it all over. But I canít. All I can do is offer my apologies.
I also apologize to my family and friends to whom Iíve been lying. If thereís one thing that my parents taught me growing up, itís that lying is wrong. And I let them down. But I know that they will accept and love me no matter what. Theyíve even told me this when weíve had discussions about homosexuality. I donít know why Iím so scared to come out to the world.
I know all my friends will be supportive, and I know they will all still think of me the same way they did before they read this. My friends are some of the most accepting and rational people that I know. I really donít know what Iíve been waiting for.
Perhaps Iím afraid to hurt people around me Ė like I said, I shy away from conflict and I go out of my way to please people. Iíve dated women, including one serious relationship in college. I lied to her. I honestly did love her; sheís the nicest girl youíll ever meet. But she didnít deserve being lied to. I almost donít want to write this because I donít want to hurt her.
But this needs to happen.
Yes, being a closeted writer in the macho world of sports was difficult. It was tough to keep my guard up the whole time. But Iím professional. I was there to do a job and do it well. (And yes, Don Cherry, I did see a penis in the locker room. But guess what? I didnít care.) I think my coworkers can attest that I did the job well. Shockingly, my sexuality has nothing to do with how good of a sportswriter I am. Just like Collinsí sexuality has nothing to do with his basketball skills.
A few people would crack homophobic "jokes" and blurt out gay slurs at the office and in the locker room. I know they didnít mean it, but that doesnít make it right. Iím sure theyíre reading this now saying, "Oh no, I didnít know he was gay, I wouldnít have said that!" It shouldnít matter if someoneís gay or not; we shouldnít be using those words. Iím not mad at these people and still consider them my friends, but I just hope they learn from this and stop using hateful words. Again, I know they didnít mean it, but Ė much like Tyler Seguinís unfortunate tweet a few days ago Ė we need to learn from things like this to clean up our vocabulary.
I moved away from my friends and family for a good job. I made new friends, but I kept up the charade. Now, itís time to tear down the walls Iíve spent my entire life building. Iíll never find happiness if I keep this up. So itís time to do the right thing.
Iím sorry to everyone Iíve lied to.
But, Iím Tony. I love sports. I love hockey. I love the Penguins.
And Iím gay.
I canít make up for the lies Iíve told in the past, but hopefully, everyone will forgive me and we can all move toward the future together and find happiness.
Thank you, Jason Collins.
Posted by kpete | Wed May 1, 2013, 11:07 AM (1 replies)