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Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
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Obama's 170 degrees (going on 180) on Torture is a sad and scary spectacle

Obama Could Reaffirm a Bush-Era Reading of a Treaty on Torture
By CHARLIE SAVAGE * OCT. 18, 2014 * NYTimes

WASHINGTON — When the Bush administration revealed in 2005 that it was secretly interpreting a treaty ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” as not applying to C.I.A. and military prisons overseas, Barack Obama, then a newly elected Democratic senator from Illinois, joined in a bipartisan protest.

Mr. Obama supported legislation to make it clear that American officials were legally barred from using cruelty anywhere in the world. And in a Senate speech, he said enacting such a statute “acknowledges and confirms existing obligations” under the treaty, the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view. It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

The administration must decide on its stance on the treaty by next month, when it sends a delegation to Geneva to appear before the Committee Against Torture, a United Nations panel that monitors compliance with the treaty. That presentation will be the first during Mr. Obama’s presidency.


WAY too many "Milestones" in Latest Thread feed

finding something that really IS newly posted is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Just saying'

Democracy Now: Historic $4.6 Million Settlement for Black Pastor murdered by Denver police

I wish these kinds of "settlements" came out of the Police Retirement Funds.

As Denver faces a string of police brutality cases, a federal jury has awarded a historic $4.6 million in damages to the family of a homeless preacher killed while he was in the booking area of the Denver jail. Marvin Booker died after he was grabbed and then piled on by a team of officers who handcuffed him, put him in a chokehold and tasered him. The coroner ruled his death a homicide, but prosecutors declined to charge the deputies involved, and Denver Sheriff Department officials never disciplined them, saying Booker could have harmed someone and that force was needed to restrain him. The case highlights a history of alleged misconduct by the police department, and has added momentum to calls for reform both locally and nationwide in the aftermath of calls for justice in the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by an officer in Ferguson

Video and Transcript here: http://truth-out.org/news/item/26886-in-historic-police-brutality-case-family-of-homeless-denver-pastor-killed-in-custody-awarded-4-6-million

More Cop Thuggery: 65 y.o. Phoenix man tasered to death by police

Widow and Protesters Demand Answers After Phoenix Man Dies During a Run-In with Police
By Matthew Hendley * Fri., Oct. 17 2014 * Phoenix New Times

The widow of a man who died after an encounter with Phoenix police was at Phoenix City Hall Thursday with a group of supporters demanding to know more about the man's death. Balantine Mbegbu, a 65-year-old Phoenix resident, died on October 6 after being tased by a Phoenix police officer.

"I really want to know, why did they kill my husband?" asked Ngozi Mbegbu, Balantine's wife. According to Phoenix police, officers responded to the couple's home that night after a third party called 911 to report a fight between the Mbegbus.

Balantine Mbegbu "immediately became belligerent and confrontational" with responding officers, according to a statement provided by Phoenix police.

"As one of the officers was trying to calm him down, Mr. Mbegbu backed the officer across the room and assaulted him," the PPD statement continues. "The officers were then able to temporarily calm Mr. Mbegbu down. When the additional officers arrived to assist, Mr. Mbegbu began to actively fight with them and violently resisted arrest. Mr. Mbegbu spilled hot liquid on the officers and kicked an officer in the groin."

At that point, police say one officer deployed the taser, and shortly after being handcuffed, Mbegbu started having apparent medical problems. Police called for the fire department to respond and take Mbegbu to a hospital, and Mbegbu was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Is this Good News, or not? Lockheed unveils new (nuclear) energy source

Firstly, I don't have enough of a grasp of the technical nuances of energy creation, but this sounds like it's still "nuclear" energy in some form, with radioactive consequences for all life-forms as we currently know them. Secondly, I do not trust the Lockheed Corporation to be "doing the right thing" vis-a-vis the environment and protecting the web of life we all depend on.

What do you energy science wonks think about this new development? Is it really "new"? Is it really "cleaner"? Etc.

Lockheed announces breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy
*100MW reactor small enough to fit on back of a truck
* Cleaner energy source could be in use within 10 years

theguardian.com, Wednesday 15 October 2014 11.57 EDT

Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade. Tom McGuire, who heads the project, said he and a small team had been working on fusion energy at Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works for about four years, but were now going public to find potential partners in industry and government for their work.

Initial work demonstrated the feasibility of building a 100-megawatt reactor measuring seven feet by 10 feet, which could fit on the back of a large truck, and is about 10 times smaller than current reactors, McGuire told reporters. In a statement, the company, the Pentagon’s largest supplier, said it would build and test a compact fusion reactor in less than a year, and build a prototype in five years.

In recent years, Lockheed has become increasingly involved in a variety of alternate energy projects, including several ocean energy projects, as it looks to offset a decline in US and European military spending. Lockheed’s work on fusion energy could help in developing new power sources amid increasing global conflicts over energy, and as projections show there will be a 40% to 50% increase in energy use over the next generation, McGuire said.

If it proves feasible, Lockheed’s work would mark a key breakthrough in a field that scientists have long eyed as promising, but which has not yet yielded viable power systems. The effort seeks to harness the energy released during nuclear fusion, when atoms combine into more stable forms.

“We can make a big difference on the energy front,” McGuire said, noting Lockheed’s 60 years of research on nuclear fusion as a potential energy source that is safer and more efficient than current reactors based on nuclear fission.

Can we stop criminalizing homelessness yet?

A Growing Movement Is Fighting the Criminalization of Homelessness
By Alice Speri * October 6, 2014 * Vice News

Homeless people and their advocates across the United States are pushing back against cities' attempts to erase the problem of homelessness by criminalizing it, and demanding that their basic rights be recognized and protected.

As the national momentum grows around individual states' proposals for a "Homeless Bill of Rights," dozens of social justice and homeless advocacy groups in three states have united in the effort, surveying homeless people about their priorities and working to draft legislation they hope to put before lawmakers early next year.

"We want basic human rights, we want to be able to pee, we want to be able to sleep, we want to be able to sit down," Ray Lyall, a member of Denver Homeless Out Loud, one of the groups behind the initiative, told VICE News.

More US cities are cracking down on feeding the homeless. Read more here.

"Homeless people are almost always told to get up, to move along; they can't sleep, they can't sit," added Lyall, who is himself homeless. "They are trying to stop the sharing of food, there's a lot of the general public that comes out and hands food out, and they're trying to stop that. And we did a report on the availability of bathrooms here in Denver, and there's absolutely none that's open 24 hours."

Lyall says he is very optimistic a homeless bill of rights will eventually pass in Colorado, and has been doing outreach with Denver's 11,000 homeless residents to build support for the initiative.


More Murderous Thuggery by Cops in Colorado. Man shot in back for no reason.

Colorado family stunned: Cop breaks in, fatally shoots man in back, and ‘no one knows why’
DAVID EDWARDS * 13 OCT 2014 * Raw Story

Colorado family said that it was stunned over the weekend when an officer broke down their door, and fatally shot one of the residents in the back without an explanation.

Sara Lindenmuth told KRDO that a Rocky Ford police officer forced down the door to their home sometime after her brother-in-law, 27-year-old Jack Jacquez, came home around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.

She recalled that the two men started shouting at each other.

“He was standing next to his mom, his back turned toward the officer and then he shot him twice in the back and then pepper sprayed him,” Lindenmuth said. “Then they hand cuffed his fiancée, for reasons I don’t know why. And the mom went to call the cops and the cop took her phone and threw it against the wall.”

“He just showed up,” she insisted. “No one knows why he just showed up. It just all happened unexpectedly.”

Jacquez’s fiancée, Mariah, told KKTV that he had been out late because he was helping a friend babysit. She said she was asleep when she heard the gunshots.

“Came out, gun shots firing. Found my fiancé on the floor. He couldn’t breathe,” she explained.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation was reportedly investigating the case. KKTV identified the officer as James Ashby. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Authorities said that there would be no additional details released until the investigation concluded.

Watch the video below from KRDO, broadcast Oct. 12, 2014.

Can Corporate M$M Finally handle the truth Gary Webb Exposed?

Can the Corporate Media Finally Handle the Truth Gary Webb Exposed?
Consortium News * By Robert Parry * Oct. 12, 2014
Big newspapers could have taken the opening created by “Kill the Messenger” to make amends for their egregious behavior in the 80s.

The mainstream news media’s reaction to the new movie, “Kill the Messenger,” has been tepid, perhaps not surprising given that the MSM comes across as the film’s most unsympathetic villain as it crushes journalist Gary Webb for digging up the Contra-cocaine scandal in the mid-1990s after the major newspapers thought they had buried it in the 1980s.

Not that the movie is without other villains, including drug traffickers and “men in black” government agents. But the drug lords show some humanity and even honesty as they describe how they smuggled drugs and shared the proceeds with the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, President Ronald Reagan’s beloved “freedom fighters.”

By contrast, the news executives for the big newspapers, such as the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, come across as soulless careerists determined to maintain their cozy relations with the CIA’s press office and set on shielding their failure to take on this shocking scandal when it was playing out in the 1980s.

So, in the 1990s, they concentrated their fire on Webb for alleged imperfections in his investigative reporting rather than on U.S. government officials who condoned and protected the Contra drug trafficking as part of Reagan’s Cold War crusade.

More: http://www.alternet.org/media/can-corporate-media-finally-handle-truth-gary-webb-exposed?page=0%2C0

2 NYPD Officers beat 16 y.o. black kid for raising his hands

Well the teen did have some weed on him, but still .. this is just one more reason to legalize pot.
Let's criminalize police brutality, not drugs.

BROOKLYN — Two NYPD officers are under criminal investigation after punching and bashing a 16-year-old suspect in the face with a gun despite the teen raising his hands to surrender, according to a video obtained by DNAinfo New York.

The surveillance footage obtained exclusively by “On The Inside" shows the two officers catch up to marijuana suspect Kahreem Tribble after a brief chase in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

As the teen stops running, one officer throws a punch at his face. Then, as the suspect raises his hands, the other officer clocks him with his gun.

Tribble was arrested for possessing 17 small bags of marijuana and disorderly conduct on Aug. 29. At his arraignment, he pleaded guilty to a violation and was released with cracked teeth and bruises.

The officers from the 79th Precinct are now targets of a criminal investigation conducted by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson.


Democracy Now/J.Scahill: US "Created the Very Threat We Claim to be Fighting"

To talk more about the crisis in the Middle East, we’re joined by Jeremy Scahill, who first reported from inside Iraq before the 2003 U.S. invasion. He’s co-founder of the TheIntercept.org and author of the book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. The paperback version of the book has just been published.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Jeremy.


AMY GOODMAN: And congratulations on the book being published as a paperback. Talk about the war in Syria and Iraq now.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, first of all, it’s sort of like the terrorist flavor of the month that we’re dealing with here. You know, first we had al-Qaeda as this huge global threat. Then it was ISIS. And then the Khorasan group was produced. And the thing is, almost no one in Syria had ever heard of the Khorasan group. In fact, my understanding is that it was a term that was sort of used in the U.S. intelligence community and actually isn’t the name of the people that they claim to be attacking.

And what the entire policy boils down to is that the Obama administration has, in a very Orwellian way, changed the definition of commonly understood terms—primarily, the term "imminent." They were saying that the Khorasan group represented an imminent threat to the United States. But we know from a leaked white paper, that was put out in advance of John Brennan’s confirmation to be the CIA director, that the Justice Department actually has officially changed the definition of the word "imminent" so that it does not need to involve an immediate threat against the United States, that it could be a perception that maybe one day these individuals could possibly attempt to plot—not even carry out—a terrorist attack against the United States. That flimsy justification has been used now to expand this war from Iraq to Syria, potentially beyond.

You know, the Obama administration, in engaging in this policy, is continuing a Bush administration outcome of the decision to invade Iraq. And that is, they’re empowering the very threat that they claim to be fighting. Who is ISIS? What is this group made up of? Is it just people that are radical Islamists that want to behead American journalists? No. One of the top—and this almost is never mentioned in corporate media coverage of this—one of the top military commanders of ISIS is a man named Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri al-Takriti. Who is Izzat Ibrahim? Izzat Ibrahim is the leading Baathist, who was on the deck of cards, that the United States has not captured. He was one of Saddam Hussein’s top military commanders. He was not just some ragamuffin Baathist. He actually was a hardcore general in the Iraqi military during the Iran-Iraq War, and he was a secular Baathist.

Why is he fighting with ISIS? Well, when Bush decided to invade Iraq, and then he put Paul Bremer, who was a radical neocon ideologue who had cut his teeth working for Henry Kissinger—when Paul Bremer was put in charge of the occupation of Iraq, one of the first things he did was to fire 250,000 Iraqi soldiers simply because they were members of the Baath Party. As one senior U.S. official at the time said, it was the day we made a quarter of a million enemies in Iraq. All of these Baathists have been jerked around by the United States, and the Sunnis in western Iraq, jerked around by the United States for a very long time. There was the period of the so-called surge, where the U.S. actually paid Sunnis not to kill the United States, you know, U.S. soldiers. And so, but then the U.S. turned around and put in power a Shiite-led government under Nouri al-Maliki that effectively operated a network of death squads that systematically attacked Sunnis.

So the point I’m making here is, yes, there’s an element of ISIS—I don’t know how dominant it is within the group—that is, you know, trying to establish the caliphate. And they are beheading people. And they are imposing a very strict interpretation of sharia law. But there are also—and I would suspect that they’re best military figures—there is also a large contingent of people that are fighting the same battle that they were fighting when the United States originally invaded. The fact is, there was no al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before George W. Bush took—made the decision to invade it, except in the Kurdish region in the north of Iraq, which was not under Saddam Hussein’s control. In fact, it was under the control of U.S.-backed entities. And that was Ansar al-Islam. Saddam Hussein’s forces were fighting that group.


Yeah, I mean, this is a clown show with these guys. .... The fact that the Obama administration adopted what was effectively the U.S. policy in Iraq when Bush left office says a tremendous amount about how little the Obama administration understood the disaster in Iraq. Had the United States kept in this sort of strike force, which would have been CIA paramilitaries, special operations forces, it would have exacerbated the problem. The problem here isn’t whether or not the U.S. forces would have been there to stabilize Iraq. The issue is how much worse are we going to make Iraq with these policies. And I think it’s almost impossible to imagine that this could have been handled in a worse way. Having more troops there, I mean, that’s—all of these guys, when they write their memoirs, have this brilliant 20-20 vision looking backwards, that they were the one that knew, they would have done this differently. The U.S., basically, since 9/11—and you could make an argument that this has been U.S. policy for many, many decades—you know, U.S. policy has been its own worst enemy, in one sense: We’ve created the very threats we claim to be fighting.

Full Transcript & Video Here: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/10/3/jeremy_scahill_on_obamas_orwellian_war
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