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Jefferson23

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Connecticut
Home country: USA
Current location: nice place
Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
Number of posts: 15,299

Journal Archives

Why are we building new walls to divide us?

Using satellite imagery, users' pictures, video and first-hand testimony, Guardian reporters across the world chart the new walls being built to divide people from their neighbors.

• Jon Henley: an illusion of security from Berlin to the West Bank

Our walled world

http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2013/nov/walls#intro

Whatever Israel says, it is Iran that's offering the concessions

World View: A deal on nuclear weapons has been on the cards since President Obama decided not to attack Syria


The decision by President Obama not to launch air strikes on Syrian government forces after the apparent use of chemical weapons by them on 21 August prepared the ground for a possible US-Iranian deal on Iran's nuclear programme. By its actions, the US showed it was not prepared to undertake military action to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, Iran's one crucial ally in the Arab world. The US-led assault on Syria was more or less openly directed against Iran, so its abandonment was a decisive turnaround in the 30-year confrontation between the US and Iran. And the fact that this was not simply a zigzag in US policy was born out by popular and congressional hostility towards American involvement in another war in the region.

Iranian officials had long described the threat to the regime in Damascus by the US and its allies as directed in large part at their own government in Tehran. Not only would they have lost an allied state, but Hezbollah would have been isolated in Lebanon if a post-Assad Syria were ruled by a Sunni regime supported by the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The solid band of Shia-controlled or influenced countries, stretching from Iran's border with Afghanistan through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon's coastline on the Mediterranean, would have been broken up. The Sunni counteroffensive against the Shia would have won its first real victory.

The deal between Iran and the US and its allies being negotiated in Geneva this weekend is usually analysed in terms of the likelihood of success and identifying which side is giving the most concessions. The answer to the question about who comes out ahead – contrary to what the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been saying – is that Iran is, for the moment, doing most of the conceding on its nuclear programme, and not getting much back in terms of a relaxation of the economic blockade. Core sanctions on Iran remain, and bankers throughout the world will stay scared of inviting legal retribution from Washington if they have any dealings with Iran.

snip*But history will be complicated to reverse. Sanctions on Iran may be difficult to modify because they were put in place by Congress as instruments of its own anti-Iranian policy. One reason why the White House wants to negotiate with Iran now is to stop Congress from passing a fresh round of sanctions. On the other hand, the Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid was arguing that once the political tide behind sanctions started to ebb they would be swept away willy-nilly, because international businesses were queuing up to get into Iran. It might be good if this were true, though the forces against an accommodation with Iran are impressively powerful: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies abroad, much of Congress at home.

in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/whatever-israel-says-it-is-iran-thats-offering-the-concessions-8930811.html

A Living Death: Sentenced to Die Behind Bars for What? ( ACLU )

For 3,278 people, it was nonviolent offenses like stealing a $159 jacket or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana. An estimated 65% of them are Black. Many of them were struggling with mental illness, drug dependency or financial desperation when they committed their crimes. None of them will ever come home to their parents and children. And taxpayers are spending billions to keep them behind bars.


Patrick W. Matthews: Stealing Tools from a Tool Shed

Patrick W. Matthews
Stealing Tools from a Tool Shed

Patrick Matthews was arrested while riding in the truck of a friend who pawned stolen tools and a welding machine, which he was convicted of stealing. Patrick is now 25. Since he was sentenced to die in prison three years ago, he has completed his GED, and participates in Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. "I never in the world would've thought that could happen," he says. "Made one mistake and was treated like a murderer." Patrick had no violent criminal history and had never served a single day in a Department of Corrections facility. He desperately misses his two young children, Blayton and Hayley, who are eight and six years old. One of the judges who reviewed Patrick's appeal said he did not "believe that the ends of justice are met by a mandatory sentence for this 22-year-old," but that legislation mandated sending Patrick away for the rest of his life because of unarmed burglary convictions when he was 17.



Teresa Griffin: Carrying Drugs for an Abusive Boyfriend

Teresa Griffin was sentenced to die behind bars for her first offense. She was 26 and seven months pregnant when police apprehended her with $38,500 of her boyfriend's cash and half a pound of his cocaine. Several years before, she told her boyfriend that she was leaving him. According to Griffin, he hit her and threatened to kill her and take two of her children away if she left him. He was extremely jealous and controlling, and forbade her to go to school or work. Teresa says her boyfriend used her as a mule to transport drugs between Texas and Oklahoma, and forced her to pick up the cash proceeds of his drug sales. Griffin, now 47, has served 22 years in prison and says she feels immense remorse for her actions. "I would give anything…to be able to make different decisions," she says. "I know I did something wrong, but not enough to take away my life."



Can you imagine a mother without her oldest son? A father who will never make it home for his kids’ birthdays?

It’s not too late to give these families hope.

Watch this video and help us fight extreme sentences for nonviolent crimes – sentences that have reached absurd, tragic and costly height.

https://www.aclu.org/living-death-sentenced-die-behind-bars-what

Darien, Ct Board of Education found in violation of IDEA ( Heroic SLP's memo )

** To all who stand up to the status quo.


The Gamm report on special education in Darien

CORRECTION: The state Department of Education randomly sampled 25 IEPs before Osypuk took over as director. The state found errors in 13 of the IEPs, according to Gamm’s report, as they were not consistent with the IEPs on file in the district’s system. Osypuk changed the IEPs so that they were consistent, but did not notify parents of these changes, according to Gamm.

Additionally, Osypuk found more than 200 IEP errors that affected more than 100 student records. Osypuk again corrected the errors, but did not inform parents.

“Dr. Osypuk indicated that she did not believe it was necessary to notify parents of IEP corrections relating to the SEDAC upload process because the corrections did not impact student services,” Gamm wrote, adding that she was told by district employees that it had not been a practice to inform parents when “technical” changes were made to IEPs.

“Furthermore, the director indicated that the process for notifying parents would have been very time-consuming because of the large number of IEPs with errors,” Gamm continued.

http://www.darientimes.com/25419/the-gamm-report-on-special-education-in-darien/

Background: The silence has died.

In the wake of a growing and deepening public school crisis, current and former Darien Schools employees are stepping forward to shine some light on an assortment of problems that happened last year and which ended in findings of illegal activity and the resignation of the district’s superintendent.

The spark that ignited this firestorm of opinions? An eight-page letter from Julie Bookbinder to then-Superintendent Steve Falcone in September of 2012. The letter, sent via email, was released to The Darien Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

• A district in ‘turmoil’: Special ed problems exposed
http://www.darientimes.com/25522/darien-schools-employees-break-silence/

The Torture Doctors

November 4, 2013

An expert panel concludes that the Pentagon and the CIA ordered physicians to violate the Hippocratic Oath

By Scott Horton

The Hippocratic corpus, which requires that a physician “first do no harm” to his patient, lies at the heart of medical ethics. Now, an important independent study of the conduct of doctors engaged by the CIA and Defense Department at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility has concluded that the U.S. government forced these doctors to systematically violate their oaths by aiding in the torture and abuse of patients in their care. The study also makes clear that CIA and Defense Department officials were conscious of the ethics guidelines their policies would violate, and took measures to exempt medical professionals in their service from ethics requirements. The DoD and CIA also consistently refused to cooperate with state ethics boards investigating the unethical conduct of physicians at Guantánamo, effectively leaving the boards unable to act.

The two-year study, whose findings were issued in a report called “Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the “War on Terror,” was conducted by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University, and was supervised by a board of nineteen preeminent physicians, lawyers, and health-policy experts. After extensively surveying publicly available information, the report’s authors concluded that health professionals at Guantánamo had “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees.”

The report acknowledges that the Obama Administration has made changes to the Guantánamo system, but expresses serious concerns about systematic and ongoing ethics lapses in the detention center’s notorious force-feeding program. The Pentagon, it notes, “continues to follow policies that undermine standards of professional conduct” with respect to interrogation, hunger strikes, and the reporting of abuse. Doctors and nurses at Gitmo are required to participate in the force-feeding of detainees, who are placed in extensive bodily restraints for up to two hours twice a day, which the report’s authors conclude (as the American Medical Association did earlier this year) violates basic ethical rules.

The report leaves little doubt that intelligence services and the Pentagon have offered doctors a sort of pact, amounting to: Leave your professional ethics behind when you come to work with us, and torture your patients if we ask you to. In exchange, we will keep quiet about what you’ve done, and will ensure that the ethics bodies responsible for policing the medical profession won’t get the evidence they need to act against you. What this equation leaves out, of course, is the patients — both those who were abused, and the ones these doctors might treat in the future, who have a right to know who is treating them. A doctor who is willing to torture his patients can hardly be counted upon to render the highest standards of professional care, even without the CIA standing over his or her shoulder. Or, as one of the study’s researchers, Columbia University professor of medicine Gerald Thomson, put it:

The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve.

in full: http://harpers.org/blog/2013/11/the-torture-doctors-2/

The Life Of Doc Pomus, Songwriter To The Stars

** A great story, listen in at the link; Save the Last Dance for Me has a meaning I was never
aware of among other songs composed by Doc.

by NPR Staff
October 24, 2013 5:09 PM


Doc Pomus, pictured here in the 1980s, was an obscure, yet prolific songwriter who died in 1991. A.K.A. Doc Pomus is a documentary about his life.

His name would spin around and around on the vinyl, the writer of a thousand songs: Doc Pomus. As the man behind smash records including 's "Viva Las Vegas," ' "Lonely Avenue" and The Drifters' "This Magic Moment," he shaped the early sound of rock 'n' roll.

Pomus died in 1991. His story — one of intriguing reinvention and determination — is told in the new documentary A.K.A. Doc Pomus, which was co-directed by Peter Miller.

Born Jerome Felder, Pomus was a Brooklyn native. At the age of 6, he was diagnosed with polio and lost the use of his legs. Facing a difficult life of disability, Pomus was inspired to lead a life of music.

"When he heard 's song on the radio, called 'Piney Brown Blues,' it just absolutely transformed him," Miller says in an interview with NPR's . "He realized that the blues is what had the greatest meaning for him, and he turned himself into a blues singer. This handicapped, white Jewish kid found himself singing in African-American blues clubs."

Felder became Doc Pomus in part to keep his new escapades a secret from his mother. In a vintage clip featured in the film, he explains that "Doc" was a nod to blues singer Doctor Clayton, while "Pomus" simply seemed to roll nicely off the tongue.

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/24/240487765/the-life-of-doc-pomus-songwriter-to-the-stars

Saudi Arabia to hit back at US in Syria


Tensions between the two countries have grown sharply in recent months

By Ellen Knickmeyer Zawya Dow Jones
Published: 12:26 October 22, 2013

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief told European diplomats this weekend that he plans to scale back cooperating with the US to arm and train Syrian rebels in protest against Washington’s policy in the region, participants in the meeting said.

Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Al Saud’s move increases tensions in a growing dispute between the US and one of its closest Arab allies over Syria, Iran and Egypt policies. It follows Saudi Arabia’s surprise decision on Friday to renounce a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The Saudi government, after preparing and campaigning for the seat for a year, cited what it said was the council’s ineffectiveness in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian and Syrian conflicts.

Diplomats here said Prince Bandar, who is leading the kingdom’s efforts to fund, train and arm rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, invited a Western diplomat to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah over the weekend to voice Riyadh’s frustration with the Obama administration and its regional policies, including the decision not to bomb Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons in August.

in full: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/saudi-arabia-to-hit-back-at-us-in-syria-1.1245704

El-Sisi and Egypt's bankrupt civil elite

In their support for military rule, Egypt's opportunistic civil political elite betray the very values they claim to defend

Khalil Al-Anani , Saturday 19 Oct 2013

The actions of the civil political elite in Egypt have not ceased to amaze since the 3 July coup. Events over the past months have proven that their actions are not based on any moral or value-based system but more an expression of political opportunism and a desire to get rid of Islamists, even if the price is to create a military dictatorship.

This is obviously apparent in the exclusionary rhetoric of many key figures of this elite, that primarily focuses on excluding Islamists and isolating them from society and politics. They also eagerly support and promote Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as a presidential candidate — a paradox that history will ponder at length.

There are many flaws and ironies in the political rhetoric and actions of what is described as the liberal and secular elite, which contradicts the fundamentals of the civil state they claim to represent and defend. Their positions and statements prove they are moving Egypt towards a military, not civil, state. What is most disconcerting is the amount of one-upmanship and pressure they exert to justify their support and promotion of El-Sisi as a presidential candidate.

That they insist on El-Sisi’s nomination for president reflects their dismal failure in creating a political alternative that could fill the vacuum left behind after the exit of Islamists from power. Instead of diligently working to find such an alternative, especially after the political arena has been cleansed of any political opponent, they are behaving like a lazy student who did not do his homework and decided to rely on others to succeed.

in full: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentP/4/84231/Opinion/ElSisi-and-Egypts-bankrupt-civil-elite.aspx

Racism Revisited in the New York City Mayoral Race

Why are opponents of Bill de Blasio invoking the David Dinkins era?

By John R. MacArthur ( October 17, 2013 )

Over dinner this summer in a very Waspy, very white country club in Southampton, Long Island, far from the meanest streets of New York and its contentious mayoral election, I heard one of the guests say: “If Bill de Blasio wins we’ll be back to the Dinkins era.”

I knew that this interlocutor was a criminal lawyer with cop clients who was already upset about a federal judge’s ruling against the New York Police Department’s warrantless stop-and-frisk policy. But what did he mean by invoking the Dinkins era?

Well, David Dinkins, New York’s mayor from 1989 to 1993, is black — the only African-American ever to hold the position of mayor of America’s most cosmopolitan city. And, despite their relative worldliness, New York’s politicians still play the race card when it suits them. It helped Edward Koch win re-election twice to City Hall, but, more to the point, it greatly aided Republican Rudolph Giuliani’s narrow defeat of Dinkins in 1993.

Partly in response, Dinkins has recently published a memoir, A Mayor’s Life, which is a must-read for understanding the racial overtones of the contest to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. With the Democrat de Blasio holding a 44 point lead over his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, in a recent poll, and with Lhota sponsor Giuliani openly stoking white fears of black criminals on behalf of his former deputy mayor, I thought it would be a good time to interview Dinkins, now 86 and a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

in full: http://harpers.org/blog/2013/10/racism-revisited-in-the-new-york-city-mayoral-race/

The Most Cajun Place on Earth ( Louisiana's oil-pollution lawsuits )

by Ken Silverstein ( October 16, 2013 )


Since oil was struck near the town of Jennings in 1901, the energy industry has transformed and defined Louisiana environmentally, geographically, and politically. It has drilled some 220,000 wells, built 600 producing oil fields, and constructed 8,000 miles of access canals and pipelines, most of which run through wetlands.

Hundreds of Louisiana landowners have sued oil companies they leased their land to for vast damages, alleging that their properties were badly polluted. As I write in this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine, these “legacy lawsuits” are a hot political issue, and in recent years the energy industry has been furiously lobbying the state legislature — with a good deal of success — to pass legislation restricting the ability of landowners to go to court.

One of the biggest and bitterest cases involved the Broussard family, which in the late 1990s filed lawsuits against Chevron and other energy-industry defendants. The Broussards’ experts estimated that the cost of fully cleaning up an eighty-acre property the family owned would be $300 million.

To learn more about the case I traveled one morning last March to Abbeville — eighty miles from Baton Rouge and THE MOST CAJUN PLACE ON EARTH, according to a billboard I saw en route. At 11:15 A.M., I found myself waiting impatiently beneath a live oak in front of the white brick courthouse to meet a man named Ron Miguez.

in full: http://harpers.org/blog/2013/10/the-most-cajun-place-on-earth/
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