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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
May 1, 2014

APNewsBreak: Military sex assault claims up 50 pct


FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2014, file photo, parts of more than 1,000 summeries of sex-crime cases involving U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan, which The Associated Press obtained following Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Naval Criminal Investigative Service, are displayed at the AP office in Tokyo. Reports of sexual assaults in the military rose 50 percent after the Pentagon began a vigorous campaign to get more victims to come forward, prompting defense officials to order a greater focus on prevention programs, including plans to review alcohol sales and policies.

APNewsBreak: Military sex assault claims up 50 pct
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press : May 1, 2014 : Updated: May 1, 2014 6:17am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reports of sexual assaults by members of the military rose 50 percent after the Pentagon began a vigorous campaign to get more victims to come forward, prompting defense officials to order a greater focus on prevention programs, including plans to review alcohol sales and policies.

But officials are still unhappy with the low number of male victims who reported sexual assault, and they say there will be a greater emphasis in the months ahead on getting men to come forward and seek help. Final data obtained by The Associated Press show that about 14 percent of the reports filed last year involved male victims.

Defense officials said Wednesday that encouraging more men to report sexual assaults is a difficult challenge because male victims often worry that it will make people think they are weak and trigger questions about their sexual orientation. In most cases, however, sexual orientation has nothing to do with the assault and it's more an issue of power or abuse.

"There is still a misperception that this is a women's issue and women's crime," said Nate Galbreath, the senior executive adviser for the Pentagon's sexual assault prevention office. "It's disheartening that we have such a differential between the genders and how they are choosing to report."
May 1, 2014

Heroic JBLM nurse ran 'into hell' on fatal mission to booby-trapped compound


Documents show how Madigan captain, other soldiers lost their lives in a bomb-strewn trap in Afghanistan

Heroic JBLM nurse ran 'into hell' on fatal mission to booby-trapped compound
Staff writer
April 29, 2014

In her last moments of life, Army nurse Capt. Jennifer Moreno heard two orders.

One was a call to help a wounded soldier struck by a blast in a booby-trapped killing field at an Afghanistan bomb-making compound.

The other was a command to stay put lest she strike another mine in the bomb belt.

The nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center chose to help the wounded soldier, and gave her life trying.
April 22, 2014

How Torture became Normalized in America


How Torture became Normalized in America
By Juan Cole | Apr. 22, 2014
(By Rebecca Gordon)

The US military involvement in Iraq has more or less ended, and the war in Afghanistan is limping to a conclusion. Yet leaks of Senate torture reports about actions in 2002 to 2006 are still breaking news. Don’t the problems of torture really belong to the bad old days of an earlier administration? Why bring it up again? Why keep harping on something that is over and done with? Because it’s not over, and it’s not done with.

Torture is still happening. Shortly after his first inauguration in 2009, President Obama issued an executive order forbidding the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” and closing the CIA’s so-called “black sites.” But the order didn’t end “extraordinary rendition”—the practice of sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured. (This is actually forbidden under the UN Convention against Torture, which the United States signed in 1994.) The president’s order didn’t close the prison at Guantánamo, where to this day, prisoners are held in solitary confinement. Periodic hunger strikes are met with brutal force feeding. Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel described the experience in a New York Times op-ed in April 2013:

I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before.

Nor did Obama’s order address the abusive interrogation practices of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which operates with considerably less oversight than the CIA. Jeremy Scahill has ably documented JSOC’s reign of terror in Iraq in Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. At JSOC’s Battlefield Interrogation Facility at Camp NAMA (which reportedly stood for “Nasty-Ass Military Area”) the motto—prominently displayed on posters around the camp—was “No blood, no foul.”
April 22, 2014

Federal appeals court orders Justice Dept. to release ‘white paper’ on drone program


Federal appeals court orders Justice Dept. to release ‘white paper’ on drone program
By Reuters
Monday, April 21, 2014 17:47 EDT
By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to turn over key portions of a memorandum justifying the government’s targeted killing of people linked to terrorism, including Americans.

In a case pitting executive power against the public’s right to know what its government does, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling preserving the secrecy of the legal rationale for the killings, such as the death of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

Ruling for the New York Times, a unanimous three-judge panel said the government waived its right to secrecy by making repeated public statements justifying targeted killings.

These included a Justice Department “white paper,” as well as speeches or statements by officials like Attorney General Eric Holder and former Obama administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, endorsing the practice.
April 21, 2014

Too Big to Jail? Why Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination, and Perjury Are No Longer Crimes in Washing


Too Big to Jail? Why Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination, and Perjury Are No Longer Crimes in Washington
By Juan Cole | Apr. 21, 2014
(By Tom Engelhardt via Tomdispatch.com)


Seven Free Passes for the National Security State

With Cartwright as a possible exception, the members of the national security state, unlike the rest of us, exist in what might be called “post-legal” America. They know that, no matter how heinous the crime, they will not be brought to justice for it. The list of potentially serious criminal acts for which no one has had to take responsibility in a court of law is long, and never tabulated in one place. Consider this, then, an initial run-down on seven of the most obvious crimes and misdemeanors of this era for which no one has been held accountable.

*Kidnapping: After 9/11, the CIA got into kidnapping in a big way. At least 136 “terror suspects” and possibly many more (including completely innocent people) were kidnapped off the streets of global cities, as well as from the backlands of the planet, often with the help of local police or intelligence agencies. Fifty-four other countries were enlisted in the enterprise. The prisoners were delivered either into the Bush administration’s secret global system of prisons, also known as “black sites,” to be detained and mistreated, or they were “rendered” directly into the hands of torturing regimes from Egypt to Uzbekistan. No American involved has been brought to court for such illegal acts (nor did the American government ever offer an apology, no less restitution to anyone it kidnapped, even those who turned out not to be “terror suspects”). One set of CIA agents was, however, indicted in Italy for a kidnapping and rendition to Egypt. Among them was the Agency’s Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady. He had achieved brief notoriety for overseeing a la dolce vita version of rendition and later fled the country for the United States. Last year, he was briefly taken into custody in Panama, only to be spirited out of that country and back to safety by the U.S. government.

*Torture (and other abuses): Similarly, it will be no news to anyone that, in their infamous “torture memos,” officials of the Bush Justice Department freed CIA interrogators to “take the gloves off” and use what were euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques” against offshore prisoners in the Global War on Terror. These “techniques” included “waterboarding,” once known as “the water torture,” and long accepted even in this country as a form of torture. On coming to office, President Obama rejected these practices, but refused to prosecute those who practiced them. Not a single CIA agent or private contractor involved was ever charged, no less brought to trial, nor was anyone in the Bush Justice Department or the rest of an administration which green-lighted these practices and whose top officials reportedly saw them demonstrated in the White House.


*The destruction of evidence of a crime: To purposely destroy evidence in order to impede a future investigation of possible criminal acts is itself, of course, a crime. We know that such a thing did indeed happen. Jose Rodriguez, Jr., the head of CIA clandestine operations, destroyed 92 videotapes of the repeated waterboardings of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the 9/11 attacks, and alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, “tapes that he had been explicitly told to preserve as part of an official investigation.” The Justice Department investigated his act, but never charged him. He has since defended himself in a book, Hard Measures, saying that he was, in essence, “tired of waiting for Washington’s bureaucracy to make a decision that protected American lives.” He is still free and writing op-eds for the Washington Post defending the interrogation program whose tapes he destroyed.
April 21, 2014

New, environmentally unfriendly FDA proposal will hike up the price of your beer


New, environmentally unfriendly FDA proposal will hike up the price of your beer
By Scott Kaufman
Sunday, April 20, 2014 11:20 EDT

New regulations about to be implemented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) threaten to dramatically increase the price of beer across the United States.

Currently, most U.S. brewers sell a by-product of the brewing process known as “spent grain” to local dairy farms. In addition to being high in protein and fiber — which is beneficial for the cows — disposing of spent grain in this manner is considered environmentally friendly.

But, charged with making the U.S. food chain more secure by the 2011 Food Modernization and Safety Act, the FDA has proposed a rule that would classify companies that distribute spent grain to farms as “animal feed manufacturers,” which would force breweries to dry and package the material before sending it to dairy farms.

Scott Mennen, the vice president of brewery operations at Widmer Brothers Brewery in Portland told The Oregonian that forcing breweries to dry and package the spent grain “would be cost prohibitive,” averaging around $13 million per brewery. “Most brewers would have to put this material in a landfill.”
April 21, 2014

Guardian Reader’s Editor: How the Guardian won the Pulitzer prize


Guardian Reader’s Editor: How the Guardian won the Pulitzer prize
By The Guardian
Sunday, April 20, 2014 17:13 EDT

The last column about the Guardian’s stories of surveillance by the NSA and GCHQ on 23 September 2013 was three months after the first of the series. The reason I waited to write was to allow the dust to settle a little.

That autumn the Guardian was fighting a tough battle in the UK. The bulk of the press had lined up with the government to accuse the Guardian of arrogance or treason in publishing these stories, based on tens of thousands of secret documents disclosed by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Much dust has now settled – if not the final specks. It has been an extraordinary few weeks and while this column usually concentrates on the Guardian’s errors, it would be a little odd not to revisit the Snowden story after the Guardian has won the Pulitzer prize. Yes, the Pulitzer prize, shared with the Washington Post.

Why was the Guardian eligible for a set of prizes that have been running in the US since 1917 and are probably the world’s most sought-after awards for journalism – not to mention letters and music? This is part of the covering letter to the organisers from the Guardian: “The Guardian US was established in 2011 to cover US and international news for an American audience. As a New York-based company – incorporated in the US as Guardian News and Media LLC – we maintain a growing and largely autonomous editorial presence with a US staff of 60, a bureau in DC and reporters across the nation. The newsroom produces news articles, opinion, live-blogs and interactive and multimedia content that reaches over 20 million online US readers each month. The series of NSA stories – enclosed for consideration – were reported, edited and published by Guardian US staff.”

Therein also lies the reason that the Guardian was able to publish the entire series of stories about the Snowden revelations.
April 21, 2014

Franklin Graham: Putin is doing ‘what’s right for Russia’ by cracking down on gays


Franklin Graham: Putin is doing ‘what’s right for Russia’ by cracking down on gays
By David Edwards
Sunday, April 20, 2014 12:39 EDT

Rev. Franklin Graham on Sunday said that he stood by earlier comments agreeing with so-called gay “propaganda” bans in Russia because President Vladimir Putin was doing “what’s right” for the country.

During a March interview with the Charlotte Observer, Graham had asserted that LGBT people were trying to “recruit” children by adopting them, and suggested that it was “exploitation.”

He also said that he “agreed” with Putin because “protecting his nation’s children was a pretty smart thing to do.”

Speaking to ABC News on Sunday, Graham doubled down on his praise of the Russian president.
April 21, 2014

Russian politician orders aides to ‘violently rape’ pregnant journalist at press conference


Russian politician orders aides to ‘violently rape’ pregnant journalist at press conference
By Tom Boggioni
Sunday, April 20, 2014 16:26 EDT

A far-right Russian politician is facing legal problems after ordering two of his aides to ‘violently rape’ a pregnant Russia Today journalist in front of other reporters at a press conference.

Vladimir Zhironovsky, of the pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party, launched into an animated tirade against RT journalist Stella Dubovitskaya, – who is six months pregnant – after she asked him an innocuous questions about possible sanctions against the pro-Western government of Ukraine, according to the Daily Mail.

Responding to her question, Zhironovsky grabbed two of his male aides, telling them, “When I say, you run to her and violently rape her” before shoving them in her direction and shouting: “Go and kiss her. Grab her.”

Male and female journalists in attendance were shocked at the outburst with one male journalist asking, “She is pregnant, why are you attacking her?”
April 20, 2014

The Rise of Our Dumbocracy


The Rise of Our Dumbocracy
by Gary Corseri | April 19, 2014 - 8:00am

Roberts’ newest book (463 pages, from Clarity Press, 2014) is a compendium of 135 columns (bracketed by an intro and conclusion), written between August, 2008 and December 31, 2013. Roberts himself should require no intro to anyone a little hip to the alternative news media (where many of these columns were posted), or, for that matter, to any older codger aware of Roberts’ work as an associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal—or, to even-older codgers who may recall his role as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during the Reagan years. (During those years, Roberts helped shape “supply-side-economics”—for which “the Left” has still not forgiven him; and about which Roberts writes persuasively in his 2013 book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism.)

This is one busy guy! And smart! Being somewhat hip, and accelerating towards codgerdom, I must declare that PCR is simply one of America’s best chroniclers of this sad, brutal era of imperial overreach and moral decline. Anyone who wants to understand where we’ve been recently, where we are now, and where we’re heading, had better read this book pronto!

These hundred-plus columns hammer home some basic themes: Our Constitution has become little more than “a scrap of paper” (quote attributed to G. W. Bush—and sure does sound like something that moron would say!). Also, the official narrative of 9/11 is a “hoax.” That preposterous narrative has been used to justify our Nuremberg-Standard “war crimes” against Muslims (killing, wounding, traumatizing and displacing millions) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria. Our “unitary executive” is an excuse for “Cesarism.” Our Legislative and Judicial branches have surrendered their powers to our dictatorial Cesar—Obama (and his advisors!) and the quondam triumvirate of Cheny-Bush-Rummy—with barely a whimper. Our once vigorous middle class has been pummeled to a pulp thanks to jobs-offshoring, Supreme-Court maleficent decisions like “Citizens United,” and a rigged electoral system controlled by multi-billionaire oligarchs like the Koch Bros and Sheldon Adelson. Matters look none-too-sanguine for our future, of course, what with our “presstitute” media (a PCR neologism) lulling us with non-news or patent lies. Then, of course, there’s NATO. In case you’ve been too lulled, you may have missed the fact that NATO—originally a defensive alliance—has been transmogrified (since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991) into America’s imperial army, with “puppet,” bought-out governments in France, England, etc. (27 countries at last count) fighting America’s “War on Terror,” and everything else, and pushing nukes right up to Russia’s borders, itching for a fracas (possibly nuclear!) with the Bear his selfdom! And if that isn’t madness enough—let’s “Pivot to Asia,” challenge China in the South China Sea and see if we can’t chop-suey the planet!

Personally, I think our descent into the lower circles of the Inferno began long ago, but for Roberts we at least made obeisance to a system of Laws. They may have been imperfectly observed--what with slavery and Tribal People’s genocide, but nobody had ever thought to codify our vileness (before Bush special counsel, John Yoo!). The die was cast for that codification when the invincible Soviet Union proved less than invincible and, cosmeticized with hubris, we proclaimed ourselves, in the spellbinding words of Madeleine Albright, “the indispensable people.” Such a people certainly had a “right” to override UN mandates against bombing the hell out of Serbia (to wrest Croatia into our orbit), or, later, to turn “no-fly zones” in Libya into free-fire zones. The Executive branch of such a people, supported by a wimp, campaign-financed Congress, could pooh-pooh Constitutional protections against unlimited detentions and advance to torturing suspected “terrorists” (under Bush). “Cesar” could then order the killing of American citizens, without trials or convictions, in foreign countries—call it trial-by-drones--under Obama! (And our grinning, change-we-can-believe-in Prez could kibitz about his “kill-list” skills!)

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