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Member since: Thu Dec 6, 2012, 02:13 PM
Number of posts: 8,821

About Me

"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." James A. Baldwin

Journal Archives

'Most lethal sniper in US history': Chris Kyle shot dead on Texas gun range.

Source: The Independent.

A famous American marksman and author was shot dead yesterday on a Texas rifle range. Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who claimed to have been the most prolific sniper in American history, had a bounty put on his head by insurgents in Iraq, who dubbed him "The Devil of Ramadi."

He was at Rough Creek Lodge's shooting range near Forth Worth, Texas, with another man. Both were fatally shot. Witnesses said a gunman opened fire on the men at around 3:30 yesterday afternoon before fleeing in a pick-up truck belonging to one of the victims, according to a local newspaper. The newspaper said a 25-year-old man was later taken into custody nearby and that charges were expected. The motive for the shooting is unclear.

Kyle, 38, wrote the best-selling book, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History," about the 150-plus insurgents he killed between 1999 and 2009. He was being sued for defamation by Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota, over the book's claim that Kyle punched Ventura in a 2006 bar fight over unpatriotic remarks. Ventura said the punch never happened. Kyle had asked that Ventura's claims of invasion of privacy and "unjust enrichment" be dismissed, saying there was no legal basis for them. But a federal judge said the lawsuit should proceed. The suit was set to begin in August.

The married father of two, from Odessa, Texas, was president of Craft International, providing sniper and security training for the US military. He saw four tours of Iraq, during which he was shot twice. He received three Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/most-lethal-sniper-in-us-history-chris-kyle-shot-dead-on-texas-gun-range-8478695.html

Yes, guns do kill people, quite a few people.
Posted by another_liberal | Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:39 AM (101 replies)

ZD30: Hollywood does history.

This opinion piece, by Tarak Barkawi, is a thoughtful and convincing explanation of why the movie Zero Dark Thirty is more about justifying the "War On Terror" than it is about anything that could rightly be called "History."

Pundits and moviegoers across the US are vigorously debating Kathryn Bigelow’s new film Zero Dark Thirty about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Much of the debate concerns whether or not the film is an accurate retelling of history. According to the film, CIA torture was essential to finding bin Laden. Nearly every piece of evidence the film’s hero—a CIA agent named Maya played by Jessica Chastain—collects derives in one way or another from “enhanced interrogation”. As if watching a film amounted to serious research, MSNBC’s conservative talk show host Joe Scarborough concluded that ZD30 shows that the CIA torture program was in fact effective.

Hey, wait a minute there! If you can't trust Joe Scarborough, who the hell can you trust?

Liberal commentators, meanwhile, are appalled that Bigelow and writer Mark Boal have ignored some of the few available facts about the Bush Administration’s global archipelago of gulags. US senators, with access to classified materials, point out that there is serious dispute within the CIA, FBI and other agencies over whether torture played such an important role in finding bin Laden. Bigelow and Boal invited this debate over the historical accuracy of their film. ZD30 begins with the claim that it is “Based on Firsthand Accounts of Actual Events”. As if the film were journalism as well as history, Bigelow has termed it a “reported film”. Boal assured the New York Times that he had no intention of playing “fast and loose with history”. Having shown us just how it really was, Bigelow opines of torture, “I wish it was not part of our history. But it was.” Indeed.

Most astonishing in all this is the very idea that a film can amount to a proper history of anything, much less that of the War on Terror. Two hours in a dark theatre being buffeted by the mesmerising magics of master filmmakers has little in common with sifting documents from departments of state or crafting interpretations of major events. Yet—and here is the really scary thing—it is undeniable that Americans do in fact get their history from Hollywood. Right now, in addition to learning about the hunt for bin Laden, they are also “studying” the US civil war and the emancipation of the slaves in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.

This author is clearly on to something important. We do put ourselves at considerable risk of manipulation by the unscrupulous if we allow movies, basically just entertainment, to be our main source for United States and World history. Perhaps taking a few more hours of American History, beyond the three usually required for most bachelor degrees, might be a good idea after all?

The important question then is not whether ZD30 is accurate, but rather just what supposed truths is it purveying? What are Americans learning about their “history” from it? As Rutgers University’s Susan Carruthers notes, ZD30 should be seen as a work of “cultural recuperation”, an effort to supply a happy ending to the War on Terror, and a reinterpretation of Iraq and Afghanistan as something other than “mistakes, catastrophes or abominations.” That is, ZD30 is less a film about the War on Terror than it is part of the war effort itself. For a crucial thing about wars is how they are remembered, what significance they are seen to have had. The greatest and darkest conflagration humanity has ever known—World War II—is remembered in the US as the “Good War”, in part because of Hollywood’s films about it. That memory has consequences: George W. Bush was channelling the Good War when he imagined his troops would be received as liberators in Iraq.

I have to agree with Mr. Barkawi that Zero Dark Thirty is, intentionally or not, a War on Terror propaganda film, and has no more real grounding in the facts about our torture regime under the Cheney/Bush administration than John Wayne's darkly laughable Green Berets had in facts concerning the Vietnam War. To read the complete opinion piece click below:

Posted by another_liberal | Sun Feb 3, 2013, 08:35 AM (6 replies)

North Korean cannibalism fears amid claims starving people forced to desperate measures.

This is undoubtedly one of the most disturbing news items I have come across in some time. I am not kidding. Stop reading now if you are easily sickened or offended:

Reports from inside the secretive famine-hit pariah state, North Korea, claim a man has been executed after murdering his two children for food. The grim suggestion that North Koreans are turning to cannibalism were reported by the Asia Press, and published in the Sunday Times. They claim a 'hidden famine' in the farming provinces of North and South Hwanghae has killed 10,000 people, and there are fears that cannibalism is spreading throughout the country. The reports come as sanctions are tightened against the backdrop of angry rhetoric over missile testing. In one particularly disturbing report, a man was said to have dug up his grandchild's corpse. Other lurid reports included the suggestion that some men boiled their children before eating them.

OK, I think we can agree: The sanctions are having an effect. Perhaps not the effect we intended, but they are clearly having an effect.

Asia Press is a specialist news agency based in Osaka, Japan, which claims to have recruited a network of "citizen journalists" inside North Korea. The reports are considered credible. Interviews have led Asia Press to conclude that more than 10,000 people have probably died in North and South Hwanghae provinces, south of Pyongyang, the capital. North Korea has not confirmed or denied any reports of the deaths. One informant, based in South Hwanghae, said: "In my village in May, a man who killed his own two children and tried to eat them was executed by a firing squad.

"While his wife was away on business he killed his eldest daughter and, because his son saw what he had done, he killed his son as well. When the wife came home, he offered her food, saying: 'We have meat.' "But his wife, suspicious, notified the Ministry of Public Security, which led to the discovery of part of their children's bodies under the eaves."

There is more, of course, and if you think you can stomach it, use the link below:

Posted by another_liberal | Thu Jan 31, 2013, 06:45 AM (45 replies)

Israel boycotts UN Human Rights Council.

Source: Al Jazeera

Israel has become the first country to boycott a UN Human Rights Council review of its rights situation, sparking heated debate among diplomats on how to respond. "I see that the delegation of Israel is not in the room," council president Remigiusz Henczel told the delegates at the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday. Israel is not a member of the council but like all 193 UN countries it is required to undergo Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs) of its human rights situation. Its absence on Tuesday, however, came as no surprise. Israel cut all ties with the 47-member state council last March after the body announced that it would probe how Israeli illegal settlements may be infringing on the rights of the Palestinians.

Israel has come under widespread criticism for ramping up its construction of illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories, notably in the outskirts of Jerusalem. Earlier on Tuesday, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman told AFP the country intended to boycott the meeting. "We cut all our contacts with the council last March, including the current activity," Yigal Palmor said, stressing: "Our policy has not changed."

Israel's failure to show up for its UPR marks the first time since the reviews began in 2007 that a country under evaluation has been absent without explanation, and it was unclear how the rights council would react. When Haiti delayed its UPR in early 2010 its justification was the devastating earthquake that hit the country that year, claiming more than 300,000 lives.

On Tuesday, after Israel failed to show, Henczel called on the council to adopt a draft decision on how to react, including urging Israel to resume its cooperation with the UPR process. It also called for Israel's review to be rescheduled for no later than during the UPR session starting in October this year. Delegates then took the floor, with Egypt's representative declaring that the council faced "a moment of truth." He cautioned that taking a "soft" approach towards Israel would create a dangerous precedent and leave "a wide-open door for more cases of non-cooperation." Israel's main ally in the council, the United States, however, gave its full backing to Henczel's proposal, with ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe insisting in a statement, without mentioning Israel by name, that the text reflected the "best effort to find common ground and to protect the UPR mechanism going forward."

Read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/01/2013129163929359758.html

After some more protests about the "soft" proposal from nations such as Pakistan, the council did eventually adopt Henczel's proposal by consensus. Let's hope that by October some progress has been made in addressing Palestinian complaints. Otherwise it's, "You and me against the World," Israel.
Posted by another_liberal | Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:38 PM (45 replies)

Timbuktu mayor: Mali rebels torched library of historic manuscripts

Source: The Guardian

Islamist insurgents retreating from Timbuktu set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts, according to the Saharan town's mayor, in an incident he described as a "devastating blow" to world heritage. Hallé Ousmani Cissé told the Guardian that al-Qaida-allied fighters on Saturday torched two buildings that held the manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 13th century. They also burned down the town hall, the governor's office and an MP's residence, and shot dead a man who was celebrating the arrival of the French military.

French troops and the Malian army reached the gates of Timbuktu on Saturday and secured the town's airport. But they appear to have got there too late to rescue the leather-bound manuscripts that were a unique record of sub-Saharan Africa's rich medieval history. The rebels attacked the airport on Sunday, the mayor said. "It's true. They have burned the manuscripts," Cissé said in a phone interview from Mali's capital, Bamako. "They also burned down several buildings. There was one guy who was celebrating in the street and they killed him." He added: "This is terrible news. The manuscripts were a part not only of Mali's heritage but the world's heritage."

On Monday French army officers said French-led forces had entered Timbuktu and secured the town without a shot being fired. A team of French paratroopers crept into the town by moonlight, advancing from the airport, they said. Residents took to the streets to celebrate. The manuscripts were held in two separate locations: an ageing library and a new South African-funded research centre, the Ahmad Babu Institute, less than a mile away. Completed in 2009 and named after a 17th-century Timbuktu scholar, the centre used state-of-the-art techniques to study and conserve the crumbling scrolls. Both buildings were burned down, according to the mayor, who said the information came from an informer who had just left the town. Asked whether any of the manuscripts might have survived, Cissé replied: "I don't know."

The manuscripts had survived for centuries in Timbuktu, on the remote south-west fringe of the Sahara desert. They were hidden in wooden trunks, buried in boxes under the sand and in caves. When French colonial rule ended in 1960, Timbuktu residents held preserved manuscripts in 60-80 private libraries. The vast majority of the texts were written in Arabic. A few were in African languages, such as Songhai, Tamashek and Bambara. There was even one in Hebrew. They covered a diverse range of topics including astronomy, poetry, music, medicine and women's rights. The oldest dated from 1204.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/28/mali-timbuktu-library-ancient-manuscripts

This is a loss of such magnitude it is truly hard to comprehend. Thousands and thousands of ancient, one-of-a-kind, hand-written manuscripts burnt to ashes. The ignorance of those people, the stunning, uncaring ignorance!

I never really thought they would do this.
Posted by another_liberal | Mon Jan 28, 2013, 09:31 PM (1 replies)

"It's Inequality, Stupid!"

This is a fascinating article concerning the recent "World economic Forum" held in the Swiss resort town of Davos. The author, Pepe Escobar, convincingly explains the idiocy of expecting those attending this fat cats' forum to do anything about the actual problems faced by you, me and billions of other more ordinary human beings:

Amsterdam, The Netherlands - Billions of people would apply the Groucho Marx rule to Davos - the exclusive club meeting in the Swiss Alps allegedly gathering the great and the good of business; "I wouldn't want to belong to a club that accepts me as a member".

Well, to start with, those billions wouldn't get past the bouncers, because the pompously self-defined World Economic Forum is indeed about exclusion. Yet even if - by divine design - they might, what's the point? The austerity mantra devastates large swathes of Europe. The US remains mired in the fiscal cliff maelstrom. The Japanese are about to unleash an economic tsunami - devaluation of the yen at all costs. Double-dip recession rules.

On the other hand, growth does apply to parts of the BRICS group of emerging nations, and even more to some selected members of the N-11 (the mini-BRICS in the making); certainly Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Turkey, South Korea and Vietnam. But then, into the fervent Western doom and gloom pit parachutes British Prime Minister David Cameron, solemnly announcing that in 2017 - assuming he's still in power - he will hold a referendum where Britain will decide Yes or No about its European Union (EU) membership. Inevitably, European-wide businesses reacted almost in lockstep; this is bad for business, and not only of the British kind. With uncertainty now coming with a date on the calendar, there's hardly any incentive for companies to invest.

As Mr. Escobar goes on to explain, the great Bankers, Industrialists and "Technocrats" at Davos had their discussions about how to maintain their status quo of "Globalization" and mass exploitation and not on how to improve the lot of the 99% of humanity. To them we are really only another commodity, a needed commodity, like copper or cotton, but of no real concern beyond our useful "marketability."

The theme at Davos this year is Resilient Dynamism; as a definition of the current woes of turbo-capitalism, a five-year-old in a favela in Rio could come up with something more meaningful. Davos is a one-trick pony; "resilience" remains a euphemism for the ever-expanding markets/shitty pay for workers syndrome - or globalisation driven by huge multinational corporations.

Scrap "resilience". The name of the game is inequality. Davos doesn't do inequality. As in Silvio "Bunga Bunga" Berlusconi's paycheck at his Fininvest holding company being 12,000 - that's twelve thousand - times higher than his average worker's.

The author ends with a poignant comment on humanity itself:

Still, the question Davos won't dare to ask remains. Why is it easier to imagine the total destruction of mankind - from nuclear war to a climate catastrophe - than to work on changing the system of relations spawned by capitalism?

To read the full, breif article, click on the link below.

Posted by another_liberal | Sun Jan 27, 2013, 08:06 AM (8 replies)

UN launches probe into drone strikes

Source: Al Jazeera

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched an investigation into drone strikes and will review resultant civilian casualties to determine whether the attacks constitute a war crime. Ben Emmerson, a UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, formally launched the inquiry on Thursday, in response to requests from Russia, China and Pakistan.

A statement released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights states that the inquiry will provide a "critical examination of the factual evidence concerning civilian casualties". It also states that the inquiry ultimately intends to make recommendations to the UN General Assembly to prompt countries to "investigate into the lawfulness and proportionality of such attacks".

"This is not an investigation into the conduct of any particular state. It's an investigation into the consequence into this form of technology," Emmerson told Al Jazeera. "The reality is that the increasing availibility of this technology [...] makes it very likely that more states will be using this technology in the coming months and years and includes raising the spectre that non state organisations - organisations labelled as terrorist groups - could use the technology in retaliation," he added. He said that it was a "very serious and escalating situation" which must be addressed by the international community "urgently".

At a press conference on Thursday in London, Emmerson said that the British government had already agreed to co-operate with the investigation and that he was 'optimistic' that the US would do the same. He also requested the US to release 'before and after' videos of the drone strikes and internal reports of those killed, including civilians. Emerson's team will conduct the inquiry in consultation with military experts and journalists from the UK, Yemen and Pakistan.

Read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2013/01/201312411432248495.html
Posted by another_liberal | Thu Jan 24, 2013, 01:39 PM (2 replies)

Ted Nugent Suggests He's Ready For Armed Revolt Against 'Evil, Dangerous' Obama

Source: Huffington Post

Rocker-turned-gun rights provocateur Ted Nugent is willing to say just about anything to attack President Barack Obama and his administration for what he believes is an imminent effort by the government to snatch up guns. During a recent interview, Nugent again raised the bar, invoking a Revolutionary war milestone to suggest that he and his "buddies" were prepared to fight such an effort at all costs.

"I'm part of a very great experiment in self-government where we the people determine our own pursuit of happiness and our own individual freedom and liberty, not to be confused with the Barack Obama gang who believes in we the sheeple and actually is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George that we escaped from in 1776," Nugent said in a recent interview with Guns.com at the NBC-sponsored Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show. "And if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies."

Nugent appears to be referring to the beginning of the Revolutionary war, when colonial and British troops assembled at the North Bridge in Concord, Mass. in 1775 broke a standoff when one soldier opened fire. While it's still unclear which side fired the first shot, it was later immortalized by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who suggested that "the shot heard 'round the world" was fired by an American.

In his interview, Nugent went on to accuse Obama of having communist ties, suggesting that gun-owning Americans needed to do something to "fix" the fact that he was president.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/ted-nugent-armed-revolt_n_2527608.html?utm_hp_ref=politics
Posted by another_liberal | Tue Jan 22, 2013, 07:50 PM (145 replies)

You are missing the point.

Democrats know how to govern through negotiation and compromise. It is only the Tea Party Republicans who want to obstruct and block anyone who tries to govern. They do so because they hate the very concept of a Federal government. In their elected positions, they do actual harm to our country as a whole.

See the difference now?
Posted by another_liberal | Fri Jan 4, 2013, 09:39 AM (1 replies)

Great idea . . .

This is a great idea, especially about the press releases being issued in these Tea Party fools' home districts. As Republicans continue to work against the best interests of America's poor, working class and women voters (and they will continue to of course) Democrats need to keep doing things like this to assure these lairs' true colors are kept front and center. If this is done continually until November, 2014, we really can turn this nation around, with a Congress which will work for the people.
Posted by another_liberal | Fri Jan 4, 2013, 09:34 AM (0 replies)
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