Posted: April 8, 2013 Filed under: torture, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, Wikileaks | Tags: Col. James Steele, death squads, Iraq War, Julian Assange, The UK Guardian
Have you been following the latest news on Wikileaks? Some very interesting information has been coming out in the past two days. I’m beginning to understand why the Obama administration–along with some foreign governments were so anxious to arrest Julian Assange and shut down Wikileaks. Thanks to Bradley Manning and Assange, news organizations are revealing plenty about what our government was been up to in the 1970s.
Yesterday, the Guardian published a shocking expose of the U.S. torture and death squad operations in Iraq. The article reveals direct connections between the Pentagon and Iraqi “torture centers.” In addition, Guardian researchers showed how Iraq policy grew out of America’s “dirty wars” in Vietnam and Latin America with a veteran of those past outrages, retired Army Colonel James Steele, leading the way.
The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.
Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows.
After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the special police commando (SPC) membership was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups such as the Badr brigades.
A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.
Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and returned to the country in 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.
Where did all this information come from? You guessed it.
The Guardian/BBC Arabic investigation was sparked by the release of classified US military logs on WikiLeaks that detailed hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centres run by the police commandos across Iraq. Private Bradley Manning, 25, is facing a prison sentence of up to 20 years after he pleaded guilty to leaking the documents.
The Guardian also made available to a 51-minute documentary focused on “the mystery man of Iraq,” James Steele. It’s also posted on YouTube, so I’ve embedded it here. You can also watch it on the Guardian website. I watched it yesterday, and plan to watch it again.
If you can’t watch the whole thing right now, here’s a good summary and evaluation of the documentary by William Boardman at Op-Ed News.
As if that weren’t enough, today Wikileaks released “1.7m US diplomatic and intelligence reports covering every country in the world” in a searchable database called “Plus D.” The Daily Mail reports:
Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks today published more than 1.7million U.S. records covering diplomatic or intelligence reports on every country in the world. The data released today includes more than 1.7million U.S. diplomatic records from 1973 to 1976 – covering a traffic of cables, intelligence reports and congressional correspondence.
WikiLeaks described the Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD) as the world’s largest searchable collection of U.S. confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications.
Much of the work was carried out by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 41, during his time in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been staying since last summer….
The Ecuadorian Government has granted Mr Assange political asylum and has repeatedly offered Swedish prosecutors the chance to interview him at the embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.
Mr Assange said the information showed the ‘vast range and scope’ of U.S. diplomatic and intelligence activity around the world.
These cables weren’t even leaked! They came from the National Archives, but Wikileaks organized the material so that it could be used by news organization and individuals. According to News.com.au, Plus D is ‘What Google should be like’, says Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Some examples of tidbits from the database that have been published today:
Salon — Kissinger: The illegal we do immediately; unconstitutional takes longer
HuffPo — WikiLeaks: Vatican Dismissed Pinochet Massacre Reports As ‘Communist Propaganda’
The Australian News — WikiLeaks reveals US Thatcher memo
The Atlantic — WikiLeaks ‘Kissinger Cables’ Reveal How Much Russians Loved Joni Mitchell
You can search the database yourself here.
Posted: December 21, 2011 Filed under: Civil Rights, Diplomacy Nightmares, Environment, Foreign Affairs, George W. Bush, Global Financial Crisis, indefinite detention, Injustice system, Iraq, Middle East, morning reads, Patriot Act, Russia, the internet, The Russian Winter, Wikileaks | Tags: Bradley Manning, Britain and the Middle East, History, war, weather
Peace River Citrus...tasty orange juice, freshly squeezed.
Ooof, that is quite a lot of war in the title for today’s post…lots of things to share with you this morning. It’s been raining pretty steady and the wind is whipping up the cows in the pasture down here in Banjoland.
Today’s post is going to focus on a theme that revolves around History…but first, a quick article about something meteorological.
This weather link is so damn cool!
I saw this article when it was first published earlier this week, and planned on using it for today…Weird Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Clouds over Birmingham and let me tell you, it is freaky!
While driving through Birmingham, Alabama, Redditor alison_bee couldn’t help but notice the bizarre, repetitive wave shapes appearing in the clouds near the horizon. While these strange cloud formations look otherworldly, they’re an example of what’s called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability — which is a pretty awesome name for a spectacular phenomenon.
What did I tell you?
Heres what Redditor and meteorologist zensunnioracle had to say:
Meteorologist here. These are indeed Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. What is happening is that the nocturnal near-surface layers (lowest 50-100m) of the atmosphere are much more stable than the layers above it in the mornings. Until the ground heats up due to daytime heating, the surface layers stay more stable than the air over it. Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur when the wind shear between the layers destabilizes the topmost portion of that stable layer, and entrains the air into the unstable layer. What you see is stable air being lifted, cooled, and condensed so that this process becomes visible, though this commonly happens many places without being visible.
As spectacular as these waves are here on Earth, the same forces create similar patters on the gas giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter. While those are some truly enormous waves, these pictures from alison_bee should show that the Earthbound variety aren’t to be sneezed at either.
Video of these clouds as they roll over the city at the link…
Do you remember that hostage situation in a Russian cinema back in 2002? European Court Orders Russia to Pay Victims of 2002 Theater Siege
The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay more than $1.3 million to victims of the government’s mishandled attempt to end the siege of a Moscow theater in 2002.
The Strasbourg-based court ruled Tuesday that Russia had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by a lack of planning and poor execution of the rescue operation.
Chechen militants refused to surrender after a standoff at the Dubrovka theater lasting several days, leading Russian security forces to launch a raid on the theater, where the militants were holding more than 800 people hostage. The troops fired an unidentified gas into the theater to try to knock out the militants, but nearly 130 hostages died in the attempt.
In addition, the report stated that Russia did not provide adequate medical aid to the hostages after its rescue effort and failed to conduct an effective investigation of the tragedy.
This comes at a time when tensions are running high in Russia, as Peggy Sue described it in a post last week, The Russian Winter.
Well, the Arab Spring is still ongoing, I thought this next post was interesting because it discusses British History in the Middle East, and the lessons that should be learned. The ‘Arab spring’ and the west: seven lessons from history
October 2011: Egyptians in Talat Harb square, Cairo, protest against military rule; October 1956: Egyptians demonstrate in the same square against British-French invasion. Photograph: Getty/Associated Press
There’s a real sense in which, more than any other part of the former colonial world, the Middle East has never been fully decolonised. Sitting on top of the bulk of the globe’s oil reserves, the Arab world has been the target of continual interference and intervention ever since it became formally independent.
Carved into artificial states after the first world war, it’s been bombed and occupied – by the US, Israel, Britain and France – and locked down with US bases and western-backed tyrannies. As the Palestinian blogger Lina Al-Sharif tweeted on Armistice Day this year, the “reason World War One isn’t over yet is because we in the Middle East are still living the consequences”.
Just a side note, I think the comparison of those two photos is a perfect introduction to this article.
The Arab uprisings that erupted in Tunisia a year ago have focused on corruption, poverty and lack of freedom, rather than western domination or Israeli occupation. But the fact that they kicked off against western-backed dictatorships meant they posed an immediate threat to the strategic order.
Since the day Hosni Mubarak fell in Egypt, there has been a relentless counter-drive by the western powers and their Gulf allies to buy off, crush or hijack the Arab revolutions. And they’ve got a deep well of experience to draw on: every centre of the Arab uprisings, from Egypt to Yemen, has lived through decades of imperial domination. All the main Nato states that bombed Libya, for example – the US, Britain, France and Italy – have had troops occupying the country well within living memory.
If the Arab revolutions are going to take control of their future, then, they’ll need to have to keep an eye on their recent past. So here are seven lessons from the history of western Middle East meddling, courtesy of the archive of Pathé News, colonial-era voice of Perfidious Albion itself.
Please go to the link to read about the seven lessons, the first one is a big lesson that we will probably never learn…there are also embedded videos to support the article, some go back to Libya and Jerusalem in the 1930′s.
And for another History Lesson, there is a lengthy timeline here at this link to MoJo: Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq
At A congressional hearing examining the march to war in Iraq, Republican congressman Walter Jones posed “a very simple question” about the administration’s manipulation of intelligence: “How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?”
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, responded with an equally simple answer: “The vice president.”
Oh… this is extremely detailed, so just go read the entire thing! Perhaps it will make you remember some of the events listed, as it made me recall them, in my mind’s vivid memory.
History has yet to write the story of Bradley Manning, however, Amy Goodman has done a good job of reporting on his case. Amy Goodman: Bradley Manning and the Fog of War
Accused whistle-blower Pvt. Bradley Manning turned 24 Saturday. He spent his birthday in a pretrial military hearing that could ultimately lead to a sentence of life … or death. Manning stands accused of causing the largest leak of government secrets in United States history.
Goodman explains the reasons for his “imprisonment” and gives a summary of what his outlook may be:
Back in the Fort Meade, Md., hearing room, defense attorneys painted a picture of a chaotic forward operating base with little to no supervision, no controls whatsoever on soldiers’ access to classified data, and a young man in uniform struggling with his sexual identity in the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Manning repeatedly flew into rages, throwing furniture and once even punching a superior in the face, without punishment. His peers at the base said he should not be in a war zone. Yet he stayed, until his arrest 18 months ago.
Since his arrest, Manning has been in solitary confinement, for much of the time in Quantico, Va., under conditions so harsh that the U.N. special rapporteur on torture is investigating. Many believe the U.S. government is trying to break Manning in order to use him in its expected case of espionage against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It also sends a dramatic message to any potential whistle-blower: “We will destroy you.”
For now, Manning sits attentively, reports say, facing possible death for “aiding the enemy.” The prosecution offered words Manning allegedly wrote to Assange as evidence of his guilt. In the email, Manning described the leak as “one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetrical warfare.” History will no doubt use the same words as irrefutable proof of Manning’s courage.
There are so many things going on these days that indicate a change in the rights and liberties of American citizens. We are in the process of losing these rights in this Bush/Obama Administration.
I love this history theme for today’s post…here is another article from Truthdig: William Pfaff: History Tells Us Not to Dismiss a Democratic Challenge to Obama
A week ago, in the Providence Journal newspaper (in Rhode Island), the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, John R. MacArthur, wrote that President Barack Obama, through expedient political compromises, has lost the moral authority that an American president must command, and therefore has lost his right to a second presidential term. Mr. MacArthur quotes in support of his argument the veteran journalist Bill Moyers, who was a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s staff from 1965 to 1967, and since has become a prominent commentator on public television and in liberal and Democratic Party circles.
Just click the link to read the rest…and there is a note at the end of the post you may find interesting too. (Especially those following the Euro/EU economic news.)
And for the last link, we’re going Medieval…on the Right and Left’s perceptions of the “War on Christmas.” Illuminating the “The War on Christmas” — Got Medieval
No snark today, just a few pretty medieval pictures interspersed with thoughts on this whole War on Christmas thing that you hear so much about these days.
At heart, I think, the War is a matter of incompatible perception. One camp looks at Christmas and sees this:
British Library MS Additional 52539, f. 2 (click-expandable)
And the other, this:
British Library MS Egerton 2045, f. 95 (click to expand)
Behold, a pair of “Adoration of the Magi”. Neither version looks very much like the medieval marginalia this series typically features but they both muck about with the page’s margins, nevertheless, so they’re fair game.
The second adoration is actually the most properly called “marginalia”; look closely, and you’ll see there’s a tiny rectangle of text there in the middle of the page, barely a half line of scripture. Everything else–Jesus and Mary, the three magi and their retainers, the gifts, the castle, even the camel–is located fully within the page’s sumptuously decorated margin, a margin that has expanded so as to nearly blot out the page’s text.
Likewise with the first; it’s marginal, if only just. While it’s technically a “historiated initial,” if you squint at the lower left quadrant, you’ll see that the kneeling cup-bearing servant is slipping out into the margin. Everyone else is crowded in so that there’s no room left for him to stand in the main image.
Which one is the metaphor for the Christmas War-Uponers, and which the Christmas Defense Squad?
There is so much one can learn about the attitudes and thought process of the Medieval mind through the art of page decorations.
As the above blog post analyzes the pictures of Christmas, that include the Savior, an occasional Christmas “Beasty” and all the other familiar characters, i.e. the Three Wise Men, I wonder what the three idiots on the curvy couch would have to say about all this marginalization going on.
So this is your History Lesson for the day, what else are you reading and thinking about? See y’all later in the comments.
Hmmm…that makes me think of the phrase, See You in the Funny Papers.
Posted: November 30, 2011 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, children, China, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Crime, Federal Budget and Budget deficit, Foreign Affairs, Great Britain, Human Rights, indefinite detention, Israel, jobs, Main Stream Media, Media, morning reads, The Great Recession, torture, unemployment, Water, Wikileaks | Tags: Bradley Manning
Wednesday is upon us again, and today we have some interesting reads for you…as the title teases, we cover just about everyone.
At least the European parliament hasn’t forgotten the Wikileak Whistleblower who has been held captive in a US military jail. The MEP’s are asking questions about Bradley Manning, and want to send a UN special reporter on torture to visit Manning and check on his condition. So here are a couple of links about this request. Bradley Manning treatment in custody concerns MEPs
More than 50 members of the European parliament have signed an open letter to the US government raising concerns about the treatment of Bradley Manning, the US soldier in military detention for allegedly leaking classified US documents to the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks.
The call on the US government comes before a pre-trial hearing – Manning’s first appearance in court – which begins on 16 December.
The MEPs said internal investigations into Manning’s treatment in custody, which included solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, inspections by officers every five minutes from 5am onwards and removal of his clothes, had been marred by “clear conflicts of interest”.
They call for US authorities to grant Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, access to Manning.
Mendez has made repeated requests for access to the military base where Manning is held, all of which have been refused by US authorities.
That the US authorities are refusing to allow Mendez visitation, it makes one think, “What are they trying to hide?”
The open letter from European parliamentarians, which follows another signed by several hundred US legal scholars, questioned the charges against Manning and warned that his pre-trial treatment may harm the UN’s work elsewhere, “particularly its mandate to investigate allegations of torture and human rights abuses”.
“In order to uphold the rights guaranteed to Bradley Manning under international human rights law and the US constitution, it is imperative that the United Nations special rapporteur be allowed to properly investigate evidence of rights abuses. PFC Manning has a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. People accused of crimes must not be subjected to any form of punishment before being brought to trial,” they wrote.
“We certainly do not understand why an alleged whistleblower is being threatened with the death penalty, or the possibility of life in prison. We also question whether Bradley Manning’s right to due process has been upheld, as he has now spent over 17 months in pre-trial confinement.”
You can read the entire letter for yourself here: Bradley Manning: MEPs’ open letter to the US government
Manning will attend an Article 32 hearing, the US military equivalent of a pre-trial hearing, on 16 December. This is expected to last five days. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, has indicated he wishes to call 50 witnesses at the hearing, but military authorities are considered unlikely to grant such a request.
The Article 32 hearing then makes a recommendation to a general as to whether to proceed to a full trial.
Now, compare this to recent news from China…Ai Weiwei’s wife detained by police.
The wife of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei was detained by police yesterday, the latest move in what has been seen as a concerted campaign to silence one of the government’s most vocal critics.
Speaking to The Independent, the artist, whose works include the Sunflower Seeds exhibition at London’s Tate Modern last year, described his wife Lu Qing’s three-hours of questioning as “ridiculous. They accused her of being a criminal suspect. When she asked them what crimes, they said it was a secret.”
Four policemen took Ms Lu, also a high-profile artist, from the couple’s Beijing studio to a local police station where she was questioned about a design company that manages Ai’s art, which is currently the focus of a £1.5m tax-evasion case.
“She is quite hurt. She’s very innocent; she doesn’t know anything about politics.” Mr Ai said.
Her cameraman and assistant has also been detained for questioning, in regards to one of Lu’s photographs that is now being labeled by the police as “pornography.”
What can you say, it does not seem to be much difference between China and the US.
In fact, this next link from the ACLU has information on the process of detaining US Citizens using the ICE’s Secure Communities. Detain First, Investigate Later: How U.S. Citizens Are Unlawfully Detained Under S-Comm
Detain first, investigate later — that is Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) mantra when it comes to its Secure Communities (“S-Comm”) program, a program designed to immediately ensnare any immigrant in the deportation pipeline the moment they come into contact with the criminal justice system.
Under S-Comm, the fingerprints of every person arrested by the police are shared with ICE at the moment they are booked into police custody. Without investigating the person’s immigration status, ICE immediately sends an “immigration detainer” or a request back to the police if they want the person to continue to be detained for immigration purposes. Detain first, investigate later.
See a problem with this? Not only does it violate the Fourth Amendment’s basic prohibition against detaining a person without probable cause to do so, but it commonly ensnares the wrong people, including people who are not even immigrants, but United States citizens, causing them to be unlawfully detained.
The post goes on to describe personal experiences with the policy of Detain First, Investigate Later.
ICE, quite clearly, has no business arresting and detaining American citizens. But as described in a recent report by the Warren Institute at University of California — Berkeley, they do so over and over again through the fundamentally-flawed S-Comm program. (ICE’s own data in the first year of S-Comm activation revealed that five percent of persons identified by S-Comm were in fact U.S. citizens.) And they do so by enlisting the unwitting participation of local jail authorities in these unconstitutional practices.
The costs and consequences of S-Comm’s detain first, investigate later are borne out every day in the jails and police stations across the country where non-deportable citizens and noncitizens suffer needless detention, while they beg for ICE to finally investigate their cases so that they may be released from jail.
Which makes me think of the recent Immigration Law passed in Alabama. Via Atrios: But The Law Was Only Supposed To Apply To Brown People
…many foreign manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Honda, have set up there. Its business-friendly reputation took a serious blow with the arrest in Tuscaloosa of a visiting Mercedes manager who was caught driving without his license and taken to jail as a potential illegal immigrant.
You see, you aren’t business friendly when you’re locking up the people who run the business, only when you’re locking up the people who work for it.
I know it isn’t funny, but the fact that they treated this Mercedes executive like an illegal immigrant made me laugh out loud.
Now here are some links involving Journalism and Journalists…which according to one link, calling some of the media’s reports “journalism” is rather a large leap.
First, this report about Lynsey Addario, New York Times Journalist, Strip Searched By Israeli Soldiers.
Israel’s Defense Ministry apologized Monday for the treatment of a pregnant American news photographer who said she was strip searched and humiliated by Israeli soldiers during a security check.
Lynsey Addario, who was on assignment for the New York Times, had requested that she not be forced to go through an X-ray machine as she entered Israel from the Gaza Strip because of concerns for her unborn baby.
Instead, she wrote in a letter to the ministry, she was forced through the machine three times as soldiers “watched and laughed from above.” She said she was then taken into a room where she was ordered by a female worker to strip down to her underwear.
Wait, they forced her to take the x-ray three times and then made her strip?
In the Oct. 25 letter sent by the newspaper said Addario, a Pulitzer Prize winner who is based in India and has worked in more than 60 countries, had never been treated with “such blatant cruelty.”
The ministry said an investigation found that the search followed procedures but noted that Addario’s request to avoid the X-ray machine had not been properly relayed.
Addario said she made the request not to go through the X-ray machine before arriving at the crossing.
“We would like to apologize for this particular mishap in coordination and any trouble it may subsequently have caused to those involved,” the statement said.
Hopefully, the x-ray screening did not harm her fetus…
Here in the US, CBS and CNN is getting flack for its recent “Exclusive Interviews” that are not real interviews, but video of a reporter knocking on the door and being told to f-off. Laurie Fine Interview On CNN
On Nov. 15, CBS touted an exclusive interview with Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, the man who allegedly saw and reported Jerry Sandusky abusing a boy in the locker room shower. The interview with Armen Keteyian lasted a whopping 24 seconds and its only legacy was a brief “shaken like a snowglobe” Internet meme. To say it was roundly mocked by anyone watching would be an understatement.
On Monday, CNN — with far less lead-up fanfare — touted an exclusive interview with Laurie Fine, wife of former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, who is accused of molesting team ball boys. This interview lasted 18 seconds, and consisted of AC 360‘s Gary Tuchman knocking on the door of the Fine house, and swatting down “no comments” from Laurie Fine by asking more questions. He eventually got the door shut in his face as a dog barked at him.
The Mediate post goes on to breakdown these “interviews” and honestly it is a laugh.
Keteyian’s interview consisted of 68 words, 29 of which were McQueary’s. Tuchman’s was 70 words, 21 of which were Fine’s…And we never see Laurie Fine’s face. Just a voice from inside the house, caught on a microphone that Tuchman had on him.
Video at the link above.
I’m giving you another link to Mediaite, this time highlighting a segment on Colbert: Stephen Colbert On CNN iReporters: ‘This Bold Move Will Help You Get Rid Of Your Remaining Viewers’
On Monday night’s The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert deftly tore into CNN for laying off dozens of its employees and choosing instead to rely more heavily on free (and, as one might be inclined to point out, often irrelevant) viewer-produced “iReports.”
“Why buy the cow,” Colbert mused, “when you can have it shakily videotape its own milk for free?”
Perhaps if CNN used an iReporter for the Fine interview, it would have been better than the professional one Tuchman taped?/snark
Colbert also noted that readers are reimbursed for their efforts with badges, which, he assumes, can probably be used to pay for food and rent. So far, readers have submitted personal vacation footage, a little girl’s weather report, and footage of some rambling man who calls himself “Blitz” or some such.
“Bravo CNN,” added Colbert, “for getting rid of all those pesky professionals. Hopefully this bold move will help you get rid of your remaining viewers.”
Too damn funny!
Okay, now this next journalism link is serious…and very interesting. h/t Susie Madrak: Tehelka – India’s Independent Weekly News Magazine
‘Journalism, not truth, is the first casualty of war’
WAR IS a well-produced reality show. Embedded journalism is the star cast. Yes, there are innocents dying, but why let that interfere with what the boss wants reported? Award-winning documentary filmmaker-journalist John Pilger is like the Censor Board in reverse. He hunts down secret footage and uses it as damning evidence, countering what war mongers want you to believe. His 2010 documentary The War You Don’t See had its Indian premiere in Delhi recently. Its footage of a US chopper firing on unarmed Baghdad residents and injured children being ignored as collateral damage raises questions about the media’s engage ment with war. Ironically, the journalists were conspicuous by their absence. For someone who has covered every major war of our times, even Pilger, 72, underneath his composed exterior, seemed disappointed. He tells Karuna John that journalists owe their loyalty to telling the truth. Period.
The link takes you to a Q & A with John Pilger, and after reading the “crap” being called “journalism” at CNN…it is refreshing to read about the real thing.
Just a few more links for you this morning. I find it curious that in Georgia, Herman and Newt’s extra-marital affairs are actually illegal. Map: Is Adultery Illegal? Why is the religious right so silent? Hasn’t both of these presidential candidates broken a few of those laws written on stone that folks like Pat Robertson are so passionate about?
Times are tough, the economy sucks ass and it doesn’t look like any help will be on the way soon.
Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars This is a video link to a segment from this week’s 60 Minutes.
More than 16 million children are now living in poverty and, for many of them, a proper home is elusive. Some cash-strapped families stay with relatives; others move into motels or homeless shelters. But, as Scott Pelley reports, sometimes those options run out, leaving an even more desperate choice: living in their cars. 60 Minutes returns to Florida, home to one third of America’s homeless families, to find out what life is like for the epidemic’s youngest survivors.
Add to this an article from the New York Times that highlights the loss of jobs within the black community. As Public Sector Sheds Jobs, Black Americans Are Hit Hard
Though the recession and continuing economic downturn have been devastating to the American middle class as a whole, the two and a half years since the declared end of the recession have been singularly harmful to middle-class blacks in terms of layoffs and unemployment, according to economists and recent government data. About one in five black workers have public-sector jobs, and African-American workers are one-third more likely than white ones to be employed in the public sector.
“The reliance on these jobs has provided African-Americans a path upward,” said Robert H. Zieger, emeritus professor of history at the University of Florida, and the author of a book on race and labor. “But it is also a vulnerability.”
A study by the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California this spring concluded, “Any analysis of the impact to society of additional layoffs in the public sector as a strategy to address the fiscal crisis should take into account the disproportionate impact the reductions in government employment have on the black community.”
Jobless rates among blacks have consistently been about double those of whites. In October, the black unemployment rate was 15.1 percent, compared with 8 percent for whites. Last summer, the black unemployment rate hit 16.7 percent, its highest level since 1984.
Economists say there are probably a variety of reasons for the racial gap, including generally lower educational levels for African-Americans, continuing discrimination and the fact that many live in areas that have been slow to recover economically.
Hmmm…maybe Obama’s lack of attention to African-Americans high unemployment also is not helping matters…please give the entire article you time. The story is a sad one, and many of us are familiar with the stresses a family will go through when jobs are lost and people are in survival mode. The holidays make it even more difficult.
This next link discusses how the Recession hits families hard as half of Americans fear they won’t be able to do their holiday shopping . The article points out that one in five American families do not have disposable income.
Worried: Financial troubles are dampening people’s expectations this season.
While the deals in stores and online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are meant to encourage shoppers, many people’s bank statements are having the opposite effect.
As a result of the difficult financial times and the diminishing disposable cash in many American households, half of the country is concerned that they will not be able to buy the gifts they want for family and friends this holiday season.
A CBS poll reports that 33 per cent of those polled will not have enough money for holiday shopping.
Okay, very depressing news…and very depressing numbers. Let’s end this post with some geeky news about True Random Numbers Created by Firing Lasers at Diamonds
True random numbers are very hard to come by, as this article from Geeosystem points out:
Computers have an especially hard time creating random numbers since they operate by algorithm. Sure, you can get a pseudo-random number by using a “randomly” selected seed and running a whole bunch of operations on it, but that’s still not random. For that matter, neither is rolling dice. Granted, we generally don’t have enough information to predict the outcome, so rolls are effectively random, but not actually random. Now, Ottowa physicist Ben Sussman has come up with a way to create large quantities of true random numbers, with science!
The process works a little something like this. Sussman takes
a big old beam of science a laser, and fires a several-trillosecond burst through a diamond. In the process of going through the diamond, the laser fundamentally changes in completely random ways, providing those true random numbers everyone craves. That’s right. Ben Sussman makes random numbers by shooting lasers at diamonds, for science. This is exactly the kind of experiment I imagined scientists doing when I was about 6 years old. The only way this could be cooler is if it were all going down in space.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “So what’s so random about this? After all, if dice rolls aren’t random because we theoretically could predict them, what makes this laser-diamond stuff any different?” Well, we theoretically can’t predict these numbers. It’s not that we don’t know how the light changes inside the diamond. It’s that we can’t know. It is unknowable. To know would defy the very laws of physics.
As you can probably guess, quantum physics is to blame for this one. While traveling through the diamond, the laser experiences a quantum fluctuation, and according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, it is literally impossible to figure out what happened in there; all we can do is take a look at what’s coming out the other side. Basically, when you shoot a laser through a diamond, quantum physics does a whole bunch of stuff that is literally impossible to know, ever. Are you getting this?! This is science, baby!
What are you all reading about this morning!