This week’s New Yorker has a fascinating article by Jill Lepore about guns in America that I think everyone should read: Battleground America: One nation, under the gun. It’s long, but well worth reading. Here’s just a tiny excerpt:
The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.
Men are far more likely to own guns than women are, but the rate of gun ownership among men fell from one in two in 1980 to one in three in 2010, while, in that same stretch of time, the rate among women remained one in ten. What may have held that rate steady in an age of decline was the aggressive marketing of handguns to women for self-defense, which is how a great many guns are marketed. Gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, higher in the country than in the city, and higher among older people than among younger people. One reason that gun ownership is declining, nationwide, might be that high-school shooting clubs and rifle ranges at summer camps are no longer common.
Although rates of gun ownership, like rates of violent crime, are falling, the power of the gun lobby is not. Since 1980, forty-four states have passed some form of law that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons outside their homes for personal protection. (Five additional states had these laws before 1980. Illinois is the sole holdout.) A federal ban on the possession, transfer, or manufacture of semiautomatic assault weapons, passed in 1994, was allowed to expire in 2004. In 2005, Florida passed the Stand Your Ground law, an extension of the so-called castle doctrine, exonerating from prosecution citizens who use deadly force when confronted by an assailant, even if they could have retreated safely; Stand Your Ground laws expand that protection outside the home to any place that an individual “has a right to be.” Twenty-four states have passed similar laws.
I hadn’t realized that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin just one day before the school shootings at Chardon High School near Cleveland, Ohio. Isn’t it amazing that we heard all about that shooting right away and it was old news by the time the corporate media began reporting on Trayvon’s death?
Tuesday was the fifth anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, and it seems America has changed very little, probably largely because of NRA lobbying as well as ALEC’s “model legislation” writing services.
Of course no one could help hearing about the crude and tasteless behavior on display at the NRA convention last weekend. Executive VP Wayne LaPierre even had the gall to complain about media coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting. At HuffPo, Dean Obeidallah asks why.
Did Mr. LaPierre offer any sympathy to Trayvon Martin’s family? No.
Instead, he chose to denounce the media for their coverage of the case, alleging that the media’s: “… dishonesty, duplicity, and moral irresponsibility is directly contributing to the collapse of American freedom in our country.”
What makes Mr. La Pierre’s comments especially callous is that they were made at the annual NRA convention which was being held this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis has the unenviable distinction of being the city with the second highest rate in the country for youth being killed by guns. Indeed, the gunshot murder rate for 10 to 19 years old in St. Louis is more than three times the average for larger cities according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yesterday the LA Times published photos of American troops in Afghanistan posing with body parts of dead suicide bombers.
Two photos of incidents from a 2010 deployment were published Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times. In one, the hand of a corpse is propped on the shoulder of a paratrooper. In another, the disembodied legs of a suicide bomber are displayed by grinning soldiers and Afghan police.
These are the “hero” troops that we are constantly told we have to support and be grateful to. Have these young people been warped by America’s immoral wars? Or are they products of America’s vicious gun culture? I don’t know the answer, just asking.
American officials weren’t happy with the LA Times for publishing the photos and tried to stop them from doing it. Although the Obama administration and military leaders fell over themselves condemning the actions of these troops,
At the same time, Pentagon and White House officials expressed disappointment that the photos had been made public. The Pentagon had asked The Times not to publish the photos, citing fears that they would trigger a backlash against U.S. forces.
Speaking to reporters during a meeting of NATO allies in Brussels, Panetta said:
“This is war. And I know that war is ugly and violent. And I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions. I am not excusing that behavior. But neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people or to our relationship with the Afghan people.”
Tough shit. Haven’t we seen enough war crimes by now? This war and the war in Iraq are just plain evil. Get these kids out of Afghanistan, and let’s hope we can prevent a majority of them from acting out violently or joining the growing number of military suicides when they get back home.
Mother Jones reports that ALEC is begging right wing bloggers to rescue them from mean old Common Cause, Color of Change, and other liberal groups who have been convincing ALEC’s donors to withdraw their support.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, the once-obscure organization that pairs corporations with state lawmakers to draft pro-business and often anti-union legislation for the state level, is in damage control mode. Corporate members such as McDonald’s, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Mars, Inc. have cut ties with ALEC after taking heat from a coalition of progressive groups angry over ALEC’s “discriminatory” voter ID bills and controversial “Stand Your Ground” self-defense legislation that figures into the Trayvon Martin shooting in central Florida.
To push back, ALEC has turned to the conservative blogosphere for help. As PR Watch reported, Caitlyn Korb, ALEC’s director of external relations, told attendees at a Heritage Foundation “Bloggers Briefing” on Tuesday that the campaign against ALEC was “part of a wider effort to shut all of us down.” She asked the bloggers for “any and all institutional support” in ALEC’s fight against progressive groups, especially when it came to social media. “We’re getting absolutely killed in social media venues—Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,” she said. “Any and all new media support you guys can provide would be so helpful, not just to us but to average people who don’t know much about this fight but are seeing us really get heavily attacked with very little opposition.”
Korb educated the bloggers with a handout listing ALEC’s positions on a range of issues. PR Watch, one of ALEC’s loudest critics, described the handout as “riddled with errors.”
Check out the list at the above link.
Joshua Holland has an excellent piece at Alternet: Freedom from a Dead-End Life: True Liberty Means Defeating the Right-Wing’s Nightmare Vision for America.
Last week, Mitt Romney summed up the Right’s rhetorical fluff as well as anyone when he told the National Rifle Association that “freedom is the victim of unbounded government appetite.” It was an unremarkable comment, so accustomed are we to hearing the Right – a movement that historically opposed women’s sufferage and black civil rights and still seeks to quash workers’ right to organize and gay and lesbian Americans’ right to marry– claim to be defenders of our liberties….
Dig a little deeper, and it becomes clear that “freedom” for the Right offers most of us anything but. It’s the freedom for companies to screw their workers, pollute, and otherwise operate free of any meaningful regulations to protect the public interest. It’s about the wealthiest among us being free from the burden of paying a fair share of the taxes that help finance a smoothly functioning society.
The flip side is that programs that assure working Americans a decent existence are painted as a form of tyranny approaching fascism. The reality is that they impinge only on our God-given right to live without a secure social safety net. It’s the freedom to go bankrupt if you can’t afford to treat an illness; the liberty to spend your golden years eating cat food if you couldn’t sock away enough for a decent retirement.
It’s another long read, but well worth the time.
At FDL, Kevin Gosztola writes about yesterday’s unanimous SCOTUS that multinational corporations can’t be sued for torturing and/or killing people.
The US Supreme Court unanimously decided that foreign political organizations and multinational corporations cannot be sued for the torture or extrajudicial killing of persons abroad under an anti-torture law passed in 1992. The law only gives people the right to sue “an individual,” “who acted under the authority of a foreign nation,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the family of a US citizen, Azzam Rahim, who was tortured and killed in the Palestinian Territory by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) intelligence officers. It was Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who President Barack Obama appointed to the Supreme Court, that spoke for the decision. She explained the text of the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991 “convinces us that Congress did not extend liability to organizations, sovereign or not. There are no doubt valid arguments for such an extension. But Congress has seen fit to proceed in more modest steps in the Act, and it is not the province of this branch to do otherwise.”
Apparently, corporations are only “people” for purposes of corrupting electoral politics, but when they commit crimes they are no longer considered “individuals.” Gosztola also calls attention to the fact that Chief Justice Roberts actually laughed at the arguments of the Rahim family’s attorney Jeffrey Fisher.
Mr. Fisher did what he could with what the justices seemed to think was an exceptionally weak hand.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. summarized Mr. Fisher’s position: “You are saying, ‘Well, we want a term that is going to include individual persons and organizations but not state organizations.’ And the only term that fits perfectly is ‘individual.’ ”
“Exactly,” Mr. Fisher said. “That’s our argument.”
Chief Justice Roberts was incredulous. “Really?” he asked, to laughter in the courtroom, which the chief justice joined.
Finally, Dakinikat sent me this from The New York Times: Vatican orders crackdown on American nuns
The Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America’s 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.
Rome also chided the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
Those are my recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
Former Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stopped by Boston on Monday night to sell his book. The event was disrupted by protesters who heckled Rumsfeld and attempted to make a citizen’s arrest for war crimes. From WCVB Channel 5 in Boston:
Several protesters tried to disrupt a forum with Rumsfeld at the Old South Meeting House, shouting and holding up signs as most of the audience shouted and booed them down.
“I went down in front and looked Donald Rumsfeld in the eye and said, ‘I’m making a citizen’s arrest,’ said protester Nate Goldschlag, a member of the group Veterans for Peace, who had to buy Rumsfeld’s book to get into the event.
“He lied us into Iraq. He lied about weapons of mass destruction. He lied about Saddam Hussein being involved in 9/11,” Goldschlag said.
Four demonstrators were dragged out of the hall by police and one person was arrested outside the building for assaulting an officer with a bullhorn, police said.
The event was sponsored by right wing talk radio station WRKO, which explains why most of the 300 people there were supportive of Rumsfeld. Unfortunately for the protesters, they had to purchase copies of Rummy’s book in order to get into the event.
It did my heart good to learn about this little demonstration–sorry I’m a little late finding this story. Here are some videos from and about the event:
I’m sick and tired of the Weiner story, and I know most of you are too; but I just want to highlight a few reactions that I found interesting–all G rated.
I love this Lambert post, especially this part:
ZOMG!!!!!!! Offensive behavior online!!!!!!!! [Too tired for the riffs about the pearl clutching and the fainting couch.]
Anyhow, so Weiner’s an asshole. And so what. As William Gibson said:
“Fortunately,” he said, “it isn’t about who’s an asshole. If it were, our work would never be done.”
Love that quote! As Lambert points out, these “ethics” investigations never seem to happen to people who engage in torture, election fraud, or handing over the U.S. treasury to banksters.
Speaking of assholes, Andrew Breitbart claims he still has one more “lewd picture” of Weiner that he hasn’t released–and it’s not the one going around today. Talk about an evil human being. Breitbart is disgusting. If you read to the end of that piece, you’ll find out Breitbart’s notions of female sexuality.
One person who seems to have a little sympathy for Weiner is Charlie Rangel.
“His most serious problem is keeping his wife and family together at this time,” Rangel said in an interview on Fox Business Network set to air Wednesday evening.
Rangel did not suggest that Weiner resign. Here’s what he had to say about “ethics” investigations:
“They may do that, and God knows, I know what people feel they have to do as politicians to protect themselves. It’s totally unbelievable, but it happens,” Rangel said. “They love you, but they love themselves better and they make political decisions not to how it affects you, but to how it affects them and their reelection.”
They are all slime, yet they presume to sit in judgment on others. What Weiner did makes me sick, but the rest of them make me even sicker.
Melanie Sloan of CREW says there is a double-standard operating in the many calls for Weiner to resign.
“This is a massive overreaction and I don’t understand it,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
She points out that Charlie Rangel was censured for serious ethical breaches, yet was not forced to resign.
Sloan explained that the mounting pressure on Weiner may stem in part from the early precedent set by House Speaker John Boehner when, at the first sign of sexual misconduct, he urged Reps. Mark Souder (R, Ind.) and Chris Lee (R, N.Y.) to resign, even though their behavior didn’t appear to involve any abuse of their office.
“A lot of people really hate Weiner, too,” she said, referring to Weiner’s colleagues in the House, some of whom are said to have been rankled by his personality and frequent media appearances.
What about Weiner’s denials before he owned up?
“A politician lying is not that unusual,” Sloan said. “If the new standard is that politicians are out the second they lie to us, then a lot of politicians could be gone.”
As egregious as Weiner’s behavior was, it wasn’t a crime. Here’s an example of truly egregious behavior: U.S. pediatrician on trial for raping toddlers
A Delaware pediatrician went on trial for allegedly raping or sexually exploiting 86 young patients, all girls except one and almost all younger than three.
Earl Bradley has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts against him, and sat quietly in gray prison scrubs as a veteran state trooper spent hours Tuesday describing the doctor’s cache of home videos of the assaults.
They were so “horrible,” testified state police detective Scott Garland, a specialist in forensic computer evidence. “They were beyond anything I had ever witnessed. Nothing prepared me for it.”
And then there’s this: Casey Antony told a fellow inmate that she used chloroform to knock out her daughter Caylee when she (Casey) wanted to party.
Gaddafi bought Viagra-like pills for troops to attack women
Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he may ask for a new charge of mass rape to be made against Gaddafi following the new evidence. The chief International Criminal Court prosecutor is expecting a decision from judges within days on his request for crimes against humanity charges against the Libyan leader.
“Now we are getting some information that Gaddafi himself decided to rape and this is new,” Mr Moreno-Ocampo told reporters.
He said there were reports of hundreds of women attacked in some areas of Libya, which is in the grip of a months-long internal rebellion.
Mr Moreno-Ocampo said there was evidence that the Libyan authorities bought “Viagra-type” medicines and gave them to troops as part of the official rape policy.
“They were buying containers to enhance the possibility to rape women,” he said.
“We had doubts at the beginning but now we are more convinced that he decided to punish using rapes,” the prosecutor said. “It was very bad — beyond the limits, I would say.”
Let’s move on to the horrors of the Republican 2012 presidential field. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, voters aren’t ready for a Mormon president.
Sorry, Mitt. John Huntsman is also a Mormon. I guess voters don’t mind looney religionists as long as they claim to be Christians though. Have you heard about Tim Pawlenty’s economic plan?
Pawlenty calls for sweeping tax cuts dubbed by some as “breathtaking.” He’d cut the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 15 percent, and eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest income, dividends and inheritances. There would be two tiers of personal income taxes — 10 percent and 25 percent.
Pawlenty would require Congress to reauthorize all federal regulations and radically reshape the federal government by privatizing services such as the U.S. Postal Service and Amtrak. He also would support an ill-advised balanced budget amendment. You could almost hear the corporate special interests uttering “check, check and check!” as the South St. Paul truck driver’s son ticked off items on their wish lists and then one-upped them.
Just reading about it makes me want to run out into the street screaming and tearing my hair out.
Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are supposedly feuding now because Ed Rollins said that Bachman is more “serious” than Palin. I had to really look around to find an article that didn’t call it a “cat fight.” Here’s Rollins, quoted by NPR:
“Well I’m going to work for Michele Bachmann if she runs. That’s the one that intrigues me the most at this point and I think to a certain extent she’s articulate, she’s a conservative. She’s got a great story to tell. She’s on the Intelligence Committee. You know, she’s unknown to the national audience, but she’ll become known and that’s the candidacy that I’m going to work for if she runs.
“Sarah has not been serious over the last couple of years. She got the vice-presidential thing handed to her. She didn’t go to work in the sense of trying gain more substance. She gave up her governorship. You know, I think Michele Bachmann and others have worked hard. She has been a leader of the Tea Party, which is a very important element here. She’s an attorney, done extraordinary things with family values and what have you. So I think she will connect. She’s a great, great communicator and I would say in the race today she is probably the best communicator.”
Kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Now check this out: Santorum Calls Abortion Exceptions To Protect Health Of The Mother ‘Phony’
Longshot GOP presidential hopeful and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum stomped for votes in Iowa on Tuesday, trumpeting his “culture wars” message. A longtime anti-abortion activist, Santorum is selling himself as the leading social conservative in a crowded field. Yesterday in West Des Moines, he made an appearance at a “crisis pregnancy center” called Informed Choices that tries to talk women out of having abortions. Santorum said that he “separates [himself] from the rest of the pack” and criticized the other candidates for simply “checking the box” on anti-abortion issues.
When discussing his track record as a champion of the partial birth abortion ban, Santorum dismissed exceptions other senators wanted to carve out to protect the life and health of mothers, calling such exceptions “phony”:
SANTORUM: When I was leading the charge on partial birth abortion, several members came forward and said, “Why don’t we just ban all abortions?” Tom Daschle was one of them, if you remember. And Susan Collins, and others. They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective.
In other stupid Republican news, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a painting of poor and homeless children removed from the governor’s mansion. From Mother Jones:
Walker has made headlines again after he removed a painting depicting three Wisconsin children—one had been homeless, one came from low-income family, and a third who had lost family members in a drunk-driving accident. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the painting was one of numerous pieces of art commissioned by the fund that operates the governor’s mansion—works that were intended to remind the governor of the constituents he or she represents.
Here’s the Journal Sentinel on the painting by artist David Lenz:
In an interview, Lenz said he carefully selected the three children portrayed in “Wishes in the Wind.” The African-American girl, featured in a Journal Sentinel column on homelessness, spent three months at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission with her mother. The Hispanic girl is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. And the boy’s father and brother were killed by a drunken driver in 2009.
“The homeless, central city children and victims of drunk drivers normally do not have a voice in politics,” Lenz explained in an email. “This painting was an opportunity for future governors to look these three children in the eye, and I hope, contemplate how their public policies might affect them and other children like them.”
He added: “I guess that was a conversation Governor Walker did not want to have.”
In other news, at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, 77 army cadets were struck by lightening and hospitalized. Let’s hope they’ll all be okay. The weather sure is strange this year!
I’ll end with this interesting story from the LA Times: Autism linked to hundreds of genetic mutations.
Autism is not caused by one or two gene defects but probably by hundreds of different mutations, many of which arise spontaneously, according to research that examined the genetic underpinnings of the disorder in more than 1,000 families.
The findings, reported in three studies published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, cast autism disorders as genetically very complex, involving many potential changes in DNA that may produce, essentially, different forms of autism.
The affected genes, however, appear to be part of a large network involved in controlling the development of synapses, the critical junctions between nerve cells that allow them to communicate, according to one of the three studies.
Although the work will have no immediate value to patients or their families, the insights provide a wealth of targets to pursue in developing treatments for the disorder, scientists said. Understanding the genetic causes of autism spectrum disorders may promote more accurate diagnoses, and research on synapse formation and function could yield treatments that address the flow of signals between nerve cells.
What are you reading and blogging about today? Please share!!
Good Morning!! Once again, the Osama bin Laden story is eclipsing just about everything else. Nevertheless, I’ll do what I can to search out a few non-Osama links for your reading pleasure. But first, the latest on the the media obsession du jour.
You’ve probably heard about the reports that bin Laden was first captured alive and then shot execution style in front of his 12-year-old daughter. At least that is how she described the events to Pakistani officials who are currently holding her and other survivors of the raid. From the Guardian:
The girl, who was found at the scene of the raid by Pakistani security services, is being cared for at a military hospital having been wounded in the attack. She has been questioned about the sequence of events during the raid last weekend.
The official said Pakistani intelligence services, who are holding 11 other survivors of the deadly raid on Bin Laden’s Pakistani hiding place, would not allow their interrogation by US officials.
“That would occur only if there was written assent from their country of origin. We are yet to receive any request to my knowledge, but given the [critical] statements coming out of Washington and the fact that [the raid] was not an operation we were involved in, we would not accept,” he said.
Hmmm…sound like the Pakistani official is slightly miffed about the way the U.S. handled this.
At least 10 people were left alive at the end of the attack, which saw Bin Laden killed in an upstairs room of the three-storey house where he had been living. Hamza, one of the al-Qaida leader’s sons, was killed. His body was removed with that of his father by the assault teams.
The survivors include eight children and two adults, both women. One is Bin Laden’s fifth wife, a 29-year-old Yemeni, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah who married the al-Qaida leader around 11 years ago in Afghanistan. The other is understood to be a Yemeni doctor in her 30s whose passport indicates that she arrived by legal means in the region sometime between 2000 and 2006, when the document expired.
I still haven’t heard any word about what happened to the son’s body. Have you? It does seem the administration still has some explaining to do. Justin Elliott of Salon tried to get some clarification.
Legitimate doubt has been cast on the official narrative of the raid ever since the Obama administration changed major details of what it claims happened. (A Pentagon official, for example, said Monday that bin Laden was firing a gun at U.S. forces from behind a human shield when he was killed. Now the White House says he was not armed and there was no human shield.)
The possibility that bin Laden was captured was raised in a report by an Arab news agency citing Pakistani officials describing an interview with bin Laden’s young daughter, who was apparently at the compound:
The daughter has claimed that she watched as her father was captured alive and shot before being dragged to a US military helicopter, Arabic news network al-Arabiya quoted Pakistani officials as saying.
Elliott also notes that President Obama said during an appearance on Monday night that the top secret operation had “resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden.” He got no answers from the White House, but the CIA told NBC that the 12-year-old’s eyewitness testimony is completely wrong. They deny that bin Laden was “captured” before being killed and they deny putting his son’s body in a helicopter and taking it away.
More problems for the administration: The Telegraph reveals that there is no live video of the attack on the bin Laden compound.
A photograph released by the White House appeared to show the President and his aides in the situation room watching the action as it unfolded. In fact they had little knowledge of what was happening in the compound.
In an interview with PBS, Mr Panetta said: “Once those teams went into the compound I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we really didn’t know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information.
“We had some observation of the approach there, but we did not have direct flow of information as to the actual conduct of the operation itself as they were going through the compound.”
Mr Panetta also told the network that the US Navy Seals made the final decision to kill bin Laden rather than the president.
Hmmm….that’s a bit troubling.
At FDL, David Swanson is very troubled by the killing of Osama bin Laden. According to him, Osama bin Lynched. I’ll say one thing for Swanson: the guy can write. I recommend reading his blog just for the pleasure of reading some good writing, if nothing else.
Here is some more evidence that our government is being run by silly adolescents. Several media outlets have reported that a number of Senators, including Saxby Chambliss, Kelly Ayotte, and Scott Brown, claimed to have seen the graphic photos of Osama bin Laden’s dead body. It turns out all they saw was the same fake doctored photo that everyone else saw all over the internet yesterday. The Boston Globe reports:
US Senator Scott Brown said in several televised interviews today that he had seen perhaps the most controversial and closely guarded photos in the world: those showing Osama bin Laden’s dead body.
Brown, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested he had viewed them as part of an official briefing, and he argued that they were too graphic to be released to the public and could enflame terrorists.
Brown later acknowledged that he had fallen victim to a hoax, apparently the same doctored images that were making the rounds on the Internet.
‘‘The photo that I saw and that a lot of other people saw is not authentic,’’ the senator said in a one-sentence statement issued hours after the interviews aired.
Meanwhile, President Obama is protecting all of us by keeping the photos under wraps along with the torture photos he is hiding. Whatever. I have no desire to see bin Laden’s dead body. But then why did they release all the other bloody photos that are everywhere on the internet? Like we haven’t all seen worse in the Movies and on TV.
BTW, if you don’t want to hear Obama explain why we’re all too fragile to see the dead terrorist, avoid watching 60 Minutes on Sunday, because POTUS will be making a campaign stop on the show this week.
Of course we all know that photos can be faked, doctored and even staged by our government. Reuters explains:
Reuters White House photographer Jason Reed describes how the president made his speech to a single TV camera, then immediately after finishing, he pretended to speak for the still cameras.
“As President Obama continued his nine-minute address in front of just one main network camera, the photographers were held outside the room by staff and asked to remain completely silent. Once Obama was off the air, we were escorted in front of that teleprompter and the President then re-enacted the walk-out and first 30 seconds of the statement for us.”
That means the photograph that appeared in many newspapers Monday morning of Obama speaking may have been the staged shot, captured after the president spoke. This type of staging has been going on for decades.
I never knew that before. Kind of creepy, if you ask me.
Here are couple more humorous Osama anecdotes from Raw Story. A reporter from the St. Petersburg Times, Meg Laughlin, says she saw bin Laden is Islamabad in 2002.
On a quick run to the grocery store with photographer Carl Juste and a driver/translator, Juste pointed out the window and said, “Look! There’s Osama bin Laden!” Laughlin wrote in a first-person account of the incident published Tuesday in the St. Petersburg Times.
“We couldn’t believe our eyes,” she wrote. “There, in front of us was the most wanted man in the world, the face on countless posters offering a reward of $25 million for information on his whereabouts. There was no mistaking him. Towering over the men with him, he was lanky with olive skin and that scraggly long beard, those sad brown eyes and that splayed nose.
The three of us began screaming, ‘It’s Osama bin Laden! Osama bin Laden!’”
Honestly, Bush and Cheney could have caught the guy anytime they wanted to. Republicans should be ashamed for trying to give them credit. Not that Republicans are capable of shame….
This is really good. CNN reporter Nic Roberts found something interesting growing next to the compound where bin Laden and his family and friends were living.
Among the various vegetable crops growing alongside the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a row of marijuana plants was also discovered by CNN reporter Nic Robertson.
It begs the question: was Osama bin Laden a pothead?
Of course, the answer to that is in no way clear. The plants very well could have been for one of the other individuals who stayed at the compound, or another local entirely. Reports from the scene indicated that as many as three dozen people shared the three-story house, including as many as 23 children.
Some have speculated that the al Qaeda leader may have been using the marijuana as a medicine. If he was indeed on dialysis, as an unnamed U.S. intelligence source told Asiaweek back in 2000, then he could have used marijuana as a painkiller.
If we’re already getting silly stories like this one, I hate to think what trivial morsels we’ll be seeing served up by the media in a couple more days. They are going to milk this story for all it’s worth and then some.
Poor Muammar Gaddafi has been nearly wiped off the front pages by the Osama blockbuster news. But he’s still up to his old tricks. Yesterday, he bombed a humanitarian relief vessel as it was trying to evacuate foreign citizens Libyan civilians from Misrata. But it looks like the UN is going to indict Gaddafi for war crimes and try to arrest him.
The question then arises as to which organisation should carry out the arrest. Under the 1998 Rome Statute on which the court was built, that duty falls first to the national government in question, and there is at least a faint hope among western governments that the issuing of ICC arrest warrants would provide a trigger and a legal justification for any remaining waverers in the Gaddafi camp to move against him.
If not, the UN security council has to decide what to do. The job could be passed to Nato, but that would require a resolution, which Russia and China could well object to. They already believe that the February resolution allowing “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians has been exploited by Nato to wage war on the side of the rebels.
To further complicate the situation, the Obama administration might also object, as it would involve sending troops into Tripoli, something that Washington has sworn not to do.
The council could instead restate the court’s demand for the Libyan leaders to turn themselves in.
It sounds like Gaddafi should be a little bit nervous right now, but according to Fox News, this probably won’t have much effect on his behavior. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister of Turkey is calling on Gaddafi to step down “for the sake of the country’s future.”
The Guardian has an op-ed by Alaa al-Ameri arguing that NATO forces would be justified in targeting Gaddafi personally.
Various commentators have declared that the deaths [allegedly of Gaddafi's son and possibly others] prove Nato has overstepped its mandate, and has violated international law by targeting Gaddafi personally. This is based on their definition of Gaddafi as a head of state, and their belief that the UN mandate is confined only to the establishment and maintenance of a no-fly zone. Both these premises are false.
Gaddafi is not a head of state. He is a warlord in control of a personal army that he has tasked with the mass killing and terrorising of Libyans for the crime of wishing to live as free human beings. There is no meaningful Libyan government structure or decision-making body besides Gaddafi himself and his sons.
Which logic or legal principle underlies the notion that while militia in the act of aggression against a civilian population may be attacked, the leader of that militia – actively engaged in directing the violence – is off limits? What claim to special rights and privileges can be made by a man who uses rape as a weapon of war? Which principle of international law would be eroded by his death?
Despite assertions to the contrary, UN resolution 1973 does not confine Nato action to a no-fly zone. The now familiar central clause authorises member states “to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”. Some critics of Nato’s action have interpreted this so narrowly as to assert that it allows no more than “a protective cordon around Benghazi”.
Another author Robert Barnidge Jr. makes a similar argument at Politico. He claims that killing bin Laden was “lawful,” and killing Gaddafi would likewise be “lawful.”
Some now argue that it is unlawful to target Qadhafi. NATO has been put on the defensive. But it shouldn’t apologize. The law is on its side.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 reaffirmed that the situation in Libya threatened international peace and security. Crucially, the resolution, in paragraph 4, authorized member states to “take all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” subject only to some procedural requirements.
International law prohibits states from threatening or using force in their international relations — with two exceptions: when states act in self-defence, and when the Security Council authorizes it under chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter. Resolution 1973 is an example of the latter.
Given that Resolution 1973 is a legal instrument, the question is what paragraph 4 permits — and what it forbids. For example, both sides in the debate about the lawfulness of the 2003 invasion of Iraq largely agreed that “all necessary measures” would mean the use of force. The debate with Iraq was whether Security Council Resolution 1441 (2002) had “revived” this language in the earlier Security Council Resolution 678 (1990). (Resolution 678 used the language “all necessary means” — but there is no significant legal difference between “measures” and “means.”)
Amnesty International said it has received first-hand reports of torture and other ill treatment from detainees held in Syria, as a wave of arrests of anti-government protesters intensified over the weekend.
Amnesty International said “widespread, arbitrary arrests” had taken place in towns across the country in recent days. At least 499 people were detained Sunday during house-to-house raids in Daraa, a key location for pro-reform protests, the group said, adding that most were being held at unknown locations without access to lawyers or their families.
The rights group also said it had the names of 54 people killed last Friday, which brought to 542 the number of people killed during a month and a half of protests in Syria. Amnesty International stated in a report that the high number of deaths can be attributed to tactics by Syrian security forces.
The group gave the accounts of two men detained last month in the coastal city of Banias.
One detainee said he was forced to “lick blood off the floor” after being stripped and beaten, Amnesty International said in a statement. The man told the group that he and and others detained with him had been beaten with sticks and cables as well as kicked and punched.
The rights organization said the detainee also reported being held for three days without food and being forced to drink dirty water from a toilet.
Actor Jackie Cooper died on Tuesday. He was one child actor who grew up to be a successful adult actor as well.
Before the heydays of Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney, young Jackie, a ragged urchin with a pout and a mischievous half-winked eye, was dreaming up schemes in “Our Gang” comedies and Wallace Beery pictures, like “Treasure Island,” that Hollywood churned out for the rialto.
As Americans flocked to escapist movies, he made $2,000 a week, toured the nation and hobnobbed with Bing Crosby, Tallulah Bankhead and Joan Crawford. At 9 he became the youngest Oscar nominee for best actor (a record that he still holds), in “Skippy” (1931). Later he dated Lana Turner and Judy Garland, and spent weekends on the yacht of MGM’s boss, Louis B. Mayer.
By his late teens, though, he seemed washed up, just another fading child star bound for oblivion and the life of drugs, booze and anonymity that became the fate of many of Hollywood’s forgotten children.
But he got into television in the 1950s, starring in the sitcoms “The People’s Choice” and “Hennesey,” and later became an Emmy-winning director of “M*A*S*H” and other hits; was introduced to a new generation of moviegoers as Perry White, editor of The Daily Planet, in four “Superman” films; and earned his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Have you heard about the new study that shows eating a lot of salt isn’t associated with heart problems? It was just published in the JAMA.
Jan A. Staessen, MD, PhD, of the University of Leuven, Belgium, led a study that measured urinary sodium levels in 3,681 healthy, 40-ish people and then followed their health for about eight years.
Their finding: People with the highest sodium levels had a significantly lower risk of dying from heart disease than did people with the lowest sodium levels.
“Our current findings refute the estimates of computer models of lives saved and health care costs reduced with lower salt intake,” Staessen and colleagues conclude in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “They do also not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of salt intake at the population level.”
Repeat after me: “Correlation does not equal causation.” Every single one of the studies of diet and disease you hear about is based only on correlations (associations). Guess what? Heart disease (and cancer, and many other illnesses) run in families. There is nearly always a genetic component. I’d rather have good genes any day that trust the results of the countless studies that claim certain foods or behaviors are bad for me.
That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today? Lay it on me!