I thought I’d put up some longer suggested reads today since the news seems to be focused on several items we’ve been covering a lot recently. This first link is from Alternet and features Noam Chomsky and Eric Bailey of Torture Magazine. The discussion talks about our continuing abuse of civil rights and liberties stemming from the War on Terrorism during the Obama administration. Here’s some discussion of US “black sites” which are still in operation today.
Bailey: It has been just over 10 years since the publication of the Bush administration’s “torture memos.” These memos provided a legal justification for the torture of detainees held by the CIA in connection with the “war on terror.” The contents of the memos are chilling and have created new debate on torture internationally. Despite all of the promises given by President Obama to close those illegal detention centers, it seems that “black site” activities still occur. What are your views on these detention centers and CIA torture? Also, what do you think about Obama’s promise of CIA reforms in 2008 and how has the reality of his presidency stacked up to those promises?
Chomsky: There have been some presidential orders expressing disapproval of the most extreme forms of torture, but Bagram remains open and uninspected. That’s probably the worst in Afghanistan. Guantanamo is still open, but it’s unlikely that serious torture is going on at Guantanamo. There is just too much inspection. There are military lawyers present and evidence regularly coming out so I suspect that that’s not a torture chamber any more, but it still is an illegal detention chamber, and Bagram and who knows how many others are still functioning. Rendition doesn’t seem to be continuing at the level that it did, but it has been until very recently.
Rendition is just sending people abroad to be tortured. Actually, that’s barred as well by the Magna Carta – the foundation of Anglo-American law. It’s explicitly barred to send somebody across the seas to be punished and tortured. It’s not just done by the United States, either. It’s done all over Western Europe. Britain has participated in it. Sweden has participated. It’s one of the reasons for a lot of the concerns about extraditing Julian Assange to Sweden. Canada has been implicated as was Ireland, but to Ireland’s credit it was one of the few places where there were mass popular protests against allowing the Shannon Airport to be used for CIA rendition. In most countries there has been very little protest or not a word. I don’t know of any recent cases so maybe that policy is no longer being implemented, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was still in effect.
The Atlantic has a feature on the ‘likely’ new Secretary of Defense. That would be Republican and former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel.
In 2005, he began criticizing the George W. Bush administration, comparing the worsening Iraq war to Vietnam. When then-Vice President Dick Cheney said the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes,” Hagel told CNN, “Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we’re taking… If that’s winning, then he’s got a different definition of winning than I do.”
Over the next few years, Hagel’s criticism of Bush intensified, and in 2007, he told Esquire:
“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore… He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”
Hagel decided not to seek reelection to the Senate in the fall of 2007. In 2008, his name was floated as a potential running mate for Obama. Hagel didn’t endorse a presidential candidate in that election, but he criticized his colleague Sen. John McCain for his hawkish statements on Iran.
There are all kinds of people being caught in the crossfire of GOP intolerance, stupidity, and rejection. Why is the Republican party fighting the Violence Against Women Act? Greg Kaufmann writes on this in The Nation focusing on its impact on Native American women who are unprotected from various kinds of acts of violence. The hope and the bad guy in this story is Congressman Eric Cantor.
On April 25, Parker told of being “one of many girls” violated and attacked as a toddler on the reservation in the 1970s, and how the man responsible was never convicted. She spoke of an occasion in the 1980s, when she hid her younger cousins while listening to the screams of her aunt who was being raped by four or five men—the perpetrators were never prosecuted. She described her realization that “the life of a Native woman was short,” and consequently “fighting hard” to attend the University of Washington, where she studied criminal justice in the 1990s “so that I could be one to protect our women. However, I am only one.” She asked Congress to support the new provisions in VAWA to help protect Native women: “Send a strong message across the country that violence against Native women is unlawful and it is not acceptable in any of our lands.”
It was a turning point in the Senate’s work on the bill. It passed that month with sixty-eight votes, including fifteen Republicans—the kind of bipartisanship that is almost unheard of these days—with the new protections for Native women, and also for undocumented immigrant women and the LGBT community.
But in May the House passed a stripped-down version of the bill that contained none of these key provisions. Only six Democrats voted for it and twenty-three Republicans opposed it. Speaker John Boehner then used a procedural maneuver to avoid reconciling with the Senate on a final VAWA bill. Five House Republicans—led by Illinois Congresswoman Judy Biggert—wrote a letter to Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging them to adopt the stronger Senate provisions and move to a final bill.
Yet the legislation languished—until now.
Perhaps sensing from the 2012 election results that the GOP has a serious problem when it comes to relating to women who live on this planet and in this century, Cantor is now negotiating with the Senate and Vice President Biden—who sponsored the original VAWA in 1994. Word is Cantor has relented on the provisions for the LGBT community and undocumented immigrant women. He refuses, however, to consider any provision that gives tribes any kind of criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians.
Native peoples will have to start over from scratch after over three years of work if the bill does not pass within the next few weeks. It is critical that we contact Cantor and appeal to the small dot of a humanity that might reside within him.
Scientists have found glowing, green galaxies that have been dubbed ‘green bean’ galaxies. I have to say that this is really kewl and the video is worth the watch. Do little green critters come from green bean galaxies?
The galaxy represents a new type, and falls within the range of active galaxies known as Seyfert galaxies. It glows green because of X-rays spewing from a gigantic black hole at its center that weighs several million to billion times more than the sun.
Dubbed a “green bean” galaxy, it appears to be quite rare. Scientists found only about 20 green beans in the vast swath of sky surveyed for this research.
“These things are light echoes,” said Mischa Schirmer, the lead researcher of a paper reporting the findings released today (Dec. 5) and accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. “What we see is a quasar that is shutting down,” Schirmer said. “It hasn’t shut down entirely yet.”
A southern California judge has admonished a raped woman for permitting the rape by not struggling enough. Judge Derek Johnson told the victim that “If Sex Isn’t Wanted, Body ‘Will Not Permit That To Happen”. Where the hell do these men come from and how do they get to these positions of power? It just appalls me that over 40 years of activism has not gotten rid of the blame the victim attitude of so many morons.
A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim didn’t put up a fight during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.”
The California Commission on Judicial Performance issued a report Thursday saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics.
Johnson is a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex crimes unit. He issued an apology saying he was frustrated with a prosecutor during an argument in 2008 over the sentencing in the case before him compared to other more aggravated cases.
The case involved a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes.
I guess Governor Bobby Jindal isn’t getting the attention he wants these days . He’s called for making birth control available over the counter in a WSJ interview. Will the governor be getting a tweet from the Pope on that?
Jindal cites a December committee opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which comes out in favor of over-the-counter birth control “to improve contraceptive access and use and possibly decrease unintended pregnancy rates.”
Although the op-ed might seen like a shift to the left for the Catholic governor, Jindal also reiterated his conservative reasoning behind his support for the issue.
First, he made clear if birth control was more readily available, employers currently mandated to provide it under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act would not need to do so.
This argument most clearly is geared toward religiously-affiliated employers who have come out against providing birth control against Church doctrine.
Second, he touts the impact it could have on the individual buyers, saying “it’s time to put purchasing power back in the hands of consumers.”
Finally, he said if birth control is available over-the-counter, this would put an end to the politicization of the issue.
“Contraception is a personal matter — the government shouldn’t be in the business of banning it or requiring a woman’s employer to keep tabs on her use of it.”
Guess we’ll have to see how that goes over with the Right to Forced Servitude Crowd. Meanwhile, I’m getting ready for the mass insanity that will come shortly as we host the Super Bowl. I’m just really glad I don’t work down town any more. However, I think I’m going to go back to gigging during the time because those folks do like to eat out and tip big. I’m just hoping we get a few teams from the rich part of the country. Who do I root for? The Pats?
So, that’s my suggested reads today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
Yesterday, Minkoff Minx wrote a beautiful and eloquent post that described her personal experience of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I was so grateful to read what she wrote, because she simply described her own experience and emotions about what happened. She didn’t try to speak for her husband or any of the the other survivors–just herself. She also shared some wonderful resources for getting in touch with how we felt on that day ten years ago, when our country was attacked by foreign terrorists.
On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to terrorist attacks as they were either beginning their days at work at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or traveling on airplanes scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and Newark to San Francisco. For the families and friends of those who died, life would never again be the same. Thousands of others, like Minx’s husband, survived, but their lives and those of their families were also forever altered.
Thousands more were either directly impacted by the trauma of witnessing the attacks close up from their homes in New York or Washington, DC. Thousands of first responders were also directly affected by the attacks and their aftermath, including people who traveled to NYC, DC, and PA to help search for survivors or to support first responders.
Those of us who helplessly watched the events as they played out on television were affected too, although few of us probably suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result. But we empathized with those who were directly impacted, and we felt the terrible shock of having our country attacked. I can remember how shocked I was that day. I was on vacation at a Rhode Island beach with my family. It was a gorgeous day and I was out sightseeing with my parents and my sister when we heard the news. My sister had spoken to someone in a museum store and heard that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We headed back to the beach house as we listened to reports on the radio. My brother and his wife were watching TV at the beach house when we got back.
For the next couple of days we quietly read newspapers or watched TV. My sister’s husband drove out from Indiana to get her because the planes weren’t flying and she was very frightened. I had to go back to Boston to start teaching classes a couple of days later, and I recall that I felt nervous and jumpy while driving alone. Like many others, I was fearful of more attacks. At the time, everything was so confusing, I didn’t know what to expect. I also felt shame that two of the planes used in the attacks flew out of Logan Airport in Boston.
Most of us probably have clear memories of where we were and what we were doing that day and following days. We’re told told Americans pulled together after September 11, 2001, although I don’t really recall feeling that myself. But I have no doubt that millions of people empathized with those who were directly affected. As I mentioned above, many people took action by traveling to the places that were attacked to help in any way they could. Nothing that has happened since can change the basic caring and good will of the American people.
Yet for the past week, I’ve felt anger every time I saw the upcoming anniversary of September 11 being hyped on TV–the endless replaying of the videos of the planes hitting the towers; the preachy fake patriotism of the talking heads; the sudden reappearance of disgraced politicians George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld; the constant talk of “security” and the repetition of the words “the homeland,” which is so reminiscent of the Nazi term “the fatherland.” How could I not be angry after all that our government has done in the past ten years to supposedly avenge the lives lost on 9/11?
First there was the attack on Afghanistan, supposedly to catch Osama bin Laden. But when there was a chance to capture or kill bin Laden, Bush decided not to. Next came the barrage of lies from the Bush administration and from media sources like The New York Times and Washington Post, in order to get us into a second war in Iraq. Those wars have killed far more than 3,000 young American soldiers and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis–and for what? No effort was made to confront Saudi Arabia–where most of the perpetrators and the financial support for the attacks came from. Over the past ten years we have seen the progressive erosion of our Constitutional rights in the name of “security” and “safety.” We have learned that our government captured and imprisoned people–often completely innocent people–without evidence or charges at Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib, at Bagram, and untold other prisons around the world. We know that many of these people were tortured and killed. Americans voted for Barack Obama in hopes that he would end the pointless wars and stop the rendition and torture. Instead, he has continued the wars and continued to rendition people to foreign prisons where they will be tortured. He has ordered drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen. He has continued the erosion of our Constitution rights and defended the Bush administration at every opportunity. These are the reasons I felt angry at the jingoistic celebrations of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.
And what has become of the survivors of the 9/11 attacks? Every effort was made to keep any compensation they received to a minimum. And what of the first responders who were exposed to the toxic environment at Ground Zero in NYC? They have been denied the help they need along with the recognition of what they suffered. The Bush administration resisted any investigation of why the attacks were not prevented, and when they finally allowed a 9/11 commission–largely because of the efforts of four 9/11 widows (The Jersey Girls), they kept the Commission from from going “too far” in holding anyone in the administration accountable.
It was healing for me to read Minkoff Minx’s post, because she spoke of her personal pain and losses and how she was living with the aftereffects. I was able to recall my pure memories of that day, and how I worried about the reactions of my students, how I tried to get discussions going in my classes so we could share our reactions. For a short time as I read yesterday morning’s post, I was able to recall the pure feeling of loss from that day ten years ago before the tragedy was twisted to start wars that would decimate our economy and pass laws that would erode our individual rights and freedoms.
Yesterday morning, Paul Krugman wrote a brief but heartfelt blog post expressing some of the feelings I’ve tried to express with my post today. I’m going to take the liberty of reproducing Krugman’s statement here:
September 11, 2011, 8:41 am
The Years of Shame
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?
Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.
What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.
A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?
The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.
For this brief blog post expressing his personal sadness over the way government, politicians, and media have twisted private tragedy to accomplish their own unrelated and corrupt ends, Paul Krugman has been attacked by right wingers and Islamophobics all over the internet. He has been called every name in the book for simply speaking his own truth. He has also gotten some support from liberal blogs, and other bloggers have discussed their own misgivings about the changes in our country after 9/11. I want to share a few of those reactions.
Nicole Belle at Crooks & Liars: While Thinking People Grapple With 9/11 Legacy, RWNJs Shoot The Messenger
Cliff Schecter at Al Jazeera English: 9/11 and Its Great Transformations
Kristin Breitweiser: No Place To Go But Up: Howard Schultz’ Upward Spiral 2011
Blue Texan at FDL: Krugman is Right: We Should Be Ashamed of What Happened After 9/11
Dave Weigel at Slate: Get Krugman!
I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is that ten years after September 11 2001, I still have faith in the basic goodness and caring of the American people, but I am even more suspicious of and cynical about the U.S. Government and the U.S. Media than ever before. I do think we need to be eternally vigilant, not about physical danger from foreign terrorists but from the constant psychological manipulations emanating from those who claim to be protecting and informing us.