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The Torture Report

9:18 pm in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

Thoughts On Torture

The recent revelations came as no surprise. However, now there can be no doubt that the United States tortured people. What are the repercussions? The Senate Team spent five years researching and putting the CIA torture report together. Apparently, it is quite thorough. What now?

Knowing this puts us in quite a bind. We can’t simply say (or at least we shouldn’t say), as Obama did a few years ago, that we need to look forward, not back. The flaws in this thinking are obvious, as all crimes necessarily happen in the past. With this logic, the defense of a bank robber or rapist would be very simple: “hey, that was last week. Why are you bringing it up now?” Read the rest of this entry →

Kerry Meets With Kissinger. Yuck.

3:38 pm in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

Dr. Henry Kissinger

What Advice Could Kissinger Offer

It is difficult to trust the judgement or the veracity of what the Secretary of State John Kerry says. If it weren’t bad enough that his talking points don’t explain the real reasons he wants to drop missiles in Syria, the point is further made by the fact that he found it useful or proper to consult with the accused war criminal, Henry Kissinger. 

Based on his history, we can get a sense of what Kissinger’s position is on Syria. At least we can discern what doesn’t motivate him, which may be enough. He is not moved by a sense of compassion or a humanitarian interest in protecting the innocent people of Syria.

Read the rest of this entry →

Syria Update: Deja Vu All Over Again

4:39 pm in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

Bush, et al, lied us into the Iraq debacle in pursuit of “the blueprint for the Middle East.” Could it be that this administration is following the same whacko plan to invade 7 countries in the ME.

Whether this is their intent, I don’t know but I do feel confident that we are systematically being lied to. Here is a short list of the things that lead me to believe we are being deceived:

  • Assad delayed 5 days before giving authorization for the UN inspectors to access the site of the attack. What Really Happened: The formal written request was not delivered to Assad until Saturday. Authorization was granted on Monday. Depending on the times of request and reply this is only 2 days or less.
  • We were told that Assad stepped up conventional weapon use immediately after the gas attack in order to degrade the evidence. From what I understand it is not possible to degrade sarin gas. It stays in the ground for months, in tissue samples of the dead, as well in the survivors. Eye witnesses still have their memories intact. Physicians can still report what they saw and who they treated for what conditions. The idea that Assad was trying to tamper with evidence has little credibility.
  • Initially, there was a push to strike prior to the UN inspectors’ completion and their report. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon had to call President Obama to implore him to wait.
  • As Jason Hirthler remarks in his CounterPunch piece, “Nobody mainstream has bothered to point out that Assad would have to be suicidal to launch an attack with inspectors in-country, and with the use of chemical weapons being President Barack Obama’s vaunted “red line” across which no sovereign Shi’ite government can cross.” 
  • There is a story circulating around the web which revolves around a photo that John Kerry reportedly used to tug at heartstrings and bolster his position that the US MUST do something regarding Syria. It was identified as the moral reason we must act. I have spent a couple hours trying to confirm this story. So far, no luck. Turns out that the image was not taken in Syria, nor was it a recent photo. It was a photo taken in Iraq in 2003 or 2004. It has been reported that the photographer, Marco di Lauro, said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw it was being used to promote a war in Syria. Photo 

Can anyone here at FDL shed any light on this? Does anyone know if Kerry actually used the photo in question and in what context?

Syria: A Cautionary Note

9:11 pm in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

Fool Me Once…

Let’s not make the same mistake that we made in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. I grant that Assad is an awful person. Maybe he could use nerve agents to kill his own people. But this isn’t about “could,” either he did or he didn’t. There are some nagging questions about Syria and the chemical attacks.

Why would Assad pick the exact time that UN inspectors are already in Syria to launch a large scale chemical attack? Seriously, Assad is a bad guy to be sure but how could he run Syria for decades if he, his generals, and top advisors are all morons? This is what we are asked to believe. The regime is determined to retain power and they have the rebels totally outgunned. Why would he do the one thing that could instantly shift the balance of power? Read the rest of this entry →

Cartoonists For Gun Regulations

8:06 pm in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

A video developed by some well-known cartoonists who have been joined together to make the case for gun legislation. I liked the thought and was touched by the message but I also recognize that even with 90% of the people wanting new regulations, the politicians are too beholden to the NRA and gun manufacturers to make pass anything meaningful. It’s a sad commentary of the political realities of today. Maybe it will be a wake up call that makes clear who our “representatives” see as their true constituents.

Justice Denied: The Iraq Invasion

2:37 am in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

Most people believe, or at least suspect that Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld lied us into the war with Iraq. They all share in the responsibility for thousands of deaths of U.S. military personnel and hundreds of thousands of (some believable estimates as high as 1.2 million) Iraqi people. If it can be shown that they acted in good faith, it becomes only a horrific accident, a misjudgement of epic proportions. To this end, they all claim that they are not culpable because they were fooled by faulty intelligence reports (Cheney has said that even so, he would do it again in a minute). On the other hand, if it can be proved that they purposefully misled the American people and the Congress of the United States, it becomes an entirely different matter. It would and should be considered a crime of epic proportions.

On this 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq I believe that the invasion was too historically significant, the outcome too heinous and monstrous to not have an investigation into who knew what, and when they knew it.

In his book, The Prosecution Of George W. Bush For Murder, Vincent Bugliosi (the prosecutor in the Charles Manson trial) makes an excellent case for bringing Bush to trial. In it he outlines and documents many facts that point to criminal behavior. Bugliosi sites vague opinions in the classified report of the CIA and 15 other intelligence agencies, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). He goes on to site the Administration’s unclassified version of the NIE, the White Paper for the Congress and American People. In numerous places, statements like, “We assess that,” and  “although we have little specific information on Iraq’s CW (chemical weapons)…” were strategically deleted in the White Paper to make it appear much more certain than was intended. At one point in the original NIE the report states, “We judge that Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW (biological weapons) and is capable of producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers and covert operatives.”  In the White Paper “We judge that” was removed from the statement with the more definitive “Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW…” Most damning is the invention at the end of that statement in the White Paper of “including potentially against the U.S. homeland.” A sentiment not even alluded to in the original NIE.

Furthermore, The White Paper stated that “all intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons.” Bugliosi states unequivocally that this is a lie. All dissenting views were deleted. Even the statements about Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from Niger were seemingly uncontested. The classified version of the NIE included U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research opposition to this claim calling it “highly dubious.”

Worst of all, the Bush administration’s White Paper left out the most important fact of all, the CIA and 15 other intelligence agencies concluded that Saddam Hussein would only use whatever weapons of mass destruction he was believed to have if he were attacked first. Meaning in self-defense.

George Tenet, the director of the CIA, Condoleeza Rice, national security advisor, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and others knew the contents of the NIE. They chose to present to Congress and the American people a fatally flawed and criminally misleading document that led directly to massive unnecessary deaths and the virtual destruction of the Iraqi civilization. The affects of which will last for generations.

It has been 10 years since the invasion of Iraq. So much death and destruction lay in its wake. There are a handful of people who are responsible. If we as a nation are ever to secure justice for the dead service members, the family and friends that mourn their loss, the disabled veterans, the millions of Iraqis whose lives were cut short or ruined, holding these criminals to account for their crimes is the right place to start. Then equitable reparations (through a third party).

Child Victims

1:56 pm in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

President Obama made an eloquent and heartfelt speech at the prayer vigil for the people who were killed in Connecticut. The fact that the majority of victims were very young children seems to have broken peoples’ hearts more than any of the other recent school shootings. I have to ask, does a 6 year old actually has greater intrinsic value than a 14 year old high school student or a promising young adult university student?

People are so affected that gun control is actually being seriously discussed. At least in regards to a ban on military equivalent assault weapons, high capacity clips, and the so-called gun show loophole. Approximately 40% of the guns purchased are sold without background checks. Calling it a loophole makes light of the gaping highway to unrestricted gun ownership. Even some prominent Republicans who previously were against such measures have changed their position.

 

The prospects of serious gun legislation appears greater than at any time since the 10 years of the assault rifle ban expired in 2004. Maybe it was the deaths of 20 children that was the magic number to get the President to decide that enough is enough. That it must stop.

Maybe, maybe not. If the killing of 20 children was the straw that broke the camel’s back in the gun debate for Obama and others, why didn’t the killing of 21 children (and 14 women) in December 2009 have any discernible effect? Maybe it was that the children in question were 7000 miles away in Yemen. Maybe it just didn’t feel as personal considering they all died without knowing what hit them as the Tomahawk cruise missile and cluster bombs detonated. On the news footage, I didn’t see one person interviewed from Sandy Hook who wasn’t white. Maybe racism was a factor. Maybe Americans believe that a Yemeni mom doesn’t love or miss her child as much as a Connecticut mom.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to minimize the horrific event in Connecticut. On the contrary, I can’t even begin to express the sadness I feel. Like me, you probably find it hard to imagine that the Newtown shooter wasn’t mentally disturbed. No one in their right mind could do such an awful and immoral thing.

The question I’d like you to consider is: what does this say about our “leaders?” What of the callousness that allows them to continue to kill innocent people with drone strikes? What of the idea that any male of military age can be targeted for execution, without a chance to mount a defense and then the subsequent cover-up? That is, unless it becomes impossible to deny the reality.

What of the heartless way anyone who dares to report the truth is treated? Bradley Manning is an example. Another is the Yemeni journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye. Shaye had the audacity to investigate the attack and report what he saw. He found credible evidence to support the notion that the US was behind the bombing. Did he get a reward for identifying the individuals responsible? Nope, in fact at Obama’s insistance he is still incarcerated.

Why did the news of the Connecticut shooting effect us so profoundly? The memory of the kids and teachers will be in the minds of people for the foreseeable future. Perhaps more significant is that the Yemeni children have all but been forgotten. President Obama stood in front of the prayer vigil and said the name of each child killed. A moving gesture, for sure. I’d like to see the children killed in the drone strike treated with the same respect and reverence. I doubt Obama is likely to take that initiative. So I have taken it upon myself. Thanks to Wendy at Firedoglake for making the list available in her post.

YEMEN

Name                               | Age | Gender
Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser | 9 | female
Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 7 | female
Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser | 5 | female
Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser | 4 | female
Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 13 | male
Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 9 | male
Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | female
Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye | 3 | female
Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye | 1 | female
Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye | 6 | female
Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye | 4 | male
Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye | 15 | female
Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad | 2 | female
Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad | 1 | female
Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh | 3 | female
Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 12 | male
Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 9 | female
Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 4 | female
Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed | 2 | male
Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari | 13 | male
Daolah Nasser 10 years | 10 | female
AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout | 12 | male
Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki | 16 | male
Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki | 17 | male
Nasser Salim | 19

PAKISTAN

Name | Age | Gender
Noor Aziz | 8 | male
Abdul Wasit | 17 | male
Noor Syed | 8 | male
Wajid Noor | 9 | male
Syed Wali Shah | 7 | male
Ayeesha | 3 | female
Qari Alamzeb | 14| male
Shoaib | 8 | male
Hayatullah KhaMohammad | 16 | male
Tariq Aziz | 16 | male
Sanaullah Jan | 17 | male
Maezol Khan | 8 | female
Nasir Khan | male
Naeem Khan | male
Naeemullah | male
Mohammad Tahir | 16 | male
Azizul Wahab | 15 | male
Fazal Wahab | 16 | male
Ziauddin | 16 | male
Mohammad Yunus | 16 | male
Fazal Hakim | 19 | male
Ilyas | 13 | male
Sohail | 7 | male
Asadullah | 9 | male
khalilullah | 9 | male
Noor Mohammad | 8 | male
Khalid | 12 | male
Saifullah | 9 | male
Mashooq Jan | 15 | male
Nawab | 17 | male
Sultanat Khan | 16 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 13 | male
Noor Mohammad | 15 | male
Mohammad Yaas Khan | 16 | male
Qari Alamzeb | 14 | male
Ziaur Rahman | 17 | male
Abdullah | 18 | male
Ikramullah Zada | 17 | male
Inayatur Rehman | 16 | male
Shahbuddin | 15 | male
Yahya Khan | 16 |male
Rahatullah |17 | male
Mohammad Salim | 11 | male
Shahjehan | 15 | male
Gul Sher Khan | 15 | male
Bakht Muneer | 14 | male
Numair | 14 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Taseel Khan | 18 | male
Zaheeruddin | 16 | male
Qari Ishaq | 19 | male
Jamshed Khan | 14 | male
Alam Nabi | 11 | male
Qari Abdul Karim | 19 | male
Rahmatullah | 14 | male
Abdus Samad | 17 | male
Siraj | 16 | male
Saeedullah | 17 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Salman | 12 | male
Fazal Wahab | 18 | male
Baacha Rahman | 13 | male
Wali-ur-Rahman | 17 | male
Iftikhar | 17 | male
Inayatullah | 15 | male
Mashooq Khan | 16 | male
Ihsanullah | 16 | male
Luqman | 12 | male
Jannatullah | 13 | male
Ismail | 12 | male
Abdul Waris | 16 | male
Darvesh | 13 | male
Ameer Said | 15 | male
Shaukat | 14 | male
Inayatur Rahman | 17 | male
Adnan | 16 | male
Najibullah | 13 | male
Naeemullah | 17 | male
Hizbullah | 10 | male
Kitab Gul | 12 | male
Wilayat Khan | 11 | male
Zabihullah | 16 | male
Shehzad Gul | 11 | male
Shabir | 15 | male
Qari Sharifullah | 17 | male
Shafiullah | 16 | male
Nimatullah | 14 | male
Shakirullah | 16 | male
Talha | 8 | male

A Compelling Need For The Right To Choose

9:44 pm in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

It’s not possible that a sane and compassionate person could deny a victim of rape an abortion. Any person who would, is neither sane or compassionate. I won’t dignify the notion as some have suggested of a magical protective force which keeps women from getting pregnant from rape, except to say that each year approximately 30,000 women do get pregnant from being raped.

All women would not universally feel the same about what to do. I imagine that most would want to get as far away from the experience as possible. However, that’s all I can do… imagine. This is precisely why each individual should be allowed to make the choice whether to carry to term or not. To decide what is best for herself in dealing with the emotional trauma. To recover. The fact is, apparently about 30% of impregnated rape victims choose to have the child.

Today, I discovered another factor that makes the right to choose an abortion even more significant, if that’s possible. What would it be like for a woman to be required to have regular, even daily contact with her rapist? Could she ever get through the horrific experience of being raped? Apparently, that is not such an incredible a notion. According to the Honorable Judge Alan M. Mallott, in 31 states, even a convicted rapist can petition for joint custody, visitation, and if granted would then need to be consulted on matters of health, educational issues and in order for an adoption to be finalized. Surprisingly, it does happen.

Even in the 19 states that have statutes denying the rapist parental rights, there aren’t laws regarding the grandparents seeking visitation. Judge Mallott used the word surreal to describe this. I agree.

In light of this, right-wing extremists who would deny a woman’s right to choose in cases of rape or incest are not only insane and lack compassion but truly evil. This position alone should disqualify them from holding any office that could facilitate their sick and hurtful views becoming law.

Explaining the Banking Crisis

2:19 am in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

Bill Moyers interviews Matt Taibbi (RollingStone) and Yves Smith (NakedCapitalism). Matt and Yves are extremely bright and well informed regarding the financial sector. The two of them have obvious respect for each other and come at the banking industry from different perspectives but arrive at the same point. All in all, it makes for a 30 minute interview with an engaged Moyers that goes by very quickly. Like a great fiction story, I found myself not wanting it to end. Too bad it’s not fiction or likely to end very soon. Here’s the video:

Full Transcript

They will be answering questions on Twitter this evening at 6:00 pm ET, @mtaibbi and @yvessmith,  #moyers.

NYC Homeless Reaches All-Time High

2:02 am in Uncategorized by FeetToDaFire

Cross posted at Our World Report.

Homeless man with dog. Sign reads: Homeless, Broke and Hungry.

Photo: Adrian Miles / Flickr.

In an amazingly callous decision, one of the country’s richest individuals, Mayor Bloomberg has ended the low income housing subsidies in New York City. Ending subsidies has resulted in thousands of families with children as well as disabled people to reenter the city’s shelter system or contend with life on the street.

In most instances they were given 3 days to vacate their formerly subsidized apartments. A few have delays up to 30 days while they wait for court rulings regarding the legality of the Bloomberg decision. The rulings are not anticipated to offer relief and in most cases will come after people have been forced out of their homes.

Mayor Bloomberg seems to have an attitude that poverty is a personality flaw and hence somehow the fault of the poor. This in the face of many working families that are simply unable to afford the high housing costs in NYC. The disparity between wages and rents, if not the highest in the country is certainly close. The Mayor’s office has stated that ending housing subsidies was unavoidable because of budgetary problems faced by the city. But this is absolutely disingenuous as the cost of supporting a family in a shelter is $36,000 annually and the average rent subsidy is approximately $10,000 a year.

The shelter population increased 10% to an all-time high of over 43,000, with homeless children accounting for 17,000. During Bloomberg’s tenure the homeless population has grown by nearly 40%. It is hard to figure out Bloomberg’s motivation, especially in light of the higher cost to the city of shelter occupancy. Punitive? Resentment? Perhaps he’s just catering to his landlord friends so they are free to charge even higher rental rates. Or maybe it amounts to the simple goal that the homeless population will lose all hope and leave the city to the more affluent occupants. Whatever his rationale, he should feel ashamed of himself, if that’s an available emotion for him considering his sociopathic history.

You can download the full report: State of the Homeless 2012, by the Coalition for the Homeless.