Tuesday, November 25, 2014

From the IBT: "NSA Reform Could Split GOP Hawks, Libertarians"




Common Cause:
A joint interest, as in “The common cause against the enemies of piety” (from John Dryden's poem, Religio laici, or a Layman's Faith, 1682). This term originated as to make common cause (with), meaning “to unite one's interest with another's.”
[common cause. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms 
by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company. 
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/common cause 
(accessed: November 25, 2014).]

The people of the US are so balkanized, is it even possible to get those factions, separated by their own blind adherence to their isolating ideologies, to work together in common cause?

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Efforts to curb the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone metadata were dealt a blow with the defeat of the USA Freedom Act on Nov. 18. With a 58-42 vote, the bill failed to attract the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate filibuster. With Republicans taking control of Congress in January, privacy advocates…

Monday, November 24, 2014

Racism lives here. After over 250 years, yes, Racism does live here!

St. Louis Symphony - Protest for Michel Brown

Tonight, as the Grand Jury, charged with reviewing the Darren Wilson shooting of Michael Brown,  announces their decision...

The media hype and the government incitement to violence leads to this moment and this moment was always going to be a major let down for the people.

Governor Nixon has hammered the "State of Emergency" propaganda for over a week now; Ferguson's nearly all white police force, loaded with over $100,000 in new tear gas balls and munitions, are chomping at the bit; State and federal anything-but-"peace" officers are ready to descend.

Nothing like setting up self-fulfilling prophecies.

The people - they are angry, scared and in mourning.  After 50 years, Civil Rights in America; Human rights in America are little more than a few words sprinkled throughout speeches by politicians pandering for election.  We heard it from Obama (habeas corpus rights, human rights, civil rights) in 2008 and we are shown even he doesn't give a crap about them.  We hear it from senatorial candidates, US Representative candidates, gubernatorial candidates all the way down to city council men and women - all great soundbites until those polls are counted and nary a word after the election...The blood and the hate, the stupidity and the blatant disregard for humanity is institutionalized in this nation.

Michael Brown Jr. (Screenshot from CBS/AP News Report)

Michael Brown was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, MO,  but this is not just about Michael Brown.  That young man from a suburban community outside of St. Louis, MO, is now a symbol for something much bigger than even he could have ever fathomed.  He is a symbol for all the hundreds of young men and women abused and assaulted; slaughtered in their streets by police forces gone rogue - and those forces are the face of the government that never, ever gave a crap about young men and women that might not be quite white.

Racism does live in America and it is thriving - It thrives through the 350,000 KKK (their figures though intelligent sources say it is 3,000 to 8,000) still actively racist and actively acting on that hate filled willful ignorance daily after 140 years; America's oldest, organized, white boys hate mob is still accepted, denied, ignored and allowed - along with  their brother and sister gangs of Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, Aryan Brotherhood and the rest of the fearfully stupid actively acting out against everyone not them.  But they are not the problem -  they are just the throbbing, oozing pustules on the diseased body of exceptionalism known and the United States of America.  

The US Supreme Court claims there is no more racism in America as people continue to be balkanized by race, color, creed, religion, gender, lifestyle and every other "category" anyone can name. 


Racism is bred through fear and ignorance - something our government, at all levels, has become very adept at manipulating.   They want us all balkanized and fighting since it keeps us, as a body, ineffectual .


We throw people in prisons, torture them, deny them their humanity and claim it is for "national security" and "freedom"; we allow our police to bully and beat protesters; gun people down in their homes and in the streets; harass and abuse the people and they get a pass.  The US government has armed small towns and major cities with all their excess military equipment and turned them into war zones - occupied.

Ferguson is a microcosm of the United States diseased body and the people are finally saying enough once again.  The people are in the streets; the lines are drawn; the dye is cast...

Whatever happens tonight and in the following days is on the head of the corrupt and bullying  government that has baited the people and the people have risen.

People of Ferguson, activists of America - It is now time to tear down that wall of racism and hate that is institutionalized in the US government balkanizing us all.

Time to join together and stop being balkanized.

Tear down that wall! 

Carry on.

Friday, November 14, 2014

From Newsweek: Leahy's NSA Surveillance Reform Bill Pushed Forward for Vote in Senate

From Debating Europe
Introduced by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last July, S.2685, aka, "USA FREEDOM Act of 2014," was introduced last July. For more information as well as the text of the Senate Bill, go to "THOMAS" or Congress.gov

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has ended speculation over whether the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance reform bill, first introduced in the Senate in July by Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, will receive a vote this year. In a surprise move on Wednesday, Reid filed a procedural motion to put the USA Freedom Act on the…

Thursday, November 13, 2014

From IBT: UN Anti-Torture Panel Seeks Answers From US Officials










The U.N. Committee Against Torture interrogated American officials on Wednesday about lapses in complying with an international anti-torture treaty. The panel, which is conducting a two-day hearing in Geneva, focused on the country's interrogation techniques and torture of detainees, suspected to be involved in terrorism, since the 9/11 attacks. Italy’s Alessio Bruni, one of the panel’s…

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Snowden's Leaks and the Documents that Tell the History of Electronic Surveillance Now Accessible Online for Researchers




From PR Newswire:




ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2013, when Edward Snowden leaked classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents, he brought the world's attention to the issues of privacy, security and global surveillance, begging questions with few simple answers. Now, researchers can go deeper into this controversial topic by exploring its history and impact through…

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In honor of Tomas Young - War Veteran; AntiWar Hero


Last Memorial Day, I wrote the following post about Tomas Young,. More specifically, his last letter to George W. Bush and Richard Cheney concerning their war on Iraq.

Tomas Young, war veteran, served in Iraq and was one of those who had the "audacity" to return instead of becoming one of the "acceptable loss" for which the Bush Administration planned (as evidenced by the totally inadequate systems of care for injured veterans left without proper funding, maintenance or concern.)

He became a voice for the antiwar movement - a hero - in spite of his injuries, he spoke out and inspired us for peace.

Tomas Young died yesterday - those of us standing for No More War, feel a great loss.  

Tomas Young has now found peace.

The following is my article from Memorial Day, 2014:

 "The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran." - Tomas Young, Veteran of the US War on Iraq 



John Hood, honorary commander for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, has a moment of silence for those buried at at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Arneytown NJ before the annual State of New Jersey Memorial Day commemoration ceremony. ( RON TARVER / Staff Photographer ) May 24 2014


In 2004, Tomas Young,  a veteran from Kansas City, Mo, was deployed to Iraq, specifically Sadr City in Baghdad.  After 5 days in country, he was paralyzed from injuries suffered during an attack.  Tomas spent 3 months under medical care then released to return home.  He was never to walk again.

In May, 2013, Tomas decided to stop his medication and nourishment - nourishment received from a feeding tube.  Tomas Young had made the decision to die.

In one of his final acts, Tomas decided to pen a letter to George W Bush and Dick Cheney.

In an interview for Democracy Now, he read the letter.........

From Democracy Now, one year ago:





From the transcript:

“I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of [those who bear those wounds. I am one of those.] I am one of the gravely injured. I [am] paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

“I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost parents, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have [done, witnessed, endured] in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

“Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, [and your privilege and power] cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

“I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

“I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the [9/11] attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the [U.S.] I did not join the Army to 'liberate' Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called 'democracy' in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the [Army] to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the biggest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

“I have, like many other [wounded and many other] disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical [disabilities and] wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your [own] brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

“I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend our country I love—the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

"My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness."


It's Memorial Day - not really meant to be the day it has become...a day of barbecues and binge beer drinking, family outings and play.

It is a day of reflection and remembering of those who died in far away places, or returned injured - body, mind and soul; those trying so hard to live daily with injuries and the scars of PTSD, or dying daily after giving up.  It is a day to take stock of what we, as a nation...hell, as a planet - have become. Wars for any reason we can make up:

"They hate us for our freedom," "They want to destroy us," "Islamofacists," "terrorists," "Axis of Evil," "Fascists", "Communists"...all terms for "other"  or everyone not me...

All excuses for sending young men and women to die as they kill other young men and women and families and anything or anyone getting in the way.

Memorial Day should be the day we say "never again" and make sure it doesn't happen ever again...All we have to do is STOP!

******

Today is Veterans' Day, 2014.  In honor of Tomas Young and everyone ever sent into foreign lands to fight ridiculous wars at the behest of wealthy old men, we must demand "Never Again!"

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