Sunday, December 5, 2010

Headlines - Sunday December 5

Pharmacologic waterboarding at Gitmo
In addition to all the other horrors that have gone on at Guantanamo -- torture, to put it plainly and accurately -- we now have revelations of another:  the forced ingestion of a drug called mefloquine, often sold under the brand name Lariam.  It's an anti-malaria drug, and it can cause hideous psychotropic side effects.

According to this article by Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kay from, every single prisoner at Guantanamo was given this drug, whether he had been exposed to malaria or not.  Moreover, the dose forced on prisoners was five times higher than would ever normally be prescribed to prevent the disease.

I wonder how the mainstream press is going to spin this, what new grotesque euphemism they're going to come up with.  Torture became "enhanced interrogation" and "harsh interrogation techniques."  What now?  "Enhanced cocktail"?  "Harsh prophylaxis?"

The Soviets were notorious for using psychotropic drugs on political prisoners.  The U.S. under the Bush administration entered the same realm when it decided torture was okay.  And, sorrow of sorrows, the Obama administration has done no better.  And what of the doctors who prescribed these doses and presided over them?  Is this not the most egregious form of malpractice?  Do we really have to point to the obvious parallels from history?

In addition, at least one ex-Bush admin official is willing to testify that most of the Guantanamo detainees were/are innocent:

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell during George W. Bush's first term in office, said Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld knew the "vast majority" of prisoners captured in the so-called War on Terror were innocent and the administration refused to set them free once those facts were established because of the political repercussions that would have ensued.

183 detainees remain at Guantanamo.  About half of those will be released sooner or later, either returned to their homelands or to some "host country" the U.S. has wheedled into agreeing.  They will be in addition to about 600 who've been released since 2002.  Some of these men have -- shock of shocks -- become "radicalized" by their time there.  They've come out intent on doing the U.S. harm.  Well, no fucking wonder.

We abuse them in the most horrible ways, for years on end, all the while preaching "human rights" to our own citizens and the rest of the world, and then we ask stupid questions like "why do they hate us?"

The "war on terror" is all of a piece with our military adventurism abroad and our assault on civil liberties at home.  It's the constant ratcheting-up of a state of fear, abetted by willful ignorance and a lapdog press.  It's a war on ourselves and every principle we pretend to stand for.


Not so long ago, the U.S. took the lead on things like this. "The government has pledged £37m to help develop farming practices so that poor countries can cope with climate change. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said there was an "urgent" need for new crops that could survive floods, droughts and storms. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's recent developments include scuba rice, which can survive underwater for two weeks. The grant will also fund two projects to help existing farming systems adapt. Just under half of the money is part of the £1.5bn "fast start" funding pledged by the government over three years to help poor countries begin tackling climate change. According to the Department of International Development, every £1 invested in CGIAR - which supports research into crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry and the environment, and develops new technologies and techniques - leads to a least £9 worth of additional food being produced in developing countries."


PayPal Cuts WikiLeaks from Money Flow

BERLIN - The online payment service provider PayPal has cut off the account used by WikiLeaks to collect donations, serving another blow to the organization just as it was struggling to keep its website accessible after an American company stopped directing traffic to it.


Damian Carrington: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal How US Manipulated Climate Accord

Embassy dispatches show America used spying, threats and promises of aid to get support for Copenhagen accord



Looking to check out of society? Now's your chance: "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski's 1.4 acre Montana hideaway is for sale, and it looks gorgeous! The broker offers a huge selling point, too — "A lot of history goes with this location." More »


4,429 soldiers killed in Iraq; 1,415 in Afghanistan.


Dinosaurs perished because people were hunting them?

Creationist Museum Evolution Busting Call 


Republicans filibuster tax cuts

Every Democrat everywhere ought to be repeating the above headline over and over and over.

Senate Republicans today successfully filibustered two Democratic tax cut bills that would have allowed Bush-era tax cuts benefiting only the wealthiest sliver of the country to expire.

The Republicans filibustered tax cuts. The Republicans filibustered tax cuts. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Adding... Oh good.

Sens. Jim Webb (D-VA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) voted with the Republicans on the former plan.

Feingold? Good guy.


Marc Perkel:

They say then need to cut Social Security to balance the budget, but they have enough money for tax cut for the rich. They tell us we can't afford to extend unemployment but when the rich need bailed out there's trillions of dollars. They say we need to cut medicare but we are fighting two useless wars and there's plenty of money for that. I'm not sure if I'm more disgusted with the Republicans position of grabbing everything for the rich or the Democrats caving in on everything, even when they still control the Presidency and the Senate. It's too bad that is a so called "Free Society" that there's no one representing the interest of the people.

Also from Marc:

One can argue if it was a good or bad thing for America to have its secrets exposed through WikiLeaks. Some say it put lives in danger. Others might argue that the secrets cost a lot of lives and exposing them saves lives. Both sides have merit but I have to say that in an environment of lies and deceptions it is refreshing to finally hear the truth for a change. I for one would like to hear more truth and I'm looking forward to what else might be revealed in the future. I'm tired of hearing nothing but lies.


PZ Meyers: It's the cover-up, stupid.


Republican wants to eliminate CBO

Is something making your lie look bad?  No problem.  Just get rid of it.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), known for his tendentious remarks on the House floor, argued Thursday night for the elimination of the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan research agency that has existed since the 1970s.

Gohmert also disputed the CBO's conclusion that extending the Bush tax cuts would increase the federal deficit.

"And despite the misinformation spewed on this floor, the fact is that when taxes have been cut, revenues go up — each time it's been done. But we have such an ignorant way for CBO to operate, so for this political animal, and I know people say it's bipartisan — baloney. CBO is not bipartisan," he said.

No CBO = no bipartisan office to refute Republican bull.  Easy.  And for the same reason, Republicans are dismantling the House committee Dems set up to hold hearings on global warming.  Clearly, Republicans understand only too well that the more misinformed they keep the masses, the easier it is for them to fill their heads with their own special brand of crap.

It's all about controlling the message and keeping their narrative of lies and misinformation alive and well.  As long as Republicans keep demonizing the mainstream media and any other source of possible truth, they get the majority of their base of mindless sheeple tuned in to the truth-challenged conservative media.

The LIE lives!  Heil Goebbels!



Change we can believe in

Talking about WikiLeaks on Facebook or Twitter could endanger your job prospects, a State Department official warned students at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs this week.

Wikileaks Columbia


Wonder why we didn't hear about this successful prosecution of a potential domestic terrorist from the M$M? "A federal jury in Bridgeport, Conn., today [Dec. 1] found Alexander DeFelice, 33, of Milford, Conn., guilty of conspiracy and firearms offenses stemming from an alleged attempt to sell firearms and explosive grenades to what he thought was a white supremacist group located outside of Connecticut, announced David B. Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. The jury found DeFelice's co-defendants Kenneth Zrallack, 29, of Ansonia, Conn., and David Sutton, 46, of Milford, not guilty of conspiring with DeFelice and others in the same conspiracy. The trial began on Nov. 15, 2010, and the jury returned the verdicts this morning. ... "We respect the jury's verdicts and are pleased that a previously convicted felon who was involved in the manufacture of grenades that he knew were intended for a white supremacist group now faces a significant term of imprisonment," stated U.S. Attorney Fein. "I want to thank the members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force for their diligent investigative work that has led to today's conviction, and the conviction of two other defendants who previously pleaded guilty to charges stemming from this criminal scheme. The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the safety of all Americans and prosecuting those who seek to harm anyone whose race, ethnicity or religious beliefs differ from his or her own.""


Blowing billions on war while American workers go under.


Never mind the fact that the same data can be read at the NY Times or The Guardian website, the WikiLeaks have been blocked for federal workers. Talk about security theater! At least people like Joe Lieberman are satisfied because now the US government is just like China with its censorship policy towards federal workers.


Charitable Choice - by Kay @ Balloon Juice 

Clinton called this practice "charitable choice" , so I have to hand it to him as far as messaging. "Faith-based initiatives" is a little clunky.

President Clinton signed legislation that opened the door for faith-based groups to play a role in a number of areas, including helping people move from welfare to work. Al Gore proposed a partnership between Washington and faith-based groups to provide more support for the least of these. And President Bush came into office with a promise to "rally the armies of compassion," establishing a new Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Obama again:

But an analysis by POLITICO found that at least $140 million in stimulus money has gone to faith-based groups, the result of an unpublicized White House decision to spend government money, where legal, supporting religiously inspired nonprofit groups. And that decision was just the beginning.

Unlike Obama, Bush, Clinton and Gore, I'm not comfortable with faith-based initiative funding. I thought it was barely acceptable when religious had to create a secular non-profit to get federal grants, and keep the two entities wholly separate, and they no longer have to to do that. I like a wall.

I have a whole laundry list of objections, everything from concerns about preferential treatment being given to the "popular" religions, to honest confusion about why it was such a huge outrage that ACORN, a secular social services and civil rights organization was (partly) federally funded, with no mention of the fact that we pour hundreds of millions into Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, and all the rest. I don't know why people who object to Big Government aren't secretly filming those low-level workers. I don't see a bit of difference between ACORN and a religious organization that operates with federal funds. Makes me wonder.

Those are my concerns. But, are there objections or concerns about this the other way, from religious? Any fear that religious (or religion) might be captured and lose the traditional role as independent from government if they're lining up with every other lobbyist for grants and funding?

Maybe this is a poor comparison but I'm sometimes paid by the county to defend an individual who is being prosecuted by the county, and I don't feel I'm compromised or captured there, so I'm willing to accept that it's not a concern, that religious can retain independence (or even opposition to federal policy) while relying on federal funding.

I'm asking.


Before you can change the way Washington does business, you first have to know the way Washington does business. This, apparently, is something Barack Obama doesn't know.


From MPS

I'd like to encourage everyone reading this to follow that grand old Web censorship-defeating tradition of "mirroring" and passing alternate links around, and post these links to WikiLeaks to your blog or Web site:


PZ Meyers: The Truth Hurts


Oh, goody - another backward, unstable, terrorist-infested desert shithole where Americans will die. "US cables released by the Wikileaks website suggest that Yemen allowed secret US air strikes against suspected al-Qaeda militants. President Ali Abdullah Saleh claimed raids were conducted by Yemen's military when they were in fact carried out by the US, according to the cables. The files also reveal that Mr Saleh rejected an offer to deploy US ground forces in Yemen. The US fears Yemen has become a haven for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."


Fat Tony mocks Sotomayor's compassion for 'people sittin gin their feces for days in a dazed state'


If the "snowman" chart didn't get through to your wingnut brother-in-law, here's the same information in a different style.

From Kevin Drum:

Speaking of tax cuts, I thought everyone should see a nice picture that compares the Obama position with the Republican position. As you can see, under the Obama plan (in blue) everyone gets a tax cut. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, your average middle class household gets a cut of $916. An upper middle class household gets $3,766. A millionaire household gets $6,349. Money for everyone!

But that's not enough. The red lines roughly show the additional tax cuts under the Republican plan. Everyone making up to $250,000 gets nothing. But the tiny number of households above that threshold get huge pots of money, and the pots get bigger the more money they make. I don't have enough room on the blog to show it properly, but millionaire households get an extra $100,000 or so over and above what they'd get from Obama's broad tax cut.

That's what we're fighting over: a broad tax cut with something for everybody, or a broad tax cut plus an extra bonus for the upper middle class and an extra super duper bonus for the millionaire class. That's what the Republican Party has unanimously staked its future to. 


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