Saturday, August 30, 2008

America the Beautiful Torturer

Torture in Cook County Jail

A Prisoner's Tale of Abuse

After a 17-month investigation concerning the conditions in the Cook County Jail, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald issued a scathing report calling for change and reforms.

The 98-page report on the nation's largest county jail was released July 17 and sent to County Board President Todd Stroger and Sheriff Thomas Dart with its findings and recommendations. It cited many cases of gross "medical negligence, mismanagement and abusive behavior by guards," which led to "unnecessary deaths, amputation and routine inmate beatings."

The outside world would be shocked to hear stories such as that of an inmate left untreated for a gunshot wound, who developed sepsis and died; a female inmate who suffered from HIV and died after a preventable infection went untreated; and an inmate beaten so bad by guards that his dentures were kicked out and he was sent to the hospital on a respirator.

The report pointed out that there is just one dentist for the entire 9,800-inmate population--and he only deals in extractions, with 25 percent of those resulting in infection. Read On

Police Suppress Free Speech In Minneapolis Ahead of RNC

Crackdown begins: Food Not Bombs house among Saturday raids
By Paul Schmelzer 8/30/08 9:41 AM

MnIndy RNC reporter Jeff Severns Guntzel is at the Minneapolis Food Not Bombs house, which was raided by police this morning. Facts are still coming in, but Guntzel says that at 8 a.m. neighbors near the home, located at 2301 23rd Avenue South, reported hearing a loud bang followed by yelling. A single police squad car was parked out front. When Guntzel arrived he saw eight or nine officers enter the house in what he says is a joint operation between officers of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, the Minneapolis Police Depatment, and the FBI.

According to one witness who was in the house at the time of the raid, the action is related to last night’s raid on the RNC Welcoming Committee’s “convergence space.” Several other spaces have been raided this morning.

so this is what a police state looks like. more coverage here and here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DuPage County Rejoins U.S.

THE Freeway Blogger alerts us:

Falsely Arrested Anti-War Protester Seeks Apology From DuPage County

[DuPage County, IL]
Downers Grove resident Jeff Zurawski wrote a column that appeared in today's edition of the Downers Grove Reporter. He is one of two peace activists arrested last year after displaying political signs while standing on a pedestrian walkway above a local toll road. Zurawski believes he and his friend, fellow peace activist Sarah Hartfield of Naperville, were wrongfully arrested and maliciously prosecuted. He is seeking apologies from the DuPage County sheriff's department and state's attorney's office.

Contact DuPage County's law enforcement officials and urge them to issue public apologies for their wrongdoing:

Sheriff John Zaruba
DuPage County Sheriff's Office
501 North County Farm Road
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
(630) 407-2400

Joseph Birkett, State's Attorney
503 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 407-8000

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

U.S. Imperialist Strategy At Work In Iraq

IRAQ: Sectarian Clashes Flare Up Again
By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*

BAQUBA, Aug 26 (IPS) - A military operation said to target al-Qaeda has ended up targeting Sunni Muslims instead, creating new sectarian tensions.

A U.S.-backed security operation launched last month has only targeted cities with majority Sunni populations such as Buhriz, Tahreer, Qatoon, Mafraq, and Hay in Diyala province, north of Baghdad. The operation has drawn more than 50,000 Iraqi soldiers.

The deputy governor of Diyala, Awf Rahoomi, has demanded in a public speech in Baquba that "the new security plan should also include Shia cities like Hwaider, Khirnabat and Abara." These Shia districts are strongholds of the Mehdi militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and of the Badr organisation (the militia of the ruling Shia party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.)

"The forces of the new security plan took all our weapons to the extent that we cannot fight al-Qaeda any more; we are impotent," Mullah Shihab al-Safi, commander of the Popular Committees Fighters (the Sunni leadership of the U.S.-backed Awakening Group militias), said at a meeting of the Commitment Council established by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Read On

Saturday, August 23, 2008

U.S.-led Forces Continue Killing Innocent People In Afghanistan

76 civilians killed in airstrike, Afghan officials say

Published: August 22, 2008

HERAT, Afghanistan: U.S.-led coalition forces killed 76 Afghan civilians in western Afghanistan on Friday, most of them children, the Interior Ministry said. The coalition denied having killed civilians.

Civilian deaths in military operations have become an emotive issue among Afghans, many of whom feel that international forces take too little care with airstrikes.

"Seventy-six civilians, most of them women and children, were martyred today in a coalition forces operation in Herat Province," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Coalition forces bombarded the Azizabad area of Shindand district in Herat Province on Friday afternoon, the ministry said. Nineteen of the victims were women, seven of them men and the rest children younger than 15, it said. Read On

Some Rise, Some Fall, Some Climb...To Get To Terrapin

Thursday, August 21, 2008

DuPage Free Speech Case Ends, Score 1 For THE PEOPLE!

Disorderly conduct charges dropped against anti-war protestors
By Christy Gutowski Daily Herald Staff

Charges against protesters dropped
Complaining witness doesn't show up to trial
August 21, 2008
By Jennifer Golz, Naperville Sun

DuPage County war protesters see charges dropped
Main witness fails to show to testify in disorderly conduct case
By Art Barnum Chicago Tribune reporter
11:20 PM CDT, August 20, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Charges dismissed for protesters
By Dan Petrella,
Suburban Life Publications
Wed Aug 20, 2008, 02:33 PM CDT

Monday, August 18, 2008

Denver Police Dept Prepares 'Concentration Camp' For DNC Protesters

News crew crashes Denver's DNC 'concentration camp'
Stephen C. Webster
Published: Friday August 15, 2008 The Raw Story

UPDATE: RAW STORY has obtained a letter from ACLU Colorado, sent to the Denver Police Department regarding the protest detention facility. Read it here.

During the 2004 Republican Nation Convention in New York City, over 1,700 protesters were taken into police custody in one of the most sweeping mass-arrests in US history. Many were held in Manhattan's Pier 57, inside a warehouse which was contaminated with lead and asbestos. Some were held for days, and without proper access to food, water, outside communication or legal counsel.

In Denver, police are preparing what a local political organizer calls a 'concentration camp,' laying in wait for mass arrests anticipated during the upcoming Democratic National Convention.
On Wednesday, a Denver CBS affiliate sent a news crew to crash the police department's improvised detention facility, found in a warehouse owned by the city on the north-east side of town.

"This is a building filled with metal holding cells," described reporter Rick Sallinger, introducing the segment. "We showed up at the facility unannounced today, the doors were wide open, and we managed to shoot for several minutes until a Denver sheriff's captain asked us to leave."
Footage of the warehouse revels tall, chain-link fence capped by barbed wire, and segmented pens each bearing an identifying letter at about shoulder height.

The news crew was not invited, nor welcome. Cpt. Frank Gale of the Denver Sheriff's Department called the facility "a secured area," and worried that information related to the site would be used "by people who are potentially trying to be disruptive."

"Each of these fenced in areas is about five yards by five yards," said Sallinger. "There's a lock on the door. How long those arrested will be kept here is not known. A sign on the wall reads, 'Warning! Electric stun devices used in this facility.'" Read On

U.S. Invasion of Iraq - For Better or Worse?

August 18th, 2008

Posted by: Mike Collett-White
(Posted by: Khalid al-Ansary)

The Iraqi government says it is negotiating a “time horizon” with the United States for withdrawing its troops from Iraq.

That has Iraqis like me thinking back to how the Americans got here in the first place, and whether the U.S. promises of peace and democracy after the fall of Saddam Hussein five years ago have been fulfilled.

To sum it up in a phrase: Saddam, for me, was not a good leader but what we have witnessed in the following years has not been any better. Read On

NATO Forces Murder Innocent Afghan Children Again

British rocket fire kills four Afghan civilians
· MoD says troops targeted armed insurgents on roof
· Two children among dead and two others injured

Damien Francis
The Guardian,
Monday August 18 2008

Four civilians, including two children, were killed in a rocket attack by British troops in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said last night. The MoD has launched an investigation into the incident, which left two other children seriously injured.

The rocket attack, involving the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, occurred on Saturday in the Sangin district of Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan. British soldiers in Helmand province.

Troops on a routine patrol fired rockets after intercepting a radio message calling for insurgents to converge on the area, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force said.

After identifying insurgents on the roof of a compound, the soldiers fired the rockets, not realising that there were women and children inside the building. Read On

Saturday, August 16, 2008

We Can Fight Together

Ef Swagee discovered the vibe flowing powerfully through these revolutionaries last night at the Double Door. HOT!

Blue King Brown - "Water"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Iraq War Vets Discuss Random Killing of Civilians

Privatizing 'War'

NY Times
August 12, 2008

Use of Iraq Contractors Costs Billions, Report Says


WASHINGTON — The United States this year will have spent $100 billion on contractors in Iraq since the invasion in 2003, a milestone that reflects the Bush administration’s unprecedented level of dependence on private firms for help in the war, according to a government report to be released Tuesday.

The report, by the Congressional Budget Office, according to people with knowledge of its contents, will say that one out of every five dollars spent on the war in Iraq has gone to contractors for the United States military and other government agencies, in a war zone where employees of private contractors now outnumber American troops.

The Pentagon’s reliance on outside contractors in Iraq is proportionately far larger than in any previous conflict, and it has fueled charges that this outsourcing has led to overbilling, fraud and shoddy and unsafe work that has endangered and even killed American troops. The role of armed security contractors has also raised new legal and political questions about whether the United States has become too dependent on private armed forces on the 21st-century battlefield. Read On

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bush Undermines Endangered Species Act

from the raw story:

Bush to relax protected species rules

The Associated Press
Published: Monday August 11, 2008

WASHINGTON — Parts of the Endangered Species Act may soon be extinct. The Bush administration wants federal agencies to decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants.

New regulations, which don't require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews government scientists have been performing for 35 years, according to a draft obtained by The Associated Press.

The draft rules also would bar federal agencies from assessing the emissions from projects that contribute to global warming and its effect on species and habitats.

If approved, the changes would represent the biggest overhaul of the Endangered Species Act since 1988. They would accomplish through regulations what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects. Read On

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Corporatocracy Rising

Big Business Is Making Sure It Wins the Presidency
By Matt Taibbi, Posted August 9, 2008.

It's the same old story: Money talks, and bullshit walks. And don't be surprised if we're the ones still walking after November.


.....The truth is that the campaigns of both Barack Obama and John McCain are being inundated with cash from more or less exactly the same gorgons of the corporate scene. From Wall Street to the Big Oil powerhouses to the military-industrial complex, America's fat-cat business leaders know that the Animal House-style party of the last eight years that made almost all of them rich with bonuses, government contracts and bubble profits is about to come to an end, and someone is going to have to pay to clean up the mess. They want that someone to be you, not them, and they've spared no expense to make sure both presidential candidates will be there to bail them out next year.

They're succeeding. Both would-be presidents have already sold us out. They've taken the money and run -- completing the cyclical transformation of the American political narrative from one of monopolistic Republican iniquity to an even more depressing tale about the overweening power of corporate money and the essentially fictitious nature of our two-party system.

In layman's terms, we've gone from being screwed to being fucked. Who knows -- maybe Barack Obama will surprise us if he wins the election. But if you look at the money, it doesn't look good.
Thanks in part to the dormant FEC, corporate America has had even easier access to the candidates than usual in its effort to buy off the next government before the crash........

read the whole piece here

Friday, August 8, 2008

In Another Time's Forgotten Space...

Score 1 For 1st Amendment In Providence

Judge rules law on campaign signs is unconstitutional
01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, August 6, 2008
By Paul Edward ParkerJournal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — A federal judge has struck down a state law that allowed police chiefs to remove political campaign signs from the side of public roadways at their discretion.
U.S. District Judge William E. Smith ruled that the law unconstitutionally infringed on the freedom of speech by letting police chiefs decide who can post signs, but not listing criteria chiefs should use in making that decision.

Rodney D. Driver, whom Smith described as a perennial candidate for Congress, filed suit after Richmond Police Chief Raymond A. Driscoll removed campaign signs that Driver had placed on private property across the street from the entrance to the Washington County Fair in 2006.

“I thought it outrageous that a police chief could decide who may or may not post political signs, and then tear down those he disapproved of,” Driver said yesterday in a statement issued by the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Driver in court.
read on

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Free Speech to be Corralled at DNC in Denver

Judge: Denver can restrict protests at convention

Thu Aug 7, 2008 1:10am EDT

DENVER (Reuters) - Protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver can be restricted to fenced-in areas, federal judge ruled on Wednesday, saying that security needs outweighed curbs on their rights.

A dozen groups who intend to protest at the August convention sued the U.S. Secret Service and the city of Denver over plans to confine their activities to a parade route and fenced-in zone, saying that their Constitutional rights to free speech were being violated.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends Service Committee and others argued that the rules would keep them too far away from delegates to get their message across during the convention, which is scheduled for Aug 25-28 at the city's downtown Pepsi Center.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger agreed that the protesters would suffer some infringement on their freedom of expression but said those interests had to be balanced with security concerns.

"The restrictions inhibit the plaintiffs' ability to engage in some forms of expressive conduct, (but) ... the plaintiffs have a wide variety of alternative means of expression that will allow them to effectively communicate their messages," Krieger wrote in her 71-page ruling.

(Editing by Jackie Frank)

mad yet?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We Don't Need A "War On Terrorism"

First Published 2008-08-06

Middle East Online

The US government should not militarily invade countries and try to change their form of government, economic system or money-making activities. This applies to both Afghanistan and Iraq, says Ivan Eland.

Many opponents of the Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq have always argued that this conflict is an irrelevant and even counterproductive sideshow to the real "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan.

In fact, Barack Obama led the parade to initiate a troop surge in Afghanistan after having opposed it in Iraq. The more hawkish John McCain, not to be outdone by a weak-kneed Democrat, proposed that even more troops be sent to Afghanistan.

In American politics after 9/11, it seems that candidates have to support some sort of war or they will be perceived as being too wimpy to get elected.

Only a small minority of foreign policy gadflies has doubted whether any war on terrorism is needed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Now a new report by RAND, the government's own captive think tank, supports this small band of renegades.

The study, "How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al-Qaeda," written by terrorism experts Seth Jones and Martin Libicki, followed more than 600 terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, over the long-term.

The report concluded that the administration's war on terrorism has not significantly degraded al-Qaeda and that the group has morphed into a more formidable enemy. In fact, al-Qaeda has perpetrated more attacks after September 11, 2001 than before it.

RAND deduced that the best way to kill a terrorist group is to capture or kill its leaders. This task is best carried out, according to the study, by law enforcement, intelligence, and, if needed, troops from the local country.

Instead of giving terrorists the exalted status of warriors, they should be deemed criminals.
Read On

Cindy Sheehan Tells It Like It Is

from After Downing Street . Org

This Is Horseshit!
By Cindy Sheehan

It is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

You know, I don't care if it's not proper for a Congressional candidate to say: "horseshit." I don't care if it is not a good "tactic" to get kicked out of a Congressional non-impeachment hearing that was just a bunch of horseshit anyway. I don't care if I get accused of being too "extreme" for bucking the (cyst)em by doing everything form camping in a ditch in Crawford, Tx to non-violent civil disobedience to, lately, running for Congress as (oh no!) an independent.

If people can't see how this nation is teetering on the precipice of financial ruin and dragging the rest of this planet down with us as we destroy our ecology, too…and if people don't realize how desperate our situation is, then I must say, that's horseshit!

I am angry. No, I am incensed that hundreds of thousands of people are dead, dying, wounded, displaced from their homes or being imprisoned and tortured by the sadists that reside or work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the approval of their accomplices down the road in Congress.

I am furious that I buried my oldest son when he was 24 years old for the unrepentant lies and the unpunished crimes of the Bush mob. Are you incensed? If not, maybe you should ask yourself: "Why?" Hypothetically: "Why am I not enraged that my country has killed or hurt so many people for absolutely no noble cause in my name and with my tacit approval?"

I am steamed that the working class has to, once again, pay for the excesses of the capitalist criminals that feeds its rapacious appetite with the flesh and blood of our children and won't rest until it owns every penny in this world and has all the power.

You may say, "But Cindy, it is not polite to be angry or to use such strong language in public." Horseshit! In my opinion, every citizen in this country should rise up in anger and DEMAND that George Bush and Dick Cheney not only be impeached and removed from office, but be tried and convicted for murder and crimes against the peace and humanity!

We should all walk off of our jobs and refuse to work and refuse to be cogs in the wheels of psychotic consumerism until our troops, military contractors and permanent bases are removed from Iraq and Afghanistan. Read On

Monday, August 4, 2008

U.S. Refuses to Join Majority of World in Abolishing Cluster Bombs

U.S. Tries but Fails to Scuttle Cluster Bomb Treaty
By Daniel Allen, Foreign Policy in Focus. Posted August 4, 2008.

The U.S. government's claims, examined and annotated.

Well over half the world's governments agreed last week to "consign cluster munitions to the trash bin of history," in the words of the Cluster Munition Coalition, the civil society collective that delivered the treaty. Meeting in Dublin, Ireland, representatives of 110 governments completed negotiations on a new international treaty that bans the production, use, and export of all existing cluster munitions and commits them to destroy their stockpiles within eight years.

The U.S. government did not attend the negotiations, instead arm-twisting its allies to weaken the treaty. In the end, though, all other major NATO countries joined with the majority in agreeing to get rid of these weapons, which are designed to kill or maim every living thing in an area as large as two football fields. The vast majority of victims of cluster bombs have been civilians. Read On

Friday, August 1, 2008

If I Knew The Way, I Would Take You Home

Iraq War Realities Suppressed

Military censorship of the war in Iraq
By Naomi Spencer31 July 2008
World Socialist Website

Five years of bloody US occupation have seen numerous crimes against humanity unfold in Iraq. Millions of Iraqi civilians have been killed and wounded, with millions more made into refugees. Ancient, once-vibrant cities have been destroyed by air raids and chemical weapons. Thousands of Iraqis have been imprisoned by the US military in barbaric conditions, and in many cases tortured. In carrying out the occupation, more than 4,400 military personnel—most of them American—have died and tens of thousands have been wounded.

Little reflection of these realities is to be found, however, in the US media, particularly in visual form. Censorship by the military—and self-censorship by media outlets—is part of an effort by the ruling elite to sanitize the war and keep the American public in the dark about its real nature.

As highlighted in a July 26 piece in the New York Times, titled “4,000 U.S. Deaths, and a Handful of Images,” very few photographs of the occupation have trickled out from the military-embedded journalists and been released by the American media. The military and Bush administration have imposed rules barring photos of flag-draped caskets, as well as documentation of battlefield casualties in which faces, ranks, or other identifiers are visible.
Read On

Violence Down In Iraq Due To Ethnic Cleansing

Defeated in Iraq?

First Published 2008-31-07
By Mike Witney
Middle East Online

The surge was created to disguise what was really taking place on the ground; ethnic cleansing on a massive scale, says Mike Whitney.

The United States did not invade Iraq to "stop the violence". That was never the goal. So, it's foolish to say that the surge achieved its objective. It hasn't. Nor has the surge "created the space for a political solution"; another meaningless slogan regurgitated endlessly by the Bush troupe. The political agenda in Iraq has failed utterly. We know that because the Shiite-led government has asked the US to leave "as soon as possible" and for the Bush administration to set a "timetable for withdrawal". Not a "time horizon" as the administration-spinmiesters like to say; a Timetable, which means a fixed time when the United States must leave. So, if the Iraqi government has asked the US to leave; where is the "political solution" the surge was supposed to create? There isn't one. The mission has failed; it's as plain as day. This is not an arguable point.

What the surge really proves is that ethnic cleansing works. Baghdad was a city of roughly 65% Sunnis. Now it is nearly 75% Shiites. Most of the million or so Iraqis who have been killed in the conflict, and most of the 4 million who are either internally displaced or have become refugees, are probably Sunnis. This is an important point and one that Americans should understand. The surge was created to disguise what was really taking place on the ground; ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. No one disputes this. The Sunnis have been effectively purged from the capital. That's not a "political solution". It is a war crime.

More important, the United States military has helped the Shiites win their war against the Sunnis. The Shiites control Baghdad now; the Sunnis will never get it back. That is why they are moving on to the next phase of their strategy, which is to demand that the foreign troops leave. So, at least in one respect the surge has worked; it has helped the Shiites and their allies in Tehran win the war. Bush has helped to strengthen Ahmadinejad. Was that the objective?
The Shiites have no experience running the government. That's always been the Sunnis role dating back hundreds of years. That does not mean they are incapable of leadership, it simply means that the Bush administration decided to break with traditional imperial policy to pursue their colonial ambitions. Normally, imperial powers choose to remove just a few hundred of the top political leaders and leave the existing system in place so the society keeps functioning with as little disruption as possible.

Not Bush. Bush chose to raze the country to the ground; rip-apart the social fabric, destroy the critical infrastructure, and spread chaos far and wide. Now, as author Nir Rosen says, "Iraq no longer exists". By conceding control of the government to the Shiites, Bush has not established democracy, but anarchy and sectarian hatred. The idea of creating a "Shiite Crescent" in the Middle East is part of a wacky theory cooked up in a Washington think-tank. Imagine if the Russians invaded the United States and decided that the quickest path to political stability was to wipe out the government, disband the bureaucracy, and appoint inexperienced people from the poorer sections of the inner-cities and barrios to run the country. This is the level of stupidity in the Bush administration. The strategy has cost the lives of over a million Iraqis. That's a high price for stupidity.

There was never the slightest chance that the US would succeed in establishing strategic outposts in the heart of the Arab world. It was doomed from the get-go. The Bush administration points to the temporary lull in the violence as a sign of progress, but they are mistaken. They're using the wrong yardstick. The Iraqi resistance has achieved what every guerrilla army hopes to achieve; they have undermined their enemy's ability to wage war. The US is facing growing resistance to its imperial policies around the world, but it can't address those problems because its army is tied down in Iraq. This is quickly becoming one of the main areas of disagreement in the 2008 political campaign. The world is drifting away from the United States and it isn't coming back whether Obama or McCain are elected. The superpower model of global government is on its way out.

The real way to measure success or failure in Iraq is to look at the US fiscal budget which has suddenly skyrocketed to nearly $500 billion. This is mainly due to the exorbitant costs of prosecuting an open-ended conflict in the Middle East. The American consumer is not confused by the surge rhetoric; he knows we are losing. He's not blind. He sees evidence of defeat every time he pulls up to a gas-pump. Tell me: Is $4 dollar per gallon gas a sign of victory or defeat? This isn't rocket science.

Once again, the individual battles and skirmishes in Iraq are meaningless; what matters is that America's ability to wage war has been greatly undermined. By the end of 2009, the troops will begin to withdraw or they will be left to fight with sling-shots and bows-and-arrows. The housing market is collapsing, the financial system is in meltdown phase, and the country is facing the greatest funding crisis in its 230 year history. Don't look for proof of America's defeat in Iraq. Look for it at home. Look for it at the pawn shops, the homeless shelters, and the growing number of empty sub-divisions which have turned into ghost towns. This is where one can see the true costs of the war; a war that was lost before the first bomb was dropped.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state and can be reached at