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Each political note has its own anchor in case you want to link to it.
My intention is to make links only to publicly accessible, stable URLs. If you find a link to a page that requires subscription, please report that as you would report any other broken link.
Mexico has decriminalized small-scale drug possession.
Also: an article from High Times
It appears that concerns of oil contracts in Libya motivated the UK to release a convicted airplane-bombing terrorist. I have not mentioned this issue before, because I think the policy of releasing prisoners who are dying of cancer is a valid one. However, letting commercial interests decide the question can never be legitimate. It's an example of the sort of corruption that pervades many governments including the US.
Before Katrina, Ivor van Heerden of LSU Hurricance Center warned that New Orleans' levees would break break under such a storm. When they broke, the White House didn't tell him or anyone in New Orleans. Van Heerden revealed this to the public, so now he has been fired from the university. Big Oil rewarded LSU for firing him, and laundered the payment through an innocent environmental group.
The Washington Post published an article defending torture as useful for gaining information about "terrorists". Even if it were true, so what? Torturing people accused of "terrorism" — many of them accused falsely — is just as evil as Al Qa'ida. The first question for the US must not be, "How can the US win?" It must be, "How can the US deserve to win?"
Hundreds of children in parts of India have major birth defects due to uranium emitted by coal-burning power plants. The water in large parts of Punjab is contaminated with the uranium.
Dalit students are humiliated in school, not allowed to drink water with other students. Only they are told to clean the toilets because the other students are "too good" for this.
Bush set up secret systems to spy on Americans' communications with no probable cause or warrant, and Obama has not stopped it.
The UN says Iran is blocking inspections, and the US wants more sanctions. I doubt that any sanctions would stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I also don't think war would do it, short of a complete conquest, and that would meet tremendous resistance. We have to hope for deterrence and coexistence.
If the US had not let the oil companies block conservation measures for 30 years, Iran would not be making so much money now and would not have the influence with which to gain the support of Russia and China.
The ACLU wrote to the UK government criticizing the unfair extradition powers that the US has in Britain.
Uri Avnery argues that a boycott and disinvestment campaign against Israel will not work. Although the occupation of Palestine broadly resembles the apartheid system of South Africa, the context is different.
After the Bush regime approved torture in principle, CIA agents began eagerly trying and discussing various techniques, trying to push the envelope of the cruelty that Bush had authorized. I've seen claims that Milgram's experiment was funded by the CIA as part of an investigation of possible torture techniques.
The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff says the US strategy for the war in Afghanistan is a path to defeat. The elections represent no real support for the government since people voted mainly according to their tribal identity.
Everyone: sign this petition in favor of a strong climate control treaty.
Citizens of Massachusetts: call your state representative to support HB 2610, the bill to legalize medical marijuana in Massachusetts.
As usual, the opposition to the UK's new plans for the War on Sharing focus on the destructivess of the weapons, and do not reject the idea that the government should fight this war.
US citizens: Sign this petition to tell House Democrats to stand firm for a public option in health care reform.
UK police diaries testify to their unjustified and gratuitous violence against peaceful protestors. Not only individual constables did this, but the commanders too.
Madonna dared to rebuke Romanians for their prejudice against Gypsies.
When I visited Romania the first time, my host refused to listen to records of Indian classical music, saying "The Gypsies came from India, so I despise everything from India." How absurd can prejudice get?
A model was arrested for posing nude in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, surrounded by paintings and sculptures of nudes.
Everyone: Oppose the campaign to fire Professor Neve Gordon. He endorsed a campaign of boycott and disinvestment against Israeli apartheid.
Now he faces a campaign to fire him (despite tenure) as punishment for expressing his views, which would damage academic freedom in Israel. Through this page you can state your opposition to firing him.
The UK's Climate Camp plans to act directly against the dishonest planet-burner business lobby.
Note how the antidemocratic "free trade" treaties are being cited implicitly by polluting industries: "If Europe doesn't give us exeptions from carbon controls, we will move to a place that will." For Europe to survive, it must tell them, "We won't let you threaten us, and we won't let you move."
Obama says US agents will no longer use torture, but meanwhile he intends to continue outsourcing torture to other countries. The ringleaders of Bush regime torture are not only protected, they are making lots of money.
Iraq's latest plague is drought, exacerbated by dams in upstream countries.
400 Palestinians in Gaza face death if Israel does not allow the importation of chemicals for dialysis machines.
The insurance companies latest idea for undermining health care reform is to propose establishing "co-ops" to compete with them. They propose this because those co-ops can't possibly do it.
As the banks were going broke, they paid huge bonuses out of the bailouts the US gave them. In effect, robbing all of us.
Israel used the civilians of Gaza as targets to test new weapons, including some from the US.
US citizens: sign this petition to Obama to get rid of the hypocritically named "Defense of Marriage Act."
Merck seems to have paid various US medical associations to support its advertising campaign for Gardasil. There's only one safe way for drug companies to fund activities related to medicine, and that's through their taxes. We need to make them pay a lot more taxes. (I have no opinion regarding Gardasil's usefulness or safety since that's outside my field.)
US citizens: phone your congresscritter supporting HR 104, to investigate how the Bush regime organized torture. Also sign this petition.
Scotland will be home to a large wave-powered electric plant, large by the standards of wave-power that is.
In the UK, write to your MP to oppose the threatened new measures to stop file-sharing. But don't say that these are "unnecessary" because of the Lords of Copyright are getting increased profits, because that would accept the supposition that they are more important than citizens and sharing. I suggest saying that sharing is good, and attacking sharing is bad, and that trying to stop people from sharing published works is simply an injustice.
Torture, by the CIA or anyone else, is a felony. Holder has decided to launch an investigation of the individual practitioners, but fails to pursue the ringleaders.
Israel is talking about stopping some of the construction in the West Bank settlements, but Peace Now says it's a sham, and this will have no effect on construction. If Obama does not reject this sham, he cannot achieve anything more than a Bush-style show of futile efforts toward peace. But it looks like he is going to fall for it, and and "pay" for it with a harsher policy towards Iran.
As I recall, Bush kept asking for harsher sanctions on Iran, but Russia and China always blocked them. Unless they have changed their attitude, there is little that the US could actually deliver to Israel in that line. (Whether such sanctions, or anything, could stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is imponderable.) Meanwhile, if Israel doesn't really stop construction in the settlements, and start handing them over to Palestine instead, this won't have any chance of achieving peace between Israel and Palestine. So it looks like this agreement can only be theater.
A new wave of attacks on Iraq's power grid have reduced electricity in Baghdad to 2 hours per day. The official hinted that this may be due to battling between militias associated with political parties.
The UN found evidence of considerable vote-rigging in Afghanistan.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown says, " I was wrong to support the war in Afghanistan."
I too supported the war in Afghanistan, and for the same reasons (not because of Sep 11). I'm not convinced she and I were wrong then. But it is clear that the war has failed to achieve the goals for which we thought it justified.
War always kills civilians even despite the best efforts to avoid it (efforts which the US fails to prioritize). Civilians accept this if they believe the war is necessary on their behalf. It doesn't seem that Afghanis believe this.
The CIA admits it made threats against the families of prisoners.
Israel's settlements in the West Bank form the nuclei of a web of control that pushes Palestinians into small areas, and is designed to provide an excuse to prevent them from having their own state.
With all the "security" cameras that threaten privacy rights in London, you might think they at least catch criminals. But they don't do much of that.
On the other hand, if you're the sort of person who feels good that "Big Brother Is Watching You", these cameras might help you "feel safer".
Shah Rukh Khan was stopped for an hour by US border guards as he came to promote his film about racial profiling. If a "procedure" involves detaining someone for over an hour, saying it's routine is no excuse.
Kucinich denounces Obama's health care bill as corporate welfare for the insurance companies.
Uri Avnery writes about right wing extremist politicians in Israel. The Vice Prime Minister recently gave his support to them.
If these "crazies" keep getting louder, they may give the US an opportunity to make its financial aid to Israel conditional on willingness for peace.
The CIA used mock executions for torture.
Karzai's main rival accused him of stealing the Afghan presidential election.
An interview with the Israeli extremists who are extending settlements step by step with government help, even as the government claims it is not doing this.
Each settlement outpost radiates an influence of restrictions across Palestinian life, since the army shuts down Palestinian activities and even seizes Palestinian land when a settlement expands into the vicinity. And the settlers themselves harrass nearby Palestinians, or shoot at them with rifles, to drive them away.
Extracting of tar sands in Canada could release enough CO2 to hammer the last nail inour coffin. It is also destroying the lands of native peoples, who are protesting for their sake and for everyone's.
US citizens: call your senators to oppose PASS ID and all other national ID card schemes on principle.
Also say you want the right to fly anonymously to be restored. Passengers are all searched for weapons, so it doesn't matter who they are.
The Iraqi government is censuring information about the number of victims of recent bombings.
This article argues that trying to establish freedom and democracy in Afghanistan is futile, and not worth a war.
My impression, limited since I have never been there, is that most Afghans don't want the tyranny of the old Taliban to return, and want help preventing that. However, some of today's Taliban is not interested in such a tyranny, only in getting Westerners out.
Iran's new Defense Minister is one of those accused of bombing an Israeli cultural organization in Buenos Aires many years ago.
Atty General Holder used to work for the law firm that represented the Republican Party. Is this why he is systematically protecting Republicas from charges including vote-rigging?
Citizens of Ireland: vote NO on the European Constitution that pretends not to be a constitution.
Virginia police arrested a woman for publishing criticism and public information about police.
Fiji Water, an extremely wasteful operation that ships water around the world in plastic bottles, tries to excuse its existence based on trickle-down benefits to Fijians, benefits it reduces to the minimum possible level. It seems to have Fiji's dictators in its pocket. Here's a rundown on that company's long list of slease.
I never get bottled water in the US except to take on a bus. But if you must get some bottled water, don't get it from Fiji (or from Coca Cola Company).
US citizens: phone your senators and say you want a strong climate change and clean energy bill.
A callous Chinese factory's treatment of its workers turned into an experiment in the health hazards of (a certain kind of) nanoparticles. Workers died from them.
Sean Rigg, physically healthy, died in UK police custody a year ago. The CCTV footage mysteriously disappeared, and police said the cameras were not working — but a policeman had earlier said they were working. His family think this is a coverup, and I do too.
US citizens: sign this petition in favor of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and then phone your congresscritter about it.
Human Rights Watch says that there is a campaign to murder Iraqi gays and that government "security" forces participate.
Oil companies continue spending their money to keep global warming going, incuding fake "grass-roots" efforts.
Iraqis blame a recent wave of bombings on a battle between political parties, each of which has a militia, and say that soldiers/police who support the militia allowed the bombers to pass.
Iran has made an important concession on monitoring its uranium enrichment.
A factory in China has given over 1000 children lead poisoning in one year.
This is a symptom of a general culture of corruption and coverup. Local officials in China generally prefer to hide rather that correct any problem that is related to profitable business.
Taliban attacks effectively discouraged voting in some parts of Afghanistan.
Iran continues persecuting Baha'is, including some who were supposed to face trial on absurd charges while their lawyer is imprisoned on other absurd charges.
China is considering big cuts in CO2 emissions. Now the question is whether the US is able to do likewise despite corporate rule.
Netanyahu may have quietly dropped the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as "the state of the Jewish people" (something not even the US does). However, he is expanding the settlements rapidly by planting fruit trees. Palestinians are cut off from their land and their trees are uprooted; Israelis take the land, and the water, and plant their own trees. Of course, this does not directly expel any Palestinian from his home, but there other parallel measures for doing that.
In Uganda, teenage girls are sold into marriage, effectively as slaves.
Israel's occupation of Palestine fits the treaty definition of apartheid, according to a team of legal scholars.
The Taliban get a lot of their funds from projects supported by the US and its allies. They force the projects to pay protection.
A judge in Texas faces possible removal preferring execution to justice. The word "tough" is inadequate to describe Sharon Killer. "Callous and cruel" fit better.
Cuba owns 20% of TeleSUR, but only lets Cubans see a censored version.
Australia proposes total surveillance of the internet for the sake of the War on Sharing.
Reprieve is suing the UK government to get information about prisoners who were handed over to the Bush regime and are now imprisoned without charges by Obama. Note the curious response that the Clown regime "has no reason to believe" that these prisoners are being abused. This despite all the evidence that other prisoners of the US have been abused.
The Clown regime closes its eyes and says "I don't see anything". This policy of eyes and brains shut must be considered collusion and prosecuted as such.
Human Rights Watch reports that Israeli troops shot civilians who were carrying white flags (and were obviously no threat to them).
Israel's policy of taking land and expelling Palestinians is designed to make a Palestinian state impossible. Sometimes it is done under color of law, sometimes "illegally", but the result is the same.
Obama caved in to Big Pharma and presents it as a victory. After secret negotiations — violating his pledge to make them public — he convinced Big Pharma to increase prices by 2% less over the next 10 years. He did this by surrendering the negotiating power that could have saved 40% or more. Palast's article doesn't clearly say that the savings Obama achieved would be spread over 10 years, but but that is asserted here.
Obama cannot achieve meaningful health care reform because he is aiming too small.
The rich in the US continue to take more and more of the national income. The top .01% now get 6% of the income.
Some US doctors are pushing their patients to sign copyright assignments so that they can use the DMCA to censor criticism by those patients. The use of the term "intellectual property" should be a sign that someone is up to no good. This practice should be forbidden by law, not just for doctors, but for all kinds of commerce. Until that happens — which is unlikely in a country whose government obeys business against its citizens — you should figure that any a doctor who asks you to sign such a copyright assignment has some nasty secret to hide. Don't trust your health to him!
Venezuela has adopted a law censoring all newsmedia, prohibiting publication of anything that could encourage hatred or aggression, or even "indiscipline", among children. It also prohibits anything that "deforms the language" or attacks "healthy values, good customs or public health". If this is interpreted as a ban on cigarette advertising, I won't complain; but all sorts of things could be said to "attack healthy values". The law is not actually Chavez's initiative; it dates back to 1980.
Ads for Windows, the iGroan and the Amazon Swindle will be prohibited, since they definitely attack healthy values. But, much as I despise those products, I don't like the idea of applying censorship to them. Conspiracies among companies to impose DRM on the public should be a crime, but talking about them should not be.
The joint Palestinian/Israeli nonviolent protests in Bil'in continue. The soldiers fire tear gas, then falsely claim it was because someone was throwing stones.
Visiting the Taliban on the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Senator Webb succeeded in meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi. I think this makes the visit a success, in that it will be hard for the Burmese dictators to present it as an endorsement.
Uri Avnery: Palestinians and Jews are both descendents of the Cana'anites. If both people studied the history of the area, some of the cited reasons for fighting would go away.
Two psychologists who planned CIA torture based on how China tortured US POWs may be prosecuted for this. They deserve to be prosecuted, but so do Bush and Rumsfeld who ordered torture.
In Haiti, supporters of Aristide face imprisonment without trial in unsanitary conditions until they die from lack of medical treatment. The US government confirms the general prison conditions.
However, the US cooperates in maintaining the government which is responsible for them. And USAID is alleged to have arranged the overthrow of President Aristide by corrupting judges and lawyers. I find this claim plausible because of the fact that US troops ultimately kidnaped Aristide and flew him into exile.
Sign this petition calling on Democrats in the Senate to put committee chairmanships up for a vote. Also phone your Democratic senators about it.
Hillary Clinton has started to accuse the Republicans of cheating in the 2000 presidential election. Her statements are vulnerable to attack because they do not go into detail. She should explain how Florida dishonestly blocked over 50,000 eligible voters from participating.
Reportedly Chavez has dropped the proposed media law which I criticized in a recent political note.
Afghanistan adopted a law allowing Shi'ite husbands to keep their wives locked up in the house, and to starve them if they won't have sex.
The reason I supported the invasion of Afghanistan was because the Taliban were cruel to women. If the current government is cruel to them too, there is no reason to spend a dime, or a life, to defend it.
Denmark arrested Iraqis being sheltered by a church, to deport them after denying them asylum.
I am not particularly concerned about the church aspect. What concerns me is that they are forcing refugees back to Iraq. Iraq remains very dangerous, and most of the millions of Iraqis who have fled their homes do not dare try to return. What can justify forcing Iraqi refugees back into such conditions?
The US government has set up " fusion centers" for cooperation between various police and intelligence agencies. The one in Texas has organized investigation of dissidents and Muslims.
The UK is dragging drug-sniffer dogs in public places to search whoever they react to. A small fraction of the people they search are carrying drugs. Now this faces a legal challenge.
Some Taliban groups have agreed to a truce for the coming presidential election.
Obama is thinking about relaxing the sanctions against the Burmese dictators.
If this is done as part of a deal which also allows Aung San Suu Kyi to be released and allowed to work for democracy, it might be good. Otherwise, it is just a surrender.
It is a mistake for anyone important, such as a Senator, to meet with the dictators unless he gets a concession in advance. Just having the meeting is a victory for the dictators.
China has made a non-change in its policy about the Green Dam web filter, and some of the Western press has been misled into believing it is a major concession.
Use of Green Dam was never supposed to be mandatory on personal computers. Sellers were going to be required to make it available, but the purchaser did not have to install it, and could deinstall it. The real possibility of harm from Green Dam was to the users of computers in internet cafes and schools, since they cannot deinstall it from those computers.
The announcement says that the plans to make Green Dam mandatory on those computers, where it will really effectuate censorship, continue unchanged.
The US government suppressed for decades the films that showed the effects of the atomic bombs dropped in Japan.
Chavez or his supporters have proposed a law making it a crime to publish information judged false and judged to threaten the state. Such a law would be censorship and unjust. It sounds reminiscent of the charges made against journalists in Iran.
The law also makes it a crime for a publisher not to reveal the identity of an anonymous author. Even the failure to publish certain mandatory information is a crime. (Which information this applies to is stated elsewhere so I don't know what it is.)
Publishing inaccurate news reports is not good, but news is to some extent a matter of interpretation. The state and witnesses can claim information is false even if it wasn't, or can exaggerate the importance of minor points. To cite an alarmist right-wing ad as an example of what might be prosecuted is a further sign that this could mean prosecution for political opposition.
So this law invites censorship. Imagine what Bush would have done with such a law. It cannot be acceptable.
In the US, it is increasingly a crime to be destitute. I wonder what kind of public assistance is available to a homeless adult in Tempe, AZ. Can someone find out?
In New York, carrying a small amount of pot is not a crime. Showing it in public is a crime. So police lie to young people to trick them into committing that crime. The police do this because the federal government pays them to do it. This is Obama's idea of a "stimulus". Will his next "stimulus" be for the prison industry?
Israelis: oppose the biometric ID bill, and educate your MK. Although the author of that article thinks human rights arguments are useless in Israel, I hope you will state them anyway. What makes it seem that human rights don't count is a shortage of people who demand them and defend them; to neglect them because others do is a vicious circle.
In June, the US (or maybe Pakistan) bombed a funeral and killed 60 people. A few of them might have been Taliban. The only significant difference between this and a suicide bombing on the street is that this attacker didn't have to commit suicide, or even risk his life. The US has also adopted the terrorist tactic of a second bombing aimed at the rescuers who try to aid the victims of the first bombing.
Galapagos Islands wildlife is in danger from mosquitos brought by the influx of tourists.
Workers in embassies in Iran have apologized in court for reporting on protests.
The information they are accused of gathering, reporting, and passing on to the US was information about protests in public. This is journalism, not spying. But tyrants often make journalism a crime when it says anything the state doesn't like. The Bush regime made such noises too.
We don't have proof that the election was fraudulent, but we have sufficient proof that the Islamic Republic is tyranny.
A prisoner in Australia cooked and burned to death in the back of a van that was transporting him.
Attorney General Holder may investigate overzealous individual torturers, but plans to shield the officials who approved torture.
The ringleaders of torture are the ones who must above all be prosecuted.
Meanwhile, the Clown regime still fights tooth and nail to deny its acts of torture, using the most absurd excuses.
If the US says that the price of its cooperation is helping it cover up torture, to pay that price is itself complicity in torture.
The foreign companies that deforested Haiti are now digging up Haiti's mountains for minerals and cement.
US laws requiring off-street parking force the US in the direction of inefficiency and sprawl.
Iran's police chief admits that protesters were tortured in prison.
It is interesting to contrast the history of US and Iranian torture. Iran has been much more ready to admit guilt, but also much more open about convicting people based on confessions apparently obtained through torture.
China uses executed prisoners as a source of organs for transplant; the money raised this way may be the motive for executing so many.
The site also discusses accusations that China kills Falun Gong supporters for organs, but China does not permit the investigation that would determine if that is true.
The 9/11 family members' petition for a new investigation was rejected by New York City, which claimed insufficient valid signatures.
The petitionals will challenge these findings in court.
Blackwater employees charge that the company president had people killed to stop them from reporting crimes.
Israel's government is rushing through a law to set up a biometric database of all citizens.
After all the orwellian moves that the UK government has made, is it surprising that they wish to put cameras in homes to monitor people's behavior?
The Bush regime tortured even children in Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
One of those children remains a prisoner in Guantanamo based on a dubious confession extracted by torture.
Beaches in Brittany are overwhelmed with toxic decomposing seaweed whose growth is fueled by fertilizer runoff.
Fertilizer runoff also fuels the large dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico around the mouth of the Mississippi.
The US has put 50 alleged Afghan druglords on a military hit list.
If ten civilians are killed for each target on this list, that would mean 5000 civilians killed. That could give victory to the Taliban.
Israel's quasi-fascist foreign minister demanded the resignation of an Israeli diplomat for reporting privately to his own government that its policy of expanding colonies on Palestinian territory is harming relations with the US.
I suppose the foreign minister can replace diplomats at his pleasure, but firing replacing a diplomat for reporting bad news is the act of someone who is trying not to face facts.
The Burmese generals found Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of having an unauthorized visitor while under house arrest, and sentenced her to more house arrest.
Trials carried out under such regimes are merely excuses for doing whatever they have decided to do. Unfortunately, the same is sometimes true in the US.
After a bankrupt Icelandic bank's insider loans were exposed, it started getting injunctions to censor the information.
A coal company front is organizing fake "grass-roots" support for burning more coal.
Other businesses are lobbying to support the coup in Honduras.
The coup against Zelaya was a response to his introduction of a minimum wage.
Opposition to wage increases, in Honduras and Haiti and around the world, is the result of "free trade" sweatshop treaties such as GATT. These are what created the situation where politicians of each country try to woo the multinationals by offering the worst possible working conditions.
Taxes to discourage giving away plastic bags in stores are spreading around the world.
The argument that campaigning to reduce plastic bags is bad because it will distract people from other issues is irrational. I won't say that effect is impossible. But the opposite effect is also possible: these campaigns can strengthen environmental consciousness and can be used to build support for environmental protection in general.
As for the purchase of large and heavy plastic trash bags, I would expect they are much less likely to end up in the ocean killing fish and birds. So the net result is still a step forward.
New York City has sold the name of a subway station. Other cities are trying to do likewise.
The contemptuous end of the article, and its general tone, try to downplay the seriousness of the issues at stake:
Watching wild animals from a microlight plane doesn't even scare them. I wonder if tourists could spot poachers this way.
Ex-employees claim Blackwater prostituted young Iraqi girls for a dollar a blow job. And that's just the beginning of their crimes. Meanwhile, the US government is still making contracts with Blackwater.
New York is planning to put surveillance cameras in every subway car if it can afford them. This will be acceptable for our freedom if the video is destroyed after a limited time, and police need a search warrant to look at any of it. But there is no sign that these necessary precautions will be taken.
The Copenhagen climate change talks are likely to fail unless rich countries agree to more sacrifices.
Workers in embassies in Iran have apologized in court for reporting on protests. The information they are accused of gathering, reporting, and passing on to the US was information about protests in public. This is journalism, not spying. But tyrants often make journalism a crime when it says anything the state doesn't like. The Bush regime made such noises too. We don't have proof that the election was fraudulent, but we have sufficient proof that the Islamic Republic is tyranny.
In the new world order, poor countries' debt has been privatized by companies known as "vulture funds". The term "vulture fund" is unfair to real vultures, which gemerally eat only dead animals. These companies are predators, not scavengers. They eat the poor. To deny them the use of US courts is correct, but it does not go far enough. They can easily kill more people than terrorists do, so they deserve some of the same treatment: to finance or "invest in" such a fund should be a felony. We must make sure that loans made to corrupt dictators do not get repaid, so that corrupt dictators will find it harder to get loans.
A study shows how an unsupported hypothesis can become generally accepted in science if review articles disregard experiments with contrary conlusions.
Jacques Chirac confirms that Bush cited biblical prophecies to explain the invasion of Iraq. Chirac was not impressed and declined to commit French troops to the war.
Terry Pratchet announced his intention to kill himself before Alzheimer's disease destroys his mind, and demands legalization for helping people do this. His statement is eloquent; I only wish he had not presumed that everyone uses the iScrod. I don't want to die through suicide, or in any other way. I want immortality and eternal youth. But I can't have them, and death might be better than the real alternative.
For once, a US drone killed a real Taliban leader instead of civilians. I cheer this victory but it is likely to count for less than some people think. In general, killing the leader of a guerrilla army does not defeat it. If it has popular support, it can easily recruit plenty of new troops, and new leaders rise through the ranks. This leader's death will only make a real difference if it has some other effect.
US citizens: call your congresscritter to support HR 1549 to ban giving antibiotics to cattle as a standard practice. And sign this petition.
Pharma company Wyeth corrupted medical research literature by getting respected physicians to put their names on articles written by PR companies. These articles presented a biased picture of the effects of hormone replacement therapy, which was later found to be dangerous. Drug companies have also run fake medical journals and corrupted doctors through gifts. This is what they do with the money they collect from imposing patents in poor coutries.
A BBC undercover journalist was arrested for using a false name to apply for her undercover employment.
An Indian police death squad was photographed in action killing a targeted victim after chatting with him on the street.
Ian Tomlinson's family accuses the UK police and the IPCC (which is supposed to investigate the police) of a persistent coverup of his killing by the police.
A headband of infrared LEDs can jam CCTV cameras. Just one person, wearing one of these LED headbands, would be easy to track. So this is not a personal defense against Big Brother. But suppose lots of people were wearing them; suppose it were a kind of adornment and a protest at once. What fails for one person could succeed for many.
Iraq is censoring the Internet.
As most oil fields' extraction rate is decreasing faster than expected, a possible economic recovery is likely to run into a shortage of oil. The bad response to this fact would be to use more coal and oil shale, thus accelerating global disaster. The good response is to accelerate efficiency measures and construction of renewable energy facilities. Amory Lovins has identified many opportunities for large increases in energy efficiency in trucks and buildings.
B'liar submitted the UK to an unjust extradition treaty with the US which the US congress, correctly defending the rights of US citizens, refused to ratify.
The most effective way to reduce your long-term contribution to global warming is to have fewer children. All of humanities' global problems are exacerbated by population growth. For example, population growth in Brazil creates people who demand jobs, and they give political support to the rich people that want to cut down all the rain forest to grow soybeans and cattle. Population growth means more cars, more plastic, more oil burned. And since Americans typically use more resources per capita than everyone else, one less child born in the US does more to reduce all these problems than it would anywhere else.
Given the problems of population growth, it is a good thing that the UK national health service is making in-vitro fertilization somewhat harder to get. But this policy does not go far enough. Health care programs should never cover IVF, because that makes the world's most dangerous threat more dangerous.
An Israeli peace activist tells how soldiers beat him while he was handcuffed, while a policeman made a video and said nothing.
B'liar, now an "envoy" to Israel and Palestine, promised Palestinians near Hebron electricity, and poles were set up to carry cables. To harass them, the Israeli Army destroyed the poles. B'liar's response to this will be illuminating. Will he insist that Israel behave, or will he ignore it? I predict the latter.
Lubna Hussein, by refusing to accept a whipping and hide in shame, has put the Sudanese government's cruelty on trial.
A British court ruled in favor of extraditing Gary McKinnon to the US, where he faces charges of cracking military computers. (Please don't call it "hacking".) I am not convinced that Asperger's Syndrome makes a difference to the issue. What does matter is that the UK has adopted unjust extradition laws, discarding the basic safeguards that everyone is entitled to.
The US tried to use the UK's lax extradition policy against Sean Garland, an Irish political figure, when he visited the UK. However, he escaped back to Ireland. Now he faces an extradition request there. I don't have an opinion about the charges Sean Garland, but Ireland's laws ought to assure him a real hearing. The UK should do the same.
The US government is trying to suppress reporting about the total funds potentially committed to bailouts: over 23 trillion dollars.
Israeli troops arrested leaders of nonviolent resistance in Bil'in, as well as children, whom they tried to pressure into denouncing their parents.
Coal mining by mountaintop removal is very cheap, because it employs few people, and it destroys the land permanently while spreading toxins. Obama has refused to act against it, but the Senate is considering a law to ban it.
MPs demand an independent inquiry into the B'liar regime's complicity with torture.
The policeman who killed Tomlinson, a bystander at a protest, may face prosecution for homicide.
This is necessary to teach those armed bullies a lesson, but most victims of police aggression don't die. To put an end to this aggression, all cases must be punished.
CIA director Panetta is trying to shield CIA staff from investigation for their past torture, giving excuses that they had good motive for it.
Torture is so bad that no motives can excuse it.
US citizens: sign this petition for an investigation of the Republican PR company that sent forged letters purporting to come from progressive groups.
Congress is cutting the Pentagon's propaganda budget
Australia says it has thwarted a terrorist plot organized by Somali Islamists and their sympathizers.
The "government" of Somalia never had popular support. It was put in power, though that term was an exaggeration, by the Ethopian intervention which overthrew the Islamic Courts Movement government that had really taken control and had some popular support.
The results apparently include even nastier Islamists in Somalia as well as pirates attacking the shipping that passes along the coast.
India plans to install tremendous amounts of solar electric power in the next ten years — if the rich countries pay for it.
Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Israel's would-be ethnic cleansers, faces corruption charges. Uri Avnery says corruption is rife in the Israeli government.
The US government, specifically Clinton, has demanded the UK government cover up US torture, which is not only evil but also a crime in the UK. Clown regime officials who cave to these threats must suffer more than the possible loss of an election (which might have happened anyway). They must be prosecuted, and face imprisonment.
The ACLU says, Obama must stop the cruel force feeding in Guantanamo. These prisoners have never gone on trial. If their imprisonment, without hope of release, makes them wish for death, what follows? That they should be forced to suffer longer?
Even ISPs are now objecting to UK plans for internet surveillance.
The UK intervention in Afghanistan has failed on essentially all its goals, says a parliamentary report. This is probably part of a larger failure of the US intervention. However, the US is drawing the opposite conclusion, that it should fight more.
The problem of pervasive corruption existed also in South Vietnam. Every attempt to support the South Vietnamese government was futile — even in battle, as described in the book John Paul Vann, a Bright Shining Lie. South Vietnamese who wanted freedom and democracy could not imagine getting it from President Diem, or from the military rulers that followed him.
Former president Khatami denounced the Iranian show trials, which seem to be based on false confessions extracted by torture. If the US fails to learn its lesson from this, and put aside torture and "military tribunals", it will continue to be reviled in the same way.
Bob Herbert: Expressing anger at policemen is part of our freedom. My only disagreement with this column is that it focuses too much on the side issue of race. Nobody should be arrested for expressing anger at a policeman. Racist cops may do this more often to Blacks, but when they do it to Whites, that is just as wrong.
Claims that organic food provides nutritional benefits have been thoroughly refuted. My interpretation of the situation regarding possible pesticide effects is a little different from the authors. It is not absurd to think that they might cause harm, so if there is no conclusive study about it, I would say that question is simply open.
100 Iranian opposition leaders have been accused of being foreign agents, and face unfair trials.
I've read that some have been tortured into confessions.
US citizens: Call your senators, saying they should require Israel to end the siege of Gaza and stop extending settlements, and should investigate how Israel used US armaments.
Michael Irwin dares the UK to prosecute him for paying a gravely ill man's fare to go to Switzerland and get help in committing suicide.
Death is a horrible injustice, and so is serious incurable illness, and so is aging. The fact that they happen to all of us does not make them less unjust, it only makes the injustice bigger. But if someone decides that death is less bad than an incurable illness, it is cruel and evil to force worse suffering on him.
Evidence now shows MI5 lied when denying its involvement in Binyam Mohamed's torture in Morocco.
Limits on fishing are enabling some fish stocks to recover from overfishing.
The UK Law Lords rejected a "control order" (permanent semi-arrest without trial), saying it violates the basic principle that suspects are entitled to answer the charges made against them.
The Clown regime continues to cover up the details of its cooperation with CIA kidnap/torture plots, even after admitting that it did so.
The torture of prisoners in Iran — who were being pressured to sign false confessions of working for foreign powers — is creating further opposition. If only the US were in a position to criticize this without inviting a response of "You did it too."
Massive protests in Tehran were attacked with tear gas and guns.
Nigeria's army crushed the Taliban-like rebels, but appears to have killed some prisoners.
"Shot while trying to escape" was the Nazi's standard excuse for killing prisoners.
Iraq is suffering disastrous desertification in which wars have played a major role.
Neda Soltan's parents plan to hold a ceremony to remember her, on the normal Shi'ite schedule for such ceremonies, but the Islamic Republic threatens to repress the ceremony.
Secretary of State Clinton directly pressured the UK to conceal torture evidence. If the price of intelligence cooperation with the US is to connive at torture, any decent government must cut that cooperation short.
The kidnaping of 5 Britons in Iraq may have been engineered by Iraqi officials to conceal information about their corruption.
Lubna Hussein faces a punishment of 40 lashes for wearing pants. She resigned her UN job, which could have given her immunity, so as to confront this injustice head on. In the 19th century, Marx called religion "the opium of the masses". For today's religious fanatics, "the PCP of the masses" might be more accurate.
A previous note said that 240 radio station licenses had been suspended. This article in Spanish says that licenses have not been suspended; rather, 240 stations are being investigated for not having valid licenses, and may be shut down. Whether there is a political reason why they don't have valid licenses, whether they had valid licenses in the past, I don't know.
It also announces a proposal to prohibit any one company from owning more than 3 radio stations, and prohibiting them from transmitting the same program in parallel more than 30 minutes per day. In effect, large media enterprises would be split up.
It seems the election in Gabon is being run dishonestly.
A Uighur activist in exile accuses China of disappearing 10000 Uighurs during the riots a few weeks ago.
Chiropractors claim implausibly to be able to treat many diseases, based on shabby evidence. The British Chiropractic Association is trying to silence a prominent critic by suing him.
The GAO whitewashed the Pentagon's Paid Private Political Pundit Propaganda Program on the grounds that they were not paid directly from US funds. This reminds me of Iran-Contra, where Reagan arranged to fund Nicaraguan terrorists indirectly. If this is not clearly and effectively prohibited, it means this corruption of democracy will get worse.
Tanning carries a risk of cancer like smoking.
Obama is reportedly pressing for a deal to end Israeli settlement construction. I suggest starting a US program to pay for a lot of housing construction in Israel. Many of the settlers moved to the colonies on Palestinian territory because of Israeli government financial incentives. Construct enough housing in Israel, and it will become cheaper to live there.
US citizens: sign this petition calling on the senate not to sabotage the EPA's regulation of CO2-spewing coal plants.
Global warming has been partly masked for a few years by cyclical reductions in solar output. Now the Sun is heading into the hotter part of its cycle, so the masked long-term warming will become manifest.
Joel Tanenbaum writes about being sued by the RIAA for 4 million dollars for sharing music.
Sharing is not wrong; to stop people from sharing is wrong.
The US and allies are trying to negotiate peace with parts of the Taliban.
Big Pharma has bought a seat at the table to get special subsidies from Obama's health care plan.
By contrast, civilized countries use their national health care systems to push down the cost of medicine (and the drug companies keep making and selling the medicine, because it remains profitable even though the profit is less than in the US).
Nicaragua is killing women through a total ban on abortion.
An Islamic fundamentalist group attacked a police station in Nigeria.
Both Christianity and Islam contain the seeds of murderous cruelty. The seeds to not always sprout, but they are always there.
USAID shut down a jobs program in Iraq because of massive corruption and no controls.
It seems that part of the purpose of the program was to pay ex-resistance-fighters to cease to resist. Confusion between the ex-restistance-fighters and others in the resistance is probably inevitable.
A clique of Washington Democrats centered around Clinton are supporting the coup in Honduras.
Henry Louis Gates has agreed to meet with the policeman who unjustly arrested him, and President Obama. It seems that the policeman has not yet accepted the offer.
Reducing tension may be good, but the citizens of Cambridge must insist that the city order police not to do such things. When a policeman threatens an innocent person with arrest, he has no business arresting that person for acting angry.
In one part of the UK, there is only one ISP, and it has imposed a policy of disconnecting its customers for sharing.
The customers are very angry, but their condemnation of this policy fails to go deep enough. Underlying the injustice of the policy itself is the injustice of its motive: to stop people from sharing copies of published works. Sharing is good — to stop people from sharing is evil.
Newly released US spy satellite photos show the tremendous decrease in ice in the Arctic Ocean.
Film-maker Ishmahil Blagrove, who was captured by Israel on the Gaza aid boat, says Israeli prisons are full of Africans who are being confined in inhuman conditions.
Pakistan says it has cleared the Taliban out of Swat, and the inhabitants are returning home.
This shows it is possible to defeat the Taliban when the population does not support them.
However, Pakistan has delayed a promised attack on the Taliban's base in Waziristan.
Perhaps this is because the Taliban there have too much popular support to be defeated.
Hussam Mohammed Amin, who had explained to UN weapon inspectors (truthfully) that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, surrendered to the Bush forces to prove he was telling the truth. He was kept sealed in a bag for days while the Bush forces repeatedly beat him, under the orders of General McChrystal, who Obama placed in charge of Afghanistan.
Most telling is how the Bush regime defended, in US court, similar torture by Saddam Hussein against US personnel in the first Gulf War.
The Knesset has approved a bill to sentence illegal immigrants to 7 years in prison. Anyone that "aids the immigrants" could also be sentenced to 7 years in prison. This is not limited to helping them enter the country; even doctors that treat the immigrants for illness or injury could be sentenced.
This reminds me of Captain Blood.
Official documents suggest support for Alam Ghafoor's claim that UK intelligence played a role when he was arrested and tortured in the United Arab Emirates.
Chinese saboteurs have attacked the web site of a film festival which will show a movie about an Uighur dissident.
Call the attackers "hackers" is misuse of the term. Most of them are surely not real hackers ( people who enjoy playful cleverness). Most likely most of them are just obeying orders or doing their job. If a few of them are hackers, that doesn't make these attacks any more or less wrong.
An infantry brigade in Iraq got into the habit of killing Iraqis on the slightest excuse. 10 of the soldiers have been accused of killings subsequent to their discharge from the Bush forces, and many others have committed lesser crimes.
Daniel Martin of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol stopped a vehicle on the highway and attacked one of its passengers, paramedic Maurice White. The patient White was attending in the ambulance, who was on the way to the hospital, had to wait until Martin was done attacking.
Martin as punished for this lunatic behavior with merely 5 days suspension from his job.
Contrast this with Professor Gates, who was arrested for mere verbal expressions of anger at police bullying, and you see the problem: police think that they are above other citizens. They can attack us with impunity, but if we even talk back, we should be arrested. They are the nobles and we are the commoners.
We need to teach those armed bullies a lesson that they are not above everyone else.
Imprisoned Iranian protestors are being tortured, and some are dying from disease in inhumane conditions.
The Taliban have made a truce with the Afghan government in one region, and will participate in elections there.
Despicable as the Taliban's views are, it is better to have them competing in elections than fighting for conquest. And some of the Taliban are not much worse on women's rights than the Afghan government we support.
US citizens: tell your senators: don't go on vacation while hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their health insurance.
Obama did not have the courage to stand behind his valid criticism of the Cambridge Police. The Cambridge Police have a repeated pattern of unjust behavior. They are more likely to do this to members of groups that they are prejudiced against, but no one is safe from them. Police can abuse a person, then arrest him for expressing resentment of the abuse.
Consider the injustice of arresting someone for shouting in justified anger at a policeman who has already done wrong to him. Then consider the arrogance of a policeman who has done this and won't apologize — a person who thinks he is allowed to bully people and can arrest them if they complain.
We need to get these armed bullies under control or get them off our streets.
US citizens: Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack wants to spend millions of dollars to help loggers cut down virgin forest in Alaska. Sign this petition to tell him not to do this. Protected roadless wilderness areas should remain roadless and protected.
UK police prosecuted a policeman who accidentally killed two dogs, but has done nothing about almost 1000 people who died in police custody, some of them shot. Would these people get more justice if the RSPCA investigates their deaths?
Obama is moving to allow asylum to women that cannot escape from extreme domestic violence in their own countries. Even aside from the injustice of this violence, I cannot understand the mindset of the men who commit it. What can they find appealing in a relationship which consists of making someone else feel fear and hurt? Rejection hurts, but threats and injury can't change rejection to love. These men must have no sense of love, only possession.
Many semi-isolated tribes are threatened by relentless tourism pressure.
Honduran President Zelaya tried to cross the border, joining his supporters who are massing at the border, but he was forced back by soldiers. Clinton's comment fits with other evidence that the US actually supports the coup.
This article says that the coup government posted snipers, and that Zelaya's supporters crowded around him for his protection.
UK police handcuffed Gemma Atkinson for making a recording when they searched her boyfriend on the street without cause. The police are aware that recordings will limit their ability to mistreat and bully people, so they will take any excuse to forbid recordings, and forbid witnesses.
Honduran supporters of President Zelaya are (were) gathering at the border to receive him, evading army roadblocks, while a general strike has blocked the country's roads elsewhere. The article does not seem to say anything about how numerous the supporters are, a question which seems very important. Meanwhile, the national police have gone on strike too and say they will not arrest Zelaya.
The UK is still pushing the absurd road milage tax, which (compared with the already existing gasoline tax) would shift the tax burden from gas-guzzlers onto efficient cars.
Africa's food production may be cut in half by 2020 due to global warming.
The Pakistani Supreme Court has called former dictator Musharraf to account for arbitrarily removing some of the judges from office.
Christian fanatics are trying to make Texas public schools promote religion.
They are wrong in claiming that Christianity founded the US. Many of the founding fathers of the US did not believe in the sort of religion these people advocate. They were deists: they believed that a god created the universe and thereafter left it alone.
A UK local government is trying to use copyright to suppress publication of speed camera photos which a motorost use to prove he was not speeding.
I am amazed that so many motorists reach the point of challenging their speeding tickets from speed cameras. The thing that makes any automatic speeding punishment unjust is that the motorist does not find out about it until days (at least) later. By that time he can hardly have any clear memories of the incident. Right at that time, he might know "I am not speeding". A week later, blurred memory won't suffice.
Torture of prisoners in Guantanamo continues.
The Republicans threaten to make Congressmen who support public funding for health care should be required to participate in it. Wendell Potter, health insurance company whistleblower, responds that Congressmen who vote against it should be left with only the horrible private plans.
The public funding options being considered already involve too much compromise to the insurance companies. They won't save money because the way to do that is to abolish the insurance companies.
New coal-fired power plans will make mincemeat of Europe's plans for reducing CO2 emissions.
The coup-installed government in Tegucigolpe (new name of the capital of Honduras) gets PR advice from Americans who have worked for assorted dictators, and for Bill Clinton.
There are riots in South Africa as poor people, who have gained nothing materially since their enfranchisement some 15 years ago, were kicked out of their shacks with nowhere to go.
Part of the reason so much poverty persists in South Africa is the adoption of the empire's neoliberal policies.
US citizens: sign this petition to restore the civil liberties that Bush took away.
We cannot take for granted Obama's support for civil liberties.
Israel may be yielding to international to start removing some of the settlement "outposts".
The government has supported the construction of many of these outposts even while calling them "illegal".
The expansion of Israel's settlements has encircled a Palestinian village near Bethlehem. Israel has forbidden all new construction in the village.
While Netanyahu applies the argument about "natural growth" to the settlements, which are really all illegal and were constructed for the sake of annexation, he thinks it doesn't apply to the Palestinian village which was there first.
Many of the prisoners in Guantanamo have no home they can return to. They are losing hope of ever leaving.
In the past, Guantanamo prisoners committed suicide as a protest. Now it is despair.
An EU initiative calls for a UN resolution to establish a Palestinian state.
Two of the world's nastiest regimes, Burma and North Korea, may be trading in nuclear weapons and missile technology.
The NSA wiretapping story nobody wanted to publish. (You may need to scroll down...)
Rafsanjani's sermon took opposition in Iran to a new level.
US citizens: Tell your congresscritter and senators that the health care bill must support abortion rights.
The US government has shown its support for the coup in Honduras by pretending it was not a coup.
Congress has put conditions on US funds for the IMF, but Obama, following Bush's footsteps, say they are not binding.
US troops tortured Iraqi children to make their fathers confess to various crimes (whether or not they committed them). Attorney General Holder is now deciding whether this ought to be prosecuted.
Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested by the Cambridge Police while trying to enter his own home. It was considered suspicious that a Black man was in that neighborhood.
Portugal has cancelled its inquiry into its cooperation with CIA kidnaping flights.
Pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers increased substantially under the Bush regime, especially in states where the perverted sexual attitudes of Christianity are influential.
Kucinich's amendment to protect state-level single-payer health care programs was adopted in committee. Now call your congresscritter!
The lone survivor of the Mumbai terrorist attacks has confessed and pled guilty. No one can be sure whether he was tortured into making this confession. If he was, then it might not be true. However, there does seem to be other evidence tracing the terrorists to Pakistan.
US citizens: support Weiner's and Kucinich's single-payer health care amendments.
Obama's health care plan is meeting opposition in Congress for being too expensive. The reason this plan would not save money is that it preserves the role of the insurance companies, so it cannot avoid paying for the work their employees do, or making their executives and stockholders rich. A single-payer plan would save all this money by eliminating the insurance companies from the system.
In addition, disconnecting health care from employment would eliminate a disincentive that the current system places on employing people in the US.
New Zealand is establishing "voluntary" internet censorship. Voluntary for ISPs, but not voluntary for users.
Israel plans to construct housing for Jews in a Palestinian part of East Jerusalem — in effect, a new "settlement". In effect, Netanyahu is trying to force Obama to either to swallow this, in effect give Israel unconditional support no matter what it does, or else make an open breach (which Netanyahu thinks Obama does not dare do).
The UK is having trouble figuring out what to do with convicts on probation whose crime consisted of possessing "terrorist" literature.
What kind of state arrests people for what they read? A tyrannical one.
A cell phone company installed spyware in its subscribers' blackberry computers. The users found out only because of a fortunate bug that caused visible annoying symptoms.
The phone company was able to do this because the software in the blackberry is proprietary, thus not under the users' control. The user's only known defense against these malicious features is to reject proprietary software and insist on free software.
Powerful drug gangs in Mexico are fighting the government, since President Calderon is trying to crush them with arms.
As long as these drugs are illegal in the US even for addicts to obtain, the profits from smuggling them will be enough to corrupt plenty of officials and police on both sides of the border, as well as to support gangs that are strong enough to fight the government.
By the way, President Calderon was plausibly accused of stealing the election.
Kadyrov, Russia's strongman in Chechnya, seems to be running death squads to kill his enemies, inside Russia and outside.
This is the same thing that Cheney wanted the CIA to do.
The CIA assassination teams that Bush set up and concealed from Congress had "no geographical limitations" — which means it could have murdered people even in the US.
Protesters in Tehran numbered hundreds of thousands as Rafsanjani spoke.
The Israeli Army's idea of ethics is to kill any number of Palestinian civilians rather than risk one soldier's life. This means that any war implies war crimes.
Amazon has a back door in the Swindle which can erase books.
China is trying to censor a film about the situation in Xinjiang, and not just in China.
The UK National Portrait Gallery threatens to sue a US citizen for copying photos of old portraits that are in the public domain. The photos are also in the public domain under US law.
False Positives: the danger of background checking.
Life is better in Nablus because the US has made Israel relax some of the checkpoints that made life for Palestinians into a prison.
The US tried hard to pin drug trafficking charges on Haitian president Aristide, but failed. However, it supported a real drug trafficker in overthrowing Aristide.
Signs suggest that Natalia Estemirova was killed on orders from Ramzan Kadyrov, president of Chechnya. The lack of interest from the Russian press is one of these signs; it shows that the regime doesn't want Russians to think about the killing.
The Palestinian Authority banned Al Jazeera reporters after that station reported a grave accusation by a prominent Palestinian.
Dozens of Israeli soldiers have testified to war crimes committed against the civilians of Gaza.
The Israeli government responds, "Don't tell the public about our crimes."
A major tiger park in India now has no tigers. Poachers have killed them all.
I wonder if someone can make fake tiger parts to satisfy the fools that think they get some benefit from consuming tiger parts. Since any benefit is due to the placebo effect, fake tiger parts will work just as well as real ones. And they will be much cheaper.
A federal judge gave the CIA about 5 weeks to release a report on US torture of prisoners, which looks to be devastating.
One of the main human rights defenders in Russia was kidnapped and killed. She was investigating the murder of other human rights defenders. The Russian government shows no interest in these matters.
The UK government has made a specific plan for reducing CO2 emissions. For a few years I have criticized the UK government for making empty promises about future CO2 reductions with no plans to make them happen. I am glad to withdraw that criticism. Now the US must make a similar plan.
Obama tells US Jewish leaders: demanding concessions only from the Palestinians cannot lead to peace. That is the right thing to say, but Obama has moved only a small distance from the past US policy of demanding concessions only from the Palestinians. He has done nothing to end the siege of Gaza, which has reduced everyone in Gaza to abject poverty.
A convoy of humanitarian aid for Gaza has been stopped in Egypt. The Egyptian government is not democratic, but Mubarak would surely gain popularity among Egyptians for allowing the convoy through. However, he gets a tremendous amount of US aid, so if he stops such a convoy, that is surely due to US pressure.
In the West Bank, the Israeli Army helps extend "settlements" by destroying Palestinian farms.
Iranians angry at the stolen election and the murderous crackdown are boycotting Nokia for collaborating with the regime.
British neo-nazi Lewington was arrested carrying bombs that he was talking about using to kill people of Asian origin. He has been sentenced to prison. However, the crimes he was convicted of were not defined in terms of "carrying bombs". That fact was irrelevant to the charges against him.
The charges against him are not that he constructed bombs, or even that he was preparing to construct a bomb. He is accused of possessing things and information "likely to be useful" for making a bomb. Not "likely to be used", but "likely to be useful". Whether he ever meant to make a bomb is irrelevant as far as these charges are concerned. Anybody possessing any one of these objects, or some of the information, could equally well be convicted, without any indication that he intended to hurt anyone. Such laws are sheer tyranny. Lewington was apparently planning murder, but putting him in prison for that does not require unjust laws like these. A much more specific, and therefore just, law would do the job. Meanwhile, it is futile trying to make it impossible for someone to kill a few people. A person who wants to do that does not need a bomb; a car is enough.
Coleen Rowley, FBI whistleblower, supports the call for a real investigation of the 9/11 attacks in the US.
Banks and the FDIC (which regulates banks and therefore has probably been captured by them) are lobbying against Obama's plan for a Consumer Protection Agency. The banks will be against anything that imposes the regulation that is necessary. The fact that they seem to be strongly opposed to this regulatory agency suggests it goes in the right direction. But that does not mean it will regulate them enough. The US should bring back regulations that were removed in the 80s and 90s — regulations whose purpose was to prevent a crash — and break up the big banks into many competing smaller banks.
How the coup in Nicaragua relates to the context of Obama and US economic dominion over Latin America.
The UK cancelled Israeli export licenses for spare parts for weapons that were used in the attack on Gaza.
US citizens: Tell Attorney General Holder he should hold a torture investigation, and it should start with the torture kingpins such as Cheney, not be limited to the footsoldiers.
An Algerian dissident faces execution if he returns. He was given asylum in the UK, but the UK keeps him in a form of almost house arrest, for reasons that are secret. I wonder why his name is concealed. Is this by his choice, or is this another UK injustice?
Cheney set up a program to assassinate al Qa'ida supporters in friendly countries, and concealed it from Congressional supervision. Killing al Qa'ida supporters (or members of other criminal gangs), rather than arresting them, is justified in some situations, such as when they are armed and too strong to be arrested, or as part of armed combat between the US and state that controls the area where they are to be found. But assassination of the inhabitants of a country with the US claims to have a peaceful relationship is, in effect, an act of war against that country.
Obama rebuked African leaders for their corruption. Obama is partly right, but he mentioned only one side of the picture. Much of the corruption and even the wars are caused by money from companies — dumping waste, and buying minerals and gems. And some of the poverty is caused by repayment of debt to Western banks. Meanwhile, looking at the mad spending priorities of wealthy countries, such as the US, we must ask whether a representative government is enough to qualify as making government spending accountable.
The reporters from Venezuelan TV stations were arrested in Honduras, and face expulsion. Apparently the coup forces don't want information to get out.
A group of UK doctors have gone to court to demand an inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly, claiming that the supposed suicide is too medially implausible to be believed. The state wanted Tomlinson's family to believe he wasn't killed by the police. We know that was a lie. We can't trust what it says about Dr Kelly when there's even a hint of cover-up.
The Basij militia attacked and arrested students in their dorm at Tehran university, beating them, raping some, and killing five of them. Their families were ordered not to talk about their dead. The US could use drone planes to drop photos of these murdered students over Iranian cities, and carry out the funeral rites that their families would have held. Dropping bombs would make the Iranian people rally around their tyrants, but dropping photos could work the other way.
Some in the UK government want drug companies to form patent pools for the treatment of HIV-infected people in poor countries. This article confusingly refers to patents as "intellectual property", which mixes them up with totally different laws (e.g., copyright and trademark) that raise totally different issues. It's confusing practice that should be avoided.
If they were really serious, they would demand abolition of the parts of TRIPES (*) that impose drug patents on poor countries. The drug companies lie when they say that they "need" patents to "recoup the cost of developing" life-saving drugs. They spend it more on corrupting doctors, medical journals, scientists and governments — and besides, they focus on developing drugs that mostly healthy rich country inhabitants want to use over and over (like viagra) and not on drugs to cure diseases.
* Trade-Restricting Impediments to Production, Education and Science — a part of the agreement that created the antidemocratic World Trade Organization.
A major drought covers much of India, and people are fighting to get water to drink. If the harvest is bad, they may fight over food. Global warming will make these droughts more common. In addition, it reduces the ice in the Himalayas that feeds the main rivers of India, Pakistan and China. Meanwhile, overpopulation makes it harder for the human population to bear the effects of the droughts that occur. If India does not want its population limited by massive death in drought years, it must greatly reduce the birth rate.
Wendell Potter, former health insurance PR executive, explains how the insurance companies plotted to discredit Michael Moore's film Sicko, and how they write the scripts for their politicians to oppose the establishment of an efficient and effective health care system in the US.
This article that the US government could not have helped knowing that a coup in Honduras was being planned. And that if it had told the generals not to do it, they would have obeyed.
Government documents show UK officials planned to deceive the ministers they worked for about torture practices. This could work as long as the ministers were content to be ignorant. Thus, it does not absolve them of responsibility.
Sarkozy's new anti-sharing law imposes a sentence of 2 years in prison for sharing files. This after a 5-minute trial.
Pentagon documents verify torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and show Rumsfeld is responsible.
I recall also reading that there is specific evidence to hold Bush responsible.
Chavez has cancelled the licenses of over 200 radio stations, almost 40% of the stations in Venezuela, and will require all but foreign channels to interrupt programming to carry his speeches.
I don't think it is right to require stations to carry the president's speeches, beyond the minimum necessary to make them accessible to the citizens — and they already are.
After the US's Afghan allies killed hundreds of Taliban prisoners in 2001, depriving some of food and water, the Bush regime repeatedly discouraged any investigation.
Charles Taylor is going on trial for crimes against humanity. The children his army enslaved find their suffering continues.
US citizens: phone your senators to tell them not to promote GMOs as part of food aid.
I'm not absolutely against genetic engineering under all circumstances. But we cannot trust it without careful testing, and today's megacorporations are more inclined to sweep any problems under the rug.
Support La Quadrature du Net by buying 1000 digits of pi.
My digits are here.
UK judges condemned the defense ministry for telling lies to conceal information from trials, in which former Iraqi prisoners are suing because they were tortured.
Sarah Palin's list of lies is amazingly long for someone who has been in national politics less than a year.
Bush's illegal surveillance (later legalized by Congress) seems to have achieved nothing in terms of national security.
President Sarkozy has is trying to make the HADOPI law costitutional. Instead of punishment with no trial, he will have a judge do 5-minute rush trials. This will provide the formality, though not the substance, of justice. The punishment of those whose networks are used by others is a form of collective responsibility: conscripting one person to keep others in line. Collective responsibility is the typical behavior of tyrants.
The US has deported a former army officer in a former Bolivian dictatorship to Bolivia, where he will face punishment for murdering dissidents.
An expert on Xinjiang explains how the general tyranny of the Chinese government exacerbates Uighur-Han ethnic conflict.
Famous UK authors say they will refuse to get background checks that the government plans to demand before letting them speak in schools.
I would refuse also. I've occasionally given speeches in high schools; I wonder if some day I won't be allowed to do that.
Cell phone tracking is being used by US police, often without court orders.
I'm not unhappy that these murderers were convicted, but government surveillance is not limited to murderers. In the US it is often applied to political dissidents too.
A new form of remote video surveillance airplane: "You never know when you are being watched or followed."
In general, I am in favor of controlling street crime, but increased general surveillance is dangerous too. It is not only criminals who will be "watched or followed" from a distance with this system.
The Honduran coup forces arrested the father of Isis Obed Murillo after he criticized them for killing his son in a protest.
This supports the point of the prominent academics who told the US government that fair elections under the coup regime are impossible.
Neonazi web sites have participants that claim to be in the US military. Army officials don't seem to be very concerned.
Tearyan Brown spent two years in prison awaiting trial for robbery, on absurd evidence, before he was acquitted. During that time he lost his job, and faces homelessness — if he isn't imprisoned for not paying child support.
Debtors' prison was supposed to be abolished by the US Constitution. It has been restored through the subterfuge of defining non-payment as a crime. The same could easily be done for any kind of debt, fully restoring the concept of debtors' prison. My guess is that debt to banks will be the next case to get this special treatment.
US citizens: tell your senators to cut funding for the useless and expensive F-22 fighter plane.
US citizens: call your congresscritter to support the STOCK Act (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) to ban insider trading by congresscritters and lobbyists.
See this for more explanation.
Read Mairead Maguire's open letter to Obama about the occupation of Palestine. Ms Maguire was one of the passengers arrested recently on the Gaza aid boat.
Massachusetts citizens: tell your state representative to oppose laws going against the decriminalization of marijuana. Hearings will be on Tuesday afternoon. Use this to send email. Use this to phone. (A phone call carries more weight than an email.)
Matt Taibbi accuses Goldman Sachs of manipulating market bubbles and then the bailout. Cap-and-trade does not necessarily have to be a bubblemaker. If the government sold concessions, rather than giving them away, they would really cause CO2 reduction, and if the government regulated this market carefully, nobody would able to make a bubble in it. If Taibbi is right, we can count on the US government to neglect its responsibility.
Scientists can't predict how much global warming will raise sea level. As much as 2 meters is plausible, and this would force abandonment of many major coastal cities.
As Obama replays Bush, the US Supreme Court may be the only thing standing in the way of imprisoment without trial. But what will Judge Sotomayor say about it? I hope that Obama has not chosen her for her willingness to crush this right.
Ireland has made it a crime to "cause outrage to religion" — any religion. I wonder if this makes it a crime to advocate abortion rights, or to teach evolution.
Pakistani officials confirm that the UK knew about and colluded in torture.
One way to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, and prevent its acidity from killing all the coral reefs, is to dump lots of lime into the ocean. This is assuming we can make the lime without releasing into the air the CO2 generated in the process.
Honduras' coup-installed government and its business backers are forcing people to participate in demonstrations in support.
The Yes Men seek donations for their next caper.
The G8 reached a climate control agreement, but it is not strong enough and has vague points. China and other countries demand clearer commitments from the rich countries before they agree to major emissions cuts. I think they are right in this, because clearer commitments from the rich countries are needed anyway.
Supporters of new Free Exploitation Treaties say Obama isn't doing enough to get them signed. I hope this is true, but such sighs of despair from business-friendly politicians are the steam escaping from the boiler with which they generate the pressure to put on politicians.
Obama said he wants to pursue Bush's Free Exploitation Treaty with Colombia, and praised Colombian President Horrible, who has been tied to the murderous paramilitary criminal gangs. I would expect any such treaty to impose injustices comparable to those of the DMCA, and perhaps others worse, while undermining democracy in every country that signs it.
Israeli citizens: oppose the biometric database.
A Tehran doctor says that the Iranian regime has covered up killings. I cannot gauge the reliability of these reports of corruption and disagreements within the regime.
Honduran President Zelaya and Micheletti who ousted him have agreed to mediation by Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica.
The UK police had enough information to prosecute Rangzieb Ahmed, but they wanted more. Rather than arrest him, they let him go to Pakistan, asked Pakistan to arrest him, and gave Pakistan a list of questions to torture him to answer.
Obama's speech in Russia criticized the things that are wrong in that country's government, but said Russia is not an enemy. Obama's criticisms of Russian policies are right on target. Also, this confirms my hypothesis that Obama is using the plans for anti-missiles in Eastern Europe as a bargaining chip to get Russian cooperation in regard to Iran. The anti-missiles don't make much sense for defense, but if the plan works as a bargaining chip, I won't criticize that.
Obama's speech in Russia criticized the things that are wrong in that country's government, but said Russia is not an enemy.
Obama's criticisms of Russian policies are right on target. Also, this confirms my hypothesis that Obama is using the plans for anti-missiles in Eastern Europe as a bargaining chip to get Russian cooperation in regard to Iran. The anti-missiles don't make much sense for defense, but if the plan works as a bargaining chip, I won't criticize that.
The UK police had enough information to prosecute Rangzieb Ahmed, but they wanted more. Rather than arrest him, they let him go to Pakistan, asked Pakistan to arrest him, and gave Pakistan a list of questions to torture him to answer.
Honduran President Zelaya and Micheletti who ousted him have agreed to mediation by Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica.
An official UK report condems police practices at protests, but falls short of calling for a ban on "kettling" protestors.
It is interesting that the police simply fabricated the expectation that recent London protests would be violent.
What regulations are needed to prevent more bank failures and bubbles.
When the government of Israel promises to evacuate "illegal settlement outposts" — that is, colonies that even Israel acknowledges are illegal — it plans to do this very slowly, and the plan involves extending another colony first.
By contrast, when Israel decides to force Palestinians out of their homes and give them to Jews, the police raid them in the dark of the night, leave them homeless, and won't let ambulances come to save their lives.
Israel is now planning to evict many other Palestinians in Jerusalem.
When Israel tries to expand the settlements, this contradicts a commitment already made.
Israeli police entered Bil'in at night to arrest Palestinians.
Since Bil'in is a center of nonviolent resistance, those arrested were almost certainly of nothing more (if even that).
We can judge what insurance companies say about health care reform by what they do in order to increase their profits.
US citizens: call for repeal of the law that requires the US military to discharge gays.
Maybe they could enlist fewer right-wing extremists if they did not fire the gays.
Have we put women in a position where it takes courage not to have children?
This pressure seems to be a new problem. In the 70s, some women complained of pressure from their families to have children, but this seems to be something more organized and systematic. The pressure gets support from articles such as this one:
"Our wonderful world was shattered," she said, merely because she could not have another baby. She seems to want a baby the way I once wanted a particular toy, but a disappointment is not a disaster, and the rest of us should not endorse the exaggeration. People in Gaza whose homes were bombed are entitled to say their world was shattered. The hundreds of millions who could be forced to migrate or die, due to global warming and consequent drought and inundation, will be entitled to say their world was shattered.
Each human birth makes harder to prevent their world from being shattered.
See this and click on "The Stork" ogg.
A group of scientists warn that today's CO2 level is enough to destroy coral reefs, which would cause a mass extinction of reef-dwelling species and a loss of food for a billion people.
The Clown regime admitted lying and misleading a court about Iraqi prisoners' claims of torture.
An internal US government report warns that the danger of terrorism from right-wing extremists is increasing.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to support HR 676, for a single-payer health care system. (The bill has 83 cosponsors.)
Honduras closed its main airport to block President Zelaya from returning to the country. (Can someone lend him a helicopter?)
Everyone: sign this petition for a strong climate-protection treaty.
Iraq has banned organized visits to Saddam Hussein's grave. Apparently executing him made him a martyr.
Rangzieb Ahmed, imprisoned in the UK after being tortured in Pakistan, was visited by officials who offered time off his sentence if he would drop his lawsuit claiming UK officials colluded in torturing him.
The US and Russia have agreed on a path towards nuclear disarmament, but it is still not clear they will take a step along the path.
Peaceful protests in Xinjiang turned into violent riots after police tried to crush them. The Chinese response to protests is harsh. Over 1000 Tibetans have been disappeared by the Chinese after the protests there.
Binyam Mohamed's lawyers are trying to protect a photograph that proves he was tortured in Guantanamo, as a US court plans to destroy it.
Americans who think of themselves as Jewish can sign this petition telling Obama they favor bold initiatives for peace rather than the Israeli Hawks' Lobby.
A fervent Christian cult taking over drug-trafficking in Mexico. This can be partially compared with the Taliban in Afganistan. I think that Mexico can only free itself from the devastating effects of the illegal drug trade by legalizing the trade.
Former ministers of several powerful countries call for the US and Russia to take the lead in eliminating all nuclear weapons.
The plan would involve agreement from all countries with nuclear technology
Here is a petition people can sign in favor of this.
The US plans for missile defense systems in Eastern Europe have blocked any disarmament progress.
Maybe Obama is hoping Russia will agree to put more pressure on Iran in exchange for dropping this plan.
This article describes the coup in Honduras and says that the claim that Zelaya wanted to be able to seek reelected comes only from the opposition.
Was the coup in Honduras linked to the US government? There is no specific evidence, but this article argues that it had to be.
Six months after Israel attacked Gaza, people still live in ruins because Israel keeps Gaza under siege.
Other countries should not allow Israel to block humanitarian aid to Gaza. They should deliver it over Israel's objections and dare Israel to try to stop them.
People in Costa Rica live longer and happier lives than people in the US and use, on the average, 1/4 as much resources.
Maliki is accused of moving Iraq towards dictatorship.
In effect, Iraq is returning to the days of Saddam Hussein. The main difference will be that women no longer have equal rights, and the multinational oil companies will get the profit from the oil.
Jammie Thomas, sentenced to pay almost two million dollars for sharing copies of published works — which ought to be legal — will appeal her conviction.
This appeal may be good or bad strategy; it depends on what sort of precedent the appeal is likely to set.
US mass media are saying that Saddam Hussein falsely claimed, in 2000, to have weapons of mass destruction. But that is not what he said.
The reason for this claim is that it would operate to excuse Bush's conquest of Iraq for the oil companies.
In cases that might relate to political issues, jurors need to keep an eye out for the danger that they are being manipulated by keeping them in the dark, and ask themselves, "What is it the judge won't let me know." In one case, jurors were aghast when they found out, after the trial, that the person they had convicted of selling marijuana was selling to sick people under a state license.
The Taliban captured a US soldier in Afghanistan.
It seems misleading to call it "kidnapping" when soldiers capture prisoners from an enemy army, so I won't use that term.
The real issue here is whether the Taliban will treat their prisoner humanely according to the Geneva Conventions. For years, US military officers warned Bush that torturing prisoners could result in retaliation against future captured US soldiers. The US must now shamefully recognize that it has not acted correctly itself and therefore is in a weak position to criticize the Taliban if it does not.
Obama has been strangely weak in opposing the coup in Honduras.
Obama is protecting CIA torturers, but CIA officials are being investigated for destroying evidence of torture. Will Obama protect this crime too?
Multinational companies have bought a tremendous area of farm land in poor countries, enough to endanger their food supplies.
The underlying problem is the government subservience to business promoted by neoliberal economics. In past decades, most governments would simply have forbidden this.
An animal rights activist, convicted of being associated with what used to be considered minor offenses, reports on a new federal prison that keeps the prisoners nearly incommunicado.
The B'liar regime abolished the principle of no double jeopardy. The new power to try a person twice for the same crime has now been used — superfluously — to convict a killer who was being sentenced to life in prison for another crime.
Since the second crime, about which there was no doubt at all, was the occasion for the repeat trial, there was never any possibility that double jeopardy against Mr Celaire would be crucial for justice in Mr Celaire's case. In fact, the effect on him is nil. Instead of one life sentence, double jeopardy gave him two in parallel; but he has only one life to spend behind bars.
Perhaps some day this power will be used to convict a criminal who otherwise would have escaped punishment. Any attack on the rights of the accused will sometimes be used against people who are guilty of gruesome crimes. But it can also be used to turn an innocent person's life into a series of trials.
The founders of the Israeli army gave it high ethical ideals even though it did not always act accordingly. But since it began the occupation of Palestine it has been taken over by religious extremists who are overt bigots.
Change Congress is shaming senators into supporting publicly funded health care even though the insurance companies paid them to oppose it.
Honduras' government has declared an emergency and suspended basic human rights.
One of the articles I previously read said that the "unanimous" vote that named Micheletti president was made "unanimous" by excluding Cesar Ham's party. I would guess that this party is too small to have changed the outcome, but claiming it was "unanimous" based on exclusion of those who would have voted against is dishonest.
More lies by the coup-established rulers are explained here, including the phony resignation letter from Zelaya.
The right wing are condemning Zelaya for having an association with Chavez and say that he has promised to take control of Honduras for Chavez.
Those accusations seem absurd to me, but it seems that the ballots for the non-binding poll were printed in Venezuela after Honduran government agencies refused to do it.
It seems to me that Zelaya ought to have confronted that disobedience by replacing officials rather than by inviting foreign help. However, the mere fact of getting such help does not prove anything was wrong.
It doesn't prove the contrary either. Zelaya said, in exile. that if the constitution were changed to allow a president to be reelected, that would only apply to his successor, not to him. But this may not have been clear all along.
An Indian court has ruled that homosexual sex is not a crime.
After Israel seized the Gaza aid boat, the crew and escorts are now in prison in Israel. At least one may face long term imprisonment.
Wild sheep on a Scottish island are evolving to smaller size, apparently due to warming climate.
Israel has kept Cynthia McKinney and others from the Gaza aid boat in prison after they refused to sign a statement which would have put them in the wrong.
Pharma's phony 'gift' to Health Care Reform
How Hollywood systematically makes lousy movies.
I learned about another systematic cause in a book called "Save the Cat", whose purpose is to explain how to write scripts and sell them to Hollywood. However, without quite intending to, it also explains how the system demands stories that can be fully explained in a few words.
When the movie companies demand more power to control our computers, saying it is needed to keep them going, this is what they want to keep going.
These articles charge that the Saudi government covered up Al Qa'ida's role in the attack on a US base in 1996, putting the blame on Shi'ite dissidents, and FBI director Freeh gave full support to the deception. Later he was hired as a lawyer by Saudi royalty.
Conservatives pretend to support democracy, but they make an exception for the coup in Honduras.
Israeli is stealing boats and nets from Gazan fishermen. On one occasion Israeli navy shot at fishermen and ordered them to jump into the sea.
The fossil fuel lobby undermined the climate bill by harping on what protecting the environment will cost. This question is ignored when the right wing wants something more expensive, such as a war.
What is the cost of cities that are uninhabited, because of unbearable heat, lack of food, a lack of drinking water underground, or a layer of sea water above it?
Faisal Al-Ani was confused but not violent, until the police attacked him. He died from the way they treated him, and then they lied to cover it up.
Exxon still funds front groups to deny global warming.
Remember, the "xx" is pronounced like a hard "ch" in German or "j" in Spanish.
The "defeated" Iranian candidates have denounced the government as illegitimate.
Those who steal elections do not have legitimate governments. This applies in Iran just as it does in the US and Mexico.
As for the demand for the EU to apologize so as to restart nuclear negotiations, this demand shows that Iran has no interested in an agreement, so the negotiations are futile. If Iran is ever interested in an agreement, it will come to the table to discuss one.
It is not a good thing for Iran to have nuclear weapons, but it's not a disaster either. (The the same can be said for several other countries that have them.)
George Monbiot: No one dares study the possible effects of drug legalization.
There is a point that Monbiot did not consider, about decriminalization of use while providing a legal supply to addicts. If most of the total amount of the drug is used by addicts (since one addict uses far more per year than one occasional user), this will probably make the total size of the black market shrink considerably and reduce profits. Many drug sellers will leave the business. Those remaining will have little incentive to give free samples to try to get customers addicted. The result could be a decrease in occasional use of the drug, as well as a decrease in the indirect harms of smuggling it.
Two EPA employees whose field is not climatology wrote a report saying that there is no global warming danger, and the EPA suppressed it.
Their report is ignorant nonsense.
I can see why the EPA would refuse to be associated with this, but gagging them was wrong. They should be allowed to state their views, then used as an example to refute, and disciplined for plagiarism if they did copied without citation from Mr Gregory.
UK protestors that blocked a coal train say they were trying to preventing the deaths that result from coal-based power generation.
Among the forms of polution that coal plants emit is radioactive fallout. The radioisotopes are present in the coal, but harmless as long as they are inside it; burning the coal spews them into the air.
Krugman: climate danger deniers are committing treason against Earth.
Amnesty International concludes Israel committed war crimes in attacking Gaza.
The climate bill, so weak that it is more like an excuse for giveways than a reduction in emission, has divided the environmental movement.
Environmental groups generally achieve more by criticizing bad laws than by signing their name to slightly better laws. That is what they should all do now. If not enough Americans understand the danger we are putting the world in, how do we change that? Endorsing non-solutions does not do it.
Engineers' intolerance for ambiguity makes them more likely to become right-wing extremists (though it is only a tiny fraction of engineers who do so).
Instead of demolishing 20,000 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, Israel now says it will only demolish 6,000.
But these demolitions are continue.
It is a step in the right direction, but it removes just part of one of the many forms of suffering imposed on Palestinians. And Israel could reverse this step at any time too.
The UK now has an Atheist summer camp.
The Bush regime tortured prisoners to death in Bagram.
Obama condemns Bush regime torture, but wants to continue taking prisoners around the world and holding them in Bagram without trial, based on evidence that often amounts to rumor, and sometimes is extracted by torture.
Neocons hope the Iranian regime's suppression of political opposition can give them an excuse to invade.
Invading Iran to establish freedom and democracy would be a good thing if (1) Iranians want this sort of help and (2) we could trust the leaders of the invasion to support and establish freedom and democracy.
Obama is not a full supporter of human rights, but maybe we could trust him to set up a real democracy. However, Iranians do not want their country to be invaded, and I expect they would loyally support their government if it were. That's what they did in the 80s when the US supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran.
The neocons don't have as much influence as they used to. Still, the world is fortunate that the US army is too overloaded to invade any but weak countries at present.
Israeli "settlers" attacked Palestinian villages with guns. The army came and attacked the Palestinians too.
Bush did not exactly win his war, but the people he worked for did win it.
China has backed down on the Green Dam internet filtering program, apparently in response to a lot of opposition. Users would not have been required to run the Green Dam program on their own PCs, but users of cybercafes might well have found they had no way to avoid it. Thus, it would have censored some Chinese users, while leaving many others unaffected. However, the program has managed to crystalize opposition to all the censorship in China.
US citizens: Israel seized the Gaza aid ship "Spirit of Humanity". Call your congressmen and senators demanding they put pressure on Israel to release the ship and let it dock in Gaza.
You can also call these numbers to put pressure directly on the Israeli government.
The Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367
The UK says that national ID cards will be optional, except if you want a passport.
A correction: Cesar Ham was not killed. Rather, he has gone into hiding under threat of arrest for supporting the holding of Zelaya's planned advisory referendum.
It appears that the advisory referendum was specifically about whether
to hold a later plebiscite to authorize a constitutional convention.
It is generally reported that Zelaya's aim was to change the
constitution so he could run for office again, and maybe that was what
he hoped such a convention would do.
See also here.
Ezra Nawi, an Israeli who helps Palestinians' nonviolent resistance to the "settlers" that try to drive them off their land, faces another prison term, apparently framed by biased police.
Keep in mind that the "settlement" whose inhabitants call Nawi a "troublemaker" was illegal from the beginning, and that the overall purpose of these settlements was to create excuses for annexation.
A study predicts 4000 square miles around New Orleans will be submerged by the end of the century, due to global warming combined with dams that reduce sediment.
This appears to use a cautious prediction for how much sea level will rise. If Greenland really starts melting, it could be a lot worse.
India plans to impose national ID cards.
If the idea is to help people by giving them a new form of identification, there is no reason to make it mandatory. So that reason is bogus. This will not help much against guerrilla groups, because when they are fighting nobody can ask them for ID, and when they are not fighting, they look just like everyone else.
I hope that people will fight this plan.
Drug company influence leads to falsification of medical studies and to suppression of those whose results show problems.
The only fix is to greatly reduce private funding of drug research. If the obstacle is the fact that drug companies have more money to spend on research than the Federal Government, why does the obstacle exist?
Because they have too much patent power.
Because of direct-to-consumer drug ads.
Because they corrupt doctors with freebies.
Because they would rather develop palliatives (which you would take over and over) rather than cures (which you only need once).
Because their taxes are too low.
These things can be fixed.
A prisoner in Abu Ghraib suffered, in effect, death through crucifiction.
France is trying to co-opt the new International Renewable Energy Agency to make it support nuclear power.
The US and Egypt are making progress towards a partial peace deal including the PLO, Hamas, and Israel.
Iraqis celebrated the mostly-withdrawal of Bush forces troops from Iraqi cities.
Obama is talking about making an executive order for imprisonment without trial.
The military in Honduras overthrew President Zelaya, who was trying to hold a referendum on whether he ought to be able to run for reelection.
During the coup, the military killed a left-wing presidential candidate, Cesar Ham, who was allied with Zelaya.
Other branches of the Honduran government said the referendum was being done in an unconstitutional manner. However, the referendum did not purport to have any legal effect; it was just a trial balloon asking whether to hold a real plebiscite in November.
I don't know whether the proposed November plebiscite would be constitutional, but this advisory referendum in itself could not have caused any injustice, and it was no excuse for a coup.
US citizens: sign this petition for real reform of the financial markets.
One of the things that appealed to me was the plan to make large banks pay higher insurance premiums, thus encouraging splits rather than mergers. Banks "too big to fail" are too big to be allowed to exist!
Haiti had an election, and Aristide's party boycotted it. Around 1% of the electorate voted.
The election protests have caused a split in Iran's government at all levels.
Fishermen demamd the right to drive bluefin tuna to extinction.
It is insane to allow any fishing of stocks that are dwindling. Several times in the past the estimates for an allowable catch turned out to be overoptimistic. Why gamble with permanent loss for a few years of continued fishing?
Those fishermen will need to change jobs anyway, so let's make them do it now. All trade in bluefin tuna should be banned until the species is healthy again.
Obama is readying an executive order for imprisonment without trial.
Greenpeace condemns the House's climate bill.
Comics artist Mark Sable was arrested by the TSA for carrying the script for a new issue of his comic book. (It is about fictional terrorism.)
The TSA has no business looking at any textual or graphical material the passenger may have, because it is not a weapon. Nobody would get very far trying to hijack a plane by giving a flight attendant paper cuts.
The fact they singled him out shows that this search had nothing to do with concerns for the safety of that flight. Someone was using the TSA as an excuse for a warrantless search.
I forwarded this to an ACLU lawyer I know.
The UN's inquiry into Israel's attack on Gaza is being carried out remotely since Israel has barred the team's entry to Gaza.
US citizens: sign this petition to congressional leaders to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act which denies equality to same-sex marriages.
The ACLU is fighting Pat-Riot act gag orders in court, and the FBI responded secretly with arguments that the ACLU's lawyers are not allowed to see.
I do not trust the FBI to respect human rights, and I don't trust Obama to do so either.
A UK commission including retired high officials warns against anti-terrorist methods, such as control orders and condoning foreign torture, that "subvert the rule of normal law".
I wonder whether the report criticizes laws that also subvert established principles of justice, such as the UK law that makes it a crime to be the object of "reasonable suspicion".
A Brasilian law to legalize squatters in the rainforest seems likely to encourage dangerous deforestation.
Letting squatters own the land they have occupied is often a good thing. But letting them sell it again defeats the purpose — they will only become "landless" once more, and have to occupy another part of the forest.
The real solution is to reduce population growth and help the poor in other ways, while at the same time penalizing anyone owning large amounts of land. This will result in selling already-farmed land to the poor.
An appeals court in Sweden denied a retrial to the Pirate Bay, ruling that the judge's conflict of interest was unimportant.
The copyright lobby's propaganda machine exposed: it creates and funds multiple organizations that cite exaggerated claims from each others' reports.
Exaggerated claims are one part of their system. Propaganda terms, such as calling copying "piracy" and "counterfeiting", and calling copyright "intellectual property", are another part. To repeat those terms without denouncing them as invalid gives the copyright lobby support.
The ACLU asked the UN to investigate the case of Abou Elkassim Britel who the CIA handed over to Morocco for torture. He was tortured
Everyone: participate in protests on Sep 12 against internet surveillance of people who are not criminals.
The Bush regime took prisoners from other countries to Bagram in Afghanistan where were imprisoned for years and tortured. Obama continues to deny these prisoners the chance to see a lawyer.
Sarkozy has proposed to ban women from veiling their faces in France.
I think people should have the right to conceal their faces in public if they wish. In particular, they must have the right to do this when protesting. If they do it because of religious conviction, that too is their right.
However, Muslim women face pressure to conceal their faces, pressure from adherents of a form of fanaticism that can turn violent. Making women hide their faces is an insult which paves the way for worse attacks such as genital mutilation and "honor killing". If some eventually decide to surrender to this pressure, that does not alter the fact that they were more or less coerced. We must search for some way to neutralize and defeat the pressure.
But Sarkozy's response would not help these women. The pressure on them comes mainly from their own families. Trying to "protect" them by prohibiting them from wearing veils will not decrease the pressure or help them resist it. On the contrary, this ban combined with the family pressure to wear a veil could result in their never leaving the house. This would isolate them further from anyone who is not the source of the pressure, and push them further into the trap.
I don't think I know the right solution, but it occurs to me to look for ways to require recent immigrants to spend a substantial amount of time, over a period of weeks or months, in an indoor activity where they get to know people with various lifestyles and views, and in which veils are not allowed. At the same time, women could organize to firmly oppose pressure to hide their faces.
The Shah's militiamen seem to target women protestors specially for killing.
A weak climate bill with giant give-aways to business is all one can expect from the corrupt US political system, where business own's Congress.
Obama is trying hard to pass a climate bill that has already been substantially weakened by business pressure.
Iraqi Kurdistan is asking citizens to vote on claiming terroritory from Iraq, in effect acting as an independent state.
Health insurance companies' goal is to minimize their "medical losses", i.e., the benefits they must pay to their subscribers out of the premiums they get.
I disagree with one point in this article. The fact that insurance companies seek to make a profit is the one main cause of the problem, and the other is the idea that it is acceptable for businesses to seek profit and only profit no matter what the social cost.
The Pentagon says it has learned its lesson and will not describe protests as "low-level terrorism".
The Bush regime repeatedly attacked journalists in Iraq, but didn't admit it. Now a neocon openly calls for war against journalists. Any state that "wins" a dirty war against journalists would possess both the conditions and the inclination to do great evil.
Farid Hilali was tortured in various countries, apparently on instructions from the B'liar regime, then spent the rest of a decade in prison on nebulous terrorism charges.
The censorship-mad Australian government now plans to censor games.
What must be changed in the TSA to make it respect basic civil liberties. I disagree on one point: we must not accept as perpetual and inevitable the pointless security measures now in place. The right of anonymous travel must be restored.
US citizens: sign this petition from Jewish Voices for Peace to make a freeze on construction of its colonies in Palestine a condition of further US aid to Israel. This does not go far enough; the US should demand that Israel agree to hand over the buildings of these "settlements" to Palestine as part of a peace deal. But it goes in the right direction.
A major group of US rabbis has condemned Israel's extension of settlements. Since the purpose of the settlements was to make an excuse for annexation, Israel has no excuse for keeping them at all. It should hand them over to Palestine as part of a peace agreement.
Wendell Potter, former health insurance PR executive, quit his job to campaign for publicly funded health care.
Everyone: sign this call for countries to denounce the repression in Iran.
An Israeli soldier has gone to prison rather than participate in oppressing Palestinians.
He said that the actions of soldiers in his unit reminded him of stories of how antisemites in Russia treated his progenitors.
700 doctors have demanded that Yoram Blachar resign as head of the World Medical Association on grounds that he condoned Israeli doctors' participation in torture of Palestinian prisoners.
Neda Soltan's family was forced to move so neighbors could not talk to them.
I wonder if they are in something tantamount to a prison. That would be the "safest" place for Shah Khamenei to put them.
A security camera proved that undercover cops tried to frame people for a drug deal, but the judge was reluctant to believe what he saw,
The War on Drugs corrupts police and officials. It exposes citizens to the danger of dangerous and violent raids, which have killed people who were raided by mistake. It has given the US the biggest percentage of population in prison of all countries on Earth. It is unjust and must be ended.
Israel's government demonstrates its contempt for peace by proposing sleazy excuses for expansion of its "settlements" (really colonies) on the territory of Palestine.
To speak of "natural growth" of these colonies is an oxymoron since there is nothing natural or legitimate about them. All of the settlements violate international law; their sole purpose was to make it hard to end the occupation.
Israel should hand all of them over to Palestine.
While Israel pleads to excuse houses already illegally built on Palestinian territory, it threatens to demolish Palestinian homes that have existed for a lot longer.
Americans may be amazed to compare the costs of bailing out US banks and investment companies with the cost of various past wars and crises.
Shah Khamenei has forbidden the standard Shi'ite mourning ceremonies for Neda Soltani, who was shot by government forces while attending or watching a protest last week.
Former Scientology leaders who have quit the church say that the leader was frequently and surprisingly violent.
The UK investigation of how B'liar decided to attack Iraq will be held in public, but with a hitch and a loophole.
I fear that the exception for testimony that might "embarrass allies" will be an excuse to conceal precisely the information that is most crucial, since the plan was made together with Bush.
In addition, the testimony will not be given under oath. If Bliar cannot be prosecuted for perjury, he will lie again.
Tell Tom Daschle to stop undermining public funding for health care.
Hospitals in Namibia are sterilizing HIV-positive women without telling them.
There is no excuse for tricking patients, but an explicit requirement for sterilization may be justified. A country which can't afford to provide necessary medical care perhaps ought to require women not to have more babies with a 25% chance of HIV infection each one.
In general, people should be free to do whatever they like, but there are some activities that create a burden society cannot handle, and have to be limited.
The US Army has changed rules for air strikes in Afghanistan in the aim of avoiding more massacres of civilians.
It is the right thing to do, but it may be too little or too late.
Militia death squads are operating in Basra. Most militias are inactive, but waiting to fight again.
If the Iraqi Army does not take sides in these fights, it might offer some hope. But it is mostly Shi'ite, so it may take sides with Shi'ites against Sunnis.
Western companies made the systems that Iran and China use to censor the Internet. Prohibiting such systems might make it harder for countries such as Denmark, Germany, France and Australia to establish censorship.
Bush and B'liar decided privately in January 2003 that they would invade Iraq regardless of whether the UN found any of the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
Massachusetts residents: phone your state representative to oppose the bills intended to reverse the results of the referendum that decriminalized marijuana. You can use this web site to find out your representative's phone number.
Videos show the Shah's militia shooting to death a girl who was watching a protest.
UK doctors are upset that Dignitas, in Switzerland,
helps people commit suicide
even when their suffering might last a long time. These doctors think Dignitas should only help people escape brief suffering.
I agree that anyone helping people commit suicide should first make sure they are aware of all treatment options. It would be a shame if someone rushed into escape through death without trying some treatment that might have made his life worth living.
However, the fact that one person finds meaning in life as a quadruplegic does mot mean others can, or should be forced to try.
The DOD classifies protests as "low-level terrorism."
UK police violently arrested two protestors for photographing a policeman who was hiding his identity by not showing a badge number.
When manuracturers claim that products protect the environment in some way, they are nearly always lying.
A Canadian reporter in Iran describes how police arrested him and beat him. He says that Iranian reporters are in more danger.
Brazil has begun to prosecute companies that have cut down the rainforest to grow cattle.
Shah Khamenei's police have crushed the protests in Iran, by killing ten, injuring dozens, and arresting hundreds or thousands.
With this obvious act of tyranny, the Shah has sown disgust among a large part of the Iranian people.
It often takes more than one uprising to bring down a totalitarian dictator. Four were needed to bring down the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe. Each attempt, even if it does not succeed, is a step towards victory, as the dictator can only hold on by ever-greater oppression, provoking ever greater opposition.
US citizens: sign this petition to the EPA in favor of regulating CO2 emmissions.
The civilians remaining in Swat are suffering from a lack of almost everything, including food. But the Pakistani Army seems to be defeating the Taliban. As long as the government of Pakistan followed a policy of appeasement of the radical Islamists, they continued gaining power. The only way Pakistan could avoid falling to them eventually was to go to out-and-out war against them before it was too late.
Berlusconi's multiple sex scandals are costing him support among right-wing Italians. This makes me wonder whether "starlets" really means "Star, let's". It also reminds me of a pattern common in the US: politicians support nasty policies but nonetheless remain popular, then lose support for private acts that didn't really hurt anyone. I wonder if it relates to partial control of the media. In the US, business mostly controls the media; in Italy, Berlusconi himself controls most of the media. Perhaps this control is sufficient to squelch criticism of bad policies, and only a sex scandal is too exciting for the media to neglect.
As the Clown regime plans to build new nuclear power plants (and has changed laws so that people cannot block them), it lacks enough inspectors to assure safety at the existing plants.
Two million Iraqis are still refugees in neighboring countries. They do not dare go home.
The ACLU has sued the TSA for carrying out searches that are irrelevant to keeping weapons off planes. This is not the only injustice in the TSA's behavior. The arbitrary "no fly list" and the requirement for passengers to identify themselves are also tyranny.
B'liar asked Clown to have a phony investigation into the Iraq war, fearing that a real investigation would expose his complicity. Since Obama does not want an investagation, Americans also depend on the UK to investigate the criminal conspiracy that was used to launch the conquest of Iraq. A real investigation must be able to subpoena anyone whatsoever to give public testimony.
Some of the banks bailed out last year are having great profits now and will pay huge bonuses. They should have to use these profits to pay back their bailouts. Banking practices are the result of government policy and laws. If banks tend to accept too much risk, it is because they expect to be bailed out if they lose the bet. The way to prevent this is for the owners of the bank to lose ownership if they get bailed out.
Al-Maliki says the Bush forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30 as agreed, despite
attacks in cities.
The withdrawal won't be fully honest, because they have gerrymandered the borders of some Iraqi cities to exclude Bush forces bases. Nonetheless, maybe Obama will carry out the promised withdrawal by the end of 2011.
If so, the deaths of a million Iraqis and the expendature of a trillion US dollars will have given Iraq a government which is not clearly better than that of Saddam Hussein.
The fact that the Democratic party has taken over responsibility for the occupation of Iraq, and the one in Afghanistan, has nearly eliminated the anti-war movement.
Since Obama has announced an exit strategy for Iraq, and since two and a half years is not a terribly long time, perhaps there is no need to fight to speed it up. But there is no exit strategy for Afghanistan and no sign of victory either, and the government that the US is supporting is almost as cruel to women as the Taliban.
A massive mobilization of Shah Khamenei's police crushed protests in Tehran, which were smaller than before. I hope the massive protests resume once the Shah relaxes his grip.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset was sentenced to pay almost two million dollars to the music factories for file sharing. I expect that the members of the jury were influenced by propaganda terms such as "piracy" and "intellectual property" and the claims that sharing is "theft". How people frame an issue has a big effect on what conclusions they draw. We must not allow the music factories (which the RIAA works for) and movie companies to shape people's thinking without giving them a fight over it.
The World Bank plans a project to try to prevent the extinction of tigers. I support the goal, but I mistrust the World Bank. Meanwhile, I wonder if the best way to save tigers is to spread information about modern medical remedies. Tiger parts must be getting very expensive by now, and they probably don't really work either.
The Yes Men strike again, reporting that world leaders have signed a strong pact to avert climate disaster.
Will the real leaders do their job?
Uri Avnery: Netanyahu "accepted" the idea of a Palestinian state with 7 preconditions designed to make sure it can't possibly happen.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to support the "Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2009"; also send a message through this page.
And support the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act.
A suspected criminal in the UK has been denied a jury trial based on police statements that might be motivated by revenge.
Obama's package of banking reforms includes more federal oversight of companies that are "too big to fail".
However, what is necessary is to break them up into pieces that are small enough that it would be safe to let them fail.
After Clown was heavily criticized for a secret investigation into how his predecessor decided to attack Iraq, he denies it is a "u-turn" to consider making minor secondary parts of the investigation public.
He's right. To make the investigation anything but a cover-up requires a real u-turn.
Another grave flaw in Clown's plan is that the testimony won't be given under oath, and the investigation won't be able to subpoena people (such as B'liar himself).
The forecast for the UK in 2080 includes frequent temperatures over 40C (104F). And much less water to cool off with.
Obama is using bogus "terrorist" concerns to conceal the location of toxic dumps of coal power plant waste, which present a substantial danger of accidents.
As protests continue in Iran, the regime is arresting hundreds more opposition figures.
Protestors have taken Ahmadinejad's insult, that they are "dirt and dust", and turned it into a badge of pride.
I wish Americans had protested in the streets like this in 2000 when Bush stole the election.
Was Berlusconi involved in paying women to attend parties, or was he just the "end user" of them?
US citizens: sign this petition to repeal the US federal rejection of same-sex marriage.
After complaints that London police were using their power to search anyone — with no specific basis — mainly against non-whites, they set up a quota for whites to search, just to balance it out.
The real injustice in this power is not that the victims are mainly of Asian descent, but that they victims — and nearly all innocent of the crime they were suspected of. This power is unjust in the UK and it is unjust in the US.
B'liar approved a policy that led British agents to collude with foreign torturers.
Shah Khamenei is trying to crush massive protests by arresting and murdering opposition figures, paralleled by censorship.
As Germany plans to censor Internet access, freedom activists have launched a strong campaign of protests, but it has brought out of the woodwork various different interests that want to censor something or other.
Obama's plan for regulating the financial industry does half the job very well, but neglects the other half. Part of what it neglects is to reduce the power of the banks, which are so powerful that they may be able to block even this weak measure.
Support a massive poll in Iran to verify how people actually voted.
Shah Khamenei has arrested some opposition leaders and banned news reporting from the streets.
Iraqi prisoners are on hunger strike to protest torture including rape.
Hamas agrees to coexistance with Israel along the official international border.
Netanyahu will probably respond by insisting on his absurd, impossible conditions. It's not enough to "recognize Israel"; Netanyahu demands recognition "as a Jewish state", meaning recognition of second-class citizenship for Arab citizens. The US has not recognized Israel "as a Jewish state"; I expect that no country has done so.
As Netanyahu announced these impossible conditions, police attacked protestors and journalists on the street outside, seriously injuring some of them.
A few years ago, Israeli peace activists started meeting informally with Hamas peace activists. Israel imprisoned the latter to make sure this could not lead to peace.
The Israeli Army demolished Palestinians' homes, where some have lived since the 1950s, on the grounds that their village is a security threat to an Israeli colony which was illegal in the first place.
The Clown regime refuses to explain the policies by which its agents participatd in interrogation-by-torture.
The stated reason is to save the UK government from the consequences of its wrongdoing.
Tasers give police an excuse for running amok.
Although Netanyahu gave lip service to the idea of a Palestinian state, he demanded absurd conditions before even starting the negotiation. Uri Avnery has explained the difference between "recognizing Israel" (which the US and the PLO have done) and "recognizing Israel as a Jewish state", which would be racist and which no country has done.
Jose Padilla, who was imprisoned as an "enemy combattant" for 3 years and tortured, will be allowed to sue James Yoo for authorizing the torture.
Dalits whose ancestors converted to Christianity centuries ago face constant mistreatment from the other Indian Christians in their village.
President Garcia obtained permission from his masters in Washington to cancel the two laws that he had decreed to allow oil drilling and deforestation in Amazonia. While it is good that Obama is a gentler master than Bush was, Peru deserves to be independent. Peruvians should celebrate June 5 every year as Peru's Dependence Day until Peru is independent once more.
Neo-nazis and other right-wing extremists join the US Army to get training for possible future gang violence. Regulations are supposed to keep those people out, but the recruiters disregard the regulations, because the army is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Avoiding meat one day a week could reduce global warming, since producing meat causes almost 20% of greenhouse gas emission.
Armed militia have killed pro-reform protestors in Teheran. I don't believe that Shah Khamenei seriously intends to count the votes correctly. So the investigation he has agreed to must be intended to sap the strength of the protests for a week.
It is not forbidden to deinstall the Chinese internet-filtering application Green Dam, but it may still have the effect of tightening censorship, especially in Internet cafes, where the users cannot deinstall anything.
Argentina has launched an economic war to try to conquer the Falkland Islands.
The inhabitants of the islands have no relationship with Argentina, and do not want to be conquered.
Greg Palast: stealing oil from poor Indians is a global practice for oil companies.
Some supporting evidence that the Iranian presidential election was stolen.
The movie companies threatened to boycott digital TV if it didn't have DRM built in. It was a bluff.
Businesses always claim that laws they don't like will naturally make them fail, and we'll regrert it. This sort of claim works well as a bluff because occasionally it is true. But it's more often false. When businesses say what they "need", they have every incentive to exaggerate and distort. We must not trust them.
Antonio Castro, son of Fidel, got into an Internet romance with a prankster who pretended to be his type of woman, and in the process demontrated the fancy life of Cuba's ruling elite.
US citizens: phone Eric Garduno of the House Judiciary Committee to oppose the "Design Piracy Prohibition Act", which would establish a sort of copyright for clothing designs.
You can also send a message to Congress through this page, but a phone call has more effect. If you use the page, make sure to remove propaganda terms such as "protection" and "intellectual property" from your message. The second paragraph of their suggested message text legitimizes the general idea of imposing copyright on clothing designs, so I recommend replacing it entirely.
You can find more information in a petition but I don't think anyone should sign that petition, because at the end it describes copying as "piracy".
Clown aims to prevent a thorough public inquiry into why Britain joined the conquest of Iraq.
North Korea has responded to increased sanctions by threatening war.
It would be a gross mistake for the US to act eager for a deal. To give North Korea anything for having made these threats would be a surrender comparable to Ronald Reagan's arms-for-hostages swap.
One response might be to visit North Korean ships on the high seas and give each crew member the opportunity to move to South Korea. If the regime has threatened to punish their families, there is a simple response: "Your family, in the prison which is North Korea, will wish to make a sacrifice so one of its members can escape. Don't let them down by wasting your chance."
300 detectives in Scotland Yard stand accused of charging large luxury expenses to the government.
The University Teachers for Human Rights, in Sri Lanka, describes how the LTTE crushed the human rights of Tamils, and how the government has taken over from them, including discrimination against Tamils as well as attcks on journalists.
The full report.
The Islamic fanatics declared themselves victors in the Iranian presidential election without bothering to count the votes. Khamenei is the new Shah, and little better than the last one. Iranians can state this by marching and chanting "Death to the Shah", reprising the protests that led to the downfall of the previous Shah.
Around the world, the megacorporations are taking natural resources from indigenous people's lands, often by force, often killing them, and often with the backing of the US.
The Clown regime refuses to say how much it harasses photographers, or where it authorizes policemen to search people for no reason.
Lawyers have sued the RIAA to demand return of the hundred million dollars it claims to have taken from music sharers.
An important Iraqi Sunni politician, who was cooperating with Shi'ites in support of human rights for Iraqis, was assassinated just after condemning al-Maliki.
US citizens: sign this petition for immediate release of the US report on the domestic right-wing terrorist threat.
US threats in 1995 made the World Health Organization cancel and bury a study which had found that cocaine was not very dangerous.
China's mandatory censorship software is full of security holes: unintended evil that accompanies the intended evil.
The UN imposed sanctions on North Korea, calling for all states to search North Korean ships for weapons.
A study by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) finds that Israel's occupation of Palestine fully qualifies as colonization and as apartheid, according to the standard definitions.
Everyone: sign this petition to Peru's President Garcia to stop the violence and start talking with protestors.
Israeli politicians are telling Obama, implicitly, "Forget about peace; there's no one in Israel to talk peace with."
Stiglitz warns that the role of the supposedly democratic US in creating the economic crisis could sour parts of the world on democracy. People will only make that mistake if they believe the US has had a functioning democracy. At some point in the 70s, the control of business became almost irresistible. We need to spread the word that it was the corruption of US democracy, by the power of business, which led to the crisis.
China will require censorship malware on PCs (in addition to Windows, which is malware in itself).
What will this imply for computers with GNU/Linux?
US citizens: go to StrengthenIt.org to call for a stronger energy bill and resist the oil and coal companies.
The laws which indigenous Peruvians are protesting were decreed by the president in the name of a treaty with the US.
I admire Alberto Pizango for resisting the empire, but he should not exaggerate by calling the massacre of protestors "genocide". Tyranny and mass murder are bad enough; there is no need to seek a worse name to call them. (Later: someone suggested to me that he may have been talking about the general treatment of indigenous peoples rather than this one event. If so, it was not an exaggeration.)
President Garcia is right to blame foreign agents for this violence. He ought to know, since he is one of them. He is working for Washington, and Washington is working for the multinational companies. Expoitation is their goal, and murder is their frequent tool.
Peru should celebrate June 5 as Dependence Day, the day on which the surrender of its independence became manifest.
Did Obama vote to approve this treaty? If so, he is responsible. Will Obama tell Garcia, "Don't murder for the sake of those companies"? Or will he quietly let the empire's writ be enforced?
The French Constitutional Council vitiated the HADOPI law, the plan to disconnect people from the Internet if they are accused of sharing, on grounds that it is unconstitutional punishment without trial.
The UK Law Lords (comparable to the US Supreme Court) have ruled that those subject to "control orders" restricting their movements and communication must be shown the evidence these are based on, in order to challenge those orders in court.
This is a positive step, but not enough to make the system legitimate. Restricting specific people's activities is punishment, whether you call it that or not; punishing people without convicting them of a crime cannot be excused.
If there is probable cause to suspect these 20 people of planning serious crimes, that is valid grounds for a court to order every kind of surveillance and search, and keep it up for as long as the evidence suggests they are doing so. This will stop them from carrying out the hypothetical crime, if indeed that was their intention, while respecting their rights.
Exxon is still funding global warming denialists, in contradiction to its claim to have ceased.
The American chestnut tree may make a comeback.
As for effects on CO2, that can't hurt, but I don't think we could plant enough chestnut trees to make much of a dent in that problem.
The Obama regime, to cover up Bush regime torture, makes the argument that the greater the abuse, the more important it is to cover it up.
A Japanese man who was tortured into confessing to murder has been freed from prison due to DNA evidence.
Torture is good for extracting confessions if you don't care whether they are true or false.
Peru's army is fighting Indian protestors in Amazonia who object to logging and oil drilling that he unilaterally permitted.
China has tripled its 2020 targets for renewable electric generation, to 15% of total energy generation.
I think this has a second motive of economic stimulus, to use idle capacity and workers for something very much worth doing.
Police in the UK are being investigated for torturing suspects.
The suspects were accused of importing pot; an activity which ought to be legal, just as importation of more dangerous drugs such s alcohol and tobacco must be legal.
The head of Countrywide, a leading actor in the real estate bubble, has been charged with lying to investors about what the company was doing.
US citizens: phone key members of Congress and urge them to vote against the bill which (1) funds the occupation of Iraq, (2) funds the IMF, which imposes cruel cutbacks on poor countries, and (3) covers up torture of prisoners of the US government.
China's excuse for mandatory censorship software is "protecting children", just as in "free" countries.
Poaching by Chinese gangs is going so fast that it can wipe out the rhinos of Zimbabwe in a few years.
Shell Oil has agreed to pay compensation to killed and injured protestors that it apparently paid the Nigerian army to get rid of. This settlement is meant to avoid a trial, at which the facts of Shell's involvement in the killing would become known.
A prisoner from Guantanamo has been put on trial in the US, in a civilian court where he has a chance of a fair trial. May justice be served.
Obama's speech: What does it mean?
The Bush forces have freed a prisoner connected with al-Sadr, hoping an Iraqi militia will free one of its prisoners. The prisoners held by the militia are described as "hostages", which implies there was no legitimate reason to capture them, but that's not necessarily so. Security personnel in Iraq are doing a job that is military in nature. Perhaps the captured programmer is really a hostage.
Obama tried to sneak money to the IMF through a bill for war funds, and is running into trouble.
Bush continues to defend the torture that he ordered.
Sri Lanka has imprisoned doctors who treated wounded Tamil civilians, accusing them of helping the LTTE.
A right-wing radio personality experienced waterboarding and now agrees that it is torture.
The Swedish Pirate Party won a seat in the European Parliament.
20 years ago, millions of Chinese supported protests for democracy until the tyrants crushed them with an act of terrorism.
For the past 20 years, China's government has used economic growth to distract people from the issue of tyranny.
Chinese internet users protested the government censorship by taking their sites down for "Chinese Internet Maintenance Day".
It's interesting to note a common pattern of state-sponsored terror: stopping people from counting the dead. The Bush forces in Iraq have also done everything possible to prevent authoritative figures from existing, so that they can deny what they have done. Sri Lanka is doing the same thing now.
The terrorists want the victims to have a general idea of danger, so that they feel terror, but they want to keep the world in ignorance so as to escape the odium their deeds deserve. Thus, policies that cover up the number of casualties are an indicator of probable mass murder.
The Taliban used a suicide bomber to attack a mosque in a Pakistani town which had resisted them.
Berlusconi regularly uses air force planes to bring starlets to his casting couch.
US health insurance companies have invested lots of money in tobacco companies.
A group of MPs called on the UK to donate more to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change.
I think the donations should go to reducing population growth, because that is crucial in the long term.
Note how it is futile to try to choose our purchases to reduce CO2 emission, because we don't have enough information to make good decisions. What we need is to enable prices to guide our decisions towards less emissions. A hefty tax on CO2 emissions would do it.
Chinese internet censorship and surveillance have been increased in honor of the massacre at Tiananmen Square 20 years ago.
The Conference Board of Canada tried to blame its dishonest report on "piracy" on a staffer who had left 10 months before, and whose last draft did not include the plagiarized material.
Governor Bush told Houston Journalist: If Elected. "I'm Going to Invade Iraq".
The media were scared to publish this because of fear Republicans would call it a lie. As a result, a million Iraqis were killed.
Obama has openly rejected Israel's policy of extending settlements, and criticized other cruelties of the occupation.
I'm favorably impressed. Earlier it looked like he would completely bow down to Israel, but now it seems he just wanted to broach the issue slowly.
Still, he has a long way to if he is to support a just policy that could lead to a peace agreement. For instance, he demands that Hamas accept past agreements, but doesn't demand the same of Israel.
Chinese police have blocked off Tiananmen Square and are keeping journalists out.
New surveillance technology makes it even easier to track and localize people.
I am skeptical that the army can get much use out of these methods in Afghanistan. Locating the tag may work well, but putting a tag on someone in the Taliban is likely to be hard. On the other hand, these methods could be devastatingly effective against dissidents, for any government which seeks to trample their rights.
Michael Moore's recommendations for restructuring GM to do what society needs doing.
Sign the petition to Caterpillar to stop selling bulldozers to Israel.
Israel uses these bulldozers to destroy Palestinian homes, sometimes on short notice, sometimes killing people.
Take action for abortion rights in honor of murdered Dr. Tiller.
Dr. Tiller's abortions saved women's lives.
Ryanair plans to charge passengers a large fee to use the toilet on a plane, and they will have to pay with credit cards.
The arguments Mr O'Leary are irrational. To remove some of the toilets does not require charging to use the remaining one. What will they do if one passenger holds the door for another?
If Ryanair goes ahead with this, male passengers should piss into a cup and hand it to the flight attendant. They can do this without leaving their seats. Women, however, may find this more difficult. They should refuse to fly Ryanair — and so should men.
Will the Senate question General McChrystal about torture under his command?
The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed by illegal farms that send beef products to rich countries.
Obama is openly pressuring Israel to stop extending the settlements on Palestinian land.
Israel has completely frozen construction in the Palestinian parts of Jerusalem, and in parts of the West Bank. It implements this policy in a very firm (and harsh) way. So it cannot claim this cannot be done.
Meanwhile, when the Israeli government removed a settlement "outpost" (built by settlers as an excuse for later expansion), the fanatics protested by attacking Palestinians.
The fanatic who murdered Dr Tiller probably murdered many women with the same shot. He was the only hope (in the US) for many women whose pregnancies had gone very wrong.
The UN Human Rights Council totally endorsed Sri Lanka's treatment of Tamil civilians, including blocking access to the ICRC.
Countries that voted in favor include Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay, Zambia.
Shame on them.
The bankruptcy of GM will cause unnecessary pain and unfairness — for instance, to people who bought cars with defects — and could easily have been avoided. Even worse, although the US will take majority control of GM, Obama has no interest in changing the foolish priorities that landed GM in bankruptcy.
And it is union-busting worse than what Bush wanted to do.
Obama has done nothing to restrain fanatical Christians from taking over the US military.
The band Advance Patrol placed a torrent for their latest album to the Pirate Bay, to rebuke the record companies for citing their music to prosecute the Pirate Bay.
20 years after the massacre of student protestors in Tiananmen Square, China forbids any mention of what happened, trying to force people to forget it.
Obama's plan for GM's bankruptcy would raid workers' pension funds to give some banks 100% of their loans. So who is Obama really working for?
An anti-smoking senator confirmed that Philip Morris co-wrote the current weak tobacco control bill.
Bush told Chirac his planned invasion of Iraq was "willed by God" to "erase" enemy peoples. And Rumsfeld tried to manipulate him with biblical references.
My cartoon about this was meant as a humorous extrapolation from the facts, but it turns out to be almost 100% literal truth.
Obama is helping to prevent inquiry into financial connections between the 9/11 attackers and the Sa'udi royal family.
The Bush family has ties with the Sa'udi royal family, too.
I don't think Obama would give a fig for Bush, but he doesn't want the sort of radical reexamination of US policy that might come from disproving the official story of what happened on 9/11/01.
US officials are trying to control the Lebanese election by threats.
Congress is working on a bill specifically to cover up evidence of Bush regime torture, by overriding the Freedom of Information Act.
Melting permafrost threatens to make a big contribution to global warming starting in a decade or two, and getting worse.
At Latin American commission on drug policy, headed by the former president of Brazil, calls for decriminalizing marijuana and cocaine use.
This does not go far enough. To end the corrosive effects of the War on Drugs, it is necessary to legalize some kind of sale as well. As long as addicts can only get their drugs from outlaws, it will be extremely profitable for outlaws to sell drugs.
The government of India is setting up censorship of news and politics on web sites.
The right-wing Israeli government is attacking democracy and political freedom on a broad front.
Big pharma funding is corrupting a large fraction of cancer research.
In Mogadishu, after Ethiopia ended its US-supported intervention, rival factions fight for control once again.
Cruel Islamic law almost brought peace to Somalia. Thanks to the intervention, Somalia instead has cruel Islamic law and civil war.
As the UK refuses asylum to refugees from the Congo, evidence emerges that one such deportee was tortured there.
North Korea threatened to attack South Korea if its ships are searched for nuclear weapons.
Sugar-free cookies convinced an al Qa'ida prisoner to give useful information.
Obama said that expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine endangers US security -- defying the Israeli hawks' lobby.
Desmond Tutu says that the occupation of Palestine is in some ways worse than apartheid, and that if the world doesn't solve this problem, many other problems can't possibly be solved.
Although Obama said he will withdraw the Bush forces from Iraq by 2011, the army is planning to stay for a decade.
The Tamil civilians imprisoned by Sri Lanka are getting no help in making contact with their family.
A US comic collector will go to prison for owning comics that visually depict sexual abuse of children.
I understand the idea of obscenity. I considered the movie Pulp Fiction revoltingly obscene (for violence, not for sex), and I will try to avoid seeing anything like it ever again. But revulsion for a work cannot justify censoring it. Censorship on the grounds of obscenity is pure, unadulterated evil, and there is nothing more obscene.
A Guatemalan man is facing 10 years in prison for telling friends what he heard people saying about an allegedly corrupt bank.
The Taliban are fighting to hold on to Mingora, and reportedly threatening civilians too.
Classic guerrilla tactics are to melt away when facing a strong conventional army. Their decision to stand and fight could lead to a real defeat.
Jamil Rahman, who was tortured by Bangadeshi captors with the complicity of MI5 agents, is suing the UK's minister in charge.
Tell the DOD to prosecute KBR for deadly inadequate work in Iraq.
Yes, this is not as bad as killing a million Iraqis. But the reason Bush did that is to benefit cronies such as KBR.
The permanent war economy in the US undermines and militarizes every area of life.
Chomsky explains the US' long history of torture. The main change under Bush was that Americans did it directly rather than through proxies.
Chomsky's main point is to show the disparity between US ideals and US conduct. I think we should be careful to fault the conduct and not the ideals.
Israel is systematically persecuting dissidents, sometimes attacking them physically, sometimes framing them on the usual false charges police bring against protestors.
Israel's parliament gave preliminary approval to a law to imprison people for speaking against "Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state" in ways that might "lead to a lack of loyalty".
To stand in favor of this bill is to oppose israel's existence as a democratic state, and will inspire a lack of loyalty to that state in the mind of anyone that upholds human rights. So will all those who speak in favor of the bill be prosecuted if it passes? I doubt it. The bill is meant to censor opposition.
Sri Lanka plans to hold Tamil civilians in prison camps for up to 2 years, blocking aid and causing them to go hungry. It plans to try former rebel soldiers for murder.
Will Sri Lankan soldiers who shot Tamil soldiers or bombarded Tamil civilians be tried?
Israeli police are persistently harassing Israeli Bedouin to force them to move out of their homes.
The Iraqi government is increasingly attacking the Sunni militias that Bush bought off a couple of years ago.
Israel has blocked a team of European judges and lawyers from going to Gaza to investigate accusations of Israeli war crimes.
As long as Israel blocks the investigation, we must hold Israel to be guilty as charged.
Support the campaign to relegalize same-sex marriage in California.
Children in Irish catholic schools were systematically beaten and even raped, through the 90s.
More dishonest drug marketing: Bristol-Myers pays patients to say what a great job its products do, whether it's true or not.
Obama's supreme court justice must above all uphold the bill of rights, which means limiting executive privilege and executive power.
Is Obama likely to appoint such a person?
A UK court ruled that police surveillance practices at protests are illegal.
An Italian court convicted a lawyer of taking a bribe from Berlusconi to tell lies.
Berlusconi cannot be prosecuted for giving the bribe because he adopted a law to give himself immunity. So Italy now has a prime minister who has been estabilshed by a court as corrupt and cannot be punished for it.
Last.fm says it didn't hand over customer data to the record company thugs. Strictly speaking, it wasn't Last.fm, it was CBS.
Don't trust any Internet service for accessing music or video if it requires you do identify yourself.
Smithfield Foods, whose operations provided the breeding ground for swine flu, contracts lots of farmers to raise its pigs. As a result, it avoids responsibility for the illnesses caused by its toxic wastes.
The Bush forces raped teenage prisoners in Abu Ghraib.
Obama, will you prosecute? Or will you keep the videos secret to protect these rapists?
The Bush regime paid bonuses to crony-company KBR for the substandard work that electrocuted soldiers.
The UK's system of cameras that track all car travel is already being used to persecute political opposition.
This system should not be permitted to record information about any car in the absence of a court order obtained based on evidence of a crime. And the person who was tracked must be notified within a reasonable time.
Obama now advocates perpetual imprisonment without trial, on mere suspicion.
Although he says this is for "security", that does not mean security for Americans. Nothing is more dangerous to any country's security than the abolution of human rights.
I thought for a while that Obama was somewhat less evil than Bush, but I no longer believe this. Governments that imprison people without trial are tyranny. Obama is less crazy and less stupid than Bush, and less focused on short term gain. But he is no less evil, and he is just the person to make some of Bush's damage to our rights permanent.
Sri Lanka's army finished defeating the Tamil Tiger army, and the president declared they had "liberated the country from terrorism", though other officials recognize that a military victory can't do that.
A quarter of a million Sri Lankan Tamils are in prison camps, where they are not being given enough food. Aid is being blocked on absurd excuses.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka also faces state-sponsored terrorism, such as the murder of journalists.
Students in the UK walked out of classes, and wore masks, in protest against CCTV in their classroom.
They should protest the fingerprint scanner too, by refusing to use it.
Does anyone know what those masks looked like? I wonder if they were Guy Fawkes masks as in V for Vendetta.
The US is having peace talks with the moderate Taliban.
A few powerful companies are buying up lots of land around the world.
Amory Lovins demonstrates that nuclear electricity generation is obsolete — small renewable generating stations and improvements in efficiency are cheaper and can do the whole job, more safely and more reliably.
Interestingly, he also shows that investors know this, and refuse to invest in building nuclear plants even with tremendous subsidies.
A scientific paper which reported the drug Ecstacy is very dangerous was completely mistaken, its authors admit.
Their experiment was supposed to use Ecstacy but actually used methamphetamine.
Berlusconi has proudly ordered the Italian coast guard to take boat people directly back to Libya without giving them a chance to apply for political asylum.
A human rights lawyer aims to challenge this, but il Ducino does not care much for laws that get in the way of his power.
The US and the Pakistani government are expanding the war against the Taliban, and the US has placed a death and torture squad chief in charge.
Fighting the Taliban is not wrong in and of itself. They are murderous religious fanatics, or at least some of them are. Some have become more moderate, on the Afghan spectrum — no worse than the mysogynist warlords the US is fighting for — and just want the US out of Afghanistan. It would be better to make peace with those, and help them overcome the power of the militants.
If we must fight the Taliban, it has to be done in a way that respects civilians, or it becomes both wrong and futile. It is sad news that the US forces are just as dishonest under Obama about killing lots of civilians as they were under Bush. I can't imagine that McChrystal would honestly admit such killings; if his attitude towards torture is to deny it, he will surely deny that the corpses are civilians.
India has an opportunity now to reduce its hostility with Pakistan by offering humanitarian aid to help the million refugees.
The US congress voted to prevent the closure of Guantanamo prison.
Most of the prisoners never intended terrorism or any crime. They were the victims of lies, followed by the government-can't-admit-mistakes syndrome, and some were tortured into false confessions. The US congress does them wrong when it presumes they are guilty of anything, and it wants to imprison them for the rest of their lives.
The FCC claims the power to raid your home without a warrant if you have a cell phone or a wireless network.
Powers to inspect equipment are tolerable only if they strictly cannot be used to prosecute for anything else.
Petition the WHO to investigate the danger of pig factories.
The International Committee of the Red Cross stopped aid operations in Sri Lanka due to new government restrictions.
Three doctors who treated injured civilians have been arrested, and people fear they will be killed so they cannot talk. I fear they may be tortured.
Binyam Mohammed's attorney says waterboarding is the "tip of the iceberg".
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to demand a strong bill to control greenhouse gas emissions. And sign this petition too.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Merck employees planned to discredit and sabotage the careers of MDs who criticized the company. Merck also bullied the UK government into denying legal aid to people harmed by vioxx.
The proposal for a right-to-repair law illustrates the harm done by proprietary software in cars.
UK employers are using drug tests as an excuse to fire people and cut their unemployment benefits.
There is no reason to suppose that these victims' use of marijuana affected them in any way while they were at work. Such drug testing should be illegal. Companies that are concerned employees might be using drugs (legal or not) which interfere with their job performance should test their performance instead. There are video games designed to do this in a couple of minutes.
The US climate bill seems to be headed for real short-term cuts in CO2 emissions.
But fossil fuel companies spent $44 million in three months to lobby against it.
BP tries to present itself as "responsible" based on spending a tiny percentage of its budget on renewable energy. And it is cutting that.
Israeli activist Ronnie Barkan talks about how Palestinians came to accept him as a real supporter for their nonviolent peace movement — and about fellow protestor Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahma, who was killed by an Israeli soldier while telling soldiers about another injured protestor.
The CCTV cameras installed all around Britain in the name of stopping crime fail to have much effect, except in parking lots.
Danger Mouse will sell blank CDs, telling buyers to download his music and write the CDs themselves.
Nina Paley is going even further by giving away "pre-downloaded" DVD copies of Sita Sings the Blues.
A woman in Montreal was arrested and fined for not holding the handrail on the escalator.
This is not the worst thing that policemen do to act out their hostility. It is not as bad as hitting protestors and injuring them or killing them. But it is still too much.
Sign the petition to tell Congress: don't donate more arms to Israel since it violates the conditions on the arms it has already been given.
Tsvangirai seems to have ceded the battle of wills to Mugabe, who maintains his tyrannical control unchanged in Zimbabwe.
Israeli settlers continue attacking nearby Palestinian villages in an attempt to drive off the inhabitants and take their land.
Burma is putting Aung San Suu Kyi in prison again.
Bad conditions in US factory pig farms enabled the ancestor of today's swine flu to evolve.
And scientists warned 10 years ago that this could happen.
Obama should stop dawdling and nationalize the failed banks.
The New York Supreme Court disagreed with Wisconsin; it ruled that GPS tracking requires a warrant.
US citizens: sign this petition to the senate to establish protections for credit card holders against credit card companies.
Step by step, Obama has undertaken to conceal evidence of the Bush regime's crimes, stating reasons which would support unlimited government dishonesty.
The IRF squads at Guatanamo regularly attack helpless prisoners. They blinded Omar Deghayes by spraying pepper spray into his eyes while holding him down.
These thugs remain active under Obama.
General Miller asked the Iraq Survey Group to use torture to find (i.e., fabricate) evidence of Saddam's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
Although the information in this article is important, the opinion in its first sentence can't be allowed to pass. There is no situation in which torturing prisoners is acceptable, or even effective for finding out the truth. What torture is good for is extracting false confessions.
Israel has turned the Palestinian village of Nuaman into a prison. Its inhabitants have been arrested at times for living there. The aim is ethnic cleansing.
Sri Lanka expelled a journalist who reported on the horrible treatment of Tamil civilians in internment camps.
Uri Avnery: Israel fans the feud between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, presenting the former as collaborators to keep it weak.
Avigdor Lieberman, who believes human rights do not apply to Palestinians, wants a law to prohibit the annual protests about losing their homes when Israel was established in 1948.
Regardless of one's position on the events of 1948, a state that prohibits protests is tyranny.
Almost 370 farms in England are still restricted due to pollution from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Nuclear power is so expensive that no one will invest in it without a tremendous subsidy. But the big companies that build the nukes have been very effective at winning the support of politicians such as Obama for the subsidies they want.
Israelis dump toxic waste in Palestine without precautions, and the Israeli army protects the culprits them from the PA.
This shades off into the general problem of rich countries' selling waste to poor countries, where people who are desperate pick through it for something valuable to recycle. The only full solution is a fairer economy and an end to population growth. But the Israeli case is a special case, since the desperate poverty of Palestinians is as much due to Israeli occupation as to any indigenous factors.
Israel is going to destroy more Arab homes in East Jerusalem.
Obama has broken his promise to release photos of Bush regime torture.
A Sri Lankan bombardment killed around a thousand civilians in the area where the army told the civilians to go to be safe.
For criminal charges against individuals, the rule is "Innocent until proven guilty." That's because it is too easy for the state to falsely accuse. However, for accusations against the state, the rule is "Guilty until investigation permitted."
Given the Sri Lankan government's exclusion of independent journalists from the battle, we must find that government guilty as charged.
On the definition of terrorism, who does it, and why (1998).
The pre-protestors arrested for "planning terrorism" before the G20 meeting were quietly released since there was nothing to charge them with. But the arrests prevented them from protesting.
The Israeli army took Adlah Yasseen hostage to try to make her son surrender.
Everyone: send a message to the Japanese government to use its influence to stop Sri Lanka from bombarding civilians.
Thousands are fleeing the fighting in Swat.
Food is more expensive in Gaza than before the Israeli attack, due to the Israeli siege. Some families are down to one meal a day.
I won't say that the inhabitants of Gaza have absolutely none of the responsibility for this problem. They are having too many children, and that is always asking for trouble. But that is no excuse for the siege, and the siege is the main cause of this hunger.
Palm oil is grown on stolen land in Indonesia to make biodiesel fuel, but it ends up contributing more to global warming than petroleum.
Sign this petition for a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush regime's torture planners.
A blind interpreter, arrested on a plane where he was forced to sit for two hours while it taxied around, says he has nightmares of waking up in cell.
The "security theater" with its accompanying paranoia is often galling, but usually the only substantial harm it does is to the spirit of freedom. As we get worn down and accustomed to obedience, we become more suited to living in a dictatorship than in a free society. But this instance shows that it is liable also to do major harm to individuals.
Note the fundamental injustice of arresting people for criticizing the way they are being treated.
Note also how airline personnel use absurd accusations as a way to distract attention from their mistreatment of the passengers. They are trained to put the passenger in the wrong.
Israel's bombardment of Gaza destroyed 25,000 buildings. Israel's siege does not allow building materials in, so Gazans have to rebuild using mud bricks.
The Electronic Police State collects (or fabricates) tremendous amounts of evidence about nearly everyone, with which it can prosecute any chosen target. This survey rates the US among the worst.
Jesse Ventura: You Give Me a Water Board, Dick Cheney and One Hour, and I'll Have Him Confess to the Sharon Tate Murders.
I disagree with Ventura on one point: I see no virtue in having fought for the US in Vietnam. I don't blame anyone for trying to avoid going to Vietnam to fight to defend a compliant dictatorship against an unfriendly dictatorship. However, when the same person subsequently launches an equally unjust war, equally based on lies, he does open himself to charges of hypocrisy.
The Pentagon commissioned an investigation and report to whitewash the Pentagon Paid Political Propaganda Pundits Program. Then it decided to bury the report and say nothing.
Police in Canada and Scotland are offering large bribes to activists to spy on environmentalist groups.
If activists could offer police money to tell about their plans to sabotage protests and attack protestors, perhaps democracy would be able to protect itself from the police.
While Merck publishes fake medical journals, Pfizer is using another sleazy method to disguise its advertisements for drugs.
The ways to reduce the money these companies can use to gull the public include unified national drug purchase (normal in wealthy countries other than the US), reduced patent powers, and increased taxes. It is established that research into drug effects is untrustworthy when funded by drug manufacturers.
So why let them do it? The government should increase their taxes and fund the research itself.
The French national assembly voted for a law to give the media companies the power to cut off people's internet connections on mere accusation.
The same law will also require people to install non-free software in order to make their networks "secure".
US treatment of the remaining prisoners in Guantanamo contrasts shamefully with the treatment of over 400,000 German prisoners of war.
I think the article is mistaken on one point: it is too late to hope to win the friendship of these prisoners, because the US has shown them too much cruelty already. German prisoners responded well to the US because they were treated decently (as prisoners of war) from the beginning. Someone who has been tortured, or held for years in solitary confinement, will hold a grudge that can't be overcome by ordinary decent treatment. But this grudge is no excuse to continue the injustice which caused the grudge.
These prisoners deserve to be freed or given fair trials.
A Wisconsin court ruled police don't need search warrants to attach tracking devices to anyone's car.
The logic which led to this decision wasn't invented by this court. It is the usual criterion for such questions. This is one of many consequences that show it is inadequate today. If police are allowed to use computers to gather all the information that they might have obtained if they had 500 million policemen watching everyone's public movements all the time, we will have an effective police state.
I wonder if it is illegal for you or me to put a tracking device on someone's car — perhaps the car of Justice Scalia, who thinks the constitution does little to protect people from such tracking.
A Guatemalan lawyer murdered on May 10 recorded a video accusing the president of Guatemala of killing him.
A US air raid in Afghanistan killed over 100 civilians.
Uri Avnery: comparing Iran to Nazi Germany, as the president of Israel did, is trivializing the holocaust.
Although the US government has failed to help many New Orleans refugees get back on their feet, it is repossessing the trailers it gave them, in order to sell them again for very little.
It seems to be a matter of principle for FEMA that its aid be withdrawn at some arbitrary time.
Lake Mead, behind the Hoover Dam, is rapidly emptying despite some conservation measures.
China is now ready for efforts to reduce CO2 emissions now that it sees the US is willing.
The term "intelletual property" in this article is a gratuitously vague way of referring to patents.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter to call for an investigation of whether Israel violated US arms export conditions when attacking Gaza. And send a message through this site.
For legislators, phone calls carry more weight than emails.
Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641, and 888-355-3588.
An MP accused the London police of sending agents provocateurs to incite crowds.
Australian government Internet censorship forced Electronic Frontiers Australia to remove a link to a political web site which is on the censored list.
Here is the article in which the link was deleted.
I think the site linked to is an anti-abortion site. I totally disagree with that position, but we (and governments) must respect the right to express whatever views and present whatever facts.
Elsevier publishes at least six fake scientific journals as advertising for drug companies.
Criticism of the way the Gates foundation spends its money.
A proposed US law would make it a crime to send emails to "cause emotional distress".
US citizens: call your congresscritter to support HR1466 which would eliminate mandatory minimum federal sentence for violating drug laws. Also send a message through this page.
You can also support this bill proposing a commission to consider reducing the US prison population.
Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641, and 888-355-3588.
A photographer on the San Francisco Muni railway was threatened with arrest for taking a photograph.
A new idea for peace in the Middle East: parallel step-by-step concessions by Israel and Iran.
It is a clever idea, but it has a limited window of possibility: until Iran has nuclear weapons. I am sure Netanyahu and Lieberman will reject it unless the US essentially forces it on them, and all they need to do to wreck it is delay.
A recent poll says most Americans favor legalization of marijuana.
A court decision may require the wholesale destruction of records about Guantanamo prisoners' trials, including the prisoners' own letters.
What worries me most is the destruction of the prisoners' letters. There is no criminal case to be made against most of these prisoners. If they are freed, they will be able to tell whatever secrets they know, which mainly means how they were tortured. Of course, Bush wanted to deny them any chance to do this, by holding them incommunicado for the rest of their lives. But if that is no longer the US government's intention, why should they not get their letters back?
The US system of food inspection. is almost ineffective.
An Israeli peace activist says that Israel has launched a war on dissent.
The European Parliament voted to reject the punishment-on-accusation plan of the War on Sharing, but failed to defend net neutrality.
Human Rights Watch says US interrogators tortured 12 prisoners to death and killed 34 others.
Justice Scalia said he thinks privacy rights are unimportant. So teacher assigned his class the project of making a dossier about Scalia.
If Scalia doesn't learn anything from this, others may. I agree that aggregation of available data makes the problem worse. But restricting people from aggregating data that is available to the public is a worse threat to their freedom. So what I propose is to restrict the systematic collection and maintenance of data — for instance, security cameras should be allowed only if the recordings are systematically destroyed in a reasonable time except when there is a court order to preserve the recordings of specific events.
14 workers in Venezuela who protested for back pay face prison sentences of up to 10 years. The company was subsequently nationalized, but that only caused them to lose the support of their union.
Massachusetts citizens: phone your state representative to oppose a law that would criminalize erotic photos of people over age 60.
Not satisfied with imprisoning teenagers who share nude photos of themselves, Massachusetts wants to imprison old people too. Apparently they demand that old people be asexual.
London police search someone on the street without probable cause every 3 minutes.
Given his and Biden's past attitudes towards copyright, Americans should feel very worried about what he will do.
Freedom House has downgraded its rating of press freedom in Israel from Free to Partly Free, due largely to continuing interference with independent journalism in Gaza.
Obama is showing some signs of intention to pressure Israel to make peace.
This is a turn for the better, but Netanyahu is determined to reject peace and continue taking Palestinian land. He may treat gentle pressure as a bluff.
Hamas has stopped firing rockets to support its offer of a ten-year truce on the 1967 borders.
This is not enough for a final peace agreement; for that, Israel would be justified in insisting on recognition of its right to exist as part of such an agreement. But it is enough basis for commencing negotiations.
US citizens: sign this petition to include Public Citizen in Senate hearings about health care reform.
These hearings have so far excluded everyone that favors single-payer funding.
Iraqi prisons continue to be places of torture.
Remember when Bush said the conquest of Iraq had achieved the elimination of Saddam's torture?
The Taliban attacked the police in Swat, sinking the peace agreement with the government of Pakistan.
The killing (almost certainly murder) of a nonviolent protestor in Bil'in comes after the Israeli border police have ignored orders to investigate previous incidents of gratuitous violence.
Nigel Inkster, who was MI6 deputy director when MI6 gave the bogus intelligence report that was used to justify conquering Iraq, says that there were doubts about it at the time, and that the UK was "dragged into war".
It was dragged by Tony B'liar, who would do anything at all for Bush, even kill.
A UN report condemns Israel for 7 attacks on UN facilities in Gaza. It also condemns Palestinian fighters for using "indiscriminate weapons", i.e. rockets, one of which damaged a UN warehouse.
Peace activists protested in the AIPAC conference.
Israel is building a fenced-off "security road" through a Palestinian village, as an excuse to steal its land.
The combination of sugar, salt and fat causes brain changes that crave more of the same.
Indian public schools discriminate cruelly against Dalits, and this bigotry leads many of them stay out of school.
Berlusconi is preemptively smearing his wife, who is divorcing him for associating with other women, so as to protect himself from whatever revelations of dirty dealing may come from her.
I see nothing to criticize if a man (or a woman, if so inclined) associates with pretty, young women — or pretty, young men, or both — or goes to bed with them. I would not reject my lover for having other lovers. I don't believe in exclusivity as a principle or moral obligation in love relationships, and I don't ask for it from those I love.
However, choosing candidates for public office for youth and beauty shows disrespect for the mission of the state.
US citizens: phone your congresscritter in support of closing US tax loopholes for corporations that "locate" themselves in foreign tax havens. Also sign this petition.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Nepal's elected Maoist prime minister has resigned, bringing down the government, after he was blocked from firing the army commander.
The army commander has sabotaged the peace deal that ended the civil war. Obama's decision to call the governing party "terrorist" gave him US support under false pretenses, and thus risks a breakdown of the peace deal and renewed civil war.
A group of businessmen — those being the real rulers of the Clown regime — has joined the opposition to extending Heathrow airport.
Warner Music had Warner Music's postings taken down for "piracy".
I put the word in quotes because it is a propaganda term that we should firmly and consistently reject.
When the Clown regime said it would not directly spy on all internet traffic, it was lying.
Obama has kept the democratically elected Maoist ruling party of Nepal on the "terrorist list". This in effect encourages a military coup.
If the US "terrorist" list is used for political reasons unrelated to terrorism, it is simply a dishonest excuse for sanctions against other states.
Sanctions are sometimes justified, but not dishonest ones.
Arlen Spector has become a Democrat, illustrating how both the Democratic and Republican parties are becoming more right-wing.
If this is what a Democrat is, I am not one.
US citizens: phone your congressman to support the National Security Letters Reform Act introduced by Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Jeff Flake.
But don't call use the word "patriot" to refer to the unjust existing law. In a nation based on human rights, there is nothing more unpatriotic than to undermine them. The law's official name is the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act. If we are to subdivide that acronym with spaces, any way is as valid as any other. I call it the U SAP AT RIOT act.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
Here is more information about the police raids on the Israeli nonmiitarist organization New Profile.
These Israeli organizations have carefully obeyed the Israeli law against urging people to refuse conscription, and expected that they would be allowed continue operating thus. That expectation was based on the supposition that the government would honestly obey its own law in this issue, even though in so many others it does not.
Since I am outside Israel, and safe from this threat of censorship, I can say what any Israeli must fear to say. As long as the Israeli Army's principal mission is the occupation of Palestine, the most heroic thing a young Israeli can do is refuse to enlist.
Abu Dhabi's torturer prince is implicated in 25 more attacks.
The US will be in a better position to insist other countries punish powerful people for torturing if it does so itself. The US must launch an investigation of Bush's personal role in torture to make sure he does not escape justice.
Obama is convinced torture is never useful (which is true), but declined to say it is outright wrong.
The UK dropped its plan to set up a centralized big brother database to track all communications. Instead it will use a decentralized big brother database.
This could be a small step forward, but only if police must get a court order to examine the communications records of specific parties. I cannot tell from this article whether that is the case. If the police can get anything in the database whenever they wish, it gives the citizens no protection.
Human Rights Watch says Mexico fails to act against soldiers that rape and kill civilians.
Tell the US govt to overturn Bush's environmental sabotage regulations.
Merck set up a phony medical research journal and got Elsevier to publish it, so it can give more credibility to its drug marketing.
Petition Obama to nominate a Supreme Court justice that will defend everyone's rights.
The FDA has been corrupted — by Bush, it appears — into helping companies rush medical devices out the door without testing them.
Part of the reason for the corruption of the FDA is making the companies whose products are tested pay for the tests.
A similar policy has corrupted the US patent office and the European patent office: they regard patent applicants as their customers and therefore try to cater to them.
The idea of "making the companies pay" is superficially attractive, but they will pass the price along to their customers. Government safety functions, including research into the effects of drugs, should be funded directly from tax money so as to reduce the influence of the manufacturers.
The UN condemned Israel's steady demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.
Israel's excuse, that the homes violate urban planning rules, is no excuse at all given that the planning policy visibly discriminates against them.
A major Swedish ISP says it will cease to keep IP address records so that it cannot be used to inform on what its customers share.
US citizens: phone key senators to support a single-payer health care system.
Congress has held nearly 20 hearings on health care reform this year, but only one witness has been invited to testify on a single-payer solution. See here for the testimony.
The Capitol Switchboard numbers are 202-224-3121, 888-818-6641 and 888-355-3588.
If the US government intended Israel to get this information, then I agree their activity was not spying. However, whether or not the Israeli hawks' lobby committed a crime, the US needs to break its power, or there will never be peace between Israel and Palestine.
Netanyahu's condition for peace: Palestinians must endorse Israel's delegitimation of its Arab citizens.
When the Clown regime was asked for its legal position about Phorm, a privacy-invading Internet advertising scheme, it asked Phorm what position would please it.
The B'liar/Clown policy towards business is, "Give business as much as the people will let us get away with." This is typical of the governments serve as subalterns for the corporate empire.
Irish university students are protesting plans to make poor students pay tuition fees which will exclude them from education.
When the UK arrests children to be deported, it subjects them to a wide range of gratuitous cruelty, such as giving them just 3 minutes to pack whatever they can.
The government spokesman says we shouldn't be concerned, because they have made "further progress" since that inspection a year ago. Anyone that would describe that cruelty as "progress" obviously is not fit to comment on the matter.
An FBI internal discussion, now published, referred to an executive order signed by Bush himself directly authorizing torture by the military.
No such executive order has been published, and the Bush regime denied there ever was one. But those denials are hardly credible now. Why does Obama continue protecting sadists?
160 women murdered in Kurdistan is a small number, on the scale of the violence that Bush unleashed on Iraq; however, lesser levels of violence — as well as the intimidation of the threat of murder or violence — affect nearly all the women there.
Swiss citizens: vote against biometric passports.
Vote against them for the digital fingerprints. Vote against them for the RFIDs.
The Green Party's report card for on Obama: small change, so far.
The US Chamber of Commerce wants "save the environment" by eliminating the regulations that protect it.
The restrictions those companies object to are the only obstacle to the tremendous harm that they would do.
Transparency means nothing without justice.
Pakistan has gone on the attack against the Taliban everywhere except in Swat, where it made a peace deal. The Taliban claim that this is unfair.
Sri Lanka has gone back to bombing and shelling the thousands of Tamil civilians trapped in the middle of the battle.
The US could easily use unmanned reconnaissance drones to find out and tell us what is really happening, if Obama cared.
Krystian Zimerman, a famous pianist, rebuked Obama in a concert for continuing Bush's plans to station missiles in Poland.
I can't blame Zimerman for deciding not to return to the US. The US practice of taking fingerprints of visitors is enough reason for self-respecting person to refuse.
Israel disregarded a Palestinian peace proposal to launch its attack on Gaza.
Apple has used the DMCA to censor discussion of how to use Apple products to do things Apple does not like.
While we must defend the right to post technical information on the net, the right way to deal with the iScrod and other Apple products is don't have anything to do with them. Apple is as nasty and vicious as Microsoft, and people should think of it as an enemy.
Obama wants to eliminate restrictions on dealing with a Palestinian government that might include Hamas ministers.
The Israeli hawks' lobby is already gearing up to oppose it.
The carbon lobby is using futuristic geoengineering ideas as an excuse for inaction on CO2 emissions.
In the past, a carbon lobby climate change denial group disregarded its own scientific advisors when it claimed there was doubt about whether human activity was causing global warming.
The US is keepimg 25,000 prisoners in long-term solitary confinement, which often causes long-term psychological damage.
Some Iraqis say that Maliki is setting up a dictatorship. They recognize the signs.
They may be opposed to him so they may be exaggerating. Yet this development may be given the violence and people's desire for security, and given the corruption of Iraq.
If this happens, it will be the final absurdity for Bush's supposed gift of freedom and democracy to Iraq. A million Iraqis were killed — to replace one dictator with another? Maybe it's ok if Bush's cronies get the oil?
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