e_legs

Archive for October, 2006|Monthly archive page

Mexican President condemns “assassination” of Brad Will

In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Netroots, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, Terrorism, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on October 31, 2006 at 1:03 pm

MSM is still calling it a shootout (there are no guns used on theside of the popular uprising), but they’re referring to Brad’s death as an ‘assassination‘ now. If you doubt the claim that no guns were used, please watch the final, graphic, and painful minutes of Brad’s life – he films his own shooting. I have avoided linking to it until now because it is too difficult for me to watch, but this “shootout” business is just getting to be too much. Please note, when you’re not in a shoot out, you’re simply being shot at.

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) — Mexican federal police, who occupied the southern city of Oaxaca yesterday, will remain “as long as necessary” to establish order after five months of protests, presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said.

Aguilar read a statement from Mexican President Vicente Fox condemning the “assassination” of U.S. journalist Bradley Will. Will, who worked for Indymedia in New York and had entered Mexico on a tourist visa, was killed Oct. 27 during a shootout between protesters and police, the U.S. Embassy said.

For a happier video of Brad, watch this (I recommend skipping to the second song at 3:30 into it).

Advertisements

NY GOP Candidate Finger: Gay Marriage Should be “Compulsory”

In Civil Liberties, Culture jamming, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Freedom of Speech, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Netroots, Progressive Politics, religion & politics, Sexuality, US Politics on October 30, 2006 at 12:53 pm

A libertarian candidate demanding compulsory action. Ya gotta be kiddin’ me…

Making Gay Marriage Compulsory

October 30th, 2006

I’m the Libertarian/Republican candidate for Congress in NY’s 11th Congressional District and I was recently asked my opinion on the subject of gay marriage. I think it should be not only legal but compulsory. I’d like to see those guys get up each morning and apologize just like us straight married guys do. Give us something in common.

Posted by N.Y. GOP/Libertarian Candidate for Congress Steve Finger

UN Says Military Commissions Act May Violate International Treaties

In Civil Liberties, Global War On Terror, Habeas Corpus, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Terrorism, US Politics on October 29, 2006 at 1:15 pm

According to an article released this past week, the UN is raising concern over the Military Commissions Act and its compatibilty with international law.

Washington’s new anti-terrorism law could end up violating international treaties protecting detainees, with some provisions denying suspects the right to a fair trial, a key U.N. rights expert said Friday.

Martin Scheinin, the United Nations’ expert on protecting human rights in the fight against terrorism, said the Military Commissions Act signed into law earlier this month by U.S. President George W. Bush contains provisions “incompatible” with U.S. obligations to adhere to treaties on human rights and humanitarian law.

“One of the most serious aspects of this legislation is the power of the president to declare anyone, including U.S. citizens, without charge as an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ – a term unknown in international humanitarian law,” said Scheinin, a legal expert from Finland.

As a result, he said, those detainees are subject to the jurisdiction of a military commission composed of military officers – rather than a civilian court of law.

He also deplored the denial of the habeas corpus rights of foreigners – including legal, permanent U.S. residents – to challenge the legality of their detention, “in manifest contradiction with” the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty the U.S. ratified in 1992.

Another concern, Scheinin said, is the denial of detainees’ rights to see evidence that could exonerate them if the evidence is deemed classified. That, he said, “severely impedes the right to a fair trial.”

Even though it’s great that the UN is saying this, I’m not expecting much to come of it. I mean, after all, it’s not the first time that the current administration has ignored the opinion of the UN and gone ahead to do what it wants. For some reason the UN seems powerless against the US, and that’s a scary thing. I would also like to know where the UN was a while back, before the signing of the bill. Couldn’t they have spoken up then? Why wait until after it’s signed to make such statements.

“Momma’s Gonna Help Build a Wall”

In Election 2006, International politics, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on October 28, 2006 at 8:50 pm

Thank you, Matt Wuerker, for the great cartoons.

NYC Indymedia Activist Killed by Paramilitaries in Oaxaca

In Misc. on October 27, 2006 at 9:50 pm

I first knew Brad from the FTAA demo in Miami and was incredibly impressed not only with his work down there, but also with his production role in The Miami Model afterwards. He was an acquaintance and colleague to me, but I looked to him as a leader in NYC’s independent media movement. He will be missed as a colleague and role model by me, and as friend and commandante by countless others.

As Kristen Bricker of Narco News writes tonight, “Brad gave his life tonight so that you and I could know the truth. We owe him to act upon it, and to share the risks that he took.”

RIP, Brad.

This, from NYC Indymedia:

Federal Police and Paramilitaries attack the barricades near Oaxaca’s office of justice, in the Calicante municipality. There aresereveal injured and one person dead.

Indymedia New York’s reporter, Will Bradley Roland, was shot in the chest and die before get the hospital, while Oswaldo Ramírez, photographer for Milenio Diario, has also been shot and is injured in the foot.

THIS IS WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR ABOUT BRAD FROM A PERSON WHO WAS THERE WITH HIM:
– He was at the Santa Lucia Barricade

– He was shot from a distance of 30-40 meters right in the pit of the stomach

– They say it was urban paramilitary priistas in plain clothes who shot him

– People then pulled him away to safety; its confirmed that he’s dead; his body is at the red cross in oaxaca

– 3 additional dead (4 total); 1 member of radio universidad was injured, he went to the hospital in a volkswagen cuz no ambulances would ome

Radio APPO steaming now | Live coverage at CML

More on Brad from Narco News. Read it!

Tonight, from the Oaxaca City Morgue, Brad Will shouts “Ya Basta!” – Enough Already! – to the death and suffering imposed (as Brad, a thoughtful and serious anarchist, understood) by an economic system, the capitalist system. His death will be avenged when that system is destroyed. And Brad Will’s ultimate sacrifice exposes the Mexican regime for the brutal authoritarian violence that the Commercial Media hides from the world, and thus speeds the day that justice will come from below and sweep out the regimes of pain and repression that system requires. Brad gave his life tonight so that you and I could know the truth. We owe him to act upon it, and to share the risks that he took. Goodbye, old friend. Your sacrifice will not be in vain.

And these, from Reuters & CNN.

Culture of Corruption, In JPEG Form

In Civil Liberties, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Netroots, Progressive Politics, US Politics on October 27, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Here is a graphic of a DOJ sheet, courtesy of Roll Call (via TPM). I don’t even need to explain it…

Election Decor

In Afghanistan, Civil Liberties, Election 2006, Global War On Terror, Sexuality, Terrorism on October 26, 2006 at 10:43 pm

Some of the Benefits of Immigration

In Immigration, International politics, Labor, Laws & Regulation, US Politics on October 26, 2006 at 10:00 am

Just this morning, Bush signed a bill:

Authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, legislation that has fueled controversy over illegal immigration less than two weeks before crucial midterm elections…

By signing the bill, Bush will give GOP candidates a pre-election platform for asserting they’re tough on illegal immigration. Yet the centerpiece of his immigration policy, a guest worker program, remains stalled in Congress…

Its cost is not known, although a homeland security spending measure the president signed earlier this month makes a $1.2 billion down payment on the project. The money also can be used for access roads, vehicle barriers, lighting, high-tech equipment and other tools to secure the border…

Others have doubts about its effectiveness.

“A fence will slow people down by a minute or two, but if you don’t have the agents to stop them it does no good. We’re not talking about some impenetrable barrier,” T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing Border Patrol agents, said Wednesday.

In light of this, it would be good to look at anohter side of immigration. Amy Taylor over at the DMI blog wrote up a great piece yesterday about some of the ovelooked benefits of immigration.

She says:

High-skilled immigrant workers are crucial to our place as a competitor in the world economy. Since 1990 more than half the U.S. Nobel laureates in the sciences were foreign-born. One in five doctors are foreign-born, along with two of every five medical scientists, one of every five computer specialists, one of every six persons in engineering or science occupations, one of every four astronomers, physicists, chemical, and material scientists, and one of every six biological scientists. Since currently there is no direct route for high-skilled visa holders to stay permanently they may be pulled to other places who are actively recruiting such high-skilled workers. All of this talk of border security does not address how our economy and global competitiveness would be put at risk were we to lose our immigrants.

No one is talking about how we need immigrants to maintain our country’s economic growth either. Our economy relies on immigrants as workers, entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers whose taxes support our schools, hospitals and public services. Immigrants work in every sector of the economy. Immigrant consumers stimulate demand for products produced in our economy. No one is talking about what we would do in this idealized world without immigrants when the baby boom generation retires. Immigrants are, on average, younger and have more children than the native born. We will increasingly rely on them to support our aging population. We need them to keep our Social Security system robust. Immigrants are also crucial consumers in the housing market making up 12% of first-time homebuyers in 2001. Many other industrialized nations are now facing the dilemma of how they will support their own aging populations –but we are “younging” as we age, according to William H. Frey a well-known demographer, and immigrants are to thank for that. While immigrants are told daily to be grateful they are here, we are not hearing about how grateful we should be that they are.

All of this is good to think about. We often talk about immigrants doing jobs in the service industries that Americans don’t want to do, but we rarely think about them doing jobs that Americans can’t do – which is the case more often than one might think. People are so caught up in the image of the “illegal” immigrants and border hopping that they fail to see the more complex sides to the issue.

Obama Inhaled

In Election 2008, The War On Drugs, US Politics on October 25, 2006 at 5:08 pm

Since the last post we made that contained a reference to weed was our most popular ever, I figured it would be worth a try to post this (yes, i stoop low for page hits).

NYtimes reports:

Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat who said Sunday that he was considering running for president in 2008, created a little sunlight on Monday between himself and both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

For one thing, he said that as a youth he had inhaled.

“When I was a kid, I inhaled,” Mr. Obama said here to an audience of magazine editors. “That was the point.”

The direct admission was in contrast to Mr. Clinton’s denial in his 1992 campaign for president that he had smoked marijuana.

“I didn’t inhale,” Mr. Clinton said, cementing the idea that he liked to have things both ways.

Mr. Obama had written in his first book, “Dreams From My Father” (1995), before entering politics, that he had used marijuana and cocaine (“maybe a little blow”). He said he had not tried heroin because he did not like the pusher who was trying to sell it to him.

In an interview here on Monday conducted by David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, at a meeting of the American Society of Magazine Editors, Mr. Obama said he was not making light of the subject.

“It was reflective of the struggles and confusion of a teenage boy,” he said. “Teenage boys are frequently confused.”

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s hit him with the real questions and issues.

Other countries use U.S. as model for prisoner abuse

In Civil Liberties, Global War On Terror, Habeas Corpus, Laws & Regulation, Terrorism, US Politics on October 25, 2006 at 11:31 am

One of the key criticisms I heard about the Military Commissions Act and the U.S. treatment of prisoners in the weeks leading up to the signing of the act was that by allowing such actions, we are setting an example for the rest of the world. Given that we treat prisoners in such a way, what happens when a U.S. soldier, a U.S. citizen, or anyone else is labelled as an “enemy combatant,” captured by a foreign government, and tortured? How can we possibly criticize them for it, given that we do the same thing?

When I first heard that criticism, it was offered as a hypothetical situation. But yesterday, a report was published by Reuters that explained how other countries have in fact been citing the U.S. as an excuse/inspiration/model for their treatment of prisoners.

Some countries try to refute criticism over their treatment of prisoners by saying they are only following the U.S. example on handling terror suspects, a U.N. human rights expert said on Monday.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. investigator on torture, told a news conference that “all too frequently” governments respond to criticism about their jails by saying they handled detainees the same way the United States did.

“The United States has been the pioneer of human rights and is a country that has a high reputation in the world,” Nowak said. “Today, other governments are kind of saying, ‘But why are you criticizing us, we are not doing something different than what the United States is doing.'”

He said nations like Jordan tell him, “We are collaborating with the United States so it can’t be wrong if it is also done by the United States.”

Nowak, along with other U.N. human rights officials, has criticized U.S. policies against terror suspects, including secret jails, harsh treatment and the lack of due process. He turned down a visit to Guantanamo Bay because he could not interview detainees and prison officials in private.

He has argued that if there is evidence against detainees, after years in jail, it should be presented to the usually “efficient” and fair civilian courts rather than military tribunals.

Nowak, an Austrian law professor, said the new U.S. law adopted earlier this month, which outlaws rape and most forms of torture, still allows harsh interrogation methods rights advocates say border on torture. And it does not permit appeals in U.S. federal court…

The Real Reason for The Military Commisions Act, and The Act Challenged

In Civil Liberties, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Habeas Corpus, International politics, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, US Politics on October 25, 2006 at 1:11 am

From the Jurist on October 17th:

The military commissions bill became necessary after the US Supreme Court ruled in June that the commissions, as initially constituted, lacked proper legal authorization. The law provides statutory authorization for military commission trials for Guantanamo Bay and the Bush administration has promised to immediately take steps toward beginning prosecution.

From the Jurist on June 29th:

Wire services are reporting that the US Supreme Court has ruled that military commissions at Guantanamo Bay are illegal under military law and the Geneva Conventions, holding in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that President Bush did not have authority to establish the commissions as constituted.

A minor update, from the Oct 17th article:

A legal challenge to the law has already been filed by a group of Afghan detainees who argue that Congress, by passing the bill, endangered the rights of detainees. The habeas stripping provisions of the new law apply retroactively, and in order for the detainees to be successful, a judge will have to strike down the portion of the new law that precludes the challenges.

LA’s Homeless Are Like LA’s Old Nikes

In Children and Youth, Civil Liberties, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Housing, International politics, International Public Health, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Netroots, Progressive Politics, Race, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on October 24, 2006 at 10:45 pm

I hate the terminology used in these stories. They discuss the “dumping” of the homeless.

The frame gets across the mentality of those doing the “dumping,” though, and that may be for the best. Those doing the dumping see these people the same way Nike sees their unsold extra shoes — expendable goods that should be dumped into undesireable locations at the going rate.

Los Angeles police have launched a criminal investigation into the dumping of homeless people on a rundown area in the city after ambulances were spotted dropping off discharged hospital patients there. The practice had long been suspected but police say they now have evidence, releasing pictures and video to the media on Tuesday of five hospital patients being left in the downtown area commonly known as skid row. “We cannot allow the dumping of the most needy … into that environment, and shame on those who do,” Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton told reporters on Tuesday…

The investigation will focus on possible violations of federal laws that require medical facilities to screen and stabilize patients before releasing them. It comes as Los Angeles city council seeks a compromise on a policy that attempted to ban people from sitting, lying or sleeping on the streets. It was ruled unconstitutional in April on the grounds of cruel and unusual punishment.

Interview with a Professor of Constitutional Law

In Civil Liberties, Culture of Corruption, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Habeas Corpus, International politics, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, Misc., US Politics on October 24, 2006 at 7:07 pm

Another key clip from Keith Olberman’s show. He interviews a Professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington U. This man has a lot to say about what is going on, and he adds depth of insight rarely found in the media. The interview begins after Olberman’s introductory reporting on the Oct. 17th signing of the Military Commissions Act.

Habeas Corpus: Let’s start with the basics

In Civil Liberties, Global War On Terror, Habeas Corpus, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Terrorism on October 24, 2006 at 2:19 pm

We have decided to have habeas corpus and the Military Commissions Act become an ongoing theme over the next month, so I figure we should start it off with the basics. Below is some basic background information followed by some ranting:

What is habeas corpus? What does it mean? Many of us hear the phrase thrown around and many of us have used it without truly knowing the history of it. Since Lift While Climbing has decided to focus on posts involving habeas corpus over the next month, I thought the best way to start off would be to go straight to the origins of the phrase – what does it mean and where does it come from?

According to Wikipedia,

In common law countries, habeas corpus (/’heɪbiəs ‘kɔɹpəs/), Latin for “you [should] have the body”, is the name of a legal instrument or writ by means of which detainees can seek release from unlawful imprisonment. A writ of habeas corpus is a court order addressed to a prison official (or other custodian) ordering that a detainee be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he or she should be released from custody. The writ of habeas corpus in common law countries is an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action.

In the United States, way back when the original laws were being written (i.e. the Constitution), it was decided that habeas coprus would be a principal foundation of this country. It became something that represented America and something that Americans stood for.

Ever heard of due process, right to a fair trial, innocent until proven guitly, right to appeal, or the Geneva conventions? Those things are all tied to habeas corpus, but now all of that is down the drain due to the Military Commissions Act being signed.

Check out some of the criticisms of the act from Wikipedia:

A number of legal scholars and Congressional members – including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) – have said that the habeas provision of the Act violates a clause of the Constitution that says the right to challenge detention “shall not be suspended” except in cases of “rebellion or invasion.”[18]

The Act has also been denounced by critics who assert that its wording makes possible the permanent detention and torture (as defined by the Geneva Conventions) of anyone – including American citizens – based solely on the decision of the President.[19] Indeed, the wording of section 948b[20] of the act appears to explicitly contradict the Third Geneva Convention of which the United States is currently a signatory, however as long as the Act is not used when dealing with a country or countries that have also signed the conventions, the Geneva Conventions do not hold any weight.

In the House debate, Representative David Wu of Oregon offered this scenario:

Let us say that my wife, who is here in the gallery with us tonight, a sixth generation Oregonian, is walking by the friendly, local military base and is picked up as an unlawful enemy combatant. What is her recourse? She says, I am a U.S. citizen. That is a jurisdictional fact under this statute, and she will not have recourse to the courts? She can take it to Donald Rumsfeld, but she cannot take it across the street to an article 3 court.[21]

One has described the Act as “the legalization of the José Padilla treatment” – referring to the American citizen who was declared an unlawful enemy combatant and then imprisoned for three years before finally being charged with a lesser crime than was originally alleged.[22] A legal brief filed on Padilla’s behalf alleges that during this time he was subjected to sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, and enforced stress positions.[23]

Amnesty International said that the Act “contravenes human rights principles.”[24] An editorial in The New York Times described the Act as “a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.”[25]

American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said, “The president can now, with the approval of Congress, indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorize trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions.” [26]

The law has also been criticized for allegedly giving a retroactive, nine-year immunity to U.S. officials who authorized, ordered, or committed potential acts of abuse on detainees.[27]

Unfortuneately, in this country, the possibility of Hillary Clinton having plastic surgery in the past is bigger news than the death of one of the principles the country itself was founded on. Most people probably don’t even realize that she has spoken out against the act, but they do realize that she’s challenging the alleged attacks on her looks as a teenager. The death of habeas corpus should be big news everyday, hands down.

Thank God for Keith Olbermann.  Also, thank God that we have places like youtube where we can watch videos made by people at home.  One good example is the one below where students filmed themselves protesting the Military Commisions Act and used the footage to remix the video for “American Idiot” by Green Day. I’d like to officially call out to all young people: follow their lead and make videos, art, music about this. Spread it on the net. Take media into your own hands!

Not the half of it

In Misc. on October 23, 2006 at 8:38 pm


I like this comic, but I can’t laugh at it right now – at a moment when so much more than world opinon is at stake. It would have been funnier before the administration pushed through legislation that damages the right to challenge inprisionment, demand trial, and appeal to the judgment of peers, and individuals trained in the law. World Opinon seems like a trivial matter after the events of last week. Though, I admit, prior to that it seemed to be the most essential thing we were ruining.

We will all be posting frequently on the subject of Habeus Corpus for the next month.  Hopefully, we’ll gain a really good undertanding of what it is, and what is being lost in recent legislation.

Americans not scared/angry enough.

In Misc. on October 21, 2006 at 6:19 pm

Keith Olberman trying to rouse us. He says Habeus Corpus is the fundamental liberty from which all other freedoms spring, and that well is drying up. When will we get mad?

The Military Commissions Act and Bush’s history of prisoner treatment

In Children and Youth, Civil Liberties, Global War On Terror, Immigration, Laws & Regulation, Race, Terrorism, US Politics on October 21, 2006 at 11:02 am

I was doing a little searching on the topic of the Military Commissions Act and found a great piece by Heather Wokusch at the Guerilla News Network.  I decided to repost the entire article below:

What the Military Commissions Act of 2006 means for you

Now that you could be labeled an enemy combatant…

Since Congress recently handed Bush the power to identify American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” and detain them indefinitely without charge, it’s worth examining the administration’s record of prisoner abuse as well as the building of stateside detention centers.

As Texas governor (from 1995-2000) Bush oversaw the executions of 152 prisoners, and thus became the most-killing governor in the history of the United States. Ethnic minorities, many of whom did not have access to proper legal representation, comprised a large percentage of those Bush put to death, and in one particularly egregious example, Bush executed an immigrant who hadn’t even seen a consular official from his own country (as is required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which the U.S. was a signatory). Bush’s explanation: “Texas did not sign the Vienna Convention, so why should we be subject to it?”

Governor Bush also flouted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by choosing to execute juvenile offenders, a practice shared at the time only by Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Significantly, in 1998 a full 92% of the juvenile offenders on Bush’s death row were ethnic minorities.

Conditions inside Texan prisons during Bush’s reign were so notorious that federal Judge William Wayne Justice wrote, “Many inmates credibly testified to the existence of violence, rape and extortion in the prison system and about their own suffering from such abysmal conditions.”

In September 1996, for example, a videotaped raid on inmates at a county jail in Texas showed guards using stun guns and an attack dog on prisoners, who were later dragged face-down back to their cells.

Funding of mental health programs during Bush’s reign was so poor that Texan prisons had a sizeable number of mentally-impaired inmates; defying international human rights standards, these inmates ended up on death row. For instance, a prisoner named Emile Duhamel, with severe psychological disabilities and an IQ of 56, died in his Texan death-row jail cell in July 1998. Authorities blamed “natural causes” but a lack of air conditioning in cells that topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a summer heat wave may have killed Duhamel instead. How many other Texan prisoners died of such neglect during Bush’s governorship is unclear.

As president, Bush presides over a prison population topping two million people, giving America the dubious distinction of having a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country. When considering that (based on 2003 figures) the US has three times more prisoners per capita than Iran and seven times more than Germany, the nation looks more like a Gulag than the Land of the Free.

The White House has also stifled investigation into the roughly 760 aliens (mainly Muslim men) the U.S. government rounded up post-9/11, ostensibly for immigration violations. Amnesty International reports that 9/11 detainees have suffered “a pattern of physical and verbal abuse by some corrections officers” and a denial of “basic human rights.”

Then of course, there’s Guantanamo, where the U.S. is holding hundreds of detainees in top secrecy and without access to courts, legal counsel or family visits. Add to that the thousands of Afghans and Iraqis the U.S. has imprisoned (including a large percentage of innocent civilians) and countless U.S. secret prisons across the globe, and it looks as if incarceration is the nation’s best export.

While Abu Ghraib may have left administration officials falling over themselves with protestations of compassion, it’s worth remembering that the Bush White House has fought hard against the International Convention Against Torture, especially a proposal to establish voluntary inspections of prisons and detention centers in signatory countries, such as the United States.

Put it all together, and last week’s passage of the Military Commissions Act is ominous for those in the U.S. As Bruce Ackerman noted recently in The Los Angeles Times, the legislation “authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any protections of the Bill of Rights.” The vague criteria for being labeled an enemy combatant (taking part in “hostilities against the United States”) don’t help either. Would that include anti-war protestors? People who criticize Bush? Unclear.

In 2002, former Attorney General John Ashcroft called for the indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens he considered to be “enemy combatants,” and while widely criticized at the time, Congress went ahead and fulfilled Ashcroft’s nefarious vision last week. Ashcroft had also called for stateside internment camps, and accordingly, in January 2006 the U.S. government awarded a Halliburton subsidiary $385 million to build detention centers to be used for, “an unexpected influx of immigrants or to house people after a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.” New programs that require additional detention space. Hmm.

The disgraceful Military Commissions Act and the building of domestic internment camps are yet more examples of blowback from the administration’s so-called war on terror, and we ignore these increasing assaults on our civil liberties at our own peril.

Action Ideas:

1. Read the Military Commissions Act of 2006 for yourself here: Find out how your congressmembers voted on this legislation, and raise the topic when they ask for your vote this November.

2. For more information on U.S. prisoner abuse, check out BBC’s report from 2005 entitled “Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons.” Text and video versions are archived here. You can learn more about U.S. prisoner’s rights from the American Civil Liberties Union.

3. To take action regarding “the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror,“ visit Cageprisoners.com.

GNN contributor Heather Wokusch is the author of The Progressives’ Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now (Volumes 1 and 2). Heather can be reached at www.heatherwokusch.com.

I strongly recommend clicking on some of the links in the article, in particular the one to Amnesty International’s article on the death penalty in Texas. While I had heard of some of this stuff before, it’s worse than I thought. Something must be done to put a stop to this madness.

New Clint Eastwood movie is historicaly (and racially) inaccurate

In Media Criticism, Race on October 21, 2006 at 10:47 am

The Guardian reports that “Nearly 900 African-Americans fought on the Japanese island [Iwo Jima] but not one appears in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-tipped film.” The film is called Flags of Our Fathers.

Read the story here

The portrayal in Clint Eastwood's film, Flags of Our Fathers, of the raising of the US flag on Iwo Jima.

McCain: “I’d just commit suicide” if Democrats take control of Senate

In Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Freedom of Speech, International politics, Netroots, Progressive Politics, US Politics on October 19, 2006 at 12:49 am

That’s all she wrote.

Bob Harris: Drunken Mob Killed Irony in 2002

In Civil Liberties, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Netroots, Progressive Politics, Technology, US Politics on October 18, 2006 at 10:26 pm

Bob Harris from This Modern World wrote, “I am starting to think that irony got killed by a drunken mob in a bar fight sometime around 2002. Would explain a lot.”