Tuesday, January 31, 2006

From Democracy Now! today:
During the last three months of 2005 the oil giant [Exxon] made over $1,300 every second or nearly $5 million every hour.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Teflon is killing us - why should the EPA wait until 2015 to regulate it?

Today's paper found on the Metra? Chicago Tribune, Jan 26 2006.

As I've noted before (here and here), Teflon and its key chemical component Perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA) is potentially extremely harmful. According to yet another great article by the Trib's environment reporter, Michael Hawthorne, the EPA seeks to eventually regulate PFOA in the same class of persistent and toxic chemicals as mercury, lead and PCBs.

DuPont, the developer, patent holder and sole manufacturer of the chemical claims there is no harmful effects on humans, animals or the environment from the chemical.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

U.S. lying about torture in Uzbekistan

I have shocking news for you. The U.S. and British Governments are lying to you. Aren't you shocked!

Thanks to yet another whistleblower former government official who is helping expose this illegal government lying, we have yet more evidence and examples.

In this case, the whistleblower is Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. See Ambassador Murray here on DemocracyNow! this week.

He has published various documents proving that the U.S. and British governments are lying about their statements about their use of or complicity in torture.

He has published these documents [npaper.jpg and telegrams.pdf] which I am republishing from my website to help get the word out about these blatant government lies.

See http://www.blairwatch.co.uk/node/716 for more detailed information about this story.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Switching to the Greens and is Chicago Mean?

Chicago is the 12th meanest city for homeless persons according to an advocacy group.

And from the Daily Kos blog site, here is one person's interesting internal political battle; stay with the corporate-wed Democratic Party or join, by moral necessity, the political fringe 'outside' the party.

There are other stories about why some have moved from the Democratic Party to the Green Party at iswitched.org.

Finally, here's one of my favorite articles from Z magazine describing political strategy for progressives in the united states. In it, the author speculates what the political landscape would be like in the U.S. if it were to become a true multi-party system:

...the current Republican Party would be rendered politically marginal and garner at most 10-15% of the vote, the current Democratic Party would be seen for what it is (a center-right party) and obtain perhaps 25%, there would emerge a new center-left Democratic Party with maybe another 25-30%, a party to its left (the Greens?) would receive another 25%, and a party to its left would gain perhaps 10%.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Post/ABC poll: Over 70% of Americans also say they don't see much difference in the levels of ethics and honesty between Republicans and Democrats.

Another stellar day for Democracy now. Just about every headline is unbelievable (See here). My highlights:

  • Award-Winning Iraqi Journalist Arrested by US Troops

  • Study: Iraq War Cost Could Reach $2 Trillion

  • Bremer Criticizes Pentagon, Governing Council in New Memoirs

  • Brits Who Disclosed Al Jazeera Memo Back in Court

  • Democracy Now! Headlines for January 10, 2006: "Poll: 58% See Abramoff Scandal As Part of Wider Corruption
    And a new Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows 58% of US citizens believe Abramoff's criminal case is evidence of widespread corruption in Washington rather than a limited individual case. Over 70% of Americans also say they don't see much difference in the levels of ethics and honesty between Republicans and Democrats. "

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    Last Monday, the U.S. military in Iraq bombed the wrong house: CNN.com - U.S. says bomb hit wrong house in Iraq - Jan 5, 2006

    Okay, that's it. I'm in favor of a constitutional amendment to limit the executive's powers. More on that later, as well as my ideas for other constitutional amendments such as taking away corporate personhood (where thanks to supreme court precedence, corporations are legally people with almost the name rights as natural persons.

    Also, Bush decided that he could waive McCain's new anti-terrorism law (article).

    "But, the official said, a situation could arise in which Bush may have to waive the law's restrictions to carry out his responsibilities to protect national security. He cited as an example a ''ticking time bomb" scenario, in which a detainee is believed to have information that could prevent a planned terrorist attack."

    What do you think of this argument? I think it is ridiculous because I believe with all the other powers available to the government for search and seizure for cause, any information that would be gained through torture should be already available through other search means. And even if it is not, putting aside any moral issues with torture, then as is almost universally acknowledged, torture is unlikely to produce correct or usable information anyway.

    As McCain says: when you're being tortured, you'll say anything you think your torturers will want to hear to make the pain stop.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Is Waterboarding Torture?

    Do you think the United States Government's procedure of 'Waterboarding' people in its custody is torture?

    According to a December 28, 2005 Tribune back pages article, waterboarding is:

    The subject is strapped to a board and tilted so his head is lower than his feet. A cloth is tied over his nose and mouth and saturated with water, eventually making it impossible for him to breathe.

    When used in the field, the technique is less elaborate but no less effective. No board, for example, is involved; the suspect is simply held down.

    "You just pull the guy's T-shirt over his face and dump a canteen of water on his head," said the SEAL, who spoke on condition that he not be identified and who emphasized that he had never used the technique during a real interrogation.

    Waterboarding has been described as "the illusion of drowning." In fact, there is no illusion; if interrogators didn't stop, the subject would drown.

    "Inhaling even a small amount of water causes the body to close the glottis and violently cough to remove the offending substance," said the SEAL, who is also trained as a Navy hospital corpsman.

    "This entire process initiates the fight-or-flight response in the sympathetic nervous system, causing the person to involuntarily raise their heart rate, respiratory rate, and flail and writhe in an effort to break free from the situation.

    "This reaction is even more pronounced when the subject is lying on his back with feet elevated and head down. This is due to the fact that the nostrils serve as a catch basin for small, but significant nonetheless, amounts of water."

    Because the water prevents air from entering the nose and mouth, and therefore the lungs, the supply of oxygen available for metabolic functions is exhausted within seconds.

    "After performing this on a target for 30 seconds and then stopping the flow of water, the sense of relief and then the realization that this is but a brief respite are extremely powerful motivators for the subject to cooperate in the interrogation," the SEAL said.

    Practice seen in training

    Waterboarding experienced in training, he added, "is instantly effective on 100 percent of Navy SEALs, a group which is probably more comfortable in adverse maritime swimming conditions than any other on the planet."

    "In my case, I wasn't even held down. My teammate simply poured a canteen of water over my face while I had my T-shirt pulled over my head. Instantly, my ability to breathe through the T-shirt was taken away and my natural reaction to inhale deeply through my mouth and nose for air caused me to take on small amounts of water."

    Waterboarding is also effective, the SEAL said, because the subject realizes that "there are no enduring physiological consequences, which he intuitively knows. This is important psychologically, because he can legitimately hope that he will be able to live on normally after the experience, if only he cooperates.

    "Breaking kneecaps and pulling out fingernails does not hold this promise. The fact that the target has a chance to remain fully whole makes him more likely to be truthful and to break more quickly."

    What does the Bush Administration have to say about this procedure according to the article?:

    Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales recently told CNN that "Congress has defined what torture is, and it is intentional infliction of severe--I emphasize the word `severe'--intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering."

    Asked whether "waterboarding" would be allowed under that definition, Gonzales replied that "that would be something that would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis."

    To me, waterboarding is torture.

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