Saturday, September 24, 2005

I refuse to support

An adminstration that condones torture.

3 in 82nd Airborne Say Beating Iraqi Prisoners Was Routine

You, too, Attorney General Alberto "Quaint Geneva Conventions" Gonzales.

In separate statements to the human rights organization, Captain Fishback and two sergeants described systematic abuses of Iraqi prisoners, including beatings, exposure to extremes of hot and cold, stacking in human pyramids and sleep deprivation at Camp Mercury, a forward operating base near Falluja. Falluja was the site of the major uprising against the American-led occupation in April 2004. The report describes the soldiers' positions in the unit, but not their names.
The abuses reportedly took place between September 2003 and April 2004, before and during the investigations into the notorious misconduct at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Senior Pentagon officials initially sought to characterize the scandal there as the work of a rogue group of military police soldiers on the prison's night shift.

He said he had acted under orders from military intelligence personnel to soften up detainees, whom the unit called persons under control, or PUC's, to make them more cooperative during formal interviews.

Interrogators pressed guards to beat up prisoners, and one sergeant recalled watching a particular interrogator who was a former Special Forces soldier beating the detainee himself. "He would always say to us, 'You didn't see anything, right?' " the sergeant said. "And we would always say, 'No, sergeant.' "

Not the acts of 'rogue' soldiers. Systemic.

[Edited Sunday: Human Rights Watch's New Accounts of Torture by U.S. Troops. Download the report in PDF format.]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Record


World Health Organization - Weekly Epidemiological Record e-mail
bulletin service

DISEASE OUTBREAK NEWS Item(s)published on the World Wide Web

Avian influenza - situation in Indonesia - update 31

22 September 2005

The Ministry of Health in Indonesia has today confirmed a further human
case of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza. The case, in an
8-year-old boy, was confirmed as positive for H5N1 infection by a WHO
reference laboratory in Hong Kong. The boy remains in hospital for
observation and treatment. Current investigations in Indonesia have
produced no evidence that the H5N1 virus is spreading easily from person
to person.

Background on avian influenza in Indonesia

Since mid-2003, Indonesia has experienced outbreaks of avian influenza
in its poultry population. Prior to the new case announced today, two
human cases of H5N1 infection in Indonesia have been laboratory
confirmed, one in July and another in September. All three cases have
been investigated by the Indonesia health authorities, with WHO support,
and searches for further cases have been conducted.

As investigations have produced no evidence that the H5N1 virus is
spreading easily from person to person, WHO has not raised its current
level of pandemic alert. WHO will, however, continue to monitor the
situation closely. Given the experience of other H5N1 affected countries
in Asia, the detection of further human cases in Indonesia or elsewhere
would not be surprising.

Laboratory confirmation of cases in Indonesia has led to heightened
public concern, intensified surveillance for further cases, and
strengthened government commitment to contain the disease. As a result,
several patients with respiratory symptoms and a history of possible
exposure to the avian virus are being evaluated as part of ongoing
surveillance efforts. Samples from these patients have also been sent
for analysis by the WHO reference laboratory in Hong Kong.

Overall assessment

In all affected countries, most human cases of H5N1 infection have been
linked to contact with poultry. In a few instances, limited
human-to-human transmission of the virus may have occurred following
close contact with a patient during the acute phase of illness. In all
known instances, such transmission has been limited and has not led to
larger outbreaks in the general community, indicating that the virus
does not spread easily among people at this time.

WHO has sent all countries a document outlining recommended strategic
actions for responding to the avian influenza pandemic threat.
Recommended actions aim to strengthen national preparedness, reduce
opportunities for a pandemic virus to emerge, improve the early warning
system, and accelerate vaccine development.

[snip some listserv specific stuff]

This service is provided by the World Health Organization as a
complement to the web sites and

Carter Says it Was President Gore in 2000, not Bush

Carter says Gore won 2000 election

He also said about FEMA, the agency Carter founded,

When I founded FEMA "we put it together with three specific commitments," Carter remarked. "One, that it would be led [by] highly trained professionals in dealing with disasters. Secondly, that it would be completely independent and not under another agency that would submerge it. And third, that it would be adequately funded."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bush's Suspension of Davis Bacon Act Illegal?


this emergency statute was one of numerous authorities that were rendered dormant by the National Emergencies Act of 1976, and that can only be activated by certain procedural formalities that were absent in this case.
In particular, the President must formally declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act, and he must specify which standby legal authorities he proposes to activate so as to permit congressional restraint of emergency powers.
Strangely, however, President Bush proceeded as if the National Emergencies Act did not exist.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I try to limit my use of "WTF", but WHAT. THE. F?

If this is some import-export bullshit, then my response is, Bush can wave acts to permit wages less than the national minimum due to Katrina, but not this?

EXCLUSIVE: UP IN FLAMES: Tons of British aid donated to help Hurricane Katrina victims to be BURNED by Americans

The FDA has recalled aid from Britain because it has been condemned as unfit for human consumption, despite the fact that these are Nato approved rations of exactly the same type fed to British soldiers in Iraq.

"The Police Start *Shooting* at Us"

Story re: Gretna closure right now on NPR. More than one incident b/w people trying to leave and cops keeping Gretna from being "another Supredome down here".

"Callous racist" accusations - city officials say "reputation blemished" b/c "New Orleans expected us to evacuate their city w/o any prep, notice, or contact". They were "completely unprepared" and not contacted by anyone from New Orleans. Gretna is the first exit after Crescent City, basically.

I'd expect the first time people tried to cross would be sufficient notice, wouldn't you?

However, note that Gretna ferried 5000 evacuees prior to their shutdown (which would also serve as notice, wouldn't it)? Some remark about someone committing arson, too.

Basically, they're saying their responsibility was to *their* people (Gretna, Jefferson's Parish), with the implied corollary that everyone else could take a flying leap. How Christian of them.

Some townspeople support(ed) the closure action, scared of "looting" and "shooting".

Others: "it was the wrong thing to do". People were trying to get across to get to TX.

Sheriff, etc., says would do the same thing again. And ask how long does it take a city to reach the (logistical) limits of its compassion?

New Orleans had a good rebuttal: how were we supposed to escape our drowned city, if you didn't let us through?

I think New Orleans wins the argument on this one.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Abu Ghraib

Records Detail Treatment of Iraqi Captives

Army officers in Iraq told their superiors last year that soldiers often lacked the training to handle detainees, did not always understand what constituted abuse and sometimes used techniques against prisoners that they "remembered from movies," according to military records made public Thursday.
In two incidents described in the reports, bound detainees were shot and killed by soldiers. Although the circumstances were unclear, officers or Army lawyers said afterward that the killings could have been prevented with better training, facilities and understanding by soldiers of the rules of engagement.

Rove, Off the Record

And off his nut, too, apparently. Rove Off The Record

This is the bit I want to tease out from his remark on Cindy Sheehan.

On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...

It's interesting that Rove assumes that anything that doesn't have a politician willing to 'show his face' cannot be a movement. This perspective completely ignores actual people, from whom, just to show off my fancy education for a moment, all mandates, all sovereignty, and all power in the nation flow.

When I Ask if You Could Get Any Lower Than This?

It's not meant as *encouragement*.

Looking for a Corpse to Make a Case: Senators look for a wealthy casualty of Katrina as evidence against the estate tax.

It's been hard. Only a tiny percentage of people are affected by the estate tax—in 2001 only 534 Alabamans were subject to it. And for Hill backers of repeal, that's only part of the problem. Last year, the tax brought in $24.8 billion to the federal government. With Katrina's cost soaring, estate tax opponents need to find a way to make up the potential lost income. For now, getting repeal back on the agenda may depend on [legislation co-author] Apolinsky and his team of estate-sniffing sleuths, who are searching Internet obituaries among other places. Has he found any victims of both the hurricane and the estate tax? "Not yet," Apolinsky says. "But I'm still looking."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Racism, Gretna, and New Orleans

Divinest Sense on The Gretna Bridge Incident (and others)

I also know that the local, state, and federal governments, under the spell of the religious right, the anti-"PC" whiners, the enemies of the welfare state, and yes, the bigots, are ultimately responsible for tacitly, if not blatantly, encouraging this behavior. You will hear a lot of arguments like this:

"We're not racists, we just think that some people are given an advantage in this world that they don't deserve."

Yeah, the people with the undeserved advantage? That's us white people.

And if you believe that "those people" -- those black people -- *like* being on welfare, *like* being so poor and unemployed and trapped in ways that New Orleans and Gretna quickly became a nice pretty metaphor for, then may I suggest you remove your head from your ass with all speed?