Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hidden Torture: Behind the Plea Bargain of Majid Khan

From Andrea Prasow, JURIST

When Majid Khan entered the cavernous "expeditionary legal complex" at Guantanamo Wednesday, there was a palpable sense of surprise. This was the first time he had appeared in public since his 2003 arrest in Pakistan, but unlike many other detainees who have appeared before the commission in prison jumpsuits and long beards, Khan, 32, was relatively clean-shaven, with a small goatee and short cropped hair. He wore a dark suit, white shirt and burnt red tie and spoke nearly perfect English having spent his teen years in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland.

Khan was facing charges for, among other things, conspiracy and murder in violation of the laws of war for his role in an alleged series of post-September 11, 2001 al Qaeda operations. He had been held for nine years without charge until February when formal proceedings finally began against him. For more than three of those nine years he was in secret CIA detention. He faced a possible life sentence but yesterday he pleaded guilty in exchange for a promise of a reduced sentence if he agreed to cooperate, presumably by providing evidence against other Guantanamo detainees. Khan's plea is a great win for the government, but not for the reasons one would assume. While it is true the prosecution can tout a new conviction at Guantanamo, the real win is that the CIA detention and torture program will not be put on trial.

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Ethicists Argue in Favor of ‘After-Birth Abortions‘ as Newborns ’Are Not Persons’

Liz Klimas reports for The Blaze:

Two ethicists working with Australian universities argue in the latest online edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so to should be the termination of a newborn.

(Update: ‘Journal of Medical Ethics’ stands by publication of ‘after-birth abortions’ article)

Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

The two are quick to note that they prefer the term “after-birth abortion“ as opposed to ”infanticide.” Why? Because it “[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.” The authors also do not agree with the term euthanasia for this practice as the best interest of the person who would be killed is not necessarily the primary reason his or her life is being terminated. In other words, it may be in the parents’ best interest to terminate the life, not the newborns.

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Mayan Light Beam Photo: Message from Gods, or iPhone Glitch?

Siliezar, who recently shared his photographs with occult investigators, told Earthfiles.com that he and his family didn't see the light beam in person; it appeared only on camera. "It was amazing!" he said. He showed the iPhone photo to his fellow tourists. "No one, not even the tour guide, had ever seen anything like it before."

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Chemtrails Australian News Report!

March 11, 2012: The unintended nuking og the Aegean Sea

... In approximate English, with italics marking words no longer used or spelled thus: 'The ferociousness of this Ben Laden shall go very far on the Eleventh of March MMIU: he attacks Great Spain, never the Aegean Sea which had the rude Atom Eight Years afterwards.'

Although I was expecting Nostradamus to use the 2004 event as a warning to the Greeks for the 2012 event, I was not expecting him to link Ben Laden with the Aegean Sea event, as Ben Laden has absolutely nothing to do with it. But Nostradamus is clever in more ways than one. Although Ben Laden has nothing to do with the Aegean Sea event, Nostradamus uses the date of the Madrid attacks to point to the fact that Ben Laden never attacks the Aegean Sea!

And the only link between the two events is... the calendar date on which they both occur, i.e., March 11.

We now have two confirmations of the correctness of the Aegean Sea event: First, the decyphered text about 2002 confirms that it is my mistake. Everything else in that decyphered text remains valid: the Aegean Sea is still as fried as Paris by a Gehenna which kills 100,000 Greeks. These specifics have not changed.

Second, the March 11, 2004, attack upon Spain became a confirmation that the date of March 11, 2012, is the correct one, as it happens eight years before the Aegean Sea event. One might say: but you already knew about the March 11, 2004, event; so how can you now use it to confirm the March 11, 2012, event? Answer: Because I already knew about the Aegean Sea event, long before Madrid was attacked by Ben Laden's fan club. And how did I know about the Aegean Sea event? ...

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Rich People More Likely to Lie, Cheat, Study Suggests

From Charles Choi, LiveScience

... Another lab experiment revealed that unethical behavior was not necessarily inherent to individuals. The researchers had volunteers compare themselves with people with the most or least money, education and respected jobs, thereby subtly putting them into the mindset of someone with a relatively low or high socioeconomic status. When then presented with a jar of candy ostensibly for kids in a nearby lab, those made to feel as if they were upper class took more candy that would otherwise go to children, findings that suggest the experience of higher social class might nudge one to act unethically.

"If you take lower socioeconomic status people and just change their social values very subtly, they'll act just as unethically as upper-class individuals," Piff said. "The patterns of behavior naturally arise from increased wealth and status compared to others." [Infographic: Who Has the Money & Power?]

These findings dovetail with other studies that also suggest more unethical behavior in the upper class. "A 2008 study of shoplifting found that upper-income and more educated participants were way more likely to have reported shoplifting in their lives — that's self-reported data, admittedly, but still interesting," Piff said. "Also, upper-income individuals are more likely to report having sped or breaking the speed limit."

"Juveniles of upper socioeconomic status are just as likely to engage in delinquent patterns of behavior as those of lower socioeconomic status, but they're driven by different things," Piff added. "Lower socioeconomic-status juveniles report that alienation and ostracization from communities and increased need leads them to commit certain types of transgressions, while wealthier adolescents report increased willingness to take risks and an increased sense of power and entitlement." ...

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Apple Loophole Gives Developers Access to Photos

The private photos on your phone may not be as private as you think.

Developers of applications for Apple’s mobile devices, along with Apple itself, came under scrutiny this month after reports that some apps were taking people’s address book information without their knowledge.

As it turns out, address books are not the only things up for grabs. Photos are also vulnerable. After a user allows an application on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to have access to location information, the app can copy the user’s entire photo library, without any further notification or warning, according to app developers.

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Anonymous hackers ratted out by infiltrators

A law enforcement operation that ended with the arrest of 25 hackers in Europe and South America was not the result of police intelligence but rather an informers’ job within the hacker community, claims Anonymous.

­As well as launching a cyber-assault on Interpol’s website, the hacker group appears to be conducting its own investigation in order to find out how police managed to break through its veil of anonymity.

In a statement on Anonymous’ Spanish-language website, the group said that the arrests were down to the “carelessness” of the parties involved. They had apparently given “personal details to spies and people who were not members” of the organization.

“This wave of arrests was not the product of intelligence or technical wizardry on the part of Interpol, like they want you to believe. They were done using a much more deplorable technique: the use of spies and informants within the collective,” says Anonymous.

According to the group, the fact that certain members had not participated in a hacking operation for some time, and were all active on the same server (anonworld.info) that “had been under surveillance as of May last year” marked them out as infiltrators.

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Our Gang of War Criminals

by Dave Lindorff, CounterPunch

If a bunch of street toughs decided to gang up and beat the crap out of some guy in the neighborhood because they feared he might be planning to buy a gun to protect his family, I think we’d all agree that the police would be right to bust that crew and charge them with conspiracy to commit the crime of assault and battery. If they went forward with their plan and actually did attack the guy, injuring or killing him in the process, we’d also all agree they should all be charged with assault and battery, attempted murder, or even first-degree murder if he died.

In international relations and international law, the same applies. Under the Nuremberg Principles, later incorporated into the United Nations Charter, to which the United States is a signatory, the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, which is defined as a war started against another nation that does not pose an imminent threat of attack on the aggressor nation or nations, is the highest of war crimes, for which the perpetrators are liable for the death penalty. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of those above acts is an equally serious capital crime.

How then to explain the casual way that civilian and military leaders of the US and Israel are talking openly about plans and threats to attack Iran?

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Guardian crimes get 'cover' from government agencies

Janet Phelan, Activist Post

Recent admissions by government agencies pledged to provide oversight for those handling the affairs of the most vulnerable of American citizens -- the elderly and disabled -- point to systematic 'cover' being granted professional conservators and guardians. The degree of 'cover' provided those pledged to care for the elderly and infirm could be seen as providing absolute immunity for acts of criminal misconduct.

Guardianships (also called conservatorships in some states) are generally initiated through court proceedings when there are allegations that a person is lacking capacity and unable to care for his own affairs. Upon the appointment of a guardian, the alleged incapacitated person may lose all access to his property and assets and may also lose the rights to make his personal decisions, such as where he will live, whether or not he may see family and friends and whether or not he will receive medical treatment.

He also generally loses the right to hire an attorney to defend against this grave revocation of rights. It must be stressed that these guardianships are launched on allegations alone, and no proof of incapacity may be provided or required.

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Mark Purcell: Lefebvre and Democracy

I just got back from a great time at the Association of American Geographers conference in New York. I participated in a session on Henri Lefebvre organized by Andy Merrifield and Louis Moreno. Participants included Peter Marcuse, Erik Swyngedouw, Lukasz Stanek, Miguel Robles-Duran, Don Mitchell, Ed Soja, and Neil Smith. It was an amazing line-up, and the sessions attracted enough people to fill a ballroom, which was quite a thrill for me. Below is the text of the talk I gave, which was an argument that we should be attentive to Lefebvre’s desire for democracy…

Lefebvre and Democracy

AAG 2012: “From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution: Lefebvre Reconsidered”

Hi everyone. Thanks to Andy and Louis for the invitation to be here in these exciting sessions.

Lo llaman democracia: it’s called democracy.

What I want to do today is to make a case for thinking about Lefebvre’s political project as a project for democracy. I don’t mean that in an essentialist or reductionist way. I won’t argue that his project is really about democracy, that we misread him if we don’t see democracy as the unifying idea and true soul of his project. I mean instead that in Lefebvre’s political project, there is an unmistakable and powerful desire for democracy, one I think is compelling and extremely relevant to the present moment.

Before I get to Lefebvre’s democracy, though, let me contextualize my argument a bit. I will draw what I say today from a book I just finished. In the book I argue that in the current context, we should be thinking and acting politically under the banner of democracy. As you can see from the images, if we do so we will be joining a whole host of others who did so in 2011.

So in the book, I develop a way to think about democracy built out of a close reading of Lefebvre, Deleuze and Guattari, Gramsci, Laclau and Mouffe, Hardt and Negri, Rancière, as well as the fiction and essays of David Foster Wallace. I think it is easy to see in all of their work a deep desire for democracy, and this desire is actually quite similar across the various writers. So the book assembles an idea of democracy that is a kind of bricolage made out of the desires of these multiple authors.

So let me try to offer a too-brief account of what that idea of democracy is. I argue for a radical conception of democracy, something along the lines of what Spinoza called absolute democracy, democracy as a form of living together in which people, all the people, directly manage their affairs for themselves. It is what people in the squares in 2011 were calling “real democracy.” Democracy in this sense is not a form of government, or a state, or parties, or laws, or bureaucracies, or representative institutions, and so this means that a return to a strong state (welfare state, social democracy, Keynesianism), whatever benefits it offers in the present moment, is not a particularly democratic project.

Such an absolute, direct democracy is of course susceptible to the objection that it is impossible. It is impossible for all the people, everyone together, to govern themselves directly. This objection holds an element of truth, and so I argue we should think of democracy not so much as a state of being, but, to use Lefebvre’s terms, as a path we travel toward a horizon. Democracy is less a state of being than a struggle to become democratic, an ongoing effort to manage our affairs for ourselves as much as we can. In a 1964 essay, Lefebvre says that democracy nothing other than a permanent struggle for democracy. It is becoming-democratic.

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Wael Ghonim, Mastermind of Egypt Protests, Recounts Revolution 2.0

The book, released to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the protests that swept the country and Mubarak off his chair, is a brilliant, uninhibited and very convincing manifesto of the power of the Internet — and, more particularly, social media —to transform the world. Ghonim is a convert to and a proselytizer of this idea. The book is not only an account of the events that lead up to the resignation of Mubarak on February 11, 2011, and a heart-wrenching personal story, but also a manual on how to run a revolution using social media. And, at times, it even reads like a self-improvement book: “forget the past, live in the moment,” “let the crowd make its own decisions,” “the power of the people is greater than the people in power,” are some of the mantras decorating the dust jacket.

Much of the text is an exegesis of the messages that Ghonim posted on the Facebook page. He offers us a line-by-line account of the developments on the Net that led up to the massive demonstrations on January 25 and beyond, breaking down each comment he made and explaining to us the rationale —with reference to marketing principles—for the sentences he wrote, the words he used, the tone he adopted. For example, he tells us that his comments were posted in the first person singular because it feels more genuine and sincere, whereas the “we” alienates readers and makes them suspicious. For similar reasons, he chooses colloquial Arabic over modern standard. He keeps his identity hidden at all times, not only for security reasons, but also because one of the basic pillars of his philosophy—what explains the “2.0” in the title—is that, with the advent of the Internet, revolutions are no longer led by individuals, but by the masses.

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Debating Violence in the Occupy Movement

According to stuartbramhall:

By now several thousands progressives and liberals have read the article The Cancer in Occupy Chris Hedges published on Truthdig on February 6th. It was subsequently reposted on a number of other sites. In the article, Hedges condemns the so-called “Black Bloc Movement” and “Black Bloc anarchists” for a variety of sins that include breaking store and car windows, burning flags, and swearing and throwing tear gas canisters at the police. There is a major problem with the whole premise of the article. As Hedges’ critics are quick to point out, “black bloc” (lower case) refers to tactics – there is no such thing as a “Black Block Movement” or “Black Bloc anarchists.” However unless they are regular readers of anarchist and left libertarian websites and blogs, activists are unlikely to have seen the numerous critiques of “The Cancer in Occupy” that correct this and other factual errors in Hedges’ article.

[ ... ]

I first became aware of the “diversity of tactics” debate when Making Contact radio played excerpts from the December 15th forum “How Will the Walls Come Tumbling Down: Diversity of Tactics vs Nonviolence in the Occupy Movement.” (http://tunein.com/radio/Making-Contact-p1028/) There has been an erroneous assumption by many armchair liberals and progressives that commitment to exclusive nonviolent resistance is a basic tenet of the Occupy movement. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the vast majority of occupy protests have been nonviolent, Occupy movements in different cities have taken very different positions about their willingness to engage in corporate property damage and retaliation against police violence. As the WAMMM (Women Against Military Madness blog describes, diversity of tactics advocates are more likely to be young, newly recruited activists. Those favoring exclusive nonviolence are more likely to be older activists who have engaged in civil disobedience in the antiwar or nuclear movement.

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Related video:

You Say You Want a Revolution... (Part 2 of a series on Revolutionary Nonviolence)

A discussion on strategy for Occupy and beyond. Panelists include George Lakey: Strategy for a Living Revolution; Cathie Berrey-Green: Diversity of Tactics; Cathie Berrey-Green: Deep Green Resistance.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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