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Gender: Male
Current location: NC
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 40,215

Journal Archives

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan have increased for five years in a row.


More than 3,000 civilians killed in Afghanistan war last year - UN

More than 3,000 civilians were killed in the Afghanistan war last year, according to new UN figures. Civilian deaths have increased for five years in a row.

Jessica PhelanFebruary 4, 2012 08:09

More than 3,000 civilians died in the war in Afghanistan last year, according to the latest UN figures. Civilian deaths have now increased for five years in a row.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 3,021 civilian deaths in 2011. In 2010, there were 2,790 such deaths; in 2009, 2,412.

More from GlobalPost: US combat forces in Afghanistan to step back by 2013, says Defense Secretary

The majority were caused by insurgents and their increasingly deadly suicide and bomb attacks on civilians, according to UNAMA. In particular, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were reported to be the "single largest killer of Afghan children, women and men in 2011," accounting for 32 percent of all civilian deaths.


..war is not the answer..

Fears held for Russian scientists exploring "alien" Antarctic lake, Vostok


Fears held for Russian scientists exploring "alien" Antarctic lake, Vostok


Russian scientists preparing to explore the "most alien lake on Earth," Lake Vostok, have reportedly not been in touch with American colleagues in over five days.

Vostok, buried over two miles — or 13,000 feet — beneath the great Antarctic ice sheet, is one of the world's largest lakes. However, it hasn't been exposed to air in more than 20 million years, Fox News reported.

The team from Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) have been drilling for weeks to reach the isolated, subglacial water, part of a network of more than 200 subglacial lakes in Antarctica, according to the Washington Post.

Some of the lakes existed in warmer times, when the continent was connected to Australia.

According to the website io9.com:

Vostok is thought to harbor conditions similar to those of Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, and the discovery of life in the lake's inky depths would significantly strengthen the prospect of discovering life on either of these icy bodies.

However, the lake is "characterized by extremes, as geothermal heat from the Earth's interior warms the lake's bottom keeping it in a liquid state.


A head-scratching detail from the OWS Twitter subpoena: it came by fax.

A head-scratching detail from the OWS Twitter subpoena: it came by fax. And a hat tip to New York Guild attorney Martin Stolar.


If a Twitter Subpoena Comes by Fax, Did It Really Happen?


Malcolm Harris, a 23-year-old writer and editor, was informed by Twitter early this week that his account had been subpoenaed by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. He's concerned about law enforcement's reach into the newfangled social platform and is seeking to quash the subpoena, calling out, among other things, the method by which it was delivered. The DA's office, apparently, sent it by fax, handwritten cover sheet and all. How new and old worlds collide!

Joan Vollero, Deputy Director of Communications for the Manhattan DA's office, did not shed light on exactly what prosecutors hope to learn from Harris's Twitter account data, explaining that Harris is "charged with disorderly conduct." The subpoena asks for "any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of 9/15/2011-12/31/2011" from Harris's account.

Harris said, upon being told that the Manhattan DA's office refused to comment on what they hoped to gain from his Twitter account, "Maybe the Manhattan DA's office would be more forthcoming answering questions about the proper procedure for filing an out-of-state subpoena, because I sure as hell would like to hear what they have to say on that one. Last time I checked, you couldn't serve people via fax."

New world (aka, digital) ways determinedly persisting, upon receiving the subpoena Twitter turned around and informed Harris of it by email, despite a direction on the subpoena asking them not to tell anyone about it. Harris then took to his Twitter account, @destructuremal, surprised and a bit freaked out, to announce that this had all happened.


Supergiant amphipod, found in deep seas off New Zealand


Fe. 2, 20012

Supergiant amphipod, monster crustacean, found in deep seas off New Zealand

Scientists found a huge crustacean, known as a "supergiant," in a deep oceanic trench off the coast of New Zealand.

A "supergiant" amphipod has been discovered in deep seas near New Zealand, said to be more than 10 times the size of other crustaceans of the same type.

The creature, spotted more than four miles deep in the Kermadec oceanic trench, measures 34cm (about 13 inches) long, the BBC reported. Usually, amphipods are between 2 and 3cm.

"It's a bit like finding a foot-long cockroach," said one of the scientists that discovered it, Dr. Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

When supergiant first showed itself, Jamieson said, "I stopped and thought 'What on earth is that?' whilst catching a glimpse of an amphipod far bigger than I ever thought possible."


Mitt Romney's great grandfather fled (self-deported?) to Mexico to practice polygamy


Mitt Romney's great grandfather fled to Mexico to practice polygamy
Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney's ancestors fled to Mexico to practice polygamy after it was banned in the United States.

Mariya KarimjeeJanuary 31, 2012 12:19

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney's ancestors reportedly fled to Mexico in the 19th century to practice polygamy after it was banned in the United States, the Associated Press reported.

Romney's great grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled to Mexico after the 1882 passing of the Edmund Act, which banned polygamy in the US. He married his fifth wife after the Mormon church formally banned the practice in 1890.

The Romneys were some of the first Mormons to settle in the border state of Chihuahua, according to the AP. But, when the Mexican Revolution hit Chihuahua in 1912, the Romneys, including Mitt's father, who was 5, fled back into the US, losing their homes, farms and most of their belongings, the Boston Globe reported.

After the revolution, Mitt's grandfather, Gaskell Romney, remained in the US with his five children, but his brother, Miles Archibold Romney, returned to Mexico.


Tea Party 10' Targeted In Multimillion Dollar Campaign By Liberal Super PAC


WASHINGTON -- A liberal super PAC is set Monday to launch what it is billing as a multimillion dollar campaign to "Take Down the Tea Party Ten."

The effort by the progressive outfit CREDO aims to use the new big-spending super PAC model, which can accept unlimited donations, to back extensive local organizing and "education" aimed at defeating 10 members of Congress seen by the left as the worst of the worst.

"We're talking about some of the most odious members of Congress. Even for Republicans these guys are low," said Campaign Manager Matthew "Mudcat" Arnold in a statement.

"We're going to empower local activists to organize their friends and neighbors to lay out the truth about their representatives in the most basic terms," Arnold added. "They are anti-woman. They are anti-science. They are hypocritical, bigoted, and have said and done things that are downright crazy. They've done more to embarrass their constituents than they have to govern or work toward solutions. They are unfit for Congress, and we're going to help their constituents hold them accountable."


On Citizens United Anniversary, Supreme Court Lit with Giant Dollar Signs

Supreme Court Building Covered in Giant Dollar Signs

On the eve of the second anniversary of the much-despised Citizens United ruling, activists with the Other 98% and Backbone Campaign put a giant dollar sign light projection on the Supreme Court building to protest the ruling that undermined government of, by and for the actual people by defining corporations as people and money as speech.


Mitch Daniels Joins John Boehner’s Web Of Keystone XL Corruption


Mitch Daniels Joins John Boehner’s Web Of Keystone XL Corruption
January 30, 2012By Rmuse

It is common knowledge that Republicans engage in misinformation campaigns to curry favor with their supporters whether they are special interest groups, lobbyists, or ignorant Americans unwilling or unable to verify their favorite standard bearer’s statements. Over the past two or three months, Republican machinations to expedite construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline have tied the project to 160 million American’s payroll tax cut extension with fallacious job creation numbers and promises of lower gas prices to force President Obama to grant a construction permit. Speaker of the House John Boehner is TransCanada and the oil industry’s point man on the project and his persistence at parroting wildly inflated jobs numbers provoked a petition demanding his resignation or expulsion from Congress. Last Tuesday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels joined Boehner in pushing the pipeline during Republican’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address using anti-Obama rhetoric to enrich the oil industry and Canada’s tar sand industry.

Daniels’ pernicious remarks are standard fare for Republicans seeking to portray the President as a detriment to economic growth, and he said President Obama’s extremism “cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands,” and that his decision was a “pro-poverty agenda.” Besides Daniels’ programmed anti-Obama rhetoric, his remark about the pipeline’s safety and job creation numbers are false according to TransCanada and many independent agencies, but there is more to Daniels’ pack of lies that is stunning and warrants outrage from Indiana taxpayers.

According to recent disclosures, Daniels is part of a concerted Republican effort to lobby Congress to push the tar sands pipeline through prime agricultural land and over the Ogallala Aquifer that supplies groundwater for 20% of America’s agriculture and drinking water for 2 million Americans. It is despicable that Daniels lied to Americans about the pipeline, but it is beyond the pale that his lobbying effort is being funded with Indiana resident’s tax dollars.

Think Progress reports that Indiana’s Washington D.C. representatives were paid with taxpayer dollars to lobby Congress during the fourth quarter of 2011 including “advocacy of the tar sands pipeline.” The Indiana Petroleum Council has pushed the Keystone XL pipeline even though it is unlikely that any Indiana residents will work on its construction. It is one thing to push the pipeline if it created jobs for Indiana residents and one would expect the state to actively lobby for any project to help the unemployed, but not only are there no jobs for Indiana residents, the pipeline does not even pass through Indiana. And yet Indiana taxpayer’s are funding the oil industry’s lobbying effort at a time when Governor Daniels and Republican state legislators have slashed spending for programs like Medicaid and most recently, full day kindergarten and the state fair. Apparently, for Daniels and Republicans in Indiana, it is better to spend tax dollars to enrich the oil industry than fund children’s health, higher education, and K-12 education that suffered Republican’s deep spending cuts.


As long as Oakland police trample on people's rights, the NLG will continue to hold them accountable

(please support the National Lawyers Guild)

As long as Oakland police trample on people's rights, the NLG will continue to hold them accountable
For as long as Oakland police trample on people's rights, the Guild will continue seeking to hold them accountable.


NLGSF Asks Federal Court to Certify Class Action by Oscar Grant Protesters
January 26, 2012

As OPD comes under increasing scrutiny, the NLG seeks an end to ongoing baseless arrests and incarceration of demonstrators.

In a filing today, a team of National Lawyers Guild attorneys asks the federal court to allow a law enforcement misconduct lawsuit against the Oakland Police and Alameda County Sheriff to proceed as a class action. The four named plaintiffs, including one NLG Legal Observer, seek to represent a class of 150 people who were arrested en masse on November 5, 2010, the day that former police officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced.

The proposed class action, Spalding et al. v. Oakland, No. C11-2867 TEH, challenges the 2010 mass misdemeanor arrests and the prolonged detention of arrestees in the Alameda County Jails. The case is being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson as a related case to the ongoing proceedings in the lawsuits brought by victims of the “Riders” OPD gang. Earlier this week, in response to the Department’s glacial pace in completing the reform process agreed on in the 2003 Riders settlement, Judge Henderson stripped decision-making power from OPD, placing the Department under greatly increased oversight by monitors and bringing it one step closer to federal receivership. Last week, the monitor expressed particular concern over the OPD response to Occupy Oakland.

“The Spalding case is more important than ever, because OPD and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office are continuing these same abuses with regard to Occupy Oakland,” commented Michael Flynn, San Francisco Bay Area NLG Chapter President. “Over the past month and a half, the OPD has engaged in a campaign of brutal harassment, making repeated arrests of Occupy Oakland protesters on pretexts, and causing them to be held for days, only to be released without charges.”

“California law requires most misdemeanor arrestees to be released with a citation, but in Alameda County, even very minor charges often result in extended periods of time in jail,” explained Rachel Lederman, one of the lead attorneys on the Spalding case. “The Mehserle sentencing demonstrators were herded by police into a residential block and trapped there, along with neighborhood residents. Then they were all detained for 18-24 hours. There was no lawful basis for the mass arrest, and none of the 150 class members were ever charged with a crime.”

“There was never a dispersal order,” said plaintiff Daniel Spalding. “It was a classic illegal mass arrest. We were boxed in by lines of police officers in riot gear who announced, without warning, that we were all under arrest. I told one officer I was a National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer and showed him my identifying green hat but I was still arrested. Over a hundred of us were left sitting on the street, handcuffed, until we were finally put on a bus, where we kept for hours. One arrestee was begging for medical attention for his dislocated shoulder and the police ignored him. Eventually I was put in a jail cell with 27 other people with no place to sleep. I wasn’t released until 6:30pm - almost 24 hours after we were first detained. I was never charged with anything.”

“We were exercising our First Amendment right to protest the light sentence given to Mehserle, and police brutality more generally, by marching to the site of the shooting,” added Katharine Loncke, another named plaintiff, “but the OPD and their army of other police agencies blocked us all in and arrested us for nothing.” Loncke described that, “At the jail, all the women were made to go into a stall without a door on it and urinate into a cup for a pregnancy test. I was held in a very cold and crowded cell with fifteen other women. No food was provided for more than twelve hours after our initial detention. There was no room to lay down. I sat up against a wall for the entire night.”

In addition to monetary compensation for the arrestees, the Spalding lawsuit requests an injunction to stop the OPD from making unlawful arrests and violating its crowd control policy; require the ACSO to promptly release arrestees absent a legitimate, lawful basis to hold them; and, to provide basic humane conditions for those who are held. In November, the NLG and ACLU filed a second lawsuit against OPD challenging the use of force against Occupy Oakland, Campbell et al. v. City of Oakland, Case No. C11-05498 RS.

The NLGSF has provided legal support to progressive activism for decades, including training and sending legal observers to protests and providing pro bono lawyers to defend accused activists. The NLGSF is the Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild – a national non-profit legal and political organization of lawyers, legal workers, law students and jailhouse lawyers founded in 1937. We represent progressive political movements, using the law to protect human rights above property interests and to attain social justice.


275 Years Later, the Power of Tom Paine

Regaining Common Sense (The Occupied Wall Street Journal)


Frances A. Chiu 27 January, 2012

275 Years Later, the Power of Tom Paine

Although Glenn Beck, Herman Cain and the Tea Party would have us believe that Tom Paine was one of them—a man who supposedly stood for “small government”—this could not be further from the truth. On the eve of Paine’s 275th birthday, on January 29, let’s restore some common sense here: Paine was a progressive to the core. He was one of the first to decry the aristocracy and landed elites of his day—the 1%—while emphasizing the welfare of the masses. True government, as he saw it, ought to be “a delegation of power for the common benefit of society,” founded on the “RES-PUBLICA, the public affairs, or public good,” not the “cavillings of a few interested men.”

By writing in a manner that was easily accessible to the literate and illiterate alike, Paine brought politics to the 99% with Common Sense (1776) and other formative texts. He dared to urge a complete break from Britain when others were still trying to compromise with George III and his Parliament. And he was among the first to question hereditary government; acknowledge women’s rights; support the abolition of slavery and challenge disparities in pay while advocating labor organizing rights. A former corset maker, teacher and excise officer, Paine knew there was something wrong when bishops earned 1,000 times as much as hardworking parish priests—just like we know there’s something wrong when CEOs earn 1,000 times as much as their employees. And he knew there was something wrong when the young were being sent to jails and the elderly forced to continue working, just like know there is something wrong when numerous urban and rural youth continue to wind up in prison while Boomers and the elderly face prospects of deferred retirement.

Interestingly but not surprisingly, Paine was treated like many future left-wing dissidents and radicals. He was burned in effigy by rowdy mobs throughout his native England and sentenced for sedition for his criticism of monarchies and feudal privileges in Rights of Man (1791). In fact, it’s worth noting that the mobs who did so were paid by wealthy nobles and powerful members of the government, not unlike Tea Party mobs who are funded by the Koch brothers and others. As they say, plus ça change.

Yet regardless of the unpopularity of his views, especially after the publication of his controversial Age of Reason (1794-5), Paine never flinched. Unlike many of our Founding Fathers, and would-be liberals today, Paine was not preoccupied with money or the trappings of wealth. He was proud of his little house in New Rochelle, New York, with its collection of farm animals and functional pots and pans. Paine donated nearly all of his considerable earnings from Common Sense and Rights of Man to the Continental Army and British radical organizations struggling as they fought for a new nation. Not least, he enjoyed hanging out in pubs and taverns, where he conversed with ordinary working men. Paine was a man who talked the talk and walked the walk all the way to the finish line.

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