Sunday, October 28, 2012
7pm - 7:10pm - Intro
7:11 - 7:41pm - Prof. Robert Watson Lynn University on the Election/Debate
7:42 - 7:52pm - Winnie Tang - President of the Asian American Federation
7:53 - 8:10pm - Jose Suarez Communication Dir. SEIU
8:11 - 8:26pm - Stratton Pollitzer Deputy Director Equality of Florida
8:27 - 8:53pm - Greg Palast BBC Economics Reporter
8:53 - 9:00pm - Outro
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1. Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists
Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”
The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.
Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.
Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.
“We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do. . . . We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”
That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism. Targeting lists that were regarded as finite emergency measures after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now fixtures of the national security apparatus. The rosters expand and contract with the pace of drone strikes but never go to zero.
Meanwhile, a significant milestone looms: The number of militants and civilians killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by certain estimates, surpassing the number of people al-Qaeda killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Obama administration has touted its successes against the terrorist network, including the death of Osama bin Laden, as signature achievements that argue for President Obama’s reelection. The administration has taken tentative steps toward greater transparency, formally acknowledging for the first time the United States’ use of armed drones.
Less visible is the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war. Spokesmen for the White House, the National Counterterrorism Center, the CIA and other agencies declined to comment on the matrix or other counterterrorism programs.
Privately, officials acknowledge that the development of the matrix is part of a series of moves, in Washington and overseas, to embed counterterrorism tools into U.S. policy for the long haul.
White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.
CIA Director David H. Petraeus is pushing for an expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, U.S. officials said. The proposal, which would need White House approval, reflects the agency’s transformation into a paramilitary force, and makes clear that it does not intend to dismantle its drone program and return to its pre-Sept. 11 focus on gathering intelligence.
The U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, which carried out the raid that killed bin Laden, has moved commando teams into suspected terrorist hotbeds in Africa. A rugged U.S. outpost in Djibouti has been transformed into a launching pad for counterterrorism operations across the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.
JSOC also has established a secret targeting center across the Potomac River from Washington, current and former U.S. officials said. The elite command’s targeting cells have traditionally been located near the front lines of its missions, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. But JSOC created a “national capital region” task force that is a 15-minute commute from the White House so it could be more directly involved in deliberations about al-Qaeda lists.
The developments were described by current and former officials from the White House and the Pentagon, as well as intelligence and counterterrorism agencies. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
These counterterrorism components have been affixed to a legal foundation for targeted killing that the Obama administration has discussed more openly over the past year. In a series of speeches, administration officials have cited legal bases, including the congressional authorization to use military force granted after the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the nation’s right to defend itself.
Critics contend that those justifications have become more tenuous as the drone campaign has expanded far beyond the core group of al-Qaeda operatives behind the strikes on New York and Washington. Critics note that the administration still doesn’t confirm the CIA’s involvement or the identities of those who are killed. Certain strikes are now under legal challenge, including the killings last year in Yemen of U.S.-born al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son.
Counterterrorism experts said the reliance on targeted killing is self-perpetuating, yielding undeniable short-term results that may obscure long-term costs.
“The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser. “You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”
An evolving database
The United States now operates multiple drone programs, including acknowledged U.S. military patrols over conflict zones in Afghanistan and Libya, and classified CIA surveillance flights over Iran.
Strikes against al-Qaeda, however, are carried out under secret lethal programs involving the CIA and JSOC. The matrix was developed by the NCTC, under former director Michael Leiter, to augment those organizations’ separate but overlapping kill lists, officials said.
2. Associated Press: Ex-CIA Officer Kiriakou Pleads Guilty to Leaking Covert Operative’s Identity to Reporter
October 23, 2012
Summary: This is extended coverage of GAP client and former CIA officer/torture whistleblower John Kiriakou, who pled guilty yesterday (in a plea deal) to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. The majority of Kiriakou’s charges were dropped – including all Espionage Act charges. Kiriakou was motivated to take the plea because of the desire to ensure that he could see his children grow up.
Kiriakou was one of the first to publicly acknowledge the use of torture as CIA policy. He will likely serve 30 months in prison.
Key Quote: After Tuesday’s hearing, one of Kiriakou’s lawyers described him as a whistleblower. Jesselyn Radack, an expert on whistleblower issues with the Government Accountability Project, said it was an outrage that Kiriakou will serve jail time. She was glad, though, that the charges under the Espionage Act — which she characterized as vague and overbroad — were dropped.
3. Drone Policy
But it should also be noted that US drone strikes in Pakistan currently are not really about protecting civilians in the United States from terrorist attacks in any event. US drone strikes in Pakistan today are primarily an extension of the war in Afghanistan, targeting suspected militants believed to be planning to attack US troops in Afghanistan. Since the majority of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan and want US troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan, this is a highly relevant political fact: US drone strikes in Pakistan are being carried out in support of a war in Afghanistan that most Americans oppose. Pretending that US drone strikes in Pakistan are about protecting civilians in the United States when they are primarily about extending the unpopular Afghanistan war across the border with Pakistan is therefore a pretty significant deceit.
When US troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, as most Americans want, then there will be no reason to use drone strikes to target militants in Pakistan who are trying to attack US troops in Afghanistan, because there will be no militants in Pakistan trying to attack US troops in Afghanistan, because there will be no US troops in Afghanistan for them to attack. The situation is analogous to that which we faced in Iraq during the Bush administration: We were told we had to keep our troops in Iraq to fight the people who were attacking our troops in Iraq, but the people attacking our troops were attacking our troops because they were there. Now that our troops have left Iraq, no one is attacking our troops in Iraq anymore. The best solution to the problem of people trying to attack our troops in other people's countries is to get our troops out of other people's countries where people are likely to attack them.
Moreover, it is crucial to recognize that the mere existence of drone strikes is not the focus of international criticism. It is specific features of the drone strike policy that are overwhelmingly the focus of international criticism. There is relatively little international criticism, for example, about the US use of drone strikes in Afghanistan compared to other use of air power, given that whether one supports or opposes it, the war in Afghanistan is generally considered internationally to be lawful overall (which is different from saying that specific actions within the war are lawful). But there is a great deal of international criticism about the US use of drone strikes in Pakistan, where considerable international opinion does not accept that the US is conducting a lawful war.
4. Drone vote killers
If this year's presidential election comes down to the electoral votes in Ohio, the deciding votes could be cast on electronic voting machines manufactured by a company - Hart Intercivic - with deep financial ties to the Romney family.
Hart Intercivic is majority owned by H.I.G. Capital which controls two of the five seats on the Hart Intercivic board. An investment fund with deep ties to the Romney family and the Mitt Romney for president campaign, H.I.G. Capital was founded by Tony Tamer, a major bundler for the Romney campaign, and it is one of the largest partners of Solamere Capital, an investment fund founded by Tagg Romney and Spencer Zwick, Mitt Romney's chief fundraiser from the 2008 presidential campaign. This makes the
Romney family part owner of the voting machine company, through it's interest in H.I.G. Capital.
A 2007 study conducted by Ohio's Secretary of State showed that Hart Intercivic's touch screen voting machines could be easily corrupted.
I just signed a petition telling the Department of Justice to not let Republicans steal the election in Ohio with Romney-owned voting machines. Click on the link below to find out more and sign the petition.
5. The Remarkable, Unfathomable Ignorance of Debbie Wasserman Schultz
The Chair of the Democratic National Committee is completely unaware of one of the biggest stories of the Obama years
by Glenn Greenwald
On 29 May 2012, the New York Times published a remarkable 6,000-word story on its front page about what it termed President Obama's "kill list". It detailed the president's personal role in deciding which individuals will end up being targeted for assassination by the CIA based on Obama's secret, unchecked decree that they are "terrorists" and deserve to die.
Based on interviews with "three dozen of his current and former advisers", the Times' Jo Becker and Scott Shane provided extraordinary detail about Obama's actions, including how he "por[es] over terrorist suspects' biographies on what one official calls the macabre 'baseball cards'" and how he "insist[s] on approving every new name on an expanding 'kill list'". At a weekly White House meeting dubbed "Terror Tuesdays", Obama then decides who will die without a whiff of due process, transparency or oversight. It was this process that resulted in the death of US citizen Anwar Awlaki in Yemen, and then two weeks later, the killing of his 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman, by drone.
The Times "kill list" story made a huge impact and was widely discussed and condemned by media figures, politicians, analysts, and commentators. Among other outlets, the New York Times itself harshly editorialized against Obama's program in an editorial entitled "Too Much Power For a President", denouncing the revelations as "very troubling" and argued: "No one in that position should be able to unilaterally order the killing of American citizens or foreigners located far from a battlefield - depriving Americans of their due-process rights - without the consent of someone outside his political inner circle."
That Obama has a "kill list" has been known since January, 2010, and has been widely reported and discussed in every major American newspaper since April 2010. A major controversy over chronic White House leaks often featured complaints about this article (New York Times, 5 June 2012: "Senators to Open Inquiry Into 'Kill List' and Iran Security Leaks"). The Attorney General, Eric Holder, gave a major speech defending it.
But Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Congresswoman from Florida and the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, does not know about any of this. She has never heard of any of it. She has managed to remain completely ignorant about the fact that President Obama has asserted and exercised the power to secretly place human beings, including US citizens, on his "kill list" and then order the CIA to extinguish their lives.
Just marvel at this stunning, completely inexcusable two-minute display of wholesale ignorance by this elected official and DNC chair. Here she is after the second presidential debate being asked by Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change about the "kill list" and whether Romney should be trusted with this power. She doesn't defend the "kill list". She doesn't criticize it. She makes clear that she has never heard of it and then contemptuously treats Rudkowski like he is some sort of frivolous joke for thinking that it is real:
Anyone who observes politics closely has a very low bar of expectations. It's almost inevitable to become cynical - even jaded - about just how inept and inane top Washington officials are. Still, even processing this through those lowly standards, I just find this staggering. Staggering and repellent. This is an elected official in Congress, the body that the Constitution designed to impose checks on the president's abuses of power, and she does not have the foggiest idea what is happening in the White House, and obviously does not care in the slightest, because the person doing it is part of the party she leads.
One expects corrupt partisan loyalty from people like Wasserman Schultz, eager to excuse anything and everything a Democratic president does. That's a total abdication of her duty as a member of Congress, but that's par for the course. But one does not expect this level of ignorance, the ability to stay entirely unaware of one of the most extremist powers a president has claimed in US history, trumpeted on the front-page of the New York Times and virtually everywhere else.
6. Poison Control Centers in Drone Down-size Danger
Earlier this year, federal officials put their foot down: New Hampshire could no longer use federal preparedness money to supports its poison control efforts. The directive sent state lawmakers scrambling to find extra funds so New Hampshire residents would still have access to the life-saving service. Without new money, New Hampshire callers to the Northern New England Poison Center would get a recording telling them to call 911 or go to the emergency room.
Fortunately, New Hampshire officials found enough funds to keep the service up and running for state residents this year; however, they’ll confront the same problem again in the next budget cycle. Such ups and downs of funding are nothing new to Karen Simone and her colleagues, but it’s most definitely taking a toll.
“People seem to make the assumption that the poison center will always be there,” said Simone, a clinical toxicologist and director of the Northern New England Poison Center, which serves Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. “They seem to think that any doctor or emergency room can handle this and it’s a shock when I say your average ER doctor doesn’t know how to (handle these cases).”
Simone tells me that her poison center used to have enough staff to help every caller at a more leisurely pace — to answer every question without having to rush. But due to overall funding cuts, typical daytime staff has been cut from three or four people to one or two, and callers have to triage themselves according to a phone tree. Occasionally, the center has to shut down its nonemergency line for hours at a time because it just doesn’t have the capacity to handle every call. Previously, the center never had to shut down any of its phone lines, Simone said.
The Northern New England Poison Center managed more than 66,000 calls from Maine between July 2010 and June 2011; more than 5,500 calls from New Hampshire between January 2011 and March 2011; and more than 11,300 Vermont calls between March 2011 and August 2011.
“It’s kind of like you pay now or you pay later,” said Simone, who added that her time is increasingly being spent on trying to find funds to keep the center afloat. “If you give a little bit of money to poison control centers…you’ll save about $14 for every dollar spent down the road. You can choose not to spend that $1 on poison centers, but that dollar will be spent.”
A new report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) brings the situation Simone describes into even greater focus.
The value of investing in poison control
The AAPCC report, which quantifies the value of investing in the nation’s 57 poison centers, found that such centers save Americans more than $1.8 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity — that’s a $13.39 return on investment for every dollar invested. In 2011, however, poison centers experienced a 36 percent cut in federal funding in addition to cuts at the state level. The report states:
Poison center professionals serve as primary health care providers for the home management of suspected poisonings and as toxicology consultants for health care providers and hospitals. In less than a few minutes, callers are connected to specially trained individuals knowledgeable of the treatment, prevention and safety measures that should be taken to prevent injury from a number of hazardous materials. This rapid early intervention often limits morbidity and prevents mortality.
According to the report: Three dollars in medical costs are saved for every $1 invested in poison center outreach, education and in raising awareness of the poison center hotline; poison centers save families more than $47 million every year in out-of-pocket medical costs, as well as more than $214 million in annual Medicaid spending and more than $176 million in Medicare spending; and more than $171 million annually is saved in emergency department visits and more than $518 million in hospitalizations. In 2010, the country’s poison centers received about 4 million calls, about 2.4 million of which were about poison exposures.
Richard Dart, AAPCC’s immediate past president and director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, noted in an association news release that the poison control system is “one of the most successful and cost-effective public health programs in the nation…It’s vital that policymakers and the public understand the importance of funding this essential public health service.” Dart told me that due to funding cuts, the Rocky Mountain poison center has lost staff and has had to cut back on educational outreach — “we can’t spare staff to do education because we need them on the phones.”
“It’s one of those nasty cycles — decreases in education lead to more poisonings which leads to more calls,” Dart told me. “We’re really holding our breath week to week and month to month because we know that many centers are very close to closing.”
A sentinel system
If a poison center closes, not only will residents and health care providers lose a vital source of expertise and life-saving help, but also the rich data that help shape effective interventions and often serve as an early warning of new dangers. For example a few years ago, young people in Colorado Springs were trying to get high off a new product called Green Hornet, which contained high levels of over-the-counter drugs diphenhydramine and dextromethorphan. It was causing seizures and the Denver poison center picked up on it, Dart said. Soon after, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took action to alert consumers to its dangers and urge people to avoid it completely.
Similarly, back in New England, Simone noted that in the aftermath of a severe ice storm that knocked out power throughout the region and led residents to hook up their generators, the poison center detected an uptick in carbon monoxide poisoning. The real-time data helped local health officials craft appropriate prevention messages and target those messages where they were needed most. Simone also noted that poison centers began noticing an increase in opioid poisoning long before the problem hit the front pages. (Prescription painkiller misuse was involved in more than 475,000 emergency room visits in 2009, a statistic that doubled in just five years.)
“This data is crucial to have — the earlier we can detect a problem, the faster we can correct it,” said Dart, who described poison control as a sentinel surveillance system. “If we start to lose centers, we’ll start losing that early detection.”
Dart said demand for the poison center’s help hasn’t declined — “people still need our help as much as they ever did.” Interestingly, though, he noted that even though opioid-related calls have gone up, overall call volume into the Denver center remains about the same. He said it might indicate that more people are turning to the Internet for poison information. In response, creating a larger presence on the web and looking for ways to interact with people via the Internet and text messaging has become a top priority, he noted. In New England, the poison center recently debuted a new chat feature on its website that residents are just beginning to use, Simone said.
Both Simone and Dart emphasized that there’s no replacement for a poison center — the emergency rooms and hospitals that would likely fill the gap also depend on poison centers and their trained staff for accurate, immediate information. As is the case with much of the public health system, decreasing poison center funds today only increases medical spending in the long run. It’s a message — regardless of the mountains of evidence in its favor — that doesn’t always fall on receptive ears. (In fact, Dart told me that one congressional representative told him that even though poison centers are among the best data-justified programs out there, he just didn’t believe the government should be paying for such a service.)
“The response from (some) politicians is that this is an individual problem,” Dart said. “Is that really an appropriate way for our society to address this? I don’t think so.”
For a copy of “Final Report on the Value of the Poison Center System,” visit www.aapcc.org. If you have a poisoning emergency, call 1-800-222-1222.
7. KOCH BROS
fund rightwing think tanks
fund AFP -
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Legislators/ALEC + Funding
8. Severe Birth Defects Soar in Post-War Iraq
A new study confirms what many Iraqi doctors have been saying for years – that there is a virtual epidemic of rare congenital birth defects in cities that suffered bombing and artillery and small arms fire in the U.S.-led attacks and occupations of the country.
The hardest hit appear to be Fallujah (2004), a city in central Iraq, and Basra in the south (December 1998, March and April 2003).
Records show that the total number of birth defects observed by medical staff at Al Basrah Maternity Hospital more than doubled between 2003 and 2009. In Fallujah, between 2007 and 2010, more than half the children born there had some form of birth defect, compared to less than two percent in 2000.
Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a lead author of the latest study published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, entitled “Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities,” reports that in the case study of 56 Fallujah families, metal analysis of hair samples indicated contamination with two well-known neurotoxic metals: lead and mercury.
IPS correspondent Julia Kallas spoke with Savabieasfahani about Iraq’s health crisis and the long-term consequences of exposure to metals released by bombs and munitions.
Excerpts from the interview follow.
Q: You focused on Fallujah and Al Basra. Is there any indication that this problem could be affecting other Iraqi cities as well?
A: There is one other paper that has come out from another city and I think that there are similar things. I think that it is possible that anywhere could be affected. Some other places are seeing similar situations but there are no publications to indicate it. There is a great possibility that other places that have been bombed are also showing similar things.
Q: Your study found serious deformities in infants as late as 2010. How many years will the health effects of the war continue to be felt?
A: Speaking as an environmental toxicologist, I think that a long as the environment is not cleaned, as long as the source of this public contamination is not found and as long as people are exposed to it periodically on a daily basis, I think this problem will persist.
And what we can see is that they are actually increasing. I think that the best step right now is to do large-scale environmental testing – test water, air, food, soil, everything that comes in touch with people. Test them for the presence of toxic metals and other things that are in the environment. And once we find the source, then we can clean it up. Unless we do that, this is going to continue to happen because people are getting exposed.
Q: What kind of munitions would be responsible for this type of large-scale contamination?
A: We have referenced a couple of U.S. military documents and it is the kind of things that could lead to this version of metal as indicated in the references. Various metals are contained in small arms ammunition.
But it could be anything from bombardments, from the bombs that come down on the place, or bombs that exploded from the tanks, or even bullets. They all have similar metals in them, including mercury and lead poisoning, which is what we have found in the bodies of the people who live in these cities, Fallujah and Basra.
Q: Have you collaborated at all with the World Health Organisation researchers who are conducting similar research, with their findings due out next month?
A: No, I have not been in touch with the World Health Organisation or any other organisation. We have just worked with a collection of scientists.
Q: Are you aware of any formal reaction to your research by the Iraqi, U.S. or UK governments?
A: There has been some. The U.S. Defense Department responded to the report by saying that they do not know of any official reports that indicate any problems in Al Basrah or Fallujah. But I think that is the only thing that comes to my mind.
Q: How is the local health care system coping with an emergency like this? And how can contamination management and medical care procedures be provided in these areas?
A: I know that the hospitals in the two cities that we studied are overstretched and as far as that is a concern there are ways to help these hospitals. We need to organise doctors, scientists and people who are professionals in this area to help clean up. Organise them, bring them to these two cities and get them to start working. However, all of that requires financial and other kinds of support. Financial and political support together will help to make that happen.
9. Shizuoka assembly nixes nuke referendum
SHIZUOKA — The Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly on Thursday voted down a revised bill calling for a referendum on whether to restart Chubu Electric Power Co.'s suspended Hamaoka nuclear power station.
In addition to the revised bill, the assembly rejected the original proposal, with most members opposed to holding what would be the first referendum on restarting a nuclear plant that was suspended after the March 2011 meltdown crisis stated in Fukushima Prefecture.
During the plenary session, a member affiliated with the Liberal Democratic Party, which has a majority in the assembly, questioned the legitimacy of holding a referendum, saying it could "influence national policy on nuclear power."
The original bill, which had already been voted down by an assembly committee last Friday, was submitted after a citizens' group had collected more than 165,000 signatures calling for the referendum.
The revised bill was introduced by a group of assembly members from the Democratic Party of Japan and other groups after the original version faced opposition during last week's committee meeting, at which members from the LDP and DPJ pointed out flaws in the original proposal.
The revised bill would have set the eligible minimum voting age at 20, rather than 18 under the original version.
The newer version also stipulated that a referendum would be held "when the prefectural governor judges the central government has started considering a restart after completing safety measures for the nuclear power station." The original bill said the referendum would be conducted within six months.
Assembly members affiliated with the DPJ and New Komeito were opposed to the original version, but some expressed support for the revised bill. The LDP-linked members were against both the original and revised versions.
The beach-side Hamaoka plant in the city of Omaezaki is one of the largest nuclear power complexes in the nation. Its three operating reactors were shut down at the government's request in May 2011, two months after the Fukushima nuclear crisis erupted, because of its lack of tsunami defenses.
10. No. 1 radioactive water tanks maxed
By MARI YAMAGUCHI
Workers at the Fukushima No. 1 plant are struggling to find space to store tens of thousands of tons of highly contaminated water used to cool its crippled reactors, the manager of the water treatment team said.
About 200,000 tons of radioactive water — enough to fill more than 50 Olympic swimming pools — are being stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks built around the complex. Tokyo Electric Power Co. has already felled trees to make room for more tanks and predicts the volume of water will more than triple in three years.
"It's a pressing issue because our land is limited and we would eventually run out of storage space," the water-treatment manager, Yuichi Okamura, told AP.
Tepco is close to starting a new treatment system that could make the water safe enough to discharge into the ocean. But its tanks are filling up in the meantime, mostly because cracks in reactor buildings are allowing groundwater in.
Experts worry the highly radioactive water could have a lasting impact on the environment, and fear that because of the reactor leaks and water flowing from one part of the facility to another, this is already happening.
Nuclear engineer and college lecturer Masashi Goto said the contaminated water buildup poses a long-term health and environmental threat. He worries the radioactive water in the reactor buildings' basements may already be seeping into the groundwater system, where it could travel far beyond the plant and possibly into public water supplies and the Pacific.
"You never know where it's leaking out and once it's out you can never put it back in place," he said. "It's just outrageous and shows how big a disaster the accident is."
The concerns are less severe than the nightmare scenario Tepco faced in the weeks after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling systems at the power station, causing hydrogen explosions and three reactor core meltdowns in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The plant released radiation into the atmosphere, soil and ocean, and displaced more than 100,000 local residents who are uncertain when — or even if — they will be able to return home.
Dumping massive amounts of water into the stricken reactors was the only way to avoid an even bigger catastrophe.
Okamura remembers frantically trying to find a way to get water to the spent-fuel pools located near the top of the 50-meter-high reactor buildings. Without water, the spent nuclear fuel likely would have overheated and melted, dispersing radioactive smoke over a vast area and potentially affecting millions of people.
"The water would keep evaporating and the pools would have dried up if we had left them alone," Okamura said. "That would have been the end of it."
Attempts to dump water from helicopters were ineffective, and spraying water from fire trucks into the pools didn't work either. Okamura then helped bring in a huge, German-made pump normally used for concrete with a remote-controlled arm long enough to spray water into the fuel pools.
The plan worked — just in time, Okamura said.
Those measures and others helped bring the plant under tenuous control, but it will take decades to clean up the radioactive material emitted by the three wrecked reactors. And those desperate steps created another huge headache for Tepco: What to do with all the radioactive water that leaked out of the reactors and gathered in the basements of the buildings housing them and nearby facilities.
Some of the water ran into the Pacific, raising concerns about contamination of marine life and seafood. Waters within a 20-km zone are still off-limits, and high levels of contamination have been found in seabed sediment and fish tested in the area.
Okamura was tasked with setting up a treatment system that would make the water clean enough for reuse as a coolant, and was also aimed at reducing health risks for workers and environmental damage.
At first, Tepco shunted the tainted water into existing storage tanks near the reactors. Meanwhile, Okamura's 55-member team scrambled to get a treatment unit up and running within three months of the disaster — a project that would normally take about two years, he said.
"Accomplishing that was a miracle," Okamura said, noting a cheer went up from his men when the first unit started up.
Using that equipment, Tepco was able to circulate reprocessed water back into the reactor cores. But even though the reactors are now being cooled exclusively with recycled water, the volume of contaminated water is still increasing, mostly because groundwater is seeping through cracks into the reactor building basements.
Next month, Okamura said his group plans to flip the switch on new purifying equipment using Toshiba Corp. technology that is supposedly able to decontaminate the water by removing strontium and other nuclides potentially below detectable levels.
Tepco claims the treated water from this new system is clean enough to be released into the ocean, although it hasn't said whether it would actually do so. At any rate, that would require the permission of authorities and local consent and would also likely trigger harsh criticism at home and abroad.
To deal with the excess tainted water, the utility has channeled it to more than 300 huge storage tanks placed around the plant. Tepco has plans to install storage tanks for up to 700,000 tons — about three more years' worth of contaminated water. If those facilities were to be maxed out, it could build additional space for roughly two more years' worth of radioactive water, said Mayumi Yoshida, a Tepco spokeswoman.
But these forecasts hinge on plans to detect and plug holes in the damaged reactors to minimize leaks over the next two years. Tepco also plans to take steps to keep groundwater from seeping into the reactor basements.
Both are tasks Tepco is still unsure how to accomplish, as those areas remain so highly radioactive it is unclear how humans or even robots can operate in them.
There's also a risk the storage tanks and jury-rigged pipe system connecting them could be damaged if the area is struck by another powerful quake or tsunami.
Goto, the nuclear engineer, believes it will take far longer than Tepco's goal of two years to repair all the holes in the reactors. The plant also would have to deal with contaminated water until all the melted fuel and other debris is removed from the reactors — a process that will easily take more than a decade.
He described Tepco's road map for dealing with the problem as "wishful thinking," adding that "the longer it takes, the more contaminated water they get."
PROGRESSIVE NEWS NETWORK - Listen Here
Posted by Rick Spisak at 3:22 PM
Sunday, October 07, 2012
Peace & Justice Not Off the Table
Anita Stewart - 07:10:00 PM - 07:20PM
[move to amend]
Jay Alexander - 07:21:00 PM - 07:32PM
Sandy Davies - 07:33:00 PM - 07:44PM
Invite you to a fundraiser
In honor of
Democratic candidate for
Florida House of Representatives, District 63
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
5:30 to 7:30 PM
Meet the candidates -
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 @7:00pm in the snack bar
9801 S Ocean Blvd 0n Nettle's Island, a gated community on South Hutchinson Island (North of Jensen Beach Causeway & across from Shuckers)
COUNTY COMMISSIONER – DISTRICT 3:
COMMISSIONER PAULA LEWIS – 772-879-9542 (D)
DEBRA SWANSON – 772-335-5045 (R)
COUNTY COMMISSIONER – DISTRICT 5:
BOBBY HOPKINS – 772-882-7401 (R)
KIM JOHNSON – 321-662-6536 (R)
CLERK OF THE COURT:
BILL HARDMAN – 772-519-1100 (R)
JOSEPH SMITH – 772-429-0328 (D)
SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS:
STEPHANIE MORGAN – 772-204-5183 (R)
GERTRUDE WALKER – 772-359-7178 (D)
PLUS DISCUSSION ON ALL 12 AMENDMENTS
ATTENTION ALL VOTERS
Be informed on the Constitutional Amendments on the November ballot
South Florida Jobs with Justice and Catalyst Miami are sponsoring a public workshop on the 11 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot in November.
If passed, these Amendments will be placed in the Florida Constitution. You are invited to attend this informative workshop - It is free and open to the public - Bring your friends!
WHO: Karen Woodall from Florida Center for Fiscal & Economic Policy and Florida New Majority will explain:
The impact of each Amendment on Florida Residents.
WHEN: Tuesday, October 9th - 6pm to 7:30pm.
WHERE: IBEW 349 Meeting Room
1671 NW 16th Terrace
(17thAve and 16th Terrace) Miami, FL 33125
(Plenty of free parking)
WHY: Early Voting begins October 27th
medicare round table - with State Rep Mark Pafford
10/11 - 3-4pm
Miami, FL – Next Tuesday, October 9th, the Broward County Commission will vote on a Wage Recovery Ordinance, proposed by Commissioner Kristin Jacobs. If passed, Broward County will be the second county in Florida to implement this program in the aftermath of a national report that called the state the 15th worst in the nation when it comes to workers' abilities to recover unpaid wages.
A similar ordinance has been in place in Miami-Dade County since 2010 with successful results. Broward County currently has the third largest number of wage-theft cases -- those that involve workers not being paid overtime or minimum wage, being forced to work off the clock, or not being paid at all -- in the state according to a report released by the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy (RISEP) at Florida International University.
Jeff, a worker from Hollywood, FL, says: “Over 40 of us went to work one day and found the office completely cleaned out with all of the computers, phones, and everything gone. I was owed over $1000 and others were owed much more than that. And the worst thing was that because of the horrible laws here, we had no recourse.”
For many workers, particularly low-wage workers many in construction, services or agriculture, the loss of earned wages can mean loss of meals, health care or even housing. Wading through a complex and difficult court system is not an option for many employees. Cesar, one of almost fifty workers not paid on a Ft. Lauderdale Housing Authority Project, worried that that if the workers hire a lawyer, the case could drag out in the courts. “In the meantime, we are going hungry,” he says.
Fortunately, Cesar and the other workers were able to receive assistance from Jeanette Smith, the Executive Director of South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, one of the members of the Florida Wage Theft Task Force. Smith was able to contact the developer who immediately made arrangements to pay the workers. “But most workers don’t have this option. That is why we need to have a streamlined, accessible process such as the one that Broward County is currently considering,” says Smith.
Wage theft, or the nonpayment of wages owed, does not just hurt employees and their families, it also hurts ethical businesses, particularly small businesses, that are hurt by the unfair competition caused by businesses that use wage theft as part of their business model.
“I have heard of other contractors not paying their workers the minimum wage and this kills my business. I lose bids to these employers all the time. This unfair business model feeds into the economic recession,” states Blake, a General Licensed Contractor in Broward County.
Cynthia Hernandez, a researcher from the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, adds: “The impact of wage theft also raises the question of whether Broward’s economy can be healthy and grow while tolerating an unjust business model that avoids contributing to tax revenues. Maintaining a level playing field for businesses is critical to maintaining a competitive business environment and to economic growth.”
OCCUPY FORT LAUDERDALE LABOR OUTREACH group - Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft Lauderdale, 3970 NW 21st Avenue, Oakland Park 33309
Sat, Oct 13, 4 p.m., Continued planning for Dr. MLK Day. Review of Broward Wage Recovery Ordinance.
Sunday, October 14, 2012: gather at 11:30 a.m. @NW 41st St. & NW 97th Ave, Doral, FL
From the invasion by Columbus in 1492 to the struggles of today in the tomato fields of Florida, the peoples of the Americas have suffered 520 years of repression while giving of themselves in 520 years of resistance. Join us to work for justice and celebrate our successes.
From the Invasion to Exploitation--Struggle Brings Victory from Ecuador & Nicaragua to our Tomato Fields. Protest the existence of the SOA/WHINSEC, reject the use of drones by the U.S. Southern Command against our brothers & sisters in Latin America and demand peace & justice for all the peoples of the Americas.
Sponsored by: CODEPINK: Miami & SOA Watch: South Florida. Co-sponsors include: Coalition of Immokalee Workers; CODEPINK: South Florida; Progressive Democrats, Miami.
For more information call Daniela @ 786-343-3796 (Spanish language),
Linda @ 305-801-0245, or Ray@ 754-423-0051.
Florida Atlantic University Peace Studies Program Speaker Series, Fall 2012 - FAU’s Peace Studies Program, established in 1999 within the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, has brought together students, faculty, and community members to explore pathways to peace and the process of peacebuilding.
As an interdisciplinary program, Peace Studies draws from a broad range of fields: anthropology, literary studies, political science, communication, history, ethics, social work and many more to offer an undergraduate certificate designed to complement a traditional major in any field.
The FAU Peace Studies Program sponsors speakers specializing in peace studies related issues, free and open to the public thanks so the generosity of the Chastain-Johnson Fund and the Schmidt Family Foundation. For more information about FAU’s Peace Studies Program, visit www.fau.edu/peacestudies, Facebook, and Twitter.
Lecture: Deepa Kumar “The Muslims Are Coming: Racism and the Politics of Empire” Thursday, October 18, 7:00PM, Williams Administration Building, Board of Trustees Room, FAU Boca Raton.
Film/Discussion: También la lluvia (Even the Rain). Icíar Bollaín, 2010, 103 min. Wednesday, October 10, 6:30 pm, PA 101, FAU Boca Raton. Introduction by Dr. Michael Horswell (Languages, Linguistics and Comparative Literature). Discussion will follow. Synopsis: Spanish director Sebastián, his executive producer Costa and all his crew are in Bolivia, in the Cochabamba area, to shoot a motion picture about Christopher Columbus, his first explorations and the way the Spaniards treated the Indians at the time.
Costa has chosen this place because the budget of the film is tight and here he can hire supernumeraries, local actors and extras on the cheap. Things go more or less smoothly until a conflict erupts over the privatization of the water supply. The trouble is that one of the local actors, is a leading activist in the protest movement. “Political Images from Latin America” Series Sponsored by Peace Studies, organized by Dr. Carla Calargé at 561-297-2533, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Film/Discussion: El Violin (The Violin). Francisco Vargas, 2005, 98 min. Wednesday, October 17, 6:30 pm, PA 101, FAU Boca Raton. Introduction by Dr. Chris Robé (School of Communication and Multimedia Studies). Discussion will follow. Synopsis: In an unnamed Latin American country that closely resembles Mexico, the government fights a rural insurgency with torture, assault, rape, and murder. Soldiers descend on a town, cutting off the rebels from their cache of ammunition hidden in a field. A family of grandfather, son, and grandson are among the rebels in the hills. The grandfather, with his violin over his shoulder, tries to pass the checkpoint, ostensibly to tend his corn crop. The commanding officer lets him pass but insists on a daily music lesson. Can the old man ferry out the ammunition in his violin case under the soldiers' nose? “Political Images from Latin America” Series Sponsored by Peace Studies, organized by Dr. Carla Calargé at 561-297-2533, email@example.com.
Film/Discussion: Como Era Gostoso o Meu Francês (How Tasty was My Little Frenchman). Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1971/ 84 min. Wednesday, October 24, PA 101, 6 :30 pm, FAU Boca Raton. Introduction by Dr. Gerald Sim (School of Communication and Multimedia Studies). Discussion will follow. Synopsis: In 1594 in Brazil, the Tupinambás Indians are friends of the Frenches and their enemies are the Tupiniquins, friends of the Portugueses. A Frenchman (Arduíno Colassanti) is captured by the Tupinambás, and in spite of his trial to convince them that he is French, they believe he is Portuguese. The Frenchman becomes their slave, and maritally lives with Seboipepe (Ana Maria Magalhães). “Political Images from Latin America” Series Sponsored by Peace Studies, organized by Dr. Carla Calargé at 561-297-2533, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lecture: Dr. Dennis Hanlon, Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), “Jorge Sanjinés’ ‘All-Encompassing Sequence Shot’: From Revolutionary Practice to Indigenismo?” Thursday, November 1, 2012, at 4:00pm, PA 101, FAU Boca Raton. “Political Images from Latin America” Series Sponsored by Peace Studies, organized by Dr. Carla Calargé at 561-297-2533, email@example.com.
Film/Discussion: When the Mountains Tremble. Newton Thomas Sigel, Pamela Yates 1983/83 min. 6:30 pm, Wednesday, November 7th, PA 101, FAU Boca Raton. Introduction by Inbal Mazar (Ph.D. candidate, Languages, Linguistics and Comparative Literature). Discussion will follow. Synopsis: A documentary on the war between the Guatemalan military and the Mayan population, with firsthand accounts by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu. “Political Images from Latin America” Series Sponsored by Peace Studies, organized by Dr. Carla Calargé at 561-297-2533, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lecture: Mehmet Gurses, Assistant Professor, Political Science, FAU. “The Age of Muslim Democracy? Prospects and Challenges” Tuesday, November 6, 3-4:30 PM, in SC 179, FAU Boca Raton. Free and open to the public.
Sat, October 27th, 6:15 p.m. REEL POLITIQUE, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton, 2601 St. Andrews Blvd. Boca Raton. $5 donation suggested.
Join us for our screening and discussion of Robert Greenwald's superb documentary, "Koch Brothers Exposed." See how much influence you could have if you only had $50 billion - you could buy politicians willing to: suppress voting rights, destroy social security, deregulate environmental laws, deny climate change, re-segregate schools, corrupt education, fund extremist think-tanks, determine media "news" and be responsible for illnesses and deaths by the dumping of carcinogens in populated areas.
Our program will begin at 6:15 PM with fabulous music performed by PinkSlip singers musicians Joan Friedenberg and Bill Bowen. Please visit their website: http://www.pinkslipband.com/
Our film begins at 7:00 pm followed by an informative discussion led by Richard Spisak, author, blogger and news director of Progressive News Network: http://averyvoice.com/progressive_news_network.html.
WAR vs. HUMAN NEEDS: Monday, November 12 , Bender’s , Deerfield Beach– Eat and Meet- Bring-a-Dish, 6 p.m. Eat, Socialize. 7 p.m. Meet , Community Education on National Priorities,
Discussions, January session with Judith LeBlanc, national Peace Action Field Coordinator, your initiatives.
Please confirm your attendance. If you’re bringing a dish (for 5?)– what is it? Will send out details – menu and directions-the prior weekend, but MUST HAVE LIST OF ATTENDEES FOR ADMITTANCE.
Alan Grayson is BACK -- and running strong in a new Democratic-leaning Florida congressional district. If he wins, it sure will be nice to have his voice in Congress again!
Last cycle, PCCC members across the nation made over 215,000 calls for Grayson -- contacting key voters.
This coming Tuesday, we are honored to kick off our 2012 Call Out The Vote program by making calls for Alan Grayson!
Can you help put Alan Grayson back in Congress by signing up to make calls from home this Tuesday? Click here for the shifts.
1. Congressman calls evolution lie from 'pit of hell'
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia Rep. Paul Broun said in videotaped remarks that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell" meant to convince people that they do not need a savior.
The Republican lawmaker made those comments during a speech Sept. 27 at a sportsman's banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell. Broun, a medical doctor, is running for re-election in November unopposed by Democrats.
"God's word is true," Broun said, according to a video posted on the church's website. "I've come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior."
Broun also said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days. Those beliefs are held by fundamentalist Christians who believe the creation accounts in the Bible are literally true.
Broun spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti told the Athens Banner-Herald that Broun was recorded speaking off-the-record to a church group about his religious beliefs. He sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
It seems unlikely that Broun's remarks were supposed to be kept private. The banquet was advertised, Broun spoke before an audience and the video of his remarks was posted on the church's website.
2. go-go-go - maybe we'll fix it later
Southern California Edison (SCE), the operator of the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), has proposed to restart one of the facility’s two damaged reactors without repairing or replacing the parts at the root of January’s shutdown. The Thursday announcement came over eight months after a ruptured heat transfer tube leaked radioactive steam, scramming Unit 3 and taking the entire plant offline. (Unit 2, offline for maintenance, revealed similar tube wear in a subsequent inspection; Unit 1 was taken out of service in 1992.)
But perhaps more tellingly, Edison’s plan–which must be reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission–was issued just weeks before the mandated start of hearings on rate cuts. California law requires an investigation into ratepayer relief when a facility fails to deliver electricity for nine months. Support of the zombie San Onofre plant has cost California consumers $54 million a month since the shutdown. It has been widely believed since spring that Unit 3 would likely never be able to safely generate power, and that the almost identical Unit 2 was similarly handicapped and would require a complete overhaul for its restart to even be considered.
Yet, calls for more immediate rate rollbacks were rebuffed by Edison and ignored by members of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Despite studies that showed SONGS tube wear and failure was due to bad modeling and flawed design, and a company pledge to layoff of one-third of plant employees, San Onofre’s operators claimed they were still pursuing a restart.
3. Bradley Manning
Lawsuit challenging Army’s secret prosecution of Bradley Manning to be heard Wednesday
Venue: Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces
Location: 450 E Street Northwest, Washington, D.C.
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 10, 1012 at 10:15 am EST
This Wednesday, October 10th, lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) will argue before the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces to bring transparency to the secretive trial of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Army PFC Bradley Manning. This hearing is open to the media and public. CCR attorneys will argue that the military must make transcripts, judge decisions, prosecution motions, and other basic documents available to the press and the public.
“Public scrutiny plays a vital role in government accountability. Media access to the Manning trial proceedings and documents is critical for the transparency on which democratic government and faith in our justice system rests,” said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy at the time of the initial filing. CCR has called Manning’s proceedings more secretive than tribunals at Guantanamo Bay in many aspects.
4. He who is not to be mocked
The really sad thing, is not that a tasteless (albeit ironic) artwork is censored. Although censorship is always a bad thing, its
more than a graphic artist and the ad team having to go back to the drawing board. It seems doesn't this absolutely and finally
make common cause fundamentalists everywhere with those who are squeamish about a book [see Salman Rushdie] , a movie [martin Scorcese], a cartoon [see Danish Cartoonists] and want the public square fenced in with their delicate sensibilities.
Many of us, thought that the French Revolution once and for all severed the ties in le belle France - between civic and ecclesiastical authority? Wasn't that what lamp posts were for, solving problems of heterodoxy and heresy?
Talk about giving away the higher ground in a stinking theocratic bow. While in a hysterical subplot, simultaneously in Rome, the pope's butler, a whistle-blower who passed along documentation of papal corruption, is instead of being celebrated, is pilloried and charged with burglary. But it's OK - the vatican will be overseeing the "investigation"
5. Vatican Butler convicted of burglary in whistle blower case
Vatican suggests leniency make believe applied. Results of Vatican internal investigation not yet available.
6.Iraq executes 11 people despite international outcry
More than 1,200 people are believed to have been sentenced to death in Iraq since 2004
Continue reading the main story
Struggle for Iraq
• Exploiting fragility
• Iraq's dilemma
• Message of hope
• Divisions laid bare
Eleven people have been executed in Iraq, bringing the number of executions this year to at least 113.
Ten Iraqis and one Algerian were put to death on Sunday, the justice ministry told the BBC. The men were convicted of terrorist activities, reports say.
The high number of executions has led to international calls for a moratorium on Baghdad's use of the death penalty.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has described the situation as "terrifying".
Speaking in January, Ms Pillay said there were major concerns about due process and fairness of trials in Iraq.
She also highlighted concerns about forced confessions, pointing out there were no reports of anyone on death row being pardoned.
The high rate of executions in Iraq has sparked calls for a moratorium from the UN, the UK, EU and the human rights group, Amnesty International.
Executions were halted after President Saddam Hussein was ousted in the US-led invasion into the country in 2003.
However, the Iraqi authorities reinstated capital punishment the following year, saying it was
7. The European Parliament has called on the European Commission to establish a code of conduct governing the online censorship of dissidents.
It wants companies such as Google and Telecom Italia to pledge not to help governments censor their citizens.
The Parliament has adopted a text denouncing the governments of China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia for persecuting political opponents for views expressed online. It also name-checks Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft as companies that help those governments censor their citizens.
"[The] Chinese government has successfully persuaded companies such as Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft to facilitate the censorship of their services in the Chinese internet market," says the text.
Google said it believes that even the censored search engine provides some benefits. "Google respects the fact that people and organisations, including Amnesty, oppose our decision to launch a search service in China," said a Google spokeswoman in a statement.
"Google believes that Google.cn will provide significant benefits to Chinese internet users and that our engagement in China meaningfully expands access to information there.
"Google.cn already discloses to users when information has been removed from our search results in response to local laws and regulations. We believe this provides some additional transparency and is a step in the right direction."
The Parliament cannot directly control companies' behaviour. "There is not pressure we can bring to bear directly on companies, but we have passed this on to the commission and the Council of Ministers and want them to draw up a code of conduct," said a European Parliament spokesman.
The text is not a legally enforceable document, it is simply a register of the Parliament's support for freedom of expression on the internet, the spokesman said.
The document says the Parliament "strongly condemns restrictions on internet content, whether they apply to the dissemination or to the receipt of information, that are imposed by governments and are not in strict conformity with the guarantee of freedom of expression".
The Parliament said it "strongly condemns the harassment and imprisonment of journalists and others who are expressing their opinions on the internet [and] calls, in this respect, on the council and the commission to take all necessary measures vis-à-vis the authorities of the concerned countries for the immediate release of all detained internet users".
The Parliament also wants the commission to consider limiting aid to countries whose internet policies do not protect freedom of expression. The document said the Parliament "calls on the council and the commission when considering its assistance programmes to third countries to take into account the need for unrestricted internet access by their citizens".
The Parliament spokesman said the document could be considered alongside proposals that emerged at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis at the end of last year. He also said it could be adopted not just by the commission, but by the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union.
8. UN-acceptable censorship:
The United Nations tries to outlaw criticism of Islam
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/un-acceptable-censorship-united-nations-outlaw-criticism-islam-article-1.421182#ixzz28ec8KlPR
Almost 500 years ago, on the wall of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, characterizing as "madness" the notion that papal pardons could absolve individuals for their sins. As viewed from Rome, Luther had maligned, even defamed, the church. Luther was eventually excommunicated. His conduct ultimately led to the creation of a Protestant Church in Germany and a Reformation throughout Europe.
It is difficult to believe that in the 21st century anyone would seriously propose that conduct such as Luther's should be deemed illegal. But a few weeks ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations took a giant step in that direction. It adopted - for the fourth straight year - a resolution prepared by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference calling upon all UN nations to adopt legislation banning the "defamation" of religion. Spurred by the Danish cartoons of 2005, some of which portrayed the Prophet Muhammed in a manner deemed offensive by the OIC, the resolution was opposed by the United States, most European nations, Japan, India and a number of other nations.
Nonetheless, it has now been adopted.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/un-acceptable-censorship-united-nations-outlaw-criticism-islam-article-1.421182#ixzz28ecCmFwv
9. Morsi UN Speech: Egypt President Calls for Ban on Anti Islam Speech, Just Censorship in Disguise
During the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, both Egypt and Yemen called for legislation that would limit the freedom of expression among member countries.
Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, explained that “Egypt respects freedom of expression. One that is not used to incite hatred against anyone. One that is not directed towards one specific religion or culture. A freedom of expression that tackles extremism and violence. Not the freedom of expression that deepens ignorance and disregards others.”
Pakistan has also stated it has an interest in this type of legislation, but was a little more upfront about their actual intent. “We would go to the UN and OIC and get a law passed to stop anti-Islam activities, including blasphemy, forever,” said Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. I suppose he should get points for honesty.
Now, let’s ignore the fact that such legislation 1) has absolutely no chance of passing the general assembly and 2) has absolutely no chance of ever being enforced if by some miracle it was passed. Because this isn’t a serious call for action so much as it is political and cultural posturing on the part of Egypt, Yemen and Pakistan.
This isn’t to say that these countries, and the Muslim community in general, are not in favor of such a law being passed, but they’re not stupid either. They realize it’s not going to happen. But this is just another demonstration against the recent Islamophobia in the West. Only this time, it’s non-violent.
This is progress, I suppose. But it’s not exactly a step in the right direction, either.
10. withdraw treaty from iraq
1. While conducting military operations pursuant to this Agreement, it is the duty of members of the United States Forces and of the civilian component to respect Iraqi laws, customs, traditions, and conventions and to refrain from any activities that are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of this Agreement. It is the duty of the United States to take all necessary measures for this purpose.
2.With the exception of members of the United States Forces and of the civilian component, the United States Forces may not transfer any person into or out of Iraq on vehicles, vessels, or aircraft covered by this Agreement, unless in accordance with applicable Iraqi laws and regulations, including implementing arrangements as may be agreed to by the Government of Iraq.
Positioning and Storage of Defense Equipment
The United States Forces may place within agreed facilities and areas and in other temporary locations agreed upon by the Parties defense equipment, supplies, and materials that are required by the United States Forces in connection with agreed activities under this Agreement. The use and storage of such equipment shall be proportionate to the temporary missions of the United States Forces in Iraq pursuant to Article 4 of this Agreement and shall not be related, either directly or indirectly, to systems of weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, radiological weapons, biological weapons, and related waste of such weapons). The United States Forces shall control the use and relocation of defense equipment that they own and are stored in Iraq. The United States Forces shall ensure that no storage depots for explosives or munitions are near residential areas, and they shall remove such materials stored therein. The United States shall provide the Government of Iraq with essential information on the numbers and types of such stocks.
Posted by Rick Spisak at 5:39 PM