Thursday, April 14, 2011

CIA Manchurian candidates

A group of military veterans in California are suing the CIA over allegedly implanting remote control devices in their brains. They allege the spy agency was on a quest to turn humans into robot-like assassins via electrodes planted in their brains.

Why The U.S. Wants Military Commission Show Trials For 9/11 Suspects

By Jeffrey Kaye, The Public Record

A number of commentators have replied to Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement today that five suspects in the 9/11 attacks, including alleged Al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will not be tried in civilian courts for the terrorist attacks almost ten years ago, but will be tried by President Obama’s revamped military commissions tribunals. What no commentator has stated thus far is the plain truth that the commissions’ main purpose is to produce government propaganda, not justice.

These are meant to be show trials, part of an overarching plan of “exploitation” of prisoners, which includes, besides a misguided attempt by some to gain intelligence data, the inducement of false confessions and the recruitment of informants via torture. The aim behind all this is political: to mobilize the U.S. population for imperialist war adventures abroad, and political repression and economic austerity at home.

Holder claims he wanted civilian trials that would “prove the defendants’ guilt while adhering to the bedrock traditions and values of our laws.” The Attorney General blamed Congress for passing restrictions on bringing Guantanamo prisoners to the United States for making civilian trials inside the United States impossible. Marcy Wheeler has noted that the Congressional restrictions related to the Department of Defense, not the Department of Justice, and there is plenty of reason to believe the Obama administration could have pressed politicians on this issue, but chose not to. (Others see it differently.)

Human rights organizations have responded with dismay, if not outrage. Center for Constitutional Rights, whose attorneys have been active in the legal defense of a number of Guantanamo prisoners, stated, “The announcement underscores the fact that decisions about whether to try detainees in federal court or by military commission are purely political. The decision is clearly driven not by the nature of the alleged offense, or where and when it was committed, but by the unpopularity of the detainee and the political culture in Washington.” CCR also compared the precedent-setting behavior to “Egypt’s apparent plans to use military trials for protesters at Tahir Square.”

[ ... ]

The Stalinist governments of the USSR and East Europe used to make a great practice of show trials, one of the most famous being the trial of Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty. Arthur Koestler’s famous book Darkness at Noon is about the show trial and confession of an “old Bolshevik” under Stalin’s regime. Such show trials still occur in many parts of the world, from China and Vietnam, to Indonesia, Burma, Iran, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and the list could go on and on.

That list now includes the United States, where most recently, former child prisoner Omar Khadr was tried in a military commission, pleading guilty with a coerced confession, after years of torture and imprisonment in solitary confinement, his penalty phase of the military tribunal amounting to a show trial, complete with psychiatric “expert” testimony about Khadr’s supposed propensity for “terrorism.” The result? A 40-year sentence for the young man who never spent a free day as an adult, part of a staged deal with the U.S. military prosecutors, who presumably will release Khadr to Canadian authorities in a year or so, where he will continue to be imprisoned, pending any appeals there. But the penalty “trial” got a lot of press, and the U.S. was able to garner a propaganda “victory.”

Uruguay senate passes amnesty end for junta crimes

A closely divided senate has passed legislation to overturn an amnesty for human rights crimes by the military during Uruguay's 1973-85 dictatorship, moving to overrule voters who upheld the law twice.

The measure passed 16-15 late Tuesday after a 12-hour debate and now goes to the lower house for minor changes. It could become law by May 20 — the day Uruguay honors political prisoners who were kidnapped and killed during the junta's crackdown on leftists.

Once enacted, the legislation would allow prosecutions for crimes against humanity that were committed during Uruguay's "dirty war," fulfilling a key goal of President Jose Mujica and the leftist wing of the governing Broad Front coalition.

During the debate, Sen. Oscar Lopez Goldaracena of the Broad Front called an end to the amnesty necessary for "removing the rules of impunity and granting rights to the citizenry."

Opposition parties on the right and Uruguay's retired military angrily opposed the move, and the issue roiled the governing coalition as well, challenging a common political ground this small South American nation has built through nearly a quarter-century of democracy.

"It's clear now what kind of morality moves our enemies. It's profoundly immoral, antidemocratic," said retired Col. Jose Carlos Araujo, spokesman for the Liberty and Harmony forum of former military officials. "They don't even respect the decisions of the people."

Uruguay has largely avoided probing old wounds from the era in which numerous South American governments cracked down hard on leftists.

The military amnesty law — passed a year after a 1985 amnesty for crimes by leftists — has protected most uniformed officials. The measure adopted by the senate would undo only the military amnesty, leaving intact the amnesty for leftist guerrillas.

A peace commission found in 2003 that 175 political activists were killed during Uruguay's 12-year dictatorship, including 26 in clandestine torture centers. Previously, only rights crimes considered to be beyond the military amnesty's scope — such as murders outside Uruguay — have been prosecuted, leading to prison terms for about a dozen officials.

Street protests banned in Baghdad

Sara Ghasemilee reports for Al Arabiya

Iraq has decided to officially ban street protests in the capital Baghdad and limited approved demonstrations sites to three soccer stadiums, a security official said on Wednesday, according to reports.

"We have specified Al-Shaab, Kashafa and Zawraa stadiums as permitted sites for demonstrations in Baghdad instead of Ferdus or Tahrir squares," the capital's security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said at a news conference televised by state broadcaster Iraqiya TV.

The decision follows after regular demonstrations were held in Bagdad with thousands of people protesting against government corruption, poor basic services and unemployment.

Hitachi, Toshiba Bid To Clean Up Fukushima Mess

From Companies Vie for Plant-Closing Job by Juro Osawa and Rebecca Smith, Wall Street Journal

Two Japanese corporate giants submitted preliminary plans to conduct the long-term shutdown of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power complex, introducing a cast of players who stand to be active at the site for decades.

Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. each confirmed that they have crafted separate plans—each supported by U.S. contractors—to shut down the complex once the plant operator has successfully cooled the reactors and brought them under control. Though the plans are preliminary and don't represent formal bids for work, they begin to suggest the long, expensive process that lies ahead for the Japanese government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. as they look to bring Japan's nuclear crisis to a close.

Hitachi said Wednesday that it submitted last week a long-term plan to decommission the damaged nuclear plant. Hitachi said it voluntarily submitted the proposal after compiling it with help from its nuclear business partner General Electric Co. and two other U.S. companies, Exelon Corp. and Bechtel Corp.

Hitachi didn't say how long it would take to implement all the measures, but "generally speaking, such a process could take about 30 years to complete," said spokesman Masanao Sato.

The submission came four days after Toshiba offered its own long-term plan for decommissioning the plant. Unlike Hitachi's voluntary submission, Toshiba's plan was a response to Tepco's earlier request for information on how to remove possibly damaged fuel from the plant and safely transport it to another location.

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Swazi police use tear gas on protest

From the Herald Sun

Swazi police used batons to beat some 1,000 teachers and students yesterday and arrested scores of activists to stop a banned march against Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati III.

Police stormed the teachers' union offices where a group of teachers and students had sought refuge after officers fired tear gas and water cannons to stop them marching to the main city of Manzini.

"Police are now beating the teachers. They are are throwing teargas and beating teachers. People are running helter skelter. Police are beating us with batons," said Smangele Mmema, a member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, one of the main groups behind the protest movement.

Manzini had ground to a halt by mid-afternoon, according to the Swaziland Solidarity Network, a pro-democracy organisation based in South Africa, as the military was sent following clashes between police and protesters.

Musical Innerlube: Pandit Shubhendra Rao and Saskia Rao

Sitar: Suhbhendra Rao and Cello: Saskia Rao De Haas
An Evening of String & Dance at The Bhavan Centre, London

East Marries West is the new musical language developed by Pandit Shubhendra Rao and Saskia Rao. Its soul is open, its mind secure in the Indian Classical tradition. .Pt. Shubhendra Rao is one of India's leading Sitar players and a protégé of sitar Maestro Ravi Shankar. Saskia has incorporated the cello to Indian music and created a new instrument: the Indian Cello. A student of Shubhendra made this short film. It shows a few excerpts of their concerts around the world and a short interview with the artists. For more details on this cross-cultural artist couple, check out their websites: and

"I won't participate in an illegal war": military objectors, the Nuremberg defense, and the obligation to refuse illegal orders

Robert E. Murdough

I. Introduction

When Army First Lieutenant (1LT) Ehren Watada refused to deploy to Iraq in 2006, he became the first U.S. Army officer of Operation Iraqi Freedom to disobey deployment orders. (1) First Lieutenant Watada believed the war in Iraq was illegal, and he declared it was "the duty, the obligation of every soldier, and specifically the officers, to evaluate the legality, the truth behind every order--including the order to go to war." (2) First Lieutenant Watada claimed he had personally researched the legal issues surrounding the war and had come to the conclusion the war was illegal, (3) and he insisted that "[t]he wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army's own Law of Land Warfare." He further stated that his "participation would make [him a] party to war crimes." (4)

First Lieutenant Watada became a minor cause celebre within the American antiwar movement (5) primarily because of his rank as an officer, (6) but he was not the only servicemember to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. At a congressional hearing in 2007, Sergeant Matthis Chiroux of the U.S. Army Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), who had received orders recalling him to active service, publicly declared his intention to disobey his recall orders, calling the war an "illegal and unconstitutional occupation." (7) Jeremy Hinzman, the first of several American deserters to attempt to avoid service in Iraq by seeking refuge in Canada, claimed his participation in the war would make him "a criminal." (8)

Often citing the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg as justification to refuse orders to fight, saying that soldiers bear responsibility for "crimes against the peace" and "wars of aggression," (9) and invoking the well-established duty of soldiers to refuse to follow illegal orders, these soldiers and others like them have claimed they could not, in good conscience, participate in the Iraq war. (10) They faced administrative and judicial punishment for refusing to obey orders.

This article examines whether soldiers have a defense when they refuse to participate in a war they believe is illegal and, consequently, claim an order to deploy is an illegal order. Part II of this article outlines the legal responsibilities of soldiers regarding illegal orders and discusses the difficulty of defining an illegal war under domestic law. Despite much litigation, the federal judiciary has rarely addressed the question of a war's legality, and when it has, it has consistently found the war in question to be legal. This article then examines whether, absent a determination that a war is illegal, a defense is still available under military law against a charge of desertion, dereliction of duty, missing movement, or failure to follow an order. (11) Part III considers the responsibility for illegal war under international law, including the precedents set in the 1940s at Nuremberg. This part also examines the philosophical distinctions between jus ad bellum (justice of war) and jus in bello (justice in war) and whether military personnel can be considered war criminals for their participation in an illegal war. Part IV addresses the significance of these issues and the danger to national security that would result from allowing soldiers to choose which wars to fight.

~ Read PDF version here ~

Surviving Bureaucracy: 036, de Juan Fernando Andrés Parrilla y Esteban Roel García Vázquez

Finalista de la Novena Edición de Jameson Notodofilmfest

The 'Molecular Octopus': A Little Brother of 'Schroedinger’s Cat'

From Science Daily:

For the first time, the quantum behaviour of molecules consisting of more than 400 atoms was demonstrated by quantum physicists based at the University of Vienna in collaboration with chemists from Basel and Delaware. The international and interdisciplinary team of scientists has set a new record in the verification of the quantum properties of nanoparticles.

In addition, an important aspect of the famous thought experiment known as 'Schroedinger's cat' is probed. However, due to the particular shape of the chosen molecules the reported experiment could be more fittingly called 'molecular octopus'.

The researchers report their findings in Nature Communications.

'Schroedinger's cat': simultaneously dead and alive?

Since the beginning of the 20th century, quantum mechanics has been a pillar of modern physics. Still, some of its predictions seem to disagree with our common sense and the observations in our everyday life. This contradiction was brought to the fore 80 years ago by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schroedinger; he wondered whether it was possible to realize states of extreme superposition such as, for example, that of a cat which is simultaneously dead and alive. This experiment has not been realized with actual cats for good reasons. Nevertheless, the successful experiments by Gerlich et al. show that it is possible to reproduce important aspects of this thought experiment with large organic molecules.

Briton 'beaten to death' in a Dubai police cell after being arrested for swearing

A British tourist was beaten to death by officers in a Dubai police station after being arrested for swearing, it was claimed yesterday.

Lee Bradley Brown, 39, was on holiday at a £1,000-a-night hotel in the Arab state when he was thrown into a filthy cell.

Police sources say he was ‘badly beaten up’ by a group of police officers, leaving him unconscious on the floor.

Inmates told how they watched officers bundle him into a body-bag and drag him out of the building.

During Mr Brown’s six days in Bur Dubai police station, guards refused to give him enough food and water and did not let him see a lawyer, it is alleged.

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Bush Condemned Property Via Eminent Domain to Build Rangers Stadium - And Made $14 Million Off the Deal

By Jon Ponder, Pensito Review

Governing elite: The recent Supreme Court decision that allows local governments to use eminent domain to evict property owners in order to use their property for private development set off a howl on the Right.

To counter the ruling, Republicans in Congress are working on legislation that would cut off all federal funding to local governments who use eminent domain to evict property owners.

The president may have a hard time keeping a straight face when he signs the bill, however. In his past life as a baseball team owner, Mr. Bush profited from exactly this sort of eminent domain eviction - to the tune of $14.3 million.

[ ... ]

Bush sold his interest in the Rangers in 1998 for $14.9 million. He had invested a total of $606,302.27 [in 1989] and was one of two managing partners.

Britons becoming 'increasingly miserable', warns Action for Happiness campaign

Murray Wardrop reports for the Telegraph:

Research suggests that despite having much more materially than previous generations, the country is no happier than it was half a century ago.

Experts warn that unless we undergo a “radical cultural change”, Britain will slide into unprecedented depths of despair blighted by rising rates of suicide and depression.

A group of eminent British thinkers from the worlds of education, economics and politics – backed by the Dalai Lama – yesterday launched a campaign to halt the nation’s psychological decline.

Action for Happiness, a mass movement to promote mental wellbeing, calls on people to address 10 key deficiencies in their lives to counter our growing gloom.


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