We Say Fight Back!
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Rougers Join Coalition to Fight Obama’s Funding of Michigan EA A large coalition of Michigan parents, PTA leaders, K-12 teachers, professors and others — including the superintendent of Detroit Public Schools — sent a letter (see text below) to President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan protesting the selection of a new education entity as a finalist in the latest edition of Race to the Top, the administration’s signature education initiative. www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/11/30/michigan-coalition-opposes-race-to-top-finalist-in-letter-to-obama-duncan/
The Little Red Schoolhouse
UTLA Joins Chicago TU and the Rest of the Unionites with Sellout Merit Pay and Test Scores (vote NO) After months of tense negotiations, leaders of the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union have tentatively agreed to use student test scores to evaluate instructors for the first time, officials announced Friday.
Under the breakthrough agreement, the nation’s second-largest school district would join Chicago and a growing number of other cities in using test scores as one measure of how much teachers help their students progress academically in a year. www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1201-lausd-evals-20121201,0,4606955.story
The Education Agenda is a War Agenda: Class and Empire’s Wars Welcome to the eCYBERMISSION Program
eCYBERMISSION is a web-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) competition free for students in grades six through nine where teams can compete for State, Regional and National Awards while working to solve problems in their community. Through eCYBERMISSION and its entire portfolio of Army Educational Outreach Programs (AEOP), the U.S. Army is committed to answering the nation’s need for increased literacy in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Expanding STEM education opportunities across the country will not only improve our global competitiveness and national security; it will open doors to new career paths for American students that lead to a brighter tomorrow. (Click here to see more) www.ecybermission.com/public/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fDefault.aspx
Capital’s Schools Mired Deep in Bond Debt Dozens of California school or community college districts took out bonds in the past six years that will require them to pay back up to $23 for every $1 they borrowed by the time the bonds mature, according to data compiled by the Los Angeles Times.
The data on capital appreciation bonds shows that the Poway Unified School District’s deal — which has received a lot of bad publicity of late — was by no means the worst in the state.
More than 40 other bond deals have a steeper debt ratio than Poway’s, including three others in San Diego County.
The CABs, as they are known, allow agencies to defer repayment for up to 40 years to avoid a present-day increase in property taxes.
Interest compounds during the long maturation periods, leading to agencies paying back far more down the road than they borrowed. Poway took out $105 million and will repay $981.6 million by the time the bond matures, or $9.35 for every $1 borrowed. www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/nov/29/poway-not-alone-issuing-capital-bonds/
More on those Pesky Bonds Banging down the Doors of Capitalist Schools Two hundred school districts across California have borrowed billions of dollars using a costly and risky form of financing that has saddled them with staggering debt, according to a Times analysis.
Schools and community colleges have turned increasingly to so-called capital appreciation bonds in the economic downturn, which depressed property values and made it harder for districts to raise money for new classrooms, auditoriums and sports facilities.
Unlike conventional shorter-term bonds that require payments to begin immediately, this type of borrowing lets districts postpone the start of payments for decades. Some districts are gambling the economic picture will improve in the decades ahead, with local tax collections increasingly enough to repay the notes. www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-school-bond-20121129,0,2358068.story
Pay to Play Schooling and History Costs More History professors at the University of Florida think their courses are plenty valuable, but they don’t want them to be among the most expensive. And they are organizing to protest a gubernatorial task force’s recommendation to charge more for majors without an immediate job payoff — a recommendation that the historians fear could discourage enrollments.
History professors have organized a petition against one of the more controversial recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform: differential tuition that could be punitive to the humanities. They’ve garnered more than 1,300 names in a week, including those from places far beyond the Sunshine State.
Read more: www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/11/26/u-florida-history-professors-fight-differential-tuition#ixzz2DsBi0koU
Inside Higher Ed
Chula Vista CA joins Test Score Hysteria Without apologies or much controversy, the Chula Vista Elementary School District has been crunching test-score data to identify and honor its most effective teachers for the past six years.
In the corporate world of bottom lines, such a practice might seem routine. But in the politicized landscape of public education, using test scores to rate teachers can invite labor grievances and raise many questions about what those scores really mean.
“I hear some people say test scores don’t matter,” said Francisco Escobedo, superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “Well, they do matter. They matter to parents, they matter to the community, they matter to real estate agents.” www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/nov/26/district-uses-test-scores-spotlight-students-teach/
Is it Possible to Have Good Teachers in Low Scoring Schools????? Some of the state’s worst-performing schools doled out favorable ratings to teachers: 48 of the state’s 146 priority schools — so named because they are in the bottom 5% academically — rated all of their teachers in the top two categories. Several said all of their teachers were highly effective. www.freep.com/article/20121129/NEWS06/311290189/Grading-teachers-proves-difficult-Staffs-at-some-of-state-s-worst-schools-get-gushing-reviews?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE
One More time on the Test Cheats In July 2010, when Saliyah Cruz was named principal of Communications Technology High, state test scores said the small school in Southwest Philadelphia was one of the best in the city.
Everything else said something different.
SAT scores were poor. Summer enrichment programs were empty. Loads of kids tested into remedial reading and math. According to Cruz, even the police complained that many students had spent much of the previous school year at the nearby Penrose Plaza strip mall instead of in class.
“Those kinds of things didn’t add up for me,” she said. “If my kids were out in the street when they were supposed to be in school, how were  percent scoring proficient?”
Two years later, an answer appeared: A mountain of circumstantial evidence now suggests that Comm Tech’s results on the 2010 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams were inflated by adult cheating. www.huffingtonpost.com/blackberry/p.html?id=2170797
Corruption is Endemic In Capitalism and its schools The cash was handed over in the front seat of the superintendent’s Mercedes-Benz, a black sedan parked outside a South Bay steakhouse in the weeks before the 2010 election.
By his own account in a sworn deposition, San Ysidro schools Superintendent Manuel Paul took the money, about $2,500, from a local builder who was on the hunt for a seven- or eight-figure construction contract.
Paul maintains the money was a campaign contribution and says he drove straight to a Tijuana print shop to buy signs to help a school board member get re-elected. www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/nov/17/superintendent-took-2500-cash/
The International Hot War of the Rich on the Poor
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: Nately died a wealthy man, Yossarian. He had over sixty shares in the syndicate.
Yossarian: What difference does that make? He’s dead.
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: Then his family will get it.
Yossarian: He didn’t have time to have a family.
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: Then his parents will get it.
Yossarian: They don’t need it, they’re rich.
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: Then they’ll understand. (Catch 22-Heller)
After Glorious US Surge Victory in Iraq, It’s an Air Route to Supply Syrian Military vs CIA Iraqi airspace has emerged as a main supply route for weapons from Iran, which has an enormous stake in Syria, at a time when President Bashar al-Assad is under increasing pressure from rebel fighters. ….. There’s his war record in Iraq, starting when he headed up the Iraqi security force training program in 2004. He’s more or less skated on that, including all the weapons he lost, the insane corruption, and the fact that he essentially armed and trained what later became known as “Iraqi death squads.” On his final Iraq tour, during the so-called “surge,” he pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.
He did it by papering over what the surge actually was: We took the Shiites’ side in a civil war, armed them to the teeth, and suckered the Sunnis into thinking we’d help them out too. It was a brutal enterprise — over 800 Americans died during the surge, while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives during a sectarian conflict that Petraeus’ policies fueled. Then he popped smoke and left the members of the Sunni Awakening to fend for themselves. www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/world/middleeast/us-is-stumbling-in-effort-to-cut-syria-arms-flow.html?ref=global-home
America’s Aircraft Carrier, Japan, Continues To Re-Arm After years of watching its international influence eroded by a slow-motion economic decline, the pacifist nation of Japan is trying to raise its profile in a new way, offering military aid for the first time in decades and displaying its own armed forces in an effort to build regional alliances and shore up other countries’ defenses to counter a rising China. www.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/world/asia/japan-expands-its-regional-military-role.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&ref=global-home&adxnnlx=1354309299-3+N4cd3n/segRTZcMXFdbg&
Michael Hastings: Sins of David Petraeus The fraud that General David Petraeus perpetrated on America started many years before the general seduced Paula Broadwell, a lower-ranking officer 20 years his junior, after meeting her on a campus visit to Harvard.
More so than any other leading military figure, Petraeus’ entire philosophy has been based on hiding the truth, on deception, on building a false image. “Perception” is key, he wrote in his 1987 Princeton dissertation: “What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred.”
Yes, it’s not what actually happens that matters — it’s what you can convince the public it thinks happened.
Until this weekend, Petraeus had been incredibly successful in making the public think he was a man of great integrity and honor, among other things. Most of the stories written about him fall under what we hacks in the media like to call “a blow job.” Vanity Fair. The New Yorker. The New York Times. The Washington Post. Time. Newsweek. In total, all the profiles, stage-managed and controlled by the Pentagon’s multimillion dollar public relations apparatus, built up an unrealistic and superhuman myth around the general that, in the end, did not do Petraeus or the public any favors. Ironically, despite all the media fellating, our esteemed and sex-obsessed press somehow missed the actual blow job. www.buzzfeed.com/mhastings/the-sins-of-general-david-petraeus
The Scams of David Petraeus THE problem was that he hadn’t led his own Army to win anything even approximating a victory in either Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s not just General Petraeus. The fact is that none of our generals have led us to a victory since men like Patton and my grandfather, Lucian King Truscott Jr., stormed the beaches of North Africa and southern France with blood in their eyes and military murder on their minds. www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/opinion/sunday/a-phony-hero-for-a-phony-war.html?emc=tnt&tntemail1=y&_r=1&
War Whore Tom Ricks Hints at a Coming Draft (plus taxes) –Tax increases are not anathema, as least to the people to came to my talks. When the person introducing me at the Seattle Library mentioned that a recent approval of a tax increase would keep open more library branches on weekends, there was a round of hearty applause. I heard the same sentiments from people in LA about the recent vote in their state to raise revenues, I think for education.
–Nor is a draft out of the question to these people. To my surprise, the same crowd in Seattle that applauded the tax hike also warmly welcomed my suggestion that the country would benefit from having some sort of draft. ricks.foreignpolicy.com/category/region/north_america
Besides the Lies On Benghazi, Did Anyone notice the Rice Idiot Failure in Libya and Africa But there are other issues with Rice’s record, both as U.N. ambassador and earlier as a senior Clinton administration official, that are all but certain to come out at any confirmation hearing, many of them concerning her performance in Africa. Critics say that since her failure to advocate an intervention in the terrible genocide in Rwanda in 1994 — Bill Clinton later said his administration’s unwillingness to act was the worst mistake of his presidency — she has conducted a dubious and naïve policy of looking the other way at allies who commit atrocities, reflecting to some degree the stark and emotionless realpolitik sometimes associated with Obama, who is traveling this week to another formerly isolated dictatorship: Burma. Most recently, critics say, Rice held up publication of a U.N. report that concluded that the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, with whom she has a long and close relationship, was supplying and financing a brutal Congolese rebel force known as the M23 Movement. M23’s leader, Bosco Ntaganda, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for recruiting child soldiers and is accused of committing atrocities. She has even wrangled with Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, and others in the department, who all have been more critical of the Rwandans, according to some human-rights activists who speak with State’s Africa team frequently. nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/susan-rice-benghazi-may-be-least-of-her-problems-20121116
War Escort Rice Owns Big Stock in Companies Doing Biz With Iranians One of the biggest of the holdings, between $50,000 and $100,000, according to Rice’s disclosure statement for 2011, is Royal Dutch Shell. The international oil giant stopped buying crude oil from Iran early this year as sanctions were tightened to block oil exports by Iran and to stop financial transactions with its central bank. www.washingtonpost.com/politics/rice-holds-stakes-in-firms-that-have-done-business-in-iran/2012/11/29/c0a8ffe2-3a77-11e2-8a97-363b0f9a0ab3_story.html?hpid=z2
Those Skank Chasing Generals and the Press that Hoovers them Petraeus and McChrystal crashed and burned for the same underlying reason: hubris. McChrystal became cocky and his staff contemptuous of civilian authority; Petraeus came to think he really could have it all, the super-secret job and the super-sexy mistress. An ideal of selfless service devolved into self-indulgent preening in a wider American culture all-too-eager to raise its star generals into the pantheon of Caesars and Napoleons, and its troops into the halls of Valhalla.
The English used to say of American troops in World War II that they were “overpaid, over-sexed, and over here.” Now we’re overhyped, oversold, and over there, wherever “there” might happen to be in a constantly shifting, perpetual war on terror.
In our particular drama, generals may well be the actors who strut and fret their hour upon the stage, but their directors are the national security complex and associated politicians, their producers the military-industrial complex’s corporate handlers, and their agents a war-junky media. And we, the audience in the cheap seats, must take some responsibility as well. Even when our military adventures spiral down after a promising opening week, the enthusiastic applause the American public has offered to our celebrity military adventurers and the lack of pressure on the politicians who choose to fund them only serve to keep bullets flying and troops dying. …..In Roman times, a proconsul was a military ruler of imperial territories, a man with privileges as sweeping as his powers. Today’s four-star generals and admirals — there are 38 of them — often have equivalent powers, and the perks to go with them. Executive jets on call. Large retinues. Personal servants. Private chefs.
Such power and privilege corrupts. It leads to General Petraeus, then head of Central Command, being escorted to a private party in Florida by a 28-cop motorcade. It leads to General William Ward, the head of U.S. Africa Command, spending lavishly and so abusing his position that he was demoted and forced into retirement. It leads to generals being so disconnected from their troops that they think nothing of sending a trove of flirtatious emails to a starry-eyed socialite.
Disturbing as their personal behavior may be, the real problem is that America’s four-star proconsuls are far more powerful than our civilian ambassadors and foreign service members. Whether in Afghanistan, Africa, or Washington, the military controls the lion’s share of the money and resources. That, in turn, means its proconsuls end up dictating foreign policy based on a timeless golden rule: “he who has the gold makes the rules.” Such scandals in U.S. war zones should surprise no one. After all, noting that the Pentagon couldn’t account for $2.3 trillion (yes — that’s trillion) in spending, www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175622/
Brzenski: US Need Not Follow Israel Like a Stupid Mule into Iran Former White House national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said Monday [Nov. 26] that the United States has “no implicit obligation to follow like a stupid mule” an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear sites and that a US or an Israeli attack on the Islamic Republic would be “the worst option” should negotiations fail.
Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/brzezinskiusiran.html#ixzz2DsCbkmny
Reminder: Bill Blum on US Invasions 1945 to 1999 www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blum/US_Interventions_WBlumZ.html
The International Economic War of the Rich on the Poor
Capitalism, the Root of Poverty (add in the state and empire) The official poverty rate, which severely understates the real level of social deprivation, has likewise hit a new record. There are now some 49.7 million people living beneath the poverty line in the United States, or 16.1 percent of the total population, according to the US Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure released this month. In 2006 there were 37.3 million people in poverty and the official poverty rate was 12.5 percent.
The supplemental report revises poverty statistics by taking into account the effect of government programs and regional costs of living. In particular, the report found extraordinary rates of poverty in states with a high cost of living.
By the new measure, California had a poverty rate of 23.5, i.e., nearly one in four residents in the nation’s wealthiest and most populous state is poor. California, home to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, as well as garment sweatshops and migrant farm labor camps, has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the US.
Meanwhile the Census data revealed that median household income in America, adjusted for inflation, fell by 1.5 percent from the previous year. The figure was 8.1 percent lower than in 2007 and 8.9 percent lower than its high point in 1999. The income of the typical US family in 2011 fell for the fourth straight year and sank to levels last seen in 1995.
The high levels of poverty and social misery caused by the economic crisis have been exacerbated by continual cuts to social programs. … With the November voting out of the way, the Democrats and Republicans have turned single-mindedly to attacking entitlement programs and whatever remains of the social “safety net.” For such programs, “There is no money.” Meanwhile the politicians’ multimillionaire backers gorge themselves on record profits and Wall Street stock market bonanza. www.globalresearch.ca/the-social-crisis-in-the-us-the-figures-are-staggering/5312854
18.7 Million Jobless in Euro Zone The labor market report Friday underlined the grave effect that the euro zone crisis had had on European society. The jobless rate in the euro zone rose to 11.7 percent in October, breaking the previous record in September of 11.6 percent, the official Eurostat statistical agency reported from Luxembourg.
The jobs market tends to react to underlying economic trends with a time lag, so the rise was not necessarily inconsistent with Mr. Draghi’s prediction of a turnaround next year.
Still, that was probably little consolation to the 18.7 million people in the euro zone who have been classified as jobless. …Spain, struggling with collapse of its real estate sector and painful austerity measures, again led all 27 European Union countries, with a 26.2 percent jobless rate. Greece was in second place with a 25.4 percent rate in August, the latest month for which data were available.
Austria’s 4.3 percent rate was the lowest.
For youth, the unemployment picture was even worse: 23.9 percent of people under 25 in the euro zone are currently defined as unemployed, Eurostat said. www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/business/global/daily-euro-zone-watch.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y
The Walmart Strikers Voted Obamagogue, but who is Hustling for the Waltons? First lady Michelle Obama joined Wal-Mart executives at a Southeast Washington community center Thursday morning to announce a campaign by the low-priced retail giant to offer more healthful foods and push its suppliers to do the same. In a glowing endorsement of the type that first ladies have rarely, if ever, made of major corporations, Obama called Wal-Mart’s effort “a huge victory for folks all across this country” and said it has the “potential to transform the marketplace.”
“When I see a company like Wal-Mart launch an initiative like this, I feel more hopeful than ever before,” said Obama, who has made fighting childhood obesity and increasing nutritious food options in poor neighborhoods a top priority. “We can improve how we make and sell food in this country.” www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/20/AR2011012001581.html
Paraphrasing an Old Boss: “I can get 1/2 the Working Class to feed poison to the other 1/2 but now they want a raise!” A week after hundreds of Wal-Mart employees walked off their jobs to demand better wages and the freedom to form a union, fast-food workers from some of the nation’s largest chains are staging a similar walkout.
Employees from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and KFC are staging protests in locations around New York City today, demanding $15 an hour in pay – more than double the minimum wage some receive – and the right to form a union. www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mo-fast-food-strike-20121129,0,6927345.story
SubImperialism and the BRICS Along with renewed looting are various symptoms of internal crisis and socio-economic oppressions one can find in many BRICS, including severe inequality, poverty, unemployment, disease, violence (again, especially against women), inadequate education, prohibitions on labour organising and other suffering.
The rising inequality within BRICS – except for Brazil whose minimum wage increase lowered the extreme Gini coefficient to at least a bit below South Africa’s – is accompanied by worsening social tensions, which in turn is responded to with worsening political and civil rights violations, such as increased securitisation of societies, militarisation and arms trading, prohibitions on protest, rising media repression and official secrecy, debilitating patriarchy and homophobia, activist jailings and torture, and even massacres (including in Durban where a notorious police hit squad killed more than 50 people in recent years, and even after unveiling by local media and attempted prosecutions, continues unpunished today). www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/23/the-rise-of-sub-imperialism/
The Emergence of Fascism as a Popular Mass Movement
Speilberg, acting out his “Daddy Left My Family” Freudian Fantasy again, finds Another Savior it’s disappointing that in a movie devoted to explaining the abolition of slavery in the United States, African-American characters do almost nothing but passively wait for white men to liberate them. For some 30 years, historians have been demonstrating that slaves were crucial agents in their emancipation; however imperfectly, Ken Burns’s 1990 documentary “The Civil War” brought aspects of that interpretation to the American public. Yet Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” gives us only faithful servants, patiently waiting for the day of Jubilee. www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/30/paternalism-and-ass-covering-in-spielbergs-lincoln/
Corrections Corporation of America used in drug sweeps of public school students in Arizona Vista Grande High School Principal Tim Hamilton ordered the school — with a student population of 1,776 — on “lock down,” kicking off the first “drug sweep” in the school’s four-year history. According to Hamilton, “lock down” is a state in which, “everybody is locked in the room they are in, and nobody leaves — nobody leaves the school, nobody comes into the school.”
“Everybody is locked in, and then they bring the dogs in, and they are teamed with an administrator and go in and out of classrooms. They go to a classroom and they have the kids come out and line up against a wall. The dog goes in and they close the door behind, and then the dog does its thing, and if it gets a hit, it sits on a bag and won’t move. www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/11/27-1
Solidarity for Never
etroit, Where 20+ Year Teacher Veterans Have been fired and Sub in the Suburbs, re-elects the DFT boss Who Helped so Much to Organize the Decay and Ruin of the City’s Last Hope Keith Johnson was re-elected today as president of the DFT, his third two-year term. His entire slate – United for Teacher Rights – also was elected to serve as DFT vice presidents, trustees and executive board. Johnson received 55 percent of the vote with 670 votes. Steve Conn received 457 votes or 37 percent of the vote. Victor Gibson received 95 votes; 7 percent of the total. dft231.mi.aft.org/
Rep John Conyers of Detroit Gangster Wife to Get out of Cupcake Jail Soon Monica Conyers’ stint at Camp Cupcake is almost fully baked.
The imprisoned ex-Detroit City Council member is expected to be released as early as Dec. 10 from a West Virginia federal prison dubbed Camp Cupcake, so named because of its low security and mountainous setting. The wife of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, could move into a halfway house for six months while finishing a 37-month sentence for bribery, said a source with knowledge of the situation.
The imminent return of one of the most polarizing politicians in recent Detroit history triggered speculation about Conyers’ future.
“She has no political base and nobody is expecting or looking forward to her coming back and getting into the political arena,” said political strategist Eric Foster of Foster McCollum White & Associates in Troy. “She’s a toxic asset.”A return to public office is unlikely.
Michigan voters approved a proposal in 2010 barring government officials convicted of felonies that breach the public trust from holding elected office for 20 years.
From The Detroit News: www.detroitnews.com/article/20121202/METRO01/212020313#ixzz2Ds8skPaQ
As Barbarism Blows Top Down in Detroit, Feds Raid the Famous Library for Corruption This time, it’s about scamming the Detroit Public Library.
The federal government’s ongoing probes into public corruption landed today on the doorsteps of the city’s main library branch, where FBI agents raided the historic landmark over allegations of contract fraud.
“There may be an individual who awarded contracts for personal gain. And if that is the case, it is a total violation of the public trust,” Jonathan Kinloch, president of the Detroit Library Commission, told the Free Press.
According to Kinloch, the contracts involve two technology firms that were hired for at least $2 million to update the library’s computer systems. A library official allegedly had ties to at least one of the contractors, and benefited personally from the million-dollar deals, he said. www.freep.com/article/20121120/NEWS01/121120040/fbi-raids-main-detroit-public-library-branch?odyssey=tab
Spy versus Spy
Sam Smith on Bradley Manning What happened to Bradley Manning was not excessive punishment, misguided retention nor other amoral self-protective verbiage of Washington’s politicians and journalists. It was torture, a violation of US and international law.
The Eighth Amendment, for example, bars “cruel and unusual punishment, a term that first appeared in the British Bill of Rights in 1689. In 1972, Justice Brennan described it as
In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, “There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’.”
The “essential predicate” is “that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity,” especially torture.
“A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.”
“A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society.”
“A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary.”
As America has moved to the right, its major media has increasingly adopted the self-protecting language of the government it is supposed to be reporting and exposing and so torture just becomes one more procedural error, if that. …There are five million people who already had access to the information that Bradley Manning revealed. That’s not a secret; that’s class privilege. prorevnews.blogspot.com/2012/12/notes-bradley-manning.html
Imperialist Puppet Calderon Flees Country to Join the Legion of Quislings at Harvard In January, Mr. Calderón will join the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard as the first Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders fellow, a one-year position created to give high-profile leaders leaving office time to write, lecture and generally share their experiences.
Mr. Calderón, 50, who earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School in 2000, will focus on “the many policy challenges he encountered while serving as president,” the school said in a news release that did not mention his biggest challenge: confronting the drug-trafficking organizations that have terrorized the country and fueled a war that left tens of thousands of people dead during his six years in office. ….Mr. Calderón, who has a wife who has dabbled in politics and three young children, was long expected to leave Mexico, either because of safety considerations or to follow a custom of departing Mexican presidents, who generally do not stay.
“It’s a tradition,” said Shannon K. O’Neil, senior fellow for Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, www.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/world/americas/felipe-calderon-departing-mexican-president-is-headed-to-harvard.html
E. Howard Hunt Talks About Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Watergate, and more Slate: You started the CIA’s first bureau in Mexico in 1949. Did you first start working on Guatemala from there?
Hunt: In Mexico, I had a few agents from Washington with me, and I had recruited a few others … [including] a young Catholic priest. So the priest came to me one time, and he said, “I’m sending down several young men to Guatemala to get a view of the situation there. It’s not good.” He said, “My people were beaten up and put into jail, and then exiled from the country.” And he sort of sat back expectantly. And I said, “That’s certainly not right. I’ll let Washington know what’s going on in Guatemala.” So I retold the story of Guatemala and the treatment of my young Catholic friend. I found that there was a lot of intense interest in what I had to say.
Slate: We’re talking about the time after 1952, the year Jacobo Arbenz was elected president of Guatemala.
Hunt: He was in power then, yes. But his wife was by far the smarter of the two and sort of told him what to do. She was a convinced communist. … I waited for orders [from Washington]. A couple of [CIA and military] officers came down to join me, and it became apparent that there was going to be an effort to dislodge the communist management [laughs] of Guatemala. Which indeed happened. We set up shop and had some very bright guys working against Arbenz, and the long and short of it was that we got Arbenz defenestrated. Out the window. [Laughs] Slate: Let’s talk about the finals days and execution of Che. Do you know what the real story was there?
Hunt: I do. El Che was becoming a popular threat to Castro. Castro was a gradualist; his view was that great changes couldn’t take place immediately. But El Che had a different idea—he had wanted the entire continent of Latin America to become Communist. And Castro, sort of to get rid of him, said, “Take a band down to Bolivia. Here’s money, and radio phones, and all that.” So Che went down there. But Che’s very first [radio] transmissions were picked up by our people at the National Security Agency. The agency was able to track him wherever he went with his little forlorn band. The Bolivians wanted to get rid of him as soon as possible, and our people kept the Bolivian army informed as to where he was.
Slate: So you knew where he was all the time?
Hunt: Yes. There was no question about where he was or what he was trying to do. The Bolivians had gone through this kind of BS before, and they wanted to put an end to it as soon as possible. Eventually they just said, “We’re gonna put an end to this farce,” and they rounded up this little band of Che’s, and they didn’t kill anybody except Che.
Slate: I thought it was Felix Rodriguez, the Bay of Pigs Cuban exile, who says he killed Che.
Hunt: No, the Bolivians did.
Slate: What did the Americans want to do with Che?
Hunt: We wanted deniability. We made it possible for him to be killed. …Slate: Any regrets?
Hunt: No, none. [Long pause] Well, it would have been nice to do Bay of Pigs differently. www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2004/10/scavenger_hunt.single.html
The Magical Mystery Tour
The Last Hypocritical Scandal Of The Year? Family Values Atty Charged With Sex Abuse And Producing Kiddie Porn Checklist for a Right Wing “Family Values” hypocrite:
Illegal Gun Possession
…And Promoting Child Pornography On Craigslist
But on facebook, she listed the Bible as her favorite book, so all should be forgiven, OK?
“A New Hampshire attorney associated with an anti-gay group of ‘Christian’ lawyers, is facing criminal charges that she took a teenage girl to Canada and convinced her to engage in sexual activity and to let it be filmed.” (source) (source2)
Defending “Family Values” gets tougher with every hypocritical scandal: Lisa Biron, a prominent attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) was recently arrested by the FBI and charged with seven criminal counts, including child exploitation, transporting a child for illegal sexual conduct, possession of child pornography and production of child pornography. Witnesses testified that she has also been in possession of ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine.
Guess the ADF is a bit embarrassed, huh?
Ah, but the Lisa Biron case gets even more embarrassing: she was previously charged with possession of child pornography and while waiting for trial, a gun was discovered in her apartment, prompting the judge to deny bail.* She also allegedly sent a threatening text message to one of the witnesses against her. www.opednews.com/articles/The-Last-Hypocritical-Scan-by-Rev-Dan-Vojir-121130-876.html
The Best and Worst Things in the History of the World
Above the Kelley Twins, Petraeus, Jill Kelley’s “Husband,” and DP’s “Wife”
Military Groupie Jill Kelley Given America’s Second Highest Civilian Award (next the Nobel) The award, the country’s second-highest honor for a civilian, was given to acknowledge Kelley’s “selfless contributions” and “willingness to host engagements” for top pols and military brass.
Petraeus recommended her for the award while he was commander of Tampa’s US Central Command, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Tampa Tribune. m. Mike Mullen, who was then the Joint Chiefs chair, approved it.
Kelley during a Washington, DC, ceremony received a silver medal, lapel pin and a citation for her efforts. Petraeus presented the award, which recognized the Florida socialite’s “outstanding public service to the United States Central Command, the MacDill Air Force Base community and the Department of Defense from October 31, 2008 to May 31, 2010.”
The citation also notes Kelley’s work in “advancing various military endeavors” and her “willingness to host engagements with senior national representatives from more than 60 countries,” according to the Tampa Tribune.
“On multiple occasions, Mrs. Kelley invited senior national representatives, their spouses and senior leaders to her home to demonstrate their gratitude and support,” the citation continues. …“These events promoted camaraderie, understanding and a better appreciation for coalition and military customs, concerns and abilities,” her citation noted.
Kelley also got a nod for helping Petraeus when he first took command of CentCom.
“She [was] instrumental in introducing the commander, early in his tenure, to local and state officials, particularly the mayor of Tampa and the governor of Florida,” according to the citation.
“The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Mrs. Jill Kelley are in keeping with the finest traditions of public service and reflect great credit upon herself, United States Central Command and the Department of Defense.” www.nypost.com/p/news/national/kelley_medal_outrage_Fq5K754z1Nntf5uayAFiUO
Lifestyles of the US’ WhoreMonger Generals (the new mercs) Of the many facts that have come to light in the scandal involving former CIA director David H. Petraeus, among the most curious was that during his days as a four-star general, he was once escorted by 28 police motorcycles as he traveled from his Central Command headquarters in Tampa to socialite Jill Kelley’s mansion. Although most of his trips did not involve a presidential-size convoy, the scandal has prompted new scrutiny of the imperial trappings that come with a senior general’s lifestyle.
The commanders who lead the nation’s military services and those who oversee troops around the world enjoy an array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir. …The elite regional commanders who preside over large swaths of the planet don’t have to settle for Gulfstream V jets. They each have a C-40, the military equivalent of a Boeing 737, some of which are configured with beds. www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/petraeus-scandal-puts-four-star-general-lifestyle-under-scrutiny/2012/11/17/33a14f48-3043-11e2-a30e-5ca76eeec857_story.html