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Archive for April 9th, 2008

Yoo So Nasty…

GEF @ 8:08 PM MST

via: Thinkprogress

National Lawyers Guild calls for Yoo’s disbarment.

Today, the National Lawyers Guild — the “oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States” — called on Berkeley’s law school, Boalt Hall, to dismiss former Bush administration John Yoo, who is a law professor there. From the Guild’s statement:

yoo54.jpg In a memorandum written the same month George W. Bush invaded Iraq, Boalt Hall law professor John Yoo said the Department of Justice would construe US criminal laws not to apply to the President’s detention and interrogation of enemy combatants. According to Yoo, the federal statutes against torture, assault, maiming and stalking do not apply to the military in the conduct of the war. […]

“John Yoo’s complicity in establishing the policy that led to the torture of prisoners constitutes a war crime under the US War Crimes Act,” said National Lawyers Guild President Marjorie Cohn.

Congress should repeal the provision of the Military Commissions Act that would give Yoo immunity from prosecution for torture committed from September 11, 2001 to December 30, 2005. John Yoo should be disbarred and he should not be retained as a professor of law at one of the country’s premier law schools. John Yoo should be dismissed from Boalt Hall and tried as a war criminal.

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Will the Torch Get Through San Francisco?

by Geezer Power…3:35 pm


Olympic Torch Relay Chaotic in San Francisco

The Olympic torch relay got off to a chaotic start Wednesday when the torchbearer was re-routed as thousands of China supporters and protesters lined the route in San Francisco.

The flame disappeared from view when the torchbearer was routed through a warehouse after Wednesday afternoon’s opening ceremony, reappearing 30 minutes later about a mile from the expected location.

Before the opening ceremony, San Francisco police said the Olympic torch relay route would be cut in half.

Authorities did not offer an immediate explanation for the change, but city officials had warned they might shorten the six-mile route for security reasons.

Crowds began to gather early in the day at San Francisco’s McCovey Cove, where the Olympic torch is scheduled to make its North American debut amid tight security.

The torch’s circuitous travel around the globe has already has been marked by demonstrations against China’s policies toward Tibet and Sudan, and more demonstrations are expected worldwide before it reaches the games.

San Francisco officials said police officers were backed up by other Bay Area police departments, the California Highway Patrol and the FBI in an effort to keep Olympic runners and bystanders safe, while protecting the protesters’ right to free speech.

Nearly 80 torchbearers had prepared to carry the Olympic flame along the route past hordes of protesters and counterprotesters.

Ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, who was to be one of the torch runners, said the city of San Francisco has taken the proper precautions to protect runners.

Karnazes said city officials reassured participants that law enforcement would work with the State Department and international authorities to avoid a repeat of the chaotic demonstrations in Paris and London. Karnazes also said the actual relay route would be kept secret as long as possible.

Violent protests in those cities prompted several San Francisco torchbearers to drop out.

San Francisco is the only stop for the torch in North America. The city was chosen to host the relay, in part, because of its large Chinese-American population.

Many San Francisco residents have asked for calm and expressed their pride that China was chosen to host the Olympics.

Chinese officials have dismissed previous demonstrations as the actions of a few who are trying to hijack a historical event for their own purposes.

Later this week, the International Olympic Committee will consider canceling the rest of the torch’s world tour.


Interactive world map of the torch relay

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The Pentagon Will Issue New Hand Held Lie Detectors

By- Suzie-Q @ 1:00 PM MST

New anti-terror weapon: Hand-held lie detector

U.S. troops in Afghanistan first to get new device; ‘red’ means you’re lying

By Bill Dedman
Investigative reporter
MSNBC
3:00 a.m. MT Wed., April. 9, 2008

FORT JACKSON, S.C. – The Pentagon will issue hand-held lie detectors this month to U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan, pushing to the battlefront a century-old debate over the accuracy of the polygraph.

The Defense Department says the portable device isn’t perfect, but is accurate enough to save American lives by screening local police officers, interpreters and allied forces for access to U.S. military bases, and by helping narrow the list of suspects after a roadside bombing. The device has already been tried in Iraq and is expected to be deployed there as well. “We’re not promising perfection — we’ve been very careful in that,” said Donald Krapohl, special assistant to the director at the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment, the midwife for the new device. “What we are promising is that, if it’s properly used, it will improve over what they are currently doing.”

But the lead author of a national study of the polygraph says that American military men and women will be put at risk by an untested technology. “I don’t understand how anybody could think that this is ready for deployment,” said statistics professor Stephen E. Fienberg, who headed a 2003 study by the National Academy of Sciences that found insufficient scientific evidence to support using polygraphs for national security. “Sending these instruments into the field in Iraq and Afghanistan without serious scientific assessment, and for use by untrained personnel, is a mockery of what we advocated in our report.”

The new device, known by the acronym PCASS, for Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System, uses a commercial TDS Ranger hand-held personal digital assistant with three wires connected to sensors attached to the hand. An interpreter will ask a series of 20 or so questions in Persian, Arabic or Pashto: “Do you intend to answer my questions truthfully?” “Are the lights on in this room” “Are you a member of the Taliban?” The operator will punch in each answer and, after a delay of a minute or so for processing, the screen will display the results: “Green,” if it thinks the person has told the truth, “Red” for deception, and “Yellow” if it can’t decide.

The PCASS cannot be used on U.S. personnel, according to a memo authorizing its use, signed in October by the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr.

The Army has bought 94 of the $7,500 PCASS machines, which are sold by Lafayette Instrument Co. of Lafayette, Ind. The algorithm, or computer program that makes the decisions, was written by the Advanced Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University. Besides the Army, other branches of the U.S. military have seen the device and may order their own. The total cost of the project so far is about $2.5 million.

More

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By- Suzie-Q @ 12:00 PM MST

Bush’s Economic Plan: Give Stimulus Checks ‘A Chance To Kick In’»

Recognizing that rebate checks ranging from $300 to $1,200 aren’t enough to turn around the economy, several lawmakers are proposing a second stimulus bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated that she is interested in “increasing unemployment insurance and food stamp payments, as well as putting together a public works spending package.” On Sunday, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) brought up expanding and repairing “the deteriorating infrastructure needs of our country.”

But yesterday in a meeting at the White House with small business owners, President Bush rejected a second stimulus bill, instead wanting to wait for the stimulus checks to “kick in“:

And thirdly, I, you know, I think we ought to, in terms of pro-growth packages, I think we ought to, again I repeat, give this one a chance to kick in. The experts tell me that this pro-growth package is going to add some — you know, a percent, percent-and-a-half to the economy here in the latter part of this year.

Watch it

Like Bush, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also wants to wait out the financial crisis. From his appearance on ABC’s This Week on Feb. 17:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’re open to helping homeowners?

McCAIN: I am open to helping homeowners. I would rely to a large degree on the situation of time. But also to people like secretary of the treasury Paulson who the financial markets and a lot us have a great deal of faith in. If more needs to be done, I’m for doing more.

The American public isn’t as optimistic as Bush and McCain. According to a recent Zogby poll, just 28 percent “believe the government’s economic stimulus rebate plan will help.”

Transcript:

As a matter of fact, one of the things that’s going to happen with this pro-growth package is that not only is it going to affect small businesses like it’s affected folks here, but 130 million families are going to get some money, their own money. And of course, the purpose of that is to help boost consumption. We’re in a rough time right now; I’m confident we’re going to come out of it. And when we do we’re going to be a stronger — stronger and better country.

Congress, of course, is contemplating different measures. And my only advice to them is, one, make sure you give the pro-growth package that was passed overwhelmingly a chance to work, see what the effects are. Secondly, anything they do should not hurt the economy. And thirdly, I, you know, I think we ought to, in terms of pro-growth packages, I think we ought to, again I repeat, give this one a chance to kick in. The experts tell me that this pro-growth package is going to add some — you know, a percent, percent-and-a-half to the economy here in the latter part of this year. If that’s the case, it’s going to be an important part of recovering.

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Afternoon Jukebox… Smuggler’s Blues

By- Suzie-Q @ 11:55 AM MST

Glenn Frey- Smuggler’s Blues

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By- Suzie-Q @ 10:00 AM MST

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Barbecueing On A Bigger Scale…

GEF @ 8:08 AM MST

‘Regional’ Nuclear War Would Cause Worldwide Destruction

Nuclear1

Think you might escape the aftereffects of a limited nuclear war that happens on the other side of the globe from you? Think again.

Imagine that the long-simmering conflict between India and Pakistan broke out into a war in which each side deployed 50 nuclear weapons against the other country’s megacities. Karachi, Bombay, and dozens of other South Asian cities catch fire like Hiroshima and Nagasaki did at the end of World War II.

Beyond the local human tragedy of such a situation, a new study looking at the atmospheric chemistry of regional nuclear war finds that the hot smoke from burning cities would tear holes in the ozone layer of the Earth. The increased UV radiation resulting from the ozone loss could more than double DNA damage, and increase cancer rates across North America and Eurasia.

“Our research supports that there would be worldwide destruction,” said Michael Mills, co-author of the study and a research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “It demonstrates that a small-scale regional conflict is capable of triggering larger ozone losses globally than the ones that were previously predicted for a full-scale nuclear war.”

Combined with the climatic impact of a regional nuclear war — which could reduce crop yields and starve hundreds of millions — Mills’ modeling shows that the entire globe would feel the repercussions of a hundred nuclear detonations, a small fraction of just the U.S. stockpile. After decades of Cold War research into the impacts that a full-blown war between the Soviet Union and the United States would have had on the globe, recent work has focused on regional nuclear wars, which are seen as more likely than all-out nuclear Armageddon. Incorporating the latest atmospheric modeling, the scientists are finding that even a small nuclear conflict would wreak havoc on the global environment (.pdf) — cooling it twice as much as it’s heated over the last century — and on the structure of the atmosphere itself.

(more…)

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The “Credit Card Republicans”…

By- Suzie-Q @ 7:30 AM MST

While we were paying for Iraq, bailouts for Wall Street and tax cuts…
by Chris in Paris · 4/08/2008 07:06:00 PM ET

The US infrastructure has continued to crumble. It’s unfortunate, but the Democrats let the Republicans get away with their craziness. The “Credit Card Republicans” (as John’s friend Brett calls them) received their war in Iraq where billions would rain down on friends and disappear to foes. They blew the budget because the richest Americans all needed the tax cut that no one outside of the GOP thought was a good idea. More recently they grabbed wads of cash and just threw it at Wall Street – no strings attached – rewarding them for gambling with our future like Bill Bennett in Vegas.

Meanwhile in the real world, the US infrastructure is falling apart. It’s no surprise to Congress but they’re too busy giving more money to the credit card Republicans who just spend and spend on their projects, forgetting about the massive needs at home. Costs for upgrading US water pipelines vary from a low of $277 billion up to $480 billion, if we act today. The longer we wait, the more expensive it becomes and the more critical it becomes. As Congress is deciding what to do about our current financial crisis brought on by the free spending GOP, maybe starting the re-building process at home ought to be part of that plan.

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Gas $3.60 A Gallon By June?

By- Suzie-Q @ 7:00 AM MST

Energy Department predicts $3.60 a gallon gas prices in June.»

A new report by the Energy Information Administration — “the statistical and analytical arm of the Energy Department” — predicts that “average gasoline prices will shoot up to $3.60 a gallon in June and remain nearly that high into fall.” These record prices are also expected to “reduce summer gasoline demand for the first time in 17 years.”

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Stock up on Rice…

GEF @ 6:08 AM

Demand for rice threatens global food supplies

Demand for rice threatens global food supplies

The run on rice is threatening to disrupt world food supplies as much as banks’ lack of confidence in each other has seen global credit markets dry up.

China, Egypt, Vietnam and India, representing more than a third of global rice exports, curbed sales this year, and Indonesia says it may do the same. The price of rice, the staple food for half the world, rose 2pc to a record $20.910 per 100lbs in Chicago, double the price a year ago and a fivefold increase from 2001. “Rice will gain substantially over the next two years,” said Roland Jansen, chief executive of Switzerland-based Mother Earth Investments, which holds 4pc of its $100m funds in the grain. He believes governments will maintain curbs on exports as they “want to be able to continue to feed their own populations”. (more…)

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