Category Archives: Current Affairs

Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou Is Out of Jail!

 Three Pictures for Today: First, John Kiriakou, CIA whistleblower who confirmed the existence of the CIA’s illegal torture program, just got out of jail, after serving two years in a federal penitentiary. This twitter photo says it all:

Kiriakou-Free-at-Last

 Well, not QUITE all. Kiriakou still has a million-dollar legal bill, five kids, one in college, no pension and no job. And he has one other major distinction: of those government officials who planned the illegal [as in violating existing U.S. federal criminal law] CIA torture program, organized it, carried it out, shilled for it, covered it up, lied and obstructed justice for it, the only one who has faced charges is Kiriakou, whose “crime” was confirming its existence to a reporter. More on John and his background  here.

Now, to the second photo of the day:

Holder-prosecution-record

Departing U.S. Attorney General  Eric Holder was the federal officer ultimately responsible for the prosecution of Kiriakou and other whistleblowers about torture, government spying on citizens, and more. His record in this record is usefully , shockingly summarized here.

No doubt Holder did some good work in his tenure; but the record on civil liberties is going to make a rough chapter in the history books; and it ought to give him nightmares.

So Welcome home, John Kiriakou. And Eric Holder: here’s the third photo, a sign for you:

Repent-Bush-Cheney-HolderTorture

Have a nice day.

 

Robots Writing News Stories?? You Mean You Hadn’t Noticed??

It Had to Happen: the AP Is Using Robots to Write Thousands of Routine Business Stories.
Now all we Need Is Some Robots to READ Them . . .

typing-robot Philana Patterson, an assistant business editor at the AP tasked with implementing the system, tells us there was some skepticism from the staff at first. “I wouldn’t expect a good journalist to not be skeptical,” she said. Patterson tells us that when the program first began in July, every automated story had a human touch, with errors logged and sent to Automated Insights to make the necessary tweaks.

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Teen Murders In Los Angeles Are Way Down

Teen Murders Down –And The BIG Reason Is Quite A Surprise!

Teenage-Murders-in-LA-ChartGeorge Tita, a criminologist at UC Irvine who studies homicide, said the increase in age is consistent with the changing nature of gang violence and the sharp decrease in killings throughout the county.

Others say that the trauma of losing brothers, cousins and fathers to street violence may make gang life less appealing to younger people. “It’s the little brother looking at what happened to the big brother and saying, ‘I don’t want to go that way,’” said Elliott Currie, another UC Irvine criminologist. “It’s something I think we criminologists don’t talk about enough.”

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“Mapping The Left” In Carolina

The image below was abstracted from a new website, “Mapping The [North Carolina] Left”, just unveiled by the folks at our local rightwing “think” tank, the Civitas Institute. It purports to unmask, name and chart the “vast leftwing conspiracy” that it insists has been running the state, notwithstanding the huge rightwing majority in the legislature. Its database names many hundreds of people, groups, and funders.Leftist-Map - Civitas

And despite a lengthy spell of scrolling, I am abashed and embarrassed to report that my name didn’t turn up anywhere on it. Nor did those of the two activist groups I have worked with, one full-time and one part-time, for most of the 13 years I’ve been in Carolina. And dammit, it wasn’t for lack of trying! In fact, I thought they’ve been pretty doggone effective, given that they were devoted to pretty much hopeless causes. But what do I know?? Continue reading “Mapping The Left” In Carolina

Same Sex Marriage Comes to Fayetteville-Fort Bragg, North Carolina

They Vowed It Would NEVER Happen!  But It DID —

Alishia-Shelbie-Before-SMWhile I lived in Fayetteville, as Director of the longtime peace project Quaker House, we worked hard for change and justice, including for LGBT folks.

It was an uphill slog, with many difficult moments. Here’s one, a video we made in response to an ugly campaign to put a ban on same sex marriage in the NC constitution

Continue reading Same Sex Marriage Comes to Fayetteville-Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Dr. Bronner, Magic Soap & Me

All-One Faith! All-One Soap!
Here’s the man behind it all, live from Escondido.

By Chuck Fager – Summer 1976

On March 9, 1945, a man named Fred Walcher got himself crucified. In Chicago, on the framework under an el station, after dark. When the cops found him and pulled him down, bleeding and semi-conscious, he wouldn’t say who had nailed him up there.

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Progressive Friends vs Wealth Inequality: Many Good Questions, Few Good Answers . . . .

Thomas Garrett -- I haven't a dollar

In 1856, the Pennsylvania Progressive Friends heard a report from a committee “appointed to consider whether any, and if any, what Limitations ought to be put to the Accumulation of Property in the hands of individuals, as well as corporations, and to suggest laws and other expedients, by which the enormous inequalities among the children of men may be gradually lessened, and hereafter prevented.”

Continue reading Progressive Friends vs Wealth Inequality: Many Good Questions, Few Good Answers . . . .

Progressive Quaker Poetry: The Tyrant’s Ancient Argument–Or, The Dangers of Thought

 

Yes, for Progressive Quakers, A Man’s Best Friend Was His Dog-gerel. (It Was A Woman Friend’s Best Friend too.) So here’s a sample, from 1856; it might not be great art, but I hear a lot of current resonance in it. It’s called:

Greed-Gilded Age

The Tyrant’s Ancient Argument: Or, The Dangers of Thought:

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A Plan For World Holocaust Disguised as a “Green” Revolution

cover-deep-green-resistanceDeep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet, by Aric Mcbay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen. Seven Stories Press, 560 pages.

In early August 2012, a large Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California was hit by an explosion and fire, disrupting production of as much as 240,000 barrels a day.

About two weeks later, at the huge Amuay refinery in Venezuela, an explosion and fire killed more than forty people, and shut down the processing of over 600,000 barrels of oil a day.

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Gina Haspel Marks The Return of “Zero Dark Thirty” — Still Zero; Even Darker

As reports, official and unofficial, have come in about Gina Haspel, the nominee to be the next CIA Director, eerie memories began to seep from the back of my mind.

Take, for instance, this passage from a major Newsweek piece, just out:

“She is the woman who keeps the secrets,” Daniel Hoffman, another former senior CIA officer, told Newsweek. “That’s her. She’s the most discreet person I ever worked with.”

Early on, when she signed up in 1985, she chose the clandestine world over a more public life with a husband and children, her colleagues said. Hall recalled asking Haspel what her weekend plans were as a meeting broke up one afternoon. “Steve, come on,” he remembered her saying. “You know that I have no social life. I have no life whatsoever outside of work.”

No life outside of work: I’d heard that before.

 

Continue reading Gina Haspel Marks The Return of “Zero Dark Thirty” — Still Zero; Even Darker