Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May, 2009

Shrinking the Calling Circle

Posted by Charles II on May 31, 2009

David Kravets, Wired (via t/o)

San Francisco – The Obama administration has until Friday to convince a federal judge not to levy sanctions against the government for “failing to obey the court’s orders” in a key NSA wiretapping lawsuit.

    U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is threatening to summarily decide the 3-year-old lawsuit in favor of the plaintiffs, and award unspecified monetary damages to two American lawyers who claim their telephone calls were illegally intercepted by the NSA under the Bush administration. The lawyer represented a now-defunct Saudi charity that the Treasury Department claimed was linked to terrorism.

    If it survived appeal, such a ruling would be a blow to the government, but it would fall far short of deciding the important question the case asks: Can a sitting president, without congressional authority, create a spying program to eavesdrop on Americans’ electronic communications without warrants, as George W. Bush did in the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks?


    That legislation allows electronic eavesdropping of Americans without obtaining a warrant if the subjects of the wiretap are communicating overseas with somebody believed connected to terrorism.

    No such congressional authority was in place when lawyers Wendell Belew and Asim Gafoor’s telephone calls were intercepted in 2005. The United States had designated the Al-Haramain charity a terror organization.

    The legislation authorizing the spy powers also immunized the telcos from being sued for their part in Bush’s eavesdropping program. Walker is entertaining a constitutional challenge to the immunity legislation.

Posted in NSA eavesdropping | Comments Off on Shrinking the Calling Circle

Father Gérard Jean-Juste, 1947-5/27/09

Posted by Charles II on May 31, 2009

Fr. Jean-Juste in 2004

(Image from Haiti Action)

Father Gérard Jean-Juste died at age 62 of a stroke, while in the United States for treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Amnesty International:

On 21 July [2006], Father Gérard Jean-Juste, a Catholic priest and Aristide supporter, was taken into police custody after a mob attacked him outside the church where journalist Jacques Roche’s funeral took place. Considered a potential presidential candidate for the Lavalas party, Father Jean-Juste was illegally arrested and held on trumped-up charges. He was a prisoner of conscience.

He was arrested for the abduction and murder in Haiti of journalist Jacques Roche, despite the fact that Jean-Juste was in the US at the time.

Kevin Pina, Haiti Action:

After Aristide’s return to Haiti in 1994, Fr. Jean-Juste remained an anchor for the Lavalas movement that he believed represented the interests of the poor majority until his death this last Wednesday in a Miami hospital. For this conviction he would suffer dearly especially after accepting an assignment to St. Clare’s church in the neighborhood of Ti Place Cazeau in Haiti’s capital. Once there, he would continue to not only preach on behalf of the rights of Haiti’s poor majority but would also put his faith into practice by creating community empowerment projects. These included literacy and economic programs providing the poor with opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty and a daily canteen that made hot meals available to the most vulnerable in the community. It was not uncommon to find him singing while serving meals to poor children, who he adored and honored as the future of Haiti, on any given afternoon at St. Clare’s.

Following the second coup against Aristide in 2004, he lost his weekly radio program at Radio Ginen after anonymous threats against the station. He would never blame the owner of the station telling me, “I understand the forces of repression and the lies they tell have taken control of Haiti for the moment. They are trying to convince the world that our beautiful movement of the poor is ugly and desolate. Aristide was kidnapped after the elite cut a deal with the Bush administration and this much is clear, the repression against Lavalas has started again.”…

Fr. Jean-Juste along with many others considered September 30, 2004 a true test and turning point for the Lavalas movement in Haiti. The Haitian police opened fired on unarmed protestors during a demonstration on the thirteenth anniversary of the first military coup against Aristide. The slaughter would be justified by Jean-Claude Bajeux, a so-called human rights advocate and leader of a ‘civil society organization’ called the Group 184 that worked for Aristide’s ouster. Bajeux claimed that Lavalas partisans had emulated terrorists in Iraq and beheaded police officers earlier in the day….

Fr. Jean-Juste with his usual clarity would state, “…The OAS is bought off and a disgrace … They along with the U.S., France and Canada are siding with the elite in Haiti who would rather use this foreign label to brand the Lavalas movement as terrorists than accept their own responsibility for having driven this country into the ground with their own greed.”

Posted in Haiti | 2 Comments »

This Is Terrorism

Posted by MEC on May 31, 2009

Terrorism: Committing acts of violence to intimidate a group of people and advance a political agenda.

Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who has been the target of harassment for years, was murdered this morning while going into his church for Sunday services.

This crime must be investigated and prosecuted as a terrorist act.

Posted in abortion, terrorism | 7 Comments »

Has Twilight Come To The Sun Belt?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 31, 2009

For large chunks thereof, especially California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida, the answer may well be ‘yes’. Arizona and Nevada in particular are pretty much bubble states that went hog-wild during the housing bubble and didn’t bother to build up their local industries, schools or even their rainy-day funds. (It doesn’t help that these states have been fighting with their bigger neighbor California for decades concerning water rights.)

Meanwhile, East Coast cities like New York — cities with a multiplicity of industries and jobs sectors, as well as excellent mass transit systems that free people from needing cars to do the simplest tasks — are poised to ride out the recession much better than those places whose main wealth seems to have been based on a housing bubble that’s been popped.

Posted in economy, financial crisis | 1 Comment »

Sotomayor And Campaign Finance Reform

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 30, 2009

She’s a big fan thereof. From an e-mail sent out by the Public Campaign Action Fund:

SCOTUS Nominee Sotomayor in Money on Politics
This week’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court could add an ally of campaign finance reform to the nation’s highest judicial body. Sotomayor was a member of New York City’s Campaign Finance Board in its earliest days, helping establish the city’s successful system of publicly financed elections. In a 1996 Suffolk Law Review article, co-authored with Nicole Gordon, the Board’s executive director at that time, Sotomayor writes:

“We would never condone private gifts to judges about to decide a case implicating the gift-givers’ interests. Yet our system of election financing permits extensive private, including corporate, financing of candidates’ campaigns, raising again and again the question what the difference is between contributions and bribes and how legislators or other officials can operate objectively on behalf of the electorate. Can elected officials say with credibility that they are carrying out the mandate of a ‘democratic’ society, representing only the general public good, when private money plays such a large role in their campaigns?”

Her confirmation would stand in contrast to the arrivals of Justices Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court. Both have taken a negative stance towards the regulation of campaign money. There’s more to see in this article from Politico.

Don’t tell Bill Donohue!

Posted in Supreme Court | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Conservative Efforts To Lie About Sotomayor’s Record Undermined — By Another Conservative!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 29, 2009

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, who is as conservative as they come, puts the lie to the GOP/Media-generated nonsense out there painting Sonia Sotomayor as a dirty dangerous female Commie Reconquista junkie:

“I like the fact that she is not brandishing her religion. I do not want Catholic judges to rule as Catholics but as judges. I am all for Catholic legislators having a Catholic-informed opinion, but a judge has a different charge. Unless something pops that we don’t know about, I am not going to oppose her. Indeed, the experiences I had working with the Puerto Rican community lead me to quietly root for her.”

Expect Donohue to do a 180 on this as he feels the weight of the conservative community breathing down his neck. Or they could just cut him a check to make him publicly change his mind.

Posted in conservativism, Supreme Court | 7 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on May 29, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging - Lightfoot - 05-29-09

Friday Cat Blogging - Alex - 05-29-09

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging, Lady Lightfoot | 3 Comments »

His hands were gentle, his hands were strong

Posted by Charles II on May 28, 2009

The man himself:

Arlo’s commemorative:

Joao da Silva, Common Dreams:

Among the thousands of political dissidents detained and executed in Chile during the days following the Military coup of 1973 which overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende (also known as the Unidad Popular), Victor Jara’s brutal death is probably one of the most emblematic. …

Victor Jara was a popular Chilean folk singer/songwriter, educator, theatre director, poet, and political activist. He was involved in the development of the “Nueva Canción Chilena” (New Chilean Song Movement) which gained considerable popularity during the Unidad Popular government which he actively supported. On the morning of September 12 1973, Jara was detained, along with thousands of Chileans, and then held prisoner at the Estadio Chile (renamed “Estadio Víctor Jara” in September 2003) where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured, resulting in the breaking of bones in his hands and upper torso. Fellow political prisoners have testified that his captors, as he lay on the ground after the beating, mockingly suggested that he play guitar for them. Defiantly, he sang part of a hymn supporting the Unidad Popular.

He was murdered on September 15 after further beatings were followed by being machine-gunned (34 bullet wounds were found on his body) and left dead on a road on the outskirts of Santiago.

This is the world that the right wing has to offer us, one in which singing is a crime punishable by death.

Will there be justice?

Posted in colonial wars, Latin America, torture, totalitarianism | 2 Comments »

Hersh is right again

Posted by Charles II on May 28, 2009

The Torygraph is reporting that General Taguba, who did the definitive study of Abu Ghraib, has stated that the photos of detainees that Obama is not releasing include rapes and other forms of horrific abuse. The existence of such photographs, of course, was reported by Seymour Hersh not long after the scandal broke. And we (including General Taguba) are not positive that the specific photos sought by the ACLU actually are of rape and sexual abuse. There are, you see, a lot of photos. So, in some regard, the Torygraph’s story is wrong.

But this goes to show how far behind the curve the US press is, how excellent Seymour Hersh’s reporting has been, and exactly what is at stake when General Taguba says “I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one…The sequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.”

The “legal purpose” Taguba describes is, of course, giving those who were tortured a venue to seek justice. They deserve the chance, even though it is probably true that the cost of their obtaining justice is a risk that the outrage will strengthen our enemies. On the other hand, there is a chance that if we commit our path to doing justice, as I urged so very long ago, we might yet find our way as a nation again.

Posted in abuse of power, torture | 2 Comments »

Jane Hamsher Called It

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 28, 2009

Tuesday, Jane said this:

GOP to Soak Wingnuts over Sotomayor

Meaning that the Republicans were going to squawk and raise a ruckus for fundraising purposes, but not actually do anything to keep Sotomayor from becoming the next Supreme Court justice.

Yesterday, we saw this:

Republicans see little chance of blocking Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, a key GOP senator conceded Wednesday. But senators and advocacy groups are still girding for this summer’s battle — partly with an eye toward raising money and perhaps preparing for Barack Obama’s next nominee.

Is that a cash register I hear?

Posted in Republicans, Republicans acting badly, sucker bet, Supreme Court | 4 Comments »

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