A Just Cause ≠ A Just War

Poster Boy (CC BY-2.0)

Poster Boy (CC BY-2.0)

By Howard Zinn, via the Progressive:

Editor’s Note: Today we remember our legendary columnist Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States and champion of pacifism, civil rights, and the voices of the marginalized. On this fifth anniversary of his death in January 27, 2010, we present a classic essay on nonviolence adapted from his speech on May 2, 2009, at The Progressive’s 100th anniversary conference.

I want to talk about three holy wars. They aren’t religious wars, but they’re the three wars in American history that are sacrosanct, that you can’t say anything bad about: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II.

Let’s look carefully at these three idealized, three romanticized wars.

It’s important to at least be willing to raise the possibility that you could criticize something that everybody has accepted as uncriticizable.

We’re supposed to be thinking people.

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First Head Chopped Off with New Saudi King – Saudi’s Chop off Heads for Murder, Rape, Witchcraft

Salman bin Abdull aziz December 9, 2013

Salman bin Abdull aziz December 9, 2013

The AP via The New York Times:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia on Monday executed a man convicted of raping several girls in a case that has captured the kingdom’s attention and marks the first beheading carried out under the newly enthroned King Salman.

The Interior Ministry said Moussa al-Zahrani was executed in the city of Jiddah. The ministry statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said al-Zahrani was convicted of luring underage girls, intoxicating them, forcing them to watch pornographic videos and then physically and sexually assaulting them.

His alleged victims were children assaulted in 2011 in a string of attacks in Jiddah.

The case has caused a stir on social media — which is unusual in Saudi Arabia for cases of violent crimes — in part because al-Zahrani claimed his innocence throughout the trial and two later appeals.

Last year, al-Zahrani appealed in a 20-minute video for Saudi King Abdullah, who died on Friday, to intervene.

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Use Me Instead

Disinformationlogo bullet

Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

There is, it seems, grace in the world. Appalled at news that North Miami Beach Police were using photos of young black men for target practice and resolved to “put ourselves in the place of those whose humanity is denied,” dozens of clergy and others have offered their own smiling, sacred pictures to police shooters with the hashtag #UseMeInstead.

The effort sprang from an online conversation between Rev. Joy M. Gonnerman and other pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Facebook group about a police practice – now stopped – they saw as “emblematic of a deeper, systematic problem.”  Motivated by “our service to Christ and his call to love our neighbors,” they decided “maybe we ought it make it harder to pull the trigger.”

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C.I.A. Officer in Leak Case, Jeffrey Sterling, Is Convicted of Espionage

Land of the free?

Land of the free?

Matt Apuzzo writes at The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Jeffrey A. Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, was convicted of espionage Monday on charges that he told a reporter for The New York Times about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.

The conviction is a significant victory for the Obama administration, which has conducted an unprecedented crackdown on officials who speak to journalists about security matters without the administration’s approval. Prosecutors prevailed after a yearslong fight in which the reporter, James Risen, refused to identify his sources.

The case revolved around a C.I.A. operation in which a former Russian scientist provided Iran with intentionally flawed nuclear component schematics. Mr. Risen revealed the operation in his 2006 book, “State of War,” describing it as a mismanaged, potentially reckless mission that may have inadvertently aided the Iranian nuclear program.

On the third day of deliberations, the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Va., convicted Mr.

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Who Killed Litvinenko? Perhaps Not Russia After All

AlexanderLitvinenkoHospital.jpg

Doubts are being cast on whether or not it was really the Russian government that infamously poisoned Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium. From Newsweek:

It has taken more than eight years. But finally, at 10am on Tuesday 27 January, the doors to court 73 at London’s Royal Courts of Justice will swing open; the barristers, solicitors, reporters, and a host of other interested parties will troop in, and judge Sir Robert Owen will declare the start of a public inquiry into the death of Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko, a fugitive from Russia and newly-minted British citizen, who died in a London hospital on 23 November 2006.

At the centre of proceedings will be Marina Litvinenko, Alexander’s wife for 12 years and a figure of preternatural calm and dignity amid all the hurly-burly and frustration of the near-decade since his death. In large measure, that these hearings are being held at all, and that they have been designated a ‘public inquiry’ rather than an inquest, represents a personal victory for Litvinenko, reflecting her dogged determination to find out how and why her husband died.

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EFF’s Game Plan for Ending Global Mass Surveillance

We have a problem when it comes to stopping mass surveillance.

The entity that’s conducting the most extreme and far-reaching surveillance against most of the world’s communications—the National Security Agency—is bound by United States law.

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That’s good news for Americans. U.S. law and the Constitution protect American citizens and legal residents from warrantless surveillance. That means we have a very strong legal case to challenge mass surveillance conducted domestically or that sweeps in Americans’ communications.

Similarly, the United States Congress is elected by American voters. That means Congressional representatives are beholden to the American people for their jobs, so public pressure from constituents can help influence future laws that might check some of the NSA’s most egregious practices.

But what about everyone else? What about the 96% of the world’s population who are citizens of other countries, living outside U.S. borders. They don’t get a vote in Congress. And current American legal protections generally only protect citizens, legal residents, or those physically located within the United States.… Read the rest

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Truth, War Propaganda, CIA and Media Manipulation

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Via Global Research:

Never before has it been so important to have independent, honest voices and sources of information. We are – as a society – inundated and overwhelmed with a flood of information from a wide array of sources, but these sources of information, by and large, serve the powerful interests and individuals that own them. The main sources of information, for both public and official consumption, include the mainstream media, alternative media, academia and think tanks.

The mainstream media is the most obvious in its inherent bias and manipulation. The mainstream media is owned directly by large multinational corporations, and through their boards of directors are connected with a plethora of other major global corporations and elite interests. An example of these connections can be seen through the board of Time Warner.

Time Warner owns Time Magazine, HBO, Warner Bros., and CNN, among many others. The board of directors includes individuals past or presently affiliated with: the Council on Foreign Relations, the IMF, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Warburg Pincus, Phillip Morris, and AMR Corporation, among many others.

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U.S. Spies on Millions of Cars

The U.S. Department of Justice has been secretly tracking millions of cars, reveals the Wall Street Journal:

The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.

SHIRLEY HIGHWAY IN VIRGINIA. HEAVY TRAFFIC AND CLEAR BUS LANES - NARA - 546629.jpg

The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document. But the database’s use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter.

Officials have publicly said that they track vehicles near the border with Mexico to help fight drug cartels. What hasn’t been previously disclosed is that the DEA has spent years working to expand the database “throughout the United States,’’ according to one email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

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Ranking The States From Most To Least Corrupt

Harry Enten writes at FiveThirtyEight:

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara ripped into the political culture in Albany on Thursday during a news conference detailing the arrest of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges. Indeed, cynics (including this writer) weren’t surprised that yet another of New York’s public officials landed in hot legal water.

But is Bharara being too tough on the Empire State’s public servants? Is the New York capital really that corrupt? The truth is, there are different ways to measure corruption, and they point in different directions. Here are four measures (I’ll go through each below).

We can look at the absolute number of public officials convicted in federal court on corruption. On that score, New York was No. 1 from 1976 to 2010 with 2,522 convictions. California was No. 2, Illinois No. 3, Florida No. 4 and Pennsylvania No. 5. Yet it’s clear from this list that the most corrupt states are also the states with the biggest populations.

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