Author Archive | Good German

Torture Spreading as Its Use Is ‘Normalized’ by TV Shows like ’24’

 24 Logo

24 Logo

Travis Gettys writes at Raw Story:

Torture is rampant across the world and has become almost normalized by the “war on terror” and its glamorous portrayal in shows such as “24″ and “Homeland,” Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

The London-based human rights group is launching a new campaign aimed at ending torture, which it says remains widespread even 30 years after a blanket prohibition was agreed by the United Nations.

In the past five years, Amnesty says it has recorded incidents in 141 countries, including 79 of the 155 signatories to the 1984 UN Convention against Torture.

The global survey of 21,000 people in 21 countries also revealed a widespread dread of the practice, with 44 percent saying they feared being abused if they were taken into custody.

Yet over a third percent of the respondents said they believed torture was sometimes necessary and acceptable to gain information that may protect the public.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The ‘Commodification’ of Sleep

Adam Goode (CC BY 2.0)

Adam Goode (CC BY 2.0)

Via 21st Century Wire:

In the 21st century, like every other thing in our lives, something as fundamental as sleep has surprisingly become a ‘commodity’ – to be rationed – rather than an essential human need.

Can man really ration sleep and then medicate for the side-effects with pills, energy drinks, drugs and binge sleeping on the weekends?

The side-effects of this personal policy can be devastating to your health and well-being. According to Web MD, other conditions that might interfere with your day-to-day tasks include sleep deprivation can cause car accidents, drops in IQ, memory loss, increased aging of skin, and loss of sex drive. Aside from these, a chronic lack of sleep can either lead to, or exacerbate the following health conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Clearly, there are some serious risks associated with our 24/7, wireless, ‘smart’ culture.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Obama Preparing to Declare WWIII on Russia

Arend (CC BY 2.0)

Arend (CC BY 2.0)

Via 21st Century Wire:

Behind the White House’s political smokescreen in Ferguson and New York, US lawmakers were busy sliding through a pre-declaration of war against Russia.

The latest resolution by the US Congress, most likely drafted and presented to the speaker by Washington DC-based Neoconservative think tank, Foreign Policy Initiative (formerly Project for a New American Century), calls for renewed political, and military support for Fascist and NeoNazi-sympathizing regime in Kiev, Ukraine, which will include:

- US aid for Kiev regime to keep using its military against ethnic Russians in east Ukraine.
- US funding for more weapons and military support in the Ukraine.
- More US funding for foreign language, pro-US, and anti-Russian propaganda throughout eastern Europe and in countries bordering Russia.

In all but name, this US resolution is preliminary declaration of war, moving Washington right up to the final step, which is a formal declaration of war.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How We Lost Our “Freedom”

Jônatas Cunha CC BY-SA 2.0

Jônatas Cunha CC BY-SA 2.0

Andrew Levine writes at CounterPunch:

In Greek and Roman antiquity, “free” denoted a legal status; the opposite of “slave.” Independent political entities were also “free.” This usage never quite dropped away. Irish republicans, seeking independence from Britain, struggled to establish an “Irish free state.”   The national liberation movements of the latter half of the twentieth century shared this understanding.

In time, the underlying idea overflowed its origins. “Free” came to mean “independent” or “undominated,” irrespective of legal status. This was one of the ways it was understood when hundreds of thousands of African Americans and their allies in the Civil Rights movement marched for “freedom.”

Many of the most important political theorists in Europe in the early modern period understood freedom this way too. The strain of political theory they produced is called (small-r) “republican.”

The name is apt because, in addition to supplying its idea of freedom, the Roman republic, along with certain Greek city-states, inspired its leading thinkers’ visions of ideal political arrangements and their understandings of civic virtue.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Torture Is Who We Are

Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Peter Beinart writes at the Atlantic:

Torture, declared President Obama this week, in response to the newly released Senate report on CIA interrogation, is “contrary to who we are.” Maine Senator Angus King added that, “This is not America. This is not who we are.” According to Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, “We are better than this.”

No, actually, we’re not. There’s something bizarre about responding to a 600-page document detailing systematic U.S. government torture by declaring that the real America—the one with good values—does not torture. It’s exoneration masquerading as outrage. Imagine someone beating you up and then, when confronted with the evidence, declaring that “I’m not really like that” or “that wasn’t the real me.” Your response is likely to be some variant of: “It sure as hell seemed like you when your fist was slamming into my nose.” A country, like a person, is what it does.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Ten Reasons Why I Don’t Have a Credit Card

Ralph Nader offers ten reasons why cash is better than plastic.  (Photo:  Sean MacEntee/flickr/cc)

Ralph Nader offers ten reasons why cash is better than plastic. (Photo: Sean MacEntee/flickr/cc)

Ralph Nader writes at Common Dreams:

At a recent American Antitrust Institute (AAI) symposium in Washington, D.C., I asked the presenters about the ability of cash and checks to compete with the credit card industry and its strict controls on merchants. This obvious point becomes less obvious when one takes into account the expanding exclusion of cash/check payments due to the overwhelming expansion of goods and services that you cannot buy unless you have a credit card or a friend with one whom you can reimburse.

When sending some types of express mail, renting a car, or paying for the services of airlines/trains or hotels, you either cannot pay with cash/check or it is a real hassle of inquiries and conditions. The overall trend is to limit more and more what legal tender can actually buy in America because of exclusionary fine print contracts (see faircontracts.org).

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Obama: America “Exceptional” So We Don’t Prosecute Torturers

Steve Rhodes (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Steve Rhodes (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

In his first official remarks following Tuesday’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the torture program conducted by the CIA during the presidency of George W. Bush, President Barack Obama on Tuesday night indicated that the abuses detailed in the report conducted in the name of the American people—described as “horrific,” “ruthless” and “much more brutal than previously thought”—should not be followed by further inquiries or prosecutions as many have long urged.

In his remarks, Obama acknowledged that “no nation is perfect,” but argued that “one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.”

Backed by his interpretation of “American Exceptionalism,” Obama suggested that the release of the report—which his administration fought tirelessly to restrict—was all that was necessary in order for the nation to move forward.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Problem With Hugs

Ruth Fowler writes at CounterPunch:

By now we’ve all seen the viral image of a teenage black boy, tears streaming down his face, hugging a white police officer in riot gear. The image, taken from a Ferguson protest in Portland, Oregon will doubtless become as iconic as the photograph of 17 year old Jan Rose Kasmir holding a flower up to the stony faces of the National Guard during a Vietnam war protest, or the unknown man standing alone in front of oncoming tanks in Tiananmen Square. The boy, Devonte Hart, has unwittingly become a symbol of hope and pacifism in the midst of growing fury over the failure of the Grand Jury to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown. It seems to suggest that if we all just stop for a moment, let down our guard, become human beings, show some love and face our own mortality, that this whole sorry mess might blow over.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Ben Carson Stands by Comparison of U.S. To Nazi Germany

Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Interesting, considering the CIA torture report, recent police killings of unarmed African Americans, and our international flying robot death squads, that Carson mentions Obamneycare and the IRS.  Alexandra Jaffe writes at CNN:

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson stood by his controversial comparison of the United States to Nazi Germany in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday.

Asked by Blitzer whether he would amend or take back his comments, Carson said “Absolutely not.”

Carson made the comments during a March interview with conservative news outlet Breitbart.com. He noted that the Third Reich was “using its tools to intimidate the population,” and said that “we now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.”

In elaborating on those comments Wednesday, he again suggested that the U.S. “government is using instruments of government, like the IRS, to punish its opponents.”

Pressed by Blitzer on whether the comparison was appropriate, Carson argued his focus on the specific words was “part of the problem.”

“What you were doing is allowing words to affect you more than listening to what was actually being said.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Worst Industrial Disaster in the History of the World

Bhopal memorial for those killed and disabled by the 1984 toxic gas release.  Simone.lippi CC BY-SA 2.0

Bhopal memorial for those killed and disabled by the 1984 toxic gas release. Simone.lippi CC BY-SA 2.0

Siddhartha Deb writes at the Baffler:

“A caption: some kind of meteorite or alien visitation has led to the creation of a miracle: the Zone. Troops were sent in and never returned. It was surrounded by barbed wire and a police cordon.” —Zona, Geoff Dyer

The ruins of the Union Carbide pesticide factory lie in the very center of India, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which means Middle State. There, in the capital city of Bhopal, inside the old city that sits across a lake from the new city, inside the crumbling but imposing fortress gates and beyond the twisting medieval alleyways and public squares, past makeshift shacks, scrubland, and slime-filled canals, surrounded by a boundary wall and guarded by a contingent of policemen, is the site of the worst industrial disaster in the history of the world.

Read the rest
Continue Reading