Author Archive | J.F. Quackenbush

ATTN US Citizens: You Don’t Have to Fear the NDAA At The Moment

Picture: Pete Souza (PD)

The National Defense Authorization Act contains some ugly draftsmanship and some head-scratchingly vague wording on the issue of battlefield captures. That said, my long time professional opinion was that it probably wasn’t something worth worrying overly much about, particularly when their were bigger fish to fry in the realm of warrantless wiretaps and the upcoming sunsetting of FISA provisions. That having been said, others have not been so germane to the problem, and for the moment at least, they have won a major victory in getting a permanent injunction against the section of the NDAA that caused the hubbub.

From the ruling:

For the reasons set forth above, this Court permanently enjoins enforcement of § 1021(b)(2) in any manner, as to any person. The Court invites Congress to examine whether there are amendments that might cure the statute/s deficiencies or whether in light of existing authorization and existing
criminal statutes § 1021 is needed at all.

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What’s Black and White and Red All Over?

Pic: US Dept. of Labor (PD)

Turns out that on September 4, 2012 at least, the answer was the New York Times, which today published a startling demonstration by Robert Reich of the core Marxist principle of surplus value at work in the US economy:

Starting in the late 1970s, the middle class began to weaken. Although productivity continued to grow and the economy continued to expand, wages began flattening in the 1970s because new technologies — container ships, satellite communications, eventually computers and the Internet — started to undermine any American job that could be automated or done more cheaply abroad. The same technologies bestowed ever larger rewards on people who could use them to innovate and solve problems. Some were product entrepreneurs; a growing number were financial entrepreneurs. The pay of graduates of prestigious colleges and M.B.A. programs — the “talent” who reached the pinnacles of power in executive suites and on Wall Street — soared.

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Drug Warriors Score a Major Victory, Los Zetas Celebrate

Picture: US CFR (PD)

Fox News Latino is reporting the capture of Gulf Cartel boss David Rosales Guzman:

Rosales Guzman was arrested in the Colonia Independiente neighborhood of the city of Guadalupe after officers spotted him in an SUV and he was unable to give them the slip.
The suspect was arrested in the course of an investigation into the recent series of murders and attacks in Monterrey, the secretariat said.
Rosales Guzman was carrying drugs at the time of his arrest, the Public Safety Secretariat said.

The Latin American Herald Tribune has a picture of Rosales looking very unhappy with a couple of Federale TechnoNinjas here.

Of course, taking down a member of the Gulf Cartel is no longer the coup that it once would have been. Over the last decade, the Gulf Cartel’s former attack dogs, the ferocious paramilitary organization composed primarily of soldiers who were trained in Mexico’s elite special forces or Guatemala’s infamous death squads, have completely broken their leash and taken over most of their former masters’ territory along the Gulf and up into the vast Yucatan marijuana fields of Oaxaca.… Read the rest

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Closing the Book on the Tijuana Cartel

Picture: Diego Fernandez (PD)

The Arellano-Felix phase of the Tijuana cartel may be about to begin it’s last chapter. USA today reports that the last brother of the notorious drug gang has now been extradited to the United States by Mexico.

Mexico has extradited the last brother of the Arellano-Felix cartel to San Diego, ending a 20-year investigation of the notorious drug gang, the Justice Department says.

Eduardo Arellano-Felix, 55, was sent to San Diego to face charges of racketeering, money laundering and narcotics trafficking. He is due in Federal court September 4, the Justice Department’s news release says.

At one time the Arellano Felix brothers were the major power in Tijuana near the San Diego border. The Tijuana cartel is a faction that was formerly a part of Miguel Gallardo’s Guadalajara cartel alongside Chapo Guzman, current leader of the Sinaloa cartel. After Gallardo’s extradition to the United States to serve the rest of his life sentence in the Federal Super Maximum Security Penitentiary in Colorado, The Guadalajara cartel splintered into the Tijuana group who controlled narco traffick along the California border up and into San Diego while the Sinaloa Federation took control of the large opium and marijuana production operations in Sinaloa state, as well as much of the trafficking business in Colombian cocaine produced and sold at wholesale prices by the various Bogota operations that sprang up after the 1993 death of Pablo Escobar and the disintegration of the Medellin cartel into warring factions.… Read the rest

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Catholic Pedophilia Story Everybody is Going to Get Wrong

Picture: NARA (PD)

From RawStory:

A Catholic newspaper has removed an interview from their website in which a priest said that pedophiles are seduced by children in “a lot of the cases” and the abusers should not go to jail.

During an interview with National Catholic Register, 78-year-old Father Benedict Groeschel was asked about his experience working with priests involved in abuse.

“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case,” Groeschel explained. “Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.”

This is a big deal. Father Groeschel is a respected psychologist who has worked with pedophile priests within the Church. And the newspaper has apparently engaged in self-censorship in order to help polish the Vatican’s image on it’s disastrous handling of its priests accused of abusing children.… Read the rest

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Smartest Guy In The Room Can’t Get His Facts Straight

Picture: US Congress (PD)

Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan has a reputation in the Mainstream Media as a guy who knows his stuff, in particular on matters of fiscal policy. His passion for free market capitalism is something he has credited in the past to an adherence to science fiction novelist Ayn Rand’s views on economics. And as an aside, Stephen Colbert’s takedown of that particular right-wing philosophical zombie the night of Ryan’s Republican National Convention Speech is necessary viewing for all thinking people with a sense of humor.

But Paul Ryan’s wonk credentials may be in some danger as he begins to campaign on the national stage, since the only charitable reading of the wildly false claims throughout his speech is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Factcheck.org has a complete rundown of the many errors and falsehoods Ryan embraced August 29th:

Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention contained several false claims and misleading statements.

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Enter the Gulabi Tiger

Picture: McKay Savage (CC)

Pakistan’s Engish Language The News International has an in depth profile of Sampat Pal Devi, the leader of India’s Gulabi Gang—a group of feminist vigilantes in the rural north of India:

Seeds of rebellion were sown early in Sampat Pal’s mind when her parents refused to send her to school. But despite opposition, she learnt to read and write by watching through the boys’ classroom window without letting her parents know of it.

. . .

Resident of village Bidausa, Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh, Sampat became a child bride in a region where child marriages are common. Having her first child at the age of 13, by the time she turned 20 Sampat had five children. But that did not deter her from being on her own.

She took up a job as a government health worker and added to the family income. Her husband had by then known that his wife was an independent minded woman and encouraged her in her pursuits.

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War Games II: Mexican Drug War Edition

Picture: 'Alex07' (CC)

Agence-France Press has an interesting story on the high tech nerve center of Mexico’s effort against the paramilitary drug cartels operating within its borders:

One large regional map showed yellow dots representing small planes that flew from Colombia, the world’s main cocaine producer, to Honduras, which has become a hub for drugs smuggled to the United States.

Officials even get real-time videos beamed by drones – the same type of pilotless spy aircraft used by the US military in Afghanistan.

Thousands of camera feeds from the streets of Mexico City and other towns across the nation are relayed to the bunker.

On one screen, cars and trucks are seen going through an X-ray machine looking for concealed drugs or migrants in Ciudad Juarez, the city at the US border considered the epicenter of the violence.

Some 500 million files, including police reports, rap sheets and vehicle registrations are stored in rows of computer servers on the bottom floor.

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Rare 13th Amendment Lawsuit Takes On Prison-Industrial Complex

Picture: Jacob Lawrence (PD)

As previously reported, a Vermont man is currently suing in Federal Court claiming that his forced labor as a pretrial detainee was in violation of the 13th Amendment. From Yahoo via Boing-Boing

The year was December 2008, and University of Vermont graduate student Finbar McGarry faced a dilemma. An inmate in a Vermont county jail, McGarry was required by correctional authorities to work in the jail laundromat for 25 cents per hour. If he refused to work, McGarry would have been thrown in solitary confinement—otherwise known as “the hole.” Not a pleasant alternative.
. . .
McGarry’s charges were ultimately dropped, and he was released. In 2009, he pressed a suit against his former captors in Brattleboro, Vermont, federal court for $11 million—claiming he was made a slave in violation of his 13th Amendment rights. The Brattleboro judge ruled that McGarry’s constitutional rights had not been violated, but that finding was overturned on appeal last week.

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Wire Service Dutifully Writes Down Ecuadorean Government’s Claims About the Assange Affair

Picture: VitaliVVitaliV (CC)

From Reuters:

The Ecuadorean government shares Assange’s fears that he ultimately could be extradited to the United States, which is angry that his WikiLeaks website has leaked hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic and military cables.

The leftist Correa, who has high popularity levels and is expected to run for re-election in February 2013, had developed some rapport with Assange during an online interview the WikiLeaks founder did with him this year [for the Russian Government's English Language answer to propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe, Russia Today].

Correa’s stance has been largely cheered by Ecuadoreans, and there have been scattered protests at the British Embassy.

“The whole world should back Ecuador for giving Assange asylum and because this country is the first one to promote freedom of expression,” said Mary Valenzuela, a 39-year-old restaurant owner.

Emphasis on credulousness added.

The UK’s Independent does a slightly better job pulling apart the Cameron government’s attempts to backpedal for its inept chief diplomat:

At least one of the lawyers at the Foreign Office (FCO) expressed concern over the warning that Britain could use the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 to “storm” the embassy building and remove Assange, who faces sex crime allegations in Sweden.

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