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Torture update, big deal.

2 Apr

DS002449

2 big things are going on in the torture world.

1.  The honorable Judge Garzon of Spain (best known for taking down Augusto Pinochet) is at it again, and I love him for it. The LA Times reports,

A high-profile Spanish judge has initiated a possible investigation of alleged torture and war crimes by half a dozen U.S. officials who created the legal framework for interrogations at Guantanamo, a senior Spanish official said Saturday.

The process has gotten so far, it is scaring the begeezus out of Bush senior staff.  John Yoo and David Addington, two of torture enablers, have recently canceled their Chevy Chase esque European adventure.  Huff post reports quotes from both gentleman that show just how clueless they are to the pain they’ve caused.

“It’s a shame when you have someone who thinks they’re above the law…like Mr. Garzon,” said Addington, “and now two innocent people have to suffer. We had been looking forward to this for years, and now they just want to put us on the rack…I’m speaking metaphorically, of course.”

2.  Today a Federal judge ruled that detainees in Afghanistan are entitled to challenge their detention in US Courts.  The fact that they were unable to challenge their detention before was one of my only disappointments with Obama thus far.  So I’m glad that this has been overturned.  We must stop treating individuals as they have varying value.  We all have equal value in this world — this ruling helps affirm this.  As reported by the NYT,

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to challenge their detention in court. But the government had argued that it did not apply to those in Afghanistan.

Bates said the cases were essentially the same and he quoted the Supreme Court ruling repeatedly in his judgment and applied the test created by it to each detainee. It is the first time a federal judge has applied the ruling to detainees in Afghanistan.

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Who to trust in a world or experts, pundits and bloggers?

26 Mar

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The answer:  no one!  A study described in the NYT today, says that “expert” predictions, although they do have a slight impact on public opinion are no better than random guesses. The best part too is that the better name recognition with this expert, the more likely they were to be wrong!  Sigh…who can we trust nowadays.  Is Krugman wrong too!?

The expert on experts is Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His 2005 book, “Expert Political Judgment,” is based on two decades of tracking some 82,000 predictions by 284 experts. The experts’ forecasts were tracked both on the subjects of their specialties and on subjects that they knew little about.

The result? The predictions of experts were, on average, only a tiny bit better than random guesses — the equivalent of a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board.

“It made virtually no difference whether participants had doctorates, whether they were economists, political scientists, journalists or historians, whether they had policy experience or access to classified information, or whether they had logged many or few years of experience,” Mr. Tetlock wrote.

Indeed, the only consistent predictor was fame — and it was an inverse relationship. The more famous experts did worse than unknown ones. That had to do with a fault in the media. Talent bookers for television shows and reporters tended to call up experts who provided strong, coherent points of view, who saw things in blacks and whites. People who shouted — like, yes, Jim Cramer!

Looking at things from the other side…AIG.

25 Mar

ceoNot saying that this op-ed in the NYT has made me believe that finance guys deserve the money they make, but admittedly I didn’t think about the story from their side as much as I should have.  The letter is a resignation letter from one VP to the CEO.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

Gamma Omicron Phi – Republicans might as well be a big fraternity.

24 Mar

USA-BUSH/The Republican party is acting like a sorority or a fraternity lately.  No individual thinking, only collective thinking.  Collective thinking is bad, unless it is collaborative thinking.  The only reason to have one opinion shape a group is to amass power.  Which is exactly what the GOP is doing.  The lovely ladies from Maine helped us out last time and it looked as if Arlen Specter was going to do us a solid this time with the Employee Free Choice Act.  But, he reneged.  Big surprise…  As reported in the Globe,

Big business won a key ally today in its high-stakes fight against the “check-card” bill that would make it easier for unions to organize workplaces.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who was the only Republican to support the bill two years ago, told business groups that he will oppose the measure.

Unions were counting on him as the 60th vote to overcome an expected GOP filibuster. Democrats and two independents who usually vote with them control 58 seats.

This basically kills the bill and drops it in filibuster land.  Not somewhere any of us would like to end up.

Click it and it all makes sense: Geithner plan.

24 Mar

Every once in a while some article comes across my computer screen and makes everything I’ve been hearing about a particular political controversy click.  This FAQ style explanation of Geithner’s plan did just that…check it out and hope it ‘clicks’ for you too!idealightbulb02

AIG chieftain representin’ Che.

23 Mar

The fascination with Che in the US is hilarious.  I, along with many of my peers, own a silk screened Che shirt.  I feel a bit ashamed wearing it seeing as if I’m 99.9% pacifist and Che…well, was not.   But, I do consider myself a lover of many things ‘marxist’ and  ‘socialist’ and therefore wear the shirt as an unabashed criticism of capitalism.  So, that is my excuse.  What is the excuse of this AIG big-wig in charge of financial products?  I’m guessing he’s a pretty big fan of capitalism.  gerry-pasciucco

Depression stamps?

23 Mar

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The recent death of Sylvia Plath’s son, Nicholas Hughes, has prompted me to rethink my stance on depression.  Depression is an issue I have always grappled with as a progressive woman.  Although compassion is my mantra, I am easily angered by the amount of people in the US consider themselves depressed.  I believe many people could fight off depression if they tried but instead give into it.  I also think that the uptick in people with depression represents our unhealthy obsession with perfection and affluence.  Many times, instead of taking control of their psyche, people instead turn to the medicine cabinet.

My less cynical side reminds me though, that depression is a clinical syndrone with marked characterisitcs and possible genetic predispositions.  Many people can not just become ‘undepressed’ with some positive thinking.  After reading the article in the Boston Globe about depression in the Hughes/Plath family I am starting to believe that in the spirit of being ‘our brother’s keeper’ we should start looking at depression in the same way we look like poverty.  There should be better social infrastructure to find those people who are in pain because of depression and who have no ‘brother’ to encourage them to find help.  Especially in the PTSD era of today, the government should institute new policies from a public health perspective that will help impoverished people and veterans seek and find affordable psychological care.