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07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

07.02 American Medical Association sues North Dakota over abortion laws

07.02 'Committed' CO2 emissions jeopardize international climate goals, study finds

07.01 New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

07.01 Freak summer hailstorm buries cars in Mexico's Guadalajara [0:50 video]

07.01 Climate Change is Devastating India With Heat Waves and Water Shortages [13:48 video]

06.30 American farmers can't afford this administration's climate apathy

06.30 The US military is a bigger polluter than more than 140 countries combined [Could a world-wide moratorium of military activity dramatically slow the climate crises?]

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07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]

07.15 Finding the Future in Radical Rural America

07.15 Sanders Accuses Biden of Parroting Pharma and Insurance Industry Script With Attacks on Medicare for All [Like Trump, Biden explains why he's unelectable every day.]

07.15 If there is an 'immigrant' who has failed to integrate in America, it's Donald Trump

07.15 Trump tells Ocasio-Cortez and other female progressives to 'go back' to 'original' countries

07.15 Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues [Its about much more than immigration, its about the Corporate Dominance—by many of the same companies, even—over both major Political Parties. With too few exceptions, neither party has represented The Public since Nixon generously raised the minimum wage (Part D Medicare and ACA both became Frankenstein legislation due to excessive corporate price-fixing influence), and that has to change!]

07.14 Trump: People like Paul Ryan almost killed the Republican Party [Then it's too bad he didn't stay to finish the job!]

07.13 Trump's POS Labor Secretary, Acosta, Out. POS Number 2, Linked to Abramoff, to Fill Role [A willingness to perform criminal behavior seems the only competency required...]

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07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

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07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

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  Cowardice in the Time of Torture
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COMMENTARY:

Cowardice in the Time of Torture

by Ray McGovern
5 April 2009

I used to take a certain pride by association with prominent Bronxites who have “made it.” Cancel that for Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

You might think that as African-Americans, they would be especially outraged by torture, given what blacks have suffered at the hands of white torturers in this country and abroad.

Why is it that they seem to value more their admittance into a privileged white-dominated ruling class than doing the right thing? How else to explain their stunning reluctance to hold torturers accountable and thus remove the stain of torture from our nation’s soul and reputation?

One might say that Attorney General Holder is proving himself to be part of that “nation of cowards” that he called the United States in a different context, i.e. our unwillingness to address the issue of race. What about when the victims of torture are Muslims? Where’s Holder’s courage then?

Surely, I was not the only one stunned by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s public admission that he helped authorize waterboarding of detainees. But, on reflection, there seems to have been a method to his madness; and, so far at least, the method seems to be working.

Have Holder and Colin Powell forgotten from their days growing up in the Bronx the typical reaction of bullies when caught in the act? “Okay, so waddaya gonna do ‘bout it!” It was an attempt at intimidation, and it was generally effective with those who felt not quite up to the challenge.

Looks very much as if Cheney sized up Holder correctly. During his confirmation hearings, Holder manfully agreed with Sen. Patrick Leahy that waterboarding, which subjects a person to the panicked gag reflex of drowning, is torture.

But Holder has been out to lunch since then, no doubt leaving Cheney and his torture-friendly friends smirking at having been correct in taking the measure of the new Attorney General. Call it chutzpah, intimidation, bullying — whatever; it does seem to be working.

Cheney endorsing waterboarding; Holder labeling it torture; and — Hello? Anyone home? Deafening silence.

Never mind that Holder, like President Barack Obama, took a solemn oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land. Why are they still afraid of Dick Cheney, whom even the neo-con editors of the Washington Post in 2005 branded “Vice President for Torture?”

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Holder seems to be taking his cue from the pitiable Colin Powell, now traversing the country giving lucrative speeches on leadership. Powell knew he was welcome into the club, or in this case the White House, only as long as he toed the line and was willing to offer up what was left of his reputation to the Bush/Cheney war effort.

True, in one brief spurt of behind-the-scenes assertiveness, Powell insisted that arch-prevaricator (and former CIA director) George Tenet sit behind him during Powell’s unforgettable/unforgivable speech at the UN on Feb. 5, 2003.

Could he have been so unaware as to think this might somehow shame the shameless Tenet into coming clean with the intelligence?

No way; and he knew it. Powell had already confided to then-British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that the case against Iraq was what in the Bronx we call a “crock.”

I know Powell. In the early 1980s, when he wore but one star as military assistant to the Secretary of Defense – and I was a CIA intelligence briefer – I used to do him the courtesy of pre-briefing him, to the extent I could, on what I was about to discuss during my early-morning one-on-ones with his boss, Casper Weinberger. I found Powell to be anything but naïve.

He and I had a good bit in common — growing up at about the same time a mile from each other in the Bronx, “Distinguished Military Graduates” commissioned via Army R.O.T.C. — he from City College in 1958, I from Fordham in 1961.

Initially, I was blissfully unaware of the many times he had compromised himself — in doing Weinberger’s bidding on Iran-Contra, for example. And so in 1989, I took a certain pride by association when Powell made it to the very top as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That pride dissipated quickly as I watched Powell bend to those who were bent on launching a war of aggression on Iraq. Republican elder statesman James Baker, who was secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, has referred to Powell as the one person who could have stopped that war. Baker is right.

Caving on Torture

More to the point, Colin Powell betrayed the U.S. Army and the nation on the issue of torture.

When he got a whiff of the tortured reasoning for torture – being urged on the President by the likes of Alberto Gonzales and David Addington to somehow make torture “legal” – Powell took the coward’s way out.

He had his lawyer get in touch with the Mafia-type lawyers in the White House to ask them please, could they please ask the President to reconsider his decision to exempt al-Qaeda and the Taliban from the protections of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

Powell’s gentle demurral appears in a MEMORANUM FOR THE PRESIDENT, dated Jan. 25, 2002, drafted by Addington but signed by Gonzales. They included Powell’s argument in a paragraph at the bottom of a list of “negative” consequences of ignoring Geneva:

“A determination that Geneva does not apply to al Qaeda and the Taliban could undermine U.S. military culture which emphasizes maintaining the highest standards of conduct in combat, and could introduce an element of uncertainty in the status of adversaries.”

Powell got that right. Too bad he did not have the courage of his convictions. Too bad he lacked the guts to confront the President directly. Too bad, for he is perhaps the one person who could have stopped the torture and the debasement of the Army to which he owed so much.

Rather than put into play the wide respect he still enjoyed, in order to stop a war he knew to be illegal, Powell decided to trade in that respect for the equivalent of 30 pieces of silver.

As the Executive Summary of the Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture, released on Dec. 12, 2008, indicates, President Bush threw in his lot with the early opinions of Addington and Gonzales.

(What most folks don’t realize is that this was long before everyone’s favorite bête noire John Yoo and associates served up their ex post facto “justifications.”)

Incorporating Addington’s language, the President signed an executive order on Feb. 7 that, in the words of the Senate committee, “opened the door” to torture.

Powell not only acquiesced in this but also allowed himself to be sucked into a series of discussions in the White House Situation Room regarding which torture techniques might be most appropriate to apply to which “high-value” detainee.

Those are the sessions that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft referred to in commenting, “history will not be kind” to us.

What brings this painful flashback to mind is Rachel Maddow’s interview with Colin Powell on April 2. Not surprisingly, he danced around her questions about the White House seminars on torture. Most telling of all, however, Powell could not bring himself to admit, even now, that waterboarding is torture.

Doubling Down

On April 3, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the fabulous fabricator of the fabled Saddam-al-Qaeda connection, upped the ante in the “so-wattaya-gonna-do-‘bout-it” challenge, and held up to ridicule the timidity of Holder and the President.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Feith pretended to be shocked at the temerity of a Spanish court that seems to be on the verge of bringing criminal charges against Feith, Gonzales, Addington, John Yoo, and two other lawyers who served up the desired opinions on how the White House could make an end-run around domestic and international law and approve the systematic torture of detainees.

Disregarding the provisions of international law that clearly do apply, Feith makes liberal use of reductio ad absurdum to “prove” that Spain has no jurisdiction to put Americans on trial for torture.

More important, Feith is so cocksure of himself that he throws down the gauntlet at the feet of the new administration: “If President Barack Obama and the prosecutors see a crime to be prosecuted, they can act.”

What, I wonder, gives Feith such confidence that he will not one day rue having said that? Has it been his watching of a long line of timid officials – both Republicans and Democrats – who lack the courage of their convictions?

Clearly, the Cheneys and Feiths of this world are betting on Obama being cut of the same cloth. The President will prove them right if it turns out that his oft-repeated “No one is above the law” proves to be just rhetoric.

And it will remain just rhetoric, if Obama delays much longer in ordering the reluctant Holder to appoint a nonpartisan, independent special prosecutor to bring the torturers to justice and end this shameful chapter in American history once and for all.


Ray McGovern was a U.S. Army infantry/intelligence officer and then held senior positions in CIA’s analysis division for the next 27 years.  He now works at Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on April 5, 2009.

 

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