Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Saving Darfur

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force for Darfur on Tuesday to try to help end four years of fighting that has killed more than 200,000 people in the vast Sudanese region.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The "Gray Lady" Endorses Gonzales Impeachment

The Carpetbagger Report has the details.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ask the question: If Pat Tillman was murdered, who didn't want him to come back alive?

Once again (in what we are learning is a story which seems to get worse every time we get closer to the truth,) we've learned some disturbing new details regarding the death of Pat Tillman.

Tillman, you may recall, was the NFL star who left a career worth millions of dollars per year to join the elite U.S. Army Rangers (along with his brother Kevin) after 9/11 so he could fight in Afghanistan against the people who had actually attacked us. After a stint in Iraq, where he told comrades that he opposed the Iraq war and believed that it served no purpose in the war against bin Laden and al-Qaeda, he was redeployed to Afghanistan where he died on April 22, 2004. Within hours, a heroic story about his death was put out, and he was even awarded a silver star. A nice touch, it turned out to what was even then known to be a big lie.

But in today's story, we learn much more. Much more disturbing.

SAN FRANCISCO - Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors, whose names were blacked out, said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away....

The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if it would consider opening a criminal case.

"He said he talked to his higher headquarters, and they had said no," the doctor testified.

We also learned this:

• No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene - no one was hit by enemy fire nor was any government equipment struck.

After their first set of lies was exposed, the Pentagon and the White House are still sticking stubbornly to their second story, that it was a friendly fire 'accident,' even now offering up the heads of several generals on a platter.

But the evidence is still there, that this was no accident. And the motivation is clear: Pat Tillman was well known to personally oppose the Iraq war, which was not the war he signed up to fight. And after his commitment was over, he'd have been a devastatingly effective opponent of that war. Even Ann Coulter would have had a tough time attacking Tillman after he got home from both Afghanistan and Iraq, and began speaking out against the Iraq war. April 2004 was the month that Iraq boiled over and it was clear that the U.S. would be there longer than Tillman's commitment. So suddenly he died, conveniently in the war he had volunteered for, and within hours the heroism story was out, carefully scripted and made to order, complete with silver star.

Mary Tillman is right, this doesn't pass the sniff test. There is more here that needs to be investigated. Let's hope that Congress demands to know the names of the doctors involved and determines why their suspicions that it was murder weren't acted on. It is true that the army did eventually conduct an inquiry in which they asked if any of the men in his unit disliked Tillman. But maybe that isn't the inquiry that needs to be asked in regard to what appears to be a cold blooded case of murder. Maybe the question needs to be asked, who was afraid of Pat Tillman, and how far would they go in order to prevent him from saying what he was going to say after he left the army?

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

For Barbi

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

About our Nation´s Health

In front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified about the Bush administration interference with the Surgeon General's office practicing science-based public health:

[A]lthough most Americans believe that their Surgeon General has the ability to impact the course of public health as “the nation’s doctor,” the reality is that the nation’s doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas. Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological, or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, or simply buried.

Specifically, Carmona mentioned the issues of stem cell research, abstinence education, and global health reports. He continued,

The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of Surgeon General is to be “the doctor of the nation”— not “the doctor of a political party.”

Later in the day on the PBS Jim Lehrer News Hour, Carmona said the public should be outraged that their surgeon generals have been marginalized. When challenged as to why he stayed for 6 years, in a situation that he acknowledged was worse than previous administrations, Carmona spoke of the challenges all the surgeon generals have faced, with days they each wanted to quit...but ultimately they all held up the dignity of the surgeon generals office in spite of the challenges, at risk to themselves personally and professionally.

...but did Carmona take those risks? There are times where you quit, so that you can publicize the problems as a service to maintain the dignity of the office (and right before the administration in question is RE-ELECTED might just be a good time). And what does he mean by professional risk? Scientists and academics in public health and beyond (global warming?) have been talking about the Bush administration's supression of good science for years. Carmona's testimony is appreciated, but who knows what harm has occured before he spoke up.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Genarlow Wilson isn't a pedophile, and he should't be treated as one.

Genarlow Wilson needs to go free now. Period.

Teenagers will fool around sometimes. I'm not saying that's a good thing, and I advise my own kids to wait, and warn them about the dangers of AIDS, other STD's and the potential for pregnancy. I tell them about safe sex, but also tell them that I hope they wait. But the fact is, high school sex does happen, and when it does, it's not a felony.

Except that it was a felony when Genarlow Wilson, then seventeen, had consensual sexual relations with a fifteen year old girl who went to the same high school as he did.

Under Georgia's strict sexual predator act, he was charged four years ago with sexual assault on a teenager and slapped with a ten year prison sentence (where he is today) and told that when he gets out, he will have to register as a sex offender.

Largely because of his case, Georgia legislators softened the law and made it a misdemeanor when two minors engage in sexual relations with each other. But that doesn't help Wilson, who was convicted under the old law.

One man has been instrumental in keeping Wilson behind bars: Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker. Whether he is trying to prove he is tough on crime, or whether he is trying to curry favor with those 'values' voters who feel that any kind of teenage sex is so evil that it is worth throwing a man's future away in order to make a point, Baker has refused to budge and insists that Wilson serve out his entire term, and then register as a pedophile.

I'm not going to go into the racial angle here, as it has been reported on ad nauseum (Wilson, the girl he was with and Baker are all black; it is fair though to ask whether those voters who are so concerned about the 'morality' aspect of this would be as insistent on keeping him there if he were white.) I also will resist the urge to speculate on whether this case would ever have gone to trial if the girl were the seventeen year old and the boy was fifteen.

Instead I am going to focus on the substance of the charges. The Georgia legislature frankly didn't go far enough in 'fixing' their law. If the pair had waited for a few months, then she would have been sixteen and he would have been eighteen and even under the new law he would have been considered guilty of a felony. The fact is that this case cheapens sexual predator laws. We need tough sexual predator laws to protect children (both teenagers and younger kids) from 45 year old perverts hanging out on the internet, or the really nice guy who gives candy out down the street, or Uncle Lester who is always volunteering to watch the kids when the parents are gone. We know intuitively what a sexual predator is. It is a much older adult who takes advantage of a child who is not yet mentally or emotionally mature enough to comprehend the consequences of sex. Maybe it is a rapist, or maybe it is someone who likes to touch the girls where they ought not to be touched. But we know what one is.

We should also know what one isn't. Two years difference in age doesn't qualify for slapping the 'pedophile' label on someone for the rest of their life. Heck, I'm two years older than my wife. Does that make me a pervert? No? What if we'd met in high school? We didn't, but I know people, now happily married, who did meet in high school. And guess what? One of them is always a little older. I know, that sounds astonishing, but it's true.

Frankly, labeling Genarlow Wilson as a sex predator will, if it happens, make sex predators sound not as threatening as they should.

I realize that there is a need to draw a line somewhere, but it seems as though Canadians and some others have the right idea when they have written in a 'near-age exemption' into their laws. Three to five years seems reasonable. True, that could lead in a worst case scenario to an eighteen year old just turned adult legally having sexual relations with a thirteen year old, but anything less than that seems to risk repeating what has happened here.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Some Good, Some not so good and More Ugly!!

The Good: Number Six flips and decides to support a redeployment of many American troops from Iraq by March 2008.

The Bad: Not so good news about Al Gore's Son.

The Ugly:
A car bomb killed 17 people and wounded 25 others outside a restaurant in a Shi'ite neighborhood in southern Baghdad on Thursday, Iraqi police said. Among the victims were women and children who were part of a group accompanying a newly wed couple.

Teens are People!

For nearly three years Nancy W. went to extreme measures to protect herself at high school. Fearing for her safety, she stopped using the school restroom, and avoided the hallways by walking outside between classes. On an almost daily basis she was tormented at school – verbally harassed by other students who threw bottles and other objects at her, pushed her down a flight of stairs, stole her books - and on one occasion urinated in her book-bag! After repeatedly reporting these incidents to the school’s administration and being ignored, Nancy was forced to leave school in the middle of her Junior year. Nancy faced all of this because she’s a lesbian.

Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on Nancy’s behalf based on a state law that prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in schools. Lambda Legal is fighting a battle against discrimination for Nancy and for other LGBTQ students around the country, and they need our help to win cases like these!

You can start by going to here

This antidiscrimination case not only brings hope to one young adult - it's a step forward for LGBT people nationwide.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Pre-fourth of July thought.

The Democratic party didn't give black Americans civil rights. A civil rights movement brought the Democratic party leadership along in its stream.
Oh and read Digby regarding Impeachment.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Celebrating Freedom and Friendship

The Detroit-Windsor "International Freedom Festival" began in 1959 (themed "Partners in Freedom"), publicizing the longstanding friendship on both sides of the Detroit River between the American and Canadian people and celebrates Canada's July 1st Canada Day (originally called Dominion Day, the name was officially changed to Canada Day on October 27, 1982) and America's July 4th Independence Day.

On June 27, 2007, Zambelli Fireworks Internationale (the oldest fireworks company in the country) put on another great show for the 49th annual International Freedom Festival.

It takes 5 days to load the 3 barges with 100 miles of wire, 500 tons of sand, 250,000 lbs. of fiberglass mortars, and more than 10,000 fireworks shells for the annual fireworks display, which lasts about 30 minutes.

Here is the finale, taken from the Windsor side:

A happy and safe Fourth to all.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Get Out of Jail Free

America Blog has all the reactions to the commute by Bush on Libby. So it seems, the President condones criminal conduct and sets them free.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Live Earth

Live Earth is a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series taking place on 7/7/07 that will bring together more than 100 music artists and 2 billion people to trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis.

Al Gore has an Opinion in the NY Times worth reading.

Americans must come together and direct our government to take on a global challenge. American leadership is a precondition for success.

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