A similar speech got Ruper Sheldrake banned from TED Talk.
A similar speech got Ruper Sheldrake banned from TED Talk.
Nope, that is not a typo. Khalid al-Hamad, the commander of the jihadis wreaking havoc in Syria, was filmed carving out a dead Syrian government soldier's internal organs and eating them. These are also the same people who have proudly decapitated prisoners as well.
The Obama administration, along with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar (and the Israelis?), have been funneling aid and weapons into the region for a few years now which has undoubtedly fallen into the hands of monsters like Hamad.
In Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Iraq, they are "terrorists." But in Libya and Syria, they are "rebels," progressive democrats overthrowing an oppressive dictatorship.
Language and propaganda lie at the heart of militarism, intervention and empire, and the US is no different. In fact, it's hard to think of anyone better at it.
More than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo are starving themselves to death. Twenty-three of them are being force-fed. “They strap you to a chair, tie up your wrists, your legs, your forehead and tightly around the waist,” Fayiz Al-Kandari told his lawyer, Lt. Col. Barry Wingard. Al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo for 11 years, has never been charged with a crime.
“The tube makes his eyes water excessively and blood begins to trickle from the nose. Once the tube passes his throat the gag reflex kicks in. Warm liquid is poured into the body for 45 minutes to two hours. He feels like his body is going to convulse and often vomits,” Wingard added.
The United Nations Human Rights Council concluded that force-feeding amounts to torture. The American Medical Association says that force-feeding violates medical ethics. “Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions,” AMA President Jeremy Lazarus wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Yet President Barack Obama continues the tortuous Bush policy of force-feeding hunger strikers.
Although a few days after his first inauguration, Obama promised to shutter Guantanamo, it remains open. “I continue to believe that we’ve got to close Guantanamo,” Obama declared in his April 30 press conference. But, he added, “Congress determined that they would not let us close it.” Obama signed a bill that Congress passed which erected barriers to closure. According to a Los Angeles Times editorial, “Obama has refused to expend political capital on closing Guantanamo. Rather than veto the defense authorization bills that have limited his ability to transfer inmates, he has signed them while raising questions about whether they intruded on his constitutional authority.”
“I don’t want these individuals to die,” Obama told reporters. In fact, Obama has the power to save the hunger strikers’ lives without torturing them. Eighty-six – more than half – of the detainees remaining at Guantanamo have been cleared for release for the past three years. Section 1028(d) of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act empowers the Secretary of Defense to approve transfers of detainees when it is in the national security interest of the United States. Fifty-six of the 86 cleared detainees are from Yemen. Yet Obama imposed a ban on releasing any of them following the foiled 2009 Christmas bomb plot by a Nigerian man who was recruited in Yemen. Obama must begin signing these certifications and waivers at once.
Indeed, Obama said in his press conference, “I think – well, you know, I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe . . . It hurts us in terms of our international standing . . . It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.”
In addition, Obama’s March 7, 2011 Executive Order 13567 provides for additional administrative review of detainees’ cases. The Periodic Review Board (PRB) would provide an opportunity for a detainee to challenge his continued detention. Yet Obama has delayed by more than a year PRB hearings at which other detainees could be cleared for release. Despite a requirement that the PRB begin review within one year, no PRB has yet been created. Obama should appoint an official to oversee the closure of Guantanamo and commence periodic reviews immediately so that detainees can challenge their designations and additional detainees can be approved for transfer.
Moreover, as suggested by Lt. Col. David Frakt, who represented Guantanamo detainees before the military commissions and in federal habeas corpus proceedings, Obama should direct the attorney general to inform the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Department of Justice no longer considers the cleared detainees to be detainable. Obama has blocked the release of eight cleared detainees by opposing their habeas corpus petitions. “[W]hen the Obama administration really wants to transfer a detainee, they are quite capable of doing so,” Frakt wrote in JURIST.
The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment, which includes two former senior U.S. generals, and a Republican former congressman and lawyer, Asa Hutchinson, issued a report that concluded the treatment and indefinite detention of the Guantanamo detainees is “abhorrent and intolerable.” It called for the closure of the prison camp by next year.
Twenty-five former Guantanamo detainees issued a statement recommending that the American medical profession stop its complicity with abuse force-feeding techniques; conditions on confinement for detainees be improved immediately; all detainees who have not been charged be released; and the military commissions process be ended and all those be charged tried in line with the Geneva Conventions.
The detainees who are refusing food have been stripped of all possessions, including a sleeping mat and soap, and are made to sleep on concrete floors in freezing solitary cells. “It is possible that I may die in here,” said Shaker Aamer through his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. “I hope not, but if I do die, please tell my children that I loved them above all else, but that I had to stand up for the principle that they cannot just keep holding people without a trial, especially when they have been cleared for release.” Aamer, a British father of four, was approved for release more than five years ago.
Col. Morris Davis, who served as Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo, personally charged Osama bin Laden’s driver Salim Hamdan, Australian David Hicks, and Canadian teen Omar Khadr. All three were convicted and have been released from Guantanamo. “There is something fundamentally wrong with a system where not being charged with a war crime keeps you locked away indefinitely and a war crime conviction is your ticket home,” Davis wrote to Obama.
Here's Becky Akers on the local armed gang showing their fangs against a tax slave:
A mob of nine men beat David Sal Silva, 33, to death in Bakersfield, California, last week. They hogtied him, bashed his head with batons, picked him up and then dropped him at least twice as he screamed and pleaded for his life. They committed this crime openly – I would say in broad daylight, except that it was around midnight. Nonetheless, they slaughtered Mr. Silva on a fairly busy road, across the street from a hospital and in view of the neighborhood’s residents and passers-by.
Indeed, so blatant were they that said passers-by videotaped the atrocity from beginning to end on their cell phones. Which the thugs or their accomplices then stole, menacing and intimidating the witnesses.
Where are the cops in all this? Protecting their own: the nine killers are sheriffs from Kern County. When a guard at the hospital called to report a “possibly intoxicated” man in the area, they descended to exterminate him. Their excuse is the usual: resisting arrest. But the onlookers vehemently deny that. One named Sulina Quair called to report the crime and courageously told a dispatcher in the sheriff’s office, “…These cops have no reason to do this to this man." She repeatedly stressed in her comments (listen to them here by scrolling to the bottom of the article) that the attack was unprovoked murder.
The victim’s screams awakened Ruben Ceballos. "When I got outside,” says Mr. Ceballos, “I saw two officers beating a man with batons and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head.”
Indeed, “Multiple witnesses have said deputies repeatedly beat and struck Silva with batons even as he begged them to stop.”
Our heroic Sulina Quair made the mistake of confessing to the sheriff’s office, “I got it all on video camera and I'm sending it to the news.” That catapulted deputies on a wild scramble to steal not only Ms. Quair’s phone but her boyfriend’s as well. In fact, when these incredibly brave patriots refused to hand over their property, the cops held them against their will in their homes for 10 hours, in direct violation of California’s law, until a search warrant arrived. "They were tired, scared, with a 9-year-old child there who was terrified," according to their attorney.
As always, the sheriff's office is "investigating" itself so it can whitewash its depredations while assuring the serfs that all is well in the police-state. Meanwhile, as Mr. Silva's family grieves and the traumatized witnesses tremble, the cops request "patience" so they have plenty of time to erase the cell-phone's footage and otherwise destroy evidence.
Says Ms. Sulina, “I have been crying a lot and [Mr. Silva's] voice just plays over and over in my head … I sit there and I can still hear him choking in his own blood, trying to gasp for air.”
Mr. Silva leaves behind heartbroken parents who, two days after the murder, had still not figured out how to tell their four grandchildren that their father will never again hug them, and a younger brother, Chris, who cried, “"My brother spent the last eight minutes of his life pleading, begging for his life.”
How many more serfs must tragically, agonizingly die before we abolish police departments?
Police that do their job ("protect and serve" power and the state) are rewarded and the few cops that actually protect person and property from aggression are quickly funnelled out. If state police really existed as public servants and protectors, then where is the outrage from fellow officers over the brutal beating and murder of an innocent man? Demands for their resignation and prosecution? Or even a general outrage over this unprovoked, aggressive act of murder by a gang of lawless thugs?
Former US Air Force pilot Brandon Bryant talks about how he targeted and killed civilians, bombing a man running away and watching him bleed to death after a strike blew his leg off, and even killing a child from his air-conditioned room operating the Empire's death dispensing robots.
Don't we always hear about how accurate and supposedly more humane Predator drones are? They are simply another tool of government wars, except in the case of drones they are further removing us from the realities of war and killing.
And with the Obama regime building new drone bases in Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, and Niger as part of over 60 drone bases worldwide, there will be more and more Brandon Bryants coming forward. And, sadly, more killing, more tax-guzzling drones, more blowback and more presidential power to wage covert, secret and bloody war, perhaps putting the final nail in the coffin of what is left of this constitutional republic.
Amid the controversy over the force-feeding of hunger-striking inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and the admission of a former White House lawyer that the drone program is simply a replacement for Gitmo, the issues of torture and detention are thankfully putting pressure on President Obama and making media headlines.
While the torture and rendition program run by the Bush administration, the illegal detentions at Guantanamo Bay, and President Obama's continuance of these policies in Bagram and Mogadishu are gross violations of domestic and international law, the torture, mistreatment, and abuse inside America's prisons reveals a systemic problem with our judicial system both at home and abroad.
A Mother Jones exposé by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella on America's worst prisons document a prison-industrial-complex system that one would expect to find in China, Russia, or some of the worst police states in the world, not in a supposed constitutional republic with a government restrained by the Bill of Rights.
The details of America's worst prisons are truly shocking. Not only does the U.S. infamously have the most prisoners in the world (not just per capita), but there are over 80,000 prisoners being held in some form of solitary confinement. 1 in 10 prisoners are sexually victimized, and half of the time it is by the prison employees themselves. Beatings by guards and medical neglect are the fate of many of the 2.3 million people held in American prisons.
Ridgeway and Casella peek inside the worst of America's government cages, and find nothing but lawlessness, corruption, negligence, and abuse. For example, in the ADX Supermax prison in Colorado (dubbed the "Alcatraz of the Rockies"), the conditions have led to prisoners committing suicide, self-mutilation, having mental breakdowns, and carrying on delusional conversations with themselves in their cell. Solitary confinement, in combination with beatings and sexual victimization, can only be described as torture.
How did a vast system of prisons with this type of treatment come to exist in America?
Concerning the increase in prisons and those on prisoners and on parole, the numbers on violent crime in America sure don't reflect the number of people in prison. According to the FBI, violent crime has actually been on the decline for the last few decades.Throughout American history, the amount of prisoners per 100,000 people has remained about 100 to 110. But since 1980, the incarceration rate has nearly tripled, and is now almost 800.
Most of this increase can be traced to the federal government's misnamed "War on Drugs" started under President Nixon and put into overdrive beginning in the Reagan administration. As the incarceration rate numbers show, it really is a war on people and has been by far the biggest reason for an increasing prison population despite a significant dip in people committing actual crimes.
The war on drugs accounts for the huge increases in prisons and prisoners, but those that are detained at supermax prisons where these prison abuses occur are almost always convicted violent criminals who have aggressed against the innocent. Surely these criminals deserve to pay for their actions.
But a prison system where prisons are run like gulags is emblematic of a general public acquiescence and acceptance of government power and secrecy (the U.S. is very tight-lipped about anything that threatens its flimsy legitimacy) and a statist judicial system dominated by medieval concepts of sadist punishment rather than the Western, private tradition of restitution and rehabilitation.
The fact that the U.S. government, and its domestic state appendages, maintain prisons that feature this type of treatment for its prisoners says much about the dangers of government power freed from the restraints of constitutional law and the Bill of Rights. Legislation essentially abolishing the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments allow the state to imprison with much more ease, while the 8th amendment's prohibition against torture is null and void.
And with what's left of the Bill of Rights in their sights, this should serve as yet another reminder of the incredible dangers of unrestrained and lawless government power.
Over the weekend, Israel launched its second round of massive airstrikes against Syria in support of the bloody, jihadi Islamists against the Bassad regime. Eyewitness accounts describe blast as "an earthquake" and "unprecedented" while video caught of the bombing shows what appears to be a mushroom cloud. Did Israel nuke Syria, perhaps with a low-yield bomb?
It is always very hard to see through state propaganda, especially during war, to discover the truth and exactly what is going on, but Daniel McAdams -- foreign policy advisor to Ron Paul in Congress -- has the best and most consistent analysis.
In a time dominated by flashes of celebrity, screaming talking heads on TV, and cities that don't sleep, introverts and loners have few places to fit in. But as Laurie Helgoe argues in Psychology Today, those that are slightly uncomfortable with a noisy culture often have the biggest impact on society.
Contrary to popular belief, introverts are not necessarily shy and anti-social. Introverts simply become overwhelmed by too much social engagement, tend to process more information than others and prefer quiet environments. They "seek time alone because they want it ... making them relatively immune to the search for happiness that permeates contemporary American culture."
So for those us stuck wandering in our heads during conversations, craving the solitude to hear ourselves think and distracted by the noisiness of modern culture, here is a list of my favorite introverts and loners that have revolutionized the same societies they are slightly unable to cope with.
1. H.L. Mencken
As a journalist and essayist, Mencken was truly a hybrid of the past and the present time in which he lived. He penned articles and books with a tenacity and wit that was unmatched then and now, blending an unapologetic intellectualism with a conservative fondness for aristocracy and high culture. His targets were politicians, religious fundamentalists, democracy, and an American culture that he thought was beginning to celebrate and wallow in mediocrity. He wrote because he had to. Like Jefferson and Adams, he wrote to his fellow travelers often, maintaining few, but always intimate, friendships.
When Will Durant asked him his thoughts on the meaning of life, Mencken was humble, gracious, and in characteristic introvert fashion, slightly pessimistic. "What the meaning of human life may be I don’t know: I incline to suspect that it has none. All I know about it is that, to me at least, it is very amusing while it lasts ..." Mencken replied. "When I die I shall be content to vanish into nothingness. No show, however good, could conceivably be good for ever."
I regard Mencken as the greatest American journalist ever, and his Notes on Democracy is the best single work on American politics, culture and society I have ever read. It is because of him that I wanted to be a writer, and I know I am not alone when I say that everything I write is a futile, poor imitation of the Sage of Baltimore.
2. Ayn Rand
The Russian-born Rand undoubtedly fit the qualification of a loner and introvert. While authoring essays on philosophy, logic and writing several books that continue to be some of the most popular in the world, had few friends, and drove away most that stayed long enough to know her.
She constantly stressed the value of reasoning and logic, never failing to remind us that A is A. In unrepentant confidence (narcissism?), she said, "In philosophy, I can only recommend the three A's: Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand." Famous for her fieriness and aggressiveness in social behavior, she chastised others for their religious beliefs and preferred cigarettes and solitude. Although admired by many libertarians, she hated them (calling them "hippies of the right").
Whether one agrees with her or not, she remains one of the most influential people in history.
3. Nikola Tesla
Tesla, like many great introverts, is a scientific legend who really has not been given the credit and respect that he deserves. A Serbian-Croatian immigrant, Tesla was a pioneer in electrical theory and technology. He was the first to utilize alternating current, conceiving an effective system for its generation, transmission, and utilization. He invented new forms of dynamos, transformers, condensers, and induction coils. He discovered the principle of the rotary magnetic field, upon which Niagara Falls and other dams are built.
Thomas Edison warned that Tesla's alternating current was dangerous, would harm its users, and that only Edison's direct current would do the job. Tesla, the ultimate recluse, did not want any part of Edison's games, calling Edison an "inventor" and himself a "discoverer."
Tesla's legacy stands on its own, and his eagerness to not just stand, but improve upon, the shoulders of giants before him inspires those today who also question the echo-chambers and dogmas of modern science.
4. Ludwig von Mises
In a just world, Mises would be considered the world's greatest modern economist. But history and fortune are not always very kind. After escaping Europe for America when the Nazis took over his native Austria and threatened Switzerland, and having his entire library burned down, with little English he was resigned to being a visiting professor at NYU. When proposing to his wife, he told her that while he planned on dedicating his life to money, though he knew he would never have any. He knew the price he would pay for sticking to his principles and refusing to give excuses for those in power to manipulate, intervene and coerce.
That is because, as he put it, "I regret only my willingness to compromise, not my intransigence." In the face of fascism, militarism, and state interventionism, Mises became the standard-bearer for classical liberalism and free market economics. After discovering Carl Menger's work and the Austrian school, he pioneered theories on credit, interest rates, money and wrote Human Action, a nearly 1,000-page magnum on economics.
Thanks to a renaissance in libertarianism, Mises is now more read and studied than ever before. While conservatives like to praise their sainted President Reagan for bringing down the Soviet Union, it was Mises in 1920 that predicted the inevitability of a Soviet collapse in a work that has yet to be refuted. Without market prices to coordinate and guide economic decisions, chaos and poverty are the result.
Mises was not only a great scholar, philosopher and economist, but he was humble, aristocratic, bourgeoisie and a man of peace.
5. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
It's hard to think of a more inspiring figure in recent history than Solzhenitsyn. After fighting in World War II for the Red Army, he was caught not properly licking Joseph Stalin's boots in his private letters and was sent to multiple prison camps. He spent nearly 10 years in the Soviet gulags, and despite his writings being severely restricted and suppressed, exposed the horrors of those gulags and communism for a world (and unfortunately, much of the West) that was sympathetic to the Soviet regime.
His courage in the face of what he went through and his desire to make it public is alone enough to put Solzhenitsyn on this list, but what also stands out is his post-gulag life and transformation. Solzhenitsyn was stubborn, lonely and even combative in his personal relationships (him and his wife divorced just a year after he was released). But it was these introverted traits that led him ponder and reflect upon his life, his mistakes, and to dig deep internally for answers.
Like Fyodor Dostoyevsky before him, Solzhenitsyn wandered inside of his mind for answers. He soon embraced a deeply philosophical Christianity, rejected his previous affinity for Marxism and publicly defended the conservative institutions he felt were necessary to preserve Western civilization and prevent it from committing suicide on the altar of collectivism. Because of this, he also repented for his actions as a captain in the Red Army, comparing what he did in the war to the crimes perpetrated at the gulags.
It is this spiritual and internal odyssey that captures the essence of being a loner yet a legend, of what Helgoe calls "collectors of thoughts, and solitude is where the collection is curated and rearranged to make sense of the present and future."
Ron Paul on the martial law security-theatre that took place last week:
Forced lockdown of a city. Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.
These were not the scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic, but rather the scenes just over a week ago in Boston as the United States got a taste of martial law. The ostensible reason for the military-style takeover of parts of Boston was that the accused perpetrator of a horrific crime was on the loose. The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city. This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself.
What has been sadly forgotten in all the celebration of the capture of one suspect and the killing of his older brother is that the police state tactics in Boston did absolutely nothing to catch them. While the media crowed that the apprehension of the suspects was a triumph of the new surveillance state – and, predictably, many talking heads and Members of Congress called for even more government cameras pointed at the rest of us – the fact is none of this caught the suspect. Actually, it very nearly gave the suspect a chance to make a getaway.
The “shelter in place” command imposed by the governor of Massachusetts was lifted before the suspect was caught. Only after this police state move was ended did the owner of the boat go outside to check on his property, and in so doing discover the suspect.
No, the suspect was not discovered by the paramilitary troops terrorizing the public. He was discovered by a private citizen, who then placed a call to the police. And he was identified not by government surveillance cameras, but by private citizens who willingly shared their photographs with the police.
As journalist Tim Carney wrote last week:“Law enforcement in Boston used cameras to ID the bombing suspects, but not police cameras. Instead, authorities asked the public to submit all photos and videos of the finish-line area to the FBI, just in case any of them had relevant images. The surveillance videos the FBI posted online of the suspects came from private businesses that use surveillance to punish and deter crime on their property.”
Sadly, we have been conditioned to believe that the job of the government is to keep us safe, but in reality the job of the government is to protect our liberties. Once the government decides that its role is to keep us safe, whether economically or physically, they can only do so by taking away our liberties. That is what happened in Boston.
Three people were killed in Boston and that is tragic. But what of the fact that over 40 persons are killed in the United States each day, and sometimes ten persons can be killed in one city on any given weekend? These cities are not locked-down by paramilitary police riding in tanks and pointing automatic weapons at innocent citizens.
This is unprecedented and is very dangerous. We must educate ourselves and others about our precious civil liberties to ensure that we never accept demands that we give up our Constitution so that the government can pretend to protect us.
The reason I keep posting about the "lockdown" in Boston last week is because it really, really stood out for me as something I will never forget. While the U.S. has been gradually sliding into a creepy police state thanks to the drug war, war on terror, and the general tendency of states to grow like a cancer, the casual way in which it was implemented will surely be a date libertarians will always remember.
While I frequently read stories about the police state invading people's homes in paramilitary SWAT raids, spying on everything that moves, locking people in cages for victimless crimes, or murdering millions around the globe, thanks to some brave Americans we saw cell-phone camera footage of the occupying army stormtrooping their way through the Boston area. Costumed thugs shouting orders with their fingers on the triggers of machine guns, the military weaponry, the complete disregard for constitutional law and liberty; it made me sick to my stomach.
And while there have been many people protesting this invasion and occupation, I nearly hung my head at the response of many in the area and around the country who not only had no problem with the fangs of the police state coming out but welcomed it and embraced it.
If this country and liberty is to be saved, preserved and restored, we need the mentality of Ron Paul, Glenn Greenwald, Judge Andrew Napolitano and many, many other principled civil libertarians out there. We have to defend (what's left of ) the Bill of Rights, no matter what, because there is no army or terrorist group that could ever possibly dismantle our civic institutions. But if we cower in fear of bogeymen, then the U.S. government will undoubtedly, systematically and now with more ease and openness, destroy the Bill of Rights.
Now these are some real Americans.
While the Predator-in-Chief uses the horrific and tragic death of children in Newtown and other places for his own political purposes, he is eerily silent about the children vaporized by his drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. The media, of course, have also done their usual job of covering for the Empire by reporting as little information about the innocent victims of the US war machine as possible.
Americans were rightly outraged over the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon, but how many innocents have been killed by the bombs, missiles, and sanctions unleashed by the U.S. government on a daily basis? The millions killed, maimed, displaced, and turned into orphans and widows are not shown on CNN, FOX. It makes sense, after all; if Americans actually saw the faces and names of those buried permanently under the death and destruction unleashed by their government, maybe they would demand an an end to this senseless slaughter.