sloppy sloppy sloppy

via The Guardian:

Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of Reprieve, discusses the ‘extraordinarily thin  evidence’ used to hold prisoners and the ‘nonsense cooked up’ by a group of serial informers to get privileges.

More than 700 leaked secret files on the Guantánamo detainees lay bare the inner workings of America’s controversial prison camp in Cuba.

The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how, alongside the so-called “worst of the worst”, many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment.

The 759 Guantánamo files, classified “secret”, cover almost every inmate since the camp was opened in 2002. More than two years after President Obama ordered the closure of the prison, 172 are still held there.

The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim.

take a memo

Why will we let America argue? This is sad. This is danger. I see a better country. Better. We are the first country built on agreement. Maybe, in the thread of horrid yesterdays, we’ll keep that. I promise I will.

he basically quit life

Vets die at home too.

The article states he had been dealing with “survivors guilt” and frustrated by a difficult disability claim process from wounds received in Iraq.

This difficulty cannot be overstated, and it’s been going on for decades. Someone very special to me is a Gulf War veteran who recently hit rock bottom in his life. He’s been out of battle for nearly 20 years and seemingly fighting against the tide since then. He was not seriously wounded in war except for maybe some form of Gulf War syndrome caused by all the shit they were injected with. But his biggest problem is the PTSD.  He never thought he had that – he thought other people, the ones you could tell were in bad condition just by the way they looked, were the ones actually suffering. So he kept his problems to himself as much as he could, but they’d force their way out anyway.

It took him losing his maybe 20th job (from falling asleep at work, since he hadn’t been able to sleep in days due to constant nightmares), going broke, getting evicted and ending up in a homeless shelter to finally go to the VA to see if they could do anything for him. This happened in December. Turned out, with his symptoms he could’ve been receiving disability payments for years. He was surprised to learn this. No one had ever told him that.

So of course he goes to fill out the necessary paperwork, and that process has been an absolute nightmare. Just getting his forms and proof of service from the various departments all around the country that deal with this has been an ordeal. Call this place, they say this other place has it. Call the other place, they say no, these other people have that. Wait weeks to get the papers to fill out. Send them back and wait more weeks, only to find out there are still more things to fill out or something was filled out wrong or someone sent you the wrong thing, wait more weeks to get the right thing. Get diagnosed with severe PTSD by a VA-approved therapist but still have to wait months for the government to officially approve the diagnosis before you ever see a dime.

Meanwhile…

John Lennon: It is knowing, it is knowing
That ignorance and hate may mourn the dead
It is believing, it is believing
But listen to the color of your dream
It is not living, it is not living

 

pesticides reduce intelligence?

Children who were exposed to certain types of pesticides before birth could have lower levels of intelligence… story here

Studies link pesticides, lower intelligence …
Prenatal Exposure To Pesticides Linked To Lower IQ …
Exposure to Pesticides in Pregnancy Can Lower C …
Pesticide Exposure in Pregnancy Linked to Lower …
Pesticides, lower IQ in kids linked …
A Reason to Go Organic: Women Exposed to Pesticides …
Fetal Exposure To Organophosphate Pesticides …

“These associations are substantial, especially when viewing this at a population-wide level.”

“It is very unusual to see this much consistency across populations in studies, so that speaks to the significance of the findings.”

“It’s not just in agricultural areas, but they find the same things in cities too.”

“More kids being shifted into the lower end of the spectrum of learning, and more kids needing special services in school.”

it’s the ratings, stupid

UK’s John Naughton:

How the Media Undermine American Democracy

Pernicious effects of broadcast television on democracy.

Among the phenomena he examined were the relentless trivialisation implicit in soundbite politics, the obsessive insistence that every political issue – no matter how complex – has only two sides and the tendency to treat every political controversy as if it were a football game and every election a horse race.

…disturbing trend – towards market-driven news: that is, news agendas that are driven not by some professional assessment of what’s important and relevant, but by research into what viewers like and respond to.

Ratings.

Put crudely, such an approach leads to news programming that plays down politics and economics in favour of coverage of crime, celebrity and sport. News-U-Like, as it were.

eating your seed corn

The rich enjoy skewing taxes so the poor pay for the government.

Dana Blankenhorn:

What has to happen next is that the rich battle one another, and some of them fall, until there’s only one left standing. That’s the way capitalism works. Unchecked by any outside force, it moves steadily toward monopoly or a closely-held oligopoly. More and more of each industry held in fewer-and-fewer hands.

The word for that isn’t freedom.

will we see the lies?

We are vulnerable. We’re sold lies.

For three decades we have conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics.

The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity—so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates.

1) You would think that whether this grand experiment worked would be settled after three decades.

2) You would think the practitioners of the dismal science of economics would look at their demand curves and the data on incomes and taxes and pronounce a verdict.

3) Tax policy is something the framers left to politics.

And in politics, the facts often matter less than who has the biggest bullhorn.

4) The Mad Men who once ran campaigns featuring doctors extolling the health benefits of smoking are now busy marketing the dogma that tax cuts mean broad prosperity, no matter what the facts show.

5) As millions of Americans prepare to file their annual taxes, they do so in an environment of media-perpetuated tax myths.

This is what is true: The top pay less, so you can get their trickle-down.

HA! Ordinary folk pay more, the rich pay much less, and yet despite all the alleged increased trickle-down we’re still mired in the deepest economic downturn in decades.

boiling water

And in 1971 the Atomic Energy Commission did a series of tests of Emergency Core Cooling systems. Accidents were simulated. In each case the emergency systems worked – but the water failed to fill the core. Often being forced out under pressure.

As one of the AEC scientists says in the film:

“We discovered that our theoretical calculations didn’t have a strong correlation with reality. But we just couldn’t admit to the public that all these safety systems we told you about might not do any good”

And again the warnings were ignored by senior members of the Agency and the industry.

That was the same year that the first of the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s reactors came online. Supplied by General Electric.

calibrated

Sometimes when you look up into the sky you feel so insignificant, well, I’d like that, I’d like to say that, walking down the street, with coffee, in my own house, but no, hell no, people want to be big shots, fighting about this, fighting about that, damn them all, damn you all, you are small, why won’t you be small?

how to tell your story

“Write me a ‘Joseph Lieber’ letter and put it in an envelope and stick it right here.” She pointed to the labeled spot in the middle of the object. “…and bring it back to me.”

“I don’t know what a ‘Joseph Lieber’ letter is,” I told her.

She smiled and said, “I think I can remember…” She clasped her hands at her waist, tipped her head back and rolled her eyes up to the ceiling.

“It’s fifty-eight purely factual sentences, stating your case.”

humans must be friends

I was reading min- ami- soma while hoping max- ami- soma:

Kyohei Takahashi, the 72-year-old head doctor at a hospital in Minamisoma, a mostly abandoned city some 25 kilometers north of the plant is still at his post though fewer than 10 of his 25 staff remain, and many of his patients were evacuated to reduce their potential exposure to radiation.

The hospital now relies on donations of instant noodles and curry from volunteers and Japanese soldiers to serve those who come looking for care.

Some of them feel panicked; others have stopped talking, he says, with all of them worrying about friends and family, including some who were likely swept away by Japan’s March 11 tsunami.

“What kind of doctor would I be if I fled over something like this?”